Chapter IV. Rev. S. Marsden--Tippahee
"How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" Rom. X. 14.
FOR a few moments we suspend our narrative, to pay our tribute to the memory of Captain Cook. The benevolent exertions of this good and great man in behalf of the barbarous nations he fell in with, sprung from Christian principle. Love to God and man was the ruling motive of his life; and while benefiting distant lands, he spared no pains to promote the comfort and to maintain the morality, as well as discipline, of his own crew.
Had his example been followed by succeeding voyagers, or even had the New Zealanders been treated with only common humanity and uprightness, how much guilt would have been avoided, how much human life would have been spared, and what cause would the natives have had to rejoice in this opening communication with England and her dependencies! But it was far otherwise; and the intercourse that in consequence of our great navigator's discoveries commenced, towards the end of the last century, between the people of New Zealand and other countries, was far from being calculated to improve the moral condition of the Maori race, or to give them any favourable impressions of Christianity. The trade with New South Wales consisted [34/35] in the exchange of cargoes of the fine timber, with which the Island abounded, for some of the commonest articles of English hardware; and when, a few years later, the South Sea whalers from England resorted to New Zealand for provisions, they also found that the most acceptable payment was in nails and fishhooks.
Too soon however in both these cases the frame degenerated into a system of fraud and violence, where the treachery, cruelty, and bad faith of the Europeans roused the indignation of the savage to acts of the fiercest revenge, often, alas! followed by retaliation on the part of the first aggressors. The few scattered notices we have of Maori history during all this period are little else than tales of massacre and bloodshed; or at best of New Zealanders torn from their families and their homes, and, when no longer wanted on board the vessel, left to perish in some distant island. [There were however a few honourable exceptions to this statement: among others. Captain King, Governor of Norfolk Island, and afterwards of Port Jackson, made several attempts to benefit the New Zealanders, but unhappily without success.] And yet so carefully did the original authors of these calamities keep out of sight their own guilt in the transactions, that, both in England and in New South Wales, the ferocity of the Maoris was supposed to be unprovoked; the very name of New Zealand was held in abhorrence; and its people were considered as untameable savages fitted only for destruction.
But there was one eye in New South Wales that saw things in a truer light, one heart that yearned over the wretchedness of his fellow-men, that knew the provocations that were given them, and felt that the greater [35/36] their depravity, the more determined should be the efforts of Christians to reclaim them.
The Rev. Samuel Marsden,--a name ever to be had in honour by all who love God and man, and without whom the beautiful Polynesian Islands would not have known the blessings brought to them by the London Missionary Society,--had been in 1792 appointed Chalain at Port Jackson; and carrying out with him a strong and sound faith, a firm unyielding principle, and a glowing zeal and love that longed for the salvation of all man-kind, his long chaplaincy became the greatest blessing the Southern Hemisphere has ever known. To him was given the rare privilege of benefiting, not, individuals merely, but whole races of his fellow-beings. [We do not know the place of Mr. Marsden's birth, but he was originally brought up as a blacksmith. He was led to Christ while young, and while giving his own heart to his Saviour felt so ardent a desire to be the instrument of leading others to know Him also that in 1786, when about twenty-two years of age, he applied to the Elland Society to receive him. They did so, educated him, sent him to College, and prepared him for the ministry; and among the many devoted and excellent ministers whom the Church owes to the Society, for none may she feel more grateful than for Samuel Marsden.]
We wish we knew more precisely how and when this good man became interested in the Maori race; but all we have been able to ascertain is, that in the year 1806, an influential chief, named Tippahee, and [36/37] his four sons, urged by a spirit of inquiry as to other lands, worked their way to Port Jackson in one of the trading vessels. It would be very interesting to trace out his firsy adventures there, his meeting with Mr. Marsden, &c., but we can only give a few unconnected details of the history. [Since writing the above we find that on Mr. Marsden's last visit to New Zealand, in 1837, he mentioned to Mr. Matthews that the first New Zealanders he had seen were two chiefs, Toki and Huru, whom Captain King had taken to Norfolk Island, and subsequently to Port Jackson, in the hope of their giving useful information on the culture of flax. Captain King failed in his project, but he had the privilege of conferring on the Maoris the inestimable benefit of bringing their race under the notice of Mr. Marsden.]
Mr. Marsden soon got into friendly intercourse with the chief, and found that this tattooed savage was endowed with a mind superior to any thing he could hare anticipated. He found him intelligent and eager for knowledge, and most anxious for the welfare and improvement of his people; while his natural tact and courtesy of manner made him no unfitting guest at the table of the governor. [A little incident that occurred one day when dining with a large party at Government House showed Tippahee's shrewdness of observation, and courage in expressing his opinion. A discussion arose as to our penal code; he could not reconcile our punishment of theft with his own sense of justice, maintaining that stealing food when perhaps the thief was hungry ought not to be so severely punished. He was told, in reply, that according to English law every man who took the property of another was liable to be put to death. "Then," exclaimed he with animation, addressing the governor, "why do you not hang Captain--------," pointing to a gentleman then at table; "Captain--------, he come to New Zealand, he come ashore, and tiki (stole) my potatoes; you hang Captain--------." The Captain was covered with confusion, for the charge was true; like most of the commanders of vessels, he had, when off the coast, and in want of potatoes, sent a boat's crew on shore, dug up Tippahee's plantation, and carried off the produce without offering him the slightest remuneration.] The arts of life he saw at Port Jackson rendered him the more alive to the ignorance and degraded state of his countrymen; and so painfully did he feel this, that upon being one day taken to a common rope-walk to see the process of spinning twine [37/38] and fishing-lines, and of manufacturing rope, he burst into tears, exclaiming, "New Zealand no good."
Mr. Marsden had much conversation with him on the possibility of forming an European settlement in the Island similar to that in Tahiti, which was now beginning to rejoice the hearts of the devoted and self, forgetting men who had planned and executed it; and found the chief willing to assist in any undertaking that promised such advantages to his native land. Tippahee returned home laden with presents from the governor, of the most useful kind--agricultural tools, seed wheat, a few head of cattle, &c, &c.; while Mr. Mara-den's mind became more and more intent upon the introduction of the Gospel and of civilization into New Zealand.
Not long after this, Mr. Marsden had occasion to visit England, and took the opportunity of bringing the subject before the Committee of the Church Missionary Society. We can well imagine with what ardour and energy he pleaded the cause of the Maoris and with what success, we shall see in the following chapter.