Incidents of The Maori War
New Zealand should be appreciated—Sketch of its progress—General summary—Acclimatisation Society—The Messrs. Ridgway—Free Grants—Climate and productions—Hints for emigrants—Demestic [sic] servants—Visit Nelson and Wellington —The Chief Epuni—A good appetite—Effects of a storm—Prepare to leave New Zealand—Parting with the regiment—Sail for Otago, &c.—Nobblers—Port Cooper—Wreck of the 'White Swan' —Sir George Grey's policy—Arrive at Melbourne—What was observed there—Visit the Gold diggings at Ballarat—Embark in the steam ship 'Great Britain'—Icebergs—Round the Horn—The Falklands—Amusements at sea—The island of Trinidada—Fernando Naronha—St. Paul's islets—An escape—Arrive at Liverpool.
New Zealand, a land of promise for emigrants, and if rightly used, affording an almost certainty of realising an independence, if not a fortune, is but little known to a large portion of the inhabitants of Britain, but when its natural resources come to be developed, it will draw great attention to itself.
It appears to be the will of Divine Providence that regions of the earth remote from page 380the centre of European civilization, should be peopled and settled by means of the attraction of gold—California, Victoria, British Columbia, and now New Zealand. The rush to Otago had been immense in 1862. At first, gold and wool were not thought of among the productions of New Zealand, spars for ships were "the staple," lately the wool growers have waxed rich, many of them, and the quantity produced is rapidly increasing. Besides civilians, many army officers having given up their commissions, have assumed the shepherd's crook, and they may succeed, if early habits are adopted, and a careful supervision is exercised over the flocks and their keepers. Wool growing was at one time considered more adapted for the Middle Island, as at Canterbury, &c., but it is also advantageously raised in the Province of Auckland, Hawk's Bay, &c. We know several wealthy New Zealand sheep-farmers, who also do business in horses and cattle, and who import choice breeding stock.
In the Province of Nelson £50,000 a year have been realized from the gold-field there; the local papers have been writing up the page 381gold reefs of Coromandel, east of Auckland; possibly, quartz crushing for gold may be profitable there, and to Otago in the south, the gold of the Clutha River, &c., occasioned the population to be doubled in a few months; 10,000 people were directed to Otago in the course of a few weeks.
The chief auriferous district in Otago is the basin drained by the great central lakes, and the Clutha river and their tributaries, and an area, equal to that of Scotland, is believed to be auriferous. From Dr. Lindsay's able report, it appears that the first gold-field was discovered on the 4th of June, 1841, by Mr. Gabriel Read, and it received the name of Tuapeka or Gabriel's Gully. Since then, the Dundan and Nokomai gold-fields have been worked. At the close of 1862, 550,000 ounces were secured from the Otago gold-fields, or two millions sterling. This province, then, is expected to become one of the most popular fields for British emigrants. Two ship loads of single women for servants were lately most acceptable additions to the population. Up to the 31st of March, 1862, the Nelson gold-field had yielded 46,591 page 382ounces, or £180,541, and the Auckland 354 ounces, or £1,372 in value.
In the great Middle Island, one can sleep in as great security (if not greater) as in the old country, and in the North Island, with justice to the Maori, no settler need be afraid.
As a general summary, shewing the healthy condition of New Zealand in the commercial world, in the quarter ending before I left (in August) the Islands exported to the value of £662,172. Gold was the largest item, its total value in the quarter was, £321,092; of wool, £297,203. Of imports into the colony, there were goods to the amount of £976,518. The Customs revenue for the first six months of 1862 amounted to £196,350.
A great improvement will take place in New Zealand generally, if the Acclimatization Society is as successful as it deserves to be, in its efforts to introduce useful varieties of birds and beasts into the rising colony. His Excellency Sir George Grey has spent both time and money in importing useful quadrupeds and birds; he bought an island, " Kawau," to the north of Auckland, as an acclimatizing depôt, and he mentioned to me he was nego-page 383ciating about the fresh water lake opposite Auckland, on the north shore of the Waitemata Harbour, for European fishes. I wrote to Sydney for a couple of kangaroos, and if these interesting denizens of the Australian plains are found to enliven the waste places in New Zealand, I may yet obtain some "Almanack" immortality.
Rooks and sparrows were much wanted to destroy worms and insects, and a shipment of magpies was desired. When animals are shipped at home, it is recommended to employ one of the passengers to look after them, and to pay him a small sum for his trouble. To trust to the crew, who have other matters to attend to, is a mistake. As to hares and pheasants, they each require separate compartments else they will injure and destroy each other. Numbers, not single pairs, should be exported if ultimate success is looked for. From China, besides pheasants, the date plum might be introduced with advantage. It has produced a profusion of fruit in New South Wales, and is, besides, a handsome tree.
Messrs. Alex. F. Ridgway and Sons, Army page 384Agents, Leicester Square, London, and General Agents to the Provincial Government of Auckland, hold out this great inducement to emigrants to New Zealand, and many have availed themselves of it, and continue to do so, viz.: a free gift of a forty acre farm. Messrs. Ridgway are authorised to give the following notice: Every industrious man or woman of good character, and not through age, infirmity, or other causes, unlikely to form a useful colonist, will, on approval, receive a free gift of forty acres of land in the province of Auckland, New Zealand, together with forty acres more for each person of eighteen years, and twenty acres for each child of five and under eighteen years, whom he may take with him to the colony. The fee is ten shillings for every forty acre order, and five shillings for each twenty acre order. The parties find their own way to the colony, but this may be done at an expense of about fifteen pounds in a good ship, and even less with an assisted passage. Additional land may be purchased at five, ten, or twenty shillings the acre, the price depending on the site, soil, and other contingencies.page 385
Of New Zealand generally, it may be here stated that the two islands extend upwards of eight hundred miles from north to south, and from fifteen to one hundred and fifty miles in breadth, comprise an area greater than that of the United Kingdom, and are indented with spacious bays and land-locked harbours. The surface is mountainous in some places, this and the forests of noble trees, collect abundant supplies of rain from the sea, and fresh water rivers and streams flow everywhere; its grassy plains and ferny hill sides abound in good land for herds and flocks, and the plough. No venomous reptiles are found in New Zealand, and unlike Australia, the foot may be planted with confidence in traversing the land, and there is nothing more noxious than a mosquito in hot weather, provision can be made against which by a veil or small curtain when bivouacking in the field or forest. The climate is famed for its mildness and salubrity. Warm in the northern parts of the North Island and similar to the south of France, the temperature falls as one proceeds south, till a climate like that of the north of Scotland is obtained, with snow and ice in winter.page 386
As to the prospects of emigrants, New Zealand cannot be recommended to the notice of young men who have not been used to labour and are disinclined to it; for the careless and idle it is no place, but for the steady farmer, the skilled mechanic, the man of industry and energy with sons and daughters to provide for and assist him—for the gentleman with capital to purchase a sheep run, and for all, who abandoning prejudice and seeking to acquire the information which may best serve them in a new country, and steadily following out a good course which may be suggested by those who best know New Zealand and its peculiarities, it is well adapted.
Domestic servants give, sometimes, a great deal of annoyance from the value they attach to their services, their restlessness and desire for change, and in females, their extravagance in dress; many of them expect ten shillings a week, and those perfectly ignorant of their duties, are not content with less than seven shillings, and it is too often the case that with from eighteen to thirty pounds a year wages, most of this goes in dress, and there is a change of place for the most trifling cause.page 387
A sober man is certain to thrive in service, but for a drunkard there is a brief career. A friend told me he had employed a fine strong man as a ploughman on his farm, but he missed him for a week; going to his house to see what was the matter, he found him lying in bed drunk, and his ill-cared for children were helping him to spirits out of the tea-kettle. His wife, adopting the same course, had been sent to the lunatic asylum. As another picture, I have known industrious steady men-servants acquiring sufficient to buy a few cows, and marrying a young woman who had saved her wages, become in a few years owners of land, and rich in flocks and herds. Wages in 1862 were as follows: farm-servants and (sheep) station hands, single men, with rations, £50 to £60 per annum; good ploughmen, £55 to £65, shepherds the same; married couples £70 to £80; female servants, £25 to £30; dairy maids, £30 to £40, and for day labourers without wages, seven to nine shillings.
The settlement of a thousand Nonconformists recently arrived, and located in Albert Land, north of Auckland, on the Onua page 388Wharo, is viewed with considerable interest. These will speedily be followed by others, "the native difficulties" being investigated and duly settled in the North Island—in the Middle Island there are none to adjust.
When in camp on the Waikato, I was enabled to accomplish what I had much desired, a visit to Nelson and Wellington in Cook's Straits. At Wellington there were 300 men of the 2-14th Regiment, under Major Dwyer. Besides being required to inspect the detachment, I was President of a General Court-Martial at Wellington. Severe examples were required about this time; a sergeant of the 65th, stationed at Wanganui, had shot his adjutant, and had recently been executed at Wellington. Strong drink for years had soured the sergeant's temper. The same was the occasion of other acts of insubordination, but which were checked by " the strong hand."
I embarked on board the 'Airedale' steamer, Captain Kennedy, with other officers also proceeding on court-martial duty, but owing to the dangerous state of the bar, we were detained two days behind the shelter of the headland at Pooponga.page 389
Mines of wealth have yet to be opened of various kinds in New Zealand, among others great quantities of mullet might be caught and salted at the Manukau for the Melbourne market, also at the Chatham Islands great supplies of cod might be procured.
The surf moderating, we crossed the bar, then ran along the west coast, and crossing to the Middle Island, found ourselves in the usually calm waters of Blind or Tasman Bay. Well land-locked with fine mountain ranges, Nelson is picturesquely placed at the south end of the bay, and from the sea, seems to have no level land about it; but on reaching the shore, sufficient space is observed to enable the town to be considerably expanded.
The climate is excellent at Nelson, neither too hot nor too cold. Fruit there is in abundance. The Nelson apples are celebrated, and we saw large market-gardens well provided. I walked a considerable distance up the Maitai valley, then rode towards Wymea, passing a handsome new college, which with other advantages, will probably cause Nelson to be resorted to by parents for educational purposes. The Dun mountain is the princi-page 390pal feature at Nelson, and with its railroad zigzagging up its front, and conveying to its base mineral riches, as copper, &c. Nelson exports gold, copper, coal, chrome of various hues, and wool from the Wairau valley, well-known in the history of New Zealand for the massacre of Colonel Wakefield and other officials and servants, who imprudently came in collision with the natives, disputing with the New Zealand Company's people, the right to the land.
In a museum at Nelson, I saw excellent specimens of the minerals of the district, and also gigantic remains, in the shape of leg bones and feet, of the great bird the Moa, rare Maori stone gods of great antiquity, &c.
On leaving Nelson, we tried to get through the French passage where the water runs past the rocks like a millrace, but we failed to be in time for a favourable turn of tide, and we kept outside by D'Urville's Island, and the rocky and dangerous shores of Cook's Straits, a funnel for the winds disporting therein.
Wellington is on a grand and partly land-locked harbour, Port Nicholson, and has disputed with Auckland the right to be consi-page 391dered the seat of Government. It has not sufficient land to enable it greatly to expand; as there were occasional visitations from earthquakes, the houses are single storied to provide against accidents; but for eight years there has been no disturbance of the earth, and the town may increase by reason of the fine sheep-runs not far off at the Wairarapa, and under the shadow of the Remutaka mountains.
Besides an agreeable time spent with my brother officers of the 14th, I received attention from the superintendant of the Province, Mr. Featherston, Judge Johnstone, and the agreeable family of the resident magistrate, Mr. St. Hill.
I said Port Nicholson was partly land-locked, it is not entirely so from the south-west wind which blew for sometime furiously into the harbour, across a sandy peninsula, over which Cook's boats once rowed before an upheaving from earthquakes took place; I saw a large American ship, 'Mary Meril,' driven from her moorings and wrecked on the rocks north of the town, and a brig was also driven on shore at the upper end of the port.page 392
I encountered one day the old chief Epuni, or "the greedy" at Wellington, and now decorated with a white beard. I had a picture of him in ray sketch-book, copied from one clone when he was in the prime of man-hood, and grand in flax-mat and feathers. I shewed him his own likeness, but he looked at it vacantly, and did not seem to recognize it. Though he is called Epuni, I am not aware that his appetite was keener than that of others of his countrymen, but their appetites generally have a fine edge; thus Captain F. E. Campbell, clerk of the House of Assembly, having received hospitality from a native in the country, endeavoured to reciprocate civilities when the chief came to town, and provided him with a dinner consisting of a leg of mutton, a loaf of bread, two dishes of potatoes, a plum pudding, a bottle of sherry, and a bottle of porter, all of which he disposed of at a sitting, except a slice of the pudding, which he tied up in his hand-kerchief for his little boy at home. It is necessary to state that the chief was a large man, and as it appeared with an appetite to correspond with his bulk.page 393
Through the kind attentions of Major Dwyer in providing horses, I was able to visit the beautiful Ngaranga valley with its over-hanging rocks and woods and winding stream, to see the gorges or narrow passes of the Hutt River and the Mattara valley richly clothed with forest.
After four weeks at Wellington, and having concluded my duties there, I returned by the ' Airedale,' touching again at the Taranaki, which was still under military surveillance, Colonel Warre, C.B., commanding, and the farmers unable to resume cultivation for want of confidence in their late foes.
When the time came for parting with the young battalion, which I had joined immediately after its birth at Naas, and had not quitted for about four years and a half, I found it a very difficult matter; the battalion was a second family, as it were, in which mutual interests and sympathies had naturally sprung up, and were hard to sever. The officers present at head-quarters paid me the compliment of a handsome dinner, and the poor men waited for hours in the rain to cheer me off. It was altogether an ordeal I page 394should not like to pass through again; but at length I mounted, and rode to the Manukau with Captains Barnes and Strange, and Lieutenant Cope, thus parting with the last of the corps at Onehunga.
Embarked in the "Lord Worseley," Captain Kennedy, a roomy vessel since wrecked, but under a different commander, near Mount Egmont, we had for the first time a good bar at the Manukau Heads, and steered to the Taranaki, but it was too wet and stormy to land there again. Arrived at Wellington, I spent a short time with Major Dwyer and the detachment 14th, then shipped in the small steamer " Queen," Captain Pole, an attentive and clever navigator, but commanding a vessel too small for the wild seas about the iron-bound shores of this southern land. The cabins were too narrow to wash and dress in except sideways. A stout gentleman who voyaged in the little " Queen," found himself so jammed up in his berth in the morning, that he was obliged to be sawn out of it; yet we had a deck load of horses and coals, cattle below, and we lost some of this stock as was to be expected page 395from the limited room for stowage. There was too much drinking at the commencement of the voyage. Thus three would come down to the cabin, and say to each other, " What will ye take?" then call for " nobblers," and with the exclamation " Who shouts?" or treats. I thought it necessary to interfere and remonstrate against this, and it was taken in good part. Half the wrecks here and els-where arise from carelessness and drinking.
We rolled along with stiff breezes to Port Cooper, passing ranges of snow-clad mountains, the Kaikoras, also the rugged peninsula called Bank's, famous for high winds. A facetious fellow said the devil tried to make some land and made it, and having some clay left, he threw it down and said, " You be blowed!" and this became Bank's Peninsula.
Back from Port Cooper, in its deep and sheltered bay, is Littleton, the capital of the Canterbury settlement, where good society is to be found, and extensive sheep-runs enriching the owners. The enterprise of the people here is shewn in the great tunnel which is penetrating the heights at Port Cooper, and opening easy access to the Canterbury plains.page 396
We had on board the " Queen" the captain of the late steam-ship "White Swan," which had been recently lost at Waionanga, east coast, during her passage from Auckland to Wellington. The disaster happened at six o'clock in the morning, when the fifty passengers were asleep below, including the Hon. Mr. Fox the prime minister, and several of his colleagues on their way to the meeting of the Parliament, also the Chief Justice Sir George Arney, Captain Harman, 14th Regiment, and many ladies.
The land had been too closely hugged. After striking, the captain steered for the shore, and the vessel began to settle down by the head, it was a period of intense anxiety till she grounded. About twenty minutes after striking, the water in one of the compartments was level with the deck; the passengers were landed in the boats, these had to be supplied with thole pins from umbrellas and walking-sticks. Both luggage and money were lost, and many boxes of valuable public papers were thrown overboard, in the hope that they would have floated ashore, but the swell carried them out to sea. The providen-page 397tial escape of crew and passengers on so wild and broken a coast, was a matter of the deepest gratitude to the Almighty, and was recognized by the shipwrecked party, assembling in a large shed on the beach, where the Chief Justice read the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, in which occur these impressive words, " It is I, be not afraid," and he then pronounced an appropriate prayer. The " White Swan " became a total wreck, and the passengers were afterwards enabled to make their way by land and by sea to Wellington.
On the east coast, at the Bay of Plenty, Sir George Grey's new system for the natives seemed to be appreciated, and to work well. Mr. Smith, the civil commissioner, was now busily engaged organising Runangas or councils, and presidents and members of the village Runangas were elected, and a native constabulary force was employed to maintain order among the numerous tribes of the people, and several councils had already been held.
An industrious tribe of Ngatipikiaus who had been employed in digging for Kauri gum for sometime past, and had lately purchased a page 398schooner of twenty-eight tons for £850, which amount was collected in two years, were also building at Te Rotaito a large flour-mill which was to cost £600, and Government was ready to assist those natives with loans who could be relied upon to make good use of the money. Remarkable instances of Maori honesty came to my knowledge when in command of the outposts at the Waikato—thus the postman travelling to and fro for years and often with large sums of money and never once obstructed; the anxiety to repay debts incurred to the white men was also a favourable trait in the Maori character.
In due time we came in sight of Port Chalmers, Province of Otago, and on the left saw the wreck of another steamer the "Victory," which had been run ashore through the drunkenness and carelessness of the officer in charge of the deck at the time; his punishment was only four months imprisonment.
We took a pilot on board at the light-house, ran up to the anchorage, then shipped with our portmanteaus into a wonderfully small steamer called the "Expert" like a ship's long boat, and with steam and sail and a run of page 399some miles by wooded and picturesque bank s reached Dunedin. This very rising city was flourishing and extending along its sloping site. The gold discoveries had now caused a large influx of active and enterprising men to overpower "the old identity" or original free kirk settlers. There was a joke against one of these worthies, he was asked one Sunday how much he would take for a piece of land he had, he replied "If it were not the Sabbath day I would say £500."
I put up at a clean and good hotel the "Criterion;" but in a gold digging, prices ruled high, thus 5s. for a bed, 5s. for a dinner, 4s. for breakfast, &c.
A remarkable event took place when I was at Dunedin, two men came in from gold digging and washing at a secret place up the Clutha River, and bringing with them, tied up in pieces of mole skin and corduroy, 871bs. weight of fine gold and which was deposited in the Bank. This rich "find" was doubted to be genuine at first, it was thought to be a "plant" to get a reward, or to draw others to "prospect;" but after due investigation it was found to be correct, and the gold pioneers page 400asked for and obtained £2,000 from Government, besides the value of their 871bs., to reveal where "the fortunate hole" lay. Then commenced a rush, shopmen jumping the counter and off to buy pick, spade and blanket, many shops were shut for want of help. Melbourne took the infection and ship-loads of miners began to appear from Victoria.
Dunedin two years ago was little better than a quiet village, the flax and the toi-toi reed growing where are now some of the principal streets. There is a wonderful change now—great excitement, great bustle, great progress, wooden huts transformed into brick and stone buildings, handsome shops well provided with goods, asphalt pavements (which by the way are not safe near wooden edifices as they are liable to take and convey fire) crowded wharves, ships and steamers in plenty, all this arising from the sudden appearance of the gold fever in the district, and the extraordinary productiveness of this southern gold field.
After "the find" before noticed, the gold escort brought to town 17,000 ounces, the result of a fortnight's work, and the number of page 401hands employed in digging by the last accounts amounted to 8000 men, the average earnings of each man being an ounce or £3 10s. a day, this beats the Victorian mines where the yield was about an ounce for three men. In a short time from Otago, of gold and other exports the declared value was £150,000.
An instance of perseverance at Dunedin may be given, a draper was not succeeding at home and he left his wife and two children for a season to try his fortune at Otago; not getting a situation at once, he bought a set of shoe brushes and cleaned boots opposite one of the large hotels, till the roads became so muddy that the people did not care to have their boots cleaned at all; he then got a basket and brought water cresses into town, and did well, till the frost came and killed them; lastly he swept chimneys, when his friends at home hearing of his struggles, sent money to him to enable him to rejoin his family and with improved prospects at home.
After partaking of the hospitalities of the mess of the detachment 70th Regiment, commanded by Major Ryan, I embarked on the page 40221st August in the steamer "Gothenburg" Captain Mackie, an excellent commander, and with the wind strong against us steered south, and saw Stuart's or the South Island of New Zealand. I wished to go in the swift 'Aldinga' steamer, it was as well she had not arrived, for she touched a rock in passing through Faveaux Straits, and was obliged to put back for repairs.
We had a strong and adverse gale in Bass' Straits, and took ten days to perform our voyage, through no fault or want of effort on the part of the Captain, to whom the passengers unanimously presented a testimonial. At last we saw Port Philip Heads; inside, the "rip" or tide running like a mill-race against us, was terrible, but we stemmed it, and admiring the pleasant appearance of the lighthouse, and the sea-bathing quarters on our left, we passed into Hobson's Bay, and brought up near the ship 'Constance,' which had just run down, and caused the total loss of the 'Tubal Cain' and all hands, except the carpenter, who sprang from a yard of the sinking ship into the 'Constance.' This last had her stem knocked in, and her foremast lay against the mainmast, a miserable affair altogether.page 403
In the golden colony of Victoria, I found myself truly in a civilized land—in a land of immense progress, and of unexampled prosperity in a very few years. From the Sandridge Wharf, Mr. Harris and Mr. Wentworth, fellow-passengers and myself, went up by rail to Melbourne, and took up our quarters in a capital hotel, and one not unreasonable, "Scott's;" twelve shillings per day was the charge for a good bed-room, perfectly clean, and for three well-cooked meals. Mr. Scott paid his cook £200 a year, and the most fastidious gourmet could not complain of the fare.
An injury to the lower limbs caused me to require the valuable assistance of Dr. D. J. Thomas, and his skilful treatment enabled me to hold out without laying up. I "went softly" for a time, but still I was able to see all I wanted, and partake of the hospitalities of Governor Sir Henry Barclay, of General Sir Thomas Pratt, of Sir James Palmer the President of the Council, Mr. McMullen, manager of the Union Bank, &c, and was also a member of an excellent club, pro tem.
Collins Street, where I lived, would cut a page 404fine figure in any part of the world—long, wide, well-kept, with very handsome cut stone churches, banks, and other public buildings, and shops with a rich assortment of goods; nothing seemed to be wanting in Melbourne to supply the most refined and extravagant taste. The one horse public vehicles or jingles were peculiar, a sort of double gig very roomy, carrying the driver and one passenger in front, and three facing the rear, a wide "Albert car."
I experienced a dust storm, but its effects were soon subdued by the Yan Yian waterworks, from which a stream flowed through the streets, most refreshing to behold; and it took three men to hold the pipe and hose which dashed a powerful stream of water across the streets, and effectually to lay the dust.
I made the acquaintance of a hardy and enterprising countryman, Mr. Landsborough, the traveller, and his two native attendants, Jimmy and Fisherman. Mr. Landsborough is an Ayrshire man, and he had just returned from a successful journey from the Gulf of Carpentaria. He had gone originally in page 405search of the unfortunate explorers, Burke and Wills. I brought home Mr. Lands-borough's journal and map for the Royal Geographical Society; and these will, no doubt, soon be published in England, and reveal tracts of great promise for intending settlers and sheep farmers.
I was much interested in driving with my young friend, Mr. G. A. Colquhoun, to the University and Museum. In the latter are well-preserved specimens of the birds, beasts and fishes of Australia, also of the minerals, besides well-executed models of the manner of gold washing in the creeks, and mining below the surface, at the depth of several hundred feet, with sections of the strata passed through.
At the public library, Mr. Tuke presented me with a catalogue beautifully illustrated with the flora of the land. Besides a choice and large collection of books, the casts and photographs at the library, demonstrated the great cost at which, and chiefly directed by Sir Redmond Barry, this most creditable institution had been established. I saw a considerable number of men of the mechanic page 406class, availing themselves in the Reading rooms of the advantages of free admission.
At the Royal Park, the Acclimatization Society were collecting useful animals to distribute in Australia; and I saw there the graceful kangaroo and wallibie, also native and foreign birds.
With Mr. William Palmer, sergeant-at-arms, I visited the very handsome Houses of Parliament, of massive architecture, and inside resplendent with gilding on white ground. We next, as a great treat, adjourned to the Botanical Gardens, excellently kept, extensive, with varied surface, possessing a large lagoon for aquatic birds and plants, and in extensive aviaries, birds from the old country gave their "sounds of home."
My next expedition was a hundred miles up the country to Ballarat the original "gold diggings;" there, guided by Mr. Williamson, manager of the Union Bank, I was enabled to see quartz crushing for gold at the Black Hill, puddling at the Prince of Wales' mine, and the operation of gold washing by means of the cradle worked by a Chinaman in a very primitive manner, but thus not the less interesting.page 407
The prosperity of the colony of Victoria may be seen from the following tables of 1860.
- Number of holders of land, 13,175.
- Number of acres, 3,015,607.
- Land in cultivation, 358,727.
- Wool, £2,025,066, exported.
- Tallow, £18,269, exported.
- Hides and Skins, £144,236, exported.
- Sheep, 5,794,127.
- Cattle, 683,534.
- Horses, 69,288.
Male Emigrants. Females. Total. 19,566 9,471 29,037
Males in Victoria. Females. Total. 342,765 205,647 548,412
In 1859, of gold, 2,280,675 ounces, and its value was £9,120,971.
The foundation of the colony may be considered to have taken place in 1835.
I thought at one time of the Red Sea route home, but the fine large steamship 'Great Britain' being at Melbourne, and about to start, I took a cabin in her, and embarked on the 17th of September, and I had no reason to repent of the route I had adopted, though page 408it was round the dreaded "Horn," connected with which are endless stories of storms, tempests and icebergs.
On the morning of the 18th of September, the noble ship of 5000 tons burden, and 500 horse power, commanded by Captain Gray of the Royal Naval Reserve, loosed from her moorings in Hobson's Bay, and in smooth water steamed down towards the Port Philip Heads, carrying a valuable cargo of gold, wool, &c., from the golden colony of Victoria. Of passengers in the four saloons, and ship's company, we had five hundred and eighteen souls on board.
For an iron ship, the 'Great Britain' is one of the strongest afloat. She is now twenty years old, and strength and solidity are apparent in all parts of her hull and fittings, she has also the modern improvements of double topsails, patent windlasses, &c. Steaming and sailing the course was through Bass' Straits towards the east, to round the Horn, and thence, if favoured by Providence, towards the shores of "Merrie England." After a few days out, it blew furiously, as is usual in these so-called "Pacific" latitudes, page 409but as we made great progress, one thousand miles in four days, and there was no damage done to the sails or spars, the gale was an advantage to us.
We passed and saw the volcanic group of the Auckland Isles, of picturesque outline and possessing much interest for the botanist, then Campbell Island, mountainous, and with good harbours, though like the Aucklands totally uninhabited. Speeding on our voyage and averaging two hundred and forty miles a day, the time was diversified with music, and dancing, and I had undertaken to edit a weekly paper called after the great ocean bird "the Albatross;" the passengers being stimulated to contribute to it, an agreeable excitement was kept up, and the voyage apparently shortened by the efforts of amateur members of "the fourth estate."
A suspicious haze prevailed over the deep for some days, indicating the vicinity of ice, and causing some anxiety when the horizon could not be seen or observations taken; whales we also looked out for, though it is lamentable to think of their wanton destruction in the Southern Ocean, even the females page 410followed into the bays where they had resorted to calve, and there mercilessly slaughtered with their young. It is conjectured that if the Great Antarctic barrier of ice could be penetrated by steamers with lifting screws, a preserve of whales would be found towards the South Pole. Whaling nations should agree to have Ocean Game Laws, or whales, walrusses, seals, &c., will soon become totally extinct.
Three icebergs were seen, and the cold air from them was sensibly felt. One was apparently six hundred feet long, and created a considerable sensation on board; whilst sea birds attended us in large numbers, and a couple of whales spouted as "the brave winds" blew us towards "Tierra del Fuego," or the land of fire.
The backbone of South America (the Andes, extending from Panama to near Cape Horn) acts as a wall to stop the western gales, which come in violent puffs round the south corner, as it were, of the great continent, rising here in huge mishapen and barren precipices, with violent tides and currents at their base; yet in various parts, forests and verdant shades, and page 411even flowers relieve the scene, and proclaim that even here
"All is not barren."
In passing the treeless but healthy Falkland Islands, we experienced rough weather, and a turbulent ocean, and the ship burying her head in the waves, pitched fearfully. It is to be desired that the Falklands will be selected as a convict settlement, as escape from them is difficult, the soil is capable of being rendered very productive with skilled labour, there is excellent grazing, the sea round them swarms with fish, and there are no aborigines to interfere with the right of possession.
In the end of October, we were well between the tropics, the heat was 80°, and we changed our opossum rugs for lighter coverings. There were three events in one week, a play in the saloon, dancing on deck instead of the saloon, and a close view of the picturesque island of Trinidada,
"Placed far amid the melancholy main."
The play was "The Loan of a Lover." The parts were well sustained, and it gave entire satisfaction.page 412
The great pinnacle of rock rising out of the depths of ocean, the summit of a cordillera, Trinidada, in south latitude 20°, and which we passed within perfect view, was an object of extreme interest. It is six miles in circumference; sea-fowls sailed round the cliffs, and the surf beat high on its ironbound shores. The 'Monument' and 'Sugarloaf rocks stood out prominently, the first is upwards of eight hundred feet high.
Though desolation and solitude claim Trinidada for their own, yet the Portuguese had once a settlement here, and from the aspect of the island, it is possible that the vine might be successfully cultivated on it.
In latitude 3° 56' south, we passed a terrestrial paradise, Fernando Noronha, a Brazilian island, used for transportation. Its surface is varied, covered with luxuriant vegetation, and gorgeous with flowers. The earth and sea easily produce what satisfies the wants of the inhabitants, who spend a good deal of their time lolling in their net hammocks, or smoking, gaming, and playing the guitar.
As a suitable amusement for the warm latitudes we were passing through, a vocal and page 413instrumental concert came off in the saloon, under an excellent German leader, Mr. Pohl.
We crossed the line on the 29th of October, after forty days from Melbourne, the quickest run Captain Gray had made from that port to the Line in the "Great Britain" in ten years, or any other vessel he had heard of.
The next event was passing close to the dangerous rocky islets called St. Pauls, or Penado de St. Pedro, in latitude 0° 55' north. Many wrecks have no doubt taken place on these jagged and terrible crags rising out of soundings one hundred feet above the water, and in the direct track of ships from southern lands. The dreary shores swarm with sea-birds, as the sea does with fish, and the gaftopsail fins of numerous sharks are seen above the surface of the tepid water; here especially the monsters require to be beaten off with oars when fish are being hauled into ships' boats.
Mr. Cooper, a government officer, exhibited dissolving views of a superior order, the expensive apparatus for which had cost one hundred guineas.page 414
Our good ship now approached its destined haven, and at no great distance from Cape Clear, one morning before sunrise, we had a very providential escape from destruction. The look-out on the forecastle did not see the mighty object which approached us, but the officer of the watch beside the helmsman suddenly observed a tall ship of apparently 1200 tons burden, silently and without lights, bearing right down upon us. A turn of the wheel saved us, and the great black hull passed just clear of, and across our bows. Another half minute there might have been a fearful crash of spars and hulls, and one or both vessels sunk in a very brief space of time.
After sixty-two days from Melbourne, we safely and thankfully arrived at Liverpool, thus concluding a prosperous and happy voyage.