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.

After they had been some days on shore, we had a very diverting scene with them, which exhibited strongly the great difference there is in the nature of the two classes of savages we now had such opportunities of observing.  I had brought my violin from Sydney, on which I used to play occasionally.  The New Zealanders generally expressed the greatest dislike to it; and my companions used to rally me much on the subject, saying it was not that the savages did not like music, but it was my discordant playing that frightened them away, which might be true.  It was, however, a useful discovery for us all, as I often took that method of civilly driving them out of our house when we grew tired of their company.  But when I began to play before the Tucopeans, the effect it had instantly upon them was ludicrous in the extreme.  They sprang up, and began dancing most furiously; at the same time, so waving their heads about as to keep their long hair extended at its fullest length:  as I played faster, they quickened their pace.  A lively Scotch reel seemed to render them nearly frantic; and when I ceased playing, they threw themselves down on the floor quite exhausted, and unable to articulate a word.  I have observed (generally speaking) that savages are not much affected by music; but these two Tucopeans were excited to a most extraordinary degree.



We at length received authentic intelligence of the death of the celebrated Hongi.  Finding his dissolution fast approaching, he convened a meeting of all the neighbouring chiefs; and as many as could reach the spot in time attended.  The wounded warrior expired, surrounded by the men he had so frequently led to battle and conquest.  After the numerous and desperate risks he had run, the many encounters he had sustained with various enemies, it appeared extraordinary to us Europeans that he should die quietly in his hut.  It is the custom to keep a guarded and mysterious silence relating to the subjects which are spoken of by a dying chief.  I questioned several who had attended Hongi:  all spoke with the greatest solemnity of his last moments.  One sentence (uttered by him) was all I could obtain after much manoeuvring, and that was spoken but a few minutes before he breathed his last, which was, that “Shulitea (viz., our friend George) would not live one week longer than himself”; but, as our patron was in perfect health at the time, and all seemed peaceful around him, I only laughed at the improbability of the prophecy being fulfilled.

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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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