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Printed letter dated 11 June 1853.

By George Augustus Selwyn.

no place: no publisher, [1853]

Text provided by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Selwyn College Cambridge, 2008

The subjoined letter is printed solely for Facility of Circulation amongst those who have engaged themselves to unite in Prayer with, and for, the Church of New Zealand, on S. Barnabas' Day. It is not for publication.

S. Barnabas' Day, 1853.
10 p.m. of our Time,
10.20 a.m. of your Time,
Off Hen and Chickens, New Zealand,
Barque, Daniel Webster.


AT the hour at which I suppose that you will be assembling to your Morning Prayer, I begin a letter to you, to assure you that the day has not passed without special remembrance of you in our prayers; and that I have knelt down just now in hope that our united petitions may go up together before the Mercy Seat. My morning congregation [1/2] was not large, for I am in a strange vessel, and this is my first day on board, so that my dear wife and I, with our little boy, were glad to go into our private cabin, and there read the Communion Service, with the final prayer in the Post Communion, altered to express our thankfulness for the assurance which this day's thoughts afford, that we are "very members incorporate in the Mystical Body of our Lord, which is the blessed company of all faithful people;" and especially that we are united in that body with a special band of faithful and loving friends, who never cease to make intercession for us.

I am now sailing for Sydney, in hopes of taking ship from thence to the Northern Islands; our own vessels being so much occupied in supplying potatoes to Melbourne, that none of them could be spared for the voyage. You will probably have heard that I have been obliged to sell the Border Maid, which was ruining me fast. The necessary repairs were so heavy, that, after spending £400 in putting her to rights, and still finding much more needing to be done, I took advantage of a demand for freight, and free myself from the encumbrance of an elderly vessel, which was disheartening all of our subscribers, by swallowing [2/3] up more than all their subscriptions in expenses having no direct bearing upon the Mission work. The extreme kindness and liberality with which the Sydney Committee acted, in presenting me with the vessel, made me very unwilling to take this step; but, after selling the Undine, and spending all the price upon the Border Maid, and finding myself without any means at command, I had no other resource. At the same time the Melbourne Gold Diggings enticed away my master, and my mate found wages threefold higher than mine in a merchant vessel, so that I found myself like Scott's barque, in the Lady of the Lake, which

"Deserted by her gallant band,
Amidst the breakers lies astrand."

When I returned from a land journey round the Northern Island of New Zealand, going to Wellington by way of Taranaki, and returning with Sir George Grey by the east coast and Taupo, I found myself in an unexpected difficulty, with twenty-four Melanesian boys, and two young women, on my hands, and no vessel to carry them to their homes before the beginning of our inclement weather in June. After much consideration, I determined to take them to Sydney; and here we are all on board, with the exceptions of [3/4] two dear youths, my first and second scholars, John Tol, of Lifu, and George Siapo, of Nengone, who have gone, I trust, to rest in the arms of their new-found Saviour. Both were with us for their third visit, and were advancing to that state of knowledge in which they might have been evangelists to their own people; but God had better things in store for them. Their bodies sleep in our Chapel-yard at S. John's, which has already acquired a deep and varied interest by the names and characters of its dead. The season has been peculiarly unfavourable for them, as we had scarcely any summer, and the influenza raged with great violence over all the Western Pacific. It has been suggested to me that I should acquaint you with the best mode in which the S. Barnabas co-operatives might assist the New Zealand Church. What I have now written will probably have led you to the conclusion, that we need a stated and sufficient support to the Melanesian mission, including a few earnest and right-minded men, with some facility for acquiring languages, and with much aptitude to teach. We may now thank God that the Colony of New Zealand is firmly established; and the English settlers are in a state to do much to maintain their own Clergy. In all parts of the [4/5] country, both among English and natives, a willingness has been shown to give land, or tithe, or money; and this spirit requires only to be encouraged to make this a self-supporting Church. The following list of lands, freely given by the native owners, will prove this:--

Porirua, Trinity College. 500 acres.
Otaki, Native Schools. 500 acres.
Wararapa Native Schools.
Papawai Native Schools. 500 acres.
Kaikokirekui Native Schools. 200 acres.
Ahuriri Native Schools 4,000 acres.
Otawhao Native Schools. 870 acres.
Tukupto Native Schools. 120 acres.
Waikato Native Schools. 400 acres.
Taranaki Native Schools. 500 acres.

7,590 acres.

The progress of the Colony will speedily bring these lands into value, and the revenues added to the annual contributions of the members of the Church, will form, I have no doubt, a sufficient support for our Clergy and Schoolmasters. But it is not probable that we shall be able entire to support our Melanesian Mission, which so naturally belongs to New Zealand, in the distribution of Missionary duties among the Churches of the earth. This then is what I would propose to you [5/6] as a definite point of interest, and of co-operation with New Zealand:--I would simply sketch out to you the plan of operations which past experience suggests.

I. We should want three or four well-educated men, to form a central College, in some convenient place. I fear that New Zealand will not answer for this purpose. The climate and soil are too damp for our Island boys, accustomed to a tropical temperature, and to bask upon dry rocks of coral.

II. We require a good vessel, from 100 to 200 tons; the two Johns of Wesley and Williams are both too large, the one a fine brig of 240 tons, the other a barque of more than 300.

N.B. It is useless to depend upon a master from the merchant service: could not a naval officer of some standing be found who, for the love of God, would undertake such a service? Common merchant mates are now receiving in these ports £150 per annum.

I could give such an officer as I have described (who, I suppose, would be allowed to retain his half-pay,) £150 per annum, a house on shore for his family, in sight of his vessel, riding at anchor within a furlong, twenty acres of land for garden [6/7] and pasturage for his cows, and six months out of the twelve on shore, or at sea only in such short inland voyages near Auckland as would merely resemble yachting at Cowes. The hurricane season, extending from January to April, prevents us from visiting the Islands in those months; and these are the finest weather in New Zealand.

If, as I have reason to hope, and almost to demand, Lyttelton and Wellington are made into separate Bishoprics without further delay, my plan of life, if it please God to prolong it, would be to spend six months at sea, among the Northern Islands, (till not one has been left unvisited), and six months in New Zealand, in visiting the portion of the country still remaining under my charge. At the end of another period of seven years I should hope that the Church would provide a Missionary Bishop for Melanesia, and release me to spend the rest of my days on terra firma.

In order to carry out this and several other important objects, I have thought it necessary, though with much reluctance, to visit England. The chief points which I wish to bring before the notice of the Church in England are these:--

The establishing of Synodical action in the New Zealand Church, upon the basis of the general [7/8] principles contained in my Pastoral letter, printed in the Guardian, of Nov. 1852; which have now been accepted by all the settlements in New Zealand, as represented by public meetings of Church members held in all.

2. The permanent consolidation of the Melanesian Mission; and the selection of a few coadjutors, Clerical and Lay, seamen and landsmen, for that work.

3. The clearing up of the difficulties which seem to stand in the way of the erection of the sees of Lyttelton and Wellington.

4. The selection of Clergymen and Schoolmasters to occupy the Industrial Institutions, for which the estates above-mentioned have been given.

If it please God, I purpose to sail for England in December or January next; and most thankful shall I be to be permitted to see you all. O qui complexus et gaudia quanta!

Ever your affectionate and grateful friend,


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