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[3] The Bishop of Tasmania's Visit.

The great event of the past year, has been the visit which the Bishop of Tasmania most kindly paid not only to Norfolk Island, but to almost all the stations of the Mission. He is preparing his account of the cruise, and this will, we hope, be ready for the "Island Voyage" in June, and if not, it will be sent round as an occasional Paper when it arrives. Meanwhile a few extracts from letters about his visit will, we think, prove acceptable. But first let us say that it is hardly possible to overestimate the value of this most kindly act.

1. He came at a time when the Mission had been practically deprived of the Bishop's supervision for nearly two years. And not only was he able to supply all the necessary Episcopal ministrations--such as ordaining, consecrating burial grounds, &c., and confirmations, but his genial presence, his thorough sympathy with the work and the workers, and his wise advice helped thoroughly to cheer and strengthen all the Mission staff.

2. And secondly, it is of the greatest moment that one of the Bishops of the Australian Church should thus have been able to see for himself and to report to the Church at large on the work of the Mission in the Islands. The Mission from its very nature is so isolated, and out of the beaten track, that it is only by such a visit, which we hope other prominent members of the Church may be induced to imitate, that the Church can hear an independent account of what is being done. And moreover, such men looking at the work as a whole can see, perhaps more easily than those who are engaged in the routine of the Mission, with its high pressure of demands which they cannot always satisfy, what are the needs, and what the opportunities which may be turned to greater advantage.

It is a matter of great thankfulness to Almighty God, that in the present short-handed state of the Mission, and when for two years it has been without a Bishop, the Bishop of Tasmania should have found so much to satisfy him; and we do not doubt that his suggestions will aid the Mission most materially, and will also stir up the Australian Church to a deeper interest in its work.

Pending the arrival of his own account of his visit, we give a short summary of the Bishop's doings. At Norfolk Island he ordained to the Diaconate, William Vaget, who has for many years been the faithful teacher at Meralava. He also confirmed 37 of the Norfolk Island Community, and 14 Melanesians.

After this he visited nearly all the islands where the Mission works. In the Solomon Group he confirmed 71 candidates, and attended the Florida Parliament at Hogo. This he describes in a letter to his own Diocese as a wonderful scene. As he sat he looked out on the Island of Mandoliana, where in 1880 Lieutenant Bower was murdered, and the contrast struck him forcibly as he saw the chiefs and elders gathered from every part of Florida by the Church and for the Church.

A letter from the Rev. R. B. Comins to Bishop Selwyn dwells forcibly on much that is still lacking in these meetings. And it is not surprising that such should be the case, as the people who have been accustomed to the autocratic rule of their party chiefs, have necessarily much to learn. But that they are learning, is shown by the following extract:--

[4] "Before closing, Mr. Palmer asked if there was any other matter to be brought forward, and then we observed a conversation going on among the "Vunagis" (chiefs), and Havusi was put forward as their spokesman; who began complaining about the present staff of teachers, so many of whom were not fit to teach the people, and who failed to lead them by their example. They said they wanted men like Charles Sapi. Why were there not more like him?"

This question is easier to ask than to answer. But it shows a healthy public opinion--and one that will tell on the teachers and those who train them. And it also shows the very great power of a strong, holy life. Charles Sapi was, taking him all round, the very best, of our native clergy, and though we may lament not being able to produce many more like him, yet we cannot but rejoice that his life has left so high a standard in the native mind.

In the Santa Cruz group the Bishop held a confirmation at Nelua (3) and consecrated a graveyard. Besides this he visited Nukapu, and held a short service with those who landed with him under the cross which marks the spot where Bishop Patteson was killed.

In the Banks Islands he held six confirmations--(126), and consecrated two graveyards--one on the spot where Bishop Patteson first planted the Mission on Mota. Finally the Bishop was dropped at Vila Harbour, and thence returned via Fiji, where he held a confirmation of 30 Europeans and 70 Melanesian from Rev. W. Floyd's school there.

In a short letter to Bishop Selwyn, the Bishop says: "I cannot enter upon my wonderful experiences. It is as though I had been to the Planet Mars and had returned to earth again. No words can express the kindness shown to me. I will send you the history I am writing for my own Diocese in our Church News incorporating all I learnt on the voyage."


Death of Mrs. Palmer.

The December mail brought the sad tidings of the death of Mary Palmer, wife of the Rev. John Palmer, B.D., acting Head of the Mission.

For some years she had been far from strong, and in the early part of 1891 a most dangerous and painful illness began which lasted for many months.

But she had so recovered that in June, 1892, she was able to go to Auckland in the Southern Cross, and to visit her eldest boy at school at Wanganui. She returned seemingly benefited by her visit, and immediately afterwards her husband left for the Islands with the Bishop of Tasmania. A week after this the old illness appeared again, and though there were intervals of hope she gradually sank, worn out by the terrible pain. Blood poisoning had set in, and though she was tended with the utmost care and skill by Dr. Metcalfe (himself very ill), and those who loved her dearly--all was unavailing, and she fell asleep on the morning of October 16th.

[5] Her funeral was a most touching sight. It was attended by all the Norfolk Island community, to whom she had been a true mother--and of course by all the Mission. Each Melanesian boy and girl carried a cross or wreath of flowers which they had made themselves, and with them filled the grave of her who had loved them, as they knew, so well.

The saddest part yet remained. Mrs. Palmer died only a fortnight before her husband returned from the Islands. It was her one hope that she might have been spared to see him.

"We sighted the Island," says one of the Mission clergy, about ten o'clock, and at two we were at anchor. No one saw us till we passed the Cascades, and we quite took them by surprise. We were full of spirits, as we had had a pleasant voyage, no serious sickness on board, and fairly good news to bring from the Islands. But our joy was soon clouded. Mr. Brittain came off in the boat, and I saw something was amiss, his face showed it, and he evaded our first question, "if all are well?" A few moments told us that the sorrow was for Mr. Palmer, (though indeed for us all) for we heard that we should never see Mrs. Palmer's kindly face or hear her gentle voice again."

I am sure that all friends of the Mission will pray for the man on whom God has laid this terrible burden even while he was serving Him so faithfully.

No one could see Mary Palmer in her daily life at Norfolk Island without being struck by the strong sense of duty and responsibility which marked everything she did. Though her time was necessarily much taken up by caring for her children, she never forgot the Melanesian girls who lived in her house, but knew the character of each, treated each differently, and trained them with individual care. Each girl who lived with her was a separate responsibility to her, and she was constantly thinking how to help them.

She was a singularly sweet-natured loveable woman, and though ill health made some times it very hard for her to get through her many duties, she was ever most patient, and ready at all times to listen with sympathy to the difficulties and troubles of others, and to give wise counsel; while her ready tact was a most potent factor in allaying the friction which is apt to arise in small communities.

But what those who knew her best felt most about her, was that she lived so close to God, with a constant sense of His presence, referring all things to Him, with a simple childlike faith in His love and overruling Providence--and perhaps it was this constant thought of God that made her so humble and distrustful of herself.

J. R. S., Bp.


[6] A Letter from the Rev. H. P. Welchman, M.R.C.S.,
to the Treasurer of the Melanesian Mission.

*Bugotu, June 16th, 1892. [Footnote: * Bugotu is a large island on the S. Coast of Isabel, Solomon Islands.]


Soga [+] [Footnote, presumed reference in text: Chief of Bugotu.] is proud of his newly acquired knowledge, and displays it to advantage. He can write a very decent letter, and sent one to meet us in Florida. While we were in Pirihadi Harbour I had a perfect deluge of little notes on one matter or another, most of them about nothing in particular, but one was decidedly serious, for it told me that troubles from without have not yet ceased for Bugotu. One morning early, just as we were about to begin carrying wood for the vessel, a cry went up that the 'enemy' had come. That cry carries fear into the heart of every Bugotu man, for they have had much bitter experience with them. Their canoes had been seen on a small island a little distance from the mouth of the harbour, and soon we saw one containing three or four men coming gently in. Evidently they were feeling their way, as not being sure of the reception with which they might meet. A canoe went out to meet them, one of our teachers and a S. Barnabas boy doing the reconnoitering. Rather to our surprise, we saw the teacher (Julian) get into the strangers' canoe, and all came in together. As they passed the ship they called out that Julian's brother was there and he had come down to see his own people, about thirty men coming with him. That sounded very plausible, but New Georgia men don't come down in war canoes to give a slave a treat: and this poor wretch was nothing more. Years ago he had been stolen as a child in one of their raids, and is now employed at the peril of his life in guiding his masters when they choose to make an expedition into his country. If he leads them he has the chance of being shot by his own friends; if he does not, his fate is certain at the hands of his owners. The present guide was a man of low type of countenance, with the retreating chin that speaks of weakness of character, but he was the most prominent feature in the canoe as he stood up decked out in shell armlets and a fish-tooth necklace that must have been worth some pounds of English money. After a while we found out the place from which they had come, and as they professed peaceable intentions the people invited them all to come and camp on the shore. During the afternoon they came in, and when they were all settled down I went on shore to speak to them. Fine-built fellows they were, black as coal, making the Bugotu people look quite pale from contrast, but they were a repulsive-looking lot of savages. Mulemata, the chief, had not an ornament of any description about him, and he was about the best-looking of them all. Every man had his weapon in his hand, or close beside him. Axe, shield, spear, and the forbidden rifle were strongly in evidence, and no doubt they intended the display to have its full effect upon their hosts. I had a little talk with Mulemata, and then invited him to come on board the Southern Cross. At first he seemed doubtful, but finally came with two of his men, and stayed a little while. The captain got out his chart, and after much patient calling over of names [6/7] found out the exact place from which he hailed. After a little while Mulemata asked why we did not go to see him, and spoke in no measured terms of his own merits, and when he left, it was with the understanding that we were to visit him as soon as possible. The Pirihadi people killed a pig and behaved very hospitably to their dangerous visitors; possibly a little fear might be mixed up with their hospitality. Next morning, just as we were leaving the harbour, a note from Soga was put into my hand to say that during the night two men had come down from Pirihadi with a breast ring and a shield from Mulemata, asking for a man in return, but that he had refused and returned the present; would I speak to the people? It was too late then, for we were actually under way, and besides, I had already talked to them, rather expecting what their errand was, so it had to be left for the time. We were at Vitora, where Soga was to meet me, in a couple of hours, and then he poured out his troubles. He had been beset by the enemy three or four times quite recently, and he did not know what to do. He had refused this man, and he would give up no more of his people, but he was afraid the enemy would only keep on worrying him, and that sometime they would attack him. I gave him what comfort I could, and told him that if he thought I could do anything more with them I would go straight back to Pirihadi. He thought a little, and then said it would be as well to wait a day or two to see if they sent again, as they usually do. That day never came, for we almost directly afterwards heard that on receipt of the reply from Soga the enemy were very angry, and as soon as the ship had gone they too had packed up their traps and departed, no one knew whither, nor did anyone much care, so glad were they all to be relieved of their presence. The worst of it is that these New Georgia people are so very crafty, and will lie in ambush for weeks to get some wretched individual into their power, so that we have all this time been living in some uncertainty as to whether we may not have some very marked proof of their propinquity, neither is the danger yet past. We can only pray that GOD may protect His people, and hope that men and means may be found to enable us to attack this distant stronghold of heathen vice, that they may be disarmed by the blessings of Christianity. Soga behaved very well--no doubt he felt somewhat upheld by the presence of the mission ship--and if he can only hold on, the enemy may get tired of coming, but they are very persistent.



Daily Life at S. Barnabas', Norfolk Island.

The following description of an ordinary school day at S. Barnabas', from the pen of the late Mrs. Palmer, will be read with melancholy interest:--

"At 6 a.m. the bell 'sugsug' rings, and summons all to turn out for a bath; at 7 there are morning prayers in the chapel, which are joined in by all who have received sufficient instruction to enable them to do so. Breakfast follows immediately after prayers. After breakfast all go to their homes to prepare for school; blankets must be folded, rooms swept, etc., ready for the school bell at 8 o'clock. [7/8] Classes are held in the different houses, and a number of the lower classes meet in the large hall. The ladies of the Mission teach the women and girls, and sometimes take a class of boys. The Bible lesson comes first. At 8.45 the bell sounds, and slates and blackboards take the place of books. There is an English lesson twice a week; on other mornings arithmetic is taught. At 9.30 morning school is over. Then the boys turn to work on the farms, and the girls to housework and sewing. For convenience the boys are divided into sets of ten or twelve. These sets are told off to various departments of work, under their respective leaders. All take their turn at cooking for the rest, and for this reason the sets are called 'kuks.' They change their work every week, an arrangement which has its disadvantages as well as its advantages. One of the clergy superintends each department of work, and takes an active part, in accordance with Bishop Patteson's rule, never to say 'go,' but always 'come.' At 12.45 the bell announces that morning work is over. At 1 o'clock all assemble in hall for dinner. The tables are arranged all round, and occupied by the boys in their sets of 'kuks.' The girls have a long table to themselves. The clergy, black and white, occupy a table in the centre of the hall. At 2 p.m. the untiring bell rings for writing-school. Wednesday is a half-holiday; Saturday is a whole holiday. On Friday a half-hour's practice of hymns and chants in the chapel takes the place of writing-school. After 3 o'clock everyone is free to go for a walk, work in the garden, play cricket, or otherwise indulge in recreation. Cricket is a favourite game with the boys, and our ground is a lovely spot, very like an English park. Lawn tennis is also a popular pastime. At 6 p.m. the tea bell rings. There is a good supply of milk, and sometimes there is sufficient to allow of its being given with the rice. At 6.45 the bell summons to evening prayers. The organ is played by a Melanesian, and the Lesson is read by one of the teachers. Then follows school till 8 p.m., when the work of the day is over, and until 9.45 the boys and girls read, sing, or write, as they please. At 10 p.m. the lights are put out. During the summer months morning prayers and school begin a quarter of an hour earlier than in the winter, and when the day's work is over the merry shouts of the boys testify to their enjoyment of the cool evening hour."


Mr. Forrest's Escape.

Extract from letter to Mrs. Selwyn.--I had a narrow escape one day. I told you in my last letter that my boat had got smashed up at the Cascades. When I last went down to Santa Cruz, I had to do without one. I was going to Te Motu in a small canoe, there was a fresh wind blowing, so we set the sail, but the man who was steering took us too far out to sea, the result being that we got into a very bad 'tide rip' and were swamped; and we could not right the canoe. I lost all my belongings. We were some hours in the water hanging on to the canoe, and getting carried further away by the tide. There was a huge sea running, and sometimes it was as much as we could do to hold on to the canoe. Matters were looking quite serous. I had only saved a towel, and that I managed to tie on to a paddle, and hoisted it, hoping to attract attention. After what seemed an age two canoes came out and rescued us. The people said that had seen a [8/9] canoe coming along with sail set, and suddenly disappear, but supposing they were only Cruzians on board they did not trouble about it, but seeing a signal some man recollected that somebody had told him I was going to Te Motu on that day, and it dawned on them that perhaps I was one of the people in the canoe, so they put off to sea. Four men jumped out into the sea and helped to right the canoe. To make matters worse, a huge fish kept hanging about, and every time we got off the canoe it came for us, and as the natives said it was a very dangerous fish, and that to get wounded by it meant Tetanus, there was a stampede to the top of the canoe. I got to Te Motu somehow, but that night and two days following my body was in a dreadful state from the exposure. It was agony to lie down, and equally bad to stand up. The people rubbed me with oil and red ochre, fortunately I had lost my looking glass, and could not see what an object I looked. It was a nasty experience altogether.



Rev. C. W. Browning and Mrs. Browning have arrived at Norfolk Island and settled down most happily. He will take charge of the Florida District, where his services are sorely needed.


The new Southern Cross has completed her first year of service, and has, on the whole, done admirably. She has proved a very fast craft, and her greater steam power has been of the greatest service in a year of calms.

But some of the deck-house fittings have not proved weathertight, and will, it is feared, need a good deal of attention.


The Treasurer of the Mission in New Zealand publishes the following appeal:--

THE TREASURER earnestly appeals to all friends to continue, and increase, if possible, their help to this work. The foregoing brief sketches will give some idea of the work in two of its many aspects--the relation of Christian natives to their still heathen neighbours,--and the life at the Central Mission school. There are now 189 natives at S. Barnabas, Norfolk Island, and the work of the summer school is in full swing, all being, thank GOD, (on November 26th), well. The Rev. J. Palmer, the acting head, speaks of the urgent need for a Bishop of their own as soon as possible. He feels that, after successive losses and bereavements, there is a good deal of inevitable depression; that both native scholars and the members of the staff would be cheered and invigorated by the appointment of a duly consecrated head, under whom the work might receive a new impetus. The visit of the Bishop of Tasmania has been most helpful, and much benefit may be expected to accrue to the Mission from his independent observations, and from his report to the Church of all that he has seen and heard.

[10] The immediately pressing question is: How is the Mission, with its present staff, to be maintained? Bishop Selwyn has been working hard on its behalf in England (much harder, some of his friends think, than the still infirm state of his health renders prudent), and much pecuniary help has resulted therefrom. But the income of the Mission is not at present equal to the expenditure; and there is a heavy overdraft. For some time past we have paid our way with difficulty, and with the munificent help of individuals and staunch friends. Several new subscribers of small sums, we are glad to say, have joined us; but hundreds of such are needed, where we have single individuals.

Will every one to whom this leaflet comes recognize the urgency of the need? Subscriptions and donations may be sent to Diocesan Treasurers, or direct to Archdeacon Dudley, S. Sepulchre's, Auckland, N.Z.

December 22nd, 1892.

By this it will be seen that the Mission is seriously crippled from want of funds. We hope that the Bishop of Tasmania's visit may stir up further zeal in Australia. Bishop Selwyn hopes that his health will allow him to work for the Mission after Easter--and will be very glad to make arrangements for sermons and meetings, drawing-room or otherwise. He can arrange to bring and explain magic-lantern views of the Mission work if a lantern can be provided locally, for the hire of which, if necessary, the Mission will pay. Address, Right Rev. Bishop Selwyn, The Close, Lichfield.


Dr. Codrington left Auckland on December 15th for Norfolk Island. He will immediately confer with the Mission body on the Bishopric question, so that we may hope ere long to hear that this most important point has been settled. The Bishop of Tasmania's visit has provided all necessary Episcopal ministrations for the year, and as there was a slight hitch in making the appointment, it is better that this should be thought out carefully--but we may confidently hope that there will be little further delay.


Subjects for Prayer.

That the Mission and those with whom the matter rests may be guided to make a wise and speedy choice of a Bishop.

For Rev. John Palmer, Head of the Mission, in his bereavement.

For William Vaget, the newly-ordained Deacon.

For L. P. Robin, to be ordained on Trinity Sunday, and then to resume work in the Torres Islands.

For Monilaws Soga, chief of Bugotu, that he may stand firm.

For God's blessing on the efforts to raise funds for the Mission, that it may be able to carry on and extend its work.

For all its Clergy and Teachers--always.


The Secretary and Treasurer (REV. W. SELWYN, Bromfield Vicarage, R.S.O., Shropshire), will take charge of all Subscriptions and Donations, and duly acknowledge their receipt.

[11] The following translation of a letter to Bishop Selwyn will be read with interest. The writer is a young fellow who has been at the Mission for a long time, and was one of the brightest, merriest boys we ever had there. He has for three years been working at his own home on the Island of Malanta. This Island has always been one of the most dangerous and difficult in the Mission field, and has lately been doubly so, on account of the murder of Fred Howard, a trader of Ugi, by a party of men who came from near Luke's home. A man of war was sent to investigate the case, and, if possible, to punish the murderers--but could do but little. The heathen natives, however, vowed vengeance against our teachers, as they said that they had given information to the man of war.

November 25th, 1892

"To John, Bishop Selwyn."

"My true father, I now want to answer this letter of yours which I received this year while I was still going about, and had not yet finished.

I read it with great pleasure, and I thoroughly understand it--and there was partly also a true sorrow, for we all are sorrowful because you have gone for ever from us, and we shall not see your face again. And now our sorrow is still great for Mrs. Palmer also is dead, this is now the second moon that has waxed (since she died.). And we all, in all the Islands wish most earnestly that a Bishop should succeed you, and should love us, as your love was very great to us all in the Islands, and shall teach us, as your teaching was strong and good.

And now I will tell you a little about our news at Saa--which is good. We have now built a Church there during this year, and 160 people school these [sic] and at Autu [sic] it is good also, and at John Oin's [sic] place also. But they want to school well very much, but the heathen annoy us greatly by fighting. They molested me exceedingly. They wanted very much to kill me. Four times they shot at me with guns, and threw spears at me very often, and shot at me with a bow, and they set fire three times to the Church, but did not burn it at all.

And I did not fear them at all for the Lord was with me. The School House still remains, and I am alive, and I now see that Jesus has protected me from the enemy, and I thank God very much because he has helped me, and I am still alive, and have arrived safely again at this true place of God, Norfolk Island. The heathen annoyed us thus, but I do not want to boast about myself, as if I had stood alone, but the Spirit of Jesus protected me from the hands of the enemy who were persecuting me.

And now I and my wife have come back here, her name is "Aride," the sister of John Oiu.

And, father, I want you to thank God for that he has protected me from the enemy, and from all evil things, and from all dangers, and because I still stand firm from those ills, because of the True Saviour; for if he had not been with me I should have fallen, as others have already fallen.* [Footnote: * I think he refers to moral dangers from temptations to impurity, &c.--J.R.S. Bp.]

Good-bye, my father in the Lord, I, thy true son, Luke Masuraa, write to you with sorrow, but I thank God that he has protected you from that sickness which had struck you, and that you are sill alive from that illness; for His is a merciful nature.

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