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romantics have faded from sight on the one hand, some huge monstrosities have vanished on the other. The physical enormities, at least, are gone off; there are no more stories of human creatures shaped in fantastic and anomalous outrage on the authentic type; the men with tails, or dogs' heads, or the visage planted into the chest instead of being mounted on a neck, have long since been swept into the vast rubbish of the past. In the moral and intellectual part of the exhibition, indeed, it is to be acknowledged that the change has left, or brought into view, some phenomena which it did require testimony of well-tried validity to establish as an unquestioned part of our knowledge of the human species. At all events we now have truth instead of fable.
That knowledge is now so comprehensive, and includes so ample a variety of manifestations of the evil principle, that we may doubt whether there can remain any thing yet to be brought to light that will much surprise us, or put us in any fear of credulity in believing. Be almost whatever it may, in the way of error, perversity, degradation, iniquity, we are quite prepared to admit the probability that it may beloig to the human nature. If there be one more feature of mental or moral deformity, it will be sure to be found associating consistently with some of the facts which have long ceased to be novelties in our survey and estimate of that nature,
There is this New Zealand section of the great family. A numerous succession of reporters, of various qualifications and tastes, may not have left us much to learn of them and their territory; but the present work appears to have good pretensions to be received as a more spirited and varied picture, from the very life, than perhaps any that has preceded. The author has passeel many years among them, on a trading speculation, including the purchase of land, apparently on his own account; and in taking such a view of the places and inhabitants as should authorise a judgment on the possibilities, means, and advantages, of a commercial intercourse between them and our countrymen. He appears to be an active, adventurous, sharp. sighted, and adroit person; well furnished with that kind of serviceable philosophy which can look at the ugly sights in the human condition without being thrown into the horrors. He is, indeed, a little too apt to be gay and jocular sometimes, on what would move the graver feelings of a very reflective philanthropist. He associated habitually with the natives, saw them, of course, in most of the situations and transactions which would exemplify their character, conversed with them in their own language, seems to have been much in favour with them, and had the art of managing their capricious tempers. His adventures among them are related in an off-band, sometimes very graphical style; often negligent and
incorrect in construction; with a frequent pedantic affectation of sporting fine words, in parts of the composition that have nothing to do with the scientific nomenclature of plants and animals.
The reader takes an impression of veracity and reality, believing he sees the story go through the thing just as it was then and there. He is not incommoded by any nostrum-notion, which is to be the key of a theory to which every thing is to be referred. He sees in the descriptions and narrations such a picturesque freshness, such an immediateness, if we may so name it, to the subject, and such a particularity of detail, that he is confident the author is thinking of nothing but what he saw, heard, and did.
It is to be remarked as one disadvantage in such a mode of writing, that there can be no method, no digesting and classifying of the numerous particulars into order. The characteristic notices are scattered miscellaneously through the work; and we are not sure there would always be found a nice consistency if they were all assorted and disposed in a systematic arrangement.
In observing what sort of people possess what portions of the earth, a curious speculator might find some amusement, and perhaps nothing better, in raising the questions-what relation or fitness there is, respectively, between them; whether the right of continued occupancy have any dependence on such fitness ; what obligations, greater or less, they may be supposed to be laid under according to the quality of their local allotments ; how far it is the better or the worse for them that they are so located; whether those to whom the less agreeable tracts of the world have been assigned have an adequate or partial compensation afforded by any of the circumstances or influences of those regions; what would be the effect of a mutual exchange of habitations between tribes occupying domains widely different in physical character. Setting out of view the fact of how the various tribes actually obtained their present abodes in the natural progress of emigration, and considering their claims to portions of the globe as according to their qualities, we might be at a loss to discover the principle of equity in their distribution. Some barbarous tribes find a precarious subsistence in dreary deserts; and others, not less barbarous, an easy one in domains of fertility, beauty, and luxury. We feel an uneasy sympathy with certain portions of the race, less vitiated than the general mass, whose lot is cast in climates where nature maintains a frowning austerity, and life is rather endured than enjoyed, on a tenure of hardship, an economy of toil, privation, and hazard—for instance Greenland, Iceland, Lapland, the Isles of Scotland, and some parts of Switzerland. Some of the temperate and salubrious regions, as China, are condemned to sustain an immense multitude of human creatures mentally dwarfed, cramped, bent down, and fixed, in stupified conformity to an irrational, inveterate, obdurate prescription, corroborated by superstition.
Or a fine realm elsewhere, as Spain, may be appropriated by a people whose semibarbarous fanaticism is virulent and sanguinary.
If we might give license to our imagination in such employment as apportioning the field of terrestrial nature to orders of inhabitants according to some rule of supposed worthiness, to what sort of people should we assign New Zealand ? It appears to be an eminently fine and valuable fraction of the earth. By its extent in length, of nearly nine hundred miles, from north to south, it has a great variety of climates, distant enough at both extremities from latitudes unfavorable to activity, alacrity, and enjoyment. By its much smaller breadth the greater part is favoured with the mild influences of the vast ocean. It has harbours, streams, fertile tracts, beautiful valleys and hills, innumerable. Its variegated surface exhibits a splendid picture, where the sublimities have their share, in a range of snow-capped mountains, and grand precipices and promontories of the coast
. It is a region which our fancied law of distribution would appropriate to some highly improved section of the human race, such a one as would most fully and worthily avail itself of a territory so favourable at once to the economical purposes of agriculture, arts, and commerce, and, as we should imagine, to the general development of the mental faculties.
Imagine, then, this splendid piece of terra firma, proudly rising above the boundless waste of waters-imagine it so occupied, so adorned, so honoured; and then turn to the exhibition before us; a region surrendered to the principle of evil ; where every spot bears a blasted mark; where the presence of man is a dreadful infestation; where, as if they themselves thought so, the inhabitants have seemed intent on restoring the land to the solitude of its natural beauty by incessant mutual destruction; where a reversal of what would be the qualities of undepraved humanity glares forth in deceit, treachery, rapacity, cruelty, revenge, cannibalism; blended with whatever is disgusting in gluttony and filthiness, whatever is despicable in fickleness and cowardice, and whatever is ridiculous and absurd in conventional customs, and notions and mummery of superstition.
Before bringing us acquainted with his own experience and observations, our author, in a historic notice of the successive navigators who have made surveys or visits, recalls a series of characteristic facts and anecdotes, illustrative of New Zealand human nature; the circumstances most conspicuous in the record being the murderous collisions between the natives and the crews of European ships--the fault, indeed, not always being wholly with the former. He relates divers tragical affairs as consequent on a disregard of the warning, Never trust a New Zealander,' pronounced by Captain Cook, whose right judgment of the people Mr. P. strongly affirms. At the same time it is but justice to say that
the present adventurer had not, for himself, any violent cause to reproach them. For the most part they treated him like a gentle
In his first recorded journey of local investigation he was accompanied by a considerable band of their young men, mostly sons of chiefs, who served him very effectually as guides, carriers, wood-cutters, and cooks, proud to form the suite of an European personage. There was an eager competition for the honour of bearing his worship, horsed on the back, through a stream or swamp, while every one of them would have disdained to perform this or any other servile office for an indigenous squire. He was generally received with marks of respect; had seldom cause for apprehending danger; and on the whole seems to have been much at his ease among them. He made all good-humoured allowance for attempts at imposition, in cajoling promises, not meant to be fulfilled, in protestations of disinterested friendship, or in overrating the value of articles trafficked, or services rendered, or to be rendered. It is curious to see, sometimes, what they thought they could make the European gentleman believe; or at least thought it worth the trial. He had accepted the dirty hand of a celebrated old “priest of Araitehuru, the Taniwoa, or aquatic
deity of the headlands of a harbour ;' who solemnly assured him that if such compliment had been declined, he would have raised such storms that the beach on which he was then travelling would have been impassable, the means of conveyance dashed in pieces, and a bitter repentance inflicted. And he pointed to a heavy surf, breaking on a bar two miles off, and declared it was by his potent restraint that it was kept raging at that safe distance, in spite of its being furiously actuated by the Taniwoa. The sham gravity with which the protégé returned thanks for this important service, would seem to have made the old rogue believe that his pretensions were admitted, for he capered with delight. But, nothing • for nothing,' the reckoning came, and there was great difficulty to settle the account for so mighty a benefit with a head of tobacco.'
How the generic sentiment of religion has been perverted to all uses of cupidity, mischief, and farce! And in its depraved forms what a much more general and active interference it may have than is, for the most part, seen where the right notion of it is admitted, and it therefore claims the authority and influence of truth. The superstition of these islanders would seem as intrusively to interfere with and pervade the economy of life as that of the comparatively refined and intellectual Hindoos. It is rather a difficult problem how so lawless, fierce, and capricious a race can have come to yield themselves submissive to any thing that inflicts on them so many annoyances and arbitrary interdictions. It might have been imagined that whatever aptitude there might be in so rude a nature to be imposed on, there would still, in so wild
and rapacious a nature, have been a powerful impulse to spurn the constant vexatious intervention of an authority so fantasticaily arbitrary, and so easily subjected to the test of defiance.
They are infested with an ever-growing swarm of demons, denominated Atuas. These are the souls of dead chiefs, haunting the places where they lived or died, assuming occasionally a temporary incarnation in birds, lizards, and what not; and with as much disposition and power to do mischief as when they had been the owners as well as inhabitants of bodies. And it is a striking illustration of what the people actually experience of power in their fellow mortals, that they deem it always combined with malignity in its defunct possessors. The atua is always ready to wreak some spite. Fail to do what he exacts, or do any thing to offend him in the slightest degree, even though unintentionally or inadvertently, and he is sure to play the very devil. If he but wants a little amusement, you are likely to know of it by some mischance that shall befall you. Distempers, pains, unlucky accidents, losses, frights, bad weather, storms—it is the atua that has been at work. The case is mentioned of a young man sutfering a severe pain of the bowels; the cause was obvious; the atua had taken possession of his interior; and much at his ease (the atua's ease) was gnawing and devouring it. A priest was had in to eject him by a ceremony of alternate coaxing and threatening.
As these noxious agents can work their purposes out of reach of revenge, and with greater facility and power than when in the mortal state, it may be supposed that the atuas-that-are-to-be should feel the less repugnance to the thought of death. The case, it seems, is so, but with a whimsical and rather inconvenient circumstance of exception; which also forms an exception to the common creed of both barbarous and civilized nations relative to the matter of falling in battle.
* The chiefs suppose that their left eye after death ascends to heaven and becomes a star. They are fearful of being killed in war; as it is supposed, in that case, their titular divinityship forsakes them, and they become serviceable only to add effulgence to the star of their conqueror.'
Notwithstanding a fantasy so little congenial with the brave nobility of heroism, they have anticipations which enable them to settle a somewhat advantageous account, prospectively, with death.
· The apotheosis of a chief takes place immediately on his decease; the feeling of pride which elates him on his supposed divine exaltation, and that of the exhumation of his bones in after years, when his prowess and deeds of valour will be sung by hundreds of his affectionate followers, cause him rather to welcome death than shun it.'
-Vol. ii. p. 71,