Progress of the Mission--Mr. Marsden's fourth visit--Arrival of Rev. H. Williams--Trials--Launch of Herald--Rev. W. Williams
THERE is not much variety of incident in the next two or three years of New Zealand's history. The petty chiefs round the Bay of Islands continued to quarrel and fight among themselves, or with their immediate neighbours, while the restless spirit of Hongi led him to more distant and more murderous conflicts. Had the mind of this aspiring chief been less barbarous, had his powers of reasoning equalled his strength of will, his ambition might have promoted the welfare) of his country; and New Zealand, freed from intestine divisions, and united under one head, might have taken her own place among the nations. But the aim of Hongi seems to have been the acquisition of territory, rather than the increase of subjects; and the ruined plantations, the burnt villages, and the depopulated districts that everywhere marked his victorious career, told too plainly that his residence on British soil had not inspired him with British feelings. The horrors of war increased with the increase in the supply of fire-arms; much larger numbers were slain on the fields of battle than while merys and pattoos were the only [85/86] weapons employed; and the captives, that could formerly be counted by tens, were now reckoned by hundreds and by thousands. The population was rapidly diminishing, and the whole Island seemed likely at no very distant time again to become a desert. [Few of the captives survived long; those who escaped death from the anger or caprice of their masters gradually sunk under the pressure of want, disease, and a broken heart.]
How loud was the cry that now went up from the blood-stained soil of the beautiful Ahina-maui! a cry of brother's blood! The Missionaries heard, and shuddered at it; but they heard also another voice, sounding full and deep in their inmost soul, a voice that "spoke better things than the blood of Abel," and that nerved them to endure all things, if by any means they might be the blessed instruments of saving some from eternal death.
One of them writes, "These scenes of cruelty are more than we could bear, were it not for the promises of God. To support us when cast down, He has said, 'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.' Still we need great faith to enable us to stand our ground."
Another, after enumerating some of the atrocities alluded to in the last chapter, adds, "These are scenes which have never before taken place under the eyes of Europeans since the Mission was established.--The late events have made the people dreadfully familiar with human blood. They pay no respect to our feelings, but seem rather bent on disgusting us. There is a mystery in their conduct that I cannot unravel: it ia sufficient for me that my gracious Lord knows what is in every heart, and He doeth all things well. To Him [87/88] be glory and praise. If I am killed and eaten by these ferocious men, I know that my Saviour will find my poor body at the last day."
The confident language of a third is: "I do hope and pray, notwithstanding every difficulty, that the Lord will enable us to keep our ground among His people, and finally, of His mercy and goodness, bless the cause we have in hand; and in His own good time make these habitations of cruelty the quiet and peaceable abodes of peace and love."
And our sanguine friend at Paramatta, full of earnest hope and faith in the promises of God, writes lo the Home Committee, "These things do not make me despair; God will yet deliver the New Zealanders from the dominions of the prince of this world, and they shall see His salvation. You have some of the excellent of the earth in New Zealand, whom the Lord will assuredly bless; but we must not sow, and expect to reap in the same day."
What a remarkable picture did the "Bay of Islands now present to the thoughtful mind! or perhaps we might say, what an epitome of the state of the world at large, as seen by the eye of faith! The heathen fighting and devouring one another--the so-called Christians on board the trading vessels, or residing at Kororarika, urging them on, for the gratification of their own evil passions, to destruction of body and soul;--while a little band of God's faithful servants, brought from the utmost ends of the earth, were devoting every physical and mental energy to their temporal and eternal welfare.
God's servants had much to bear. On the banks of the Keri-keri was the accustomed place of rendezvous [87/88] for Hongi and his adherents before starting on an expedition; and on these occasions the settlement was, for weeks together, surrounded with parties of turbulent and violent men, and its inhabitants were subjected to threats, insults, and plunder. Here the warriors assembled again on their return, and the "melancholy din" was sometimes scarcely bearable. "Wives lamenting their lost husbands, prisoners bemoaning their cruel and perpetual bondage, mingled with the joy of relatives restored, and the shouts of victory;"--and though the Missionaries escaped some of the dreadful sights they had been compelled to witness in 1821, yet less revolting acts of cannibalism were not unfrequently perpetrated within sight of their dwellings.
Quietly and perseveringly, however, all continued in 1 heir important work. Mr. Hall, and Mr. King, at Rangi-houa, cheered and strengthened by the accession of brethren at Keri-keri, proceeded with fresh spirit, and found that their improved acquaintance with the language had a marked effect; the people seemed to feel they had some interest in a religion that could be conveyed to them in their own tongue. The chief of the little village of Kaishiki, visited by Mr. King on Wednesday evenings, showed him great attention, regularly preparing a meal for him, and gathering together as many of his people as he could, and sometimes even helping on the children in their attempts to learn to read. To use the words of Mr. Hall, about this time, "Notwithstanding the many evils that have risen to hinder us, much good has been done; we have as yet no converts, but much knowledge has been spread abroad, and important benefits conferred. The [88/89] foundation has been laid of a work that will flourish when the present instruments shall be no more."
At Keri-keri, during this time, the Rev. J. Butler, Mr. F. Hall, Mr. Kemp, and Mr. Clarke were diligently engaged in the necessary secular work of the settlement, and in the instruction of the children and adults in their employ; and Mr. Shepherd, who had made greater progress in the language, turned his attention to itinerating among the neighbouring villages, and to the translation of portions of the sacred Scriptures into Maori;--"convinced," as he says, "that one Gospel in their own tongue would be more effectual to the good of the people than all the methods that had hitherto been adopted."
Indeed it was an increasing conviction among thorn all, that the plan of gradual approaches by means of civilization had been tried long enough, and that the citadel must be stormed at once with the weapons of God's own armoury; in short, that evangelization must take precedence of any attempt to improve the social condition of the people. They strongly felt how much they were hindered in this work by their own secular employments, but at present there was no help for this; their very existence depended on their manual labour, and they could only wait and hope and pray for the time when they should be set free from some of tins, and have a larger amount of leisure and energy to spare for the more spiritual work. About this time they established regular prayer-meetings among themselves, and they afterwards looked back to this as the period from which to date the first visible beginning of any marked improvement, and the time when they [89/90] observed a silent influence for good, slowly yet evidently making its way in the minds of many of the chiefs. [The Missionaries had also been much assisted and strengthened by the residence among them, for some months, of the Rev. S. Leigh and Mrs. Leigh, sent out by the Wesleyan Missionary Society, to found a new Mission in the island. They were joined by Mr. White, and in June, 1823, proceeded to Whangaroa Bay, and settled themselves among that fierce tribe, on the very spot that witnessed the destruction of the Boyd and her crew.]
Things were in this state when, on August 3rd, 1823, Mr. Marsden again entered the Bay, bringing with him the important accession of the Rev. Henry Williams, with his wife and family, and Mr. Fairburn, a mechanic; and a third station was formed at Paihia, on the south side of the Bay, the property of Tekoke, who had resided for a short time with Mr. Marsden at Paramatta, and on whose protection and good-will he was persuaded the new comers might depend.
It was a beautiful spot that was fixed on for the new station. About three hundred acres of level ground lay sheltered in an amphitheatre of fern-clad and wooded hills, and in front a hard sandy beach led down to the sea. Three small rocky islands, covered with foliage, were near the shore, not only adding to the beauty of the view, but protecting the land from the wild ocean waves, while at some miles distance the entrance of the Bay was clearly visible, and they could watch the arrival of any English vessel.
Here, with all speed, raupo houses were constructed for the Missionary dwellings, for stores and work-shop; ground was cleared and fenced in for garden and farmyard; the live stock they had brought with them was safely deposited within the enclosure; the garden was [90/91] cropped; native boys and girls were taken into the house; native labourers were employed in various ways; and before Mr. Marsden left the Island the station was fairly established.
No one could have been better suited for the Mission at this period of its existence, when the hitherto desultory and almost unconnected efforts of the settlers were beginning to assume a more definite and united form, than Mr. Henry Williams. With a heart given to God, and zealous for the salvation of the heathen, he combined an indomitable perseverance with a spirit of ardent enterprise, that carried him through difficulties and obstacles under which most men would have succumbed.
Nor was Mrs. Williams less adapted to her own peculiar post. To "a heart at leisure from itself, to soothe and sympathize" with all around her, Mrs. Williams added an activity and elasticity of mind that every day's events and every day's employments brought into lively exercise. To a well-regulated mind, the smaller annoyances and trials of life happening to us only now and then, are not worth a thought, surrounded as we are with unnumbered comforts, and among our own people; but the same things occurring daily and hourly in an uncivilized and savage land, press heavily on the strength and spirits of the best disciplined.
We have been privileged to read some letters from Mrs. Williams' own graphic pen, referring to this period; and the details they give of the trials of the first two years of her Missionary life, and of the spirit in which she met them, are so full of interest and instruction, that we must endeavour to convey some impression of them to our readers; the more so as they give a [91/92] clearer insight into the similar trials which must have been the portion of the wives of the earlier settlers, and the spirit in which they also had been met.
The domestic establishment at Paihia consisted of two or three native girls, who not only required instruction in the simplest household work, but also in the commonest proprieties and decencies of civilized life; and some idea may be formed of the difficulty of managing them, from the following extract from one of Mrs. Williams' letters. "A Missionary's wife must for the sake of cleanliness wash and dress her children, and make the beds herself. She must be housemaid, chambermaid, and nurse, and must superintend every thing connected with cooking. There is only one of my girls, who has been two years at Keri-keri, that I can trust to wash up the tea-things, and even she, if not watched, would be as likely to do it with the knife-cloth. The very best of them will perhaps, just as you are wanting her, take herself off to swim, and then will lie down to sleep for two or three hours. If they are not in the humour to do what you tell them, they will not understand you, or will answer ' what care I for that.' The moment a boat arrives, away run all the native servants, men, boys, and girls, to the beach. If anything is to be seen, the mistress must do the work while the servants go to look; and she must not censure them, for if they are 'rangatiras' they will run away in a pet, and if they are 'kukis' they will laugh at her and tell her she has 'too much of the mouth.' [Rangatiras or gentleman's children--kukis or slaves.] Having been forewarned of this, I wait, and work away, till they choose to come back, which they generally do at meal-time."
 Four very young children in a very small dwelling, that effectually excluded neither wind nor rain, was in itself sufficiently inconvenient; but to this was added the want of a fire even in the cold weather; for the walls of rushes were too combustible to allow of one in the house; and the cooking, which Mrs. Williams was obliged to do with her own' hands, let the weather be what it would, was carried on in an open shed.
As at Rangi-houa and Keri-keri, the natives were at first kept in check by the novelty of having Europeans settled among them; but, as in those earlier settlements, it was not long before this wore off, and their insolent bearing and pilfering propensities began to manifest themselves. They were very fond of visiting the station, and nothing escaped their keen eyes or their covetous desires;--they never considered whether it would be of any possible use to themselves, but watched every opportunity of seizing whatever was within their reach, and the ample folds of their large mats afforded a generally secure hiding-place. In short, there was not one of these visitors whom the Missionaries were not obliged to watch unceasingly from the time he entered the premises till he left them; and even all this watching was only partially successful. Ropes, brooms, tools, knives, blankets, wearing apparel, were continually disappearing. An iron pot, the pendulum of the clock, part of the cooking stove, and even books and papers, had violent hands laid upon them; and two volumes of Milner's Church History met with a fate little anticipated by their writer, of being converted into New Zealand cartridges!
Want of proper nourishment was more than once added to the trials and discomforts of the first two [93/94] years of their residence at Paihia. At one time the only animal food they could procure was some American salt beef, not to be ventured upon except by those strong constitutions to whom labour and exercise in the open air makes any kind of food acceptable. At another, they were for some weeks reduced to a supply of flour from the shipping, several years old, and so musty and offensive that it was scarcely possible to keep it in the house. They might have found a resource in poultry and in vegetables; but they had been plundered of almost all their fowls and turkeys, and the first produce of their garden had been destroyed by the natives; nor had Mr. Williams or his native workmen found time to fill it with a second crop. It quite touches one's heart to read with what a glow of pleasure Mrs. Williams speaks of "a basket of peas, lettuces, and cabbages, sent to us," she says, "from Keri-keri, the very sight of which was quite refreshing, and made us long for leisure to obtain the like comforts." And all this time they saw an abundance of pigs and potatoes all around them, but not to be procured, except in exchange for ammunition.
But before Mrs. Williams left the comforts and conveniences of her English home, she had counted the cost; and though her physical strength sometimes gave way, her buoyant spirit bore her up, and shed a sunlight glow on all around. "Often," says Mr. Williams, "is she tired in her work, but never of it."
Even her nerves, however, and strength of spirits now and then gave way, when some of the neighbouring chiefs, under the pretext of an affront from some or other of the workmen, but really moved by the love of plunder, came with bodies of armed men to demand [94/95] "utu" or payment, or in other words to seize on all they could get. It tried both heart and nerve to hear their loud and angry voices, or their heavy blows upon the paling, demanding admittance within the enclosure;--to see them, when refused, armed with spears, merys, and hatchets, leaping over the fence or forcing their tray through the entrance; to listen to their wild threats, and to witness their half frantic gesticulations. And then to feel, that as far as human aid was concerned, they were entirely in the power of these savages, and that in whatever part of the house Mrs. Williams and her children might take refuge, they could not be in safety! What but the power of a strong faith could have upheld her in such moments?
Upon these occasions, Mr. Williams' cool intrepidity, as it was his only, so it proved an effectual, weapon against these savages; he met them unarmed even with a stick, and after reasoning with them and upbraiding them for their cowardice in thus attacking those who had no means of defence, desired them to leave the premises; and on their refusal ordered his workmen, both European and natives, to turn them out, which, after some struggle, they always succeeded in doing. [Probably the natives did not so much intend violence as intimidation and plunder; otherwise they would soon have overcome the Mission servants, who were entirely unarmed--Mr. Williams not differing any weapons to be on his premises for fear of some collision.] After two or three occurrences of this kind, Mr. Williams decided on having recourse to more determined measures; and on occasion of the next attack sent to the leaders of the movement, complaining of their conduct, and insisting on the restitution of the stolen property; adding, that if this demand was not [95/96] complied with within three days, or if any similar aggression took place, he would no longer remain at Paihia, but remove to some other place where he might Lope to reside unmolested. This had the desired effect; most of the property was brought back, nothing of the kind was again attempted by the neighbouring tribes, and Tohitapu, who had been one of the most violent of the aggressors, became one of the warmest and most faithful of their friends.
But we will now turn to a more peaceful subject.
During Mr. Marsden's stay in the Island, it had been suggested that the possession of a small vessel would very much tend to remove some of the difficulties that were now harassing and perplexing the Mission. Its home, it was proposed, should be in the Bay of Islands, and it was to be employed in keeping up a regular communication with Port Jackson, and in visiting the distant coasts of the Island, partly with a view of preparing the way for future Missionaries, but chiefly to procure supplies of food from places not as yet resorted to by trading vessels. This would relieve the Missionaries from depending in any way upon the neighbouring natives for their provisions, and thus prevent the exercise of a petty tyranny, which was not only extremely irksome to themselves, but very injurious to the people. [Page 72, Mr. Leigh mentions that, "while residing at Rangi-houa, he and his family lived on salt provisions for four months, during which he vainly endeavoured to procure a pig from the natives. They as usual refused to part with it except for ammunition, till at the end of this time one of them took a fancy to the hat he was wearing, and he was glad to part with it in exchange for fresh meat.]
But how was such a vessel to be procured? They [96/97] were not warranted in spending the Society's money in the purchase of one; and ship-building without a dock and without shipwrights seemed rather like a castle in the air. But Mr. Williams was not daunted; he had himself been a lieutenant in the navy, and knew something of the construction of a ship. Mr. W. Hall had had a little instruction in the art before lie left England, and, with his assistance and that of two European carpenters and some native labourers, he resolved to attempt it. He laid the keel in July, 1824, and after eighteen months' hard labour she was ready for sea. She was of 55 tons burden, small enough to run up the many creeks and rivers of the Island, and largo enough to cross the ocean to Port Jackson. The work during its progress bad excited great interest, so much so that the men employed on her were exempted from accompanying their chiefs to war; but the launch, so different from their own mode of pushing their canoes into the water, filled the people with the greatest astonishment and delight. As the day dawned on January 24, 1826, an imposing and animating scene met the eye. Natives, in all the variety of their picturesque costume, had assembled from every quarter, to the number of a thousand; the sea seemed alive with the multitude of canoes and boats from the whalers in the Bay, and the little "Herald" herself was gaily decorated with flags. All was eager expectation; and Mr. Williams' heart beat with intense anxiety. At seven o'clock the signal was given; the stays were knocked away; and the unconscious subject of anxious days and sleepless nights glided smoothly and beautifully into the bosom of the ocean, amid the shouts and loud "Awes" of the surrounding crowd. Mr. Williams' heart was [97/98] relieved, and he had only to thank God for thus far prospering his work.
A week later, and Mr. Williams was on board his little vessel on her way to Port Jackson; by a happy coincidence, as she stood in for the harbour, the Rev. W. Williams, who was on his way to join him in New Zealand, came in with Mr. Marsden from Paramatta; and we may imagine how joyful was the greeting between the brothers. They soon set sail again, and reached Paihia on the evening of the 26th of March. "The moon shone bright, the sea was calm, and the natives were rejoicing on all sides," writes Mr. H. Williams, "that their long looked for new countrymen were come. The evening was cool, and my wife had furnished a bright fire, and supper was prepared. [They were now residing in a small cottage which Mr. Williams had found time to erect about a year after their arrival. It was very rough, being made of a sort of coarse wicker-work, and plastered with mud, but it kept out the weather tolerably well, and they were able to have the luxury of a fire in the house. In 1827 Mrs. Williams mentions the increased comfort and pleasure they were enjoying by having now a garden well stocked with vegetables and young fruit-trees, and a grass plat enlivened with geraniums, monthly roses, &c. But it was not till 1830 that they had anything like a substantial house; and Mr. Williams scarcely knew how sufficiently to enjoy, for the first time for seven years, the possession of a little room of his own, where he could have the retirement he often found he so much needed, and where his books and papers were free from molestation.] All the members of the settlement assembled at our house to bid us welcome. We closed the evening with prayer and praise, and thus ended one of the happiest days of my life. The next day was Easter Sunday; and perhaps the largest congregation of Missionaries and settlers met together that had ever assembled in New Zealand. My brother preached, and it was truly a [98/99] pleasant and, I hope, a profitable day." Mr. W. Williams says, "I cannot describe my feelings that evening; it was almost dark, but I could distinguish several of the poor natives who assisted in our landing; and I felt strongly some of the difficulties that surrounded us. The next day was Easter Day, and it rejoiced me to think that the first time the natural sun rose upon me in this land, should be the day on which the Sun of righteousness rose again for our justification." [About this time the original New Zealand Company made their first attempt to settle on the Island. In November, 1826, a ship full of intended settlers put into the river Thames; but the people were so alarmed at the ferocious appearance and conduct of the natives, that they were afraid to land. They visited the Bay of Islands; and the Missionaries, who had from the first, even in the most turbulent times, gone in and out among the people fearlessly and unarmed, were not a little surprised to find that none would dare to come ashore, even to the Missionary settlements, without loaded pistols. What a testimony to the Gospel of peace! The settlers afterwards proceeded to Hokianga on the west coast, but relinquished that also.]