Tikera; or, Children of the Queen of Oceania
The discovery and first translation into English of a Polish novel set in the New Zealand of the eighteen-sixties is an event to arouse both expectation and caution. Perhaps in an editor the caution ought to predominate. The temptation is to make great claims. To some extent such claims would be justified. It is certainly far better than any novel about New Zealand written in English as early as this. Many passages are memorable. The description of Auckland as a rough frontier town, showing signs of age and decay when it was still new; the detached picture of the war against the Maoris drawn by a writer who, although he showed some of the European arrogance towards coloured people, identified himself with a nation who like the Poles were under the rule of another; the mordant account of a society in New Plymouth which in the midst of apparently fighting for its life was frantically engaged in oil speculation; the exploration of colonial mores; the narrator's equivocal relationship with the half-Maori heroine, Tikera—all these and more deserve to be known to New Zealanders interested in their country's past.
It is still true, nevertheless, that there is nothing in nineteenth century fiction set in New Zealand to compare remotely with Robbery Under Arms or For the Term of His Natural Life. Tikera shares many of the characteristics of its English-language contemporaries. It is well within the tradition of those novels which combined practical adventure with a determination to inform. The information, like the geographical description of the country through which the narrator and his companion journeyed, is often accurate, sometimes not. It all holds up the narrative. Although there is the framework of a plot, it is rather a series of episodes than a compact rounded novel. The author's imaginative vigour comes and goes, at times in full charge, at others flagging. Tikera is both much the best of its genre set in New Zealand, and representative of it.
Such European novelists as ranged widely in their search for settings sometimes lighted on New Zealand. The elder Dumas' Madame Giovanni called at Auckland; Jules Verne subjected his characters to volcanic eruptions and scenes of cannibalism in the third volume of his Les enfants du capitaine Grant. The author of Tikera wrote from a more personal knowledge than these.page viii
The information which we have about Sygurd Wiśniowski's life comes from two main sources: his own writings, particularly his account of his ten years in Australia, and the general introduction to the 1956 Warsaw edition of his works. Some of this information, where it can be checked, turns out not to be so; the accuracy of the rest cannot be guaranteed.
He was born in 1841 in the town of Paniowce Zielone, in that part of Eastern Poland which was then within Austria-Hungary, the only son of a small industrialist who belonged socially to the gentry. He apparently lost his mother early, and his father was not excessively fond of him; he therefore felt no strong attachment to his birthplace. He led a wandering life from the age of seventeen, when he ran away and crossed illegally into what were then the Danubian principalities, where he tried unsuccessfully to support himself by teaching French. He moved on foot through Bulgaria and Turkey to Constantinople and for a time worked with the construction crew on the telegraph line across the Ottoman Empire, which was a Polish undertaking. Finally, prompted no doubt by his family, the Austrian consul in Salonika persuaded him to return home. He finished his secondary schooling and enrolled in the faculty of Law at the University of Lwów.
In 1860 he went to Italy to fight in the Hungarian Legion against the Bourbons of Naples, and when the Kingdom of Naples had been overthrown went on to join General Ludwik Mieroslawski, a Polish revolutionary who had established a military academy for young Poles in Cuneo, a town not far from Genoa. Trainees of the college played an important part in the so-called January Uprising against Russia in 1863—but without Wiśniowski. In that year he went to Australia, after a brief return visit to Poland. He stayed in Australia until 1872, except for one or two excursions in the Pacific. He visited Fiji, and in 1864 travelled as far as Peru in the crew of a barque which took coal from Newcastle to Callao and then loaded guano at the Chincha Islands. The return voyage ended in Auckland. According to his 1956 editor, the barque was called the Woodpecker, like the ship in which his narrator arrived in New Zealand; but no ship of that name is known to have visited New Zealand at that time.
Wiśniowski, then in his early twenties, was in New Zealand for nearly a year, in 1864–5. After spending some weeks in and around Auckland he left for the South Island, mainly, he says, to avoid being conscripted into the militia. He wintered in the Skippers Gully, in Otago, panning for gold, and in the spring joined in the shortlived rush to Wakamarina, in Marlborough. He left the country from page ix Nelson. He did not, therefore, visit the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, or New Plymouth, where he set the main scenes of his novel. But he did have a considerable experience of colonial life, he met a wide variety of characters in the goldfields, and he travelled through the New Zealand bush during his trek on foot from Otago to Marlborough. In Australia he lived in many places from New South Wales to the Gulf of Carpentaria, mining gold, exploring, and writing for newspapers. He left Australia only because of deteriorating health, and thought he would return.
Instead, after a brief visit to Poland in 1872, he went to the United States, where he moved about as he had done in Australia, going as far afield as Cuba. For a time he settled as a farmer near the town of New Ulm in Minnesota, took American citizenship, and married an American wife. His 1956 editor says he even served a term as a Republican in the state House of Representatives, but this is apparently not so. He also discovered his ability to write. There had been other writers in the family. A relative, whom Wiśniowski called uncle, wrote historical fiction under the pseudonym of ‘Tomasz Jeż’. Another relative, Honorata Zap, née Wiśniowski wife of a Czech historian, was also a writer of some repute. For about ten years Wiśniowski wrote for Polish literary journals. His short stories and light novels became very popular. He wrote mainly from the United States, though he made brief return visits to Poland, including one in 1876 to Warsaw, which was then in the Russian-controlled part of Poland, and which he had not visited before. In the late seventies he spent some time in England and France.
When he returned finally to Poland in 1884 it was not as a writer but as a businessman. His interests, ironically in view of the plot of Tikera, had turned to the exploitation of oilfields in eastern Poland. His last literary work, a Polish translation of Sartor Resartus, was published in 1884. The rest of his life was commonplace, if prosperous. He settled in Drohobycz, where he busied himself with constantly proliferating oilfields and with local politics, expressing his old adventurous spirit in frequent and impetuous litigation. He died in Lwów of pneumonia on 23 April 1892, leaving a young American widow and an adopted daughter. It is not known what happened to his manuscripts and personal papers.
Wiśniowski's novel, Dzieci królowej Oceanii (‘Children of the Queen of Oceania’) was probably written on his farm near New Ulm, Minnesota, some time between 1874 and 1876. It first appeared in instalments in the Warsaw weekly, Wędrowiec (‘The Wanderer’), which although it specialized in popularizing science and in description page x of travel and exploration also published fiction. This was in 1877. In the same year it was published in book form by Gebethner and Wolff, also in Warsaw. Since then the book has been reprinted twice, in 1926–8 (in two volumes), and in 1956, as part of an edition of his work. Both these printings were small, and seem to have been inspired by a small group of admirers of Wiśniowski's work. Despite their efforts Wiśniowski is not widely known in Poland today. The 1956 edition is a scholarly work with notes and introduction, which genuflects, as it was bound to, towards the Marxist view of the theme of imperialist aggression implicit in the novel, but by no means as wholeheartedly as many New Zealand historians would do. It takes a very lenient view, for one, of the character and motives of Sir George Grey. The 1956 edition also includes the New Zealand section, Chapters VIII and IX, of Wiśniowski's factual book, Dziesieć lat w Australji (‘Ten Years in Australia’), which is chiefly notable for an account, highly coloured if set against other descriptions of life in the goldfields, of lynch law operating, in Otago.
A copy of the 1956 edition found its way into the collection of the National Library of New Zealand, where it most fortunately caught the eye of Mr Jerzy Podstolski, a Senior Lecturer at the Library School in Wellington. Mr Podstolski embarked upon a translation, a heroic undertaking, especially as they had no guarantee of a publisher before they began, or indeed for some time after the work was completed.
When Wiśniowski arrived in Auckland late in 1864 New Zealand was almost half-way through a decade of conflict between the British settlers, who had been arriving in the colony in increasing numbers since 1840, and some of the more powerful Maori tribes, who had watched the European influx with increasing alarm. The possibility of conflict had been latent ever since the New Zealand Company had despatched the first settlers from Britain before land to settle them on had been obtained. The pressure for land to satisfy settlers who had been promised it and had often paid for it before leaving Britain led to several local outbreaks of fighting in the 1840s. Tension was again rising in the late ‘fifties. In the Waikato, south of Auckland, several Maori tribes combined to elect a king, though evidently intending at first that he should recognize the suzerainty of the English Queen. In Taranaki a settlement unusually circumscribed met with more than usually determined opposition to the sale of land. To bring matters to a head, the Governor, Colonel Thomas Gore Browne, page xi approved the purchase by government agents of land at Waitara, near New Plymouth, from a minor chief named Teira. The sale was disputed by a senior chief, Wiremu Kingi. (Noting that this name is a transliteration of William King, Wiśniowski gives it to the Maori King. Kingi was not the King, however. Like many mission-educated Maoris he had been given an English name, in his case the name of one of the first Church Missionary Society settlers. Teira was Taylor.) Troops were sent in to enforce the sale; Kingi's followers resisted; the first Taranaki war had begun. This was in 1860. Although the Waitara purchase was rescinded by the next Governor, Sir George Grey, he widened the war by invading the Waikato in 1863, believing, or professing to believe, that followers of the Maori King, many of whom had fought in Taranaki on the side of Wiremu Kingi, were planning to attack Auckland. Behind him his ministers in the colonial government had more than one eye on the rich Waikato lands, which had hitherto eluded the grasp of the Europeans except for the odd missionary and trader; they proceeded to confiscate three million acres for resale to settlers. (Half of this was eventually returned—and then purchased.) During 1863 and 1864 fighting ebbed and flowed across the centre of the North Island, in Taranaki, the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, and Wanganui. The Maori people had never been a united nation: not all tribes joined in the resistance. Some allied themselves with the government, others remained inactive. In elusive guerilla warfare the ‘rebels’ were usually, though by no means always, defeated in European military terms when they were pinned down in a siege or small-scale battle, but they remained for a long time unsubdued. More and more of their territory was, however, occupied. The final issue was not in doubt. Fighting died away after 1870 and most of the surviving leaders were at least formally reconciled to the colonial government by the early ‘eighties. The Maori people were already, before the war, declining in numbers, from the effects of disease and firearms. It was generally assumed to be a dying race, sorrowfully by some including Wiśniowski, complacently by many British settlers who saw this as the solution to their racial problem. The prognosis has been spectacularly disproved in the last half-century.
The bloodiest events' of the war, Wiśniowski says at the beginning of his first chapter, ‘occurred towards the end of 1864 and in the first months of 1865.’ This is the novelist preparing for the involvement of his narrator in such events. In fact, although there were ‘bloody events’, these were relatively quiet months while forces of both sides were regrouping. The settlers' government was negotiating page xii to take over the conduct of the war from the imperial forces (the ‘self-reliant policy’) while endeavouring to avoid paying for it. On the Maori side the comparatively moderate leaders of the first phase of the war, men such as Wiremu Kingi and Wiremu Tamehana (William Thompson, one of the founders of the Waikato ‘King Movement’) were being succeeded by angrier, more intransigent, younger men under the banners of the Pai Marire (or Hau Hau) and Ringatu religious movements.
Wiśniowski in his novel sent his narrator and his German companion from Auckland to New Plymouth by an improbable route through the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, Taupo, and Wanganui, so that they might be involved in the fighting and also observe the Maori people and the British settlers at home. The war which he describes is a general impression of the kind of fighting which went on throughout the ‘sixties, with details apparently suggested by the events from 1860 to 1868. The only engagement which can be identified as being based on an actual one is the ambush in which the Polish-Prussian leader of the forest rangers, von Tempsky, was killed; and this is a highly-coloured version.
It is not now possible to identify all the sources from which Wiśniowski assembled his novel. Nor is it necessary to do so. Although his ‘Author's Preface’ is vaguely expressed, perhaps deliberately so, its description of the process of writing seems likely enough. ‘What I had seen myself, and what I had been told of events which I had not seen, merged together. These were the key to my yellowed notebooks, the relics of my wanderings.’ He further implies that he has written from the viewpoint of another Pole, whom he had met in the gold-fields, who ‘with inconceivable perversity in taste, so far as the majority were concerned’ preferred Maori women to any others. ‘During a succession of fine autumn evenings he told us all he knew of the life of the natives, whom most of us knew only through a few representatives working in the goldfields.’ Whether there was such a single informant to whom most of the adventures befell, or whether he was invented as a convenient narrator, on whom could be blamed the ‘inconceivable perversity in taste’ which European readers might find reprehensible, cannot now be determined.
Another informant was probably a young Maori whom, as recorded in the factual account of New Zealand mentioned earlier, Wiśniowski met in Otago. He was the son of a chief: his name, Wiśniowski says, was Te Wamu, also known as Bill Baker. From him Wiśniowski learnt something of a Maori's metaphorical, allusive manner of page xiii speech. Wiśniowski was obviously an earnest enquirer and meticulous recorder of what he heard, and many other people whom he met during his stay in New Zealand must have added to his store.
He does not mention, among his sources, what he had read, but this must have been considerable. Apart from reading the newspapers while he was in New Zealand he was almost certainly familiar with several of the standard descriptive works—William Swainson's New Zealand (1856), A. S. Thomson's The Story of New Zealand (1859), Richard Taylor's Te Ika a Maui (1855), among others. A few correspondences between these and Wiśniowski's text are so close, as detailed in the notes, that it is hard to believe they are not direct quotations. On the other hand, Tikera does not derive heavily from any one of them, and it is equally hard to believe that Wiśniowski had any of them by him for ready consultation in New Ulm, Minnesota, as he was writing. If he had he would not have made some of the errors which he did make, such as siting active volcanoes in the Bay of Islands. It is more as if those ‘yellowed notebooks’ contained extracts which had taken his fancy when he had read the books, and which were now brought into service. This kind of selective reading and remembering may also account for some of the geographical ambiguities. Wiśniowski will show himself well informed and reasonably accurate about some areas, while using his imagination to fill in the intervening country.
Tracing his sources to the limited extent we can do and noting his use of them is no mere academic exercise. It throws light on one of the questions which must be asked in reading such a novel. To what extent is the setting meant to be factually authentic? Is it to be read as if accuracy were a primary quality sought for, or was Wiśniowski in search of an imaginative truth to which factual detail, whether accurate or not, was merely a condiment? I think it can be deduced from his passion to inform even at the expense of narrative flow that authenticity was in fact his aim, and that he used invention, guided by his knowledge of what was likely, to fill in the gaps.
Wiśniowski sometimes altered facts to fit the framework of his story. This is certainly what happened with the war, but in no other case is it possible to be sure whether the deviation is deliberate or intentional. Was he aware, for instance, that his journey by bullock wagon across the North Island was improbable, but nevertheless needed to get his narrator to New Plymouth somehow, and having embarked him on the wagon, perhaps for the sake of the comic page xiv effects which bullocks promised colonial writers, thought it the most convenient way to get him to his destination? Did he know that Wiremu Kingi was not the name of the Maori King but found the association of ideas too tempting to resist? That is not the kind of question which it is possible to answer.
The notes to this edition, although they are by no means as exhaustive as they might be, therefore serve a dual purpose. They cast some light on the author's sources and manner of working, and they are a warning to unwary readers who might be tempted to adopt the novel uncritically as a history text. For these readers, however, a further caution is required. The notes concentrate on those points on which Wiśniowski was wrong. It must be remembered that on verifiable details he was more often right than wrong. Where more general impressions are concerned he was still more reliable. He may have had kauri trees growing further south than they do in fact grow, but he did not have them climbed by tigers or pythons.
When the facts have been sorted out it is the use which Wiśniowski made of them and the attitude he took towards them which matter. His Polish style is described by those who can read it, of which I am not one, as elaborately contrived, packed with metaphor, parallel constructions, all kinds of stylistic contortions. The translation does not attempt to reproduce all these characteristics, a serviceable and as far as may be harmonious English being aimed for. But it is clear even in the English that Wiśniowski is attempting far more than an unvarnished traveller's tale. He is attempting more, even, than he implies in his Author's Preface, when, claiming this to be the story of a Pole whom he had met in the Otago goldfields, he says he has tried to ‘translate’ it ‘into a more literary idiom.’ He is attempting, like every other nineteenth century writer about New Zealand whose ambition exceeded the descriptive narrative, more than he can achieve. The elements are there; some are well handled, others not; but the larger vision which would fuse them into a coherent whole is missing. In this he is reminiscent of George Chamier, and in particular of Alfred Domett, whose narrative poem Ranolf and Amohia may be taken as the representative nineteenth century New Zealand romantic fiction. Thus they both give us one of the set pieces of nineteenth century fine writing, a shipwreck. In Domett this marks the arrival of Ranolf in New Zealand. In Wiśniowski it is the wreck of the Orpheus, described with no greater justification than that the narrator passed within twenty miles or so of the spot where it had happened two years before. Wiśniowski's shipwreck arouses memories of another, page xv that in which Steerforth was drowned in David Copperfield, and the resemblance may not be accidental. Towards the end of Tikera there is another episode on the water, at New Plymouth, in which men in small boats pursue one another through fog and darkness in an attempt to thwart an escape by sea. This is also reminiscent of Dickens, of the Thames of Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend; but it is in this case relevant to the story and handled with discretion to make a fitting climax.
It may be another Dickensian influence, but is just as likely to be that of a boisterous colonial environment, that every now and then Wiśniowski essays a humorous passage which sometimes degenerates into the merely facetious. The course of the story is at other times interrupted by lyrical scenic descriptions, often well handled, and by heavily informative passages which are sometimes put into dialogue but retain the air of having been taken out of an immigrants' handbook. There is a habit of philosophizing on occasions appropriate and inappropriate, as in the dissertation on pockets which interrupts the fracas in an Auckland tavern in Chapter II, or that on the attachment of the Englishman to outward respectability with which Charles Schaeffer laces his account of the escape from the Maori village in Chapter IX.
Every one of these elements in Tikera may be paralleled in other attempts at fiction in nineteenth century New Zealand, although none on so bold a scale. This is no question of Tikera either influencing or being influenced by the others. It was something in the nineteenth century air which they all breathed.
Although these points have a certain antiquarian interest they would not make Tikera worth rescuing for an audience a century later. What does that is the direct and lively impressions of an observant and intelligent young man. Or rather, the appearance of direct impressions. For, as we have seen, few of them are straightforwardly that. There is little in the narrative to distinguish between what Wiśniowski might have seen and what he certainly did not. Apparently only the Auckland visit in the first chapters is set in a scene which Wiśniowski knew; yet many passages elsewhere in the book carry at least as much conviction as the Auckland episodes. Wiśniowski may not have had the ability to create a novel telling in its totality, but in the lesser talent of synthesizing convincing episodes from a variety of material he is by no means to be despised.
If Tikera is often reminiscent of Ranolf and Amohia in its technique it is quite otherwise in content. Domett in his poem is thoroughly page xvi romantic and quite literally escapist. Wiśniowski has his romantic gestures but they are chiefly embellishment. In his central interests Wiśniowski was a realist, and often a sardonic one. His concern is mainly with people, and it is in its picture of colonial society that Tikera makes its most direct impact. The description of Auckland in the first two chapters is lively and a good deal franker than most Anglo-Saxon writing of the period, but it is still essentially a traveller's tale. It is on New Plymouth, which he never saw, that Wiśniowski really lets himself go. He remarks on commercial morality (‘In this country what is legal is moral’), on the pursuit of wealth (‘They are accustomed to disappointment: they repair losses sustained from speculation in ten false mines by finding one that is genuine’), on the lack of established order (‘This is a new world where everything is in a state of flux. If you tried to reconcile and explain all the contradictory customs which prevail here, you'd be building card houses’), on Sabbatarianism (‘Yet he soon comes to welcome it …. To yearn for a day of silence which can only be compared to the stillness of oriental graveyards or empty deserts, one has to live a full six working days in the pandemonium of a typical small colonial town’), on sexual mores (‘Besides, our own ladies are such prudes that we have occasionally to embrace the half-castes just to keep in practice’), on colonial women (‘For any man—whether father, brother, or husband—to guide a woman's will is in this part of the world quite unheard of’), on military discipline (‘In complete disregard of his orders anyone who wanted to go beyond the line of outposts did so. Some went fishing. Others who had spotted a peach orchard by a burnt-out cottage, a common sight on the island, went fruit picking’). All this is quite unlike most of what we read in other reminiscences and will not please those who have a high conception of our gentlemanly origins. Wiśniowski, clearly, is writing about Anglo-Saxon colonials in general as much as about New Plymouth in particular; yet anyone who has looked at the crude but lively pages of the Taranaki Punch of 1860–1 will find himself in the same world. No doubt Wiśniowski's drama is twopence-coloured, but the colour is applied to an outline of fact.
Before the narrator reaches New Plymouth he has spent some time in mild captivity in a Maori village, and of this, it must be admitted, the account is less convincing. Wiśniowski's invention even here is persuasive enough to trap the unwary, and it is upheld by a great deal of miscellaneous information of surprising accuracy. But he has not been able to check what he has observed from the feel of a similar milieu experienced elsewhere, and some essential quality is page xvii missing. Yet even so he is in advance of most of his Anglo-Saxon contemporaries. Compared with these he is realistic and rational. The tohunga does not appear, as in almost everything else of that time, as a ‘fell magician’ (to quote Ranolf and Amohia). He is a mild-mannered retired witch-doctor now practising as a physician. If there is a villain it is the mission-trained teacher. Perhaps the picture is too rational. It is a Christian village and one would not expect to find classic Maori customs in full possession; but the spirit world and the relationships by which Maori society was cemented even in the post-mission era would not have been entirely absent. Wiśniowski did not know about these. He replaced the lack with theory. They were great theoreticians in the nineteenth century. The story of recent anthropology in New Zealand has been largely one of clearing the decks of speculation prematurely erected to the status of dogma. It is not surprising, therefore, to see an early version of the Moriori myth. Other theories are apparent in the statement (p. 87) that the driving force behind the Maori war was the Maori lay teachers' jealousy of their white church superiors (though this, if obviously overstated, gives a hint which might be taken up), and that all Maori women had an overwhelming ambition to raise themselves in the world by marrying white men, in which again a possible grain of fact is enlarged to a universal truth. It is implied that all coloured races are the same, and that statements true of one are true of all. To us now, but understandably less so to Wiśniowski, it is apparent that this is a statement of quite a different order from the statement that all Anglo-Saxon colonies exhibited similar traits. Yet his stereotypes are often the same as those still in circulation. Coloured people, Wiśniowski said, are less restrained, more spontaneous and passionate in their behaviour and expression of emotion than northern Europeans. Intellectually at least Wiśniowski found this a fact to deplore. The same is often said now, but with approval.
Wiśniowski's own attitude to the Maori people, and especially to Maori women, is highly ambivalent. He listened, he says in his Preface, ‘with tears in my eyes and anxiety in my heart’ to ‘the death throes of the tribes’; he wrote his novel ‘to celebrate the memory of the children of that country’. But during much of his narrative he effectively conceals the tears in his eyes and the anxiety in his heart. If the perplexed conflict between attraction and disgust, between a conviction of white superiority and intimations to the contrary, between intellectual disapproval of uninhibited behaviour and emotional attraction towards it, had clearly been that of the narrator it might have strengthened the book. But it is too much a conflict page xviii within the author himself, so that one feeling or the other seems to have driven the pen at different times. In Chapter XI there is a long and impassioned repudiation of the propriety of interracial marriage; but the chapter concludes with a paragraph, showing every sign of being a later interpolation, which dismisses what has gone before as ‘Anglo-Saxon prejudices which I bad adopted’.
These conflicting emotions do not affect Wiśniowski's attitude to the war. He condemns it unequivocally as a war of conquest designed to rob the Maori both of his land and of his liberty. Yet when his narrator is compelled against his will to take some part in it, his account, perhaps inevitably, is entirely from the settlers' side and does not differ materially from other reminiscences, except in an immediacy of detail, for instance in the ironic description (Chapter XVII) of the officers' short-lived roughing it, which eludes most of those writers who were in fact eye-witnesses.
There is little point in regretting lost literary chances, especially when it would have been almost an anachronism for Wiśniowski to have found them. To say that this novel has the best fictional accounts of Maori-Pakeha relationships in the nineteenth century is to say little more than that other attempts were abysmal. It was not only in New Zealand that accounts of contact between Europeans and indigenous people were elementary. Even the sensational exploitation of the theme by such as Rider Haggard was yet to come, as were the successive permutations of Kipling, Conrad, Forster, and Lawrence. A novelist of Lawrentian inclinations might have found New Zealand fruitful at that time. In the Hau Hau movement the European was faced with one of the earliest of the adjustment cults which have since become familiar where a cultural change has come too suddenly. No one understood it. It was an embarrassment to those humanitarian Englishmen who had defended the King movement as essentially rational and just: it seemed to justify the cynical and prejudiced settlers. If Wiśniowski has little that is enlightening to say about it either, we need to remember that no New Zealand scholar has yet produced a full study of the movement, informed by knowledge of what has since happened elsewhere. Even the Lawrence who tried to think himself into Mexican religion is a European romantic. Perhaps the only true picture could have come from the other side.
Of the individual characters nearly all are types, serving their purpose well enough to further the story or to show the author's view of the society to which they belong. The unnamed narrator himself is a seeing eye whose character, in so far as one emerges at all, is unattractively priggish. He spends his life offering advice to all he page xix meets, by whom it is understandably ignored. Even his cynical use of Tikera in effecting his escape from Maori captivity is excused on the suppositon that the emotions of coloured women do not run deep, although Charles Schaeffer's similar if blacker betrayal of her (whom he had, admittedly, impregnated) is heartily condemned. There is some degree of wry self-deprecation in all of this. The villainy of Schaeffer is moderated by an explanation of how a childhood lacking in family affection had left him self-centred and heartless, an interesting foreshadowing of modern attitudes, although not sufficiently integrated into the character as shown to us to make it more than two-dimensional. Two characters, Tempski (the von Tempsky of history) and the young chief Te Ti, are cast in heroic moulds, contrasting though not opposed (since Te Ti fights reluctantly on the Pakeha side), the parallel intention of which is made clear by describing both of them as eagles, a pale eagle and a dark one.
The one character who really steps out of the framework designed for her is Tikera. Intended at first as an illustration of the author's theories about coloured women, and used sometimes in the beginning for mere comic relief, she grows upon both author and reader with authentic pathos and fire. Tikera herself would not return to Maori society; the author drew back from bestowing her on a northern European. The best he could do for her was a French doctor who carried her off to Martinique where mixed blood is acceptable. Yet this may be seen as something more than a failure of the author's nerve. At least it saved her from the gaucherie of colonial Anglo-Saxon life.