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Fifth Series, Volume LXXXIII.
No. 2557.- July 1 & 8, 1893.
Nature-Poet. By Theodore Watts, Nineteenth Century,
Nineteenth Century, .
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THE WANDERERS' RETURN. On a day a while ago, When the corn was newly carried, And the late-come summer tarried For a glimpse of winter snow, Verse of mine, in fashion slight, Chronicled the swallows' flight : 1 Many a month has gone since then, And the land is green again.
What unlovely purpose lurks
It was the merry month,
And the woods were full of glee, The lizard on its sunny bank,
The squirrel upon the tree. In all that time of lusty prime
There seemed no thought of death,
Safer friend or more discreet
1 “An Autumn Flitting,” Spectator, October 3rd, 1891.
THE CHATHAM ISLANDS AND THEIR
From The Fortnightly Review. with the world and civilization. The
journey occupies only about sixty hours, STORY.
but over the five hundred miles that I PROPOSE, in the following pages, to separate the two lands runs
a very give some account of a visit to the Chat- cross-sea, on which I can promise to ham Islands, a small archipelago in the any one longing for a life on the ocean South Pacific Ocean. Being isolated wave, an experience that will go a very and of little commercial importance, long way towards satiating his desires and still undiscovered of Cook, the in that direction. Like all things else, modern, they are rarely, if ever, visited our sixty hours of misery were finally by the traveller; even those living in ticked off, and at sunrise of the 24th the colony nearest to them know little we found ourselves under the lee of the more of them than the name, and be- land in the western hemisphere, on a yond that region I believe scarcely one rippleless sea, and beneath the bluest person in a hundred has ever heard of of skies. Ahead lay two low islands, them. The group consists of about a apparently sloping towards each other dozen islets, lying five hundred miles into the passage between which we east of Bank's Peninsula in New Zea- were steaming. As we approached land, the largest no bigger than the Isle nearer, the two islands resolved themof Wight, and the smallest• little more selves into the higher northern anıl than bare, rocky pinnacles rising out of southern westerly extending horns of the sea, whither the wandering alba- Wharekauri (as the natives call the trosses and other ocean birds come largest member of the group), conhome to nest. Ships homeward bound nected by lower lands forming the from antipodeau ports, southing to the enclosing bayleted arch and eastern
eastward-moving Trades with boundary of Petre Bay, in which our which to round the Horn, may run anchorage lay. Running east and west close past them without sighting them, along tủe northern horn could be seen for the fogs from the Antarctic gener- a chain of pyramidal hills, evidently old ally enshroud them from the traveller's volcanic cones, which, though not exview. I fear the ordinary tourist would ceeding seven or eight hundred feet in find nothing of a sensational character height, assumed, on account of the to attract him there. Yet these lone lowness everywhere of the surrounding isles are the fragments of an ancient lands, the aspect of mountains. The vanished land, in whose caves and cliffs southern horn, the highest part of the the delving hand may gather broken island, sloped gradually up towards the records which, pieced together, with south, without presenting any distinctheir disjecta membra gathered out of tive summit. From much I had heard the islands to the south, and the conti- I expected to find the Chatham Islands nents to east and west, tell a story of a wild, bleak, and generally uninviting the southern seas. It tells of geo- speck of land ; insteau, I beheld from graphic ups and downs, and the vicissi- the deck as we ran close along the tudes of a fauna and flora not less full southern shores of the bay, broad forest of interest and incident than the tragic patches of that deep dark hue that histories of human inhabitants, of belongs to evergreen trees, broken by which these islands have also been the cultivated fields and wide sheep-pastheatre,
tures, with here and there the characAfter I had waited long for an oppor- teristic wool-shed, marking the settler's tunity of visiting this outlying group, homestead, of which often only a glint the desired occasion at last presented could be caught from amid emboweritself in the beginning of 1892, and I ing creepers and scarlet geraniums. embarked at Port Lyttelton on the 21st Bathed as the whole landscape that of January in the Kahu, the small but morning was in the sunshine of one of seaworthy steamer that keeps these the niost perfect of days, it seemed that islanders in touch once in three months to be exiled here out of the " care ind
confusion of the world,” could not be Through the kindness of Mr. Chudaltogether an insupportable durance. leigh, one of the Chatham Island runMy hopes rose that I might find here holders who chanced to be in New another such Arcadia as that charming Zealand at my departure, and of Mr. out-of-the-world retreat in the Indian Kinsey, of Christchurch, I had brought Ocean, the Keeling Islands, which I introductions to most of the settlers, have described elsewhere. Here, how- so that I found a pleasant welcome ever, the larger sphere, the greater among them, and was hospitably inscope for independent action, and the vited by Captain Hood, one of the different human elements, have evi- oldest residents and largest proprietors dently interacted differently, and I in Wharekauri, to make his house my
I found on close acquaintance with the headquarters. From him and from islauds no such harmonious patri- several of the neighboring residents, archate ; here we had simply a chip of especially Mr. Alexander Shand, who the colony of New Zealand floated off visited me several times during ihe into the Pacific.
first few days when I was slowly recovRounding a bold headland, whose ering from the effects of my sea voyage, alternate beds of bright red and yellow I received a great deal of very interestform a conspicuous blaze of color in the ing information. Mr. Hood had taken landscape, we dropped anchor a few part in some of the more stirring events yards off the shore in front of a high in the island's history, while Mr. Shand, cliff, beneath which, on the beach, who was born there, is perhaps the stood all that represented the town of only living authority on the language Waitangi — a particularly cold and un- and traditions of its now nearly extinct inviting public-house, calling itself a original inhabitants. hotel, and a less imposing weather- The Chatham Islands were discovboard structure incorporating the resi-ered by Lieutenant William Broughton, dent magistrate's court, the post-office, of “ His Brittannick Majesty's brig and the jail. As the approximate date Chatham,” when parted by a storm of our arrival was kuown, the shrill from the Discovery on the way to screech of our siren as we drew near Otaheite from New Zealand. The Disapprised the expectant population of covery and the Chatham were then conour presence, so that by the time the veying the expedition sent to explore Kalu dropped her anchor, quite a the north-west coast of North America, crowd, to join which others could be under command of Captain Vancouver. seen hurrying from all sides, had col- “ We displayed the Union flag,” the lected on the beach to watch our dis- lieutenant reports, “ turned a turf, and embarkation and learn the news we took possession of the island, which I brought, for the arrival of the steamer named Chatham Island (in honor of the is a real event in the lives of these Earl of Chathamı), in the name of his people which few who have not lived Majesty King George the Third, the for a time so cut off from the world can 29th of November, 1791." His visit realize.
was of short duration, for as the naThe date of my visit nearly coincided tives, who had never seen a ship before, with the centenary of the discovery of lost one of their number in resisting his the islands. It had been intended to landing, he was anxious not to be the celebrate this event with various festiv- cause of further troubles to them, and ities during the month of January ; but so he left hastily without being able to the intention had to be abandoned, for gain much information about his new throughout the island the influenza epi- annexation. He describes the natives demic, not regarding their isolation, he saw as a "cheerful race, numerous had attacked almost every inhabitant and healthy, full of mirth and laughter, and the natives very fatally — so that dressed in sealskins or mats, and courathere was no energy left among them to geous enough to resist his landing. carry out their programme.
They called themselves Tuiti, so Dieffenbach tells us, but the name by this service the whole of the present which they are best known now, and site of Wellington City, to-day worth the term by which they speak of them- millions sterling, for that block of land selves, is Moriori. Some years after was the recompense they first offered. their discovery, the islands became the The relatives of that officer, I suspect, rendezvous of the English and Ameri- rather regret now his inability to forecan sealing and whaling fleets in the see the future. The number of Maoris South Pacific - a disastrous circum- eager to emigrate to the Chatham Islstance in the history of the natives. ands was found too large for the Lord These vessels had from time to time Rodney to accommodate at one time ; among their crews numbers of Maoris so, to insure the vessel's return for (the natives of New Zealand), whom those left behind, the mate was dethey had engaged in various capacities tained in New Zealand as a hostage. in that colony. About the year 1834 it The Lord Rodney landed her first load so happened that there were serving on of immigrants, numbering tive hundred board one of these whalers which had persons, on the 17th November, 1835, touched at Wharekauri, the chiefs of and in December following the captain two Maori tribes who were then occu- completed his enforced contract by putpving the district where the city of ting the remaining four hundred on Wellington now stands, and who, hav- shore at the same port. These welling been driven thither from their an- armed and powerful intruders seem to cestral regions by the more powerful have walked boldly ashore, and, unWaikato tribe, were living in much dis- opposed, parted the land among them, content. What they saw during the and enslaved the Morioris, glad to find voyage greatly impressed them, and on that the country was really full of kaitheir return they dilated to their people kai, or eatables, as they had been told. on this " island to the eastward teem- In 1840 the group was visited by the ing with land and sea birds of all kinds, New Zealand Company's agent, Mr. mutton birds in crowds in holes in the Hanson, in the Cuba, accompanied by peat, and albatrosses innumerable in Dr. Dieffenbach, the celebrated naturalthe outlying rocks, with fish abundant ist, who afterwards wrote a history of along the coast, and eels swarming in New Zealand. This observer records the lakes. On the land there were for- that the Morioris, who a few years beests of karaka-trees, while the inhab- fore likened themselves to the koriari, itants were numerous, possessed of no or tlax-stalks in number, or to the young weapons, and ignorant of how to fight.” of the wild grey duck on the great This was evidently to them all in their lagoon, had at the date of his visit dejected frame of mind a land much to creased to less than ninety souls by be desired and eagerly to be coveted, their five years of slavery. They are but one which they could little hope to the laborers," he says, “and porters of reach in their own
Fortune, their masters, who have no notion of however, seemed to favor them by anything like moderation in the labor sending at this juncture a trading ves- they exact ; so that ulcerated backs sel, the Lord Rodney, to their very bent almost double, and emaciated doors. They saw their opportunity paralytic limbs with diseased lungs, are and took advantage of it. Enticing the the ordinary lot of these ill-fated captain to Somes Island on pretence of wretches." The Kaupepe, as the Moritreating with him for a freight of flax oris called their oppressors, had not lying there, they made him a prisoner, only used them as beasts of burden, but and under threat of death compelled as their stalled cattle. The dying remhim to agree to transport them to the nants of the race still tell of that dreadChatham Islands. On their side they ful time when as many as fifty of their bound themselves to supply the ship at ancestors were roasted in a single oven ; their cost with a full freight; but the and when the ghastly sight of the shore captain might have had in payment for laid out with the dead bodies of their