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TOPICAL NOTES.

Some correspondents have recently been supplying to the Christcburch Pres^ reminiscences of that notorious character of the sixties, "BulJy' Hayes. Some of the incidents of his romantic career gave been made the basis of the tales of the South Seas written by Louis Becke, who sailed with him for a time as supercargo. Hayes waa a powerfullybuilt, handsome man, with a soft voice and persuasive manner, .and he possessed in perfection a magnetic quality which threw a spell over all who came in contact with him and often enabled him to victimise even tho shrewdest of business men. "Bully" Hayes was a Yankee by birth ; but his first known appearance in history was in Invercargill, where he made his debut on the concert platform, and charmed his hearers with j his dulcet notes and magnetic personality. After a brief experience of the troubles of a travelling musical company, Hayes turned to the more exciting adventures of the sen. and for some time traded /with coal from .Newcnistle to New Zealand. About this period the Maori war broke out, and Hayes is believed to have made a profitable speculation by bartering with the Maoris, supplying them throughout "the Jsvar with contraband powder and IcgNte 1 ■ He used to land these in out-of-the-way places along tho coast, usihg for this enterprise the brig Ronn, and to divert suspicion he would store his warlike supplies carelessly under the cabin ond litter the floor with straw. Ho made trips regularly to Hokitika in order to keep up the appearance of a respectable trader. After the close of the war, Hayes turned his vessel towards Tahiti, but suffered shipwreck on the island of Manahiki, Assisted, however, by the friendly natives of that island, he contrived to ouild a small yacht, and with a party of islanders set sail for Rakahanga, ostensibly to take part in the festivities at a native wedding. But "Bully" Hayes had other things to think of, and instead of making for Rakahanga, he sailed right past to Samoa, and there he struck a bargain with the planters, and the guileless natives who had made the passage with him were turned over to work on the plantations. Soon afterwards he acquired the schooner Atlantic, but had tho bad luck to bo arrested by the Consul at Samoa on a charge of malpractice, and was detained for trial until the next man-of-war should arrive. This did not suit his book, and with the assistance of his friend Pease, he escaped ia the Pioneer, which was bound for Shanghai. Hayes then planned a bold stroke, and by means of a conspiracy managed to secure tho vessel for a mere song long before Shanghai was* near. Ho got away with his psize and re-named her the Leonora; and then set out to make a round of visits to the agents of the former owners, obtaining a good haul by exacting contributions. For once in a way, however, the old proverb about ill-gotten gains turned out true, and th<; Lcontora foundered in a gale off Duperrc. Being" thus deprived of the means of flight, Hayes was easily run to ground at Kusaie by H.M.S. JRosario, which had been after him for some months. Jiising to the occasion in his wonted fashion, the undismayed buccaneer boarded the warship and boldly demanded in the name of justice an enquiry into the charges mado against him. The captain was so captivated by his frank, open maftiner that he allowed him to go ashore and collect evidence. But on the way the boat was upset and "Bully" Hayes disappeared, havincr. it was thought, "found a~ t«?atefy~gTa^'e*' -~" i«n-<.iays-later he appeared on the scene again, the Rosario having in the meantime left tbe island. From Kusaie, Hayes made his way to Guam, where he got into trouble with the Spanish authorities ; but by this time he had been converted from a pious Congregationalist into a staunch Roman Catholic, and oft the intercession of his spiritual advisers he was released. He came to light soon after in San Francisco, and it was not long before he secured that necessary possession, a yacht, which he christened the Lotus. He furnished his new vessel with supplies by tho rough and ready plan of seizing stores irom the lighthouses along the Californian coast, and then put to sea. It was the gay pirate's last voyage. At hen only a few days' 'sail from .Jaluit, Hayes quarrelled with his Scandinavian sailor Peter, and the latter killed him with a boom-crutch just as he appeared above the deck with a pistol in each hand. The body of "Bully" Hayes was thrown overboard, and that was the last act in the drama of an adventurous career. In spite of his charming address, Hayes had a fury of a temper, which sometimes "bordered on madness. An incident related by The Press well illustrates his ctfol ferocity. Two of his greatest favourites were a little terrier called Barney and a water dog. Dash. One day while pig-hunt-ing Barney made some blunders. Hayes called him to his side, and, as the creature looked up into his face, shot him dea,d. Stung at once with remorse, "Bully" Hayes threw his gun into the sea, went on board his vessel, and smashed to pieces every article of furniture in the cabin. He wandered about for three days in moody silence. Some of the iivcidents of this remarkable character's career have already been used in hctio'n, but there is still the makings of a thrilling romance in the life of this filibuster of the Pacific. There died in Melbourne a fortnight ago a remarkable miser. He was a retired senior police constable, named John Johnson, and ?'as .72 years of u{ge. In his room was found tied up in a swag the sum of £1-100 in notes and gold. In various other hiding-places the police found a large quantity of scrip representing shares in Hanks', investment companies and mj[p*jss. . Some were relics cf the "boom^ time and were valueless; but others represented valuable shares ,in good companies. This rich "poor man" had a miserly mania for collecting worthless trifles, as comprised in his property were 300 soles of old boots, 500 lead-pencil stumps, several tins of old nails, hundreds of cigar butts, strips of cloth and cotton, and a variety of odds and onds. Johnson was a familiar figure in South Melbourne, where he was regularly seen indulging in sea bathing. He was always shabbily dressed, though some excellent' clothes, much damaged by moths, were* . found among his effects. When he rstire'd from the "Victorian poiico force in 1889, Johnson was supposed to be the wealthiest man in the police, and was estimated to be worth £30,000, and to have an annual income of £2000. On the bursting of the land "boom" he lost considerably, and his miserly proclivities then became very pronounced. The supreme folly of his life, according to his own opinion, was once allowing himself to be enticed to join in a giamc of Yankee grab. He rose from the table minus fifteen shillings. He was scrupulously honest and very courageous, having received the Royal Humane Society's certificate • for attempting to save lifb in a -drowning accident.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ST19030825.2.13

Bibliographic details

TOPICAL NOTES., Southland Times, Issue 19133, 25 August 1903

Word Count
1,207

TOPICAL NOTES. Southland Times, Issue 19133, 25 August 1903

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