Colenso’s personal letters 1: XXXXXXX

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The missionary years 1834–1852

The public service years 1852–1878

The sage years 1878-1899

compiled by Ian St George


lready published

Colenso’s collections, 2009

Colenso’s published papers 1: 1842–1884, 2011

Colenso’s published papers 2: 1884–1899, 2011

William Colenso: his life and journeys (2nd edition), 2011

William Colenso: his life in newspapers, 2011

St George, Ian Michael

Colenso’s personal letters 1: XXXXXXX

Cover design
Cyathea colensoi (Hook.f.) Domin.

named Alsophila Colensoi by Joseph Dalton Hooker in honour of the Rev. William Colenso,

(Hooker JD. 1853: The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of H.M. Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror in the Years 1839-1843.Vol. 2. Flora Novae-Zelandiae Part I. Flowering Plants. London, Lovell Reeve)

Lithography by

Walter Hood Fitch:

Printed by ********, Wellington.




Private letters

The missionary years 1834–1852

The middle years 1852–1878

The retirement years 1878–1899

Some personal reminiscences...

The letters

To David Balfour in typescript

To Mrs Barkwith

To Bibby

To D. Black

To Walter ** Buller

To J Burton

To Burtton

To Edward Catchpool

To Cathcart

To Chairman, HBPI

To Chapman

To Thomas Frederic Cheeseman


To Elizabeth Colenso

To Ridley Latimer Colenso

To William Colenso (nephew)

To Wiremu Colenso

To the Colonial Secretary

To Frederick Irving de Lisle

To Mrs de Lisle

To Didsbury

To Dinwiddie

To Dixon & Co.

To John Drummond typescript

To William Colenso Drummond

To John Davies Enys

To “Eraihia”

To Eyre

To Featherston

To Gell

To EL Godfrey

To the Government Agent

To George Grey

To Grimstone (to the Colonial Secretary)

To Ronald Campbell Gunn

To Julius von Haast

To Robert Coupland Harding

To TB Harding

To James Hector

To Hedgeland

To Emily Hill

To Henry Hill

To William Hobson

To Thomas Morland Hocken

To Renata Kawepo

To Andrew Luff typescript

To Lund

To J. McCulloch

To LW McGlashan

To Donald McLean NB undated McLean (?) letters @

To Mair

To Mantell

To TR Moore

To W Morris

To Hans Peter Mortensen

To Olsen

To Richard Owen

To Mrs Prebble

To Rathbone

To Rhodes & Co.

To George Augustus Selwyn

To W Shortland

To his sister

To Benj. Smith & Co.

To Smith

To George Malcolm Thomson

To Mrs Tindall

To White

To George Thomas Wilkinson

To William Ward Yates

Where in the Bush did Colenso stay?

Colenso and influenza

The solitary reaper


Part of Hawke’s Bay; detail from Miriam Macgregor’s Pioneer trails of Hawke’s Bay. Reed, Wellington, 1975


The Rev. William Colenso was a diligent correspondent in his later life, of which the last fifty years are well represented among his surviving private and public letters.1 He wrote to his friend JD Hooker in 1897,2

I have been and am very busy, mostly in the writing way – letters, public & private; as I keep a tally of my scrawls – much like Crusoe his days on the desolate island – I find, I have written from Augt.1, to Decr.31st, – 427 letters, some very long.

and to Lady Hyacinth Hooker in 1898,3

I am still very busy, daily at it, mostly writing letters…

He reckoned that in 1895 he wrote 837 letters, in 1895 8594 and in 1898 1081 letters.5 Even on the eve of his death, as his friend Coupland Harding told JD Hooker, “The day before his departure he had been busy with many affairs – dictating answers to some of the letters that were accumulating, &c., and had methodically arranged his plans for the morrow.”6

We have published his private letters to Allan Cunningham, WJ Hooker and JD Hooker in Colenso’s collections, 2009, and many of his public letters in William Colenso: his life in newspapers (2011). Further publication of his letters and reports to the Church Missionary Society are planned.


Private letters

What can we learn from collections of private letters? will we discover new facts to flesh out our knowledge of the life we are studying? Are private letters somehow a window on the psyche with an analytic glass to guide us to a clearer view of the character and personality of the writer?

Or do we just enjoy eavesdropping on the private communications between two others? That certainly, but perhaps more than that: Janet Malcolm wrote,

“Letters are the great fixative of experience. Time erodes feeling. Time creates indifference. Letters prove to us that we once cared. They are the fossils of feeling. This is why biographers prize them so: they are biography’s only conduit to unmediated experience. Everything else the biographer touches is stale, hashed over, told and retold, dubious, unauthentic, suspect. Only when he reads a subject’s letters does the biographer feel he has come fully into his presence, and only when he quotes from the letters does he share with his readers his sense of life retrieved. And he shares something else: the feeling of transgression that comes from reading letters not meant for one’s eyes. He allows the reader to be a voyeur with him, to eavesdrop with him, to rifle desk drawers, to take what doesn’t belong to him. The feeling is not entirely pleasurable.”7

If we expect too much we may be saddened by “the bathetic realisation that Great Writers are not really all that Great most of the time”, as The Guardian’s Kathryn Hughes was: we may be disabused of “our pervasive cultural myth that letters are somehow a ‘deep’ form of communication, bulletins from the most profound reaches of the soul”.8 And we may agree with Vincent Kaufmann when he tells us “there is nothing more tedious in a writer’s work than his correspondence”.9

Or not. Private letters from a century when there were no telephones or other electronic ways of conversing from a distance, are not tedious: not, perhaps, as tedious as today’s might prove. “I have hazarded all I have scribbled—but I have done so, as if I were confidentially talking with you,” Colenso wrote to McLean (31 July 1868): he was taking a risk saying what he did in that letter.

And, to Harding (4 January 94) he wrote, “I think we agree in this, that letter-wtg. should be as near conversation as possible”; and to Luff (14 October 83)

I often wish that we were nearer each other, for I still miss your kind calls and our free and easy conversation. I have no one now to call and talk, & when I go to town I cannot join in the talk of the day—races, cricket, football, sheep, wool, rabbits,—and the getting of money anyhow, but quietly & usuriously without working! I thank God that I have plenty to do, and a hearty good mind to do it (indeed it is daily night-too-soon for me!)—still I should like to have a friend with whom I could converse freely—now & then. But I must stop this.—

Letters, then, took the place of those “free and easy” conversations: “I have a suspicion that there were several (?) enquiries, or remarks, in my last, unnoticed by you! With me––writing should be in lieu of conversation & conseqly. replied to” (4 October 96 to Harding).

But (23 August 76 to Luff), “I can not, do what I will, fancy you in England with your environments. Would we could converse by electricity, or telegraph (spiritual, or mental); a future generation may do this.”

Further, private letters, along with old newspapers and diaries, provide the deepest immersion into the writer’s times. If you want to know about nineteenth century Hawke’s Bay (and who wouldn’t?) Colenso’s letters will show you his place and time more vividly than any secondhand history. The apparently insignificant experiences he relates combine to recreate a complex reality that we can no longer experience directly, yet which provides material for an understanding of issues, public opinion and the symbolic world of that Victorian time and place.

“In literature, all letters are in some sense purloined letters,” wrote Vincent Kaufman, and yet some private letters seem self-consciously addressed to a future generation – not always as obviously as Mark Twain’s 1880 letter to Joseph Twichell (giving news of his baby), when he broke off in midsentence and addressed a reader of 1960:

“...somebody may be reading this letter 80 years hence. And so, my friend (you pitying snob, I mean, who are holding this yellow paper in your hand in 1960,) save yourself the trouble of looking further; I know how pathetically trivial our small concerns will seem to you, and I will not let your eye profane them. No, I keep my news; you keep your compassion. Suffice it you to know, scoffer and ribald, that the little child is old and blind, now, and once more toothless; and the rest of us are shadows, these many, many years. Yes, and your time cometh!”

For the most part his letters are unselfconscious, ordinary communications, replies to enquirers or the senders of specimens, purposeful and businesslike. But there are also several groups of protracted correspondence over several years: those to McLean morphing from friendly, generous, to guarded, to suspicious, to formal. Those to David Balfour, John Drummond and Andrew Luff relaxing into easy gossip and a considerable degree of personal revelation––as he wrote to Luff on 13 August 1881, “I trust you will see that I have again written to you in my old free open & friendly style––just as you were here in this room with me, and we were conversing together as of old.

None, however, of those letters that have survived, are more revealing and gossipy than those to Robert Coupland Harding over 24 years from 1875 to 1898. They were both printers: they shared a love of print, of books and newspapers, and Colenso’s letters are full of items of such mutual interest. He continually updates his young friend, exiled from Napier to Wellington, with the local news and Napier doings. But the letters are full of much more than that. Harding acted not only as a kind of sounding board, but also as a proxy son for the lonely old man on Napier hill––the son he never had: one who shared his profession and his interests.

The letters to Harding are an outlet for Colenso to express his grief, loss, worry, suspicion, grievance, jealousy, remorse––and his joy, childish delight, self-satisfaction, pride, sentimental reflection, gratitude and love.

This correspondence is a taonga. It must rate as one of the most important collections of letters to have survived from New Zealand’s past.10


William Colenso:
some personal reminiscences

(By Mr. R. Coupland Harding, Wellington)11

Nearly eight and thirty years ago––it was in the month of March or April, 1861—the writer, a boy of eleven years of age, and a recent arrival in Napier, was in company with his father in a house in which the furniture and effects, including the library, were being sold by auction. Always a book-lover, he with another lad of about his own age, looked longingly at some of the volumes. Many were quite new, for the local bookseller had availed himself of the opportunity to work off a quantity of stock. Popular editions of “Cook’s Voyage” and “Bruce’s Travels” were put up, but they went beyond his limit. Interesting as the books were, they did not prevent his noticing a gentleman of striking appearance, to whom also the books seemed to be the attraction of the sale. Of medium height, with handsome features, keen and penetrating eyes and broad intellectual brow, he would in any company have attracted notice even if it had not been for his dark and abundant hair, which at that time flowed in heavy curls upon his shoulders, completely framing his countenance and giving him a singularly venerable appearance. As the sale progressed, quite a little pile of books fell to his share; and just as the final lots were passing under the hammer, he bought a parcel of what are known in the trade as “juveniles”. One of these he handed to each of the surprised lads. “I have seen enough to know that you are fond of books” he said; “here is one for each of you. You,” to the writer, “were disappointed, I know. I hope this will please you.” It was a classic in its way—St. Pierre’s “Paul and Virginia” and “Indian Cottage”, with over a hundred wood-cuts by French artists. It has long since gone the way of all picture books in a large family. A few months later the two lads met again––apprentice and “devil’ respectively in a printing office, and compared notes, when the writer learned that the unknown gentleman was “Mr. Colenso. I thought everybody knew him.”

Slight as was the incident, it illustrated features of character, which became more and more evident in the course of years—the abiding love of books; the keen observation; the insight into character; and more than all, the kindly and practical sympathy with the young in all their higher aspirations, to which many a schoolboy or schoolgirl student of nature in all parts of the country could testify. To all such his time, his paternal advice, and sometimes his books, were freely given.12

Boy as he was, the writer had known the name of the stranger, and heard much of him. The three year old province of Hawke’s Bay was then in the struggles of infancy. Newspapers then—I do not think there were thirty in New Zealand all told—were live organs in every sense. On a remote coastal sheep-station, visited every two weeks by the mail-man, the “Herald” was read and re-read from title to imprint, and in the literary and political battles of the day,

“Always with a fearless heart,
Taking, giving, blow for blow,”

William Colenso was in the van. Quaint, eccentric, odd, sometimes to the last degree, were his “Tracts for the Times”, but always with the sub-stratum of solid argument and practical suggestion; tremendous were his battles with opponents such as George Worgan the aged, and Charles Pharazyn the youthful—both of whom preceded him (the latter very recently) to the Unseen Land. Readers of his voluminous newspaper correspondence could not fail to form some idea of his extensive stores of information, his methodical style, his British pugnacity, and indomitable energy. They would note certain curious mental “kinks” and personal prejudices ostentatiously displayed, but only personal acquaintance could reveal the beauty and spirituality of the hidden life—the unfathomable kindliness of his nature.

Of all places, perhaps the printing office was the best to make such an acquaintance. No reference was ever made to the first meeting for nearly thirty years, when the writer found that it had not been forgotten. A constant contributor to the Press, Mr. Colenso knew every person in both printing offices. When the late Mr. James Wood, an admirable journalist, but with no practical knowledge of the trade, started the “Herald” in 1857 with no assistance save two half-trained lads from Auckland (both of whom are in New Zealand still), the press work of the paper was sometimes open to criticism. The tradition still lingers, and it is perfectly true, that Mr. Colenso paid the office a visit, and removing his coat and turning up his sleeves, instructed the boys in the art of washing the inking-rollers.

Thirty-eight years ago Mr. Colenso had not entered actively into politics, save as a disputant or advocate in the Press. Often I have regretted that his unbounded energy led him into so uncongenial a field, withdrawing him from pursuits for which he was better fitted, and in which his work, being such as none other could do, was of immeasurably greater value to his fellows. At the time of the incident narrated in the opening paragraph, he had just unsuccessfully contested the Napier seat in the first General Assembly. The auction sale was in the house of his successful opponent, who, to the disgust of his constituency, and his supporters in particular, after travelling to Auckland at the public expense as M.H.R. resigned immediately on arrival, never even taking his seat, and sent instructions to his agent to realize his property. Small as this incident was, it had large results, including a change of Ministry. Mr. Colenso at once offered himself for the vacant seat, and was championed by the newly-started paper “The Times”. He was opposed by the late H.B. Sealy, of the Provincial Lands Department and in later years Resident Magistrate, but this time was elected by a substantial majority. Meantime, Parliament had met and Napier was unrepresented. Steamers did not run to Auckland every week. Telegraphs as yet were not dreamed of. Those were troublous times when Browne (also passed away) was Governor. Hostilities were still smouldering at Taranaki, and bands of disaffected natives were stirring up strife on the West Coast to the very gates of Wellington, while in Central Auckland the powerful “King Movement” was being steadily organized. Worst of all, there was no unity of counsel or purpose in the Colony. House and country alike were almost evenly divided on the ever-lasting Native Question. All unknown to the Napier folk, a direct motion of want of confidence in the Stafford Ministry had been tabled by the late Sir William Fox. What they did know was this—that questions of far-reaching import were under discussion, and that, thanks to the prank of Mr. H.P. Stark, they were without a vote in the matter. By the first opportunity the new member left, and after a leisurely passage his steamer entered the Waitemata, and was signalled at Port Albert. A longwinded orator was eloquently denouncing the Stafford Ministry and all its work when a slip of paper was passed to him, and, to the surprise of the House, he at once collapsed. So did the debate, and the vote was taken. That slip contained the significant words, “Cut it short—Colenso’s coming!” Directly afterward, the member for Napier arrived and took the oath and his seat—but all too late. The Stafford ministry had just been defeated by a majority of one! But for Stark’s resignation, the whole course of New Zealand history might have been changed. Hawke’s Bay was Staffordite almost to a man. Stafford had drafted and carried the New Provinces Act, which had given Hawke’s Bay its constitution; “the three F’s”—Fox, Featherston, Fitzherbert—had been its uncompromising opponents. The change of administration was one of the most revolutionary and far-reaching in its effects that New Zealand has known. For with the Fox Ministry came in the “new institutions” which were to settle for ever the native difficulty; and the failure of which, well-intentioned as they were, was demonstrated by ten successive years of strife and bloodshed.

Mr. Colenso was a notable figure in all the Parliaments he attended, and I still remember the criticisms of an Auckland scribe who had been strongly impressed by his grave and imposing figure, and specially by his flowing locks. A year or two afterwards he cut them off, and the portrait taken in 1855 might easily be taken to represent him as he appeared ten years later. No more conscientious or industrious member ever sat in Parliament; but as a politician be was not a success. He grew less popular and less in touch with his constituents as years went on, and seemed to be the only person who did not realise the fact. Conscious of duty faithfully performed, he came forward as of old—on the last occasion receiving ao paltry a number of votes, and being out-numbered by candidates of such inferior calibre, that he withdrew finally from the political stage.

In the Provincial Council, on the contrary, where he represented the town for many years, he was always one of the most useful members, and his services were appreciated, as he was, I believe, always elected until be purposely disqualified himself in order to give undivided attention to his lexicon. His intimate knowledge of the district and people, his good sense and unquestioned integrity, here met with a suitable field. For some years he was Provincial treasurer, and as he rode daily to his office on a tall and ancient white horse, his figure was a familiar one to young and old. In later years, as Inspector of Schools, he visited the length and. breadth of the Province, and endeared himself to the children throughout its bounds, giving to many of them their first impulse to the study of natural history, in which, as he always insisted, they would find delight yielded by no other pursuit,

I must not be understood to disparage his work in the Assembly, much of which was of a solid and substantial kind, such as more popular men could have done. He had a keen eye for flaws in a Bill or in an argument. He was a very advanced Liberal as the times went; but would not be recognised by the Party who claim the title to-day. One of his most notable speeches was on the Masters and Servants Bill of an old Canterbury veteran, who had seen service in India, and whose ideas had been largely shaped thereby. Possibly the Labour leaders of to-day never heard of that Bill. Their fury if they could read it would be worth contemplating. It received unmeasured condemnation from Mr. Colenso, sustained a signal defeat, and was never again heard of.

On the painful subject of the Maori Lexicon I will not dwell. Its history could not be even briefly told in a column of the paper. In 1861 (his first session) he moved a resolution to the effect that the time had come for the state to make an organised attempt to rescue the dying language of New Zealand from oblivion; and the resolution was carried. At that time he was not in a position to undertake the work, and it was his intention to hand over all his thirty years’ collection of words, proverbs, songs, &c., gratis, as a nucleus. Numerous old chiefs and tohungas, possessing vast stores of legendary lore—some of them men who had seen Captain Cook—were then living, and could have assisted. In 1865 the Government, urged by Mr. Mantell, took up the subject, and in 1866 Mr. Colenso, then to some extent at liberty, was urged, as the one man in New Zealand best qualified for the task, to take it up. Seven years was fixed for the completion of the work, the remuneration to be £300 a year. A change of Government took place, and the petty jealousies which are the curse of party politics, came into play. First, the free postal facilities were withdrawn. A circular requesting the co-operation of officers in native districts was so framed as to imply very clearly that the Government were quite indifferent on the subject. Then, before half the appointed time had passed, the author was notified that it was time that a large portion of the work should be in the press! Replying that this was impossible as he had not so much as begun his fair copy for the printer, he was notified that payments were stopped, pending investigation. The manuscript was examined by qualified persons, who reported that a vast amount of work had been done; that thousands of pages had been written, from the first letter to the last, involving, as such work does, much cross-reference; that seven years was altogether too short for a work of such magnitude, and that the author had more than performed his part during the time he had been engaged.

All this was withheld from Parliament, and the House and country were officially informed that the author had undertaken the work three and a half years ago, had regularly drawn his money, amounting to over a thousand pounds, and had not a single page ready for the printer. Supplies were stopped, and all remonstrances and suggestions from the author were unheeded. He had retired from his salaried public offices, cut down his correspondence, dropped all his favourite scientific pursuits, and now found the work thrown back on his hands. The breach of faith was monstrous, and a litigious man would certainly have recovered heavy damages. Then a sample portion, in completed form, was demanded, to be laid before the House. The A portion was so prepared. The Government printed the title, preface, preliminary notes, &c. with a wealth of blank pages, followed by a few lines of actual text, apparently to throw contempt on the work, and then “lost” the copy, which was discovered 18 years after in a pigeon hole, and was printed (partly at the author’s own cost) only last year by the present Government. The manuscript, which will probably equal some two thousand or more pages of printed matter, has been bequeathed to the State, with the request that they take up and print the work. It may be noted that Mr. Colenso’s rough manuscript is far better than the bulk of the fair copy that passes through a printers hands.

Mr. Colenso’s books—his historical ones in particular—while possessing a singular charm for many readers, repel others by their discursiveness; in fact I have known a schoolmaster condemn his style as “vicious”.13 So, with his oratory, his style was peculiar and never popular. Two causes contributed to this: his long practice in writing minute, technical and scientific descriptions, and his habit for many years of thinking, speaking, and writing in Maori. To one or other of these habits all his singularities of diction may be referred. I remember once hearing him describe how he carried some point in a large assembly of natives. “First”, he said, “I quoted a proverb of the olden time—that always gains their attention and approval—then I followed it up with the old fable of the fight between the land and water birds. By that time they were in a mood to follow my argument.” And as the memory of one of the most unfortunate of his hustings speeches flashed on my mind, I could not but think how entirely unsuited such methods are for an audience of free and independent electors, and with what impatience and occasional derision such a gathering will greet an oration which starts with a proverb and an apologue. I had, years before, on his last appearance as a candidate, heard him begin a speech with a fable (by Southey, if I rightly remember) about a certain “little water-wagtail”. The larrikins guffawed and jeered, but they did not know their man. He was not to be put down, and not one jot of the water-wagtail story did he abate. So, once, at a Wesleyan anniversary, be provoked a smile by reference to the Cornish Methodist-maidens with, “their pretty sulphur-coloured ribbons”. Years afterwards he published in the “Transactions” a valuable article on the colour-sense of the Maori. Therein may be found the origin of the quaint comparison. His inveterate habit of marking off, numbering, dividing and sub-dividing his points, may be traced to the natural history methods of classification.

The New Zealand Institute, while appreciating his unequalled scientific papers, were curiously blind to the value of his historical memoirs, the most original records of our early history ever published. If he had not had the means to print them privately they would never have seen the light. The paper on his early crossings of the Ruahine range was rejected. It is now nearly out of print, and highly prized by collectors. His “Jubilee Paper”, describing the first establishment in New Zealand of the printing press, and the printing of the first Maori New Testament, was accepted, conditionally on his submitting to its abridgement by the Council. His reply was a most emphatic negative. With some difficulty he recovered the manuscript, and, he said, “It was a spectacle! Three hands had been over it in succession; on with a blue pencil, one with a B.B., and another with red ink, and there was little enough left when the third had done with it. The man with the blue pencil seemed to have had quite a vindictive pleasure in striking out everything of historical interest.” The manuscript was enlarged, an appendix added, and lithographed plates, from beautiful pencil sketches of his own, made in 1838, and forms a most important historic document.

Well do I remember my parting with him (not for the last time, I am glad to say), on leaving Napier eight years ago. When I rose to leave, he brought out certain small mementoes he had laid aside for me from his stores of early printing. But there seemed an unspoken thought behind, and a most inopportune faculty of mental induction came into play, sad I seemed to divine, to my real disquiet, what each word and action was leading up to. And, last of all, as a climax he produced a copy of is precious book, the rarissima Maori New Testament of 1837, composed and bound by his own hands, as his parting gift. I could not but dissemble—it was intended for a surprise, and as such I received it; but much was the transparency of his nature that I had, all unwittingly, perceived is secret thought for a quarter of an hour. Need I say that the little volume in pigskin is the one most precious volume of my library?

He was wonderfully methodical with his letters, registering all he wrote and received (and he sometimes wrote over a thousand in a year), and docketing his inward correspondence in the original envelopes, fastening them in parcels with a band. In fact, some of his old correspondence was on the curiously-folded letter paper in use before envelopes or postage stamps were invented. Several times I told him that he possessed a small fortune in old New Zealand stamps alone yet a few months ago he told me that he had lately destroyed over a thousand very old envelopes with their letters, without remembering the value of the stamps.

He has lent me for perusal letters of some of the earliest missionaries (Mr. Woon, the Wesleyan, another Missionary Printer, whose venerable face and figure I remember with affection in the village of Wanganui— “Petre”, then, according to the postal department was one of them). Treasured among them were affectionate childish notes—commissions to buy trifles in some far-away town—thanks for welcome gifts. One of the little boy writers lies in a northern cemetery, having passed sway in middle age; another is a grey-headed grandsire. Parted by death—long parted by estrangement; but the old letters, mementoes of the old affection, were treasured to the end.

Of his charities time would fail to speak. His munificent gifts to the poor of his native town are known by all, and had the undesirable results of flooding him with begging letters. Like all generous men, he was sometimes deceived by a plausible vagabond but as a rule his help was as judiciously as it was kindly given. In his friendly assistance to students and lovers of nature he always acted as if he was receiving instead of conferring an obligation. Some years ago, botanising in the woods far inland, he chanced upon the humble abode of a foreigner. The man had quite a collection of coins and medals, gathered at various times, and was an enthusiast, displaying unusual knowledge of the subject. His visitor’s face beamed with pleasure—the pleasure of a kindly deed in anticipation. For his mind reverted to a neglected volume in his library at home—a standard authority on numismatics, with many fine copperplate illustrations. On his return to town the book was looked up and despatched, with his regards, as a gift to his friend in the bush, who would be able to do what its possessor had hitherto failed to do—make good use of it.

Two years ago, corresponding with Mr. Leo Grindon, the venerable botanist and philologist of Manchester, I sent him a copy of the “Ruahine” pamphlet. He wrote of it in enthusiastic terms. “The narrative reads like a romance, and is far more delightful and interesting to me than anything I have had in my hands for a very long time. The botany is splendid. Happily, I have sufficient idea of almost all the plants mentioned, to absorb all that is said about them.... I lay the little book with my treasures for perusal again and again. Many of the adventures and recitals are charmingly novel. I appreciate, also, I hope, the piety of many of the sentences, and am simply delighted with the poetic extracts. Some are new to me; all are appropriate.”

Of his really beautiful end genuine piety, his simple and unfaltering trust in Divine Providence, it is well to speak, as it shaped and influenced his whole character, becoming more apparent with advancing years. His daily habit, in his morning devotions, was to read the Church Lessons for the day not only for private edification, but to share in the communion of fellow believers. When from infirmity he could attend only the Sunday morning service, he made it a practice in the privacy of his home to mentally review Church after Church where his ministerial friends were engaged—those of other denominations as well as his own—and pray for a blessing on each by name. To strangers he might seem to be merely a polemic; by some of the rigidly orthodox he was rated as something of a heretic; but his religion was of the soundest—the kind that shapes the life and action.

When he landed in 1834, drunkenness was fearfully prevalent, and he and others formed the first New Zealand Temperance Society, the “rules” of which constituted the first book in English printed in New Zealand. His temperance pledge he faithfully kept throughout his life. It was a pledge of an early phase of the movement and did not apply to fermented liquors. To the end of his days he held spirits and tobacco in utter detestation. To prohibition orators and leagues he had an almost equal aversion.

The Napier papers have published some lines: “I am weary; lay me low,” apparently under the impression that they were his own. This is a mistake. They were adapted from a little poem, anonymous, I think, which went the rounds about twenty-five years ago.14 He had the habit of copying lines which took his fancy and sending them to friends. There were stanzas in the original which, not suiting his purpose, were omitted. He was not, to my know1edge, addicted to verse-writing. The only rhyme I know of his composition is a playful political squib, making no pretentions to poetry, published anonymously in the “Herald” early in 1860.

Much more might be written from the memoirs of thirty-eight years of close friendship and intimate correspondence, but I forbear. More than a week has passed since he was called hence, departing gently in his sleep, but I have not yet realised the fact. “To me he had seemed”—to use a striking expression, from Fennimore Cooper’s story of “Mark’s Reef” where the hero speaks of the blank that followed his father’s death— “to be one of the fixtures of the earth.”
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