The same letter replies to one from home:—
'I thank you, my dear father, for writing so fully about yourself, and especially, for seeing and stating so plainly your full conviction that I ought not to think of returning to England. It would, as you say, humanly speaking, interfere most seriously with the prospects of the Mission. Some dear friends write to me differently, but they don't quite understand, as you have taken pains to do, what our position is out here; and they don't see that my absence would involve great probable injury to the whole work.
'It is curious how few there are who know anything of New Zealand and Melanesia!
'Of course it is useless to speculate on the future, but I see nothing at all to make it likely that I shall ever revisit England. I can't very well conceive any such state of things as would make it a duty to gratify my constant inclination. And, my dear father, I don't scruple to say (for you will understand me) that I am happier here than I should be in England, where, even though I were absent only a few months, I should bear about with me the constant weight of knowing that Melanesia was not provided for. And, strange as it may seem, this has quite ceased to be a trial to me. The effort of subduing the longing desire to see you is no longer a great one: I feel that I am cheerful and bright, and light-hearted, and that I have really everything to make a man thankful and contented.
'And if you could see the thankful look of the Bishop, when he is again assured that there is no item of regret or desire to call me home on your part, you would feel, I know, that colonial work does require, especially, an unconditional unreserved surrender of a man to whatever he may find to do.'
But while admiring the noble spirit in which the son held fast his post, and the father forebore to unsettle him there, let not their example he used in the unkind and ignorant popular cry against the occasional return of colonial Bishops. For, be it remembered, that dire necessity was not drawing Coleridge Patteson to demand pecuniary assistance round all the platforms of English towns. The Eton, and the Australian and New Zealand Associations, supplemented by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and his own family, relieved him from the need of having to maintain his Mission by such means. All these letters are occupied with the arrangements for raising means for removing the Melanesian College to a less bleak situation, and it is impossible to read them without feeling what a difference it made to have a father who did not view giving to God's work as robbing his family.
On the 13th of August, Patteson was on board, preparing for the voyage; very cold, and eager for the tropics. The parting voice in his farewell letter is: 'I think I see more fully that work, by the power of God's Spirit, is the condition of us all in this world; tiny and insignificant as the greatest work of the greatest men is, in itself, yet the one talent is to be used.'
It was meant to be a farewell letter, but another followed in the leisure, while waiting for the Bishop to embark, with some strong (not to say fiery) opinions on the stern side of duty:—
'I feel anxious to try to make some of the motives intelligible, upon which we colonial folk act sometimes. First. I think that we get a stronger sense of the necessity for dispensing with that kind of courtesy and good nature which sometimes interferes with duty than people do in England.
'So a man placed as I am (for example) really cannot oftentimes avoid letting it be seen that work must come first; and, by degrees, one sympathises less than one possibly should do with drones and idlers in the hive, and feels it wrong to assent to a scheme which lets a real work suffer for the sake of acquiescing in a conventional recognition of comfort, claims of society, &c.
'Would the general of an army say to his officers, "Pray, gentlemen, don't dirty your boots or fatigue your horses to succour the inhabitants of a distant village"? Or a captain to his mates and middies: "Don't turn out, don't go aloft. It is a thing hard, and you might get wet"?
'And the difference between us and people at home sometimes is, that we don't see why a clergyman is not as much bound as an officer in the army or navy to do what he is pledged of his own act to do; and that at home the 'parsonage and pony-carriage' delusion practically makes men forget this. I forget it as much as any man, and should very likely never have seen the mistake but for my coming to New Zealand; and it is one of the great blessings we enjoy.
'There is a mighty work to be done. God employs human agents, and the Bible tells us what are the rules and conditions of their efficiency.
'"Oh! but, poor man, he has a sickly wife!" Yes, but, "it remaineth that those who have wives be as they that have none."
'True, but the case of a large family? "Whosoever loveth child more than me," &c.
'Second. The fact that we live almost without servants makes us more independent, and also makes us acquainted with the secrets of each other's housekeeping, &c. All that artificial intercourse which depends a good deal upon a well-fitted servants' hall does not find place here. More simple and more plain and homely in speech and act is our life in the colonies—e.g., you meet me carrying six or seven loaves from town to the college. "Oh, I knew that the Bishop had to meet some persons there to-day, and I felt nearly sure there would be no breakfast then." Of course an English person thinks, "Why didn't he send the bread?" To which I answer, "Who was there to send?."
'I don't mean that I particularly like turning myself into a miller one day and a butcher the next; but that doing it as a matter of course, where there is no one else to do it, one does sometimes think it unreasonable to say, as has been said to the Bishop:—"Two thousand pounds a year you want for your Mission work!" "Yes," said the Bishop, 'and not too much for sailing over ten thousand miles, and for educating, clothing, and feeding some forty young men!"
'I mean that conventional notions in England are preventing people from really doing half what they might do for the good of the needy.
'I don't know how this might be said to be a theory tending to revolutionise society; but I think I do know that there is a kind of religious common sense which comes in to guide people in such matters. Only, I do not think it right to admit that plea for not doing more in the way of almsgiving which is founded upon the assumption that first of all a certain position in society must be kept up, which involves certain expenditure.
'A barrister is living comfortably on 800 a year, or a clergyman in his living of 400. The professional income of the one increases, and a fatter living is given to the other, or some money is left them. What do they do? Instantly start a carriage, another servant, put the jack-of-all-trades into a livery, turn the buttons into a flunkey, and the village girl into a ladies' maid! Is this really right? They were well enough before. Why not use the surplus for some better purpose?
'I imagine that we, the clergy, are chiefly to blame, for not only not protesting against, but most contentedly acquiescing in such a state of things. You ask now for something really demanding a sacrifice. "I can't afford it." "What, not to rescue that village from starvation? not to enable that good man to preach the Gospel to people only accessible by means of such an outlay on his vessel, &c.? Give up your carriage, your opera box; don't have so many grand balls, &c. "Oh no! it is all a corban to the genius of society.
'Now, is this Scriptural or not, my dear father? I don't mean that any individual is justified in dictating to his neighbour, still less in condemning him. But are not these the general principles of religion and morality in the Bible? There are duties to society: but a good man will take serious counsel as to what they are, and how far they may be militating against higher and holier claims.
'August 24.—Why I wrote all this, my dearest father, I hardly know, only I feel sure that unless men at home can, by taking real pains to think about it, realise the peculiar circumstances of colonial life, they will never understand any one of us.
'I have written Fan a note in which I said something about my few effects if I should die.
'One thing I should like to say to you, not as venturing to do more than let you be in full possession of my own mind on the matter. Should I die before you die, would it be wrong for me to say, "Make the Melanesian Mission my heir"?
'It may be according to the view which generally obtains that the other three should then divide my share. But now I would take what may seem the hard view of which I have been writing, and say, "They have enough to maintain them happily and comfortably." The Mission work without such a bequest will be much endangered. I feel sure that they would wish it to be so, for, of course, you know that this large sum of which you write will be, if I survive you, regarded simply as a bequest to the Mission in which I have a life interest, and the interest of which, in the main, would be spent on the Mission.
'But I only say plainly, without any reserve, what I have thought about it; not for one moment putting up my opinion against yours, of course, in case you take a contrary view.
'We sail, I hope, to-morrow, but the Bishop is more busy than ever.
'Again, my dearest Father,
'Your loving and dutiful Son,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The history of this voyage was, as usual, given in a long letter for the Feniton fireside; but there was a parallel journal also, kept for the Bishop of Wellington, which is more condensed, and, therefore, better for quotation.
The manner in which the interest in, and connection with all English friends and relations was kept up is difficult to convey, though it was a very loveable part of the character. Little comments of condolence or congratulation, and messages of loving remembrance to persons mentioned by playful names, would only be troublesome to the reader; but it must be taken for granted that every reply to a home packet was full of these evidences that the black children on a thousand isles had by no means driven the cousins and friends of youth from a heart that was enlarged to have tenderness for all.
'Lat. 9 29' S.; Long. 163 S.E. "Southern Cross:" October 9, 1859.
'My dear Bishop,—We are on our way from Uleawa to the Santa Cruz group, having visited the Loyalty Islands, Southern New Hebrides, Banks Island (2), and Solomon Islands.
'The Bishop so planned the voyage as to run down the wind quickly to the Solomon Islands, and do the real work coming home; not, as usual, beating up in the open water between the Santa Cruz archipelago, Banks Islands and New Hebrides to the east, and New Caledonia to the west. We are thus able to visit Vanua Lava on the way out and home also; and as we meant to make the Banks Islands the great point this voyage, that was, of course, great gain.
'We touched at Norfolk Island.... Going on to Nengone we found everybody away at the distant yam grounds, and could not wait to see them.
'At Lifu, the first thing that shocked us was John's appearance: one of those fatal glandular swellings has already produced a great change in him. He looked sallow and weak, and I fear ut sit vitalis. He spoke to me very calmly about his illness, which he thinks is unto death, and I did not contradict him.
'We had much private talk together. He is a fine fellow and, I believe, a sincere Christian man. Then came the applications to us not to desert them, and letters enumerating all the villages of Lifu almost without exception, and entreating us to suffer them to be connected with us, and we had to answer that already two missionaries from the L. M. S. are on their way from Sydney to Lifu, and that it would do harm to have two rival systems on the island. They acquiesced but not heartily, and it was a sad affair altogether, all parties unhappy and dissatisfied, and yet unable to solve the difficulty. Then came a talk with Angadhohua, John's half-brother, the real chief. The poor lad feels now what a terrible thing it will be for him and his people if they should lose John. Nothing can be nicer than his way of talking: "I know you don't think me firm enough, and that I am easily led by others. What am I to do if John dies? We all respect him. He has been taught so much, and people all listen to him." I gave him the best advice that I could and longed to be able to do something for him and his people. It was, however, a comfort to leave with them St. Mark, Scripture books, &c.
'We called at Tanna, to see poor Mr. Paton, who lost his wife last April. He is living on there quite alone, and has already lived down the first angry opposition of some of the people, and the unkind treatment that he received from men and women alike who mocked him because of his wife's death, &c. He has had much fever and looked very ill, but his heart was in his work; and the Bishop said he seemed to be one of the weak things which God hath chosen. I know he made me feel pretty well ashamed of myself.
'Next day we spent a few hours with Mr. and Mrs. Gordon at Erromango. He has a small house on the high table-land overlooking Dillon's Bay, and certainly is exposed to winds which may, for aught I know, rival those of Wellington notoriety. The situation is, however, far preferable in the summer to that on the beach, which is seldom free from malaria and ague.
'Then we sailed to the great bay of Pango, landed at Fate a fellow who had come to the Bishop in New Zealand for a passage, and in the afternoon sailed away through "the Pool" (the landlocked space between Mallicolo and Espiritu Santo to the west; Aspee, Ambrym, Whitsuntide, Aurora to the east), where for eighty miles the water is always smooth, the wind always steady, the scenery always lovely, and where, on this occasion, the volcano was bright.
'Being nearly becalmed to the south-east of Leper's Isle, the Bishop gave me the choice of a visit to Whitsuntide or Leper's Island. I voted for the latter, and delighted we were to renew an acquaintance made two years ago, and not since kept up, with these specially nice people. We were recognised at once, but we have a very small vocabulary.
'The sea was running heavily into the bay, but it is sand there and not much rock on the beach, and we had a jolly swim ashore. Then we bought a few yams, which the surf did not permit us to get to the boat, and had a very pleasant visit; for, as we sat among them, words came into one's head, or were caught from their mouth, and at the end of twenty minutes we were getting on a little. The old chief took me by the hand and led me aside to the spot where the ladies were assembled, and divining no doubt that I was a bachelor, politely offered me his daughter, and his protection, &c., if I would live among them.
'I missed seeing the Bishop knocked clean over by the breakers as he was swimming off to the boat; I was still talking to the people, with my back to the sea, and only saw him staggering to his feet again. Thinking to myself that if he was knocked over, I had better look out, I awaited a "smooth" and swam out comfortably.
'The next morning (Sunday) at ten, we dropped anchor in Port Patteson, the harbour which you know the Bishop would call after my father. The first person who came off to us was Sarawia, my old Lifu pupil, from this island! Then came a good many men. I told them there would be no going ashore and no trading till the next day. Palemana, your friend Matawathki, &c., were at church, all dressed and well-behaved. What nice orderly people they are, to be sure!
'The next day we bought lots of yams, and gave away seeds and fruit- trees, or rather planted them; and looked for a place for a station, and fixed at last on the rising-ground which forms the east side of the harbour, and the Bishop, arming himself with an axe, led a party to clear the bush, which was very thick. They made a fair path through in one afternoon to the top, and a healthy place might be found now with little trouble to return to at night from the schools, &c. in the village below, and so shirk the malaria.
'But the next day, as I had anticipated, rather changed his intentions as to the principal station being formed at Vanua Lava. We landed at Sugar Loaf Island, and with something of pride I showed off to him the beauties of the villages where I slept in May last— the dry soil, the spring of water, the wondrous fertility, the large and remarkably intelligent, well-looking population, the great banyan tree, twenty-seven paces round—and at once he said, "This is such a place as I have seen nowhere else for our purpose."
'The Bishop had seen this island before I was with him, during one of the "Border Maid's" voyages, and knew the people, of course, but had not happened to have walked in shore at all, and so the exceeding beauty and fitness of the island for a Mission station had not become so apparent to him. We know of no place where there seems to be such an unusual combination of everything that can be desired, humanly speaking, for such an institution. So that is settled (D.V.) that next winter I should be here, if alive and well; and that the Banks Islands should be regarded as the central point of the Mission.
'Such boys! Bright-eyed, merry fellows, many really handsome; of that reddish yellow tinge of colour which betokens affinity with Polynesian races, as their language also testifies. The majority of the people were pleasing in their appearance and manner. Well, all this was very hopeful, and we went off very happy, taking Eumau, the boy who first met us at Port Patteson when we found it out, and old Wompas (who was with me at Lifu), and another from Mota, to see the Northern Islands.
'I think our work is more likely now to revolve upon a fixed centre— Sugar Loaf Island in the Banks group—that we shall make the occupation of the group the first ohject, and do all with reference to that as the necessary part of the work to be attended to first. In the choice of scholars, e.g., we have considered whether we should not limit our selection to such as might pass the next winter with me at Sugar Loaf Island, and so that the vessel need not run down to leeward of it. Solomon Islands are the extreme verge. In the East Island, where there would be merely a question of nothing or something, we may take very young men who would perhaps not be easy to keep out of harm at Sugar Loaf, because there will be no difficulty about returning them to their homes....
'November 11th.—We found in the Santa Cruz group that the news of Captain Front's and his two men's death in Vanikoro, and (as we suppose) the news of the "Cordelia" having been at that island to inquire into the matter, had made the people anxious, uneasy, noisy, and rather rude. That poor man went to make a station at Vanikoro in the usual way, taking three poor New Caledonian women with him. The Vanikoro people killed the three English and took away the women.
'We did not land at Sta. Cruz, but we had a more pleasant intercourse than heretofore with thirty or forty canoes' crews.
'Timelin Island we ascertained to be identical with Nukapu, an old familiar place whose latitude we had not ascertained correctly before. The small reef (Polynesian) islands did not give us so good a reception as last year, though there was no unfriendliness. The news about Vanikoro had made them suspicious of visits from white men. But they will be all right by next time....
'We saw a pleasant party at Bligh Island, brought away one young man from that island, and two lads belonging to a neighbouring small island called Eowa. The next day we watered on the north side of Vanua Lava, and in the evening went across to Santa Maria. Here we landed on the next day among two hundred or more people, shy and noisy. We bought a few yams, and I detected some young fellows stealing from our little heap I would not overlook this, but the noticing it made them more suspicious that we meant to hurt them. As the Bishop and I, after some twenty minutes, turned to rejoin the boat, the whole crowd bolted like a shot right and left into the bush. Evidently they must have had some trading crew tire a parting shot in mere wantonness at them from their boat. I expected some arrows to be shot at us; but they did not shoot any.
'The same evening (Saturday) we stood across the passage with a brisk breeze, and took up our party, consisting of five and including Sarawia and four others anciently noted as promising in appearance....
'We reached Mota (Sugar Loaf Island) in time to leave me for a night's visit to the people. I had time before the boat called next day at noon to see five or six of their villages. People quite accustomed to expect me—all most friendly, apparently pleased to be told that I would stop with them in the winter. Seven scholars joined us here....
'At Mai, I slept in the house of Petere and Laure. Things are promising. It is quite ready for a missionary. We brought away Moto, Pepeu, and the two young boys who were with me at Lifu, and very many wished to come.
'Thence we had a very long passage to Lifu. John Cho is, I am thankful to say, very much better. The two men from the London Missionary Society are on the island.... The Lifu people tell me that in the north of the island many are accepting the teaching of the two French priests. William Martin Tahia and Chakham, a principal chief and old scholar, are with us.
'At Nengone, Wadrokala, George Simeona, and Harper Malo have come away for good.... We number thirty-nine Melanesians.... This is a long letter which will try your patience.
'Always, my dear Bishop,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
Another long letter was written during this voyage to Mr. Edward Coleridge, a great portion of it on the expediency of the islands being taken under British protection, also much respecting the Church of New Zealand, which is scarcely relevant to the immediate subject, and only at the end is there anything more personal:—
'The last accounts of my father were unusually good, but I well know what news may be awaiting our return from a voyage whether long or short, and I try to be ready for any news; yet I suppose that I cannot at all realize what it would be. It makes some difference when the idea of meeting again in this world has been relinquished for now four and a half years, yet it is all very well to wait or think about it! I was not so upset by dear Uncle James's death as I should no doubt have been had I enjoyed the prospect of frequently seeing him. Somehow, when all ideas of time and space are annihilated by death, one must think about such separations in a religious way: for separations in any other sense to us here, from people in England, have already taken place. I must except, however, the loving wise letters, and the power of realising more clearly perhaps the occupations of those still in the body—their accustomed places and duties; though I suppose we can tell quite enough about all this in the case of those who have died in the true faith of Christ to know, at all events, that we are brought and united to them whenever we think or do anything religiously. I often think that this is well brought out in the "Heir of Redclyffe"—the loss of "the bright outside," the life and energy and vigour, and all the companionable and sociable qualities, contrasted with the power of thinking oneself into the inner spiritual relations that exist between the worlds visible and invisible.
'All this effort is much diminished in our case. There is no very great present loss; at least, it is not so sensibly felt by a great deal as it would be if we missed some one with whom we lived up to the time of his death. It is much easier to think of them as they are than it could be in the case of persons who remember so vividly what they so lately were; and this is why, I suppose, the news of Uncle James's death seemed to affect me so much less than I should have expected, and it may be so again: certain it is that I loved him dearly, and that I miss his letters very much indeed; but I think that the point I felt most about him was the sad affliction to his family, and the great loss to my dear father, who had of late seen more than ever of him.'
From the home letter I only quote from the reflections so regularly inspired by the anniversary of the 28th of November.
After lamenting that it was difficult to realise those scenes in his mother's illness which he and his brother only knew from narration, Patteson adds:—
'The memory of those days would perhaps have been more precious to me if I had witnessed more with my own eyes. And yet of course it really mattered nothing at all, because the lesson of her life does not depend on an acquaintance with a few days of it; and what I saw when I was there I never have forgotten, and hope that I never may forget.
'And indeed I feel now with regard to you, my dear Father, that I have not learned to know you better while I was with you than I do now. I think that in some ways I enter more almost into your mind and thought, or that I fancy I do so: just as the present possession of anything so often prevents our really taking pains to learn all about it. We rest content with the superficial knowledge of that which is most easily perceived and recognised in it....
'I think I know from your letters, and from the fact of my absence from you making me think more about you, as much about you as those present. I very much enjoy a letter from Joan, which gives me a kind of tableau vivant of you all. That helps me to realize the home life; so do the photographs, they help in the same way. But your letters, and the fact that I think so much about them, and about you, are my real helps.'
The voyage ended on the 7th of December. It was the last made under the guidance of the Bishop of New Zealand, and, alas! the last return of the first 'Southern Cross.'
MOTA AND ST. ANDREW'S COLLEGE, KOHIMARAMA. 1859-1862.
With the year 1860 a new period, and one far more responsible and eventful, began. After working for four years under Bishop Selwyn's superintendence, Coleridge Patteson was gradually passing into a sphere of more independent action; and, though his loyal allegiance to his Primate was even more of the heart than of the letter, his time of training was over; he was left to act more on his own judgment; and things were ripening for his becoming himself a Bishop. He had nearly completed his thirty-third year, and was in his fullest strength, mental and bodily; and, as has been seen, the idea had already through Bishop Selwyn's letters become familiar to his family, though he himself had shrunk from entertaining it.
The first great change regarded the locality of the Melanesian school in New Zealand. Repeated experience had shown that St. John's College was too bleak for creatures used to basking under a vertical sun, and it had been decided to remove to the sheltered landing-place at Kohimarama, where buildings for the purpose had been commenced so as to be habitable in time for the freight of 1859.
It should be explained, that the current expenses of the Mission had been defrayed by the Eton and Sydney associations, with chance help from persons privately interested, together with a grant of 200, and afterwards 300 per annum from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The extra expense of this foundation was opportunely met by a discovery on the part of Sir John Patteson, that his eldest son, living upon the Merton Fellowship, had cost him 200 a year less than his younger son, and therefore that, in his opinion, 800 was due to Coleridge. Moreover, the earlier voyages, and, in especial the characters of Siapo and Umao, had been so suggestive of incidents fabricated in the 'Daisy Chain,' that the proceeds of the book were felt to be the due of the Mission and at this time these had grown to such an amount as to make up the sum needful for erecting such buildings as were immediately requisite for the intended College.
These are described in the ensuing letter, which I give entire, because the form of acknowledgment is the only style suitable to what, however lightly acquired, was meant as an offering, even though it cost the giver all too little:
'Kohimarama: Dec. 21, 1859.
'My dear Cousin,—I have received at length from my father a distinct statement of what you have given to the Melanesian Mission. I had heard rumours before, and the Bishop of Wellington had spoken to me of your intentions, but the fact had not been regularly notified to us.
'I think I know you too well to say more than this. May God bless you for what you have lent to Him, and give us, who are specially connected with the Mission, grace to use your gift as you intend it to be used, to His glory in the salvation of souls.
'But you will like to hear how your gift will be appropriated. For three summers the Melanesian scholars lived at St. John's College, which is situated on a low hill, from which the ground falls away on every side, leaving it exposed to every wind that blows across and around the narrow isthmus.
'Thank God, we had no death traceable to the effect of the climate, but we had constant anxiety and a considerable amount of illness. When arrangements were completed for the arrival of a new principal to succeed the Bishop of Wellington, the college was no longer likely to be available for the Mission school. Consequently, we determined to build on the site long ago agreed upon; to put up some substantial buildings, and to remove some of the wooden buildings at the College which would not be required there, and set them up again at Kohimarama.
'Just opposite the entrance into the Auckland harbour, between the island of Eangitoto with its double peak and the easternmost point of the northern shore of the harbour, lies a very sheltered bay, with its sea-frontage of rather more than a quarter of a mile, bounded to the east, south, and west by low hills, which where they meet the sea become sandy cliffs, fringed with the red-flower-bearing pohutakawa. The whole of this bay, the seventy acres of flat rich soil included within the rising ground mentioned, and some seventy acres more as yet lying uncleared, adjoining the same block of seventy acres, and likely to be very valuable, as the land is capital—the whole of this was bought by the Bishop many years ago as the property of the Mission, and is the only piece of Church land over which he retains the control, every other bequest or gift to the amount of 14,000 acres, having been handed over by him to the General Synod. This he retains till the state of the Melanesian Mission is more definitely settled.
'On the west corner of this bay we determined to build. A small tide creek runs for a short way about S.S.E. from the extreme end of the western part of the beach, then turns early eastward, and meets a small stream coming down from the southern hill at its western extremity. This creek encloses a space extending along the whole width of the bay of about eighteen or twenty acres.
'At the east end stand three wooden cottages, occupied by the master, mate, and a married seaman of the "Southern Cross." At the west end stands the Melanesian school. Fences divide the whole space into three portions, whereof the western one forms our garden and orchard; and the others pasture for cows and working bullocks; small gardens being also fenced off for the three cottages. The fifty acres of flat land south of the creek we are now clearing and ploughing.
'The situation here is admirably adapted for our school. Now that we have a solid wall of the scoria from the volcanic island opposite, we have a complete shelter from the cold south wind. The cliff and hill to the west entirely shut off the wind from that quarter, and the north and east winds are always warm. The soil is very dry, and the beach composed exclusively of small "pipi" shells—small bivalves. So that by putting many cart-loads of these under our wooden floors, and around our buildings, we have so perfect a drainage that after heavy rain the soil is quite dry again in a few hours. It causes me no anxiety now, when I am for an hour away from my flock, to be thinking whether they are lying on the ground, forgetting that the hot sun overhead does not destroy the bad effect of a damp clay soil such as that at St. John's College.
'The buildings at present form three sides of a quadrangle, but the south side is only partly filled up. The large schoolroom, eighty feet long, with three sets of transepts, has been removed from the College, and put up again so as to form the east side of the quadrangle. This is of wood; so is the small wooden quadrangle which serves now for dormitories, and a part of which I occupy; my house consisting of three little rooms, together measuring seventeen feet by seven. These dormitories are the southern side of the quadrangle, but do not reach more than half-way from the east to the west side, room being left for another set of dormitories of equal size, when we want them and can afford them. The west side consists of a very nice set of stone buildings, including a large kitchen, store room, and room for putting things in daily and immediate use; and the hall, which is the northern part of the side of the quadrangle, is a really handsome room, with simple open roof and windows of a familiar collegiate appearance. These buildings are of the dark grey scoria, almost imperishable I suppose, and look very well. The hall is just long enough to take seven of us at the high table (so to speak), and thirty-four at the long table, stretching from the high table to the end of the room.
'At present this is used for school also, as the carpenters who are making all our fittings, shelves, &c., are still in the large schoolroom. We take off the north end of the schoolroom, including one set of transepts for our temporary chapel. This part will be lined, i.e. boarded, neatly inside. The rest of the building is very rough, but it answers its purpose.
'In all the stone buildings, the rough stone is left inside just as it is outside. It does not look bad at all to my eye, and I doubt if I would have it lined if we had funds to pay for it.
'I hope eventually that stone buildings will take the place of the present wooden schoolroom and dormitories; but this ought to last many years. Here we live most happily and comfortably. The climate almost tropical in summer. The beautiful scenery of the harbour before our eyes, the smooth sea and clean dry beach within a stone's throw of my window. The lads and young men have their fishing, bathing, boating, and basking in the sun, which all day from sunrise to sunset beats right upon us; for the west cliff does not project more than a few yards to the north of us, and the eastern boundary is low and some way off. I see the little schooner at her moorings whenever I look off my book or my paper, and with an opera-glass can see the captain caulking the decks. All is under my eye; and the lads daily say, "College too cold; Kohimarama very good; all the same Bauro, Mota," as the speaker belongs to one or other of our fourteen islands represented.... The moment we heard of your gift, we said simultaneously, "Let it be given to this or to some specific and definite object." I think you will like to feel not only that the money came most opportunely, but that within the walls built with that money, many many hundreds, I trust, of these Melanesian islanders will be fed and taught, and trained up in the knowledge and fear of God....
'Your affectionate Cousin,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
Before the old year was out came the tidings of the death of good Miss Neill, the governess whom Patteson had so faithfully loved from early childhood, and whose years of suffering he had done his best to cheer. 'At rest at last.' In the same letter, in answer to some complaint from his sister of want of detail in the reports, he says: 'Am I trying to make my life commonplace? Well, really so it is more or less to me. Things go on in a kind of routine. Two voyages a year, five months in New Zealand, though certainly two-thirds of my flock fresh every year. I suppose it still sounds strange to you sometimes, and to others always, but they should try to think for themselves about our circumstances.
'And you know, Fan, I can't write for the world at large anecdotes of missionary life, and swell the number of the "Gems" and other trashy books. If people who care to know, would think of what their own intuition tells them of human nature, and history tells them of heathenism, they can make out some notion of real missionary work.
'The school is the real work. Teaching adults to read a strange tongue is hard work; I have little doubt but that the Bishop is right in saying they must be taught English; but it is so very difficult a language, not spelt a bit as pronounced; and their language is all vocalic and so easy to put into writing.
'But if you like I will scatter anecdotes about—of how the Bishop and his chaplain took headers hand in hand off the schooner and roundhouse; and how the Bishop got knocked over at Leper's Island by a big wave; and how I borrowed a canoe at Tariko and paddled out yams as fast as the Bishop brought them to our boat, &c.—but this is rubbish.'
This letter is an instance of the reserve and reticence which Mr. Patteson felt so strongly with regard to his adventures and pupils. He could not endure stories of them to become, as it were, stock for exciting interest at home. There was something in his nature that shrank from publishing accounts of individual pupils as a breach of confidence, as much, or perhaps even more, than if they had been English people, likely to know what had been done. Moreover, instances had come to his knowledge in which harm had been done to both teachers and taught by their becoming aware that they were shown off to the public in print. Such things had happened even where they would have seemed not only unlikely, but impossible; and this rendered him particularly cautious in writing of his work, so that his reports were often dry, while he insisted strongly on his letters to his family being kept private.
The actual undertakings of the Mission did not exceed its resources, so that there was no need for those urgent appeals which call for sensation and incident to back them; and thus there sometimes seemed to the exterior world to be a lack of information about the Mission.
The letters of January 1860 show how the lads were fortified against weather: 'They wear a long flannel waistcoat, then a kind of jersey- shaped thing, with short trousers, reaching a little below the knee, for they dabble about like ducks here, the sea being not a hundred yards from the building. All the washing, of course, and most of the clothes-making they can do themselves; I can cut out after a fashion, and they take quickly to needle and thread; but now the Auckland ladies have provided divers very nice garments, their Sunday dresses are very nice indeed.'
The question of the Bishopric began to come forward. On the 18th of January a letter to Sir John Patteson, after speaking of a playful allusion which introduced the subject, details how Mrs. Selwyn had disclosed that a letter had actually been despatched to the Duke of Newcastle, then Colonial Secretary, asking permission to appoint and consecrate John Coleridge Patteson as Missionary Bishop of the Western Pacific Isles.
J.C.P.—'Well, then, I must say what I feel about it. I have known for some time that this was not unlikely to come some day; but I never spoke seriously to you or to the Martins when you insinuated these things, because I thought if I took it up gravely it would come to be considered a settled thing.'
Mrs. S.—'Well, so it has been, and is——'
J.C.P.—'But has the Bishop seriously thought of this, that he has had no trial of any other man; that I could give any other man who may come, perhaps, the full benefit of my knowledge of languages, and of my acquaintance with the islands and the people, while we may reasonably expect some one to come out before long far better fitted to organise and lead men than I am? Has he fairly looked at all the per contra?
Mrs. S.—'I feel sure he has.'
J.C. P.—'I don't deny that my father tells me I must not shrink from it; that some things seem to point to it as natural; that I must not venture to think that I can be as complete a judge as the Bishop of what is good for Melanesia—but what necessity for acting now?'
Here came an interruption, but the conversation was renewed later in the day with the Bishop himself, when Patteson pleaded for delay on the score that the isles were as yet in a state in which a missionary chaplain could do all that was requisite, and that the real management ought not to be withdrawn from the Bishop; to which the reply was that at the present time the Bishop could do much to secure such an appointment as he wished; but, in case of his death, even wishes expressed in writing might be disregarded. After this, the outpouring to the father continues:—
'I don't mean to shrink from this. You tell me that I ought not to do so, and I quite believe it. I know that no one can judge better than you can as to the general question, and the Bishop is as competent to decide on the special requirements of the case.
'But, my dear father, you can hardly tell how difficult I find it to be, amidst all the multiplicity of works, a man of devotional prayerful habits; how I find from time to time that I wake up to the fact that while I am doing more than I did in old times, yet that I pray less. How often I think that "God gives" habitually to the Bishop "all that sail with him;" that the work is prospering in his hands; but will it prosper in mine? I know He can use any instrument to His glory: I know that, and that He will not let my sins and shortcomings hinder His projects of love and blessing to these Melanesian islanders; but as far as purity of motive, and a spirit of prayer and self-denial do go for anything in making up the qualification on the human side for such an office—in so far, do they exist in me? You will say I am over sensitive and expect too much. That, I think, very likely may be true. It is useless to wait till one becomes really fit, for that of course I never shall be. But while I believe most entirely that grace does now supply all our deficiencies when we seek it fully, I do feel frightened when I see that I do not become more prayerful, more real in communion with God. This is what I must pray for earnestly: to become more prayerful, more constantly impressed with the necessity of seeking for everything from Him.
'You all think that absence from relations, living upon yams, want of the same kind of meat and drink that I had at home, that these things are proofs of sincerity, &c. I believe that they all mean just nothing when the practical result does not come to this—that a man is walking more closely with his God. I dare not say that I can feel humbly and reverently that my inner life is progressing. I don't think that I am as earnest in prayer as I was. Whether it be the effect of the amount of work distracting me; or, sometimes, of physical weariness, or of the self-indulgence (laugh as you may) which results from my never being contradicted or interfered with, or much worried, still I do feel this; and may He strengthen me to pray more for a spirit of prayer.
'I don't know that the actual time for my being consecrated, if I live, is nearer by reason of this letter: I think it most probable that it may take place when the General Synod meets, and, consequently, five bishops will be present, in 1862, at Nelson. But I suppose it is more fixed than it has been hitherto, and if the Bishop writes to you, as he may do, even more plainly than he speaks to me, you will know what especially to ask for me from God, and all you dear ones will recollect daily how I do inwardly tremble at the thoughts of what is to come. Do you remember how strangely I was upset before leaving home for my ordination as a deacon; and now it is coming to this—a church to be planted, organised, edified among the wild heathen inhabitants of Melanesia; and what hope can there be for me if there is to be no growth of a fervent, thankful, humble spirit of prayer and love and adoration? Not that, as I feel to my great comfort, God's work is dependent upon the individual growth in grace even of those who are entrusted with any given work; but it is in some way connected with it.
'And yet, the upshot of it all is that I shall do (D.V.) what the Bishop tells me is right. I hope he won't press on the matter, but I am content now to leave it with him, knowing what you have said, and being so thankful to leave it with you and him.'
There is a letter to his sister Fanny of the same date, beginning merrily about the family expostulation on receiving a box of reports where curiosities had been expected:—
'Fancy not thinking your worthy brother's important publications the most satisfactory treasures that any box could contain! The author's feelings are seriously injured! What are Melanesian shells to Melanesian statistics, and Lifu spears to a dissertation on the treatment of Lifu diseases? Great is the ingratitude of the houses of Feniton and Dawlish!
'Well, it must have been rather a "sell," as at Eton it is called, to have seen the long-desired and highly-paid-for box disgorge nought but Melanesian reports! all thanks to Mrs. Martin, who packed it after I was off to the Islands.
'I cannot send you anything yet, but I will bear in mind the fact that reports by themselves are not considered satisfactory. Does anybody read them, after all? for they really cost me some days' trouble, which I can't find time for again. This year's report (for I suppose there must be one) is not begun, and I don't know what to put in it. I have but little news beyond what I have written once for all to Father.
'The decisive letter from the Bishop of New Zealand to the Duke of Newcastle is in the Governor's hands, and all discussion of the question is at an end. May God bring out of it all that may conduce to His glory; but how I dread what is to come, you, who remember my leaving home first for my deacon's ordination, can well imagine.
'It is true I have seen this coming for a year or two, and have seen no way of preventing its coming upon me—no one else has come out; the Bishop feels he cannot work his present diocese and Melanesia: he is satisfied that he ought to take New Zealand rather than the islands; that the time is come for settling the matter while he is able to settle it; and I had nothing to say, for all personal objections he overruled. So then, if I live, it is settled; and that, at all events, is a comfort.... Many of my Melanesians have heavy coughs—some twelve, but I don't think any of them seriously ill, only needing to be watched. I am very well, only I want some more exercise (which, by the bye, it is always in my power to take), and am quite as much disposed as ever to wish for a good game at tennis or fives to take it out of me.
'Your loving Brother,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The birthday letter of February 11 is a happy one, though chiefly taken up with the business matters respecting the money required for the Mission, of which Sir John was one trustee. Life was pleasant then, for Patteson says:—
'I do feel sometimes that the living alone has its temptations, and those great ones; I mean that I can arrange everything—my work, my hours, my whole life—after my own pleasure a great deal more than probably is good for me; and it is very easy to become, in a manner, very self-indulgent. I think that most likely, as our work (D.V.) progresses, one or two men may be living with me, and that will supply a check upon me of some kind. At present I am too much without it. Here I am in my cosy little room, after my delicious breakfast of perfect coffee, made in Jem's contrivance, hot milk and plenty of it, dry toast and potato. Missionary hardships! On the grass between me and the beach—a distance of some seventy yards—lie the boys' canvas beds and blankets and rugs, having a good airing. The schooner lies at anchor beyond; and, three or four miles beyond the schooner, lies Eangitoto, the great natural breakwater to the harbour. With my Dollond's opera-glass that you gave me, I can see the master and mate at their work refitting. Everything is under my eye. Our long boat and whale boat (so-called from their shapes) lie on the beach, covered with old sails to protect them from the sun. The lads are washing clothes, or scrubbing their rooms, and all the rooms—kitchen, hall, store-room, and school-room. There is a good south-western breeze stirring—our cold wind; but it is shut off here, and scarcely reaches us, and the sun has great power.
'I have the jolliest little fellows this time—about seven of them— fellows scarcely too big to take on my knee, and talk to about God, and Heaven, and Jesus Christ; and I feel almost as if I had a kind of instinct of love towards them, as they look up wonderingly with their deep deep eyes, and smooth and glossy skins, and warm soft cheeks, and ask their simple questions. I wish you could have seen the twenty Banks Islanders as I told them that most excellent of all tales—the story of Joseph. How their eyes glistened! and they pushed out their heads to hear the sequel of his making himself known to his brethren, and asking once more about "the old man of whom ye spake, is he yet alive?"
'I can never read it with a steady voice, nor tell it either.'
Sir John had thus replied to the tirade against English conventional luxury:—
'The conventional notions in this old country are not always suited to your country, and I quite agree that even here they are carried too far. Yet there are other people than the needy whose souls are entrusted to the clergy here, and in order to fulfil that trust they must mix on some degree of equality with the gentry, and with the middle classes who are well-to-do. Then again, consider both as to clergy and laity here. If they were all to lower themselves a peg or two, and give up many not only luxuries, but comforts, numbers of tradesmen, and others working under them, aye, even merchants, manufacturers, and commercial men of all sorts, would be to some extent thrown out of employ. The artificial and even luxurious state of society here does really prevent many persons from falling into the class of the needy. All this should be regulated in its due proportion. Every man ought so to limit his expenses as to have a good margin for charitable purposes of all sorts, but I cannot think that he is doing good by living himself like a pauper in order to assist paupers. If all men did so, labour of all kinds would be overstocked with hands, and more paupers created. True it is, that we all are too apt as means increase, some to set our hearts upon them, which is wickedness; some to indulge in over much luxury, which is wicked also; there should be moderation in all things. I believe that more money is given in private charities of various kinds in helping those who are struggling with small means, and yet not apparently in the class of the needy, than the world is aware of; and those who do the most are precisely those who are never heard of. But do not mistake me. I am no advocate for luxury and idle expenditure. Yet I think you carry your argument a little farther than is just. The impositions that are practised, or attempted to be practised, upon charitable people are beyond all conception.' The following is the answer:—
'April 23, 1860.
'My dearest Father,—Thank you for writing your views about luxuries, extravagant expenditure, and the like. I see at once the truth of what you say.
'What I really mean is something of this kind. A high degree of civilisation seems to generate (perhaps necessarily) a state of society wherein the natural desires of people to gratify their inclinations in all directions, conjoined with the power of paying highly for the gratification of such inclinations, tends to call forth the ingenuity of the working class in meeting such inclinations in all agreeable ways. So springs up a complicated mechanism, by which a habit of life altogether unnecessary for health and security of life and property is introduced and becomes naturalised among a people.
If this is the necessary consequence of the distinction between rich and poor, and the course of civilisation must result in luxury and poverty among the two classes respectively (and this seems to be so), it is, of course, still more evident that the state of society being once established gradually, through a long course of years, no change can subsequently be introduced excepting in one way. It is still in the power of individuals to act upon the community by their example— e.g., the early Christians, though only for a short time, showed the result of the practical acceptance of the Lord's teaching in its effect upon society. Rich and poor, comparatively speaking, met each other half way. The rich man sold his possessions, and equal distribution was made to the poor.
'All that I contend for is that, seeing the fearful deterioration, and no less fearful extravagance, of a civilised country, the evil is one which calls loudly for careful investigation. Thousands of artisans and labourers who contribute nothing to the substantial wealth of the country, and nothing towards the production of its means of subsistence, would be thrown out of employment, and therefore that plan would be wrong. Jewellers, &c., &c., all kinds of fellows who simply manufacture vanities, are just as honest and good men as others, and it is not their fault, but the fault (if it be one at all) of civilisation that they exist. But I don't see why, the evil being recognised, some comprehensive scheme of colonisation might not be adopted by the rulers of a Christian land, to empty our poor-houses, and draft off the surplus population, giving to the utterly destitute the prospect of health, and renewed hopes of success in another thinly-inhabited country, and securing for those who remain behind a more liberal remuneration for their work by the comparative absence of competition.
'I hardly know what to write to you, my dear Father, about this new symptom of illness. I suppose, from what you say, that at your time of life the disease being so mild in its form now, will hardly prove dangerous to you, especially as you submit at once to a strictness of diet which must be pretty hard to follow out—just the habit of a whole life to be given up; and I know that to forego anything that I like, in matters of eating and drinking, wants an effort that I feel ashamed of being obliged to make. I don't, therefore, make myself unnecessarily anxious, though I can't help feeling that such a discipline must be hard. You say that in other respects you are much the same; but that means that you are in almost constant pain, and that you cannot obtain entire relief from it, except in bed.
'Still, my dear Father, as you do bear it all, how can we wish that God should spare you one trial or infirmity, which, we know, are, in His providence, making you daily riper and riper for Heaven? I ought not to write to you like this, but somehow the idea of our ever meeting anywhere else has so entirely passed from my mind, that I try to view things with reference to His ultimate purpose and work.
'Your loving and dutiful Son,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The most present trouble of this summer was the sickness of Simeona. The account of him on Ash Wednesday is: 'He is dying of consumption slowly, and may go back with us two months hence, but I doubt it. Poor fellow, he makes the worst of his case, and is often discontented and thinks himself aggrieved because we cannot derange the whole plan of the school economy for him. I have everything which is good for him, every little dainty, and everyone is most kind; but when it comes to a complaint because one pupil-teacher is not set apart to sit with him all day, and another to catch him fish, of course I tell him that it would be wrong to grant what is so unreasonable. Some one or other of the most stupid of the boys catches his fish just as well as a pupil-teacher, and he is quite able to sit up and read for two or three hours a day, and would only be injured by having another lad in the room on purpose to be the receptacle of all his moans and complaints, yet I know, poor fellow! it is much owing to the disease upon him.'
In spite of his fretfulness and exactions, the young man, meeting not with spoiling, but with true kindness, responded to the touch. Lady Martin tells us: 'I shall never forget dear Mr. Patteson's thankfulness when, after a long season of reserve, he opened his heart to him, and told him how, step by step, this sinfulness of sin had been brought home to him. He knew he had done wrong in his heathen boyhood, but had put away such deeds when he was baptized, and had almost forgotten the past, or looked on it as part of heathenism. But in his illness, tended daily and hourly by our dear friend, his conscience had become very tender. He died in great peace.'
His death is mentioned in the following letter to Sir John Coleridge:—
'March 26, 1860. '(This day 5 years I left home. It was a Black Monday indeed.)
'My dear Uncle,—At three this morning died one of my old scholars, by name George Selwyn Simeona, from Nengone. He was here for his third time; for two years a regular communicant, having received a good deal of teaching before I knew him. He was baptized three years ago. I did not wish to bring him this time, for it was evident that he could not live long when we met last at Nengone, and I told him that he had better not come with us; but he said, "Heaven was no farther from New Zealand than from Nengone;" and when we had pulled some little way from shore, he ran down the beach, and made us return to take him in. Gradual decline and chronic bronchitis wore him to a skeleton. On Thursday the Bishop and I administered the Holy Eucharist to him; and he died at 3 A.M. to-day, with his hand in mine, as I was in the act of commending his soul to God. His wife, a sweet good girl, one of Mrs. Selwyn's pupils from Nengone in old times, died last year. They leave one boy of three years, whom I hope to get hold of entirely, and as it were adopt him.
'The clear bright moon was right over my head as after a while, and after prayer with his friends, I left his room; the quiet splash of the tiny waves on our sheltered shore, and the little schooner at her anchorage: and I thanked God that one more spirit from among the Melanesian islanders was gone to dwell, we trust, with JESUS CHRIST in Paradise.
'He will not be much missed in the Melanesian school work, for, for months, he could not make one of us....
'I find Trench's Notes on the Authorised Version of the New Testament very useful, chiefly as helping one to acquire a habit of accurate criticism for oneself, and when we come (D.V.) to translate any portion of the Scriptures, of course such books are very valuable.'
'Last mail brought me but a very few letters. The account of my dear Father's being obliged to submit to discipline did not alarm me, though I know the nature of the disease, and that his father died of it. It seems in his case likely to be kept under, but (as I have said before) I cannot feel uneasy and anxious about him, be the accounts what they may. It is partly selfish, for I am spared the sight of his suffering, but then I do long for a look at his dear face and for the sound of his voice. Five years of absence has of course made so much change in my mind in this respect, that I do not now find myself dreaming of home, constantly thinking of it; the first freshness of my loss is not felt now. But I think I love them all and you all better than ever; and I trust that I am looking inward on the whole to the blessedness of our meeting hereafter.
'But this work has its peculiar dangers. A man may become so familiarised with the habits of the heathen that insensibly his conscience becomes less sensitive.
'There is a danger in living in the midst of utter lawlessness and violence; and though the blessings and privileges far excel the disadvantages, yet it is not in every way calculated to help one forward, as I think I have in some ways found by experience.
'Well, this is all dull and dry. But our life is somewhat monotonous on shore, varied only by the details of incidents occurring in school, and witnessing to the growth of the minds of my flock. They are a very intelligent set this year, and there are many hopeful ones among them. We have worked them hard at English, and all can read a little; and some eight or ten really read nicely, but then they do not understand nearly all they read without an explanation, just like an English boy beginning his knowledge of letters with Latin (or French, a still spoken language).
'In about a month we shall (D.V.) start to take them back; but the vessel will be absent but a short time, as I shall keep the Solomon Islanders with me in the Banks Archipelago for the winter, and so avoid the necessity of the schooner running 200 or 300 miles to leeward and having to make it up again. I have slept ashore twice in the Banks Islands, but no other white man has done so, and that makes our course very clear, as they have none of the injuries usually committed by traders, &c., to revenge.
'Good-bye once more, my dearest Uncle,
'Your affectionate and grateful Nephew,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The calmness of mind respecting his father which is here spoken of was not perpetual, and his grief broke out at times in talks with his young friend and companion, Mr. Dudley, as appears by this extract:—
'I remember his talking to me more than once on the subject of his father, and especially his remarking on one occasion that his friends were pressing him to come out there oftener, and suggesting, when he seemed out of health and spirits, that he was not taking care of himself; but that it was the anguish he endured, as night after night he lay awake thinking of his father gradually sinking and craving for him, and cheerfully resigning him, that really told upon him. I know that I obtained then a glimpse of an affection and a depth of sorrow such as perfectly awed me, and I do not think I have witnessed anything like it at all, either before or since. It was then that he seemed to enter into the full meaning of those words of our Lord, in St. Mark x. 29-30, i.e., into all that the "leaving" there spoken of involved.'
Yet in spite of this anxiety there was no flinching from the three months' residence at Mota, entirely out of reach of letters. A frame house, with planks for the floor, was prepared at Auckland to be taken out, and a stock of wine, provisions, and medicines laid in. The Rev. B. Y. Ashwell, a New Zealand clergyman, joined the Mission party as a guest, with two Maori youths, one the son of a deacon; and, besides Mr. Dudley, another pupil, Mr. Thomas Kerr, was beginning his training for service in the Mission. Sailing on one of the last days of April, there was a long passage to Nengone, where the party went ashore, and found everything in trouble, the French constantly expected, and the chiefs entreating for a missionary from the Bishop, and no possibility of supplying them. Lifu was rendered inaccessible by foul winds.
'Much to my sorrow,' writes Mr. Patteson, 'I could not land my two pupil-teachers, who, of course, wished to see their friends, and who made me more desirous to give them a run on shore, by saying at once: "Don't think of us, it is not safe to go." But I thought of what my feelings would be if it were the Devonshire coast, somewhere about Sidmouth, and no landing!' However, they, as well as the three Nengonese, Wadrokala, Harper Malo, and Martin Tahia, went on contentedly.
'Off Mai, May 19th.—Mr. Kerr has been busy taking bearings, &c., for the purpose of improving our MS. chart, and constructing a new one. Commodore Loring wanted me to tell him all about Port Patteson, and asked me if I wished a man-of-war to be sent down this winter to see me, supposing the New Zealand troubles to be all over. I gave him all the information he wanted, told him that I did not want a vessel to come with the idea of any protection being required, but that a man-of-war coming with the intention of supporting the Mission, and giving help, and not coming to treat the natives in an off-hand manner, might do good. I did not speak coldly; but really I fear what mischief even a few wildish fellows might do on shore among such people as those of the Banks Islands!
'A fore-and-aft schooner in sight! Probably some trader. May be a schooner which I heard the French had brought for missionary purposes. What if we find a priest or two at Port Patteson! However, my course is clear any way: work straight on.
'May 21st.—Schooner a false alarm. We had a very interesting visit on Saturday afternoon at Mai. We could not land till 4 P.M.; walked at once to the village, a mile and a half inland. After some excitement caused by our appearance, the people rushing to welcome us, we got them to be quiet, and to sit down. I stood up, and gave them a sermonette, then made Dudley, who speaks good Mai, say something. Then we knelt down, and I said the second Good Friday Collect, inserted a few petitions which you can imagine anyone would do at such a time, then a simple prayer in their language, the Lord's Prayer in English, and the Grace.'
On Friday Mota was reached, and the people showed great delight when the frame of the house was landed at the site purchased for a number of hatchets and other goods, so that it is the absolute property of the Mission. Saturday was spent in a visit to Port Patteson, where the people thronged, while the water-casks were being filled, and bamboos cut down, with entreaties that the station might be there; and the mosquitoes thronged too—Mr. Patteson had fifty-eight bites on one foot.
On Whit Sunday, after Holy Communion on board, the party went on shore, and prayed for, 'I cannot say with the people of Vanua Lava.'
And on Whit Monday the house was set up 'in a most lovely spot,' says Mr. Dudley, 'beneath the shade of a gigantic banyan tree, the trunk and one long horizontal branch of which formed two sides of as beautiful a picture as you would wish to look upon; the sloping bank, with its cocoa-nut, bread-fruit, and other trees, forming the base of the picture; and the coral beach, the deep, clear, blue tropical ocean, with others of the Banks Islands, Valua, Matlavo, and Uvaparapara, in the distance, forming the picture itself.'
At least a hundred natives came to help, pulling down materials from their own houses to make the roof, and delighted to obtain a bit of iron, or still better of broken glass, to shave with. In the afternoon, the master of the said house, using a box for a desk, wrote: 'Our little house will, I think, be finished to-night; anyhow we can sleep in it, if the walls are but half ready; they are merely bamboo canes tied together. We sleep on the floor boarded and well raised on poles, two feet and more from the ground—beds are superfluous here.'
Here then was the first stake of the Church's tabernacle planted in all Melanesia!
The boards of the floor had been brought from New Zealand, the heavy posts on which the plates were laid were cut in Vanua Lava, and the thatch was of cocoa-nut leaves, the leaflets ingeniously bound together, native fashion, and quite waterproof; but a mat or piece of canvas had to be nailed within the bamboo walls to keep out the rain.
On Wednesday a short service was held, the first ever known in Mota; and then Mr. Ashwell and Mr. Kerr embarked, leaving Mr. Patteson and Mr. Dudley with their twelve pupils in possession. Mr. Dudley had skill to turn their resources to advantage. Space was gained below by making a frame, to which knapsacks, bags, &c., could be hung up, and the floor was only occupied by the four boxes, which did the further part of tables, desks, and chairs in turn. As to beds, was not the whole floor before them? and, observes the Journal: 'Now I see the advantage of having brought planks from New Zealand to make a floor. We all had something level to lie on at night, and when you are tired enough, a good smooth plank or a box does just as well as a mattress.'
Fresh water was half a mile off, and had to be fetched in bamboos; but this was a great improvement upon Lifu, where there was none at all; and a store of it was always kept in four twenty-gallon casks, three on the beach, and one close to the house.
The place was regularly purchased:—
'June 8th.—I have just bought for the Mission this small clearing of half an acre, and the two acres (say) leading to the sea, with twenty or more bread-fruits on it. There was a long talk with the people, and some difficulty in finding out the real proprietors, but I think we arranged matters really well at last. You would have been amused at the solemnity with which I conducted the proceeding: making a great show of writing down their names, and bringing each one of the owners up in their turn to see his name put down, and making him touch my pen as I put a cross against his name. Having spent about an hour in enquiring whether any other person had any claim on the land or trees, I then said, "Now this all belongs to me," and they assented. I entered it in my books—"On behalf of the Melanesian Mission," but they could only understand that the land belonged to the Bishop and me, because we wanted a place where some people might live, who should be placed by the Bishop to teach them. Of course the proceeding has no real validity, but I think they will observe the contract: not quite the same thing as the transfer of land in the old country! Here about 120 men, quite naked, represented the interests of the late owners, and Dudley and I represented the Mission.'
The days were thus laid out—Morning school in the village, first with the regular scholars, then with any one who liked to come in; and then, when the weather permitted, a visit to some village, sometimes walking all round, a circuit of ten miles, but generally each of the two taking a separate village, talking to the people, teaching them from cards, and encouraging interrogatories. Mr. Patteson always had such an attraction for them that they would throng round him eagerly wherever he went.
The Mota people had a certain faith of their own; they believed in a supreme god called Ikpat, who had many brothers, one of whom was something like Loki, in the Northern mythology, always tricking him. Ikpat had disappeared in a ship, taking the best of everything with him. It was also believed that the spirits of the dead survived and ranged about at night, maddening all who chanced to meet them; and, like many other darkly coloured people, the Motans had begun by supposing their white visitors to be the ghosts of their deceased friends come to revisit them.
There were a good many other superstitions besides; and a ceremony connected with one of them was going on the second week of the residence at Mota—apparently a sort of freemasonry, into which all boys of a certain age were to be initiated.
The Journal says:—
'There is some strange superstitious ceremony going on at this village. A space had been enclosed by a high hedge, and some eighteen or nineteen youths are spending a month or more inside the fence, in a house where they lie wrapped up in mats, abundantly supplied with food by the people, who, from time to time, assemble to sing or perform divers rites. I had a good deal of trouble with the father of our second year's pupil Tagalana, who insisted upon sending his son thither. I warned him against the consequences of hindering his son, who wished to follow Christ. He yielded, because he was evidently afraid of me, but not convinced, as I have no right to expect he should be.
'The next morning comes an old fellow, and plants a red-flowering branch in our small clearing, whereupon our Mota boys go away, not wishing to go, but not daring to stay. No people came near us, but by-and-by comes the man who had planted it, with whom I had much talk, which ended in his pulling up and throwing away the branch, and in the return of our boys.
'In the evening many people came, to whom I spoke very plainly about the necessity of abandoning these customs if they were in earnest in saying they wished to embrace the Word of God. On Sunday they gave up their singing at the enclosure, or only attempted it in a very small way.
'June 6th.—I am just returned from a village a mile and a half off, called Tasmate, where one of their religious ceremonies took place this morning. The village contains upwards of twenty houses, built at the edge of the bush, which consists here almost exclusively of fruit-bearing trees—cocoa-nut trees, bananas, bread-fruit, and large almond trefts are everywhere the most conspicuous. The sea view looking south is very beautiful.
'I walked thither alone, having heard that a feast was to be held there. As I came close to the spot, I heard the hum of many voices, and the dull, booming sound of the native drum, which is nothing but a large hollow tree, of circular shape, struck by wooden mallets. Some few people ran off as I appeared, but many of them had seen me before. The women, about thirty in number, were sitting on the ground together, in front of one of the houses, which enclosed an open air circular space; in front of another house were many children and young people. In the long narrow house which forms the general cooking and lounging room of the men of each village, and the sleeping room of the bachelors, were many people preparing large messes of grated yam and cocoa-nut in flat wooden dishes. At the long oblong-shaped drum sat the performers, two young men, each with two short sticks to perform the kettledrum part of the business, and an older man in the centre, whose art consisted in bringing out deep, hollow tones from his wooden instrument. Around them stood some thirty men, two of whom I noticed especially, decked out with red leaves, and feathers in their hair. Near this party, and close to the long, narrow house in the end of which I stood, was a newly raised platform of earth, supported on stones. On the corner stone were laid six or eight pigs' jaws, with the large curling tusks left in them. This was a sacred stone. In front of the platform were three poles, covered with flowers, red leaves, &c.
'For about an hour and a half the men at or around the drum kept up an almost incessant shouting, screaming and whistling, moving their legs and arms in time, not with any wild gesticulations, but occasionally with some little violence, the drum all the time being struck incessantly. About the middle of the ceremony, an old, tall, thin man, with a red handkerchief, our gift at some time, round his waist, began ambling round the space in the middle of the houses, carrying a boar's skull in his hand. This performance he repeated three times. Then a man jumped up upon the platform, and, moving quickly about on it and gesticulating wildly, delivered a short speech, after which the drum was beat louder than ever; then came another speech from the same man; and then the rain evidently hastening matters to a conclusion to the whole thing, without any ceremony of consecrating the stone, as I had expected.
'In the long room afterwards I had the opportunity of saying quietly what I had said to those about me during the ceremony: the same story of the love of God, especially manifested in JESUS CHRIST, to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. With what power that verse speaks to one while witnessing such an exhibition of ignorance, or fear, or superstition as I have seen to- day! And through it all I was constantly thinking upon the earnestness with which these poor souls follow out a mistaken notion of religion. Such rain as fell this morning would have kept a whole English congregation from going to church, but they never sought shelter nor desisted from their work in hand; and the physical effect was really great, the perspiration streamed down their bodies, and the learning by heart all the songs and the complicated parts of the ceremony implied a good deal of pains. Christians do not always take so much pains to fulfil scrupulously their duties as sometimes these heathens do. And, indeed, their bondage is a hard one, constant suspicion and fear whenever they think at all. Everything that is not connected with the animal part of our nature seems to be the prey of dark and gloomy superstitions; the spiritual part is altogether inactive as an instrument of comfort, joy, peace and hope. You can imagine that I prayed earnestly for these poor souls, actually performing before me their strange mysteries, and that I spoke earnestly and strongly afterwards.
'The argument with those who would listen was: What good comes of all this? What has the spirit you call Ikpat ever done for you? Has he taught you to clothe yourselves, build houses, &c.? Does he offer to make you happy? Can you tell me what single good thing has come from these customs? But if you ask me what good thing has come to us from the Word of God, first you had better let me tell you what has happened in England of old, in New Zealand, Nengone, or Lifu, then I will tell you what the Word of God teaches;—and these with the great outline of the Faith.'
Every village in the island had the platforms, poles, and flowers; and the next day, at a turn in the path near a village, the Mission party suddenly came upon four sticks planted in a row, two of them bearing things like one-eyed masks; two others, like mitres, painted red, black, and white. As far as could be made out, they were placed there as a sort of defiance to the inhabitants; but Mr. Patteson took down one, and declared his intention of buying them for fish-hooks, to take to New Zealand, that the people might see their dark and foolish customs!
Some effect had already been produced, the people declared that there had been much less of fighting since the missionaries had spoken to them eighteen months back, and they had given up some of the charms by which they used to destroy each other; but there was still much carrying of bows; and on the way home from this expedition, Mr. Patteson suddenly came on six men with bows bent and arrows pointed in his direction. He at once recognised a man from Veverao, the next village to the station, and called out 'All right!' It proved that a report had come of his being attacked or killed on the other side of the island, and that they had set out to defend or avenge him.
He received his champions with reproof:—'This is the very thing I told you not to do. It is all your foolish jealousy and suspicion of them. There is not a man on the island who is not friendly to me! And if they were not friendly, what business have you with your bows and arrows? I tell you once more, if I see you take your bows again, though you may do it as you think with a good intention towards me, I will not stay at your village. If you want to help me, receive the Word of God, abandon your senseless ceremonies. That will be helping me indeed!'
'Cannot you live at peace in this little bit of an island?' was the constant theme of these lectures; and when Wompas, his old scholar, appeared with bow and arrows, saying, I am sent to defend you,' the answer was, 'Don't talk such nonsense! Give me the bow!' This was done, and Patteson was putting it across his knee to break it, when the youth declared it was not his. 'If I see these things again, you know what will become of them!'
The mitres and masks were gone; but the Veverao people were desperately jealous of the next village, Auta, alleging that the inhabitants were unfriendly, and by every means trying to keep the guest entirely to themselves; while he resolutely forced on their reluctant ears, 'If you are sincere in saying that you wish to know God, you must love your brother. God will not dwell in a divided heart, nor teach you His truth while you wilfully continue to hate your brother!'
The St. Barnabas Day on which most of this was written was a notable one, for it was marked by the first administration of both the Sacraments in Mota. In the morning one English and four Nengonese communicants knelt round their pastor; and, in the evening, after a walk to Auta, and much of this preaching of peace and goodwill, then a dinner, which was made festive with preserved meat and wine, there came a message from one Ivepapeu, a leading man, whose child was sick. It was evidently dying, and Mr. Patteson, in the midst of the people, told them that—
'The Son of God had commanded us to teach and baptize all nations; that they did not understand the meaning of what he was about to do, but that the word of JESUS the Son of God was plain, and that he must obey it; that this was not a mere form, but a real gift from heaven, not for the body but the soul; that the child would be as likely to die as before, but that its spirit would be taken to God, and if it should recover, it must be set apart for God, not taken to any heathen rites, but given to himself to be trained up as a child of God.' The parents consented: 'Then,' he continues, 'we knelt, and in the middle of the village, the naked group around me, the dying child in its mother's lap, I prayed to God and Christ in their language to bless the child according to His own promise, to receive it for His own child, and to convey to it the fulness of the blessing of His holy Sacrament. Then while all were silent, I poured the water on its head, pronouncing the form of words in English, and calling the child John, the first Christian child in the Banks Islands. Then I knelt down again and praised God for His goodness, and prayed that the child might live, if it were His good pleasure, and be educated to His glory; and then I prayed for those around me and for the people of the island, that God would reveal to them His Holy Name and Word and Will; and so, with a few words to the parents and people, left them, as darkness settled down on the village and the bright stars came out overhead.'
The innocent first-fruits of Mota died three days later, and Mr. Patteson found a great howling and wailing going on over its little grave under a long low house. This was hushed when he came up, and spoke of the Resurrection, and described the babe's soul dwelling in peace in the Kingdom of the Father, where those would join it who would believe and repent, cast away their evil practices, and be baptized to live as children of God. Kneeling down, he prayed over it, thanking God for having taken it to Himself, and interceding for all around. They listened and seemed touched; no opposition was ever offered to him, but he found that there was much fighting and quarrelling, many of the villages at war with each other, and a great deal too much use of the bow and arrow, though the whole race was free from cannibalism. They seemed to want to halt between two opinions: to keep up their orgies on the one hand, and to make much of the white teacher on the other; and when we recollect that two unarmed Englishmen, and twelve blacks from other islands, were perfectly isolated in the midst of a heathen population, having refused protection from a British man-of-war, it gives a grandeur to the following narrative:—
'June 7th.—One of their chief men has just been with two bread-fruit as a present. I detected him as a leader of one of their chief ceremonies yesterday, and I have just told him plainly that I cannot accept anything from him, neither can I suffer him to be coming to my place while it is notorious that he is teaching the children the very things they ought not to learn, and that he is strongly supporting the old false system, while he professes to be listening attentively to the Word of God. I made him take up his two bread-fruit and carry them away; and I suppose it will be the story all over the village that I have driven him away.
'"By-and-by we will listen to the Word of God, when we have finished these ceremonies."
'"Yes, you hearken first to the voice of the evil spirit; you choose him firsthand then you will care to hear about God.'"
The ceremony was to last twenty days, and only affected the lads, who were blackened all over with soot, and apparently presented pigs to the old priest, and were afterwards admitted to the privileges of eating and sleeping in the separate building, which formed a kind of club-house for the men of each village, and on which Mr. Patteson could always reckon as both a lecture room and sleeping place.
The people kept on saying that 'by-and-by' they would make an end of their wild ritual, and throw down their enclosures, and at the same time they thronged to talk to him at the Mission station, and built a shed to serve for a school at Auta.
Meantime the little estate was brought into order. A pleasant day of landscape-gardening was devoted to clearing gaps to let in the lovely views from the station; and a piece of ground was dug and planted with pine-apples, vines, oranges, and cotton, also a choicer species of banana than the indigenous one. Bread-fruit was so plentiful that breakfast was provided by sending a boy up a tree to bring down four or five fruits, which were laid in the ashes, and cooked at once; and as to banana leaves 'we think nothing of cutting one down, four feet long and twenty inches wide, of a bright pale green, just to wrap up a cooked yam or two.'
The first week in July, with Wadrokala, Mark, and two Malanta men, Mr. Patteson set forth in the boat that had been left with him, for an expedition among the other islands, beginning with Saddle Island, or Valua, which was the proper name.
The day after leaving Eowa, the weather changed; and as on these perilous coasts there was no possibility of landing, two days and the intervening night had to be spent in the open four-oared boat, riding to a grapnel!
Very glad they were to get into Port Patteson, and to land in the wet, 'as it can rain in the tropics.' The nearest village, however, was empty, everybody being gone to the burial wake of the wife of a chief, and there was no fire to cook the yams, everything dreary and deserted, but a short walk brought the wet and tired party to the next village, where they were made welcome to the common house; and after, supping on yams and chocolate, spent a good night, and found the sea smooth the next day for a return to head-quarters.
These first weeks at Mota were very happy, but after that the strain began to tell. Mr. Patteson had been worn with anxiety for his father, and no doubt with awe in the contemplation of his coming Episcopate, and was not in a strong state of health when he left Kohimarama, and the lack of animal food, the too sparing supply of wine, and the bare board bed told upon him. On the 24th of July he wrote in a letter to his Uncle Edward:—
'I have lost six days: a small tumour formed inside the ear about two inches from the outer ear, and the pain has been very considerable, and the annoyance great. Last night I slept for the first time for five nights, and I have been so weary with sleeplessness that I have been quite idle. The mischief is passing away now. That ear is quite deaf; it made me think so of dear Father and Joan with their constant trial. I don't see any results from our residence here; and why should I look for them? It is enough that the people are hearing, some of them talking, and a few thinking about what they hear. All in God's own time!'
Mr. Dudley adds: 'His chief trouble at this time was with one of his ears. The swelling far in not only made him deaf while it lasted, but gave him intense and protracted agony. More than once he had to spend the whole night in walking up and down the room. But only on one occasion during the whole time do I remember his losing his patience, and that was when we had been subjected to an unusually protracted visitation from the "loafers" of the village, who would stretch themselves at full length on the floor and table, if we would let them, and altogether conduct themselves in such a manner as to call for summary treatment, very different from the more promising section. The half jocular but very decided manner in which he cleared the house on this occasion, and made them understand that they were to respect our privacy sometimes, and not make the Mission station an idling place, was very satisfactory. It was no small aggravation of the pain to feel that this might be the beginning of permanent deafness, such as would be fatal to his usefulness in a work in which accuracy of ear was essential.'
However, this gradually improved; and another boat voyage was made, but again was frustrated by the torrents of rain. In fact, it was an unusually wet and unwholesome season, which told upon everyone. Mark Chakham, the Nengonese, was brought very near the grave by a severe attack of dysentery. All the stores of coffee, chocolate, wine and biscuit were used up. The 'Southern Cross' had been due full a month, and nothing was heard of her through the whole of September.
Teaching and conversation went on all this time, trying as it was; and the people still came to hear, though no one actually undertook to forsake his idols.
'I am still hopeful about these people,' is the entry on September 18, 'though all their old customs and superstitions go on just as before. But (1) they know that a better teaching has been presented to them. (2) They do not pursue their old habits with the same unthinking-security. (3) There are signs of a certain uneasiness of mind, as if a struggle was beginning in them. (4) They have a vague consciousness, some of them, that the power is passing away from their witchcrafts, sorceries, &c., by which unquestionably they did and still do work strange effects on the credulous people, like 'Pharaoh's magicians of old.'
This was ground gained; and one or two voyages to Vanua Lava and the other isles were preparatory steps, and much experience had been acquired, and resulted in this:—
'The feasibility of the Bishop's old scheme is more and more apparent to me. Only I think that in taking away natives to the summer school, it must be understood that some (and they few) are taken from new islands merely to teach us some of their languages and to frank us, so that we may have access in safety to their islands. Should any of them turn out well, so much the better; but it will not be well to take them with the expectation of their becoming teachers to their people. But the other section of the school will consist of young men whose behaviour we have watched during the winter in their own homes, whose professions we have had an opportunity of testing— they may be treated as young men on the way to become teachers eventually to their countrymen. One learns much from living among a heathen people, and only by living in our pupils' homes shall we ever know their real characters. Poor fellows! they are adepts in all kinds of deceitfulness at a very early age, and so completely in our power on board the schooner and at Kohimarama, that we know nothing of them as they are.'
The very paper this is copied from shows how the stores were failing, for the full quarto sheets have all failed, and the journal is continued on note paper.
Not till October 1 was Mr. Patteson's watch by a poor dying woman interrupted by tidings that a ship was in sight. And soon it was too plain that she was not the 'Southern Cross,' though, happily, neither trader nor French Mission ship. In a short time there came ashore satisfactory letters from home, but with them the tidings that the little 'Southern Cross' lay in many fathoms water on the New Zealand coast!
On her return, on the night of the 17th of June, just as New Zealand itself was reached, there was a heavy gale from the north-east. A dangerous shoal of rocks, called the Hen and Chickens, stands out from the head of Ngunguru Bay; and, in the darkness and mist, it was supposed that these were safely passed, when the ship struck on the eastern Chicken, happily on a spot somewhat sheltered from the violence of the breakers. The two passengers and the crew took refuge in the rigging all night; and in the morning contrived to get a line to land, on which all were safely drawn through the surf, and were kindly received by the nearest English settlers.
So, after five years' good service, ended the career of the good 'Southern Cross' the first. She had gone down upon sand, and much of the wreck might have been recovered and made useful again had labour not been scarce at that time in New Zealand that the Bishop could find no one to undertake the work, and all he could do was to charter another vessel to be despatched to bring home the party from Mota. Nor were vessels fit for the purpose easy to find, and the schooner 'Zillah'—welcome as was the sight of her—proved a miserable substitute even in mere nautical capabilities, and her internal arrangements were of course entirely inappropriate to the peculiar wants of the Mission.