The Espiritu Santo boy, the dunce of the party, was set down at home, and the Banks Islanders were again found pleasant, honest, and courteous, thinking, as it appeared afterwards, that the white men were the departed spirits of deceased friends. A walk inland at Vanua Lava disclosed pretty villages nestling under banyan trees, one of them provided with a guest-chamber for visitors from other islands. Two boys, Sarawia and another, came away to be scholars at Lifu, as well as his masters in the language, of which he as yet scarcely knew anything, but which he afterwards found the most serviceable of all these various dialects.
The 26th of May brought the vessel to Bauro, where poor old Iri was told of the death of his son, and had a long talk with Mr. Patteson, beginning with, 'Do you think I shall see him again?' It was a talk worth having, though it was purchased by spending a night in the house with the rats.
It seemed as though the time were come for calling on the Baurese to cease to be passive, and sixty or seventy men and women having come together, Mr. Patteson told them that he did not mean to go on merely taking their boys to return them with heaps of fish-hooks and knives, but that, unless they cared for good teaching, to make them good and happy here and hereafter, he should not come like a trader or a whaler. That their sons should go backwards and forwards and learn, but to teach at home; and that they ought to build a holy house, where they might meet to pray to God and learn His will.
Much of this was evidently distasteful, though they agreed to build a room.
'I think,' he writes, 'that the trial stage of the work has arrived. This has less to attract outwardly than the first beginning of all, and as here they must take a definite part, they (the great majority who are not yet disposed to decide for good) are made manifest, and the difficulty of displacing evil customs is more apparent.'
In fact, these amiable, docile Baurese seemed to have little manliness or resolution of character, and Sumaro, a scholar of 1857, was especially disappointing, for he pretended to wish to come and learn at Lifu, but only in order to get a passage to Gera, where he deserted, and was well lectured for his deceit.
The Gera people were much more warlike and turbulent, and seemed to have more substance in them, though less apt at learning. Patteson spent the night on shore at Perua, a subsidiary islet in the bay, sleeping in a kind of shed, upon two boards, more comfortably than was usual on these occasions. Showing confidence was one great point, and the want of safe anchorage in the bay was much regretted, because the people could not understand why the vessel would not come in, and thought it betokened mistrust. Many lads wished to join the scholars, but of those who were chosen, two were forced violently overboard by their friends, and only two eventually remained, making a total of twelve pupils for the winter school at Lifu, with five languages between them —seven with the addition of the Nengone and Lifu scholars.
'You see,' writes Patteson on June 10, on the voyage, 'that our difficulty is in training and organising nations, raising them from heathenism to the life, morally and socially, of a Christian. This is what I find so hard. The communication of religious truth by word of mouth is but a small part of the work. The real difficulty is to do for them what parents do for their children, assist them to—nay, almost force upon them—the practical application of Christian doctrine. This descends to the smallest matters, washing, scrubbing, sweeping, all actions of personal cleanliness, introducing method and order, habits of industry, regularity, giving just notions of exchange, barter, trade, management of criminals, division of labour. To do all this and yet not interfere with the offices of the chief, and to be the model and pattern of it, who is sufficient for it?'
On June 16, Mr. Patteson was landed at Lifu, for his residence there, with the five chiefs, his twelve boys, and was hospitably welcomed to the large new house by the Samoan. He and four boys slept in one of the corner rooms, the other eight lads in another, the Rarotongan teacher, Tutoo, and his wife in a third. The central room was parlour, school, and hall, and as it had four unglazed windows, and two doors opposite to each other, and the trade-wind always blowing, the state of affairs after daylight was much like that which prevailed in England when King Alfred invented lanterns, while in the latter end of June the days were, of course, as short as they could be on the tropic of Capricorn, so that Patteson got up in the dark at 5-30 in the morning.
At 7 the people around dropped in for prayers, which he thought it better not to conduct till his position was more defined. Then came breakfast upon yams cooked by being placed in a pit lined with heated stones, with earth heaped over the top. Mr. and Mrs. Tutoo, with their white guest, sat at the scrap of a table, 'which, with a small stool, was the only thing on four legs in the place, except an occasional visitor in the shape of a pig.' Then followed school. Two hundred Lifu people came, and it was necessary to hold it in the chapel. One o'clock, dinner on yams, and very rarely on pig or a fowl, baked or rather done by the same process; and in the afternoon some reading and slate work with the twelve Melanesians, and likewise some special instruction to a few of the more promising Lifuites. At 6.30, another meal of yams, but this time Patteson had recourse to his private store of biscuit; and the evening was spent in talk, till bedtime at 9 or 9.30. It was a thorough sharing the native life; but after a few more experiments, it was found that English strength could not be kept up on an exclusive diet of yams, and the Loyalty Isles are not fertile. They are nothing but rugged coral, in an early stage of development; great ridges, upheaved, bare and broken, and here and there with pits that have become filled with soil enough to grow yams and cocoa-nuts.
The yams—except those for five of the lads, whose maintenance some of the inhabitants had undertaken—were matter of purchase, and formed the means of instruction in the rules of lawful exchange. A fixed weight of yams were to constitute prepayment for a pair of trousers, a piece of calico, a blanket, tomahawk, or the like, and all this was agreed to, Cho being a great assistance in explaining and dealing with his people. But it proved very difficult to keep them up to bringing a sufficient supply, and as they had a full share of the universal spirit of haggling, the commissariat was a very harassing and troublesome business, and as to the boys, it was evident that the experiment was not successful. Going to New Zealand was seeing the world. Horses, cows, sheep, a town, soldiers, &c., were to be seen there, whereas Lifu offered little that they could not see at home, and schooling without novelty was tedious. Indeed, the sight of civilised life, the being taken to church, the kindness of the friends around the College, were no slight engines in their education; but the Lifu people were not advanced enough to serve as an example—except that they had renounced the more horrible of their heathen habits. They were in that unsettled state which is peculiarly trying in the conversion of nations, when the old authoritative customs have been overthrown, and the Christian rules not established.
It was a good sign that the respect for the chief was not diminished. One evening an English sailor (for there turned out to be three whites on the island) who was employed in the sandal-wood trade was in the house conversing with Tutoo, when Angadhohua interrupted him, and he—in ignorance of the youth's rank—pushed him aside out of the way. The excitement was great. A few years previously the offender would have been killed on the spot, and as it was, it was only after apology and explanation of his ignorance that he was allowed to go free; but an escort was sent with him to a place twenty miles off lest any one should endeavour to avenge the insult, not knowing it had been forgiven.
Many of the customs of these Loyalty Isles are very unhealthy, and the almost exclusive vegetable diet produced a low habit of body, that showed itself in all manner of scrofulous diseases, especially tumours, under which the sufferer wasted and died. Much of Patteson's time was taken up by applications from these poor creatures, who fancied him sure to heal them, and had hardly the power, certainly not the will, to follow his advice.
Nor had he any authority. He only felt himself there on sufferance till the promised deputation should come from Rarotonga from the London Mission, to decide whether the island should be reserved by them, or yielded to the Church. Meantime he says on Sunday:—
'Tutoo has had a pretty hard day's work of it, poor fellow, and he is anything but strong. At 9.30 we all went to the chapel, which began by a hymn sung as roughly as possible, but having rather a fine effect from the fact of some 400 or 500 voices all singing in unison. Then a long extemporary prayer, then another hymn, then a sermon nearly an hour long. It ought not to have taken more than a quarter of an hour, but it was delivered very slowly, with endless repetitions, otherwise there was some order and arrangement about it. Another hymn brought the service to an end about 11. But his work was not done; school instantly succeeded in the same building, and though seven native teachers were working their classes, the burthen of it fell on him. School was concluded with a short extemporary prayer. At three, service again—hymn, prayer, another long sermon, hymn, and at last we were out of chapel, there being no more school.'
'To be sure,' is the entry on another Sunday, 'little thought I of old that Sunday after Sunday I should frequent an Independent chapel. As for extemporary prayer not being a form, that is absurd. These poor fellows just repeat their small stock of words over and over again, and but that they are evidently in earnest, it would seem shockingly irreverent sometimes. Most extravagant expressions! Tutoo is a very simple, humble-minded man, and I like him much. He would feel the help and blessing of a Prayer-book, poor fellow, to be a guide to him; but even the Lord's Prayer is never heard among them.'
So careful was Mr. Patteson not to offend the men who had first worked on these islands, that on one Sunday when Tutoo was ill, he merely gave a skeleton of a sermon to John Cho to preach. On the 27th of July, however, the deputation arrived in the 'John Williams'- -two ministers, and Mr. Creagh on his way back to Nengone, and the upshot of the conference on board, after a dinner in the house of Apollo, the native teacher, was that as they had no missionary for Lifu, they made no objection to Mr. Patteson working there at present, and that if in another year they received no reinforcement from home, they would take into consideration the making over their teachers to him. 'My position is thus far less anomalous, my responsibility much increased. God will, I pray and trust, strengthen me to help the people and build them up in the faith of Christ.'
'August 2.—Yesterday I preached my two first Lifu sermons; rather nervous, but I knew I had command of the language enough to explain my meaning, and I thought over the plan of my sermons and selected texts. Fancy your worthy son stuck up in a pulpit, without any mark of the clergyman save white tie and black coat, commencing service with a hymn, then reading the second chapter of St. Matthew, quite new to them, then a prayer, extemporary, but practically working in, I hope, the principle and much of the actual language of the Prayer- book—i.e. Confession, prayer for pardon, expression of belief and praise—then another hymn, the sermon about forty minutes. Text: "I am the Way," &c. Afternoon: "Thy Word is a lantern unto my feet."
'You can easily understand how it was simple work to point out that a man lost his way by his sin, and was sent out from dwelling with God; the recovery of the way by which we may again return to Paradise is practically the one great event which the whole Bible is concerned in teaching. The subject admitted of any amount of illustration and any amount of reference to the great facts of Scripture history, and everything converges to the Person of Christ. I wish them to see clearly the great points—first, God's infinite love, and the great facts by which He has manifested His Love from the very first, till the coming of Christ exhibited most clearly the infinite wisdom and love by which man's return to Paradise has been effected.
'Significant is that one word to the thief on the Cross "Paradise." The way open again; the guardian angel no longer standing with flaming sword in the entrance; admission to the Tree of Life.'
'The services were much shorter than usual, chiefly because I don't stammer and bungle, and take half an hour to read twenty verses of the Bible, and also because I discarded all the endless repetitions and unmeaning phrases, which took up half the time of their unmeaning harangues. About an hour sufficed for the morning-service; the evening one might have been a little longer. I feel quite at my ease while preaching, and John told me it was all very clear; but the prayers—oh! I did long for one of our Common Prayer-books.'
One effect of the Independent system began to reveal itself strongly. How could definite doctrines be instilled into the converts by teachers with hardly any books, and no formula to commit to memory? What was the faith these good Samoans knew and taught?
'No doctrinal belief exists among them,' writes Patteson, in the third month of his stay. 'A man for years has been associated with those who are called "the people that seek Baptism." He comes to me:—
'J. G. P. 'Who instituted baptism?
'J. G. P. And He sent His Apostles to baptize in the Name of Whom?
'"Why do you wish to be baptized?"
'"All that Jesus has done for us, and given to us, and taught us, is for that object. What is the particular benefit we receive in baptism?" 'No conception.' Such is their state.
'I would not hesitate if I thought there were any implicit recognition of the doctrine of the Trinity; but I can't baptize people morally good who don't know the Name into which they are to be baptized, who can't tell me that Jesus is God and man. There is a lad who soon must die of consumption, whom I now daily examine. He has not a notion of any truth revealed from above, and to be embraced and believed as truth upon the authority of God's Word. A kind of vague morality is the substitute for the Creed of the Apostles. What am I to do? I did speak out for three days consecutively pretty well, but I am alone, and only here for four months, and yet, I fear, I am expecting too much from them, and that I ought to be content with something much less as the (so to speak) qualifications; but surely they ought to repent and believe. To say the word, "I believe," without a notion of what they believe, surely that won't do. They must be taught, and then baptized, according to our Lord's command, suited for adults.'
Constant private teaching to individuals was going on, and the 250 copies of the Lifu primer were dispersed where some thousands were wanted, and Mr. Patteson wrote a little book of sixteen pages, containing the statement of the outlines of the faith, and of Scripture history; but this could not be dispersed till it had been printed in New Zealand.
And in the meantime a fresh element of perplexity was arising. The French had been for some time past occupying New Caledonia, and a bishop had been sent thither about the same time as Bishop Selwyn had gone to New Zealand; but though an earnest and hardworking man, he had never made much progress. He had the misfortune of being connected in the people's minds with French war ships and aggression, and, moreover, the South Sea race seem to have a peculiar distaste for the Roman Catholic branch of the Church, for which it is not easy to account.
The Loyalty Isles, as lying so near to New Caledonia, were tempting to the French Empire, and the Bishop at the same time felt it his duty to attempt their conversion.
Some priests had been placed at the north end of the island for about six months past, but the first communication was a letter on July 6, complaining, partly in French, partly in English, that since Mr. Patteson's arrival, the people had been making threatening reports. Now Mr. Patteson had from the first warned them against showing any unkindness to the French priests, and he wrote a letter of explanation, and arranged to go and hold a conference. On the way, while supping with the English sailor, at the village where he was to sleep, he heard a noise, and found the Frenchman, Pere Montrouzier, had arrived. He was apparently about forty; intelligent, very experienced in mission work, and conversant with the habits and customs of French and English in the colonies; moreover, with plenty of firmness in putting forward his cause. He seems to have been supported by the State in a manner unusual with French missions.
'I had one point only that I was determined to press (Patteson says), namely, liberty to the people to follow any form of religion they might choose to adopt. I knew that they and I were completely in his power, yet that my line was to assume that we were now about to arrange our plans for the future independently of any interference from the civil power.
'He let me see that he knew he could force upon the Lifu people whatever he pleased, the French Government having promised him any number of soldiers he may send for to take possession, if necessary, of the island. They have 1,000 men in New Caledonia, steamers and frigates of war; and he told me plainly that this island and Nengone are considered as natural appendages of New Caledonia, and practically French possessions already, so that, of course, to attempt doing more than secure for the people a religious liberty is out of the question. He promised me that if the people behaved properly to him and his people, he would not send for the soldiers, nor would he do anything to interfere with the existing state of the island.
'He will not himself remain here long, being commissioned, in consequence of his fourteen years' experience, to prepare the way for the French mission here. He told me that twenty missionaries are coming out for this group, about seven or eight of whom will be placed on Lifu, others on Nengone, &c.; that the French Government is determined to support them; that the Commandant of Nimia in New Caledonia had sent word to him that any number of men should be sent to him at an instant's notice, in a war steamer, to do what he might wish in Lifu, but that honestly he would do nothing to compel the people here to embrace Romanism; but that if necessary he would use force to establish the missionaries in houses in different parts of the island, if the chiefs refused to sell them parcels of land, for instance, one acre. The captain of the "Iris," an English frigate, called on him on Monday, and sent me a letter by him, making it quite clear that the French will meet with no opposition from the English Government. He too knew this, and of course knew his power; but he behaved, I must say, well, and if he is really sincere about the liberty of religion question, I must be satisfied with the result of our talk. I was much tired. We slept together on a kind of bed in an unfurnished house, where I was so cold that I could not sleep; besides, my head ached much; so my night was not a very pleasant one. In the morning we resumed our talk, but the business was over really. The question that we had discussed the evening before was brought to an issue, however, by his requiring from John Cho, who was with us, permission to buy about an acre of land in his territory. John was much staggered at this. It looked to him like a surrender of his rights. I told him, at great length, why I thought he must consent; but finally it was settled, that as John is not the real chief, I should act as interpreter for the Frenchmen; and send him from Mu an answer to a letter which he addresses to me, but which is, in fact, intended for the chief.
'It is, I suppose, true, that civilised nations do not acknowledge the right of a chief to prevent any one of his subjects from selling a plot of his land to a foreigner unless they may be at war with that particular nation.
'He said that France would not allow a savage chief to say "My custom in this respect is different from yours;" and again, "This is not a taking possession. It is merely requiring the right to put up a cottage for which I pay the just price." He told me plainly, if the chiefs did not allow him to do so, he would send for soldiers and put it up by force; but not use the soldiers for any other purpose. Of course I shall relate all this to Angadhohua at Mu, and make them consent.
'He told me that at New Caledonia they had reserved inalienably one- tenth of the land for the natives, that the rest would be sold to French colonists of the poor class, no one possessing more than ten acres; that 5,000 convicts would be sent there, and the ticket-of- leave system adopted, and that he thought the worst and most incorrigible characters would be sent to Lifu. Poor John! But I can't help him; he must make such terms as he can, for he and his people are wholly in their power.
'Our talk being ended, I found a great circle of men assembled on the outside with a pile of yams as usual in the centre for me. I was glad to see a small pile also for the Frenchman. I made my speech in his presence, but he knows not Lifu. "Be kind to the French, give them food and lodging. This is a duty which you are bound to pay to all men; but if they try to persuade you to change the teaching which you have received, don't listen to them. Who taught you to leave off war and evil habits, to build chapels, to pray? Remember that. Trust the teachers who have taught you the Word of God."
'This was the kind of thing I said. Then off we set—two miles of loose sand at a rattling pace, as I wanted to shake off some 200 people who were crowding about me. Then turning to the west, climbed some coral rocks very quickly, and found myself with only half my own attendants, and no strangers. Sat down, drank a cocoa-nut, and waited a long time for John, who can't walk well, and then quietly went on the remaining eight or nine miles to Zebedee's place, a Samoan teacher. They were very attentive, and gave me some supper. They had a bed, which was, of course, given up to me in spite of opposition. They regard a missionary as something superhuman almost. Sometimes I can't make them eat and drink with me; they think it would be presumptuous. Large meeting of people in the afternoon, and again the following morning, to whom I said much what I had already said at We. Then fifteen miles over to Apollo's place on the west coast, a grand bay, with perfectly calm water, delicious in the winter months. Comfortable quarters; Apollo a cleverish, free-spoken fellow.
'I went, on the same afternoon, two miles of very bad road to visit the French priest, who is living here. More talk and of a very friendly nature. He has been eighteen months at San Cristoval, but knows not the language; at Woodlark Island, New Caledonia, &c. We talked in French and English. He knows English fairly, but preferred to talk French. This day's work was nineteen miles.
Slept at Apollo's. Next morning went a little way in canoes and walked six miles to Toma's place; meeting held, speech as usual, present of yams, pig, &c. Walked back the six miles, started in double canoe for Gaicha, the other side of the bay: wind cold, some difficulty in getting ashore. Walked by the bad path to Apollo's and slept there again; Frenchman came in during the evening. Next day, Friday, meeting in the chapel. Walked twenty miles back to We, where I am now writing. Went the twenty miles with no socks; feet sore and shoes worn to pieces, cutting off leather as I came along. Nothing but broken bottles equals jagged coral. Paths went so that you never take three steps in the same direction, and every minute trip against logs, coral hidden by long leaves, arid weeds trailing over the path. Often for half a mile you jump from one bit of coral to another. No shoes can stand it, and I was tired, I assure you. Indeed, for the last two days, if I stopped for a minute to drink a nut, my legs were so stiff that they did not get into play for five minutes or so.
'July 16th.—The captain of the "Iris" frigate passing Lifu dropped me a line which satisfied me that the French will meet with no impediment from the English Government in the prosecution of their plans out here. Well, this makes one's own path just as easy, because all these things, great and small, are ordered for us; but yet I grieve to think that we might be occupying these groups with missionaries. Even ten good men would do for a few years; and is it unreasonable to think that ten men might be found willing to engage in such a happy work in such a beautiful part of the world—no yellow fever, no snakes, &c. I think of the Banks Islands, Vanua Lava, with its harbour and streams, and abundance of food, and with eight or nine small islands round it, speaking the same language, few dialectic differences of consequence, as I believe.
'Even one good man might introduce religion here as we have received it, pure and undefiled. Oh! that there were men who could believe this, and come out unconditionally, placing themselves in the Bishop's hands unreservedly. He must know the wants and circumstances of the islands far better than they can, and therefore no man ought to stipulate as to his location, &c. Did the early teachers do so? Did Titus ever think of saying to St. Paul, "Mind I must be an elder, or bishop, or whatever he was, of Crete?' Just as if that frame of mind was compatible with a real desire to do what little one can by God's help to bring the heathen to a knowledge of Christ.
'At this moment, one man for the Banks group and another for Mai and the neighbouring islands would be invaluable. If anything occurs to make me leave these Loyalty Islands as my residence during a part of the year, I am off to Banks, or Mai, or Solomon Isles. But what am I? In many respects not so well qualified for the work as many men who yet, perhaps, have had a less complete education. I know nothing of mechanics, and can't teach common things; I am not apt to teach anything, I fear, having so long deferred to learn the art of teaching, but of course exposing one's own shortcomings is easy enough. How to get the right sort of men? First qualification is common-sense, guided, of course, by religious principle. Some aptitude for languages, but that is of so little consequence that I would almost say no one was sufficient by itself as a qualification. Of course the mission work tends immensely to improve all earnest men; the eccentricities and superfluities disappear by degrees as the necessary work approves itself to the affection and intellect.'
The French question resulted in a reply in Angadhohua's name, that the people should be permitted to sell ground where the mission required it; and that in the one place specified about which there was contention, the land should be ceded as a gift from the chiefs. 'This,' observes Mr. Patteson, 'is the first negotiation which has been thrust upon me. I more than suspect I have made considerable blunders.'
By the 13th of August, he had to walk over the coral jags for another consultation with Pere Montrouzier, whose negotiation with Cho had resulted in thorough misunderstanding, each thinking the other was deceiving him, and not dealing according to promise to Mr. Patteson. The Pere had, in his fourteen years' experience, imbibed a great distrust of the natives, and thought Mr. Patteson placed too much confidence in them, while the latter thought him inclined to err the other way; however, matters were accommodated, at heavy cost to poor Coley's feet. A second pair of shoes were entirely cut to pieces, and he could not put any on the next day, his feet were so blistered.
The troubles were not ended, for when the ground was granted, there followed a stipulation that the chiefs should not hinder the men from working at the building; and when the men would not work, the chiefs were suspected of preventing it, and a note from Pere Montrouzier greatly wounded Patteson's feelings by calling John Cho faux et artificieux.
However, after another note, he retracted this, and a day or two after came the twenty miles over the coral to make a visit to the English clergyman. 'There is much to like in him: a gentleman, thoroughly well informed, anxious of course to discuss controversial points, and uncommonly well suited for that kind of work, he puts his case well and clearly, and, of course, it is easy to make their system appear most admirably adapted for carrying out all the different duties of a Church, as it is consistent in all, or nearly all, particulars, given the one or two leading points on which all depend. The Church of England here is very much in the position of any one of those other bodies, Wesleyan, Independent, or Presbyterian; and though we have a Bishop at the head—of what, however? Of one individual clergyman! Oh, that we had now a good working force—twenty or thirty men with some stuff in them; and there are plenty if they would only come. Meanwhile, France sends plenty of men; steamers bring them houses, cows for themselves and as presents for natives—supports the missionary in every way. New Caledonia is handy for the central school, everything almost that can be requisite. Never mind; work on, one small life is a mighty trifling thing considered with reference to those great schemes overruled by God to bring out of them great ultimate good, no doubt.'
There was an interchange of books between the French and English priest. Pere Montrouzier lent, and finally gave, Martinet's 'Solution de Grands Problemes,' which Patteson calls 'a very interesting book, with a great deal of dry humour about it, not unlike Newman's more recent publications. "It is," he (Montrouzier) says, "thought very highly of in France." He is a well-read man, I should imagine, in his line; and that is pretty extensive, for he is a really scientific naturalist, something of a geologist, a good botanist, besides having a good acquaintance with ecclesiastical literature.'
There was the more time for recreation with the Pere's French books, and the serious work of translating St. Mark's Grospel and part of the Litany into Lifu, as the inhabitants were all called off from school in the middle of August 'by a whale being washed ashore over a barrier reef—not far from me. All the adjacent population turned out in grass kilts, with knives and tomahawks to hack off chunks of flesh to be eaten, and of blubber to be boiled into oil; and in the meantime the neighbourhood was by no means agreeable to anyone possessing a nose.'
Meanwhile Sarawia, the best of the Banks pupils, had a swelling on the knee, and required care and treatment, but soon got better. Medical knowledge, as usual, Patteson felt one of the great needs of missionary life. Cases of consumption and scrofula were often brought to him, and terrible abscesses, under which the whole body wasted away. 'Poor people!' he writes, 'a consumptive hospital looms in the far perspective of my mind; a necessary accompaniment, I feel now, of the church and the school in early times. I wish I could contrive some remedy for the dry food, everything being placed between leaves and being baked on the ground, losing all the gravy; and when you get a chicken it is a collection of dry strings. If I could manage boiling; but there is nothing like a bit of iron for fire-place on the island, and to keep up the wood fire in the bush under the saucepan is hard work. I must commence a more practical study than hitherto of "Robinson Crusoe," and the "Swiss Family." Why does no missionary put down hints on the subject? My three months here will teach me more than anything that has happened to me, and I dare say I shall get together the things I want most when next I set forth from New Zealand.... I find it a good plan to look on from short periods to short periods, and always ask, what next? And at last it brings one to the real answer:—Work as hard as you can, and that rest which lacks no ingredient of perfect enjoyment and peace will come at last.'
Among the needs he discovered was this:—'By the bye, good cheap Bible prints would be very useful; large, so as to be seen by a large class, illustrating just the leading ideas. Schnorr's Bible prints by Rose and Bingen are something of the kind that I mean, something quite rude will do. Twenty-four subjects, comprising nothing either conventional or symbolical, would be an endless treasure for teachers; the intervening history would be filled up and illustrated by smaller pictures, but these would be pegs on which to hang the great events these lads ought to know. Each should be at least twenty-four inches by ten.
'Try to remember, in the choice of any other picture books for them, that anything that introduces European customs is no use yet. Pictures of animals are the best things. One or two of a railway, a great bridge, a view of the Thames with steamers rushing up and down, would all do; but all our habits of social life are so strange that they don't interest them yet.
'When I next reach Auckland, I suppose my eyes will rejoice at seeing your dear old likenesses. When we build our permanent central school-house at Kohimarama, I shall try to get a little snuggery, and then furnish it with a few things comfortably; I shall then invest in a chest of drawers, as I dare say my clothes are getting tired of living in boxes since March 1855.
'I can hardly tell you how much I regret not knowing something about the treatment of simple surgical cases. If when with W—— I had studied the practical—bled, drawn teeth, mixed medicines, rolled legs perpetually, it would have been worth something. Surely I might have foreseen all this! I really don't know how to find the time or the opportunity for learning. How true it is that men require to be trained for their particular work! I am now just in a position to know what to learn were I once more in England. Spend one day with old Fry (mason), another with John Venn (carpenter), and two every week at the Exeter hospital, and not look on and see others work— there's the mischief, do it oneself. Make a chair, a table, a box; fit everything; help in every part of making and furnishing a house, that is, a cottage. Do enough of every part to be able to do the whole. Begin by felling a tree; saw it into planks, mix the lime, see the right proportion of sand, &c., know how to choose a good lot of timber, fit handles for tools, &c.
'Many trades need not be attempted; but every missionary ought to be a carpenter, a mason, something of a butcher, and a good deal of a cook. Suppose yourself without a servant, and nothing for dinner to- morrow but some potatoes in the barn, and a fowl running about in the yard. That's the kind of thing for a young fellow going into a new country to imagine to himself. If a little knowledge of glazing could be added, it would be a grand thing, just enough to fit in panes to window-frames, which last, of course, he ought to make himself. Much of this cannot be done for you. I can buy window- frames in Auckland, and glass; but I can't carry a man a thousand miles in my pocket to put that glass into these frames; and if it is done in New Zealand, ten to one it gets broken on the voyage; whereas, glass by itself will pack well. Besides, a pane gets broken, and then I am in a nice fix. To know how to tinker a bit is a good thing; else your only saucepan or tea-kettle may be lying by you useless for months. In fact, if I had known all this before, I should be just ten times as useful as I am now. If anyone you know thinks of emigrating or becoming a missionary, just let him remember this.'
To these humble requisites, it appears that a missionary ought on occasion to be able to add those of a prime minister and lawgiver. Angadhohua, a bright, clever lad, only too easily led, was to be instructed in the duties of a chief; Mr. Patteson scrupulously trying in vain to make him understand that he was a person of far more consideration and responsibility than his white visitor would be in his own country. The point was to bring the Christian faith into connection with life and government. 'Much talk have I had with John in order that we may try to put before them the true grounds on which they ought to embrace Christianity,' writes Mr. Patteson, when about to visit a heathen district which had shown an inclination to abandon their old customs, 'and also the consequences to which they pledge themselves by the profession of a religion requiring purity, regularity, industry, &c., but I have little doubt that our visit now will result in the nominal profession of Christianity by many heathen. Angadhohua, John, and I go together, and Isaka, a Samoan teacher who has been a good deal among them. I shall make an arrangement for taking one of their leading men to New Zealand with me, that he may get some notion of what is meant by undertaking to become a Christian. It is in many respects a great benefit to be driven back upon the very first origin of a Christian society; one sees more than ever the necessity of what our Lord has provided, a living organised community into which the baptized convert being introduced falls into his place, as it were, naturally; sees around him everything at all times to remind him that he is a regenerate man, that all things are become new. A man in apostolic times had the lessons of the Apostles and disciples practically illustrated in the life of those with whom he associated. The church was an expression of the verbal teaching committed to its ministers. How clearly the beauty of this comes out when one is forced to feel the horrible blank occasioned by the absence of the living teacher, influencing, moulding, building up each individual professor of Christianity by a process always going on, though oftentimes unconsciously to him on whom it operates.
'But how is the social life to be fashioned here in Lifu according to the rule of Christ? There is no organised body exemplifying in daily actions the teaching of the Bible. A man goes to chapel and hears something most vague and unmeaning. He has never been taught to grasp anything distinctly—to represent any truth to his mind as a settled resting-place for his faith. Who is to teach him? What does he see around him to make him imperceptibly acquire new habits in conformity with the Bible? Is the Christian community distinguished by any habits of social order and intercourse different from non- Christians?
'True, they don't fight and eat one another now, but beyond that are they elevated as men? The same dirt, the same houses, the same idle vicious habits; in most cases no sense of decency, or but very little. Where is the expression of the Scriptural life? Is it not a most lamentable state of things? And whence has it arisen? From not connecting Christian teaching in church with the improvement in social life in the hut and village, which is the necessary corollary and complement of such teaching.
'By God's grace, I trust that some little simple books in Lifu will soon be in their houses, which may be useful. It is even a cause for thankfulness that in a few days (for the "Southern Cross" ought to be here in a week with 500 more copies) some 600 or more copies, in large type, of the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments will be in circulation; but they won't use them yet. They won't be taught to learn them by heart, and be questioned upon them; yet they may follow by and by. Hope on is the rule. Give them the Bible, is the cry; but you must give them the forms of faith and prayer which Christendom has accepted, to guide them; and oh! that we were so united that we could baptize them into a real living exemplification, and expression—an embodiment of Christian truth, walking, sleeping, eating and drinking before their eyes. Christ Himself was that on earth, and His Church ought to be now. These men saw to accept His teaching was to bind themselves to a certain course of life which was exhibited before their own eyes. Hence, multitudes approved His teaching, but would not accept it—would not profess it, because they saw what was involved in that profession. But now men don't count the cost; they forget that "If any man come to Me" is followed by "Which of you intending to build a tower," &c. Hence the great and exceeding difficulty in these latter days when Christianity is popular!'
In this state of things it was impossible to baptize adults till they had come to a much clearer understanding of what a Christian ought to do and to believe; and therefore Coley's only christenings in Lifu were of a few dying children, whom he named after his brother and sisters, as he baptized them with water, brought in cocoa-nut shells, having taught himself to say by heart his own translation of the baptismal form.
He wrote the following letter towards the end of his stay:—
'September 6, 1858: Lifu, Loyalty Islands.
'My dear Miss Neill,—The delay of four or five days in the arrival of the "Southern Cross" gives me a chance of writing you a line. The Bishop dropped me here this day three months, and told me to look out for him on September 1. As New Zealand is 1,000 miles off, and he can't command winds and waves, of course I allow him a wide margin; and I begged him not to hurry over my important business in New Zealand in order to keep his appointment exactly. But his wont is to be very punctual. I have here twelve lads from the north-west islands: from seven islands, speaking six languages. The plan of bringing them to a winter school in some tropical isle is now being tried. The only difficulty here is that Lifu is so large and populous; and just now (what with French priests on it, and the most misty vague kind of teaching from Independents the only thing to oppose to the complete machinery of the Romish system) demands so much time, that it is difficult to do justice to one's lads from the distant lands that are living with one here. The Bishop had an exaggerated notion of the population here. I imagine it to be somewhere about 8,000. The language is not very hard, but has quite enough difficulty to make it more than a plaything: the people in that state when they venerate a missionary—a very dangerous state; I do my best to turn the reverence into the right channel and towards its proper object.
'You will see by the last Melanesian report of which I desired a copy to be sent to you, that our work is very rapidly increasing; that openings are being made in all directions; and that had we men of trust, we could occupy them at once. As it is, we keep up a communication with some seventy-four islands, waiting, if it may be, that men may be sent, trying to educate picked men to be teachers; but I am not very sanguine about that. At all events, the first flush of savage customs, &c., is being, I trust, removed, so that for some other body of Christians, if not the Church of England, the door may be laid open.
'Of course, the interest of the work is becoming more and more absorbing; so that, much as there is indeed going on in your world to distract and grieve one, it comes to me so weakened by time and distance that I don't sympathise as I ought with those who are suffering so dreadfully from the Indian Mutiny, or the commercial failure, or the great excitement and agitation of the country. You can understand how this can be, perhaps; for my actual present work leaves me small leisure for reflecting, and for placing myself in the position of others at a distance; and when I have a moment's time surely it is right that I should be in heart at Feniton, with those dear ones, and especially my dear dear father, of whom I have not heard for five months, so that I am very anxious as to what account of him the "Southern Cross" may bring, and try to prepare myself for news of increased illness, &c.
'You, I imagine, my dear Miss Neill, are not much changed to those who see you day by day; but I should find you much weaker in body than when I saw you last, and yet it did not seem then as if you had much strength to lose: I don't hear of any sudden changes, or any forms of illness; the gradual exhausting process is going on, but accompanied, I fear, with even greater active pain than of old; your sufferings are indeed very severe and very protracted, a great lesson to us all. Yet you have much, even speaking only of worldly comfort, which makes your position a much happier one than that of the poor suffering souls whom I see here. Their house is one round room, a log burning in the centre, no chimney, the room full of smoke, common receptacle of men, women, boys, girls, pigs, and fowls. In the corner a dying woman or child. No water in the island that is fresh, a few holes in the coral where water accumulates, more or less brackish; no cleanliness, no quiet, no cool fresh air, hot smoky atmosphere, no proper food, a dry bit of yam, and no knowledge of a life to come: such is the picture of the invalided or dying South Sea Islander. All dying children under years of discretion I baptize, and all the infants brought to the chapel by parents who themselves are seeking baptism; but I have not baptized any adults yet, they must be examined and taught for some time, for the Samoan and Rarotongan teachers sent by the Independent missionaries are very imperfectly instructed and quite incapable of conveying definite teaching to them.
'I don't see, humanly speaking, how this island is to be kept from becoming purely Roman Catholic. They have a large staff of men, and are backed up by the presence of a complete government establishment in New Caledonia, only two or three days distant, while what have we? Four months a year of the time, partially otherwise occupied by Melanesian schools, of one missionary, and while here these four months, I have my lads from many islands to teach, so that I can't lay myself out to learn this one language, &c. I am writing this on September 16. "Southern Cross" not yet come, and my lads very anxious; I confess I should like to see it, not only (as you will believe) because all my stores are gone. I have not a morsel of biscuit or grain of sugar left, and am reduced to native fare, which does not suit my English constitution for very long. Yams and taro, and a fowl now and then, will be my food until the ship comes. Hitherto I have had coffee and biscuits in addition.
'My very kind love to Mrs. S ——, and many thanks for the letters, which I much enjoy.
'Your very affectionate old pupil,
'J. C. P.'
The whole of September passed without the arrival of the 'Southern Cross.' The fact was that after Mr. Patteson had been left at Lifu, the vessel when entering Port-au-France, New Caledonia, had come upon a coral reef, and the damage done to her sheathing was so serious that though she returned to Auckland from that trip, she could not sail again without fresh coppering; and as copper had to be brought from Sydney for the purpose, there was considerable delay before she could set forth again, so that it was not till the last day of September that she gladdened Patteson's eyes, and brought the long- desired tidings from home.
This voyage was necessarily short, as there were appointments to be kept by the Bishop in New Zealand in November, and all that could be aimed at was the touching at the more familiar islands for fresh instalments of scholars. The grand comet of 1858 was one feature of this expedition—which resulted in bringing home forty-seven Melanesians, so that with the crew, there were sixty-three souls on board during the homeward voyage!
'As you may suppose, the little "Southern Cross" is cram full, but the Bishop's excellent arrangements in the construction of the vessel for securing ventilation, preserve us from harm by God's blessing. Every day a thorough cleaning and sweeping goes on, and frequent washing, and as all beds turn up like the flap of a table, and some thirty lads sleep on the floor on mats and blankets, by 7 A.M. all traces of the night arrangements have vanished. The cabin looks and feels airy; meals go on regularly; the boys living chiefly on yams, puddings, and cocoa-nuts, and plenty of excellent biscuit. We laid in so many cocoa-nuts that they have daily one apiece, a great treat to them. A vessel of this size, unless arranged with special reference to such objects, could not carry safely so large a party, but we have nothing on board to create, conceal, or accumulate dirt; no hold, no storeroom, no place where a mixed mess of spilt flour, and sugar, and treacle, and old rotten potatoes, and cocoa-nut parings and bits of candle, can all be washed together into a dark foul hold; hence the whole ship, fore and aft, is sweet and clean. Stores are kept in zinc lockers puttied down, and in cedar boxes lined with zinc. We of course distribute them ourselves; a hired steward would be fatal, because you can't get a servant to see the importance of care in such details.'
Mr. Patteson always, in the most careful manner, paid respect both to the chief's person and his dicta. He declined more than once to give directions which he said ought to issue from the chief, although on one of these occasions he was asked by the chief himself. He foresaw clearly the evils that might follow if the people's respect for recognised authority were weakened, instead of being, as it might be, turned to useful account. And so he always accorded to John Cho, and to other persons of rank when they were with us in the Mission school, just such respect as they were accustomed to receive at the hands of their own people. For instance, he would always use to a moderate extent the chief's language in addressing John Cho or any other of the Loyalty chiefs; and it being a rule of theirs that no one in the presence of the chiefs should ever presume to sit down higher than the chiefs, he would always make a point of attending to it as regarded himself; and once or twice when, on shore in the islands, the chief had chosen to squat down on the ground among the people, he would jocularly leave the seat that had been provided for him, and place himself by the chief's side on the ground. All this was keenly appreciated as significant, but alas! the Loyalty Islanders were not long to remain under his charge.
The ensuing letter was written to Sir John Taylor Coleridge, after learning the tidings of his retirement from the Bench in the packet of intelligence brought by the vessel:—
'November 10, 1858: Lat. 31 29' S.; Long. 171 12' E.
'My dear Uncle John,—I see by the papers that you have actually resigned, and keep your connection with the judges only as a Privy Councillor. I am of course on my own account heartily glad that you will be near my dear father for so many months of the year, and you are very little likely to miss your old occupation much, with your study at Heath's Court, so I shall often think of you in summer sitting out on the lawn, by John's Pinus excelsis, and in winter in your armchair by the fire, and no doubt you will often find your way over to Feniton. And then you have a glorious church!.... Oh! I do long for a venerable building and for the sound of ancient chants and psalms. At times, the Sunday is specially a day on which my mind will go back to the old country, but never with any wish to return. I have never experienced that desire, and think nothing but absolute inability to help on a Melanesian or a Maori will ever make a change in that respect. I feel as certain as I can be of anything that I should not be half as happy in England as I am in New Zealand, or in Lifu, in the Banks or Solomon Islands, &c. I like the life and the people, everything about it and them....
'Coppering the schooner caused delay, so that he (the Bishop) could give but two months instead of three to the Island voyage, for he starts on November 25 for a three months' Confirmation tour (1,000 miles) among the New Zealanders, which will bring him to Wellington by March 1, for the commencement of the first synod. Consequently we have only revisited some of our seventy and odd islands, but we have no less than forty-seven Melanesians from twelve islands on board, of whom three are young married women, while two are babies.
'This makes our whole number on board sixty, viz., four Pitcairners, forty-seven Melanesians, ourselves + crew = sixty-three, a number too great for so small a vessel, but for the excellent plan adopted by the Bishop in the internal arrangement of the vessel when she was built, and the scrupulous attention to cleanliness in every place fore and aft. As it is, we are not only healthy but comfortable, able to have all meals regularly, school, prayers, just as if we had but twenty on board. Nevertheless, I think, if you could drop suddenly on our lower deck at 9 P.M. and visit unbeknown to us the two cabins, you would be rather surprised at the number of the sleepers—twelve in our after-cabin, and forty-five in the larger one, which occupies two-thirds of the vessel.
'Of course we make no invasion upon the quarters forward of the four men before the mast—common seamen, and take good care that master and mate shall have proper accommodation.
'One gets so used to this sort of thing that I sleep just as well as I used to do in my own room at home, and by 6.30 or 7 A.M. all vestiges of anything connected with sleeping arrangements have vanished, and the cabins look like what they are,—large and roomy. We have, you know, no separate cabins filled with bunks, &c., abominations specially contrived to conceal dirt and prevent ventilation. Light calico curtains answer all purposes of dividing off a cabin into compartments, but we agree to live together, and no one has found it unpleasant as yet. We turn a part of our cabin into a gunaikhon at night for the three women and two babies by means of a canvas screen. Bishop looks after them, washes the babies, tends the women when sick, &c., while I, by virtue of being a bachelor, shirk all the trouble. One of these women is now coming for the second time to the college; her name is Carry. Margaret Cho is on her second visit, and Hrarore is the young bride of Kapua, now coming for his third time, and baptized last year.
'We wish to make both husbands and wives capable of imparting better notions to their people.
'We have, I think, a very nice set on board....
'I think everything points to Vanua Lava, the principal island of the Banks group, becoming our centre of operations, i.e., that it would be the place where winter school would be carried on with natives from many islands, from Solomon Islands group to the north-west, and Santa Cruz group to north, New Hebrides to south and Loyalty Islands south-west, and also the depot among the islands, a splendid harbour, safe both from trade and hurricane winds, plenty of water, abundantly supplied with provisions, being indeed like a hot-house, with its hot springs constantly sending up clouds of vapour on the high hills, a population wholly uninjured by intercourse with traders and whalers, it being certain that our vessel was the first at all events that has ever been seen by the eyes of any member of this generation on the islands; I could prove this to you easily if I had time.
'They are most simple, gentle and docile, unwarlike, not cannibals, I verily believe as good a specimen of the natural fallen man as can be met with, wholly naked, yet with no sense of shame in consequence; timid, yet soon learning to confide in one; intelligent, and gleaming with plenty of spirit and fun. As the island, though 440 miles north of the Loyalty Isles, is not to leeward of them, it would only take us about eight days more to run down, and a week more to return to it from New Zealand, than would be the case if we had our winter school on one of the Loyalty Islands. So I hope now we may get a missionary for Lifu, and so I may be free to spend all my time, when not in New Zealand, at Vanua Lava. Temperature in winter something under 80 in the shade, being in lat. 13 45' 5". The only thing against Vanua Lava is the fact that elephantiasis abounds among the natives, and they say that the mortality is very considerable there, so it might not be desirable to bring many lads to it from other islands; but the neighbouring islands of Mota and Valua, and Uvaparapara are in sight and are certainly healthy, and our buildings are not so substantial as to cause much difficulty in shifting our quarters if necessary. The language is very hard, but when it is one's business to learn a thing, it is done after a while as a matter of course.
'We have quite made up our mind that New Zealand itself is the right place for the head-quarters of the Mission. True, the voyage is long, and lads can only be kept there five or six months of the year, but the advantages of a tolerably settled state of society are so great, and the opportunities of showing the Melanesians the working of an English system are so many, that I think now with the Bishop that New Zealand should be the place for the summer school in preference to any other. I did not think so at one time, and was inclined to advocate the plan of never bringing the lads out of the tropics, but I think now that there are so many good reasons for bringing the lads to New Zealand that we must hope to keep them by good food and clothing safe from colds and coughs. Norfolk Island would have been in some ways a very good place, but there is no hope now of our being settled there....
'I can hardly have quite the same control over lads brought to an island itself wholly uncivilised as I can have over them in New Zealand, but as a rule, Melanesians are very tractable. Certainly I would sooner have my present school to manage, forty-five of all ages from nine to perhaps twenty-seven or eight, from twelve or thirteen islands, speaking at least eight languages, than half the number of English boys, up to all sorts of mischief....
'Thank you, dear uncle, for the Xavier; a little portable book is very nice for taking on board ship, and I dare say I may read some of his letters in sight of many a heathen island....
'Good-bye, my dear Uncle.
'Your affectionate and grateful nephew,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
'Savages are all Fridays, if you know how to treat them' is a saying of Patteson's in one of his letters, and a true one. In truth, there was no word that he so entirely repudiated as this of savage, and the courtesy and untutored dignity of many of his native friends fully justified his view, since it was sure to be called forth by his own conduct towards them.
The chiefs, having a great idea of their own importance, and being used to be treated like something sacred, and never opposed, were the most difficult people to deal with, and in the present voyage there was a time of great anxiety respecting a young chief named Aroana, from the great isle of Malanta. He fell into an agony of nervous excitement lest he should never see his island again, an attack of temporary insanity came on, and he was so strong that Mr. Patteson could not hold him down without the help of the Bishop and another, and it was necessary to tie him down, as he attempted to injure himself. He soon recovered, and the cooler latitudes had a beneficial effect on him, but there was reason to fear that in Malanta the restraint might be regarded as an outrage on the person of a chief.
The voyage safely ended on the night of the 16th of November. Here is part of a letter to Mr. Edward Coleridge, written immediately after reading the letters that had been waiting in Auckland:—
'My father writes:—"My tutor says that there must be a Melanesian Bishop soon, and that you will be the man," a sentence which amused me not a little.
'The plan is that the Bishop should gradually take more and more time for the islands, as he transfers to the General Synod all deeds, documents, everything for which he was corporation sole, and as he passes over to various other Bishops portions of New Zealand. Finally, retaining only the north part of the northern island, to take the Melanesian Bishopric.
'I urged this plan upon him very strongly one day, when somewhere about lat. 12 S. (I fancy) he pressed me to talk freely about the matter. I said: "One condition only I think should be present to your mind, viz., that you must not give up the native population in New Zealand," and to this he assented.
'If, dear tutor, you really were not in joke, just try to find some good man who would come and place himself under the Bishop's direction unreservedly, and in fact be to him much what I am + the ability and earnestness, &c. Seriously, I am not at all fitted to do anything but work under a good man. Of course, should I survive the Bishop, and no other man come out, why it is better that the ensign should assume the command than to give up the struggle altogether. But this of course is pure speculation. The Bishop is hearty, and, I pray God, may be Bishop of Melanesia for twenty years to come, and by that time there will be many more competent men than I ever shall be to succeed him, to say nothing of possible casualties, climate, &c.
'Good-bye, my dear Uncle; kind love to all.
'Your loving nephew and pupil,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The three women and the two babies were disposed of in separate houses, but their husbands, with thirty-nine other Melanesians, four Norfolk Islanders, two printers, Mr. Dudley and Mr. Patteson, made up the dinner-party every day in the hall of St. John's College. 'Not a little happy I feel at the head of my board, with two rows of merry, happy-looking Melanesians on either side of me!'
The coughs, colds, and feverish attacks of these scholars were the only drawback; the slightest chill made them droop; and it was a subject of joy to have any day the full number in hall, instead of one or two lying ill in their tutor's own bed-chamber.
On the 29th of December came the exceeding joy of the arrival of the Judge and Mrs. Martin, almost straight from Feniton, ready to talk untiringly of everyone there. On the New Year's day of 1859 there was a joyful thanksgiving service at Taurarua for their safe return, at which all the best Church people near were present, and when John Cho made his first Communion.
On the 20th these much-loved friends came to make a long stay at the College, and the recollections they preserved of that time have thus been recorded by Lady Martin. It will be remembered that she had parted from him during the year of waiting and irregular employment:
'We were away from New Zealand nearly three years. We had heard at Feniton dear Coley's first happy letters telling of his voyages to the islands in 1856-7, letters all aglow with enthusiasm about these places and people. One phrase I well remember, his kindly regret expressed for those whose lot is not cast among the Melanesian islands. On our return we went to live for some months at St. John's College, where Mr. Patteson was then settled with a large party of scholars.
'We soon found that a great change had passed over our dear friend. His whole mind was absorbed in his work. He was always ready, indeed, to listen to anything there was to tell about his dear father; but about our foreign travels, his favourite pictures, the scenes of which we had heard so much from him, he would listen for a few minutes, but was sure in a little while to have worked round to Melanesia in general, or to his boys in particular, or to some discussion with my husband on the structure of their many languages and dialects. It was then that Bishop Abraham said that when the two came to their ninth meaning of a particle, he used to go to sleep.
'There were a very fine intelligent set of young men from the Loyalty Islands, some sleepy, lazy ones from Mai, some fierce, wild-looking lads from the Solomon Islands who had long slits in their ears and bone horns stuck in their frizzly hair. Mr. Patteson could communicate with all more or less easily, and his readily delicate hearing enabled him to distinguish accurately sounds which others could not catch—wonderful mp and piv and mbw which he was trying to get hold of for practical purposes.
'He was in comfortable quarters, in one long low room, with a sunny aspect. It looked fit for a student, with books all about, and pictures, and photos of loved friends and places on the walls, but he had no mind to enjoy it alone. There was sure to be some sick lad there, wrapped up in his best rugs, in the warmest nook by the fire. He had morning and afternoon school daily in the large schoolroom, Mr. Dudley and Mr. Lask assisting him. School-keeping, in its ordinary sense, was a drudgery to him, and very distasteful. He had none of that bright lively way and readiness in catechising which made some so successful in managing a large class of pupils at once, but every person in the place loved to come to the evening classes in his own room, where, in their own language, he opened to them the Scriptures and spoke to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. It was in those private classes that he exercised such wonderful influence; his musical voice, his holy face, his gentle manner, all helping doubtless to impress and draw even the dullest. Long after this he told me once how after these evening classes, one by one, some young fellow or small boy would come back with a gentle tap at the door, "I want to talk to you," and then and there the heart would be laid open, and counsel asked of the beloved teacher.
'It was very pleasant to see him among his boys. They all used to go off for a walk on Saturday with him, sometimes to town, and he as full of fun with them as if they had been a party of Eton boys. He had none of the conventional talk, so fatal to all true influence, about degraded heathen. They were brethren, ignorant indeed, but capable of acquiring the highest wisdom. It was a joke among some of us, that when asked the meaning of a Nengone term of endearment he answered naively, "Oh, it means old fellow." He brought his fresh, happy, kindly feelings towards English lads and young men into constant play among Melanesians, and so they loved and trusted him.'
I think that exclusiveness of interest which Lady Martin describes, and which his own family felt, and which is apt to grow upon missionaries, as indeed on every one who is very earnestly engaged in any work, diminished as he became more familiar with his work, and had a mind more at liberty for thought.
Mr. Dudley thus describes the same period:—'It was during the summers of 1857-8 and 1858-9 that the Loyalty Islanders mustered in such numbers at St. John's College, as it was supposed that they, at least Lifu would be left in the hands of the Church of England. Mr. Patteson worked very hard these years at translations, and there was an immense enthusiasm about printing, the Lifuites and Nengonese striving each to get the most in their own language.
'Never shall I forget the evening service during those years held in the College chapel, consisting of one or two prayers in Bauro, Gera, and other languages, and the rest in Nengonese, occasionally changing to Lifu, when Mr. Patteson used to expound the passage of Scripture that had been translated in school during the day. Usually the Loyalty Islanders would take notes of the sermon while it went on, but now and then it was simply impossible, for although his knowledge of Nengonese at that time, as compared with what it was afterwards, was very limited, and his vocabulary a small one from which to choose his expressions, he would sometimes speak with such intense earnestness and show himself so thoroughly en rapport with the most intelligent of his hearers, that they were compelled to drop their papers and pencils, and simply to to listen. I remember one evening in particular. For some little time past the conduct of the men, especially the married men, had not been at all satisfactory. The married couples had the upper house, and John Cho, Simeona, and Kapua had obtained a draught-board, and had regularly given themselves up to draught-playing, night and day, neglecting all the household duties they were expected to perform, to the great annoyance of their wives, who had to carry the water, and do their husbands' work in other ways as well their own. This became soon known to Mr. Patteson, and without saying anything directly to the men, he took one evening as his subject in chapel those words of our Lord, "If thy hand or thy foot offend thee," &c., and spoke as you know he did sometimes speak, and evidently was entirely carried out of himself, using the Nengonese with a freedom which showed him to be thinking in it as he went on, and with a face only to be described as "the face of an angel." We all sat spellbound. John Cho, Simeona, and the other walked quietly away, without saying a word, and in a day or two afterwards I learnt from John that he had lain awake that night thinking over the matter, that fear had come upon him, lest he might be tempted again, and jumping up instantly, he had taken the draught- board from the place where he had left it and had cast it into the embers of their fire.
'Many and many a time was I the recipient of his thoughts, walking with him up and down the lawn in front of the cottage buildings of an evening, when he would try to talk himself clear. You may imagine what a willing listener I was, whatever he chose to talk upon, and he often spoke very freely to me, I being for a long time his only resident white companion. It was not long before I felt I knew his father well, and reverenced him deeply. He never was tired of talking of his home, and of former days at Eton and Oxford, and then while travelling on the Continent. Often and often during those early voyages have I stood or sat by his side on the deck of the "Southern Cross," as in the evening, after prayers, he stood there for hours, dressed in his clerical attire, all but the grey tweed cap, one hand holding the shrouds, and looking out to windward like a man who sees afar off all the scenes he was describing.'
Thinking over those times since, one understands better far than one did at the time the reality of the sacrifice he had made in devoting himself for life to a work so far away from those he loved best on earth.
The Bishop of Wellington, for to that see Archdeacon Abraham had been consecrated while in England, arrived early in March, and made a short stay at the College, during which he confirmed eleven and baptized one of Patteson's flock. Mrs. Abraham and her little boy remained at the College, while her husband went on to prepare for her at Wellington, and thus there was much to make the summer a very pleasant one, only chequered by frequent anxieties about the health of the pupils, as repeated experiments made it apparent that the climate of St. John's was too cold for them. Another anxiety was respecting Lifu for the London Missionary Society, had, after all, undertaken to supply two missionaries from England, and it was a most doubtful and delicate question whether the wishes of the natives or the established principle of noninterference with pre-occupied ground, ought to have most weight. The Primate was so occupied by New Zealand affairs that he wrote to Mr. Patteson to decide it himself and he could but wait to be guided by circumstances on the spot.
To Mr. Edward Coleridge he writes on the 18th of March:—
'I have many and delightful talks with Mr. Martin on our languages. We see already how strong an infusion of Polynesian elements exists in the Melanesian islands. With the language of four groups we are fairly acquainted now, besides some of the distinguishing dialects, which differ very much from one another; nevertheless, I think that by-and-by we shall connect them all if we live; but as some dialects may have dropped out altogether, we may want a few links in the chain to demonstrate the connection fully to people at a distance. It is a great refreshment to me to work out these matters, and the Judge kindly looked up the best books that exist in all the Polynesian languages, so that we can found our induction upon a comparison of all the dialects now from the Solomon Islands to the Marquesas, with the exception of the Santa Cruz archipelago. We have been there two or three times, but the people are so very numerous and noisy, that we never have had a chance as yet of getting into a quiet talk (by signs, &c.) with any of the people.
'Still, as we know some Polynesian inhabitants of a neighbouring isle who have large sea canoes, and go to Santa Cruz, we may soon get one of them to go with us, and so have an interpreter, get a lad or two, and learn the language.
'We are sadly in want of men; yet we cannot write to ask persons to come out for this work who may be indisposed, when they arrive in New Zealand, to carry out the particular system on which the Bishop proceeds. Any man who would come out and consent to spend a summer at the Melanesian school in New Zealand in order to learn his work, and would give up any preconceived notions of his own about the way to conduct missionary work that might militate against the Bishop's plan—such a man would be, of course, the very person we want; but we must try to make people understand that half-educated men will not do for this work. Men sent out as clergymen to the mission-field who would not have been thought fit to receive Holy Orders at home, are not at all the men we want. It is not at all probable that such men would really understand the natives, love them, and live with them; but they would be great dons, keeping the natives at a distance, assuming that they could have little in common, &c.—ideas wholly destructive of success in missionary, or in any work. That pride of race which prompts a white man to regard coloured people as inferior to himself, is strongly ingrained in most men's minds, and must be wholly eradicated before they will ever win the hearts, and thus the souls of the heathen.
'What a preachment, as usual, about Melanesia!...
'Your loving old Pupil and Nephew,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
Next follows a retrospective letter:—
'April 1, 1859: St. John's College.
'My dearest Father,—Thirty-two years old to-day! Well, it is a solemn thing to think that one has so many days and months and years to account for. Looking back, I see how fearfully I wasted opportunities which I enjoyed, of which, I fancy, I should now avail myself gladly; but I don't know that I fancy what is true, for my work now, though there is plenty of it, is desultory, and I dare say hard application, continuously kept up, would be as irksome to me as ever.
'It seems very strange to me that I never found any pleasure in classical studies formerly. Now, the study of the languages for its own sake even is so attractive to rue that I should enjoy working out the exact and delicate powers of Greek particles, &c.; but I never cared for it till it was too late, and the whole thing was drudgery tn me. I had no appreciation, again, of Historians, or historians; only thought Thucydides difficult and Herodotus prosy(!!), and Tacitus dull, and Livy apparently easy and really very hard. So, again, with the poets; and most of all I found no interest (fancy!) in Plato and Aristotle. They were presented to me as merely school books; not as the great effort of the cultivated heathen mind to solve the riddle of man's being; and I, in those days, never thought of comparing the heathen and Christian ethics, and the great writers had no charm for me.
'Then my French. If I had really taken any pains with old Tarver in old days—and it was your special wish that I should do so—how useful it would be to me now; whereas, though I get on after a sort, I don't speak at all as I ought to do, and might have learnt to do. It is sad to look back upon all the neglected opportunities; and it is not only that I have not got nearly (so to speak) a quantity of useful materials for one's work in the present time, but that I find it very hard to shake off desultory habits. I suppose all persons have to make reflections of this kind, more or less sad; but, somehow, I feel it very keenly now: for certainly I did waste time sadly; and it so happens that I have just had "Tom Brown's Schooldays" lent me, and that I spent some time in reading it on this particular day, and, of course, my Eton life rose up before me. What a useful book that is! A real gain for a young person to have such a book. That is very much the kind of thing that would really help a boy—manly, true, and plain.
'I hear from Sydney by last mail that the Bishop is really desirous to revive the long dormant Board of Missions. He means to propose to send a priest and a deacon to every island ready for them, and to provide for them—if they are forthcoming, and funds. Of this latter I have not much doubt....
'April 24—I have to get ready for three English full services to- morrow, besides Melanesian ditto.—So goodbye, my dearest Father,
'Your loving and dutiful Son,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
Sir John Patteson might well say, in a letter of this summer, to Bishop Selwyn:—
'As to my dear boy Coley, I am more and more thankful every day that I agreed to his wishes; and in whatever situation he may be placed, feel confident that his heart will be in his work, and that he will do God service. He will be contented to work under any one who may be appointed Bishop of Melanesia (or any other title), or to be the Bishop himself. If I judge truly, he has no ambitious views, and only desires that he may be made as useful as his powers enable him to be, whether in a high or subordinate situation.'
Nothing could be more true than this. There was a general sense of the probability that Mr. Patteson must be the first Missionary Bishop; but he continued to work on at the immediate business, always keeping the schemes and designs which necessarily rose in his mind ready to be subjected to the control of whomsoever might be set over him. The cold had set in severely enough to make it needful to carry off his 'party of coughing, shivering Melanesians' before Easter, and the 'Southern Cross' sailed on the 18th. Patteson took with him a good store of coffee, sugar, and biscuits, being uncertain whether he should or should not again remain at Lifu.
In the outward voyage he only landed his pupils there, and then went on to the Banks Islands, where Sarawia was returned at Vanua Lava, and after Mr. Patteson had spent a pleasant day among the natives, Mota was visited next after.
'May 24.—On Monday, at 3 P.M., we sailed from Port Patteson across to Mota. Here I landed among 750 people and the boat returned to the vessel. She was to keep up to windward during the night and call for me the next morning. I walked with my large following, from the teach, up a short steep path, to the village, near to which, indeed only 200 yards off, is another considerable village. The soil is excellent; the houses good—built round the open space which answers to the green in our villages, and mighty banyan trees spreading their lofty and wide-branching arms above and around them. The side walls of these houses are not more than two feet high, made only of bamboos lashed by cocoa-nut fibre, or wattled together, and the long sloping roofs nearly touch ground but within they are tolerably clean and quite dry. The moon was in the first quarter, and the scene was striking as I sat out in the open space with some 200 people crowding round me—men, women and children; fires in front where yams were roasting; the dark brown forms glancing to and fro in the flickering light; the moon's rays quivering down through the vast trees, and the native hollow drum beating at intervals to summon the people to the monthly feast on the morrow. I slept comfortably on a mat in a cottage with many other persons in it. Much talk I had with a large concourse outside, and again in this cottage, on Christianity; and all were quiet when I knelt down as usual and said my evening prayers. Up at 5.30 A.M., and walked up a part of the Sugar Loaf peak, from which the island derives its English name, and found a small clear stream, flowing, through a rocky bed, back to the village, where were some 300 people assembled; sat some time with them, then went to the beach, where the boat soon came for me.
'After this there was a good deal of bad weather; but all the lads were restored to their islands, including Aroana, the young Malanta chief, who had begun by a fit of frenzy, but had since behaved well; and who left his English friends with a promise to do all in his power to tame his people and cure them of cannibalism.'
Then came some foul winds and hot exhausting weather.
'I have done little more than read Stanley's "Sinai and Palestine," and Helps's "Spanish America," two excellent books and most delightful to me. The characters in the Spanish conquest of Mexico and America generally; the whole question of the treatment of natives; and that nobleman, Las Casas—are more intelligible to me than to most persons probably. The circumstances of my present life enable me to realise it to a greater extent.
'Then I have been dipping into a little ethnology; yesterday a little Plato; but it is almost too hot for anything that requires a working head-piece. You know I take holiday time this voyage when we are in open water and no land near, and it is great relaxation to me.'
A pretty severe gale of wind followed, a sharp test of Patteson's seamanship.
'Then came one day of calm, when we all got our clothes dry, and the deck and rigging looked like an old clothes' shop. Then we got a fairish breeze; but we can get nothing in moderation. Very soon it blew up into a strong breeze, and here we are lying to with a very heavy sea. Landsmen would call it mountainous, I suppose. I am tired, for I have had an anxious time; and we have had but one quiet night for an age, and then I slept from 9.30 P.M. to 7.30 A.M. continuously. 'It may be that this is very good training for me. Indeed it must give me more coolness and confidence. I felt pleased as well as thankful when we made the exact point of Nengone that I had calculated upon, and at the exact time.'
On the 20th of June, Auckland harbour was safely attained; but the coming back without scholars did not make much of holiday time for their master, who was ready to give help to other clergymen whenever it might be needed, though, in fact, this desultory occupation always tried him most.
On the 25th of July he says:—
'I have had a sixty miles' walk since I wrote last; some part of it over wild country. I lost my way once or twice and got into some swamps, but I had my little pocket-compass.
'My first day was eighteen miles in pouring rain; no road, in your sense of the word; but a good warm room and tea at the end. Next day on the move all day, by land and water, seeing settlers scattered about. Third day, Sunday, services at two different places. Fourth day, walk of some twenty-seven miles through unknown regions baptizing children at different places; and reaching, after divers adventures, a very hospitable resting-place at 8 p.m. in the dark. Next day an easy walk into Auckland and Taurarua. Yesterday, Sunday, very wet day. Man-of-war gig came down for me at 9.15 A.M., took the service on board; 11 A.M. St. Paul's service; afternoon, hospital, a mile or so off; 6 P.M., St. Paul's evening service; 8.30, arrived at Taurarua dripping.'