IT was on Monday morning, August 10th, one-and-twenty years ago, that Albert Maclaren and Copland King landed from a whale-boat in Bartle Bay, near the flat-topped hill of Dogura, on which the head station of the Mission now stands.
In a Melbourne parish, that same night, there was a crowded meeting to say "Good-bye" to a working carpenter and his wife, who, with another layman, were setting out next day for New Guinea.
Maclaren died before the year was ended, and the "other layman" is now secretary of a well-known club in London, but "King and the Tomlinsons," after one-and-twenty years, are still at work in the Mission.
The Church of England began her missionary work in New Guinea fifteen years after the London Missionary Society had settled there, and five or six years after the Roman Catholic missionaries of the Sacred Heart. It would hardly be too much to say that the Church of England was forced into possession of the unoccupied ground, much as England herself had already been forced by Australian opinion to assume a protectorate over a part at least of New Guinea, or Papua, as it is now called.
Nearly thirty years ago an Australian statesman, with more political foresight than actual authority, undertook the annexation of New Guinea to Queensland on the twofold grounds that (1) "the possession would be of value to the Empire, and conduce especially to the peace and safety of Australia and the development of Australian trade, and the prevention and punishment of crime throughout the Pacific "; and that (2) "the establishment of a foreign power in the neighbourhood of Australia would be injurious to British, and more especially to Australian, interests."
A magistrate was sent from Thursday Island to New Guinea to hoist the flag there, and claim, in the name of the Queen, so much of the island as was not in the possession of the Netherlands Government.
Lord Derby, who was in power, refused on behalf of the Imperial Government to confirm the annexation, stating "that the apprehensions that some foreign power was about to occupy New Guinea appeared to be indefinite and unfounded."
That was in 1883. In the very next year Germany had established herself in the northeast of the island, and England had proclaimed a protectorate over the south; and 1885 saw that portion of New Guinea, which the Queensland statesman had desired to annex, divided between Great Britain and Germany.
The whole country, which the geography books describe as "the largest island in the world," is nearly as large as New South Wales. The western part, about 150,000 square miles, belongs to the Dutch. Great Britain and Germany, in the east, have each about 90,000 square miles.
In 1888, "in the natural course of events," as Bishop Barry wrote at the time, British protectorate developed into British sovereignty, and on September 4th Papua was, proclaimed a possession of the Empire; and thus, "by the apparently irresistible tendency of events, the duty of the Church in Australia was pressed home with increasing urgency."
In October of that same year (so the legend runs) Albert Maclaren wandered into the old S.P.G. offices in Delahay Street, and heard for the first time that a mission was proposed for New Gainea, and that a leader was wanted.
The General Synod of Australia had resolved: "that the recent annexation of a portion of New Guinea imposes direct obligation upon the Church to provide for the spiritual welfare both of the natives and of the settlers"; and the Australian Board of Missions (which is the bench of Bishops acting through a committee in Sydney) had held meetings and written letters and made inquiries and collected information. The C.M.S. had "wished a very hearty Godspeed to the effort," but had felt themselves obliged "to express, with very great regret, their inability to ... help in reference to the proposed mission." The S.P.G. had made a grant of £500 per annum for two years, and had also undertaken to receive money for the Mission in England. The S.P.C.K. had made a grant of £500, and Bishop Barry and his friends, both in Australia and in England, had shown "warm interest and earnest sympathy."
But bishops and boards and societies and executive councils cannot do everything. It was for the men that the Mission waited, and Maclaren and King were the men.
Fourteen years before, when Albert Maclaren entered S. Augustine's College, at Canterbury, at the age of twenty-one, it was with the hope of joining the Universities' Mission to Central Africa; but the doctors had rejected him, and he had gone to Australia, received Holy Orders there, and worked for nine years in Queensland and New South Wales.
Then he went home, and was at Durham for a couple of years, taking his degree in October, 1889, and leaving England for Australia at the end of the month, having been accepted by Bishop Barry, who was then Primate of Australia, as the first missionary of the Church of England in New Guinea.
By February, 1890, he was off the New Guinea coast, on board the Government steam yacht Merrie England; and from May until July he acted as private secretary to the Governor, Sir William MacGregor, travelling about with him or on his business. He saw a good deal of New Guinea life and customs, and enjoyed a number of experiences, "some of them picturesque, and some very unpleasant," which he found useful afterwards when lecturing in Australia.
Maclaren went, with the Governor, into the Mekeo district, and to Yule Island, where the Roman Catholic Mission has its head-quarters; all down the south coast, where the London Missionary Society were at work; to the Louisiade and D'Entrecasteaux Islands, where the Wesleyan Society was beginning a Mission; landed, with the Governor, in Chad's Bay, at a spot which Sir William MacGregor pointed out as very suitable head-quarters for a Mission on the north-east coast; rounded Cape Vogel and went to the head of Collingwood Bay; steamed up the coast as far as Mitre Rock, near the German boundary; and returned to Australia in August.
For nine months, in New South Wales and Victoria and Tasmania and Queensland, he was preaching and lecturing and collecting money, and getting together the first members of the staff, ordering building material, arguing with the committee in Sydney, chartering a hundred-ton collier schooner to carry the missionaries and their gear to New Guinea, holding parochial missions, writing innumerable letters, and making many friends for himself and for his Mission. The full story of this preliminary campaign, as well as of Maclaren's earlier life, and of the first beginnings in New Guinea, has been told in Miss Synge's memoir, and there is no need for more than a summary here. [Albert Maclaren, Pioneer Missionary in New Guinea. Published by S.P.G., 1908.]
It was a time of overwork and excitement for Maclaren. Preaching in cathedrals; rushing from Melbourne to Sydney one day to attend a meeting of A.B.M., and returning to Melbourne the next day; going a hundred miles into the country, to find that an archdeacon who had promised him "the surplus offertory" had gone away and left him to do, single-handed, the miscellaneous Sunday work of an Australian country clergyman; running over to Hobart and Launceston for three days, to collect money for a whale-boat--small wonder that in the middle of March he wrote to his mother that he would be "quite glad to get to New Guinea," so that he might "rest for a time"; or that, in May, he was "feeling so worried and anxious that he was on the point ... of resigning his connection with the Board of Missions . . . but for the kind help and encouragement of the Bishop of Ballarat"; or that he found it "weary work, waiting about and begging for money."
Perhaps the most notable meeting of all was at Sydney, in October, 1890, presided over by Bishop Saumarez Smith, who had that morning been enthroned in his cathedral. It was at that meeting that the Bishop of Melbourne uttered the oft-quoted words with reference to New Guinea:--
"Send your money to India if you will. If you do not, other branches of the Church will. That work will be done somehow. Send your money to China if your prefer; if you do not, other people will. But if you don't send your men and money to New Guinea, other Churches will not, and the work, left for you to do, will be left undone."
Mr. King was a son of the Archdeacon of Sydney, whose grandfather was Governor of New South Wales; and he has told how, in November of 1890, three or four years after his ordination, he was travelling from Sydney to Tamworth for a fortnight's holiday. At Singleton the train was shortened, and a number of other passengers were put into the carriage, Mr. Maclaren among them. The two priests soon foregathered, for one of them had heard the other speak at the great missionary meeting in Sydney a few weeks before. After "a long conversation" Maclaren asked the other to come with him to New Guinea. The upshot must be told in Copland King's own words:
"I had never definitely considered such a step before, and I knew that Mr. Maclaren's views and mine differed widely, but I could not refuse straight off, and we went as fully as possible into the subject. To facilitate discussion, we got out of the train, and spent the night walking up and down the dusty streets of a wayside town--Quirindi. We went on by an early train next morning, without further opportunity for conversation. Indeed, I think we both felt that we had thrashed the subject out, and during the week following I made my offer and the matter was arranged."
It had been hoped that a start would be made in April, but there were the inevitable worries about building-plans and shipping arrangements, and it was not until the end of June that everything was ready.
On Wednesday evening, July 1st, a farewell service was held in S. Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, with a celebration of Holy Communion next morning, and Maclaren and King left for Brisbane by the mail train on Thursday evening. After another farewell celebration in the private chapel at Bishopsbourne, on July 7th, they sailed for Cooktown.
At first it had been intended to plant the Anglican New Guinea Mission in the Louisiade group of islands. The London Missionary Society had already established a string of stations along the whole of the south coast of the mainland as far as Torres Straits; and the French Roman Catholic Mission had been working on and about Yule Island since 1886. The Hon. John Douglas, at that time Administrator of the Possession, had promised to read a paper on New Guinea missions at the Church Congress, in Sydney (May, 1889), but he was prevented, and wrote a letter instead. After giving an account of the Missions already at work, he passed on to consider the prospects for a new Mission.
"Along the coast of the Possession," he wrote, "as British New Guinea is now called, there are still wide spaces of what may be called unappropriated territory--unappropriated by any missionary enterprise. . . . Along the Papuan Gulf there is a most important and populous district which is quite untouched. . . . Again, near South Cape, there is a stretch of at least 100 miles, where, though it is perfectly well known, and has been well denned in the Admiralty charts, no teachers have yet been stationed. This is a most interesting and most accessible region, which has never been touched, though it has occasionally been visited. . . . Then there is the whole of the north-east coast-line, from East Gape to Mitre Rock; scarcely anything is known of it, and yet it is now fairly accessible from China Straits (Samarai), where there is a trading station and a Government establishment. Lastly, there is the whole of the Eastern Archipelago of islands, including the Louisiade group. It is in this portion of the Possession where I understand it is the intention of the Anglo-Australian Church to plant a mission. At present it is quite unappropriated."
"Of course," he added, "in establishing a Mission everything will depend upon the men who undertake it. Money in these matters is never the essential difficulty. If the right men can be found, everything else follows. There must be the afflatus, the spiritual dedication to an unselfish work, and if besides this there are the mental and physical qualifications of perfect manhood, then the work of those who go with the divine message of goodwill is full of the most intense interest, and I can fancy also of an enjoyment which it would be difficult to find in the beaten paths of our civilized communities. The men, indeed, are to be envied who, in the full vigour of unsullied manhood, can enter with some justifiable confidence on such a splendid vocation as that of instructors to such interesting children of nature as these natives are."
Nowadays, a journey to New Guinea is simple and easy and luxurious. You choose your steamer, and book your passage, and pick your berth, if you please, a year ahead, according to the printed time-tables of mail-boats which move with the unfailing regularity of railway trains; and, in these much more comfortable, if somewhat less heroic, days, the fastidious degenerate missionaries and Government officers and pearl buyers and lady tourists sleep in spacious cabins, and sit at well-appointed, well-provisioned tables, in the pleasant company of scores of other passengers, who play chess and deck-billiards all the morning, and read the latest novels out of the ship's library all the afternoon, and enjoy concerts in the saloon every evening, with now and then a dance on the upper deck; and your steward runs after you all day long with cups of coffee and beef-tea, and you grumble if the cook forgets to make an ice-pudding the very night you enter the tropics.
Things were very different one-and-twenty years ago. The two missionaries, with their Sydney carpenters, after being detained for some days at Cooktown by bad weather, went on board the Grace Lynn, the little schooner that had been chartered "for three months--or longer if necessary"; and on Monday, July 27th, they left the wharf, but could not clear the passage before dark, and so made fast to a buoy in the harbour. During the night a Government steamer from New Guinea brought in the wrecked crew of a L.M.S. schooner, and several missionaries, of whom the well-known Dr. Chalmers was one. The latter boarded the Grace Lynn, and for the rest of the night the veteran and the recruits made the most of this unlooked-for chance of taking counsel together. If you have anything to do with Papua, you must be content to do your business, as you have to take your meals, precisely when the opportunities occur.
Another start was made next morning, and the party reached Samarai, "after a somewhat long and rough passage," on August 6th, the Feast of the Transfiguration. There was some difficulty about reaching the anchorage, but the Merrie England, which had gone out to look for them, brought the schooner safely in.
The year before, when Maclaren was in New Guinea with the Governor, a site suitable for a Mission station had been chosen in Chad's Bay, some seventy miles from Samarai. This land, in the meantime, had been bought from the natives by the Government; but Sir William MacGregor now advised the inspection of another spot five-and-twenty miles further along the coast, which he thought might perhaps be better still, the situation being more central, the anchorage safer, the water supply better, and the neighbouring villages larger and more important. To save time, and the schooner being in some difficulty with the customs in Samarai, the two missionaries went off at seven o'clock on the Saturday morning (August 8th) in their whale-boat, which was 31 ft. long, with an 8 ft. beam, and places for fourteen oars. They had a white man with them as navigator, the mate of the Grace Lynn, a Samoan boy named Sam, and eight New Guinea natives from the Taupota district, whither they were bound, including Abraham, a semi-civilized chief who had worked for three years on a sugar plantation and learnt some pidgin-English in Queensland.
The sun was setting and the wind had dropped as they rounded Cape Ducie, the south-western boundary of the new Mission, so the oars were got out and they landed in the dusk on a shingly beach, and climbed the hundred feet of bold cliff overlooking the sea, and standing up out of the tangled fringe of trees and creepers along the shore. A mile inland, the mountains rose in sharp finger points, covered with grass and patched with shrub in the gullies, and there were many waterfalls.
Good water could be got not far away, but there was no safe anchorage within two or three miles, and the ground was anything but level, so they returned to the whale-boat, resolved to go on next day and see the other and more distant site. Rain poured down all night, and the little party camped uncomfortably on the sloppy bottom of their boat, with the sails rigged up as an awning.
Next day, the eight Taupotans having gone off to their village three miles away and no Chad's Bay natives being available to replace them, the three white men and Sam the Samoan sailed on past the mighty Cape Frere and into Bartle Bay. It was dark when they neared the villages of Wamira and Wedau, and though the natives came crowding down to the shore, and two or three swam out with coconuts for sale, the surf was too violent for landing, and the night was spent on the water, the boat "rolling terribly," anchored a little way out from the beach. All along the coast of Bartle Bay the bottom slopes away suddenly, and it is on record that the mate, anxious lest the anchor might drag, sat all that night with his hand on the chain while the others tried to sleep.
Soon after dawn on Monday morning (August 10th) the natives again lined the shore, and after a good deal of chattering among themselves one of them brought off a canoe. The New Guinea catamaran, hollowed from the trunk of a tree and fitted with a square wooden platform on the stays of the outrigger, is an unstable craft for any but a Papuan, and as Maclaren stepped on to the platform his weight capsized it and he went under. The native was frightened, and swam straight back to the beach, and Maclaren, who could not swim, was nearly drowned then and there, as the others in the boat were at breakfast under the awning, and had not seen the capsize.
Later on, the boat was backed on to the beach, and the party were well received by some forty natives. Maclaren's first care was to find the chief man, and make him a present of tobacco--a handful of sticks for himself and some more to be shared among the others. There was a slight difficulty in preventing this man from keeping it all; and when he had at last been prevailed upon to distribute a part of the tobacco it was discovered that he was not a chief, or anybody in particular, after all. Accompanied by a score of natives, the two white men walked through the village of Wedau, and were carried over a small river and made their way through the long grass to the top of the plateau which had been described to them by the Governor.
As this hill of Dogura, an ancient battle-ground, became, and has remained, the head station of the Mission, Mr. King's description, written a few days after this first landing, may well be quoted here.
Bartle Bay is about three miles deep, and two and a half broad, flanked on one side by a bold, grass-covered headland--Cape Frere--and on the other by about three square miles of level country, with a stream running through the centre of it, and discharging at a point near the side. There are villages near the river, Wamira on one side, and Wedau on the other. Just above the latter there is a perfectly flat piece of ground about 150 feet in height, with steep sloping banks on three sides, and backed up by mountains on the fourth. [Two hundred and twelve feet, to be exact.] It is on this plateau that we decided to build our house. There is plenty of room for a plantation around it and on the hill-sides, while the view from it embraces Gape Frere and Bartle Bay to the east, the level lowland below, hemmed in by mountains, some of them rising to five and six thousand feet, with watercourses shining on their sides. Out to the north-west and north the lowlands stretching out to Gape Vogel can be seen, and across the water to the north-east rise the cloud-covered mountains of Fergusson, Goodenough, and Normanby Islands."
When they came down again to the village of Wedau, the missionaries gathered a hundred or so of men around them, and tried to explain "what they wanted to do for them, and with them." A "native hymn" was even sung, the words and melody of which were derived from the L.M.S. missionaries further south, and "known all along that coast." But with no interpreter it was little that the white men could do on this first day, and by half-past ten they were in the boat again, with a wind so light for sailing that in the afternoon they had to take to the oars, and when the sudden tropic darkness fell, about six o'clock, they were still off Cape Frere and some miles out at sea. They rowed to the nearest land, which they reached about eight o'clock, and it was characteristic of the coast that when they got within a boat's length of the rocky shore they put out the full length of the chain without the anchor touching bottom. Provisions were running short, and the evening meal consisted of dry biscuits washed down with coconut. Again they spent what must have seemed to them a perilous night in the boat, but when morning broke they were delighted to find themselves still more or less in the same place--thick vegetation crowding down to the very water's edge, and a choir of birds making that sweet early morning concert which we who live here soon learn to love as one of the most beautiful things in all the land.
The travellers could not get ashore for wood, and the bottle of methylated spirit gave out before the kettle boiled, so they mixed their cocoa in the warm water. Later on they had to be content with cocoa merely stirred up in cold water, but they were brave enough, when telling the story afterwards, to protest that "it tasted better than it sounds."
All through that day they were beating up against a light breeze, sometimes using the oars when the wind failed altogether. Once, for a little while, three Taupota boys joined them, and helped with the pulling. Towards evening they landed to get some water boiled, and heard that the schooner had been seen in Chad's Bay that day. They managed to get a boat's crew, who pulled them the rest of the way, learning to row as they went.
Here the historian (none other than Copland King himself) waxes almost poetic:--" Let lovers of the picturesque try to imagine the scene on which the young moon looked down with friendly eye. Half a score of naked oarsmen, enormous heads of hair surmounting their dark bodies, pulling, chattering, singing, their good nature making great amends for their bad pulling. It would have been a fitting close to our trip. But it was not the close. On and on we pulled, the moon sank, delusive lights urged us on, until, by midnight, we arrived in Chad's Bay and found--no schooner! She had been there, we found out afterwards, but had stood out to sea again. All we could do was to send the boys on shore to camp round a fire, and erect our tent on board for ourselves, and then to have some supper and settle down for four and a half hours sleep. And after twenty hours of work we were ready for it."
Next day (Wednesday, August 12th) the Grace Lynn arrived early in the afternoon. There was a cart-horse on board, and here, as a few days before at Samarai, crowds of natives, in a succession of canoes, came to see the "Enormous Pig," as they, knowing nothing larger than their own village pigs, decided to call him. The party went on to Bartle Bay, taking Abraham, who is described as "rather a short man with a pleasant face," as interpreter; and on the Thursday the schooner anchored in twenty-seven fathoms, about a quarter of a mile from Wedau beach.
Again the missionaries climbed Dogura Hill, accompanied by "half the village and not a few pigs," according to one account (by "a hundred and twenty men and boys and one woman," according to another), and in a very short time the grass-grown plateau was bought from the native owners for "a hundred and twelve pounds of trade tobacco, ten tomahawks, ten large and ten small knives, twenty-four looking-glasses, some red Turkey twill, beads, twenty-five pipes, and a few boxes of matches." This purchase, which included about 160 acres, was afterwards confirmed by the Government.
Early next morning the carpenters began to make a raft for carrying the cargo ashore, and the natives watched them use their tools, and were especially fascinated by the auger.
Later in the day, when the "Enormous Pig" was landed, everybody on the beach fled incontinently to the bush, and though a few soon came back, bringing armfuls of grass for him to eat, it was long before any native dared to approach the dreadful monster.
A night or two afterwards King sat writing on the deck of the schooner, anchored off Wedau village, while natives worked in the moonlight, carrying timber and stores up to Dogura. It is from his account of a work "whose importance and immensity could as yet be only guessed at" that many of these details have been taken; and he ended his letter with the exclamation, "God alone knows where and how it will end."
And now the real hard work began. The entire population of Wedau and Wamira turned out to help the white men, or to look on, or to join in the sudden outbursts of song, or in the yet more sudden noisy arguments which break out whenever coloured people have anything to do in company. There was a temporary living house to be built of rough tree trunks and grass thatch; much cargo and all the material for a large European house to be landed from the schooner and carried up the hill. There were sometimes as many as two hundred natives working at once; but they were unused to continued effort, or to hard work of any kind, and needed a lot of looking after. It was trying work for them, and trying for the white men too. The latter lived for a few weeks on the schooner, where there was no proper accommodation, and where their blankets were drenched every time it rained--and at certain seasons of the year it rains every night in New Guinea.
At the end of August they moved into their own native house; and though they found this 45 by 25 foot barn-like building "more comfortable than the ship," it "was not waterproof," and there were sometimes "two or three inches of water on the mud floor."
On the top of Dogura hill there still stands a tree which sprang from a vivid rough-hewn post in the wall of this primitive presbytery, "most of the lines in which were crooked, and none of the measurements exact."
Abraham made himself most useful at this time. He was "of a merry disposition," but nevertheless was careful, as the white man's ally, to maintain his dignity in dealing with his own countrymen. On first landing at Wedau, he took Maclaren's umbrella ashore with him and held it over his head, and whenever afterwards he had anything of more than common importance to say, he would begin by unfurling this umbrella. With his Australian experience, combined with a good knowledge of the dialects along the whole coast of Goodenough Bay, he was able to act as interpreter and go-between, supervising the natives, and explaining things both to them and to his employers. Every evening he would gather the people together and teach them to sing what King and Maclaren "at that time thought were hymns and prayers." But Abraham's life "did not commend his profession," and it was found, after he left, that besides being well paid for his services ("a sovereign, and some tobacco, and a suit of Maclaren's own pyjamas") he had cheated the people of the village of much of the price of the land.
Late on Saturday night, a dozen natives arrived overland from Samarai, sent by the Governor in case the missionaries had not been able to get the help they needed from the local men. This was of a piece with the thoughtful kindness shown by Sir William MacGregor throughout.
Samuel the Samoan had been engaged in Australia at a pound a week to cook for the party and make himself generally useful, but he got wet during the first week on the hill, and this was followed by a severe attack of fever, which settled into a bad consumptive cold, and when H.M.S. Royalist called at Dogura in the middle of September, the ship's doctor thought the man had only a week or two to live. He lived long enough to get back to Australia, but he was never able to do a stroke of work for his masters, needing, instead, to be nursed by them.
The carpenters were conscientiously careful to do nothing but exactly their own work, and, as it turned out, not very much of that, for they were strict "Union men," with a constitutional inability to handle a tool for more than eight hours a day, and a nasty trick of knocking off directly it began to rain; and cooking and washing and mending, and all the other little odds and ends that somehow get themselves done as if by magic in civilization, were practical matters of which these pioneer missionaries owned themselves profoundly ignorant. The kitchen furniture could not be found at first, and with neither stove nor pots nor pans, a wood fire on the ground was all that could be managed, and meals consisted, for the most part, of ship's biscuit and tinned meat, taken straight out of the tin.
After a few wet days, Maclaren began to have attacks of fever. The carpenters and their work went from bad to worse. It seemed that the material was often inferior, and that it had been badly prepared in Australia; and the men quarrelled constantly with each other, coming at last to blows; one of them "grumbled from morning to night," and another was "lazy and incompetent," and one of them offered, one morning, to fight Mr. Maclaren, and even struck him in the face.
Tropical climates play up with a man's temper, and these workmen, thus transplanted to unfamiliar soil, were all suffering, more or less, with malarial fever, and much allowance must be made for them; but it is easy to understand that Maclaren found his best happiness at this time in and about the villages, and that he wrote of the natives as "a happy, contented, peaceful lot of people, and in many ways an example to white men--certainly to two of our carpenters, whose language, etc."
When the unloading of the Grace Lynn was finished, King went to Samarai to meet the three missionaries who were coming from Melbourne, and soon after his return to Dogura, at the beginning of October, was himself seriously ill.
Maclaren had a tempestuous journey to Samarai at the end of October, and when he returned it was decided that King and the sick Samoan--and the carpenters--should leave within a week. Maclaren wrote, on November 9th--"Mrs. Tomlinson is in bed, and has been for the last three days. We have also had Mr. King ill for the last four weeks, quite unable to do anything. He is returning to Sydney for a change, and on business for the Mission. Peter, our boatman, has also been very ill, but he is mending and will be ready to-morrow to go over 100 miles in the open boat to meet the mail at Samarai. . . . We are in a terrible muddle with the house . , . only the kitchen is imperfectly finished, and not a bit of the main building is touched above the joists, and only half these are laid. . . . The carpenters are leaving, so that work is stopped for a time."
No natives could be got to accompany the party in the whale-boat, as they had been too terrified by the journey with Mr. Maclaren a week or two before; but after a few days' hospitable entertainment by the London Missionary Society people at Kwatu, near Samarai, King and the carpenters and the Samoan got safely away to Australia.
There was plenty of work still for Maclaren to do at Dogura. "All along," says Mr. King, "the main burden of the work fell upon him; and he was more successful in his management of the natives than any of the rest of us."
There was ground to be cleared, and drains dug; coconuts to be planted, and paths cut through the long rank grass. Many natives came in from considerable distances, and they were set to work. Maclaren made a fair start at the language, writing down a few hundred words, and spending a good deal of time in the villages. He got on well with the people, always realizing that they were children, and to be treated accordingly. He composed two hymns, one to the music of "Daily, daily," and another to a litany tune, which were simple enough, and perhaps served to suggest some faint glimmerings of what he would be at, but it is not surprising that these "hymns" should afterwards have been found to be "entirely incorrect."
At Boianai, some sixteen miles further up the coast, there was a large native population, and these people repeatedly sent messages to say that they would come very soon to Dogura, and that their intention, after killing the missionaries, was to kill the Wedau people for receiving them.
Maclaren started for Boianai in the whale-boat with three natives, but was obliged to turn back for want of wind. He set out again, after an early celebration of Holy Communion at half-past five the next morning, with two white men and some of the chiefs of Wedau and Wamira, followed by two canoes laden with natives. They reached Boianai about two o'clock, and Maclaren landed alone and went straight into the village, and when he found the natives were friendly he called his party ashore. An exchange of presents followed, the missionaries giving red shirts and tomahawks and receiving fruit and vegetables. Later on, pigs were presented and tomahawks given in return. It was, after all, quite a pleasant, peaceful visit, and the party left Boianai at five o'clock, and were back at Dogura soon after midnight. A few days afterwards, some of the Boianai people paid a return visit to Dogura, and brought vegetables and fruit for sale.
Soon after midnight on the following Sunday, Maclaren was in his boat again, with the same companions, for a longer trip round Goodenough Bay. They went forty miles or so straight across to Cape Vogel, and visited a tribe that Maclaren had met before, when travelling in the Merrie England. They found that the languages spoken on and about Cape Vogel were very different from that of Wedau; and they heard a good deal about the Maisin tribes of Collingwood Bay, who were constantly making murderous raids upon their neighbours; and then they came back round the coast, calling in, and being well received, at village after village, and finishing up with a second visit to Boianai. They found the natives very wild at the head of the bay, where Paiwa mission station now stands, and proof was not wanting that these people were cannibal, and in a constant state of intertribal war. Two days after their return to Dogura, news was brought early on a Sunday morning (December 6th) that a chief man at Boianai had been killed by men from a neighbouring village. Directly the Celebration was over, Maclaren hurried off in a native canoe, with other canoes in company. They found that the man had been killed early on Saturday morning, just as he was getting ready to come to Dogura. The cause of the quarrel, as often happens in New Guinea, was obscure, but it seems to have been resentment or jealousy, aroused by the new-made friendship with the white men. Maclaren spent that night in the native club house, where the younger men of the village sometimes slept, with the thickly laid shingle for a bed, and some scores of wild New Guinea savages snoring round him. In describing this experience, he confessed that he did not sleep very soundly; and it seems probable, in the light of more recent medical knowledge--knowledge that was not available one-and-twenty years ago--that it was on this occasion that Maclaren contracted the fever of which he died three weeks later.
He was back at Dogura on Monday, but off again on Wednesday, visiting the villages round Cape Frere, and sleeping out for two or three nights. With this constant travelling under a tropical sun, and with all this poor feeding and rough exposure in a malarial country to which he was not yet acclimatized, and in days when the nature of malaria was so imperfectly understood that the average man, even in New Guinea, took no particular precautions about the use of mosquito nets and quinine, it is not remarkable that Maclaren fell ill.
On the following Sunday he was too unwell to Celebrate in the morning, but he got to the villages in the afternoon, and preached an evening sermon to the little white staff on "Death, and the uncertainty of life."
Next evening (December 14th), he started in the whale-boat for Samarai. "I must make a move to-night," he wrote to the Primate, just before he started, "calling at Taupota, Awaiama, and other places on the way, as I am anxious to visit all the villages on the coast between here and Cape Ducie before Christmas."
On the journey he had a severe attack of fever, and on reaching Samarai was carried to the magistrate's house. The Merrie England came in a few days afterwards, with Sir Samuel Griffith and Sir William MacGregor on board; and the latter prescribed for the sick man. Sir Samuel Griffith afterwards wrote as follows:
"When I saw Mr. Maclaren on Christmas morning he seemed to me to be very ill indeed. I told him (as Sir William MacGregor had asked me to do) that he must not think of going back to his station in the whale-boat, but must wait till the Merrie England came back from Cooktown. He was then very anxious to go 'home' as soon as possible. Next day he was much worse, and it seemed to us that his only chance was to come on to Cooktown, for he could not get any proper attention at Samarai. He had refused this on Christmas Day, but he came on board, or rather was carried on board, just before we sailed at eleven o'clock. He was then hardly conscious. ... In the evening his temperature rose to 106 degrees, but a strong dose of anti-febrin produced a good perspiration, and he slept well. At a little before six next morning (Sunday, December 27th) the steward asked him if he wanted anything, and he replied, 'No, I want nothing.' He never spoke again, and ten minutes later was found to be dead."
Next day, the Merrie England, with her flag at half-mast, arrived in Cooktown, and Albert Alexander Maclaren was buried there the same afternoon.