Section 8: February-August 1889

Section 8: February-August 1889

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

It is now Feb 20th [Wednesday]. The rest of my holidays were very quiet, spent mostly in trying to get on with my painting. I had so many things begun besides the plants & flowers I brought from the camp, even now I have not been able to finish my sketches. I go on painting every day when I feel well enough but it is slow work, although I have got some things done.

Frances went to Riwaka for a week with Mr & Mrs Kempthorne & the children. On her return Ellen stayed ten days at the Burnetts’. The serious illness of my brother-in-law August has been a great source of anxiety to me, & just as he was getting better Mary broke down & had congestion of the brain, & no wonder.

Our school commenced with many disappointments, our three eldest pupils left because they were of an age to benefit by older companions. My one drawing pupil did not return. Ellen’s one music pupil has gone elsewhere, & the boy she had been teaching privately for six months did not return, so that we have not one penny for pocket money this quarter.

We expected some new pupils but only two have turned up for the school, so it is a dismal lookout and yet we have many things to be most thankful for. All this season our friends & neighbours have kept us most abundantly supplied with fruit and vegetables. Often something turns up to make things less hard than they might be.

April 28th [Sunday]. So little of pleasure & so much of worry, disappointment & anxiety, that I really thought the fewer entries the better, when one is not earning enough by the school to pay the household bills, there must be always an undercurrent of trouble however one may try to appear at ease before the world.

Ellen has not had one music pupil this year, nor have I had one drawing pupil, so that we are both without money. And we both want things for the winter, a dozen little things & comforts more than dresses or jackets, for care & skill & taste can make them do for ages, but one cannot make gloves, boots, shoes & ribbons. All these small adjuncts to the toilet which make one feel at ease with well dressed people. I have kept from going to several places lately because all my gloves are more or less shabby. Still I must go out, one cannot stay in always, health forbids that. These petty worries make one very cross at times.

I often think how very different our position here is to that of persons in England with as small an income there. Unless they had a great many relations they would only know two or three families. Now there are always more than fifty families where we can call, all people better off than we are, some are intimate friends & some near acquaintances. I do not say that we are the better for knowing so many people but it is pleasant, although it has its drawbacks as well. And that brings me back to where I began, not having enough to pay the bills. Not that they are large, the fact is that they are so small that I should not like to tell anyone the various items, also the want of a few shillings now & then for a concert or lecture, a cab or a train. Having the shillings makes life pleasant, the want of them makes things hard.

But after all I have written above, the worst blow has been the failing to win a prize or to sell anything at the Melbourne Exhibition. It has done me so much harm, if I had got a prize I should no doubt have got pupils again.

I have got two poems ready for two books, but I do not get on with the illustrations. Although I know exactly what I want, I cannot work them up properly. I often wonder whether my hand is becoming less skilful or whether pain & worry have made me less capable of doing steady work.

But a truce to repinings & grumblings if such they are. I often wonder whether I am an inveterate grumbler, yet it is only when things go very hard that I cannot help it, although I often try to count up the blessings which fall to our share. While Ellen & I are so unfortunate, Frances has been able to sell a few little landscapes, little oil paintings, views of the Cathedral, the Port, the Boulder Bank & various parts of Nelson, one of the river at our last camping out. She has sold six at seven & six each & has several more ordered. Of course they are far too cheap, much too well done & pretty, but then no one would have bought if they had not been cheap & Frances says she may get a name in time & then get more. She sold one to Nelly Burnett, a study of shells, for a guinea. I do hope that she may be able to go on selling.

May 13th [Monday]. In Gretchen’s letter this week she mentions the death of Mrs Humphries, and also of Mrs Stapp. Mrs Humphries was an old New Plymouth resident, nearly all of whom have passed away. On every visit to New Plymouth I find the number less & less. There are still the same names, indeed more, but they belong to the second & third generations. Mrs Humphries came with her husband & family to Taranaki when I was almost a child, she was a very handsome woman, a beautiful singer, she also possessed a keen sense of humour & fun, would often keep a roomful of people in fits of laughter. In my mind she will always be associated with most of the social events of my young days.

Mrs Stapp, Fanny Webster, was one of my companions in childhood, she was four or five years older, but all my companions were either some years older or younger. Before we left the Henui I used to go every morning to the Parsonage where Mrs Bolland & Miss Wright used to give me lessons. Fanny Webster also came for a few months. She was a very beautiful child with a great quantity of golden hair, but she was very fat, as she grew older she got fatter, until before she was twenty she was as stout as a stout woman of fifty, but she was very pretty with good features & a lovely complexion. She was active and a light dancer, good tempered, good natured, rather opinionated. I think she sang as a child, for most of the children who had voices were taught to sing by ear. Songs, glees & duets were quite a feature in the parties & picnics of those days. I think when about five & twenty she must have had her voice properly cultivated for she became one of the best singers in the choir of St Mary’s Church, she was always a great supporter & worker for the church & Sunday schools.

When she was about twenty, & away on a visit, she had an illness, her lovely thick hair was not cut as it should have been. In consequence it became quite thin & never got thick again. I saw very little of Fanny the last five & twenty years of her life. I knew Colonel Stapp very well, and was not a little surprised when she became his third wife. I have been told that his little daughter, the only child of his late second wife, was so fond of Miss Webster that he thought that he would please her as well as himself by proposing to Miss Webster. I think Fanny’s married life was very happy. She leaves one child, a boy about nine years of age. I hear that her grave was quite white with wreaths of flowers. Whenever I go to New Plymouth I walk through the Cemetery, a most lovely spot, and there I read the names and think about my old familiar friends.

A few weeks ago the new Surveyor General came to Nelson. We were all very anxious to see him. I saw him for about ten minutes two years and a half ago in New Plymouth. With that exception we had not seen him for twenty years, when he and his family & Captain Rowan came to Nelson on their way to the Chatham Islands, where he remained a year. These meetings, how strange they are between those who have been familiar friends in youth & childhood, how startling then would have been the idea that the boy you were playing with or the girl you were teasing would become a distinguished man or woman. And so with Percy Smith we took it as a matter of course that he should give great satisfaction in his department, but that he should become a man of note at first somewhat surprised us, I suppose because we so seldom met that we really knew very little of him. We found that he had the same kind, pleasant manner that Frank Smith has, only with a difference, the one has a wider knowledge of men and the world and things in general than the other.

We were afraid his time would be too much taken up to come & see us. He laughed & replied that it would not have been at all proper to come to Nelson without visiting us. He told us that his brother Frank would have to come to Nelson this winter.

May 14th [Tuesday]. Laid up in bed with feverish cold.

18th. So far better that I was able to go to the College Studio & see the Ex. of pictures.

Monday 20th. Went to a Lecture by the Bishop of Nelson, descriptive of his visit to England. Thought it most interesting. After the Lecture the Bishop asked Ellen if she had any new pictures to send to the Art Exhibition at the Bishop’s Schoolroom. Ellen said she thought her sisters had.

21st. Went over to the Schoolroom at twelve o’clock, found the Bishop & several other gentlemen hard at work hanging pictures & photos, I tried to help but could not do much. Ellen came & helped a little.

The Exhibition consisted chiefly of Mr Gully’s pictures & sketches, also a great number of beautiful photos of English & American scenery, & of Tinworth’s works. Col. Branfill, Mr de Forest & other artists also had pictures there.

Col. Branfill spoilt the Ex. to me by exhibiting an oil portrait of Mr Gully, it was like enough for everyone to recognise & yet such an ugly likeness, it was most painful to see our dear friend so caricatured.

Another thing spoilt the Ex. – ill timed adverse criticism of Mr Gully’s works. However it brought out a beautiful letter from the Bishop & a very indignant one from Mr Muntz. Under any circumstances I could not feel as much pleasure in this as the former Exhibitions. I missed Mr Gully’s kind face & kind remarks too much, so different from Miss Morgan who went round the room condemning everything.

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

One would have thought that a few pages back I had mentioned all our worries and disappointments but I by no means exhausted the catalogue.

Last year Mrs [Corrigan] got herself invited to our evening dancing class. We had no children’s class that year. (I erase her name because we forgave her long ago). She got up a children’s class & rented our room. This year we supposed she would again have a children’s class. She one day asked Frances if she would join her in getting up a large children’s class, F. said she would think about it.

Some time after she met Frances & told her that she had been asked by six gentlemen to get up an evening class. She hoped she was not interfering with us, some of those who were coming to her she had not even heard of before. So we supposed she had got together enough to form a class without interfering with us. However we soon found that the case was very different, she had invited all the girls who came to our class, & asked every one of our gentlemen to join & every youth who might have joined our class, and a sufficient number of those who would have come to [us] have joined her class, to make it quite impossible for us to have a class this year.

She knew this quite well & she also knew how much my sisters depended upon getting up their class. Many of the ladies she invited would not go, but others thinking we were not going to have one this year saw no reason why they should refuse.

She began at getting her class together very early in the season allowing people to suppose that we were not going to have one. She sent Frances a card of invitation for the first evening but Ellen & I were left out in the cold. Only to invite one after having enjoyed herself a whole season at our house. Ellen will never forgive being slighted in that way, although [she would] not have gone on any count.

We have all been most kind to Mrs [Corrigan], very kind. And she found our house a very pleasant one to visit. I am much mistaken if she is ever asked to enter it again.

We are at our wits’ end to know what to do. Frances & Ellen have been trying hard to get up a children’s class, Ellen has written numbers of notes to various people, with but little success, they began last Monday with nine, they hope to have a few more tomorrow.

Meanwhile Mr F. Smith arrived, he had a dreadful cold so that we did not see him for some days. When we did he told us that Mrs [Corrigan] had sent him a card of invitation to join her dancing class, the very first day of his arrival. (Mrs [C.] knew that he was our particular friend while she did not know him at all). We told him he was not to go to Mrs [Corrigan], for she had spoilt our class, so he said to Frances, “Will you have me as a pupil?” Frances said yes, though what to do with one pupil we hardly knew. However the difficulty was met by giving him a delightful little party last Tuesday.

Monday, [June] 17th. A few more at the Children’s dancing class.

Tuesday. Another little dance for Mr Smith.

Wednesday. Maud Catley married to Mr Ashton Scaife. Went up to see the wedding.

Thursday. Went to see if Mr Jackson had heard from the Publisher. He had just received a letter saying the specimens would be sent by the next Frisco Mail.

Friday. Frances & Ellen went to Assembly Ball. They both enjoyed it & both looked very well. Frances says she has come to the end of her resources in the matter of dress, so does not think she can go to another.

Saturday. We have been asked to get up some more Tableaux for the Church fund, will do so if the Bishop consents. Might have splendid historical ones. Cannot find any not hackneyed ideas in the ‘Queen.’

Saturday afternoon. Made out my school accounts, winter holidays next week. Hope to do a lot of painting, sewing & housework, gardening & a general putting to rights of things indoors and out, especially if we are to have Tableaux work again.

The Frisco Mail arrived in Auckland, will be here on Tuesday.

Sunday, [June] 23rd. Dull and showery, the shortest day yesterday.

Tuesday 25th. I got up early and turned out my bedroom, which took me some hours. Just as I had finished Mr Jackson sent up the parcel from England, two proof sheets of one of the flowers & two of one of the covers. After careful examination we came to the conclusion that they were really very beautifully engraved. I at once went to Mr Jackson but he was so busy that he could only say that he thought them well done, & that we must send all the others in a fortnight. In the afternoon I went to see Mr Bamford but as he was not at home I left word for him to call tomorrow.

Wednesday. Mr Bamford came in the morning. He brought the pictures which I have kept to finish up better. After not seeing them for a long time I find that they all want more work. Worked at the drawings all the afternoon.

Saturday 29th. Worked at the drawings all the morning. The Bishop has consented to patronise the Tableaux. In the afternoon Miss Kempthorne & I walked out to Bishopdale to see the Bishop, & try & borrow some books & engravings. Spent a very pleasant afternoon there. The Bishop was most kind & said he would do anything to help us.

Found that Miss Harrison, Mrs Suter’s niece, had had a great deal to do with private theatricals. Called at the Hospital on our way back to see Mrs Boor, had tea there. Told Mrs Boor & Milly that we were going to have Tableaux again. They were so delighted they hardly knew how to express their pleasure.

Monday 1st July. Had a Committee meeting in the afternoon, Mrs Richmond, Mrs Farrington, Mrs Locking, Miss Kempthorne, ourselves, Dr Cressey, Mr Symonds. Nearly all day Monday & Tuesday looking through piles of Illustrated books & papers.

Wednesday. Finished my drawings & took them up for Dr Boor to look over. In the evening Frances & Ellen went to a very grand ball given by eight gentlemen.

Thursday. Gardening nearly all day. Had tea with Mrs Gully.

Ellen & Frances enjoyed the ball, it seems inconsistent to talk of their going to balls, but if they stayed away they would not so well be able to teach dancing, besides they most carefully refrain from spending much on their dresses.

Ellen wore a red dress which really looked well & only cost her ninepence with which she bought a packet of diamond dye. She had an old white silk & a lot of crepe. She dyed the crepe & the silk & both turned out a perfect success, then she remade the dress up in the latest fashion. Frances had an old pale blue silk ball dress, which she picked to pieces & used for the front & made skirt, front of body & trimmings. She bought some black velveteen for body & train. The blue silk was such a lovely colour, the dress fitted so perfectly & was made in such artistic fashion I thought I had not seen her look so well for a very long time.

Mrs Fell came up to her in the ballroom and said, ‘You look as if you had just stepped out of a picture.’ They enjoyed the ball. The ballroom was more beautifully decorated than any before in Nelson.

Friday. Gardening in the morning. In the afternoon went to a sewing meeting for Dr Barnardo. In the evening, Tableaux Committee meeting.

Saturday. Went with Miss Kempthorne & Frances to see the Theatre, found it had been repapered, painted & nearly all the scenes new. The scenes were painted by a man who was thought to be a good scene painter but we never saw such scenes, gaudy beyond description, we found afterwards that the man was drunk nearly all the time he was painting, we are disgusted & it will give us so much more trouble. The old scenes had been painted over, some lovely scenes destroyed. Happily one good street scene is left.

In the afternoon Milly Boor brought back my drawings, she said she waited until the last minute because her father wished himself to bring them but was detained, he sent to say that he had corrected a few slight errors. With the drawings he was perfectly charmed. I was very much pleased to hear that.

I forgot to say that on Friday evening Frank Smith came, he said to me, ‘As you did not go to the ball I have brought the ball to see you,’ & he gave me a photograph of the room. I was very much amused particularly as Mrs Farrington said, ‘I never come to this house but you have something new to show me.’

I must not omit to put down that I have been able to pay some of our accounts. I have also sent Mary one pound, half payment [for] getting subscribers for forty sets of my book.

July 12th, 1889 [Friday]. Mr Jackson has sent book to London, posted today, so it is a remarkable day for me.

July 11th. I took all the drawings etc. to Mr Jackson, also a letter with directions to John Walker & Co. I had been wondering very much what he would propose as I had only about two thirds of the sets subscribed for to make enough to defray the publishing besides other expenses. So I told him how much Dr Boor & others admired the drawings and how many sets were subscribed for. So he said, ‘Well & how are we going to publish this?’ I think I made no reply. Then after a little consideration he said, ‘Shall we go halfs?’

‘Just as you like,’ I said.

Then he saw my letter, ‘What’s this?’ he said.

‘Some explanations & directions, there’s no business in it.’

So after reading it he remarked, ‘Yes! that is right.’

After a little more talk he began to write, reading out what he wrote and asking me if I could think of anything else or more. It was then stamped & I signed & he signed & so the thing was done.

Memo: of agreement between Miss Harris & H. D. Jackson re the publication of drawings from Books.

The Books to be published by H. D. Jackson, Miss Harris supplying the Drawings. All expenses to be charged to the Book, after these are paid the profits to be equally divided.

Whether quite the best for me or not I cannot [know] but I could not have done otherwise, having no money, & I feel infinitely obliged to Mr Jackson relieving me of all difficulties.

July 12th. Wrote to Dr Taylor.

Harris, Emily Cumming collection. Collection of Puke Ariki (ARC2002-190).

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The worst blow has been the failing to win a prize or to sell anything at the Melbourne Exhibition
Emily records receiving a catalogue of the Fine Art Gallery of the New Zealand Court at the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition 18 October 1888, two months after the exhibition opened (see section 6). No prizes were forthcoming for her paintings and she does not count here an honourable mention for fancy work that appeared in Melbourne papers in February 1889. (The Australasian (Melbourne) 23 Feb 1889:41; Leader (Melbourne) 23 Feb 1889: 8)

I have got two poems ready for two books, but I do not get on with the illustrations
Emily plans to have poems accompanying her botanical drawings. There is no record of when she dropped the idea and the two poems mentioned here are not identified. She resurrected the combination of drawings and poems for ‘New Zealand Mountain Flora,’ a project she worked on between 1894 and 1910. An artist’s mock-up of the book now at the Alexander Turnbull Library includes eight short poems among its 30 watercolours of alpine flora (ATL E-001-q). The typed poems are unattributed but clearly by Emily and constitute as yet the only poetry that has survived apart from two poems written in 1860 during the first Taranaki War. They range from descriptions of specific flowers (‘The Edelweiss,’ ‘The Spear-grass,’ ‘Snow-berries’) to meditations on alpine landscape and human impact on fragile ecosystems, as in the untitled poems #3 and #6:

The mountain looks down on the river,

And the river flows on to the sea

In their grandeur and beauty for ever

As long as this planet shall be.

But the forest that grew by the river,

And the flowers on the mountain that bloomed

Will they gladden our hearts for ever

Or pass like a race that is doomed?

Let us camp on the hill-side

   The valley below

   The mountains afar

With their clouds and their snow.

The blue sky above us

   The stream flowing near

   With our pipe and our dog,

And our comrade so dear.

We’ll dream that the way

   Unto Paradise lies

   Where yonder green hill

Meets the clear shining skies.

In Gretchen’s letter this week she mentions the death of Mrs Humphries
Ellen Maria Humphries (1819-1889) was the wife of Dr Edward Larwill Humphries (1816-1869). The Humphries arrived in New Plymouth in 1850 with their elder children and the family grew to include six daughters and three sons. Ellen Humphries’ obituary confirms Emily’s account of her character and social conscience:

The grave to-day has been closed over the mortal remains of Mrs Ellen Maria Humphries, the relict of Dr. E. L. Humphries, a well-known lady, who in the past took a very active part in all social matters in the town. For some time she has suffered from a very painful malady, which has terminated fatally, she passing away peacefully on Thursday, about noon, at the age of 69. Mrs Humphries arrived here with her husband and family in 1850 and since that time has been inseparably connected with this district. She was greatly esteemed in the circle in which she moved for her kindliness of heart, which manifested itself in various forms of social benevolence and church work. Mrs Humphries was the first to suggest, and the most active to carry to a successful termination, any bazaar, fancy fair, or other gathering, that might have for an object the raising of funds for a benevolent purpose or the benefit of the church to which she belonged ; and her experience in getting up such affairs will be as much missed as her familiar figure will be from those gatherings. Much as she has done, it has never been at the expense or neglect of home duties, as she was not less devoted to the careful training of her family than to forwarding every good object ; and her children will cherish the remembrance of her as one whose life was spent in the faithful discharge of her duties as a wife and mother. Mrs Humphries leaves a family of eight children — Mr Thomas Humphries, her oldest son, was Chief Surveyor of the Taranaki Provincial District for several years, but has lately been promoted to the Auckland District ; and her other two sons are in business in the town. Two of her daughters are married — one to Mr C. W. Hursthouse, Government Surveyor on the Northern Trunk Line of Railway, and the other to Captain Capel late of the A.C. Force. The funeral took place at noon to-day (Saturday), when a large number of citizens paid the last tribute of respect by following the remains of the deceased to the grave. (Taranaki Herald 27 Apr 1889: 2)

Mrs Stapp, Fanny Webster, was one of my companions in childhood
Edwin Harris to Augusta Dobson, 25 Nov 1846: ‘Emily is being educated by Mrs Bolland the Clergyman’s wife together with another young lady. She has been nearly twelve months and is getting on nicely’ (‘The Family Songbook’ Letter 19). Mrs Jane Bolland and her sister Caroline Wright supervised Emily’s lessons at the Te Henui vicarage in Courtenay Street, New Plymouth, probably until the illness and death of Reverend William Bolland in May 1847 (Bolland Family Papers).

Frances Ann Webster (C.1835-1889) married Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stapp (c. 1825-1900) in New Plymouth in 1878. An obituary confirms Emily’s description of her character and interests:

It is with much regret we have to record the death of another lady in this town who was greatly esteemed in life by all who knew her. Mrs. Fanny Stapp, wife of Lieutenant-Colonel Stapp, who for several months has been suffering from a very severe illness, passed away on Saturday evening to “The undiscovered country from whose bourne No traveller returns.” leaving many friends to mourn their loss. The late Mrs Stapp was the daughter of the late Mr James Webster, for many years Postmaster of New Plymouth; and she came to Taranaki with her parents and brothers, Messrs F. L. and W. D. Webster, in the Amelia Thompson, which arrived on September 3, 1841. She always took great interest in matters connected with St. Mary’s Church, and was a member of the choir for many years. She was also a teacher in the Sunday school, and took an active part in the organisation and management of the Band of Hope Union. The late Mrs Stapp was a lady who by her known gentleness, amiability, and affability had endeared herself not only to the immediate members of her family, but to all who were acquainted with her. To the poor she was most kind and considerate, always ready to give a helping hand to the needy and those in distress. The funeral of the deceased lady took place at 4 o’clock to-day (Monday), and was followed by a large number of friends and sympathisers with Colonel Stapp in his sad bereavement. (Taranaki Herald 29 Apr 1889: 2)

A few weeks ago the new Surveyor General came to Nelson
See Mary Weyergang’s account of Percy Smith’s visit to New Plymouth in late 1888 (section 6). Emily elaborates on childhood connections with the Stephenson Smiths, whose farm Okoare at Westown was near the Harris farm on Frankley Rd in New Plymouth. She recalls meeting Percy as he passed through Nelson en route to survey Pitt Island in the Chathams in 1868 and seems to have met him in New Plymouth early in 1887.

So far better that I was able to go to the College Studio & see the Ex. of pictures
Emily refers to one of the regular exhibitions of student work on view at Nelson Girls’ College:


ON THURSDAY, May 16th, and during the following week, an EXHIBITION of WORK, done by Miss Morgan’s Pupils, will be on view. The Studio will be open to the Public every day from 10 to 4, except on Saturday, when in addition it will be open from 7 to 9 p.m. (Colonist 16 May 1889: 3)

After the Lecture the Bishop asked Ellen if she had any new pictures to send to the Art Exhibition
Bishop Suter’s fourth exhibition of local and international art was hung at the Bishop’s School in May 1889:

Lovers of Art have much reason to appreciate the efforts of the Bishop of Nelson, who has now for the fourth time got together an admirable collection of works of art. On the present occasion the exhibition is attractive not only from an art point of view, but also from an educational, for the great number of magnificent photographs which his Lordship shows give a faithful idea of distant scenes, people, and places. The late Mr John Gully is well represented at the Exhibition, and his two splendid pictures of the Kaikoura would command attention anywhere. A number of sketches by the same artist, and which are hung on one of the screens, form a study by themselves, and two paintings which are close together, the latter hanging above the mantelpiece, are particularly interesting. One of these is a small picture dated 1836, and was Mr Gully’s first sketch in water colors; the other is a noble representation of Lake Manapouri, upon the finishing touches of which the deceased artist was engaged just before he was removed from us. Amongst the works of other Nelson artists must be mentioned the painting by Colonel Branfill, “Rest for the Weary” and “King Peach and his Court.” Miss Harris also shows some paintings of flowers. A number of exhibits by Mr de Forest, an artist who is at present sojourning in this district, are certain to attract a good deal of notice. He shows three large paintings in oils—”A View from Stoke,” “the Rolleston Peaks, from the foot of the Otira Gorge,” and an arm of “Lake Manapouri”—besides some smaller paintings, and a number of sketches. (Colonist 22 May 1889: 3)

Col. Branfill spoilt the Ex. to me by exhibiting an oil portrait of Mr Gully
Emily strikes out her criticism of Branfill’s portrait of John Gully.

However it brought out a beautiful letter from the Bishop & a very indignant one from Mr Muntz
The criticism of John Gully’s work and the responses Emily speaks of:

We hardly think that the pictures by the late Mr Gully would convey to a stranger an adequate expression of his merit as a painter. The picture of Lake Manapouri is interesting as his latest work, but there are faults in composition unusual to Mr Gully, and he has taken considerable liberties with his subject. Neither of the two large pictures of the coast at Kaikoura is to our mind in his best style. There is a certain amount of woolliness in the surf very much unlike most of Mr Gully’s work. To the sketches by Mr Gully, it is difficult to give too much praise. There are a firmness of handling, and a freedom of touch that are truly delightful. In fact that seem to be everything that can be desired in a landscape painter’s memoranda for use in building up his pictures. Where all is so good it is difficult to make a choice, but perhaps the study of scorched foliage will be admired as much as any. (Nelson Evening Mail 22 May 1889: 2)


To the Editor of the “Evening Mail.”

SIR — Will you allow me a brief space to submit a few thoughts which have occurred to me in connection with the late Exhibition, especially in reference to one of whose cunning hand will do no more for us than is already done. I was absent in England when Mr Gully died, or I should have doubtless taken advantage of my duty and privilege to contribute a public expression of appreciation to the many which were rife at that sad time, and I should like to be allowed to do so now. The points on which I should have dwelt were these: —

First, his truthful presentation of Nature both in colour and form, and the complete and accordant harmony between the hand and the eye. This harmony of action is one of the mysteries of our marvellous frame, the results of which we can admire and enjoy, but the reason and operation thereof is still a secret.

Secondly. I have  never seen anything of his which was not a picture; I have seen unfinished, partially finished sketches, but he did not long lose time over what would not in the end work out well. I remember well the unsettledness, almost amounting to agitation, which pervaded him till he could get what would prove a picture, as he passed from one point to another, and the marked dissatisfaction, almost amounting to distress, which he evinced till the point was reached, a state of mind to be contrasted at once with the swift quietness with which he immediately went about his work after he had triumphantly gained the point of view.

Thirdly. He generally liked pleasing views; there are plenty of rugged, weird, and death like, scenes to be got in New Zealand, but apparently he passed them by, and perpetuated the calm, wide expanse of view which we love so much. His pictures have more of heaven than of earth in them; more of sky than of land, but a passing shower he enjoyed, only it must be passing, or if there was a mist it must be exhibiting signs of haste to lift and get away before the ascending sun or the rising wind.

Fourthly. He used stored-up material, wisely and well. Sunshine in the foreground was an element in most pictures. He could not have portrayed many gloomy days.

Fifthly. An unbounded charity in his criticisms, with a keen sense of “something wrong somewhere,” was one of his most charming characteristics. No bruised reed was ever rudely shaken and broken, while many were strengthened into courage by encouragement.

Sixthly, Diligence, attention to detail, pursuit of the knowledge of his art under difficulties peculiarly incident to it, were features of his Art life which cannot fail to Impress the rising generation of those who are strong to do their duty to the art faculty.

These, Mr Editor, are only a few thoughts out of many which occur to me; such a life of interpretation of nature has been of great value to New Zealand, and especially to us. I do hope some of our younger folk will take courage and go in for diligent out of door sketching and reproduction of the glories of the heavens and the varying aspects of this beautiful part of God’s earth in which it is our good fortune to live; the way to see all these glories is to try and draw them; half the world passes through life without the cultivation of that observation, which is one of the most generally bestowed and most easily cultivated gifts.

Of course I here speak of Mr Gully as an artist, not as a personal friend whose acquaintance I valued and looked forward to enjoy; and I thank you for granting me so much space for laying this little wreath of admiration and gratitude at the foot of his last picture — Your’s &c.,

B. SUTER, Bishop.

Nelson, May 25th, 1889.

(Nelson Evening Mail 25 May 1889: 3)



Sir,— In the absence of Mr. J. C. Richmond, who was Mr. Gully’s friend, and who would have spoken on his behalf, I cannot let the critique in your paper of yesterday pass without comment. Of the Kaikoura scene, with the rough surf, I do not think any of Mr. Gully’s pictures show more of his power and breadth of treatment of an exceedingly difficult subject. It is only these who have stood on the beach with such a sea, and tried to paint what is never still, who can thoroughly appreciate how much of truth and power my late friend has put into this sea. The wild flat stretch of desolate beach is also treated with great breadth and power. The brooding storm is magnificently given. Of the Manapouri, I regret that his last work should have been so criticized. His last work was done in great bodily suffering, so much so that he was really compelled to leave it. I do not consider it finished. This scene might not be true as a photo, but my late friend never put anything in that he did not think necessary to make a picture in his work. All scenes will not make pictures, but only views, and it is this painting views only that produces so many tame, spiritless, works. As his companion in many sketching trips, I know Mr. Gully was very true in his sketches. In conclusion I may express my sorrow at hearing of his death while in Greymouth, which prevented my following my dear and esteemed friend to his last home.

I am, &c.,

Charles Muntz.

Richmond, May 23rd, 1889.

(Nelson Evening Mail 25 May 1889: 3)

Charles Muntz (1834-1903) was born in Birmingham, England. He arrived in New Zealand on the Oriental in 1858 and farmed at ‘Arthingworth,’ Richmond, Nelson, specialising in stud stock. Later he took up painting as a pupil of John Gully and at first painted purely for pleasure, accompanying Gully and J. C. Richmond on their sketching tours (Platts). A third letter rebutting criticism of Gully’s painting appeared in the Colonist, written by Henry Josiah De forest, the Canadian artist residing in nelson whom Emily later encountered in Taranaki (see section 11):

To the Editor of the Colonist.

Sir, In reply to a statement made in your critic of the Art Exhibition being held in the Bishop’s School, it is said re Lake Manapouri “the sky is not characteristic of such a scene.” I must, however, with all due deference to your knowledge of New Zealand and art, take exception to that statement, and say it is most decidedly characteristic of Lake Manapouri, for anyone may see by the merest glance at the map of that country that the above lake is in close proximity to the West Coast Sounds, and if your reporter visited it at a time when he had more than two fine days in a week, he was more fortunate than I when I visited it in February, 1888, after waiting over two weeks for the three only partly clear days I had for visiting Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, and if people generally believe that Nelson climate is to be found at all times of year in any part of New Zealand, they have only to spend a year in the South as I have done, and I venture to say they will return to this sunny clime the wiser and the less hypercritical of faithful representations of other parts of their ‘Wonderland.’ Thanking you for your valuable space,

Yours, &c.,

J. De Forest.

Nelson, May 22, 1889

(Colonist 23 May 1889: 3)

so different from Miss Morgan who went round the room condemning everything.
Emily strikes out her criticism of Maria Morgan (c.1855-1941) who taught art at Nelson Girls’ college and the Bishop’s School and was an exhibitor in the Bishops exhibition of 1887. Maria Morgan arrived in Nelson from England in 1887 and her work as an artist and teacher was widely admired:

A new artist, in the person of Miss Morgan, now at the Ladies’ College, is an acquisition, and her screen is of itself worth a visit, if there had been no other pictures on view. She can copy, but she can also draw from this life, from the model, and from the person evidently; her execution of a piece of scroll work is seldom, if ever surpassed; it Is not a drawing of plaster, but a drawing of light – light and not density seem to be evolved as you look at the drawing. (Colonist 21 Apr 1887: 6 [sup])

Mr John Gully reported :— I have examined the drawings executed by the pupils of the Girls’ College, and beg’ to report that the teaching of drawing and painting from the round has my entire approval, and the result must, I think, be highly satisfactory to the Governors and the teacher, Miss Morgan. The pupils’ drawings in some cases show excellent form, and what is more rare, good modelling. On the whole the classes must be considered highly satisfactory. (Nelson Evening Mail 20 Dec 1887: 2)

In 1890 Maria Morgan was elected associate of the Auckland Academy of Art. She was a member of the Bishopdale Sketching Club and travelled to England and Europe in 1893 to further her studies. She was married the following year to Edward Fortesque Whittle Cooke (c.1854-1931) and continued to work and exhibit under her married name. Scholefield makes the following note about the couple:

Cooke was on the staff of Nelson College (1888 -1901). He resigned to enter the Lands Department and was later in the New Plymouth Public Library. Miss Morgan, whom he married, was appointed in 1886 as art teacher at Nelson Girl’s College. She was a certificated teacher of the South Kensington School of Art and studied under Signor Ludovici.

Last year Mrs [Corrigan] got herself invited to our evening dancing class
Emily’s note, ‘(I erase her name because we forgave her long ago),’ was added after she had scratched out each instance of Deborah Corrigan’s name or initial in this and following entries. By contrast, Mrs Corrigan’s name survives intact in Emily’s account of the camping out party at Christmas New Year 1888-1889, when she seems to have been on good terms with Emily and Frances Harris. See section 7. See also ‘The erasure of Mrs Corrigan’ (25 June 2020).

Maud Catley married to Mr Ashton Scaife
Maud Catley (1863-1937) married Arthur Ashton Scaife 1855–1923 in Nelson 19 June 1889:

MARRIAGE. Scaife— Catley — On June 19, at the Cathedral, Nelson, by the Rev. J. P. Kempthorne, Arthur Ashton, eldest son of the late Arthur Scaife, to Maud, eldest daughter of J. T. Catley, Nelson. (Marlborough Express 25 June 1889: 2)

He had just received a letter saying the specimens would be sent by the next Frisco Mail
Postal services to Britain via San Francisco and the United States transcontinental railway were established in 1875, reducing transit time to an average of 39 days in the 1880s and 33 days in the 1890s (Te Ara). Checking shipping arrivals in the Nelson Evening Mail 22 June 1889, Emily would have been able to read: ‘The Mariposa, with the San Francisco mail, arrived at Auckland early this morning.’ (2)

We have been asked to get up some more Tableaux for the Church fund
The Harris sisters helped organise the successful Grand Tableaux Vivants (living pictures) of the previous year (Colonist 8 Aug 1888: 3). The Queen magazine was a British society publication established by Samuel Beeton in 1861.

Just as I had finished Mr Jackson sent up the parcel from England
Lithograph proof sheets from John Walker and Company Limited, Publishers, wholesale and export stationers, of Farringdon House, Warwick Lane, London EC4. The company traded between the 1880s and 1920s (Grace’s Guide).

In the afternoon I went to see Mr Bamford
Frederick Adolphus Bamford (1861-1929) was appointed manager of Johnston’s United General Mining company in 1889 (Nelson Evening Mail 31 Dec 1889: 2). His role in Emily’s book project is not known but he has been holding the botanical drawings for some time.

Mrs Richmond, Mrs Farrington, Mrs Locking, Miss Kempthorne, ourselves, Dr Cressey, Mr Symonds
Most committee members also served on the 1888 committee. The 1889 committee was headed by Dr Cressey. Colonel George Baillie Farrington, Madras Staff Corps (retired), and his wife Jane lived in Brougham St, Nelson. Mary Greene Locking [née Wilkinson] (c.1852-1928) was married to Dr Benjamin Locking (c.1843-1913).

Finished my drawings & took them up for Dr Boor to look over
Dr Boor checks the accuracy of Emily’s drawings and their nomenclature, possibly making use of JD Hooker’s Handbook of the New Zealand Flora (1864-67), the foundational publication of New Zealand botany until it was superseded by Thomas Cheeseman’s Manual of the New Zealand Flora in 1906.  Dr Leonard George Boor (1825-1917) and his wife Emily Mary Rivers Boor (née Arnold) (1827- 1890) had four daughters, the first born in England,  the others in New Zealand. They were Mrs Emily Mary Tennent, Invercargill (1856-1944), Mrs Annie Louisa Kempthorne, Brightwater (1859-1939), Mrs Edith Johnston Burnett, Woodville (1865-1952) and Miss Millicent Arnold Boor, Nelson (1870-1963). Boor’s obituary outlines his medical career, noting also his interest in horticulture:

An old and’ esteemed resident of Nelson passed away at 6.30 yesterday morning in the person of Dr. Leonard George Boor, who died at his residence, Alton street, in his 92nd year. Dr. Boor was born at Warminster, Wiltshire, on May 22nd, 1825. Educated at Christ’s Hospital, London, better known as the Blue Coat School, he afterwards took his medical course at Westminster Hospital. After practising for about four years in London, his health failed, and he decided to come to New Zealand and take up land. On his arrival in Wellington in 1854 he found such a demand for his services as a medical practitioner that he resumed the practice of his profession, first at the Hutt and then at Wellington. After farming at Masterton for a short time, he accepted the appointment of Resident Surgeon at the Nelson Hospital and Asylum in 1870. He occupied this position until 1897, when he resigned owing to his advanced age. Dr. Boor, afterwards visited England twice, and resided for a few years in the North Island. Returning to Nelson in 1911, he has lived, here quietly; ever since; Dr. Boor was an enthusiastic volunteer, and was surgeon of the old Nelson City Rifles until their disbandment. He was afterwards promoted to the rank of Brigade Surgeon. Dr. Boor took part with the Nelson Volunteers: in the Parihaka expedition in 1881. In 1882 he received the Volunteer  Decoration which was presented to him by the Governor in Wellington. The deceased took great interest in gardening, and for several years’ was president of the local Horticultural Society. (Nelson Evening Mail 12 Feb 1917: 4)

Mrs Fell came up to her in the ballroom
Possibly Mrs Edith Emily Fell (1858-1943), eldest daughter of Arthur and Jane Maria Atkinson, who married Charles Yates Fell in Nelson in 1881.

I have also sent Mary one pound, half payment [for] getting subscribers for forty sets of my book
A follow-up to Mary’s letters of November 1888. See section 6.

July 12th 1889 [Friday]. Mr Jackson has sent book to London, posted today, so it is a remarkable day for me
Emily meets her deadline and comes to a publication arrangement for the books with HD Jackson. No details of the print run are recorded, nor the final number of subscriptions raised by Mary and Emily in New Plymouth and Nelson. It seems likely that Jackson organised (and perhaps paid for) the specimen proofs from John Walker.

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Section 1: August 1885
Section 2: September-November 1885
Section 3: January-March 1886
Section 4: March-July 1886
Section 5: August-November 1886
Section 6: August-December 1888
Section 7: January 1889
Section 8: February-August 1889: You Are Here
Section 9: September-October 1889
Section 10: November-December 1889
Section 11: January-February 1890
Section 12: August 1890-February 1891