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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, February 8 (1840)



Information Relative to New Zealand, Compiled for the Use of Colonists, by John Ward, Esq., Secretary to the New Zealand Company. Second Edition, corrected and enlarged. London, Parker, 1840. 24mo., pp. 168.
From the remotest period to which our history refers, the spirit of colonizing hath been among the most conspicuous features of the Anglo-Saxon character. Great Britain herself, owes her present population thereto, and it seems to be in no wise weakened by efflux of time. On the contrary, the ancient spirit of colonization, it has been somewhere said, hath recently revived among us, and that too with a degree of force which it never knew before.
The modern spirit of colonization, however, differs materially from that which gave birth to the American communities. A strong spirit of adventure, excited by an almost universal mania to seek for the precious metals, grew up in the reign of Elizabeth; this was succeeded by the political and religious disabilities amounting to persecution, which followed the Restoration, but these, as exciting causes of colonization, fall far short of the struggle for subsistence and station in society, which the rapid increase of population during the present century has brought about.
Even whilst the want of a knowledge of sound principles, rendered emigration a measure of doubtful expediency, a large number of persons annually left the shores of this country, for the purpose of improving their fortunes in our several colonies; but sow that modern science hath shed her light upon the practise of colonization—now that the establishment of sound principles hath imparted thereto a degree of certainty, which hath hitherto been wanting, we may fairly expect an extension of the disposition to emigrate among classes who, a few years since, would have felt an extreme repugnance to resorting to that mode of improving their condition.
Indeed it is impossible to mix among the intelligent and educated portion of the middle class without observing that the possibility of emigrating is frequently a familiar topic of conversation. There no longer exists that strong repugnance to emigration to which we have just alluded; and this change of feeling we believe to have been brought about by the impression that the modern system of colonization provides for the establishment of well or-ganised communities, in which the intelligent and educated can find a description of society suited to their tastes and habits.
The modern spirit of colonization thus excited, seems only to want eligible fields on which to exercise itself. The work now under notice describes most amply that which has been most recently thrown open, viz.—New Zealand.
"The New Zealand Group," says the intelligent author of the 'Information,' &c., "consists of two large islands, called the Northern and Southern, a smaller island called Stewart's, to the extreme south, and several adjacent islets. The group extends in length, from north to south, from the 34th to the 48th degree of south latitude, and in breadth, from east to west, from the 160th to the 179th degree of east longitude. The extreme length exceeds 800 miles, and the average breadth, which is very variable, is about 100 miles. The surface of the island is estimated to contain 95,000 square miles, or about 60,000,000 acres, being a territory nearly as large as Great Britain, of which, after allowing for mountainous districts and water, it is believed that at least two-thirds are susceptible of beneficial cultivation. Even without assuming any extraordinary degree of fertility, New Zealand is thus capable of maintaining as large a population as the British Isles, which, however, it far surpasses in respect of soil and climate." p. 1-2.
A reference to the map will show that the climate of New Zealand is necessarily considerably milder than that of Great Britain. The greatest distance from the equator to which New Zealand extends is 48 deg.—the nearest England approaches is 50 deg. Thus the warmest extremity of England is 2 deg. further from the equator than the coldest extremity of New Zealand; so that, in reference to the equator, it has been said to begin where England ends.
The climate is peculiarly salubrious and delightful. The temperature resembles (after on allowance of about 7°, for the lower degree of heat of the Southern Hemisphere), that of the land between the south of Portugal, and the north of France,—pervading, we may say, but without exceeding, the most favoured part of the temperate region; and numerous witnesses of ample experience concur in describing the extremes of cold in winter, and heat in summer, as being within peculiarly narrow limits; which is to describe the climate as one of the most equable in the world. New Zealand is neither exposed to the scorching heats of summer, nor to the blasting frosts of a severe winter. The climate is unquestionably very congenial to European constitutions. The seasons are as follows;— spring commences in the middle of August; summer in December; autumn in March; and winter in July. Droughts, such as afflict some parts of Australia, are wholly unknown. A never-failing moisture is dispersed over the country by the clouds which collect on the mountain-tops, without the occurrence of rainy seasons, beyond storms of a few days' duration. This refreshing moisture, combined with the influence of the sea-breezes, renders the climate very favourable to the health, and developement of the human frame. Vegetation is, from the same cause, highly luxuriant; the verdure is almost perpetual; and there is no instance on record of a crop having been lost for want of rain.
The effect of a climate of this character upon health, is very remarkable. Such diseases as they are subject to, they derive from European intercourse:—
"In speaking of the climate we should remark that there are no diseases peculiar to the country; in fact, none of any importance but such as have been introduced by the Europeans. Cook says, 'As there is no source of disease, either critical or chronic, but intemperance and inactivity, these people enjoy perfect and uninterrupted health—we never saw any person amongst them who appeared to have any bodily complaint.' Their wounds healed with an astonishing facility, and 'a further proof that human nature is here untainted with disease, is the great number of old men that we saw, many of whom, by the loss of their hair and teeth, appeared to be very ancient, yet none of them were decrepit, and though not equal to the young in muscular strength, were not a whit behind them in cheerfulness and vivacity.' Unhappily half a century of European intercourse has introduced disease, and done its usual destructive work in spite of the climate."—Information, p. 21-22.
A recent writer, Mr. Mathews, discusses the effects of the New Zealand climate on female beauty. He says:—
"The rosy tinge of the cheek," he observes, "is the direct consequences of moist air, of a fresh stimulating coolness. The British fair may rely that England's rose will not fail to blossom in New Zealand in all its natural richness, giving the unmatched tinge of the flower— beauty and freshness. The danger is that it may even throw that of the mother country into the shade; although its sister, the vegetable rose, has never been seen indigenous in the southern hemisphere, whilst it surrounds the globe in the northern with a flowry chaplet… In other respects, from its soft moist climate, New Zealand, like Sicily, may be expected to be especially propitious to women. The prospects now before them must cause the bright blood to mantle on the cheek of the British fair."
We now pass to the question of the soil of the New Zealand group. Of the Southern Island, less is knows than of the Northern Island; but the character of the country affords evidence, that the soil must be good. Both Islands have a mountainous district in their centre. Some of the inland mountains, reach the height of about 14,000 feet. Their summits are covered with perpetual snow, whilst their slopes are clad with forests of enormous growth. These features cannot exist without well watered and fertile vales, accordingly,
"The soil is spoken of by all the writers in the most favourable terms, from Captain Cook downwards. After describing the fertility of many particular spots, Cook sums up his account by saying that the hills and mountains are covered with wood, and every valley has a rivulet of water; the soil in these valleys, and in the plains, of which there are many that are not overgrown with wood, is in general light but fertile; and, in the opinion of Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, as well as of every other gentleman on board, every kind of European grain, plant, and fruit, would flourish here in the utmost luxuriance. From the vegetables we found here, there is reason to conclude that the winters are milder than those in England, and we found the summer not hotter, though it was more equally warm; so that if this country should be settled by people from Europe, they would, with a little industry, be very soon supplied not only with the necessaries, but the luxuries of life in great abundance."—p. 22.
It thus appears, that both as to soil and climate, New Zealand is in the highest degree favourable, both to animal and vegetable life, "the finest samples of the human race are there to be found, the largest and finest timber grows, and every vegetable yet planted, thrives."
Comparing the latitude of New Zealand, with that of the southern countries of Europe, making a small allowance for the difference between the Northern and Southern hemisphere, as already pointed out, there can be no doubt that the vine, the olive, the mulberry, and therefore the silk worm, together with other productions of Spain, Italy, and the South of France, and Germany, will ultimately rank among the resources of New Zealand; but they must be introduced by persons well acquainted with their culture—a point, by the way, which we recommend to the notice of the New Zealand Company, and of the several societies now intrusted in the Colony.
The character of the natives,—their superior intelligence, and above all, the readiness with which they adopt the arts of civilization,—in a word, their peculiar capacity for civilization,—is another circumstance which renders the county an eligible field for colonization. The eagerness with which they adopt the mechanical arts of Europe is something quite remarkable; and their desire for knowledge is so great, that scarcely a year passes that a New Zealander does not of his own accord work his passage to England for the purpose of gaining knowledge. Even at this moment some are on their way to this country. They are constantly employed about the whaling ships which frequent the southern seas, and they are described by Lieut. Dreton as exhibiting strength, activity, and intelligence:—
Dr. Lang, says the intelligent author of the Information, p. 70, that the best helmsman on board a vessel by which he once returned to England, was Toki, a New Zealander. "Nothing," says Dr. Lang, "could divert his attention from the compass, or the sails, or the sea; and whenever I saw him at the helm, and especially in tempestuous weather at night, I could not help regarding it as a most interesting and hopeful circumstance in the history of man, that a British vessel of four hundred tons, containing a valuable cargo and many souls of Europeans, should be steered ocross the boundless Pacific, in
in the midst of storm and darkness, by a poor New Zealander, whose fathers had, from time immemorial, been eaters of men."
We are reminded by the mention of "eaters of men" that a few words may be expected of us, in reference to the subject of cannibalism. Our countrymen are said to be rather prone to be alarmed, but it seems to us that they are much less likely to be alarmed at the prospect of affording a meal to another, than at the prospect of losing a meal of their own. In the present case, however, the emigrant may rest assured he is not liable to either contingency. The New Zealand Company have sent out ample supplies for the present; and for the future, the natural productiveness of the Colony will furnish food to millions. As to the other contingency, cannibalism is now reduced to a war-feast—perhaps it was always so—and even as such, is fast falling into disuse. It is said that a race of cannibals once lived where Glasgow now flourishes* , and at this moment numerous Europeans live in New Zealand with as much security as the people of Glasgow enjoy, though without the protection which they will henceforward receive from a regularly organized society. On this point then, we offer the following short quotation from a letter from the Rev. Mr. White to Dr. Hinds.
"But there is another view of the subject to be taken, and that view exclusively concerns those who contemplate the transplantation of themselves and families to the shores of New Zealand. I mean their personal safety. This, I think, is satisfactorily answered by the fact, that since the first residents took up their abode in New Zealand in 1814, up to the period I left the island to return to this country, not one single instance which I can recollect, or have heard of, has occurred of any European, or any other foreign settler, having lost his life."
We must now take our leave of this interesting and useful little work. On every point connected with New Zealand—its natural history, resources, and the character of its inhabitants, it may be consulted with confidence. To the emigrant, indeed, it is indispensable. The last two chapters detail the proceedings of the company, and of the first colony in 1839, but as in our next number we intend to give a complete article on the subject, we have in our present notice of the work left the subject wholly untouched.


A valiant tribe of Caledonia, the Altacotti (or Scots), the enemies and afterwards the soldiers of Valentinian, are accused, by an eye witness, of delighting in the taste of human flesh. When they hunted the woods for prey, it is said that they attacked the shepherd rather than the flocks; and that they anxiously selected the most delicate and brawny parts, both of males and females, which they prepared for their horrid repasts. If in the neighbourhood of the commercial and literary town of Glasgow a race of cannibals has really existed, we may contemplate in this period of Scottish history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilised life. Such reflections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas, and to encourage the pleasing hope that New Zealand may produce, in some future age, the Hume of the southern hemisphere.— Gibbon, 8vo. edit. vol. iv, p. 297, 1813.
Cum ipse adolescentulus in Galliâ viderim Attacottos (aut Scotos), gentem Brittanicam humanìs vesci carnibus; et cum per silvas porcorum greges, et armentorum pecudumque reperiunt, pastorum nates et feme-narum papillas solere abscindere, et has solas ciborum delicias arbitrari. Such is the evidence of Jerome (tom, 2, p. 75), whose veracity I find no reason to doubt.

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