Project Canterbury















[Bishop William Garden Cowie]


Printed for Private Circulation








Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2006



MORE than fifteen years ago Bishop Selwyn desired to fix the central station of the Melanesian Mission at Norfolk Island. There were strong reasons in favour of the transfer of the work from New Zealand thither; especially the greater suitableness of the climate to the Melanesian Scholars, and the shortening of the voyages of the Mission schooner.

His plan was opposed by Sir W. Denison, the then Governor of New South Wales, and by the Pitcairn Island Committee in London; and was for the time abandoned. After some years it was found necessary by the Governor of New South Wales (Sir John Young, now Lord Lisgar), to make provision for certain objects--for the benefit of the population of Norfolk Island. Money was needed, but the island had no revenue of its own; and nothing could be drawn for the purpose from the revenue of New South Wales, Norfolk Island not forming part of that colony. Accordingly, Sir J. Young was authorised by the Home Government to sell a limited quantity of land in the island, exercising due caution as to the character of the settlers to be introduced thereby. Sir J. Young, knowing that the sale in any way would be unacceptable to the islanders, was anxious to render it really beneficial to them He therefore proposed to Bishop Patteson that the Mission should purchase the block, and his proposal was agreed to. Thus the Mission was in 1866 established in Norfolk Island as its permanent home.


The Southern Cross Mission schooner, returned to Auckland from her cruise among the islands on October 14, bringing me a letter dated September 23, from the Rev. R. H. Codrington, the present head of the Melanesian Mission at Norfolk Island, from which the following is an extract:--

'I cannot at length tell you about our voyage, but it has been very successful indeed, thanks in great part to Mr Tilly; but it is necessary for my purpose to tell you in some detail the state of things in the Banks' islands. It was there, at Mota, that as you well know our dear friend spent the last months of his life in giving a start to the lingering conversion of the people. He left a large proportion of the children baptized and a good number of adults, under the care of G. Sarawia. In that very trying interval, after they heard of the Bishop's death, and before our vessel returned to them in May, the little Christian party not only stood firm, but their number steadily increased. When I got there, Mr Palmer had been there three months, but he found everything going on well at his arrival. Now that we are all gone again, there is George alone. There are three other schools besides his own central one on the island. There is one side of the island you may say Christian and the other still heathen; and he has besides the neighbouring islands to visit as he can. I mean to shew that he has more than he can to do. Again, on a neighbouring island two young men, whose education has been carried on as far as it could go, were left last year with their wives to do what they could for their people. The influence of Mota has been felt, and they have worked steadily and have now a little Christian party round them and a good sized school, and may calls to go and teach elsewhere. A man of more ability and knowledge is wanted to take the lead. Again, on another island, where alone (besides Mota) there is now a large population left by the slave trade, they very much want a teacher; will build a house and do everything for him. Most happily in each case we have just the very man who is wanted. From Mota, George's brother is ready and most able to help him. We have from Ara one of the oldest and best [3/4] instructed of all our scholars, who was always destined to be the first Native Minister of the place. And for Santa Maria, we have another connected by family with the place and very acceptable to the people. These men Bishop Patteson intended to have ordained last Christmas, and we all very much wish them to be ordained before they go to the work which is waiting for them. What I want to beg you to do is to come and ordain them for us; and I feel sure that if you can you will. I shall begin to prepare them at once, though they are very much prepared already. It will give an immense impetus to our work both in Norfolk Island an in the Banks' islands. If I did not think it a matter of great importance I would not ask it, but there is no time to lose. Suppose any arrangements to be made about our Bishopric, there men could not be ordained within the next few months by their own Bishop. Pray give your best consideration to the matter, and come if you possibly can. The mission could well afford to provide a vessel for you. We should have a few for confirmation also and perhaps Mr Nobbs some more. I am sure of two things, that you will come if you can manage it, and that if you do you will be very pleased and make it useful.'

Mr. Codrington informed me at the same time that he had written to the Bishop of Tasmania, in whose jurisdiction Norfolk Island when a penal settlement was placed by the British Government, asking him to delegate to me, as the nearest Bishop in New Zealand, the necessary authority for holding the Ordination which was considered essential to the progress of the Mission.

I felt that I could not but comply with Mr. Codrington's request; and as I should not have been able without very great inconvenience to leave New Zealand after November, I decided on setting out for Norfolk Island as soon as the Mission schooner could be got ready for sea.

I accordingly left Auckland on Thursday November 7, accompanied by the Rev. G. Maunsell my Chaplain, and Mr. F. D. Yonge, a cousin of the lady of that name to whom the Mission is so greatly indebted.* [Footnote: *Miss Yonge has devoted the whole proceeds of her book, the Daisy Chain, amounting now to between £2,000 and £3,000, to the purpose of the Mission.] Mrs. Jacob, the Captain's wife, was also on board. I went to the schooner in a boat which met me at the reef below S. Stephen's chapel in Judge's Bay, the point from which Bishop Selwyn used to embark for his island cruises in former days. Sir W. and Lady Martin, Archdeacon Maunsell, Mr. [4/5] Swainson, the Revs. B. T. Dudley and J. Palmer, Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Wyatt-Watling, and Mrs. Cowie saw me off.

November 8, Friday: After being becalmed for 12 hours at a distance of 40 miles from Auckland, we made a start after sunset with a fresh S.W. breeze, which increased in strength during the night.

November 10, Sunday: The wind now from the S.E. continued to increase, and our progress was very rapid; but the sea became so rough that even the sailors were ill. The schooner being very light was tossed about like a cork, and was struck occasionally by three seas at once, so that 'the poor thing,' as Captain Jacob said, 'did not know what to do.' The motion was particularly unpleasant, justifying all that had been told me of the liveliness of the vessel; but notwithstanding the heaviness of the sea very little water was taken on board. The Southern Cross is of 92 tons register,--about the size of the vessel in which Columbus first crossed the Atlantic.

November 11, Monday: After 6 p.m. we were becalmed. The wind having gone round to the north and the weather become warm, enormous cockroaches in great numbers, and swarms of light coloured ants made their appearance in all parts of the vessel. The former are at least as odious as the cockroaches of the P. and O. ships on the Indian side of Suez; some of the crew occasionally finding that their toe nails have been eaten down to the quick by them in a night. The ants are not so objectionable, though they are to be found on almost every piece of bread that one puts into one's mouth; they are supposed, however, to act as scavengers on the vessel, and so to make amends for the annoyance they occasion.

November 13, Wednesday: We were becalmed the greater part of yesterday and to-day about sixty miles from Norfolk Island. It would be a great advantage if the new schooner were provided with auxiliary steam power, to save the time of the missionaries on the occurrence of periods of calms; during which also the sails and rigging suffer much damage in the swaying to and fro of the vessel on the long swell of the ocean. Steam power is, however, chiefly needed to enable to schooner to keep off the reefs which are numerous among the islands, and to move away quickly from danger of whatever kind. During her last cruise, the vessel was at one time six days accomplishing about 30 miles, owing to the [5/6] continuance of calm; and at Florida she was with difficulty saved from drifting on to the rocks at a very critical time. The necessary discomforts of the missionaries during a cruise among the islands are sufficiently trying, without these dangers and annoyances which might be prevented. I am told that auxiliary steam power sufficient for the purposes specified would occasion little extra expense, considering the saving that would in many respects be thereby effected.

November 14, Thursday: We reached Norfolk Island at 5 p.m., and landed at the Cascades on the North side, as it was thought useless to attempt to go ashore at the Settlement, owing to a heavy swell that was setting in there from the South, and making the sea near the landing place a sheet of foam. The coast in the neighbourhood of the Cascades, as in other parts of the island, is rocky and precipitous; and landing there is sometimes difficult even with the wind from the opposite quarter, as one has to step out of the boat onto a rock, against which the waves are continually breaking. Norfolk Island is between 15 and 20 miles in circumference, about the size of Holy Island to the W. of Anglesea; its highest point being about 1000 feet above the sea.* [*Footnote: Norfolk Island, lying in the Southern Pacific, in latitude 29_°3'45" South, and longitude 167°58'6" East from London, was discovered by Captain Cook in 1774. It is about 600 miles from Auckland (New Zealand), and about 900 miles from Sydney (Australia). It appears to have been formed by the eruption of volcanic matter from the bed of the sea; and is estimated to contain about 10,000 acres. Until 1788 the island had remained uninhabited; but in that year a small number of convicts with a party of Marines was sent there from Australia. The convict establishment was finally withdrawn in 1855; and in the following year the inhabitants of Pitcairn's island (4_ miles in circumference), the descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty, who had outgrown their diminutive home, were at their own request removed to Norfolk Island.] From the place where we landed to the Mission Station (S. Barnabas) is about 5 miles, by a good grass-grown road. Everything was looking very beautiful at the time of our visit, brilliantly green and fresh after recent and heavy rain,--the island resembling a magnificent emerald in a deep blue setting. The land generally is very undulating, and well-wooded; the principal trees being the formal Norfolk pine and what is called the white oak; with frequent groves of wild lemon trees now laden with large yellow fruit. I heard the notes of a good many birds, but none that I recognized, and saw one pheasant of the kind that we have in New Zealand. About half-way to the Station, I was overtaken by Mr Codrington, who was hurrying home to evening chapel, and had just heard of our arrival. We reached the Station as sunset, and found the Melanesian boys standing about in groups waiting for the service. A person well acquainted with the islands might almost tell the home of each of them by the fashion of [6/7] his hair. With some it is long, lank and rusty-looking; while others wear it in huge frizzy masses, in shapes somewhat resembling the modern 'bearskin' of H.M.'s Guards. The moon was at the full and the sky cloudless, so that I could not have seen the Station at night under more favourable circumstances. It is not unlike a village in lower Bengal in the rainy season, when the vegetation is luxuriant and the air filled with the chirping of the tree-cricket. Soon after 7 p.m. the bell summoned us to chapel. The lights in the windows reminded me of winter evening 'chapel' at Cambridge; but vespers at S. Barnabas is a very different service from that to which we were accustomed at Trinity Hall. On entering the building, which is of wood and unsubstantial, we found it nearly filled by Melanesians, dressed in trousers and flannel shirts, sitting quietly on long benches arranged across the chapel and along the side walls; the latter seats being set apart for the clergy and other teachers, and for females. The service consisted of part of the Evening Prayer, said (in Mota) by the Rev. R. Jackson, who appeared to be very familiar with the language, saying the prayers almost by heart. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were chanted by the whole congregation, in a manner that quite astonished me; indeed I never heard the canticles sung with more spirit, or more devotionally by any congregation. Each word was distinctly pronounced and with the proper emphasis. The harmonium accompaniment, played by the Rev. C. Brooke (to whose skill and perseverance the excellence of the singing is due), was just what an accompaniment should be, and so seldom is in our churches,--a support to the singers, exact in time, with expression, and subdued in tone. The chants moreover were particularly well chosen, suited to the voices of the Melanesians, and appropriate to the words sung. The precision and spirit of the chanting, together with the almost metallic ring of the boys' voices, recalled to me the inspiriting tones of the band of an English cavalry regiment. The Psalms for the evening, devotionally 'said' by the whole congregation, were the 24th and the 47th, according to the following Table, drawn up by Bishop Patteson for the daily services:--

   Morning. Evening.
Sunday  2  113  114  122  148
Monday  19  87  110  105
Tuesday  67  96  97  115  106
Wednesday  51 ....  101  145
Thursday  8  15  24  47
Friday  22  23  103  146
Saturday  121  130  135  136

[8] A Lesson from the New Testament was read by one of the Melanesians, and there was a hymn after the third collect. The scholars evidently took pleasure in the service, and their behaviour was in every respect most becoming. As I looked at their happy faces, and observed their quiet orderly manner--in standing, sitting, and kneeling, I could not but feel that the system of which I saw before me so striking a result must have in it some special virtue of its own. It was difficult to realise the fact that the boys composing the congregation were, for the most part, sons of men as wild as those by whom the Mission was last year deprived of its head, and that the words which they sung at the service had not been until recently reduced to writing. As to the boys' enjoyment of the service, something is no doubt due to the charm which 'truth combined with novelty invariably possesses,' for Melanesians as well as for Europeans. Of their circumstances it might literally be said "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The appropriateness of S. Peter's metaphor, "the washing of regeneration," in regard to those whom God "hath reconciled . . to Himself by Jesus Christ," is strikingly illustrated by the present condition of these islanders. The physical change denoted by birth into the world can alone express the alteration experienced by those who, like the Melanesian scholars, in baptism are delivered from the power of darkness and "translated into the kingdom of His dear Son." As Bishop Patteson said of them, 'they are indeed most docile loveable fellows; we all become very much attached to them; but they were rather different when first we made their acquaintance.' A good deal of the success of the work, in this as in other and more important matters, is explained by what I afterwards saw of the terms on which the teachers and taught live together at S. Barnabas school.

When the service was ended the congregation remained kneeling in private prayer for several minutes, during which there was perfect stillness; and then quietly left the building, the females and the teachers going out first.

After chapel I went with Mr Codrington to his house close by, which contains, besides his own two rooms, a long apartment suitably furnished, in which his Mota scholars sleep and keep their things. Each member of the European staff has a similar 'house'--as it is technically called at Eton and other public schools, where are lodged under his care the scholars from the particular island with which his work is specially connected. Thus [8/9] the Florida boys are lodged with Mr Brooke, those from San Christoval with Mr Jackson, and the Ambrym boys with Mr Kenny; and Mr Bice has charge of the boys from Lepers Island. The young girls live with Mrs Palmer and Mrs Bice, who are their principal teachers. As with Englishmen in India, so with our Missionaries in Norfolk Island, there is no such thing as private life; every window in the mission houses being also a door, in fine weather always open; and, in addition, no member of the Mission looks upon his house as his castle. Accordingly, a dozen or more boys accompanied us from the chapel to Mr Codrington's quarters, into which some entered with us, while others stood about the door in the brilliant moonlight, scrutinizing the fresh arrival from New Zealand. Their conduct was, however, in no way obtrusive or prying--all evidently feeling that they were welcome, and to each visitor a kind word was said by Mr Codrington as opportunity offered. In one corner of the room there was a sick boy lying in a cosy looking bed, with various little comforts on a chair by his side; and at the table one of the candidates for Deacons' Orders sat down and commenced writing quite at his ease. Whilst Mr Codrington and I talked together on matters connected with the Mission, bare-footed boys and young men came noiselessly into the room and left it again, as they chose, not speaking unless spoken to by Mr Codrington, who would now and then take one of his visitors, and, drawing the lad to him in a kindly manner, would ask some question or say a few words to interest him. The present head of the Mission, like the late Bishop Patteson, is thus accessible to all the scholars of S. Barnabas at all hours of the day: indeed what I am now attempting to describe went on after nine o'clock at night. No one of them is kept by Mr Codrington at arm's length; but all are encouraged to treat him as sons should treat a father, with confidence and respect. As in a well commanded regiment of soldiers (where threatening and scolding are not needed), or in a well brought up family, perfect discipline is maintained, and all are kept in their places, by the uniform administration of the 'unwritten law of love.' The effects of such a rule are to be seen on every side at S. Barnabas. There are no menial offices connected with the Mission; the Melanesian boys and girls not being required by the Missionaries or their wives to do for them anything that they would not do for themselves. Some of the scholars who assist in the household work as volunteers receive a small payment for their services, but there are not regular servants; the work of the community of what-[9/10]ever kind being distributed among the whole body, Europeans and natives alike,--each one giving his more particular attention to that branch of the household and other duties for which his strength and natural tastes, or his antecedents, specially fit him. Thus Mr Codrington directs the higher education of the school; Mr Palmer superintends the farm, and works on it more diligently than any day labourer would be expected to do, being assisted by Messrs Brooke and Bice; Mr Jackson is hard gardener; Mr Kenny has charge of the horses, cows, carts, &c.; whilst the superintendence of the married women is left to Mrs Palmer and Mrs Bice. Until lately Mr Codrington acted as head cook, in addition to his other duties; but he is now relieved of this office by one of the Melanesian deacons. It is by such brotherly and Christian co-operation, in all matters connected with the work of the Mission, that self-respect, mutual trust, and a spirit of independence are cherished and maintained among the residents at S. Barnabas. The wildest children of the wildest islanders are perfectly gentle in their intercourse with their teachers, sitting quietly by their side in their rooms, handling with much care their lesson-books, doing no injury to the furniture, and keeping their fingers from the private property of the missionaries which lies about them on every side. In the countenances of several of these hopeful scholars I thought I could discern signs of more than a glimmering of 'sweetness and light.'

The walls of Mr Codrington's sitting room are furnished much as they might be if the house stood within the boundaries of Wadham, and he were still living there on his Fellowship. Over the wooden mantel-piece, above the usual clock, is an engraving of Nicolaus Wadham, Armiger; one wall is almost hidden by shelves filled with handsomely-bound books, and on the others are some large water-colour drawings and photographs.

At 9.40 p.m. the bell rang for bed. The quarters occupied by me during my stay were those of the late Bishop, forming part of the same building with the chapel, and now tenanted by Mr Brooke. The sitting room, from which the chapel is entered through doors covered with red cloth, has on two sides shelves filled with the Bishop's books; and on the others there are engravings and photographs,--Raphael's Last Supper resting on the mantel-piece, and a large head of the Saviour, engraved by Lowis, being suspended above the shelves at the further end. The [10/11] room, about 30 feet by 20 feet with a high-pitched roof, contains a long table covered with oil-cloth; at which I found the Florida boys and other catechumens seated and reading their books, when I entered it after the chapel service. Along one side there is a good verandah, into which two doors open, not closed day or night during my visit. After the 9.40 p.m. bell, several boys passed quietly through the room from the verandah into the chapel--the doors of which are of course never locked, to say their prayers before going to bed. Having been accustomed to make such use of the chapel and to see their seniors do so, from their earliest connection with the Mission, the boys do not think it anything strange, but would rather be surprised to learn that any church is not constantly used for private prayer by Christians living near it. The Bishop's bedroom is entered from the sitting room by a door opposite to the verandah. It was here that Bishop Patteson, as he told me himself, was comforted in his illness by joining in the daily chapel services, when confined to his bed in the early part of 1870. There is very little furniture in the room; and on the wall are engravings of John Keble and Bishop Coleridge, and photographs of the late Sir John Patteson and other members of the family.

November 15, Friday: The first bell rang at 6 a.m.; but nearly an hour before that time members of the community were up and about. At 6:30 a.m. all assembled in the chapel, when Mr. Codrington took the services, the Lessons being read by Melanesians. From the chapel all went to the Hall close by to breakfast. It is attached building with the kitchen at one end. Down the centre of the long room is placed the high table, for the Mission staff, including all the teachers clerical and lay--European and Melanesian, Mr Kendall the carpenter, and occasionally the missionaries' wives; and along three sides are other tables for the scholars, the women and girls having one apart to themselves. After a short grace said by Mr Codington in Mota, all sat down to a suitable meal; each person present being supplied with food "convenient for" him,--with fare wholesome, substantial, and abundant, such as is conducive to the 'plain living and high thinking' which have ever been associated with the Melanesian Mission. Silence is not enforced during meals at any of the tables; but the conduct of all present--about 150, then as at other times, is perfectly orderly, almost the only voice heard above the rest being the occasional crowing of some child in arms. After breakfast all [11/12] disperse to their various duties until 1 o'clock when they meet again for dinner. During my visit lessons had for the most part to be dispensed with, as the clergy were engaged all day preparing candidates for ordination and confirmation. I did not, therefore, see the boys in school, but had many opportunities of judging of the progress they were making in reading and writing, and in other branches of their education.

In the afternoon I rode to the Settlement, about three miles distant from the Mission station, accompanied by the Rev. R. Jackson, who had to see his English-speaking candidates for confirmation. We went by what are called the 'downs;' from which there is a charming view across to Philip Island, a huge uninhabited rock about three miles south of Norfolk Island. The day was very fine; and the colours of the land, sea and sky were as beautiful as I ever saw them in any part of the world. Near the deserted-looking Settlement, with its forsaken and dilapidated barracks* [*Footnote: Norfolk Island was abandoned as a penal settlement in 1855, and the Pitcairn Islanders were brought there in 1856. On their arrival they were 194 in number, and are now 335. The Head Quarters of the Melanesian Mission removed to the Island from Auckland (New Zealand) in 1866.] and gaol, the long rollers were breaking on the rocks with great fury, under the force of the southerly wind,--forming a broad white belt of surf all along the coast, and filling the air with a din, like the roar of not very distant artillery. I called at Government House, a large and well situated building, in which Mr Wyatt-Watling the doctor of the island, and Mr Revel the schoolmaster, at present have quarters; there having been no resident Governor for sixteen years, that is, since the convict establishment was removed from the Island. An enormous sum of money must have been spent on this and the other large stone buildings of the place. At the back of Government House, and separated from it by a plantation of handsome Norfolk pines, is the house of the Rev. G. H. Nobbs,Ý [ÝFootnote: Mr Nobbs arrived at Pitcairn's Island in 1828, and became schoolmaster of the community. Since 1852 he has been their Minister. In the latter year he visited England, and was ordained by the Bishop of London.] chaplain of the settlement, who came with the Pitcairn Islanders from their former home, and is now 73 years of age. Mr Nobbs is hale and hearty, notwithstanding the rough experiences of his earlier years; when he was an officer in the Royal Navy, and afterwards in the service of the Chilian Government. He took me to see his new church, All Saints, which was built last year, and is very creditable to the island architect, and to the inhabitants who provided the chief part of the cost.

[13] In the evening I was instructed in reading the confirmation and ordination services in Mota, by Edmund Baratu; of whom Bishop Patteson said, in his address to the people of Sydney, that he 'was perhaps the ablest of all his scholars with the exception of another lad named Henry Tagalana'--one of the candidates for deacons' orders.

November 16, Saturday: I had a class of young people from the Settlement (i.e. the home of the quondam Pitcairners) who were to be confirmed on the following day, the boys having been prepared by Mr Jackson and the girls by Mr Brooke. My class was held in S. Barnabas chapel. Afterwards I received a visit from two young men, James Russell McCoy and Benjamin Stanley Young (bother of Fisher Young, killed at Santa Cruz in 1864), who had recently come by a whaling vessel from Pitcairn's Island.* [*Footnote: A few families returned to Pitcairn from Norfolk I., preferring their old home.] They wished to be admitted to confirmation; and I was very glad that they should be, after having some conversation with them upon the subject. Vessels very rarely touch at Pitcairn's Island, which is situated nearly 4000 miles to the west of Norfolk Island, and no clergyman had been there since 1863, when H.M.S. Tribune called, having a chaplain on board.

At Mr Codrington's request I wrote an examination paper which he put into Mota for the candidates for deacons' orders. He also made me a literal translation of the answers, some of which shewed much thought. I may here mention that the writing was particularly good, in form like that of an educated Englishman. In the afternoon I had some conversation with the candidates, Mr Codrington acting as interpreter. Compared with the Maori deacons whom I lately ordained, the three Melanesians are not so much of men, being considerably younger and less experienced, besides being by nature more shy and reserved. Their knowledge of the Bible is necessarily not equal to that of the Maories, inasmuch as the Old Testament has not yet been translated into Mota, nor the whole of the New. The Melanesian deacons are, however, well instructed in the Scriptures, considering their few years of teaching and that much of it has been oral only; and their answers to my questions shewed plainly that they had been taught to be methodical. As Bishop Patteson once said of some of them, 'they exhibit a capacity for thought [13/14] and reflection which is not always possessed even by educated people.'

After evening chapel I rode down to the Settlement to hear the Norfolk Islanders sing. At 8 p.m. the greater part of the adult population assembled in a fine room of one of the deserted Government buildings, according to their custom, and sang hymns and other songs until 10 o'clock. Their voices are particularly good, with a sweetness of their own, and they have been trained and are well led by Mr Driver Christian, the grandson of Fletcher Christian of the Bounty.* [*Footnote: The Norfolk Islanders are descended from some of the officers and crew of the Bounty, who mutinied off Tafoa, one of the Friendly Islands, Pacific Ocean, April 28, 1789. The mutineers went first to Otaheite, where they married natives of that island; and nine of them afterwards proceeded to Pitcairn, where they settled. The island is situated in Lat. 25° 4' south, Long. 130° 8' west.] These interesting people were first taught to sing by Mr Hugh Carleton, who was left behind at Pitcairn's Island in 1850, on his way to San Francisco, and whiled away the time during his detention (three weeks) by imparting to the community of knowledge of music, which has been carefully cherished by them to the present day.

On my return to S. Barnabas at 10:30 p.m. I looked in at Mr Codrington's quarters, where I found some of the boys of his house saying their prayers, before going to bed in the adjoining dormitory.

November 17, Sunday xxv. after Trinity: I ordained Henry Tagalana, Robert Pantutun, and Edward Wogale, at All Saints' church Norfolk Island, for the Melanesian Mission.

The following particulars of the antecedents of the three deacons were supplied to me by Mr Codrington:--

'Henry Tagalana is the eldest of six brothers and one sister who have been with the Mission; of whom four brothers are now at Norfolk Island, and the other brother and the sister are employed as teachers in their native place. This is the little island of Ara, joined by a reef to the larger one called Saddle Island, one of the most considerable of the Banks' group, and before the labour trade began inhabited by a considerable population. Tagalana was the first from Ara, and one of the three first from that part of the Banks;' Islands who joined Bishop Patteson, and he has remained continually in the Mission to the present time, at first in New Zealand and now in Norfolk Island. He was about eleven years old when he came to Bishop Patteson in 1860; he is consequently now about twenty-three. He was one of the first Banks' Islanders baptized, and was named after the present [14/15] Primate of New Zealand. He was one of the first confirmed by Bishop Selwyn, who had also baptized him. He was admitted to the Holy Communion, with George Sarawia, at Christmas 1865, the other confirmed scholars not being considered sufficiently advanced. He was always from the first the leading boy from his own part of the Banks' Islands, and, though considerably younger, ranked with George Sarawia in Bishop Patteson's consideration, and above him it may be said in his affections. It was Bishop Patteson's declared intention to have ordained him at Christmas 1871. He has considerably natural ability, is a good teacher, and has an impressive manner in addressing natives. He has twice, in the year 1870, and in 1872, been at the head of a little body of Christians at Ara. In 1870 they were found carrying on daily worship together, and teaching in their own villages, and in the neighbourhood, those who came together to learn. On Henry's return to Ara in the present year he found that the work of his brother Edwin, and his brother-in-law William, had already gathered large congregations and many scholars, and that eight converts had been already baptized by George Sarawia. He took what was naturally his place at the head of the teaching, and was actively engaged in it for three months. On the day when the last candidates presented by him and his brothers were baptized, there was a very devout congregation of native Christians, and a school of 146 persons of all ages. He is no doubt looked upon both by the Christian, and the still heathen people of his native place, as their natural leader and teacher. The little island of Ara where he will settle, as it is hoped, next year, will probably soon become Christian, and the centre of operations which will extend over the two districts of Saddle Island still containing a population, and reach also to the large island of Vanua Lava. Henry has now been married nearly four years, and has two children. His wife Joanna is a regular communicant and an intelligent woman.

'Robert Pantutun is a native of Mota, and came first away with Bishop Patteson to New Zealand in 1861. With the exception of the one year 1864, when he was persuaded to absent himself, he has constantly remained with the Mission, and has always been much valued for his intelligence and good nature, and particularly since he has grown up for his industrial services; which have certainly interfered with his intellectual progress. He has passed these many years [15/16] free from any known cause for serious reproach, and among the Norfolk Island scholars, and at home at Mota, is universally liked and respected. As an example of the estimation in which he is held, it may be mentioned that his long list of god-children in his Prayer book shows boys from almost all the islands whence we have Christian scholars, who have chosen him for a witness at their Baptism. He was baptized by Bishop Selwyn, confirmed by Bishop Patteson, and became a communicant in November 1867. He was married in November 1870, to Emily, a very intelligent native of Saddle Island. They have one child, John Patteson.

'It is proposed that Robert should begin a Mission station on the island of Santa Maria in the Banks' Group, in a place with which he has a family connection. There are already a few Christian boys and young men from that Island at Mota and at Norfolk Island; who will go with him as assistants, having been preceded by Robert's step-father, himself a native of Santa Maria, though long resident at Mota, who will prepare a proper house for school and Divine Service. The people of the place ask anxiously for a teacher, and there is still a large population there. Robert had been designed by Bishop Patteson for Star Island, where there are now very few people left; and he will in his boat be able to visit that and other neighbouring islands. It is not proposed that he should settle at once on Santa Maria, but begin a branch Mission there, with a view to his permanent residence.

'Edward Wogale is a native of Qakea, a little sand islet close to Vanua Lava, Great Banks' Island, to which his family belongs; but he practically counts as a Mota man. He is younger brother of George Sarawia, and will now go to help him at Mota in the work which has become too heavy for the hands of one man. He came to Bishop Patteson in the year 1863. Of his conduct from first to last, it is not too much to say that it has been blameless. He is decidedly the most thoughtful and the most intellectual of our Melanesians; his mind cultivated and refined by long, close and affectionate intercourse with Bishop Patteson, and by this teaching in higher subjects, begun in his case at an unusually early age. There is much hope of his being peculiarly useful at Mota under present circumstances, when the activity of the work, and the attention that has been roused, require more intellectual ability, and more sympathetic mind than that of [16/17] the excellent Deacon now in charge. Edward is a particularly good teacher; and a good teacher who can carry the more intelligent scholars onwards is very much wanted at Mota.

'In the year 1870 he was at Mota with Bishop Patteson, during part of the time in which so much enquiry and movement towards the Gospel was going on, and he took a quiet but very effective part in it. He then went to the island of Florida with Mr Brooke, but, suffering very much from his eyes, was not able to do much during his stay there. On the voyage back he was in the Southern Cross when the disaster took place at Nukapu. Before his eyes suffered so much as for a time to threaten blindness, he was at the head of the printing office in Norfolk Island. He is unmarried. He was baptized by Bishop Selwyn, and confirmed by Bishop Patteson at the same time with Robert, and has been a regular communicant since 1867.'

The Ordination was held at 11 o'clock; Morning Prayer having been said for the Norfolk Islanders at an earlier hour, by Mr Nobbs, the Chaplain of the settlement. It was at first intended to hold the Ordination at S. Barnabas; but, as in that case the Norfolk Islanders could not have been present at the service, owing to the smallness of the Mission chapel, it was thought better that the Melanesians should go down to the settlement (three miles distant); the new church there, All Saints, being large enough to hold all the church-going population of the island. To save time, I had drawn up a programme of the service before leaving New Zealand, and brought with me a number of copies printed in Mota and in English for the use of the mixed congregation. Had Mr Nobbs been all his life accustomed to arrange for such 'functions,' the preparations for the "decency and order" of the service could not have been better made; and the programme was followed in every particular.

The clergy entered the church by the west door, the three junior members of the Mission staff, viz: Messrs. Bice, Brooke, and Jackson going first, each leading in one of the Melanesian candidates for deacons' orders. Psalm LXXXIV. (in English) was chanted as the clergy walked up the church to the chancel. The seats in front were occupied by the Melanesians (140 in number), and the rest of the building was filled by Norfolk Islanders. The service began with a hymn in Mota, very heartily sung by the Mission scholars. Then followed the sermon, preached by Mr [17/18] Codrington, first in Mota, and then in English, a very simple and touching address, which was listened to most attentively by all the congregation. He spoke a few words of him who was most missed by them all on that day, 'the very thought of whom, without the mention of his name, brings tears to our eyes.' The Litany was said (in Mota) by the Rev. C. Bice; the commandments and the Epistle were read by the Revs. C. Brooke and R. Jackson; and the Gospel by the Rev. Henry Tagalana. The venerable pastor of the quondam Pitcairn Islanders, the Rev. G. H. Nobbs, assisted me at the administration of the Holy Communion, as did also the Rev. G. Maunsell, and the newly ordained deacons; the communicants numbering over a hundred. Whilst the clergy were communicating, Heber's beautiful hymn, 'Bread of the world in mercy broken,' was softly and sweetly sung by the congregation. After the service the Melanesians returned to S. Barnabas with Mr Codrington, and I with the other clergy remained to dinner with the Rev. G. H. Nobbs.

In the afternoon at 3 o'clock I held a confirmation at All Saints for the Norfolk Islanders. Evening Prayer to the end of the third collect was said by the Rev. G. Maunsell; the Lessons were read by Messrs. Jackson and Brooke, and the Preface to the confirmation service by the Rev. G. H. Nobbs; whose grand-daughter, Catherine Nobbs, played the harmonium accompaniment at both the services. Twenty young people were confirmed (including the two lately arrived from Pitcairn's Island), nearly all being descendents of the Bounty mutineers. The hymns were particularly well sung by nearly the whole congregation, one of them to the tune Cambridge New, said to have been a great favourite with Bishop Patteson. A son and a daughter of James Adams of the Bounty, viz., George Adams and Rachel Evans, both over 70 years of age, were at the service; and I went to see Arthur Quintal, now quite imbecile, the son of another of the mutineers.

In the evening I rode back to S. Barnabas, where a second confirmation--of Melanesians was held at 7 p.m. The boys confirmed (seven in number) were from the Solomon and Banks' Islands. Prayers were said by one of the Melanesian deacons, and the Lessons read by the two others. My address to the candidates was interpreted by Mr Bice, with a fluency that won the admiration even of the Missionaries. The service was very bright, and the bearing of the candidates grave and becoming. From the chapel I went with Mr Codrington to his room, where I confirmed the sick boy Harry Silter, who was able to sit up in bed during the [18/19] prayers. Many of his schoolfellows accompanied us to his bedside.

This day, November 17, is one much to be remembered at S. Barnabas, and by all who took part in its services; a day full of hope for the future of the Mission, and of encouragement to the devoted little band of missionaries engaged in the work It would be impossible for Evangelists to give themselves more entirely to the labour of love in which they are spending their lives than do the members of the staff at S. Barnabas. They evidently take delight in their work, and are occupied in it from sunrise until all are asleep at night. Soon after five o'clock in the morning boys are hovering about the missionaries' rooms, and after ten o'clock at night some of the older scholars are still taking counsel with their teachers.

I was rejoiced to find in what good heart the latter were, with regard to the carrying on of the work; their chief want being one which will soon be supplied, by the accession of the Rev. J. R. Selwyn and the Rev. J. Still to the European staff of the Mission.

The organization of the Mission, in every department, is excellent; realizing all that Bishop Patteson led me to expect, by his repeated commendation of the work of the Rev. Lonsdale Pritt,* [*Footnote: Now Archdeacon of the Waikato, New Zealand] to whom he considered the Mission chiefly indebted in this matter.

November 18, Monday: I left Norfolk Island on my return to Auckland. The schooner had been standing off and on since Thursday; it not being considered wise to anchor near the land, owing to the rocky nature of the bottom, and to the suddenness with which gales spring up in the neighbourhood of the island. At it was, we embarked only just in time,--before the east wind, which was blowing strong, had rendered the sea too rough for a boat to get out through the surf.

Mr A. Kenny, a son of Colonel Kenny of Auckland, returned with us to New Zealand. From his devotion to work and general usefulness, it is expected that he will in time supply the place of the Rev. Joseph Atkin, the loss of whom is at present felt by the Mission staff to be irreparable. Much more could not be said in commendation of a young lay member of the staff.

November 23: The wind, which had gone on increasing since we left the island, become a strong gale from the East, with a [19/20] heavy sea running from the N.E. The schooner was hove to for 18 hours, and in the afternoon we were battened down. This experience helped me to realise the misery not seldom undergone by the missionaries in rough weather among the islands; when there are 80 Melanesians or more--many of them sea-sick, cooped up with the clergy in the cabin (which is badly ventilated at the best); with the thermometer over 90°, and with swarms of cockroaches at night running over the berths, and flying about in every direction. The new schooner should certainly have a deck-house, like those of the American steamers now carrying the mails between San Francisco and New Zealand.

November 27: I reached Auckland before sunset; thankful for having permitted to take part in the work of the Melanesian Mission, and to see some of the results of the system initiated by Bishop Selwyn, and carried on by Bishop Patteson, for the evangelization of the islanders of the S.W. Pacific.

W. G. A.


THE founders of the Melanesian Mission had reflected much on the history of Christian Missions in other parts. They knew that the due effects of Mission work, though done most heartily and devotedly, had been marred in some cases by imposing too strict rules upon the converts, by a rigid and burdensome observance of the Lord's Day, and by over long religious services; in other, by a ceremonial and pompous worship which did not reach the intelligence or the heart; and in most, by too marked a distance being kept up between the teachers and even the most advanced of their pupils; which tended to hinder the growth of a Native Ministry and to obscure the sense of Christian brotherhood.

In working upon the convictions he had gradually formed, Bishop Patteson was aided by the training of his own youth and early manhood, and by the kindly, considerate and unassuming spirit which that training and the example of his father had made strong within him.

Of the youths who were selected each season in a rough way on the beaches of their several islands little could be known for some time after their arrival at the Mission Station. It became [20/21] gradually apparent that some had come with an eye to fish-hooks and axes, and cared for little else. Others showed a readiness to receive Christian teaching, and some even showed qualities of mind which gave promise of fitness at some future day to be teachers and guides of their own people. To them the broad principles of the Christian religion were conveyed, no pains being spared by the Bishop to secure the clearness and intelligibleness of the language used for that purpose. The Bishop often expressed the comfort he felt in escaping from the minute and subtle questions which perplex and divide Christians among themselves, into the large considerations which fill the mind of a man who is engaged in the great conflict of Christianity against Heathenism. Those great principles were left to do their work quietly and secretly. No artificial stimulus or pressure was used. Few men have had such an opportunity of realising the power of the fundamental truths of the Christian religion; of observing the slow struggle of the light and the darkness in the minds of men not devoid of a natural gift of discernment, however clouded by evil tradition or evil habits.

To many of them it was a solemn stirring change to put away the belief in many powers, arbitrary and malignant, and to receive the belief in the One Great Power loving all things He has made and reconciling all races to Himself in Christ. It is hard for us, who from childhood have assented to these truths, to view them as they are viewed by men to whom they come for the first time in all their simplicity. From time to time the mind of one or another would become deeply moved by the strange contrast between the new belief and the old, and between the practical consequences of the one and the other. In such cases all knew whither to betake themselves, for on all subjects, great and small, the Bishop had always shown his readiness to supply such help and comfort as a father would give to his children. At nightfall they would steal into his room one by one, and sit down and open their hearts. And those hours were among his happiest; for then he knew that the work of Christ was in very deed advancing in Melanesia.

The Services at the Mission Chapel were short and very hearty. The Bishop trained his pupils to worship God with such reverence of manner as is required by the Church. All knelt, and as with one voice repeated the responses, and took part in the singing. At the same time nothing could be more manly and healthy than the training the boys got. While religious influences pervaded all, the daily life had much of the routine of a public school, work and play by turns.--Church Gazette.

[Transcriber's Note: Bishop Cowie's Notes were also the principal part of the 1873 Report of the Melanesian Mission, published in 1874. That report continued with a "Subscription List to the Melanesian Mission for the Year 1872" (pages 22-27) and "List of Scholars Maintained in Norfolk Island by Sunday Schools, Associations, &c." (page 28). I have not transcribed these. The original can be found in the Kinder Memorial Library, College of St. John the Evangelist, Auckland.]



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