A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827 eBook

Augustus Earle
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 197 pages of information about A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827.
I expected it, and indeed had come for the purpose of witnessing it, it was conducted with so much fury on both sides, that at length I became quite horrified, and for some time could not divest myself of the feeling that our visitors were playing false, so closely did this mock combat resemble a real one.  The dreadful noises, the hideous faces, the screeching of the women, and the menacing gestures of each party, were so calculated to inspire terror, that stouter hearts than mine might have felt fear.  When the tumult subsided, the elder chiefs squatted down, and had the long talk usual on these occasions.

I was much delighted to recognise among these chiefs one I had known at Sydney.  During his residence in that city I had permitted him to remain in my house, and the few presents which he had requested on his return to his own country I had provided him with, and sent him off delighted and happy, and never expected to behold him again.  The moment I approached he recollected me, jumped up from the “council,” ran up to me, hugged me in his arms, and rubbed noses so forcibly with me that I felt his friendship for some time, besides being daubed all over most plentifully with red ochre, which he, being then on a war-like and ceremonious visit, was smeared with from head to foot.

When my savage friend (whom we used to call Mr. Tookee) had overcome his first burst of delight at seeing me, and had literally left off jumping for joy, he introduced me to his father, Mr. De Frookee, the chief of his tribe, a very fine specimen of an old New Zealander, who was (I found) highly respected for his integrity and benevolence.  His eyes overflowed with tears when he heard I was the person who had shown such kindness to his son at Sydney.  I soon felt quite “at home” with the old chief, and experienced the good effect of having kept my word with this uncultivated savage.  I had, at the time I presented him with the gifts, been much laughed at by my acquaintances at Sydney for putting myself to such unnecessary expense; but, from the gratitude he displayed for the trifling services I had then rendered him, I felt assured he and his companions would do all in their power to protect me from every danger.

A long discussion was now carried on, one speaker at a time occupying the oblong space round which the warriors sat, and the more animated the debate, the faster ran the speaker to and fro, flourishing his hatchet in a most dexterous manner.  The instant one speaker finishes, another starts up to answer him; but previous to rising they throw a mat or blanket over their shoulders, and arrange it most tastefully around them; and, as their attitudes are all striking and graceful, and a great part of the figure is left exposed, it forms a study for an artist, well worth his going many miles to witness, and invariably reminded me of the fine models of antiquity.

As a painter, I conceive that this must have been the great secret of the perfection to which the Greek and Roman sculptors brought their works; as they constantly contemplated the display of the human form in all its beauty in their various gymnastic exercises, which enabled them to transfer to marble such ease and elegance as we, living in an age of coats and breeches, never shall be able to rival.

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A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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