The Pigeons’ Parliament; a Poem of the Year 1845. In Four Cantos, With Notes. To which is added, Thoughts on the Wairarapa and other Stanzas
In again stepping upon the stage of Authorship, and presenting this second attempt at Colonial Literature to the Public of Port Nicholson, it will, perhaps, be expected that some explanation be made upon the article in question, whether or not it may add or subtract from its value. In so doing, the discerning reader I hope will perceive that the Poem throughout is a compound of the satirical, allegorical, and descriptive, with a little sprinkling of the sentimental added by way of relish. But whether I have succeeded or failed in the composition of such a heterogeneous mass of ingredients—as some cooks might fail in the composition of some unusual and extraordinary dish by making it either too pungent, or too something else, to the taste of this or the other eater—I must leave it, indulgent Reader, for you to determine. But I think I hear some one, who may not have a Dictionary at his elbow, inquire the meaning of the above-mentioned terms. Excuse me a little, learned reader, while I explain to your less learned brother. Well, then, the “satirical” implies, that some folly, or other misdemeanour, in being censured, is held up to one’s view that he might see and condemn in another what perhaps actually belongs to himself; much in the same way, dear Reader, that your mother may have sent you to look into the mirror to convince you that your face required washing.
The “allegorical” is made up in the figures or representations of certain circumstances, and calling page iv forth the observations and criticisms which some animals might be supposed to make, could they express themselves concerning them. And as for the term “descriptive,” I take for granted that it is quite well understood.
In regard to the “sentimental,” this may refer to the sympathies and pathetic feelings displayed, as expressed by those represented as speakers in the course of the Poem.
But, putting all together, the Reader may be informed, that the scope of the Poem is intended as a picture of the Colony as it existed in Port Nicholson previous to the year eighteen hundred and forty-five, contrasted with the character it assumed after the arrival of Sir G. Grey.
It may be asked, why I wrote on such a subject. It so happened one day, when assisting at the building of the Hutt stockade, I was working along with a person who, like myself, was a little acquainted with the “Muse;” during a little conversation, I asked him why he did not compose something on New Zealand; when, with a strong affirmation, he declared he saw nothing in the place worth writing about. I thought differently, but said nothing, as I was at that time amusing myself in my leisure evening’s hours, by writing my songs, already published. I began shortly afterwards to think of trying a larger piece, when the idea of the “Pigeons’ Parliament” struck me so forcibly that I felt as if I could not get rest till it was begun; and no small amusement it gave me while writing, and I hope the reader will receive no less.
In regard to the Notes, I may here say, that the facts, &c., are merely taken from memory, the result of my own observations and experiences reviewed in retrospect, and what I have read in the public journals—although their particular dates I have forgot, and which cannot now be referred to, as they have, I believe, long been defunct. Yet I may here add, that I was often not a little gratified to hear, at the political discussions which sometimes took place in the Hutt meetings, page v previous to the first elections under our present “new Constitution,” the most of the substance of the Poem and Notes as it were confirmed by the speakers when referring to past times, and long after both the Poem and chief of the Notes were written, as the greater part of the Poem, to about the middle of the third Canto, was written just before the Maori row, or disturbances in the Hutt; since which the rest has been added, yet referring to the time at which the Poem begins. It may be observed by some, that I have taken no notice of these disturbances, as I might have done; but as the Parliament is supposed to have sat some time previous, it is not to be expected that such could be treated upon by any of the speakers, although some distant hints are given concerning them in a peculiar way.
In regard to “Thoughts on the Wairarapa,” it so happened at the time referred to in the Poem I had occasion to be there, and having traversed a good part of it in my journey, by sometimes getting out of the track and losing my shortest road, yet I then could not grumble at what might be called unlucky, even although I had on that account to pass a night, murky and damp as it happened to be, under the shade of a flax-bush, yet I felt not a little compensated by the different views of scenery there abounding, yielding indeed a pleasing sensation to the mind. The hospitality that is offered to strangers I could not but gratefully remark in the settlers on whom I I had occasion to call, as I passed along, to inquire my way, and the disappointment one expressed, when I declined passing the remaining part of the day with them, as I was anxious to get a stage farther upon my homeward journey; and when resting at Mr. Donald’s on a Sunday, and the following day threatening to storm in the morning, I was prevailed upon to remain—to which I the more readily complied, as a meeting of natives were assembling there to negociate with Mr. McLean concerning their land—and so, for a little recreation, when walking page vi out on the plains during the afternoon, in my notebook I gave form to the thoughts I gathered during my progress.
As for the other Stanzas, I do not think they deserve any remark here.
In conclusion, I beg to return thanks to my numerous and respectable Subscribers, for the kindness they have thus afforded in assisting me to bring to light what long lay in darkness, hoping they may not regret the assistance thus afforded. But whether such will add to my credit in their estimation (which I feel as possessing a share, from what I have heard often expressed in regard to my former work, and for which I feel thankful), or detract therefrom, I must leave it to time to declare, assuring my readers that whatever may be unworthy, or otherwise, I acknowledge as being the property only of
Your humble servant,
THE AUTHOR.River Hutt, April 25, 1854.