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The Island Mission: Being a History of the Melanesian Mission from Its Commencement

Reprinted from "Mission Life."

London: William Macintosh, 1869.


FOR 1868.

THE whole of the past year has been spent at Norfolk Island. A severe attack of typhoid fever which visited the island in the beginning of the year, and which first showed itself at the Mission station on March 11th, prevented our making our usual voyage among the islands.

Thirty of our scholars were attacked by the fever. Four of them died--two from Ysabel Island, and two from the Island of Mwerlao. One old scholar died of consumption on the Day of the Epiphany. Fifty-six are with us now, of whom nine are young married women and girls. Thirty-one are baptized, of whom fourteen have now for a year been communicants. Fourteen will, we trust, soon be baptized; and on December 20th, George Sarawia will (D.V.) be ordained. It is nearly ten years since he first came to us from Vanua Lava, and we have long looked forward to his becoming our first Melanesian clergyman.

We can report favourably of the progress of our scholars. The fever greatly interrupted our school [295/296] work for nearly four months, but had a very noticeable effect upon many of the islanders: it made many of them very thoughtful, and produced a marked change in some.

One thing strikes us all, viz., the willingness of so large a proportion of the scholars to remain with us year after year without returning even for a short holiday to their homes. Almost twenty-five or thirty of our present party have already told us that they do not want to go away in May next, when we expect the Southern Cross. They have been here a long time already, many of them two years and more; and they are so thoroughly happy (of which there is no doubt), and so desirous (as they say and as we hope) of knowing thoroughly their duty, that they say they "wish to stay here till they are quite well taught, like Sarawia." We are thankful that this is the case with several of our Solomon islanders. from San Cristoval, Malanta, Anudha, and Ysabel, and this feeling is not confined to the inhabitants of the Banks' Islands. We have made great progress, as we flatter ourselves, in building, farming, &c.

We have now a chapel, hospital, three dwelling-houses, besides a separate house for the ten married men and women, and the four unmarried girls. The carpenter's shop and printing-office and store rooms are finished. Only the large hall and a house for one of the clergy lately married remain to be built.

[297] About two hundred and twenty acres of land have been fenced in: the outer fence paled all round so as to be proof against pigs and dogs. We have subdivided this quantity of land into six enclosures of various sizes.

We hope that it will not be necessary to incur any more expense in the purchase of stock: we have a small but choice stock of about one hundred sheep, about forty cows and calves, four cart horses, pigs, &c. We may yet have to buy two large heavy cart mares, as we have any amount of hard work before us.

We grow large quantities of excellent sweet potatoes and maize. A flour mill has been ordered from Messrs. Ransome & Sims; and we hope to use maize very largely in our station. Arrowroot, coffee, and many other useful things, are planted; and we hope soon to be almost self-supporting, as far as provisions are concerned. We have always a large supply of milk, and fish are plentiful. Bananas grow well, also the sugar-cane; the pineapple pretty well; peaches, guavas, &c., are in abundance.

The abstract of accounts speaks for itself. We have had some difficulty in defraying the expenses of our first settling here in our new home. Fortunately, there was a large balance in the English account, supplied by the constant liberality of our dear friends at Eton and elsewhere, and by the profits still accruing from the sale of Miss Yonge's, not "Daisy [297/298] Chain." More than one-third of the receipts for the past year is derived from this source. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel continues to us, for the year 1869, its grant of £300. The landed property of the Mission in the neighbourhood of Auckland yields about £400 a year. For the rest of our income we are wholly dependent on donations.

It is impossible to state what sum is required for working the Mission. Humanly speaking, the income regulates the number of scholars, and the number of scholars regulates the whole question of the Propagation of the Gospel among the Islands.

We see scarcely any limits to the capacity of our station here for receiving scholars. It is merely a question of food--the clothing is not expensive. But more buildings will be needed as we increase our numbers; and there are certain or uncertain expenses which cannot be foreseen, but for which a margin must be provided.

The Southern Cross costs, on an average, £1,200 a-year. Clergymen's stipends amount to about £500 now. But this does not include any provision for the Bishop; and the Rev. R. H. Codrington, who is a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, declines to receive any stipend.

Our present rule is, that a clergyman, upon his ordination, receive £100 a-year, which is to increase by £10 a-year up to a maximum of £200. Mr. Bice [298/299] will be ordained (D.V.) at Christmas, and before long, if we all live, £700 or £800 a-year will be needed for clerical stipends.

The cost of starting stations in the Islands is not very great. Yet it too is, we hope, likely to be an increasing item in our accounts.

Policies on insurance, &c., repairs, purchase of tools, and many other such expenses, must be provided for. We should be very thankful if we could see our way to obtaining regular contributions in New Zealand and Australia to the amount of £2,000 a-year. We could then, humanly speaking, enlarge the borders of our work at once. Our teaching staff is sufficient at this minute to manage a school of 150 or 200 scholars. When Mr. Bice and George Sarawia are ordained, we shall number seven clergymen, and we may fairly regard six or seven of our older Melanesians, who are now taking their classes regularly, as competent teachers.

The Southern Cross can sail between Norfolk Island and Melanesia, bringing on each trip sixty or more scholars. Nothing seems to be required, humanly speaking, but a steady supply of money to enable us to extend our operations both here and in the islands.

We hope to supply more regularly than has been the case hitherto such information as may be thought likely to prove interesting, and to make people better [299/300] acquainted with the circumstances and work of the. Mission.

St. Barnabas' Mission Station, Norfolk Island,
December 1st, 1868.


The following is an Abstract of the Expenditure from 1st November, 1867, to December 31st,1868:--

LONDON: Printed by James Truscott & son, Suffolk Lane, E.C.

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