'But of course I must not dwell on such notions. If it come to pass that for some years I can retain a hold upon them, they may be instructed sufficiently to make them teachers in their turn to their own people. But all this is in the hands of God. My home journal will tell you particulars of our voyage. Don't believe in the ferocity, &c., of the islanders. When their passions are excited, they do commit fearful deeds, and they are almost universally cannibals, i.e. after a battle there will be always a cannibal feast, not otherwise. But treat them well and prudently, and I apprehend that there is little danger in visiting them, meaning by visiting merely landing on the beach the first time, going perhaps to a native village the next time, sleeping on shore the third, spending ten days the fourth, &c., &c. The language once learnt from the pupils we bring away, all is clear. And now good-bye, my dear Miss Neill. That I think of you and pray for you, you know, and I need not add that I value most highly your prayers for me. When I think of my happiness and good spirits, I must attribute much, very much, to God's goodness in accepting the prayers of my friends.'
After the old custom of telling the home party all his doings, the journal-letter of the 27th of November goes through the teaching to the Bauro boys:—
'I really think they comprehend thus much, that God, who made all things, made man, Adam and Eve, very good and holy; that Adam and Eve sinned, that they did not listen to the word of God, but to the Bad Spirit; that God found them out, though they were afraid and tried to hide (for He sees and knows all things); that He drove them out of the beautiful garden, and said that they must die; that they had two sons, Cain and Abel; that Cain killed his brother, and that all fighting and killing people, and all other sins (I mention all for which I have names) came into the world because of sin; that God and man were far apart, not living near, no peace between them because men were so evil. That God was so good that He loved men all the time, and that He promised to save all men who would believe in His Son Jesus Christ, who was to die for them (for I can't yet express, "was to die that men might not go down to the fire, but live for ever with God "); that by and by He sent a flood and drowned all men except Noah and seven other people, because men would not be good; that afterwards there was a very good man, named Abraham, who believed all about Jesus Christ, and God chose him, and his son Isaac, and his son Jacob, and his twelve sons, to be the fathers of a people called Jews; that those people alone knew about God, and had teachers and praying men: and that they killed lambs and offered them (gave them to God as a sign of Jesus Christ being one day slain and offered to God on a cross) but these very men became wicked too, and at last, when no man knew how to be happy and good, Jesus Christ came down from heaven. His mother was Mary, but He had no father on earth, only God the Father in heaven was His Father: the Holy Ghost made Mary to be mother of Jesus Christ.
'Then I take two books, or anything else, and say, This one is God, and this is man. They are far apart, because man is so bad and God is so good. But Jesus Christ came in the middle between them, and joins them together. He is God and He is Man too; so in(side) Him, God and Man meet, like the meeting of two men in one path; and He says Himself He is the true Way, the only true Path to God and heaven. God was angry with us because we sinned; but Jesus Christ died on the cross, and then God the Father forgave us because Jesus Christ gave His life that we might always live, and not die. By and by He will come to judge us; and He knows what we do, whether we steal and lie, or whether we pray and teach what is good. Men of Bauro and Gera and Santa Cruz don't know that yet, but you do, and you must remember, if you go on doing as they do after you know God's will, you will be sent down to the fire, and not see Jesus Christ, who died that you might live.
'I think that they know all this, and much in the exactly equivalent words. Of course I find difficulty in rendering religious ideas in a language which contains scarcely any words adequate to express them, but I am hopeful enough to believe that they do know so much at all events. How far their hearts are affected, One alone knows. It is indeed but little after they have been with us four months; but till I had them on shore, I could get very little work done. The constant boat work took me away, and anywhere in sight of islands, of course they were on deck in eagerness to see the strange country. Then I could not work with energy while my leg would not let me take exercise. But it is now beginning to be a real pleasure as well as duty to teach both Nengone and Bauro people. Enough of the language to avoid most of the drudgery has been got over, I hope, though not near enough for purposes of 'exact and accurate translation.'
I have given at length this account of Patteson's fundamental teaching, though to some it may seem to savour of the infant school, because in spite of being hampered by imperfect knowledge of the language, he has thrown into it the great principle both of his action and teaching; namely, the restoration of the union of mankind with God through Christ. It never embraced that view of the heathen world which regards it as necessarily under God's displeasure, apart from actual evil, committed in wilful knowledge that it is evil. He held fast to the fact of man having been created in the image of God, and held that whatever good impulses and higher qualities still remained in the heathen, were the remnants of that Image, and to be hailed accordingly. Above all, he realised in his whole life the words to St. Peter: 'What God hath cleansed that call not thou common,' and not undervaluing for a moment Sacramental Grace, viewed human nature, while yet without the offer thereof, as still the object of fatherly and redeeming love, and full of fitful tokens of good coming from the only Giver of life and holiness, and needing to be brought nearer and strengthened by full union and light, instead of being left to be quenched in the surrounding flood of evil. 'And were by nature the children of wrath,' he did not hold to mean that men were objects of God's anger, lying under His deadly displeasure; but rather, children of wild impulse, creatures of passion, swayed resistlessly by their own desires, until made 'children of grace,' and thus obtaining the spiritual power needful to enable them to withstand these passions. An extract from the sermon he had preached at Sydney may perhaps best serve to illustrate his principle:—
'And this love once generated in the heart of man, must needs pass on to his brethren; that principle of life must needs grow and expand with its own inherent energy; the seed must be developed into the tree, and strike its roots deep and wide, and stretch out its branches unto the sea and its boughs unto the rivers. No artificial nor accidental circumstances can confine it, it recognises no human ideas of nationality, or place, or time, but embraces like the dome of heaven all the works of God. And love is the animating principle of all. In every star of the sky, in the sparkling, glittering waves of the sea, in every flower of the field, in every creature of God, most of all in every living soul of man, it adores and blesses the beauty and the love of the great Creator and Preserver of all.
'Viewed indeed from that position which was occupied by ancient philosophers, the existing contrarieties between nations might well appear inexplicable, and intellectual powers might seem to be the exclusive heritage of particular nations. But Christianity leads us to distinguish between the nature of man as he came fresh from the hands of his Creator, and that natural propensity to sin which he has inherited in consequence of his fall from original innocence. It teaches that as God has "made of one blood all nations to dwell together on the face of the whole earth," and has given in virtue of this common origin one common nature destined to be pure and holy and divine, so, by virtue of Redemption and Regeneration, the image of God may be restored in all, and whatever is the result of his depravity therefore may be overcome. And this seems to be the answer to all statements relating to the want of capacity in certain nations of the earth for the reception of Divine Truth, that every man, because he is a man, because he is a partaker of that very nature which has been taken into the Person of the Son of God, may by the grace of God be awakened to the sense of his true life, of his real dignity as a redeemed brother of Christ.
'The spark of heavenly fire may indeed have been all but quenched by the unbridled indulgence of his passions; the natural wickedness of the heart of man may have exhibited itself with greater fearfulness where no laws and customs have introduced restraints against at least the outward expression of vice; but the capacity for the Christian life is there; though overlaid, it may be, with monstrous forms of superstition or cruelty or ignorance, the conscience can still respond to the voice of the Gospel of Truth.'
And one who so entirely believed and acted upon these words found them true. The man who verily treated the lads he had gathered round him with a perfectly genuine sympathy, a love and a self-denial—nay more, an identification of self with them—awoke all that was best in their characters, and met with full response. Enthusiastic partiality of course there was in his estimate of them; but is it not one of the absolute requisites of a good educator to feel that enthusiasm, like the parent for the child? And is it always the blind admiration at which outsiders smile; is it not rather indifference which is blind, and love which sees the truth?
'I would not exchange my position with these lads and young men for anything (he wrote, on December 8, to his uncle, the Eton master). I wish you could see them and know them; I don't think you ever had pupils that could win their way into your heart more effectually than these fellows have attached themselves to me. It is no effort to love them heartily. Gariri, a dear boy from San Cristoval, is standing by me now, at my desk, in amazement at the pace that my pen is going, not knowing that I could write to you, my dear old tutor, for hours together if I had nothing else to do. He is, I suppose, about sixteen, a most loveable boy, gentle, affectionate, with all the tropical softness and kindliness.
'We have seven Solomon Islanders—five from Mata, a village at the north-west of San Cristoval, and two from the south-east point of Guadalcanar, or Gera, a magnificent island about twenty-five or twenty miles to the north-west of San Cristoval. From frequent intercourse they are almost bilingual, a great "lounge" for me, as one language does for both; the structure of the two island tongues is the same, but scarcely any words much alike. However, that is not much odds.
'Then from Nengone, where you remember Mr. Nihill died after eighteen months' residence on the island, we have four men and two women, both married. Of these, two men and both the women have been baptized, some time ago, by the Bishop, in 1852, and one by the London Mission, who now occupy the island. These four I have, with full trust, admitted to the Holy Communion. Mr. Nihill had taught them well, and I am sure they could pass an examination in Scriptural history, simple doctrinal statements, &c., as well as most young English people of the middle class of life. The other two are well taught, and one of them knows a great deal, but, poor fellow, he misconducted himself at Nengone, and hence I cannot recommend him to the Bishop for baptism without much talk about him.
'But I think my love is more poured out upon my Bauro and Gera lads. They are such dear fellows, and I trust that already they begin to know something about religion. Certain it is that they answer readily questions and say with their mouths what amounts almost to a statement of the most important Christian truths. Of course I cannot tell what effect this may have on their hearts. They join in prayer morning and evening, they behave admirably, and really there is nothing in their conduct to find fault with. If it please God that any of them were at some future time to stay again with us, I have great hopes that they may learn enough to become teachers in their own country.
'The Nengone lads are quite in a different position. Their language has been reduced to writing, the Gospel of St. Mark translated, and they can all read a little English, so that at evening prayers we read a verse all round, and then I catechise and expound to them in Nengone.
'I really trust that by God's blessing some real opening into the great Solomon group has been effected. There is every hope that many boys will join us this next voyage. No one can say what may be the result. As yet it is possible to get on without more help, but I do not for a moment doubt that should God really grant not only a wide field of labour, but some such hope of cultivating it, He will send forth plenty of men to share in this work. Men who have some means of their own—100 a year is enough, or even less—or some aptitude for languages, surely will feel drawn in this direction. It is the happiest life a man can lead, full of enjoyment, physical and mental, exquisite scenery, famous warm climate, lots of bathing, yams and taro and cocoa-nut enough to make an alderman's mouth water, and such loving, gentle people. But of course something depends on the way in which a man looks at these things, and a fine gentleman who can't get on without his servant, and can't put his luggage for four months into a compass of six feet by one-and-a-half, won't like it....
'You know the kind of incidents that occur, so I need not repeat them to you. I have quite learnt to believe that there are no "savages" anywhere, at least among black or coloured people. I'd like to see anyone call my Bauro boys savages! Why, the fellows on the reef that have never seen a white man will wade back to the boat and catch one's arms to prevent one falling into pits among the coral, just like an old nurse looking after her child. This they did at Santa Maria, where we two swam ashore to a party of forty or fifty men, and where our visit was evidently a very agreeable one on both sides, though we did not know one syllable of the language, and then.... But I almost tremble to think of the immense amount of work opening upon one. Whither will it lead? But I seldom find any time for speculations; and oh, my dear tutor, I am as happy as the day is long, though it never seems long to me!.... My dear father writes in great anxiety about the Denison case. Oh dear! what a cause of thankfulness it is to be out of the din of controversy, and to find hundreds of thousands longing for crumbs which are shaken about so roughly in these angry disputes! It isn't High or Low or Broad Church, or any other special name, but the longing desire to forget all distinctions, and to return to a simpler state of things, that seems naturally to result from the very sight of heathen people. Who thinks of anything but this: "They have not heard the Name of the Saviour Who died for them," when he is standing with crowds of naked fellows round him? I can't describe the intense happiness of this life. I suppose trials will come some day, and I almost dread the thought, for I surely shall not be prepared to bear them. I have no trials at all, even of a small kind, to teach me how to bear up under great ones.'
In truth Coleridge Patteson had entered on the happiest period of his life. He had found his vocation, and his affections were fastening themselves upon his black flock, so that, without losing a particle of his home love, the yearnings homewards were appeased, and the fully employed time, and sense of success and capability, left no space for the self-contemplation and self-criticism of his earlier life. He gives amusing sketches of the scenes:—
'The donkey here, a fatally stubborn brute, is an unceasing amusement to my boys. No one of them can retain his seat more than ten minutes, but they all fall like cats on their legs amid cries of laughter. The donkey steers straight for some small scrubby trees, and then kicks and plunges, or else rubs their legs against the sides of the house, and all this time the boys are leaping about the unfortunate fellow who is mounted, and the fun is great.
'Wadrokala, one of the Nengone lads, who had recently made his first communion, became the prominent scholar at this time. He had thought a good deal. One night he said: "I have heard all kinds of words used—faith, repentance, praise, prayer—and I don't clearly understand what is the real great thing, the chief thing of all. They used these words confusedly, and I feel puzzled. Then I read that the Pharisees knew a great deal of the law, and so did the Scribes, and yet they were not good. I am not doing anything good. Now I know something of the Bible, and I can write; and I fear very much, I often feel very much afraid, that I am not good, I am not doing anything good."'
He was talked to, and comforted with hopes of future work; but a day or two later his feelings were unconsciously hurt by being told in joke that he was wearing a shabby pair of trousers to save the good ones to take home to Nengone. His remonstrance was poured out upon a slate:— 'Mr. Patteson, this is my word:—I am unhappy because of the word you said to me that I wished for clothes. I have left my country. I do not seek clothes for the body. What is the use of clothes? Can my spirit be clothed with clothes for the body? Therefore my heart is greatly afraid; but you said I greatly wished for clothes, which I do not care for. One thing only I care for, that I may receive the life for my spirit. Therefore I fear, I confess, and say to you, it is not the thing for the body I want, but the one thing I want is the clothing for the soul, for Jesus Christ's sake, our Lord.'
Soon after a very happy Christmas, Wadrokala and Kainwhat expressed a desire, after a final visit to their native island, to return with Mr. Patteson, and be prepared to be sent as native teachers to any dark land, as the Samoans had come to them.
Wadrokala narrated something of the history of his island, a place with 6,000 inhabitants, with one tribe forming a priestly caste, the head of which was firmly believed by even these Christian Nengonese to possess the power of striking men dead by his curse. Caroline, Kainwhat and Kowine were the children of a terrible old chief named Bula, who had fifty-five wives, and whose power was almost absolute. If anyone offended him, he would send either a priest or one of his sons to kill the man, and bring the corpse, of which the thighs were always reserved for his special eating, the trunk being given to his slaves. If one of his wives offended him, he sent for the high priest, who cursed her—simply said, 'She has died,' and die she did. A young girl who refused to marry him was killed and eaten, or if any person omitted to come into his presence crouching, the penalty was to be devoured; in fact, he seems to have made excuses for executions in order to gratify his appetite for human flesh, which was considered as particularly dainty fare. Everyone dreaded him, and when at last he died a natural death, his chief wife was strangled by her own brother, as a matter of course. Such horrors as these had pretty well ceased by that time, though still many Nengonese were heathen, and the priests were firmly believed to have the power of producing death and disease at will by a curse. Wadrokala, with entire conviction, declared that one of his father's wives had thus been made a cripple for life.
Nengonese had become almost as familiar to Coley as Maori, and his Sundays at this time were decidedly polyglot; since, besides a regular English service at Taranaki, he often took a Maori service, and preached extempore in that tongue, feeling that the people's understanding went along with him; and there were also, in early morning and late evening, prayers, partly in Nengonese, partly in Bauro, at the College chapel, and a sermon, first in one language, and then repeated in the other. The Nengone lads, who had the question of adherence to the London Mission at home, or the Church in New Zealand, put to them, came deliberately to entreat to remain always with Mr. Patteson, saying that they saw that this teaching of the Church was right, and they wished to work in it. It was a difficult point, as the London Mission was reasserting a claim to the Loyalty Isles, and the hopes of making them a point d'appui were vanishing; but these men and their wives could not but be accepted, and Simeona was preparing for baptism. A long letter to Professor Max Muller on the languages will be found in the Appendix. The Bishop of New Zealand thus wrote to Sir John Patteson respecting Coley and his work:—
'Taurarua, Auckland: March 2, 1857.
'My dear Judge,—Your letter of December 5 made me very happy, by assuring me of the satisfaction which you feel in your son's duties and position. I do indeed most thankfully acknowledge the goodness of God in thus giving me timely aid, when I was pledged to a great work, but without any steady force to carry it on. Coley is, as you say, the right man in the right place, mentally and physically: the multiplicity of languages, which would try most men, is met by his peculiar gift; the heat of the climate suits his constitution; his mild and parental temper makes his black boys cling about him as their natural protector; and his freedom from fastidiousness makes all parts of the work easy to him; for when you have to teach boys how to wash themselves, and to wear clothes for the first time, the romance of missionary work disappears as completely as a great man's heroism before his valet de chambre.
'On Sunday, February 22, we had a native baptism, an adult from Nengone and his infant child. Coley used the Baptismal Service, which he had translated, and preached fluently in the Nengone tongue, as he had done in the morning in New Zealand. The careful study which we had together of the latter on our voyage out will be of great use in many other dialects, and Mrs. Nihill has given him her husband's Nengone manuscripts.
'You know in what direction my wishes tend, viz., that Coley, when he has come to suitable age, and has developed, as I have no doubt he will, a fitness for the work, should be the first island Bishop, upon the foundation, of which you and your brother Judge, and Sir W. Farquhar, are trustees; that Norfolk Island should be the see of the Bishop, because the character of its population, the salubrity of its climate, and its insular position, make it the fittest place for the purpose.
'Your affectionate and grateful friend,
'G. A. NEW ZEALAND.'
By the same mail Patteson himself wrote to Miss Neill:—
'If it please God to give us some few native teachers from Bauro and Grera, not to be sent before, but to go with or follow us (i.e. Bishop and me), in a short time the word of God might be heard in many a grand wild island, resplendent with everything that a tropical climate and primeval forests, etc., can bestow, and thickly populated with an intelligent and, as I imagine, tolerably docile race, of whom some are already "stretching out their hands unto God."
'All these Solomon Islanders here would answer questions about Christianity as well, perhaps, as children of nine or ten years old in England. Some seem to feel that there is a real connection between themselves and what they are taught, and speak of the love of God in giving Jesus Christ to die for them, and say that God's Holy Spirit alone can enlighten their dark hearts.
'That beautiful image of light and darkness seems common to all nations. The regular word used by the Nengone people, who are far more advanced in Christian knowledge and practice, for all heathen places is "the dark lands."
'On Sunday week, February 22, we had a deeply interesting service in the College chapel at 7.15 P.M., just as the English world was beginning its Sunday. Simeona and his infant boy of four weeks and three days old were baptized. The College chapel was nicely lighted, font decorated simply. I read the service in Nengone, having had all hands at work setting the types and printing on Friday and Saturday. The Bishop took the part of the service which immediately precedes the actual baptism, and baptized them both—first the father, by the name of George Selwyn, then the baby, by the name of John Patteson. This was the special request of the parents, and as it is my dear Father's name, how could I object? He is, of course, my godson, and a dear little fellow he is. At the end of my sermon, I added a few words to "George," and besought the prayers of the Nengone people for him and his child. We have now four regular communicants among them- -Wadrokala, Mark (Kainwhat), Carry and Sarah. George is baptized, and baby; and Sarah's child, Lizzy, I baptized long ago. In about two months (D. V.), we are off for a good spell of four or five months among the islands, taking back this party, though some of them will, by and by, rejoin us again, I hope.'
The plan of starting in April for a four or five months' cruise was disconcerted, as regarded Bishop Selwyn, by the delay of Bishop Harper and the Archdeacons in arriving for the intended Synod, which was thus put off till May, too wintry a month for the Melanesians to spend in New Zealand. After some doubt, it was decided that Mr. Patteson should make a short voyage, for the mere purpose of returning his scholars to their homes, come back to Auckland, and make a fresh start when the Bishop was ready.
In prospect of the parting, Patteson writes to his beloved old governess (March 19, 1857):—
'You will like a report of my pupils, especially as I can give most of them a good ticket, little mark and all, as we used to say of yours (though not as often as we ought to have done) to our dear mother. You never had such willing pupils, though you turned out some, I hope, eventually as good. In your hands these lads would be something indeed. Really they have no faults that I can detect, and when their previous state is considered, it is wonderful; for all this time they have been with us, the greatest fault has been a fit of sulkiness, lasting about half a day, with three of them. Their affection, gentleness, unselfishness, cheerfulness, willingness to oblige, in some of them a natural gentlemanly way of doing things, and sometimes indications of what we should call high principle—all these things give one great hopes, not for them only, but for all these nations, that, refined by Christianity, they may be bright examples of manly virtues and Christian graces.'
To some, no doubt, these expressions will seem exaggerated, but not to those who have had any experience of the peculiar suavity and grace that often is found in the highbred men of native races, before they are debased by the corruptions brought in by white men. Moreover, in every case, the personal influence of the teacher when in immediate contact with a sufficiently small number, is quite enough to infuse good habits and obviate evil ones to an extent quite inconceivable to those who have not watched the unconscious exertion of this power. Patteson knew that too much reliance must not be placed on present appearance.
'It is dangerous (he says), to have persons clinging to you too much. I feel that; but then these fellows, I take it, are very impulsive, and no doubt the cocoanuts in their own land will exercise a counter- influence to mine, and so I shall soon be undeceived if I learn to think too much of their personal affection; but I never knew such dear lads, I don't know how I shall get on without them.
'You must be looking forward to your spring and summer. How delicious some of those days are in England! We miss the freshness of a deciduous foliage, our evergreens look dull, and we have no deciduous trees as yet. A good scamper with Joan on the East Hill, or a drive with Fan in the pony carriage along a lane full of primroses and violets would be pleasant indeed, and so would a stroll with old Jem up the river be happy indeed, and I could almost quit the "Southern Cross" for dear Father's quarter-deck in the "Hermitage," but that I am, I believe, sailing in the right vessel, and, as I trust, on the right course to the haven where we may all meet and rest for ever.'
On Good Friday the three Nengone young men who had been baptized were confirmed, and on the Wednesday in Easter Week the 'Southern Cross' sailed, this time with a responsible sailing master. At Nengone Mr. Patteson had a friendly interview with Mr. Craig, the London Society's missionary, and explained to him the state of things with regard to these individual pupils; then, after being overwhelmed with presents by the Christian population, shaped his course for Bauro.
On the way he had the experience of a tropical thunderstorm, after having been well warned by the sinking of the barometer through the whole of the day, the 27th of April. 'At 7.30 the breeze came up, and the big drops began, when suddenly a bright forked flash so sustained that it held its place before our eyes like an immense white-hot crooked wire, seemed to fall on the deck, and be splintered there. But one moment and the tremendous crack of the thunder was alive and around us, making the masts tremble. For more than an hour the flashes were so continuous that I think every three seconds we had a perfect view of the whole horizon. I especially remember the firmament between the lurid thunder clouds looking quite blue, so intense was the light. The thunder rolled on without cessation, but the tremendous claps occurred only at intervals. We have no lightning conductor, and I felt somewhat anxious; went below and prayed God to preserve us from lightning and fire, read the magnificent chapter at the end of Job. As the storm went on, I thought that at that very hour you were praying "From lightning and tempest, good Lord, deliver us." We had no wind: furious rain, repeated again from midnight to three this morning. About eleven the thunder had ceased, but the broad flashes of lightning were still frequent. The lightning was forked and jagged, and one remarkable thing was the length of time that the line of intense light was kept up, like a gigantic firework, so that the shape of the flash could be drawn with entire accuracy by any one that could handle a pencil. It was a grand and solemn sight and sound, and I am very thankful we were preserved from danger, for the storm was right upon us, and the danger must have been great.'
A ready welcome awaited the 'Southern Cross' at Bauro, in a lovely bay hitherto unvisited, where a perfect flotilla of canoes came off to greet her, and the two chiefs, Iri and Eimaniaka, came on board, and no less than fifty-five men with them. The chiefs and about a dozen men were invited to spend the night on board. The former lay on the floor of the inner cabin, talking and listening while their host set before them some of the plain truths of Christianity. He landed next day, and returned the visit by going to Iri's hut, where he pointed to the skulls, discoursed on the hatefulness of such decorations, and recommended their burial. He also had an opportunity of showing a Christian's horror of unfilial conduct, when Rimaniaka struck his mother for being slow in handing yams; and when a man begged for a passage to Gera in direct opposition to his father's commands, he was dismissed with the words, 'I will have nothing to do with a man who does not obey his own father.'
At Gera there was also a great assembly of canoes, and as all hands were wanted on board, Patteson went ashore in a canoe with the brother of one of the scholars. He was told that he was the first white man who had ever landed there, and the people showed a good deal of surprise, but were quite peaceable, and the presence of women and children was a sign that there was no danger. When he tried to return to the ship, a heavy sea came on, and the canoes were forced to put back, and he thus found himself obliged to spend the night on the island. He was taken into a house with two rooms, in each of which numbers of men were lying on the ground, a small wood fire burning in the midst of each group of three or four.
A grass mat was brought him, and a bit of wood for a pillow, and as he was wet through, cold, and very tired, he lay down; but sleep was impossible, from tormenting vermin, as well as because it seemed to be the custom of the people to be going backwards and forwards all night, sitting over the fire talking, then dropping asleep and waking to talk again. A yam was brought him after about an hour, and long before dawn he escaped into the open air, and sat over a tire there till at high tide, at six o'clock in the morning, he was able to put off again and reach the ship, where forty-five natives had slept, and behaved well.
'The sense of cold and dirt and weariness was not pleasing,' he confesses, and certainly the contrast to the Eton and Oxford habits was great. There was a grand exchange of presents; hatchets, adzes, hooks and empty bottles on one side, and a pig and yams on the other. Immediately after follows a perilous adventure, which, as we shall find, made a deep impression. It is thus related in a letter for the benefit of Thorverton Rectory:—
'At Sea: Lat. 19 50' S.; long. 167 41' E.
'My dearest Uncle,—May is a month specially connected henceforward in my mind with a merciful deliverance from great peril, which God vouchsafed to us on May 2nd. We touched on a reef at the Isle of Guadalcanar, one of the Solomon Islands, in lat. 9 50', and but for God's mercy in blessing our exertions, we might have incurred fearful danger of losing the Mission vessel. As it was, in a couple of minutes we were off the reef and in deep safe water—to Him be the praise and the glory! I have written all particulars as usual to my father, and now that the danger has been averted, you will rejoice to hear how great a door is opened to us in that part of the world. Personal safety ensured, and, so far as can be judged of, no apparent obstacle in the way of the Mission in that quarter. Had this great peril not occurred—and it was to human eyes and in human language the mere "chance" of a minute—I might have dwelt with too much satisfaction on the bright side of the picture. As it is, it is a lesson to me "to think soberly." I can hardly trust myself to write yet with my usual freedom of the scenery, natives, &c. One great thought is before me—"Is it all real that we touched on that reef in the sight of hundreds of natives?" It was not a sense of personal danger—that could not occur at such a time; but the idea that the vessel might be lost, the missionary operations suspended, &c.; this shot through me in those two minutes! But I had no time for more than mental prayer, for I was pulling at ropes with all my strength; not till it was all over could I go below and fall on my knees in a burst of thanksgiving and praise. We suppose that there must be a very strong under-current near the reef at the mouth of the bay, for the vessel, instead of coming round as usual (and there was abundance of room), would not obey the helm, and we touched an outlying rock before we could alter the sails, when she rounded instantly on the other tack. Humanly speaking, she would have come off very soon, as the tide was flowing, and she received no damage, as we came very gently against the rock, which was only about the size of an ordinary table. But it is an event to be remembered by me with thankfulness all my life. I think the number of natives who had been on deck and about us in canoes that morning could not have been less than 450. They behaved very well. Of the five principal chiefs three could talk some Bauro language, so I could communicate with them, and this was one reason why I felt satisfied of their good-will. They gave me two pigs, about 500 or 600 cocoa-nuts, and upwards of a ton of yams, though I told them I had only two small hatchets, five or six adzes, a few gimlets, and empty bottles to give in exchange. If I had not been satisfied of their being quite friendly, I would not have put ourselves so entirely into their power; but it is of the greatest consequence to let the natives of a place see that you are not suspicious, and where there is no evident hazard in so doing, I think I ought to act upon it. Perhaps the Bishop, being an older hand at it, will think I was rash; but as far as the natives are concerned, the result shows I was quite right; the letting go a kedge in deepish water is another matter, that was a mistake I know now. But we could not work the vessel by reason of the crowds of natives, and what was I to do? Either not stand close in, as they all expected, or let go a kedge. If I did not go into the mouth of the bay, they would have said, "He does not trust us," and mutual suspicion would have been (possibly) the result, and I could not make them understand rightly the reason why I did not want to drop the kedge or small anchor.
'I had slept on shore about three miles up the bay among a number of natives, twenty-five or twenty-six in the same room with me, on the previous evening: at least, I lay down in my things, which, by the bye, were drenched through with salt and rain water. They said I was the first white person that had been ashore there. They treated me very well. How in the face of all this could I run the risk of letting them think I was unwilling to trust them? So I think still that I was right in all but one thing. I ought to have ascertained better the nature of the current and the bottom of the harbour, to see if there was good holding ground. But it is easier to do those things in an English port than in the sight of a number of natives, and especially when there is but one person able to communicate with the said natives. If I went off in the boat sounding, who was to look after the schooner? If I stayed on board, who was to explain to the natives what was being done in the boat? Besides, we have but five men on board, including the master and mate, and one of them was disabled by a bad hand, so that if I had manned the boat, I should have left only three able-bodied men on board—it was a puzzle, you see, dear Uncle. Now I have entered into this long defence lest any of you dear ones should think me rash. Indeed, I don't want to run any risks at all. But there was no risk here, as I supposed, and had we chosen to go round on the other tack we should have known nothing of a risk now. As it was, we did run a great hazard of grounding on the reef, and therefore, Laus Deo.
'Oh! dear little Pena, if you had only seen the village which, as yet, I alone of white people have been allowed to see—the great tall cocoa-nuts, so tall and slender at the top, that I was almost afraid when a boy was sent up to gather some nuts for me—the cottages of bamboo and cocoa-nut leaves—the great forest trees, the parrots flying about among the branches—the crowd of men and children and a few women all looking at, and some talking to the strange chief, "who had spoken the truth and brought their kinsman as he promised,"—the sea in the harbour shut off by small islets and looking like a beautiful lake with high wooded and steep banks—the pretty canoes on the beach, and the great state canoe lying at its stone anchor about fifty yards off, about fifty feet long, and inlaid throughout with mother-of-pearl, the spears leaning against the houses—men stalking about with a kind of club (the great chief Puruhanua gave me his);—I think your little head would have been almost turned crazy....
'June 4th, Auckland.—We reached harbour a week ago in a violent squall of wind and rain at 8.45 P.M. Anxious night after the anchor was dropped, lest the vessel should drag. Nine days coming from Norfolk Island, very heavy weather—no accident, but jib-boom pitched away while lying to in a south-easter....
'Your loving nephew,
'J. C. P.'
The Rev. Benjamin Thornton Dudley, for several years a most valuable helper in the work, both at home and abroad, gives the following account of his own share in it, and his recollections of that first year:—
'The first time I ever saw Mr. Patteson was in the beginning of 1856, when you (this is a letter to Mrs. Selwyn) all visited Lyttelton in the newly arrived "Southern Cross." That indescribable charm of manner, calculated at once to take all hearts by storm, was not perhaps as fully developed in him then as afterwards, and my experience was then comparatively limited, yet his words in the sermon he preached on behalf of the Melanesian Mission (a kind of historical review of the growth and spread of the Gospel), although coming after the wonderful sermon of the Bishop in the morning, made a deep impression on several of us, myself among the number.
'You came to Lyttelton at the end of 1856 again, this time without him, and the Bishop brought me up to St. John's College, and placed me under him there. I remember at first how puzzled I felt as to what my position was, and what I was expected to do. Not a single direction was given me by Mr. Patteson, nor did he invite me to take a class in the comparatively small Melanesian school. Gradually it dawned upon me that I was purposely left there, and that I was expected to offer myself for anything I could do. When I offered myself I was allowed to assist in this and that, until at length I fell into my regular place. Although the treatment I received in this respect puzzled me, I felt his great kindness from the first. How bright he was in those days, and how overflowing with spirits when among the Melanesians. What fun there used to be of a morning, when he would come and hunt the lazy ones out of bed, drive them down to the bath house, and there assist their ablutions with a few basins of water thrown at them; and what an amount of quiet "chaff" used to go on at breakfast time about it as we sat with them in the great hall, without any of those restraints of the "high table" which were introduced at dinner.
'During the first voyage made that year to return our Melanesian party, I think Mr. Patteson was feeling very much out of sorts. I do not remember any time during the years in which I was permitted to see so much of him when he took things so easily. He spoke of himself as lazy, and I confess I used to wonder somewhat how it was that he retired so completely into the cabin, and did apparently so little in the way of study. He read the "Heir of Redclyffe," and other books of light reading in that voyage. I understood better afterwards what, raw youth as I was at the time, puzzled me in one for whom I was already beginning to entertain a feeling different from any previously experienced. That seems to me now to have been quite a necessary pause in his life after he had with wholeheartedness and full intention given himself to his work, but before he had fully faced all its requirements and had learnt to map out his whole time with separate toil.'
So concluded what may be called the first term of Coley Patteson's tutorship of his island boys. His work is perhaps best summed up in this sentence in a letter to me from Mrs. Abraham: 'Mr. Patteson's love for them, and his facility in communicating with them in their own tongue, make his dealing with the present set much more intimate and effective than it has ever been before, and their affections towards him are drawn out in a lively manner.'
ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE AND LIFU. 1857-1859.
It seems to me that the years between 1856 and 1861 were the very brightest of Coleridge Patteson's life. He had left all for Christ's sake and the Gospel's, and was reaping the blessing in its freshness. His struggles with his defects had been successful, the more so because he was so full of occupation that the old besetting trouble, self-contemplation, had been expelled for lack of opportunity; and he had become far more simple, since humility was ceasing to be a conscious effort.
There is a light-heartedness about his letters like that of the old Eton times. Something might have been owing to the impulse of health, which was due to the tropical heat. Most probably this heat was what exhausted his constitution so early, but at first it was a delightful stimulus, and gave him exemption from all those discomforts with which cold had affected him at home. This exhilaration bore him over the many trials of close contact with uncivilised human nature so completely that his friends never even guessed at his natural fastidiousness. That which might have been selfish in this fastidiousness was conquered, though the refinement remained. Even to the last, in his most solitary hours, this personal neatness never relaxed, but the victory over disgust was a real triumph over self, which no doubt was an element of happiness.
While the Bishop continued to go on the voyages with him, he had companionship, guidance, and comparatively no responsibility, while his success, that supreme joy, was wonderfully unalloyed, and he felt his own especial gifts coming constantly into play. His love for his scholars was one continual well of delight, and really seemed to be an absolute gift, enabling him to win them over, and compensating for what he had left, even while he did not cease to love his home with deep tenderness.
Another pair of New Zealand friends had to be absent for a time. Archdeacon Abraham's arm was so severely injured by an accident with a horse, that the effects were far more serious than those of a common fracture. The disaster took place in Patteson's presence. 'I shall never forget,' writes his friend, 'his gentleness and consideration as he first laid me down in a room and then went to tell my wife.'
It was found necessary to have recourse to English advice; the Archdeacon and Mrs. Abraham went home, and were never again residents at Auckland.
A letter to Mr. Justice Coleridge was written in the interval between the voyages:—
'Auckland: June 12, 1857.
'My dear Uncle,—You will not give me credit for being a good correspondent, I fear; but the truth is that I seldom find time to do more than write long chatty letters to my dear father and sisters, occasionally to Thorverton, and to Miss Neill and one or two others to cheer them in their sickness and weariness. Any news from afar may be a real relaxation.
'For myself I need only say that I find these dear people most attractive and winning, that it is no effort to love them, that they display all natural gifts in a remarkable way—good temper, affection, gentleness, obedience, gratitude, &c., occasionally real self-restraint. Dear Hirika's last words to me at San Cristoval were, "Oh, I do love you so," and his conduct showed it. He is a bright handsome lad, clever but inaccurate, of most sweet disposition. In matters of personal cleanliness, healthy appearance, &c., the change in seven months was that of a lad wholly savage becoming neat, tidy in dress, and of gentlemanly appearance. In some ways he was my pet of the whole party, though I have equally bright hopes of Grariri, a sturdy, honest fellow with the best temper I almost ever found among lads of sixteen anywhere, and Kerearua is the most painstaking fellow of the lot; and a boy whose distinguishing features it would be hard to describe; but he may be summed up as a very good boy, and certainly a most loveable one. Sumaro and Kimarua older and less interesting.
'I printed short catechisms, a translation of the Lord's Prayer, Creed, General Confession, two or three other of the Common Prayer prayers, and one or two short missionary prayers in the dialect of both islands; but I can only speak at all fluently the language of San Cristoval.
'Of the Nengone people I could say much more. The two young women (married) and the two young unmarried men had been under Mr. Nihill's instruction two or three years, baptized, and were regular communicants while at the College. Simeona was baptized on the same day as his infant son, after he had been with us five months. He and the other four were confirmed at the College chapel, and he afterwards received the Holy Communion with the rest.
'Kowine, a lad of seventeen, is not baptized, though well instructed. We were not wholly satisfied about him. Of the knowledge of them all I can speak with the utmost confidence. They know more a great deal than most candidates for confirmation in a well-regulated English parish. It was delightful to work with them. We wrote Bible history, which has reached about fifty sheets in MS. in small handwriting, bringing the history to the time of Joshua; very many questions and answers, and translated ninety pages of the Prayer Book, including Services for Infant and Adult Baptism, Catechism, Burial Service, &c.
'It is most interesting work, though not easy, and much of it will no doubt be altered when we come to know the language thoroughly well. This island of Nengone (called also Maro and Britannia Island) contains about 6,500 inhabitants, of whom some profess Christianity, while the remainder are still fighting and eating one another, though accessible to white people.
'We hope to have time to see something of the heathen population, though the London Mission Society having re-occupied the island, we do not regularly visit it with the intention of establishing ourselves.... The language is confined to that island. I call it language, not dialect, for it is, I believe, really distinct from any others we have or have heard of, very soft, like Italian, and capable of expressing accurately minute shades of meaning. Causative forms, &c., remind us of the oriental structure, one peculiarity (that of the chief's dialect, or almost language, running parallel to that of common life) I think I have before mentioned.
'In about a month I suppose we shall be off again for three or four months, and we long to get hold of pupils from the Banks Archipelago, Santa Cruz, Espiritu Santo, in which no ground is broken at present. We visited them last year, but did not get any pupils; lovely islands, very populous, and the natives very bright, intelligent- looking. But how I long to see again some of my own dear boys, I do so think of them! It may be that two or three of them may come again to us, and then we may perhaps hope that they may learn enough to be really useful to their own people.... Dear uncle, I should indeed rejoice much to see my dear, dear father and sisters and Jem and all of you if it came in the way of one's business, but I think, so long as I am well, that the peculiar nature of this work must require the constant presence of one personally known to, and not only officially connected with, the natives. While I feel very strongly that in many ways intercourse occasionally resumed with the home clergy must be very useful to us, yet if you can understand that there is no one to take one's place, you see how very unlikely it must be that I can move from this hemisphere. I say "if you can understand," for it does seem sad that one should really be in such a position that one's presence should be of any consequence; but, till it please God that the Bishop shall receive other men for this Mission, there is no other teacher for these lads, and so we must rub on and do the best we can. Of course I should be most thankful, most happy if, during his lifetime, I once more found myself at home, but I don't think much nor speculate about it, and I am very happy, as I am well and hearty. You won't suspect me of any lessening of strong affection for all that savours of home. I think that I know every face in Alfington and in Feniton, and very many in Ottery as of old; I believe I think of all with increasing affection, but while I wonder at it, I must also confess that I can and do live happy day after day without enjoying the sight of those dear faces.
'Always your affectionate and grateful nephew,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
As soon as the 'Southern Cross' had carried Bishop Harper back to Lyttelton, the Melanesian voyage was recommenced, this time with a valuable assistant in Mr. Benjamin Dudley. Mrs. Selwyn was again dropped at Norfolk Island, and five young Pitcairners were taken on board to serve as a boat's crew, and also to receive instruction.
This was a more extensive voyage than the first, as more time could be spent on it, but there is less full description, as there was less time for writing; and besides, these coral islands are much alike. Futuma was the first new island visited:—
'The canoes did not venture to come off to us, so we went ashore in the boat, Bishop and I wading ankle-deep to the beach. Forty or fifty natives under a deep overhanging rock, crouching around a fire, plenty of lads and boys, no women. Some Tanna men in the group, with their faces painted red and black, hair (as you know) elaborately frizzled and dressed with coral lime. The Futuma people speak a different language from those of Anaiteum, and the Tanna people speak a third (having, moreover, four dialects of their own). These three islands are all in sight of each other. Tanna has an active volcano, now smoking away, and is like a hot-bed, wonderfully fertile. People estimate its population at 10,000, though it is not very large,— about thirty miles long. At Futuma, the process by which these coral islands have been upheaved is well seen. The volcanic rocks are lying under the coral, which has been gradually thrust upwards by them. As the coral emerged, the animal went on building under water, continually working lower and lower down upon and over the volcanic formation, as this heaved in its upward course the coral formation out of the sea.'
Erromango was occupied by the Scottish Mission, and Mr. Gordon was then living there in peace and apparent security, when a visit was paid to him, and Patteson gathered some leaves in Dillon's Bay, the spot where John Williams met his death sixteen years before, not, as now was understood, because he was personally disliked, but because he was unconsciously interfering with a solemnity that was going on upon the beach.
At Fate Isle, the people were said to be among the wildest in those seas. When the 'Royal Sovereign' was wrecked, they had killed the whole crew, nineteen in number, eaten ten at once, and sent the other nine as presents to their friends. Very few appeared, but there was a good 'opening' exchange of presents.
A great number of small islets lie around Fate, forming part of the cluster of the New Hebrides, The Bishop had been at most of them before, and with a boat's crew of three Pitcairners and one English sailor, starting early and spending all day in the boat, he and Patteson touched at eleven in three days, and established the first steps to communication by obtaining 127 names of persons present, and making gifts. These little volcanic coral isles were all much alike, and nothing remarkable occurred but the obtaining two lads from Mai, named Petere and Laure, for a ten months' visit. Poor fellows, they were very sea-sick at first, and begged to go home again, but soon became very happy, and this connection with Petere had important consequences in the end. These lads spoke a language approaching Maori, whereas the Fate tongue prevailed in the other isles.
At Mallicolo, on August 20, a horrible sight presented itself to the eyes of the two explorers when they walked inland with about eighteen most obliging and courteous natives—an open space with four hollowed trunks of trees surrounding two stones, the trees carved into the shape of grotesque human heads, and among them, a sort of temple, made of sloping bamboos and pandanus leaves meeting at the top, from whence hung a dead man, with his face painted in stripes of red and yellow, procured, it was thought, from the pollen of flowers. There was not enough comprehension of the language to make out the meaning of all this.
Ambrym, the next island, was more than usually lovely, and was destined to receive many more visits. The women made their approach crawling, some with babies on their backs. Whitsuntide, where the casks had to be filled with water, showed a great number of large, resolute-looking men, whose air demanded caution; 'but,' says the journal, 'practice makes perfect, and we get the habit of landing among strangers, the knack of managing with signs and gesticulations, and the feeling of ease and confidence which engenders confidence and good-will in the others. Quarrels usually arise from both parties being afraid and suspicious of each other.'
Leper's Isle owes its unpleasant name to its medicinal springs. It is a particularly beautiful place, containing a population of good promise. Three landings were made there, and at the fourth place Patteson jumped ashore on a rock and spent some time in calming the fears of a party of natives who had been frightened in their canoe by the boat under sail overtaking them. 'hey fingered bows and arrows, but only from nervousness,' he says. However, they seem to have suspected the visitors of designs on their load of fine taro, and it was some time before the owner would come out and resume it. On all these isles the plan could as yet only be to learn names and write them down, so as to enquire for acquaintance next time, either make presents, or barter them for provisions, discover the class of language, and invite scholars for another time.
So at Star Island three or four natives said, 'In ten moons you two come back; very good, then we go with you.' 'I think,' Patteson tells his sisters, 'you would have liked to have seen me, standing on a rock, with my two supporters, two fine young men, who will I trust go with us next time, my arms round their necks, and a fine background of some thirty or forty dark figures with bows and arrows, &c., and two or three little rogues, perched on a point of rock above me, just within reach, asking for fish-hooks.' He says it in all simplicity, but the picture presupposes some strength of mind in the sisters who were to appreciate it.
Few natives appeared at Espiritu Santo, and the vessel passed on to Oanuta or Cherry Island, where the Bishop had never been, and where a race of dull, good-natured giants was found. The chief was a noble- looking man with an aquiline nose, and seemed to have them well under command, and some of the younger men, who had limbs which might have been a model for a sculptor, could have lifted an ordinary-sized Englishman as easily as a child. They were unluckily already acquainted with whalers, whom they thought the right sort of fellows, since they brought tobacco and spirits, did not interfere with native habits, nor talk of learning, for which the giants saw no need. The national complexion here was of a lighter yellow, the costume a tattooed chest, the language akin to Maori; and it was the same at Tikopia, where four chiefs, one principal one immensely fat, received their visitors seated on a mat in the centre of a wide circle formed by natives, the innermost seated, the others looking over them. These, too, were accustomed to whalers, and when they found that pigs and yams in exchange for spirits and tobacco were not the object, they were indifferent. They seemed to despise fish-hooks, and it was plain that they had even obtained muskets from the whalers, for there were six in the chiefs house, and one was fired, not maliciously but out of display. The Bishop told them his object, and they understood his language, but were uninterested. The fat chief regaled the two guests with a cocoa-nut apiece, and then seemed anxious to be rid of them.
The Banks Islands, as usual, were much more hopeful, Santa Maria coming first. Canoes came round the vessel, and the honesty of the race showed itself, for one little boy, who had had a fish-hook given him, wished to exchange it for calico, and having "forgotten to restore the hook at the moment, swam back with it as soon as he remembered it. There was a landing, and the usual friendly intercourse, but just as the boat had put off, a single arrow was suddenly shot out of the bush, and fell about ten yards short. It was curious that the Spanish discoverers had precisely the same experience. It was supposed to be an act of individual mischief or fun, and the place obtained the appropriate name of Cock Sparrow Point.
It was not possible to get into the one landing-place in the wall round Mota's sugar-loaf, but there was an exchange of civilities with the Saddleites, and in Vanua Lava, the largest member of the group, a beautiful harbour was discovered, which the Bishop named Port Patteson, after the Judge.
The Santa Cruz group was visited again on the 23rd of September. Nothing remarkable occurred; indeed, Patteson's journal does not mention these places, but that of the Bishop speaks of a first landing at Nukapu, and an exchange of names with the old chief Acenana; and the next day of going to the main island, where swarms of natives swam out, with cries of Toki, toki, and planks before them to float through the surf. About 250 assembled at the landing place, as before, chiefly eager for traffic. The Volcano Isle was also touched at, but the language of the few inhabitants was incomprehensible. The mountain was smoking, and red-hot cinders falling as before on the steep side. It was tempting to climb it and investigate what probably no white man had yet seen, but it was decided to be more prudent to abstain.
Some events of the visit to Bauro are related in the following letter to the young cousin whose Confirmation day had been notified to him in time to be thought of in his prayers:—
'Off San Cristoval: October 5, 1857.
'My dearest Pena,—It was in a heathen land, among a heathen people, that I passed the Sunday—a day most memorable in your life—on which I trust you received for the first time the blessed Sacrament of our Saviour's Body and Blood.
'My darling—,as I knelt in the chiefs house, upon the mat which was also my bed—the only Christian in that large and beautiful island— my prayers were, I hope, offered earnestly that the full blessedness of that heavenly Union with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, might rest upon you for ever. I had reckoned upon being on board that Sunday, when the Holy Eucharist was administered on board our vessel; but as we reached Mwaata, our well- known village at San Cristoval, on Saturday, we both agreed that I had better go ashore while the vessel went away, to return for me on Monday. My day was now passed strangely enough, my first Sunday in a land where no Sunday is known.
'It was about 3 P.M. on Saturday when I landed, and it was an effort to have to talk incessantly till dark. Then the chief Iri went with me to his house. It is only one oblong room, with a bamboo screen running halfway across it about half-way down the room. It is only made of bamboo at the sides, and leaves for the roof. Yams and other vegetables were placed along the sides. There is no floor, but one or two grass mats are placed on the ground to sleep on. Iri and his wife, and an orphan girl about fourteen or fifteen, I suppose, slept on the other side of the screen; and two lads, called Grariri and Parenga, slept on my side of it. I can't say I slept at all, for the rats were so very many, coming in through the bamboo on every side, and making such a noise I could not sleep, though tired. They were running all about me.
'Well, at daylight I sent Gariri to fetch some water, and shaved and washed, to the great admiration of Iri and the ladies, and of others also, who crowded together at the hole which serves for door and windows. I lay down in my clothes, all but my coat, but I took a razor and some soap ashore.
'Sunday was spent in going about to different neighbouring settlements, and climbing the coral rocks was hard work, the thermometer at sea being 85 in the cool cabin, as the Bishop told me to-day.
'Of course many people were at work in the yam grounds, several of which I saw; but I found considerable parties at the different villages, and had, on the whole, satisfactory conversations with them. They listened and asked questions, and I told them as well as I could the simplest truths of Christianity.
'I had a part of a yam and drank four cocoa-nuts during the day, besides eating some mixture of yam, taro, and cocoa-nut all pounded together.
'People offered me food and nuts everywhere. Walked back with a boy called Tahi for my guide, and stopped at several plantations, and talked with the people.
'Sat out in the cool evening on the beach at Mwaata, after much talk in a chiefs house called Tarua; people came round me on the beach, and again I talked with them (a sort of half-preaching, half- conversing these talks were), till Iri said we must go to bed. Slept a little that night.
'I can truly say that you were in my head all day. After my evening prayers, when I thought of you—for it was about 9 P.M. = 10.10 A.M. with you, and you were on your way to church—I thought of you, kneeling between your dear mamma and grandmamma, and dear grandpapa administering to his three beloved ones the Bread of Life, and I was very happy as I thought of it, for I trust, through the mercy of God, and the merits of our Lord, that we shall be by Him raised at the Last Day to dwell with Him for ever. But indeed I must not write to you how very unworthy I felt to belong to that little company.
'This morning about eleven the vessel's boat came off for me, with the Bishop. I had arranged about some lads coming on with us, and it ended in seven joining our party. Only one of our old scholars has come again: he is that dear boy Grariri, whose name you will remember.
'Now I have had a good change of shirts, etc., and feel clean and comfortable, though I think a good night's rest will do me no harm. I have written to you the first minute that I had time. What a blessed, happy day it must have been for you, and I am sure they thought of you at Feniton.
'Your loving cousin,
'J. C. P.'
This strange Sunday was spent in conversation with different sets of natives, and that some distinct ideas were conveyed was plain from what old Iri was overheard saying to a man who was asking him whether he had not a guest who spoke Bauro: 'Yes,' said Iri, adding that 'he said men were not like dogs, or pigs, or birds, or fishes, because these cannot speak or think. They all die, and no one knows anything more about them, but he says we shall not die like that, but rise up again.'
On Monday, the 7th of October, Grera was revisited, and Toto, a last year's scholar, came forth with his welcome in a canoe; but it was rather a mixed success, for the danger of the vessel on her previous visit was a warning against bringing her into the harbour, where there was no safe anchorage, and this disappointed the people. Thirteen, indeed, slept on board, and the next morning sixty canoes surrounded the vessel, and some hundred and sixty came on deck at once; but they brought only one pig and a few yams, and refused to fetch more, saying it was too far—a considerable inconvenience, considering the necessity of providing the Melanesian passengers with vegetable food. The whole nine slept in the inner cabin, Orariri on Patteson's sofa, 'feet to feet, the others on the floor like herrings in a barrel.'
The great island of New Caledonia was next visited. The Bishop had been there before, and Basset, one of the chiefs, lamented that he had been so long absent, and pleaded hard to have an English missionary placed in his part of the country. It was very sad to have no means of complying with the entreaty, and the Bishop offered him a passage to Auckland, there to speak for himself. He would have come, but that it was the season for planting his yams; but he hoped to follow, and in the meantime sent a little orphan named Kanambat to be brought up at Auckland. The little fellow was pleased enough with the ship at first, but when his countrymen who had been visiting there left her, he jumped overboard and was swimming like a duck after them, when, at a sign from the Bishop, one of the Pitcairners leapt after him, and speedily brought him back. He soon grew very happy and full of play and fun, and was well off in being away from home, for the French were occupying the island, and poor Basset shortly after was sent a prisoner to Tahiti for refusing to receive a Roman Catholic priest.
Nengone were reached on October 23, and most of the old scholars were ready with a warm welcome; but Mr. Creagh, the London missionary, had taken Wadrokala away with him on an expedition, and of the others, only Kowine was ready to return, though the two married couples were going on well, and one previous scholar of the Bishop's and four new ones presented themselves as willing to go. Urgent letters from the neighbouring isle of Lifu entreated the Bishop to come thither, and, with a splendid supply of yams, the 'Southern Cross' again set sail, and arrived on the 26th. This island had entirely abandoned heathenism, under the guidance of the Samoans. The people felt that they had come to the end of the stock of teaching of these good men, and entreated for an Englishman from the Bishop, and thus, here was the third island in this one voyage begging for a shepherd, and only one English priest had been found to offer himself to that multitude of heathen!
The only thing that could be done was to take John Cho, a former St. John's scholar, to receive instruction to fit him for a teacher, and with him came his young wife Naranadune, and their babe, whom the Bishop had just baptized in the coral-lime chapel, with three other children.
The next few days were spent in great anxiety for Wailumai, a youth from Grera, who was taken ill immediately after dinner with a most distressing difficulty of breathing. He proved to have a piece of sugar cane in his throat, which made every breath agony, and worked a small ulcer in the throat. All through the worst Patteson held him in his arms, with his hand on his chest: several times he seemed gone, and ammonia and sal volatile barely revived him. His first words after he was partially relieved were, 'I am Bishop! I am Patihana!' meaning that he exchanged names with them, the strongest possible proof of affection in Melanesian eyes. He still seemed at the point of death, and they made him say, 'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! Jesus Christ, Son of God.' At last a favourable change took place, but he continued so ill for several days that his two attendants never did more than lie down in their clothes; nor was it till the third day that he at length coughed up the piece of cane that had caused the mischief. He still required so much care that Patteson did not go on shore at Norfolk Island when the five Pitcairners were exchanged for Mrs. Selwyn.
On November 15 Auckland harbour was again reached after this signally prosperous voyage. It is thus summed up in a letter written two days later:—
'November 17, 1857: St. John's College.
'My dear Miss Neill,—Thanks for your 21. 2s., and more thanks still for your prayers and constant interest in this part of the world. After nearly seventeen weeks at sea, we returned safely on Sunday morning the 15th, with thirty-three Melanesians, gathered from nine islands and speaking eight languages. Plenty of work for me: I can teach tolerably in three, and have a smattering of one or two more.
'One is the wife of a young man, John Cho, an old scholar baptized. His half-brother is chief of Lifu Isle, a man of great influence. The London Mission (Independents) are leaving all their islands unprovided with missionaries, and these people having been much more frequently visited by the Bishop than by the "John Williams," turn to him for help. By and by I will explain all this: at present no time.
'We visited sixty-six islands and landed eighty-one times, wading, swimming, &c.; all most friendly and delightful; only two arrows shot at us, and only one went near—so much for savages. I wonder what people ought to call sandal-wood traders and slave-masters if they call my Melanesians savages.
'You will hear accounts of the voyage from Fanny. I have a long journal going to my father, but I can't make time to write at length any more. I am up before five and not in bed before eleven, and you know I must be lazy sometimes. It does me good. Oh! how great a trial sickness would be to me! In my health now all seems easy. Were I circumstanced like you, how much I should no doubt repine and murmur. God has given me hitherto a most merciful share of blessings, and my dear father's cordial approbation of and consent to my proceedings is among the greatest....
'The anniversary of my dear mother's death comes round in ten days. That is my polar star (humanly speaking), and whensoever it pleases God to take my dear dear father to his rest, how blessed to think of their waiting for us, if it be His merciful will to bring me too to dwell before Him with them for ever.
'I must end, for I am very busy. The weather is cold, and my room full of lads and young men. If I was not watching like a cat they would be standing about in all sorts of places and catching cold.
'I send you in a box, a box made by Pitcairners of Pitcairn woods.
'Ever your loving old pupil,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The little New Caledonian remained at Taurarua with the Bishop, and as there was no woman at St. John's to take the charge of Cho's wife, she was necessarily sent to Mrs. Kissling's school for Maori girls, while her husband pursued his studies at St. John's.
Patteson often gave his services at the Maori village of Orakei, where there was to be a central native school managed by Pirimona (Philemon), a well-trained man, a candidate for Holy Orders.
'However, this did not satisfy his countrymen. As if I had not enough to do, old Wi comes with a request from the folks at Orakei that I would be their "minita," and take the management of the concern. Rather rich, is it not? I said, of course, that I was minita for the islanders. "Oh, let the Bishop take another man for that, you are the minister for us." He is, you know, wonderfully tatooed, and a great object of curiosity to the boys!
Before many days had passed, there had occurred the first case of that fatal tetanus, which became only too well known to those concerned in the Mission. Of course, all weapons were taken from the scholars; but one of the San Cristoval boys, named Tohehammai, fetched one of his own arrows out of Mr. Dudley's room to exchange with an English lad for a shirt, and as he was at play, carrying the arrow in his left hand behind his back and throwing a stick like a spear with the other, he sharply pricked his right arm, within the elbow, against the point of the arrow; but thinking nothing of the hurt, and knowing that the weapons were forbidden playthings, he said nothing for twelve days, but then complained of stiffness in the arm. Two doctors happened to be at the college that day; one thought it rheumatism, the other mentioned the word tetanus, but for three days more the arm was merely stiff, it was hung in a sling, and the boy went about as usual, until, on the fifteenth day, spasmodic twitchings in the arm came on.
Liniment of chloroform was rubbed in, and the boy was kept under chloroform, but in vain; the next day his whole body was perfectly rigid, with occasional convulsions. About 4 p.m. his throat had become contracted, and the endeavour to give him nourishment brought on convulsive attacks. The Bishop came at 8. p.m., and after another attempt at giving him food, which produced a further spasm, he was lying quietly when Patteson felt his pulse stop.
'"He is dying!" the Bishop said. '"Father, into Thy hands we commend his spirit."'
Patteson's 'Amen' came from his heart. The poor fellow made no sound as he lay with his frame rigid, his back arched so that an arm could be thrust under it. He was gone in that moment, unbaptized. Patteson writes:—
'I had much conflict with myself about it. He had talked once with me in a very hopeful way, but during his illness I could not obtain from him any distinct profession of faith, anything to make me feel pretty sure that some conviction of the truth of what he he hd been taught, and not mere learning by rote, was the occasion of his saying what he did say. I did wish much that I might talk again with the Bishop about it, but his death took us by surprise. I pray God that all my omission and neglect of duty may be repaired, and that his very imperfect and unconscious yearnings after the truth may be accepted for Christ's sake.'
The arrow was reported to have been poisoned, but by the time the cause of the injury had been discovered it had been thrown away and could not be recovered for examination. Indeed, lockjaw seems to be so prevalent in the equatorial climates, and the natives so peculiarly liable to it, that poison did not seem needful to account for the catastrophe.
Altogether, these lads were exotics in New Zealand, and exceedingly fragile. In the very height of summer they had to wear corduroy trousers, blue serge shirts, red woollen comforters, and blue Scotch caps, and the more delicate a thick woollen jersey in addition; and with all these precautions they were continually catching cold, or getting disordered, and then the Bauro and Grera set could only support such treatment as young children generally need. The Loyalty Islanders were much tougher and stronger and easier to treat, but they too showed that the climate of Auckland was a hard trial to their constitutions.
On the last day of March came tidings of the sudden death of the much-beloved and honoured Dr. James Coleridge of Thorverton.
'It is a great shock,' says the letter written the same day; 'not that I feel unhappy exactly, nor low, but that many many memories are revived and keep freshening on my mind.... And since I left England his warm, loving, almost too fond letters have bound me very closely to him, and sorely I shall miss the sight of his handwriting; though he may be nearer to me now than before, and his love for me is doubtless even more pure and fervent.
'I confess I had thought sometimes that if it pleased God to take you first, the consciousness that he would be with you was a great comfort to me—not that any man is worth much then. God must be all in all. But yet he of all men was the one who would have been a real comfort to you, and even more so to others.' To his cousin he writes:—
'Wednesday in Passion Week, 1858: St. John's College.
'My dearest Sophy,—Your letter with the deep black border was the first that I opened, with trembling hand, thinking: "Is it dear dear Uncle gone to his eternal rest; or dear Aunty? not that dear child, may God grant; for that would somehow seem to all most bitter of all- -less, so to speak, reasonable and natural." And he is really gone; that dear, loving, courageous, warm-hearted servant of Christ; the desire of our eyes taken away with a stroke. I read your letter wondering that I was not upset, knelt down and said the two prayers in the Burial Service, and then came the tears; for the memory of him rose up very vividly before me, and his deep love for me and the notes of comfort and encouragement he used to write were very fresh in my mind. I looked at the print of him, the one he sent out to me, with "your loving old Uncle" in pencil on it. I have all his letters: when making a regular clearance some months ago, I could not tear up his, although dangerous ones for me to read unless used as a stimulant to become what he thought me. His "Jacob" sermon in his own handwriting, I have by me. But more than all, the memory of his holy life, and his example as a minister of Christ, have been left behind for us as a sweet, undying fragrance; his manner in the sick- room—I see him now, and hear that soft, steady, clear voice repeating verses over my dear mother's death-bed; his kindly, loving ways to his poor people; his voice and look in the pulpit, never to be forgotten. I knew I should never see him again in this world. May God of His mercy take me to be with him hereafter.
'Thank you, dear Sophy, for writing to me; every word about him is precious, from his last letter to me:—
'"You will believe how sweet it is to me every month now to give the Holy Eucharist to my three dear ones."
'"All complaints of old men must be serious."
'I wish I had more time to write, but I am too busy in the midst of school, and printing Scripture histories and private prayers, and translations in Nengone, Bauro, Lifu; and as all my time out of school is spent in working in the printing office, I really have not a minute unoccupied. With one exception, I have scarcely ever taken an hour's walk for some six weeks. A large proportion of the printing is actually set up by my own fingers; but now one Nengone lad, the flower of my flock, can help me much—a young man about seventeen or eighteen, of whom I hope very much—Malo, baptized by the name of Harper, an excellent young man, and a great comfort to me. He was setting up in type a part of the little book of private prayers I am now printing for them. I had just pointed out to him the translation of what would be in English—"It is good that a man as he lies down to sleep should remember that that night he may hear the summons of the Angel of God; so then let him think of his death, and remember the words of St. Paul: 'Awake, thou that sleepest,'" etc.; when in came the man whom the Archdeacon left in charge here with my letters. "I hope, sir, there is no bad news for you;" and my eye lighted on the deep black border of your envelope.
'To-morrow, if I live, I enter upon my thirty-second year—a solemn warning I have received to-day, as another year is passing from me. May some portion of his spirit rest on me to bless my poor attempt to do what he did so devotedly for more than forty years: his duty as a soldier and servant of his Lord and Master, into whose joy he has no doubt now entered.
"Easter Day.—What an Easter for him! and doubtless we all who will by and by, as the world rolls round, receive the Holy Eucharist shall be in some way united to him as well as to all departed saints— members of His Mystical Body.
'April 12.—Bishop came out yesterday afternoon from Auckland. After baptisms at 5, and evening service at 7, sat till past 11 settling plans: thus, God willing, start this day fortnight to return the boys—this will occupy about two months; as we come back from the far north, he will drop one at Lifu, one of the Loyalty Islands, with large population; he will go on to New Zealand, stay perhaps six weeks in New Zealand, or it may be two months; so that with the time occupied by his voyage from Lifu to New Zealand, 1,000 miles and back, he will be away from Lifu about two and a half or three months. Then, picking me up (say about September 12), we go on at once to the whole number of our islands, spending three months or so among them, getting back to New Zealand about the end of November. So that I shall be in Melanesia, D.V., from the beginning of May to the end of November. I shall be able to write once more before we start— letters which you will get by the June mail from Sydney—and of course I shall send letters by the Bishop when he leaves me at Lifu. But I shall not be able to hear again from England till the Bishop comes to pick me up in September. Never mind. I shall have plenty to do; and I can think of those dear ones at home, and of you all, in God's keeping, with perfect comfort. The Lifu people are in a more critical state than any others just now, otherwise I should probably stop at San Cristoval. A few years ago they were very wild— cannibals of course; but they are now building chapels, and thirsting for the living waters. What a privilege and responsibility to go to them as Christ's minister, to a people longing for the glad tidings of the Gospel of Peace. Samoan teachers have been for a good many years among them.
'I cannot write now to dearest Aunty or Pena.
'May God bless you and abundantly comfort you.... I think I see his dear face. I see him always.
'Your loving cousin,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
Cho's wife had arrived in a cart at the College when her baby was a day old, so rapid is recovery with mothers in those climates. 'I saw the baby,' observes the journal, quite strong, not dark,—but I don't care for them till they can talk; on the contrary, I think them a great bore, especially in wooden houses, where a child with good lungs may easily succeed in keeping all the inhabitants awake.'
'April 12.—Settled that I stop at Lifu in the interval between the two voyages. I think Lifu wants me more than any other island just now. Some 15,000 or 20,000 stretching out their hands to God. The London Mission (Independent) sent Samoan teachers long ago, but no missionary, even after frequent applications. At last they applied personally to the Bishop, he being well known to them of old. I can't go for good, because I have of course to visit all these islands; but I shall try to spend all the time that I am not at sea or with boys in New Zealand, perhaps three months yearly, with them, till they can be provided with a regular clergyman.
'So I shall have no letters from you till the return of the vessel to pick me up in September. But be sure you think of me as very happy and well cared for, though, I am glad to say, not a white man on the island; lots of work, but I shall take much exercise and see most of the inhabitants. The island is large, not so large as Bauro, but still large.
'You will say all that is kind to all relations, Buckerell, etc. Thank the dear old vicar for the spurs, and tell him that I had a battle royal the other day with a colonial steed, which backed into the bush, and kicked, and played the fool amazingly, till I considerably astonished him into a gallop, in the direction I wanted to go, by a vigorous application of the said spurs.
'God bless and keep you all.
'J. C. PATTESON.'
A few days later he writes:—
'The "Southern Cross," returning to Lifu, will bring my letters; but unless a stray whaler comes to Lifu while I am there, on its way to Sydney, that will be the only exchange of letters. I am afraid this will be an increase of the trial of separation to you all, but it is not sent until you have learnt to do pretty well without me, and you will be comforted by knowing that this island of Lifu, with many inhabitants, is in a very critical state; that what it most wants is a missionary, and that as far as I am concerned, all the people will be very anxious to do all they can for me. I take a filter and some tea. We shall have yams, taro, cocoa-nuts, occasionally a bit of turtle, a fowl, or a bit of pork. So, you see, I shall live like an alderman; I mean, if I am to go to every part of the island, heathen and all. Perhaps 20,000 people, scattered over many miles. I say heathen and all, because only a very small number of the people now refuse to admit the new teaching. Samoans have been for some time on the island, and though, I dare say, their teaching has been very imperfect and only perhaps ten or fifteen people are baptized, they have chapels, and are far advanced beyond any of the islands except Nengone and Toke, always excepting Anaiteum. Hence it is thought the leaven may work quietly in the Solomon Islands without me, but that at Lifu they really require guidance. So now I have a parochial charge for three months of an island about twenty-five miles long and some sixteen or eighteen broad.
'I feel that my letters, after so long an absence, may contain much to make me anxious, so that I shall not look with unmixed pleasure to my return to my great packet; yet I feel much less anxiety than you might imagine; I know well that you are in God's keeping, and that is enough.'
After just touching at Nengone early in May the 'Southern Cross' went on to Lifu, and on landing, the Bishop and Mr. Patteson found a number of people ready to receive them, and to conduct them to the village, where the chief and a great number of people were drawn up in a half-circle to receive them. The young chief, Angadhohua, bowed and touched his hat, and taking Coley's hand, held it, and whispered, 'We will always live together.'
'By and by we will talk about it,' was the answer; and they were taken to a new house, belonging to one of the Samoans, built of lath plastered and thatch, with one large room and a lesser one at each of its angles. There the Bishop and Mr. Patteson sat on a chest, and seventy or eighty men squatted on mats, John Cho and the native teacher foremost. There was a five minutes' pause. Lifu was not yet familiar to Coley, who spoke it less well than he had spoken German, and John Cho said to him: 'Shall I tell them what you have said to me formerly?'
He then explained that Mr. Patteson could only offer them a visit of three or four months, and would then have the charge of lads from 'dark isles.'
Silence again; then Angadhohua asked: 'Cannot you stop always?'
'There are many difficulties which you cannot understand, which prevent me. Would you like me to shut the door which God has opened to so many dark lands?'
'No, no; but why not have the summer school here as well as the winter?'
'Because it does the lads good to see New Zealand,, and because the Bishop, who knows better than I do, thinks it right.'
'And cannot we have a missionary?'
However, they were forced to content themselves with all that could be granted to them, and it was further explained that Mr. Patteson would not supersede the native teachers, nor assume the direction of the Sunday services, only keep a school which any one might join who liked. This was felt to be only right in good faith to the London Mission, in order not to make dire confusion if they should be able to fill up the gap before the Church could.
After sleeping in the house, Patteson produced the books that had been printed for them at St. John's.
'Would that you could have seen their delight! About two pages, indifferently printed, was all they had hitherto. Now they saw thirty-two clearly printed 8vo. pages of Bible History, sixteen of prayers, rubrics, &c., eight of questions and answers. "You see," said I cunningly; "that we don't forget you during these months that I can't live among you."'
They began reading at once, and crying, 'Excellent, exactly right, the very thing.'
It was thought good that some one from Lifu should join the Mission party and testify to their work, and on the invitation, the chief, Angadhohua, a bright youth of seventeen, volunteered to go. It was an unexampled thing that a chief should be permitted by his people to leave them, there was a public meeting about it, and a good deal of excitement, but it ended in Cho, as spokesman, coming forward with tears in his eyes, saying, 'Yes, it is right he should go, but bring him back soon. What shall we do?'
Patteson laid his hand on the young chief's shoulder, answering, 'God can guard him by sea as on land, and with His blessing we will bring him back safe to you. Let some of the chiefs go with him to protect him. I will watch over him, but you may choose whom you will to accompany him.'
So five chiefs were selected as a body-guard for the young Angadhohua, who was prince of all the isle, but on an insecure tenure, for the French, in New Caledonia, were showing a manifest inclination to annex the Loyalty group.
The heavily loaded boat had a perilous strife with the surf before the ship was reached, and it was a very rough passage to Anaiteum, where some goods had to be left for Mr. Inglis, and he asked that four Fate visitors might be taken home. This was done, and Mr. Grordon was visited at Erromango on the way, and found well and prosperous.
At Mai, the reception of Petere and Laure was ecstatic. There was a crowd on shore to meet them, and on the two miles' walk to the village parties met, hugged, and wept over them. At the village Mr. Patteson addressed the people for ten minutes, and Petere made an animated exposition of what he had learnt, and his speeches evidently had great effect. His younger brother and two little boys all came in his stead, and would form part of the winter school at Lifu.