Chapter VII. Trials and patience of the first settlers--Beginning of progress--Mr. Marsden's second and third visits--Hongi in England--His conduct on his return
The Active sailed again for Sydney on February 25th, 1815; the settlers accompanied her to the entrance of the Bay; and, after bidding adieu to Mr. Marsden, and watching the white sails of his little vessel disappear behind the northern headland, they returned to Rangi-houa. And now the reality of their present situation forced itself more strongly on minds. They had quitted country and friends, the interchanges of civilized life; and henceforth, defenceless and alone, a land of cannibals was to become their earthly home. Months must elapse before they could again have intercourse with Port Jackson; before they could again look on one friendly face, or receive one
"Cordial endearing report
Of a land they must visit no more."
What might not have happened ere those months had passed!
At present the feeling of the barbarous people round them was decidedly in their favour, but who could tell how soon some trifling act of indiscretion, or some [67/68] unintended insult, or some unfounded rumour, might kindle a flame to be quenched only by their blood! [e. g. The head of a chief was considered so peculiarly sacred, that no part of it must ever be spoken of; the bare mention of his eye, or his ear, was a serious offence, and often punished by immediate death.]
The death of Ruatara had materially affected their position: they had lost the shelter and the help of his strong hand and earnest heart; and though Hongi, whose still more powerful sway extended across the Island, had promised Mr. Marsden to protect them, his mind was cast in a very different mould from that of his lamented nephew. The one absorbing desire of Ruatara had been the improvement and elevation of his countrymen, and his cordial help was ever ready for those who would promote this object; while the master passion in the breast of Hongi was self-aggrandizement; and his interest in the new settlement arose chiefly from hia conviction that it would give him influence over his neighbour chiefs.
But the settlers yielded not to any gloomy regrets or forebodings; they were looking for that "city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God;" their Lord was with them, His work was before them; and trusting in Him as their "refuge and fortress," in His name they girded up the loins of their mind, and applied themselves with spirit to the duties that lay before them. The party at this time consisted of Messrs. Kendall, Hall, and King, with their wives and children, Mrs. King's mother, two sawyers, one smith, and three or four labourers from Sydney. This first thing to be done was to provide more substantial [68/69] dwellings; for the wind and rain penetrated their present abode of flags and rushes, and the floor was sometimes ancle-deep in mud. Then the land they had purchased had to be fenced and cleared and planted; and the smith was kept constantly at work in making nails and fish-hooks for use or for barter.
The natives would continually collect round them, looking on and wondering, and hindering the work by the attention they required. Some of them would agree to help them; but a few hours generally sufficed to tire out these undisciplined labourers, and then-would start off to fishing, or to some employment more congenial to their desultory habits. The settlers' wives took a few of the more promising girls into their houses, and at first they were delighted at being taught the arts of household work; but they too would often run away for hours, and though their mistresses clothed and fed and taught them, they were often left without the help of even one. [See next chapter for an animated description of this from the pen of Mrs. H. Williams.]
The attempt to instruct the boys in the rudiments of reading was not much more successful; they were clever and intelligent, and for a little while they would seem deeply interested; but presently would jump up to dance or play; and sometimes the teacher had to follow his scholars into the bush, and there prevail on them to sit still for a quarter of an hour, while they learnt some English word, or a letter of the English alphabet.
But one of the trials of the settlers at this time arose from a different cause--neither men nor women, boys nor girls, seemed to hare the slightest sense of [69/70] propriety or decency; and their persons and habits were so dirty and disgusting, and the language they had learnt from the sailors was so revolting, that to be thus brought into daily and hourly contact with them required an amount of self-denial scarcely to be appreciated in our own civilized community.
More serious annoyances were however yet to come. As the novelty and prestige of a European settlement gradually wore away, the natives began to show more of their real character. The stores of flour, biscuit, rice, wearing apparel, blankets, axes, &c, intended for the settlers' own use, or for the purchase of timber and provisions, were all objects of covetous desire to these poor people; they would come and imperatively demand anything they had a fancy for, and when refused, however courteously, the more daring of them would leap over the fence, break into the store, and help themselves; and it was to the settlers a continual matter of surprise and thankfulness that the whole of the property was not swept away.
Sometimes a spirit of wanton mischief seemed to come simultaneously over the whole neighbourhood; the people would send their pigs into the settlers' wheat, or would break the fences and let the cattle run into the bush, or seize upon the poultry and kill or carry it off before the owners' eyes. A wheelbarrow was one day cut to pieces for the sake of the nails, though they might have had them from the smith for asking for them; and at another time a shed was pulled down for the same purpose.
These attacks were often accompanied with insults and threats of the most frightful kind; and "to be told that before morning their house would be in flames, [70/71] that the stones were then heating for the oven in which they were to be cooked, was on more than one occasion the evening farewell from a mob of angry natives." [See Captain Fitzroy's Narrative]
Never was that promise, "Thou shalt not be afraid of any terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day," more entirely fulfilled than to this devoted band; for it is a remarkable circumstance, that though in 1835, twenty years later, Mr. King told Captain Fitzroy that he could not then look back on those days without shuddering, yet all the letters written at the time uniformly breathe a feeling of security from any personal danger.
Against all these injuries and insults, the settlers' only weapons were remonstrances and arguments. Hongi indeed was at this time faithful to his promise, and ready to listen to any appeal; but his residence was at Waimate, many miles from Rangi-houa, and as the aggressions were more frequently committed by other tribes than by his own, the fear of bringing on a quarrel prevented their applying to him except in cases of great emergency.
After a time, want of sufficient food was added to the settlers' other trials. The abundance of pigs and potatoes on the island had led Mr. Marsden to conclude, that, as long as they had a store of European articles with which to purchase these provisions, there could be no difficulty in procuring them. His great care therefore had been to supply the settlement with blankets, axes, &c, and the smith with a stock of iron for nails and fish-hooks ready for barter. But now the trade in muskets and ammunition, of which we have before [71/72] spoken, began and rapidly increased; and the desire of procuring weapons that would give them such decided advantage over other tribes, so stimulated the warlike propensities of the chiefs and people round the Bay, that they would not part with their provisions for anything but these. It was in vain that the settlers, while refusing to deal with them on these terms, set before them the miseries of war, and urged them to turn to peaceful cultivation; the people were mad upon their idols, and our friends had the mortification of seeing food they had hitherto so easily purchased now carried past with shouts of derision and triumph.
Their own resources were very small: the cattle had been so often set free, that by degrees they had all escaped irreclaimably into the forests; the wheat and poultry that were saved from the depredations of their neighbours were wholly insufficient for their support; and the supplies from Port Jackson were necessarily very irregular and uncertain.
Those who are much acquainted with Missionary history know well how painfully the most zealous Missionaries often speak of the evil effect produced on their own minds by an unceasing contact with heathenism, how it tends insensibly to lower the tone of their own spirit, and how apt they are to find a kind of apathy steal over them. Those who know this, and who know likewise the plague of their own hearts, will not wonder to be told that in this emergency, in an evil hour, the settlers yielded to the temptation, and began themselves occasionally to trade in muskets. It was but for a little while, and bitterly did they repent their error; not only on its own account, but as it [72/73] hindered the Mission, and subsequently brought themselves into greater difficulties and perplexities. What need have we to take heed to the injunction, "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee." "Turn not to the right hand nor to the left; remove thy foot from evil." [Prov. iv. 25, 27]
Yet, encompassed as they were with dangers and difficulties, and we may add with infirmities, these devoted men never lost sight of the ultimate, object of their mission; and longed and laboured hard to bring the perishing souls around them to a knowledge of the true and living God. [We must be understood as speaking of Mr. Hall and Mr. King; Mr. Kendall proved himself unworthy of the work, and was subsequently dismissed, though at this time he was associated with them.] The language however was a formidable obstacle; none of them were men of literary acquirements, nor was there any educated native like Mr. Samuel Crowther in the Yoruba Mission, to whom the sweet accents of his mother tongue soon again became familiar, enabling him to assist him fellow-labourers in their attainment of the language. The settlers indeed soon picked up enough Maori to communicate with the people on matters of ordinary life; but without dictionary, grammar, or even a written alphabet of sounds, it was long before they could master it sufficiently to express ideas. The New Zealanders too knew something of English, and though it was chiefly of the lowest and commonest kind, it was at first only through this medium that the Missionaries, as they were now becoming, were able at all to make themselves understood on religious subjects. In this however they laboured anxiously and earnestly as [73/74] far as their daily secular work left them time and opportunity, and a gradual improvement began in the settlement, almost unperceived by the Missionaries themselves. The chiefs frequently visited them, and suffered them sometimes to speak to them on the concerns of their souls; and some of them, especially Koro-koro, so far understood their teaching, that they would help them, when explaining these things to strangers. The school had been established; and though it was often suspended from want of food, yet the boys evidently made progress, and the native labourers they hired were becoming more regular and steady in their work, and more inclined for religious instruction. [Both boys and girls always required food to induce them to attend school, and when the resources of the settlement failed, the school was often suspended for weeks together.]
Now and then a transient gleam of encouragement would cheer even the Missionaries' downcast hearts. In June, 1817, Mr. Hall writes, "The natives at Rangi-houa are certainly much improved; some of them are quite sociable, live among us, and sometimes work with us. We are now clearing ground for wheat; I take a hoe, and literally break up the fallow ground; could I do so spiritually in their hearts I should indeed rejoice. The labourers do however come in to family prayer and exposition, they are attentive and well-behaved, and seem in some degree to understand what they hear." [Mr. Kendall had written a prayer and a short elementary catechism in Maori, which proved very useful to the other Missionaries.]
But these seasons of encouragement seldom lasted [74/75] long; wars and quarrels among the tribes, the arrival of a whaler in the bay, or some event of one kind or other, frequently occurred to distract the minds of the people, to awaken all their evil passions, to bring darkness and danger on the Missionaries, and for a time apparently to undo the little good that was going on.
The settlers did not confine their labour to Rangi-houa; but as their acquaintance with the language increased, they went out on Sabbath days into the neighbouring villages; and, though with stammering lips, tried to tell them of the Creation, the Fall, and of the wonders of Redemption.
Sometimes they made more distant excursions, either visiting the coast to the South in some native canoe, or penetrating on foot many miles into the interior; generally accompanied by a friendly chief, and everywhere received with kindness and hospitality. It is true that sometimes there was nothing to be procured for food but fern-root, and fish that was not eatable; and their only lodging was a stilling native hut, or in fine weather, the far preferable shelter of a neighbouring tree; but none of these things moved them, nor hindered them from journeys that enabled them to declare the Gospel to more distant villages.
Looking back as we now do on these early days of the New Zealand Mission, we can but marvel at the history. We wish we could impart to our readers the impression made upon our own minds by the perusal of the letters and journals of the Missionaries. But it was the continual recurrence of the trials that made; them, so heavy to be borne; and of this, of course, no abridged account can give a just representation. And [75/76] yet so patiently, so cheerfully, did these servants of Christ bear the Cross for His name's sake, that it is only when in later years we find how thankfully they rejoiced in their comparative relief, that we can form any adequate idea of what they really suffered. God specially upheld them, or they must have sunk under their accumulated burdens.
Four years and a half thus passed away: no permanent addition had been made to their number; for though fresh labourers had more than once been sent, they had proved unsuited for the work, and had been recalled. Nor had they had the comfort of personal intercourse with Mr. Marsden: that good man's heart had not grown cold, but his duties in the Colony had obliged him to remain there. We may therefore imagine the joy with which Mr. Hall and Mr. King saw the Active again, on the 13th of August, 1819, enter the Bay of Islands, and found that Mr. Marsden was on board, with some additional labourers.
Mr. Marsden's visit was very opportune, and gave great encouragement to the settlers. Disheartening as was the slowness of progress when measured by months or even by years, yet the present aspect of things, compared with what it was in 1815, filled the heart of this friend of the Maoris with gratitude and hope. An evident improvement had taken place in the tone and bearing of the chiefs; several of them had become anxiously desirous of peace, and now only took up arms in self-defence. A much larger quantity of land had been brought into cultivation; European grain and vegetables were becoming common among the people; and though as yet these were only valued as articles of tarter with the shipping, yet the mere raising them [76/77] tended to promote habits of industry and steady application. The school children, notwithstanding all disadvantages, had made some progress in reading and writing; and were in better discipline than he expected, he grieved indeed to find that, as far as human eyes could see, the word of God had as yet fallen on "way-side" hearers, and that there was not one individual on whose heart any impression had been made, yet he continued to take a cheerful view of the prospect of the Mission; for he remembered that the heathen were given to the Son for His inheritance; and the very fact of the Missionaries having been enabled to keep their ground, seemed to him a good omen for the future.
He found many of the chiefs in the Bay of Islands, and along the coast to the River Thames, very anxious for Missionary settlements in their respective districts, [Of course this was only from temporal motives, yet it gave an opening for the gospel, and who could say what spiritual results might follow?] but as only one additional one could now be formed, he considered that Hongi had the first claim, and made arrangements for the establishment of a new station twelve miles from Waimate, the chief's own residence, and nine miles from Rangi-houa. It was a beautiful spot, on the banks of the Keri-keri, five miles from its mouth, and not far below a waterfall to which the natives had given the name of "Waiani-waniwa," or "Rainbow-water."
In the course of 1820, Mr. Marsden again visited the Island at the request of the government, who were beginning to turn their attention to it, and he rejoiced [77/78] in the opportunity thus afforded him of exploring the Country to the distance of two or three hundred miles from the settlement.
To those who love to trace the progress of a good man through dangers, privations, and difficulties in the cause of God and man, we would recommend the perusal of Mr. Marsden's Journals, in the 21st and 22nd Reports of the Church Missionary Society, and in the Missionary Register for 1822. They will read with what dauntless courage he made his way, at one time with a European companion, at another with merely a native chief to guide him, through unknown forests and wilds, trackless save to the eye of the experienced natives, to whom the turning of a leaf is sometimes the only indication that the way has ever before been trodden by mortal foot. [The name of this chief was Temorangha.] They will read of the many villages he visited in this land of savages, of the children's shrieks of terror whenever they caught the white man's eye, and of the respect and friendliness with which the older people welcomed him. To what appalling tales of cannibalism was he not forced to listen, during these long journeys, and how did his inmost soul rejoice in being permitted to proclaim to them in return a Saviour's love! [During one of these expeditions, Mr. Marsden mentions that he did not visit a single family of which one or more of its members had not been devoured, and doubtless they had all done the sane to others.
The establishment of this second station at Keri-keri was in some respects attended with different circumstances from that of Rangi-houa. Hongi's people, the Ngapui tribe, partaking of the character of their chief, [78/79] were far more proud, ferocious, and turbulent than those of the gentle Ruatara; and though Keri-keri was not more than nine or ten miles from Rangi-houa, the influence of the settlers had not reached it. Hongi himself, though anxious for the settlement from interested motives, took little pains to promote it; and it was with difficulty that the Missionaries could procure timber for their buildings, unless they purchased it with muskets and powder. And the continual petty warfare in which Hongi was engaged with some one or other of the neighbouring tribes, the passing and re-passing of hostile parties intent on mischief, kept them in continual alarm.
But the unexpected departure of Hongi in March, 1829, for England, freed them from some of those evils, and they set about the improvement and cultivation of the settlement with all possible activity. Early in 1821, one of them writes, "I bless God that at this time we are living in the midst of this people without any fear or apprehension as to our safety; the inhabitants immediately round us are much softened since we have been among them, and we possess their confidence and esteem."
The farming establishment at Keri-keri prospered much better than at Rangi-houa; the soil was superior, and the Missionaries had acquired experience. Accordingly we read of ten natives constantly employed in farming, gardening, looking after pigs, goats, cows, &c., "of ten acres of land sown with wheat, barley, oats, and peace," of the "garden being well stocked with vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers." Among the vegetables, asparagus is particularly mentioned; and peaches, apricots, oranges, and lemons were only a few of the [79/80] fruits they were enjoying in not more than two years after they had introduced them into the country, so fertile was the soil and so favourable the climate.
A few children, too, were found willing to be taught. The same plan was adopted as at Rangi-houa, of taking young women into the house, and of collecting the work-people for instruction; the Missionaries were getting on with the language, and "all things looked bright."
We must now leave New Zealand for a little while, and follow Hongi on his way to England. He was accompanied by Mr. Kendall and a neighbouring chief. [Waikato, a chief of the Bay of Islands.] The reasons he assigned for undertaking the voyage were, his wish "to see the king and his people, and to know what they were doing;" and ho expressed great anxiety to take back with him a number of artisans and some more Missionaries. The friends of Missions and of civilization received him warmly; it seemed an opening for the future well-being of New Zealand that they dared not neglect; and no pains were spared to gratify his curiosity, or inform his mind. He was even admitted to an interview with his Majesty George IV., who received him and his companion with the utmost courtesy, and made them some valuable presents. Hongi's dignified and courteous bearing excited the greatest interest in the minds of those who mourned over the darkness of his soul, and he received presents of everything that was likely to promote the civilization of his country. Little did his kind and generous friends suspect the feeling that lay deep within his heart, or detect in his bland and quiet manner the ambition that was the true motive that had brought him to these [80/81] shores. He aspired to the entire sovereignty of his Island; he knew by experience the advantage of European fire-arms over the native weapons still in use among the distant tribes; and, too impatient to wait for the slow supply obtained from trading vessels, he had determined to come himself to what he supposed must be a land of muskets, and obtain as many as he could wish. His shrewd mind soon discovered the mistake he had made, but carefully concealing his chagrin and disappointment, he accepted with apparent gratitude the gifts that were so freely bestowed upon him, disposed of some of them, even while in England, for his favourite weapon, and exchanging the rest at Port Jackson, [One of the few articles which he did not thus exchange was a suit of armour given him by the king, George IV., of which he was very proud.] returned to his native land, not only amply supplied with instruments of destruction against his countrymen, but with his mind embittered against the Church Missionary Society, finding as he did that its members desired the salvation of souls instead of his own exaltation. How strong is the contrast between this visit of Hongi to England, and that of his nephew Ruatara, as to the object, the circumstances. and the results of each! [One advantage however accrued from this visit of Hongi and Waikato to England, as it enabled Professor Lee to become acquainted with the Maori language, and to prepare a Grammar and Vocabulary. Several other chiefs had previously visited this country, hut as, except in the case of Mowhce, who died in England, no lasting effects resulted from these visits, we have omitted any allusion to them.]
Hongi arrived again in New Zealand in July, 1821; his whole tone and conduct towards the settlers was [81/82] now altered, and his former professions of friendliness were changed into contempt and arrogance. He contrasted their rude dwellings and their simple habits with the fine buildings and the splendour he had seen in England; and, in his ignorance of true worth and moral dignity, concluded they were beneath the notice of one who had been received with kindness by persons of high station in this country, and who had been admitted to the presence of Royalty itself.
His people caught his spirit, and the face of things at Keri-keri was wholly changed; the workmen in the employ of the Missionaries left them; "the natives," writes one of them, "one and all, treat us with contempt; they are almost past bearing, coming into our houses when they please, demanding food, and stealing whatever they can lay their hands upon, breaking our garden fences, and seeming, in short, ripe for, any mischief. I had my fears that they would have seized on the whole of our property; but the Lord, who is a present help in trouble, has heard our prayers." The depredations we have spoken of at Rangi-houa were repeated at Keri-keri more than once; their own dwelling-houses were broken into (an act of violence heretofore unknown); plates, dishes, &c, were broken; and the food the plunderers could not eat was destroyed. Had it not been for Rewa, a powerful neighbouring chief, who had always behaved kindly to the Missionaries, they could hardly have escaped personal violence. As soon as he heard of the attack, he of his own accord came to their assistance, drove away the assailants, and for some days kept guard near the house. "Help us, O Lord," continues Mr. P. Hall, "to put our trust in Thee by faith, to stand still and see Thy salvation. [82/83] Oh! restrain the violence of these heathen, enable us to bear patiently the spoiling of our goods, and make all things, however painful, work together for good."
The departure of Hongi with his fighting men, early in September, on an expedition to the River Thames, left the party at Keri-keri more quiet, but with fewer opportunities of usefulness. Almost all the chiefs for a long distance round had been obliged reluctantly to accompany him, and the country was nearly deserted; many of the children even were taken away, for, as Hongi said, he wished them to learn to fight, and not to read.
In December they returned from their too successful enterprise. The tribes they attacked could not cope with European weapons; hundreds were killed and eaten on the field of battle; the villages were burnt, and two thousand captives, chiefly women and children, were brought back in triumph to the Bay of Islands, some to share the fate of their slaughtered companions, the rest to endure the miseries of perpetual slavery. It had been a war of extermination.
But oh! what scenes of horror were the Missionaries now called upon to witness, scenes never before brought before the eye of Europeans. Heads borne along as trophies, women and even children falling on some of the unhappy prisoners, and murdering them with yells of triumph. [Hitherto scenes of this kind had been carefully concealed from the knowledge of the settlers; they were not indeed ignorant of their occurrence, but knew not when or where they took place, nor with what barbarous circumstances. Even the murder of single laves had usually been done in secret.] And then the horrid feast, accompanied with atrocities too dreadful to be believed, [83/84] except on the testimony of eye-witnesses, and far dreadful to be recorded in these pages. [A very affecting incident occurred connected with this expedition. When Mr. Butler, in 1820, accompanied Mr. Marsden in his visits along the coast towards the South, they had been frequently importuned to send European settlers among them, and hopes were held out that by and bye this might be the case.--"By and bye!" cried the poor people, "but when? we fear all our eyes will be dark before they come, and we shall never see them." And now two of the captive women visited Mr. Butler, and mournfully reminded him of the conversation. "Ah," said they, "we told you at the time we should all be dead before any Missionaries came." It was too true, for the whole district wras by this war depopulated and most of the inhabitants were in eternity!]
The Missionaries who witnessed them were so affect-ed, that it was some time before they recovered their usual tone of health and spirits; and their wives and children dared not stir from their houses, lest some similar appalling scene should meet their eye.
"And is there care in heaven? And is there lore
In heavenly beings to such creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is;--else much more wretched were the case
Of men than brutes.--But oh! the exceeding grace
Of highest God, that loves his creatures so,
And all his works with mercy doth embrace!"