1865 - Davis, R. A Memoir of the Rev. Richard Davis - CHAPTER IV.

E N Z B       
       Home   |  Browse  |  Search  |  Variant Spellings  |  Links  |  EPUB Downloads
Feedback  |  Conditions of Use      
  1865 - Davis, R. A Memoir of the Rev. Richard Davis - CHAPTER IV.
Previous section | Next section      


[Image of page 38]


Appointment of Mr. Davis by the Church Missionary Society to be a Missionary to the New Zealanders--Voyage of himself and Family from Woolwich to Sydney--Pleasing Intercourse with New Zealand Youths--Voyage from Sydney to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand--Survey of that Part of the Country, and Estimate of its Fertility--Threatened Assault by Moka, a Savage Chief--Happiness of Mrs. Davis and Family, and Usefulness to the Mission.

IN proportion as Mr. Davis progressed in the divine life, he more and more ardently desired to realize, by the full assurance of faith, his acceptance in Christ, and to make known to others that Saviour, who was "all his salvation and all his desire." That he might instruct the children of the parish in Scripture truths, he made application for the institution of a Sunday school, which he engaged to teach and superintend gratuitously. For some time this school flourished. Finding the need of additional help, he appointed as master under him one who had been a sinner, but whom Mr. Davis believed to have been reclaimed and penitent. After some interval suspicion arose in his mind that the master had relapsed into his former immoral habits. The first Sunday after he had ascertained this to be matter of fact, he said to the master in the schoolroom: "You and I meet in this room no more. If you remain, I shall leave. If you

[Image of page 39]

leave, I shall remain." The schoolmaster took his departure, but was reinstated by those from whom better things might reasonably have been expected. Thus this door of usefulness was for ever closed against Mr. Davis.

A gentleman of Geashill, in Ireland, wanting a tenant of a missionary spirit to teach the poor benighted Irish, arrangements were made to send Mr. Davis to Geashill to investigate. Insurmountable obstacles arose. The gentleman shortly departed this life in the faith and hope of the Gospel. This scheme, as well as others, devised to open a door of usefulness to Mr. Davis, totally failed.

Knowing that Mr. Davis was earnestly desirous of missionary employment, and understanding that the Church Missionary Society were in quest of a pious agriculturist to proceed to New Zealand, I went to London for the purpose of recommending him to the committee. The venerable Josiah Pratt, who was then secretary, after I had entered into particulars, stated with deep regret a regulation of the Society (a regulation most proper in itself, and altogether irrespective of Mr. Davis's missionary qualifications) which precluded the committee from then accepting the offer made. I quitted the committee disheartened and sad. After some length of time had elapsed, I organized a Church Missionary Association at Bridgewater. The idea providentially occurred to me, that if I could prevail on the Bridgewater Committee to recommend, the London Committee might be prevailed on to accept of Mr. Davis's services, and send him and his family to New Zealand. I stated the case at length to the Bridgewater Committee, and introduced Mr. Davis to

[Image of page 40]

them. They commissioned me, as their secretary, to write in their name to the Church Missionary Society. Fully persuaded that Mr. Davis would be the right man in the right place, and that his missionary appointment would give final and entire satisfaction both to the Society and to the religious public, my letter was most urgent and strong. The Society promptly summoned Mr. Davis to London for their judgment, at once accepted him, engaged to send himself, his wife, and six children to New Zealand, and authorized him, subject to their judgment and approbation, to look out for a pious carpenter to accompany them.

The duty of missions was then less felt and appreciated than it now is. When it became known that Mr. Davis and his family were about to leave the desirable tenancy of Woodrow Farm, consisting of 260 acres, held at an annual rental of less than one pound per acre, for the purpose of evangelizing the cannibals of New Zealand, this act of self-denying devotion to the service of God caused surprise, excitement, sarcastic remarks, caustic reproaches, and subtle counteraction. The tenancy of a good farm in the parish of Stourton Caundle was actually offered to Mrs. Davis RENT FREE, if she would remain in England, and abandon her husband and the New Zealand Mission!!! I venture not to characterize this act, which I am confident is without a parallel in the history of missions. But "the Lord was with him, and showed him mercy," and prospered his way, and finally crowned his missionary labour with success, and gave him many souls of the Maoris for his hire, so that his accession to the

[Image of page 41]

New Zealand Mission was productive of saving results, which will remain unknown until the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and "the books shall be opened, and the dead shall be judged out of those things written in the books according to their works." Then "THEY THAT HAVE WISELY INSTRUCTED SHALL SHINE AS THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FIRMAMENT, AND THEY THAT TURN MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS AS THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER" (Daniel xii. 3).

The six following letters, addressed by Mr. Davis to the author, will communicate to the reader ample and interesting details of the voyage of himself and family to Sydney, his pleasing intercourse with New Zealand youths, the voyage from Sydney to the Bay of Islands, and his residence at Keri Keri to the close of the year 1824:--

26th Nov. 1823.

"REV. AND DEAR SIR,--In the midst of bustle and hurry I sit down to write a few lines to yon, the dearest friend I have in this world next to my dear parents, to let you know how we go on. Saturday last we came on board late at night. The vessel was then lying off Woolwich. The Sabbath was spent in hurry and bustle. Monday was occupied in arranging our cabins. Yesterday I opened my school in the after-cabin with our own children and four others, who are cabin passengers. To-day I hope to lay down the plan of a school in the free women's cabin. I have not yet been enabled to do anything for the instruction of the convicts. They are a very refractory set. One of them has been placed in irons this morning for smoking in bed, and thus setting it on fire. She is the most refrac-

[Image of page 42]

tory and hardened female I ever saw. She professes to be a witch, and threatens to sink the ship. She lay in irons the whole of Saturday night. By this you will be able to judge how incorrigible the female convicts are.

"We sailed from Woolwich this morning, and came to an anchor off this place about ten o'clock a.m. We expect to go to sea early to-morrow morning. Oh that the ever blessed God may be with us to bless us with much of His presence! The officers of the ship are most kind to us. I am happy to inform you that we have succeeded in establishing family worship in the cabin. We met for worship last evening for the first time. The surgeon reads and prays with the convicts every evening. He is a very pleasant person, and I trust a Christian in deed and in truth. I arranged with him yesterday respecting conducting Sunday worship. He is to officiate with the prisoners on Sunday, and I am to officiate in the cabin. Oh that I may be found faithful! I trust that the free grace of God, purchased for me by the blood of the dear Redeemer, will enable me to proceed according to His own will, so that through the meanest and most unworthy of His creatures His great name may be glorified! How wicked, dull, unworthy, and ungrateful I feel myself to be! Oh, how many blessings hath the Lord blessed us with! In the first instance, He has brought us out of darkness into His marvellous light. In the second place, He has set us apart for Himself, to be employed in His vineyard. When we left Woodrow Farm, how evidently His loving providence was manifested towards us in inclining Mr. B. to take us into his house. And now, to

[Image of page 43]

crown the whole, He has given us favour in the sight of those with whom we sail, so that we can truly say with David, 'Goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our life.' Oh that we may be enabled, through grace, like David, to 'abide in the house of God for ever!' --I remain, my very dear sir, your very affectionate and most humble servant,


"P.S.--Mrs. Davis desires to be remembered very kindly to you. She is in very good spirits."


"REV. AND DEAR SIR,--I begin to write this letter, 6th January 1824, with the hopeful expectation of our soon meeting an homeward-bound vessel, which will enable me to send you home an account of our proceedings hitherto, not doubting but that you have been anxious to hear from us before this time.

"We left Gravesend on the morning of 28th November. The wind being rather foul, we did not reach the Downs till the 1st of December. Here we were obliged to anchor, as the wind was blowing rather fresh, and directly against us. The wind continued to blow fresh until the evening of the 3d, when we experienced a tremendous gale from S.S.W. We at first rode with one anchor. Afterwards, as the ship dragged her anchor, another was thrown out. As the two anchors did not keep her from drifting, recourse was had to a third anchor, the cable of which was immediately cut, because it became entangled with the other

[Image of page 44]

two. As there were no more available anchors on board our labouring vessel, her safety depended on the strength of these two. With relentless fury the foaming billows broke over the ship. These, with the clanking of the massy cable-chains, the shouts of the sailors, and the dreadful roaring of the wind through the rigging of the ship, altogether made the season awfully grand. I could not be an eye-witness to the above scene, as we could not go on deck, because the hatches were shut closely down, so that we were not fully aware of our danger until all danger was over. Towards the morning the wind abated, so that we were able to get a little sleep. But what a company of helpless creatures we were from sea-sickness! In the morning, when I went on deck, I found we had drifted a considerable distance during the night. Two large vessels had drifted past us in the dark, but, blessed be God, they did not come in contact with us. Had one or both of these vessels come into collision with us, all probably would have sunk together. One of these vessels was nearly lost on the Goodwin Sands, which were near to us, and over which the sea was breaking terrifically. There were about fifty vessels lying with us in the Downs. Of these, two lost their foremasts and bowsprits, twenty-seven lost their anchors and cables, one was wrecked near Margate, and six had not been heard of when we left the Downs. I know, my dear sir, that not only you, but all our dear friends, will join with us to praise that God who preserved us through that dreadful night. We lay in the Downs till December 6th, when it pleased the Lord to send us a fresh breeze from the north-east, which took us

[Image of page 45]

down the Channel at a great rate. What a busy scene we witnessed when the breeze sprang up! Every vessel uninjured by the storm was soon under way, so that the sea for a considerable distance was literally covered with ships. By the next morning our fine-sailing ship had nearly outsailed them all.

On the 9th of December we were off the Lizard Point. I have now seen the shores of my beloved country for the last time. Oh that my mind may ever be so steadfastly fixed upon God and eternal things, and my mission to evangelize the benighted New Zealanders, that I may never for a moment regret my separation from my dear parents and friends! Farewell, dear friends, until we meet on the happy shores of eternity, to part no more for ever.

"I write this in the torrid zone, within about 300 miles of the equator. The heat is intense. On the 19th of December we had rather an alarming scene on board. About seven or eight of the female convicts entered into a conspiracy to beat, or rather to murder, the surgeon-superintendent, who read and prayed with the convicts every day. Their diabolical plot was, when Mr. Hall went down to evening prayer between seven and eight o'clock P.M., to extinguish the prison lights, and effect their cruel purpose in the dark. But it pleased the All-wise Disposer of human events to order it otherwise. They urged a wicked girl to join them, who refused, and disclosed the plot to one of her fellow-prisoners, who communicated it to Mr. Hall. Mr. Hall went to the prison at the usual hour, accompanied by the first officer. The lights were put out, and the wretches prepared to execute their plan.

[Image of page 46]

A scuffle ensued. Mr. Hall and the officer were soon overpowered. But the captain and the crew seized six of the ringleaders, and confined them in irons in the coal-hole for the night. On the Monday a strong dungeon was prepared for their imprisonment. Mr. Hall consigned them to me to instruct them, and prepare them for their expected fate. I have some hopes of the conversion of one of the most hardy, and I am now preparing a history of her past life.

"I bless the God of our salvation, that He is both present and precious to my soul. It would rejoice your heart could you be present at our evening family worship, which the officers and sailors regularly attend. How it would rejoice your heart, and the hearts of our dear friends, to see how attentive these brave fellows are. You would weep tears of joy to see the starting tear trickle down their manly weather-beaten cheeks, when exhorted to contemplate a Saviour's love, purchasing by His death for lost sinners an entrance into eternal glory. Mr. F., one of our cabin passengers, is opposed to the sailors coming down to our cabin to attend family worship. But Mr. B. and myself applied to the Captain, who took our part, ordered down the men, and attended himself. I humbly hope the Lord our Jehovah is present with us. On Sunday mornings I read prayers and a sermon on the quarter-deck under an awning; the Captain, his officers, and the whole of the crew, together with the free passengers, all attend and form a good congregation. On the Sabbath, the sailors dress in their best, so that they have a very respectable appearance. Captain M. is good man,

[Image of page 47]

and loves religion and religious people. Indeed, we are highly favoured by our Covenant God in the company we have on board this vessel. I have here found, my dear sir, that the presence of our adorable Redeemer is not confined to time or place. I bless God that I have never had the least wish to retract from my engagement. No, Sir, I would not exchange my situation to be king of the whole globe. Please write to me often. Remember me to all friends, and believe me to remain, dear sir, your very humble servant,


"PARAMATTA, 18th May 1824.

REV. AND DEAR SIR,--My last letter to you was written when we were only a short distance from the equinoctial line. In crossing the line, the ceremony of Neptune coming on board to welcome us to his territories was performed. The ceremony passed off in good humour, and without DRUNKENNESS AMONG THE SAILORS. Not so Mr. F. He drank to intoxication, and abused me very much for preaching and praying, giving me to understand that he meant to oppose me when he reached Sydney. I bless God that I was enabled, through grace, to bear all patiently, and without making any reply to him. No one can imagine the persecution I met with from Mr. F. Sometimes he would be sociable and quiet for a few days; then he would rave again, cursing our praying and preaching, and threatening what he would do when he arrived at Sydney. But alas! poor man, he never reached Sydney. It pleased the Lord to take him from amongst us on the 28th of February. I fear he died as he lived, quite for-

[Image of page 48]

getful of God. His constitution was much impaired by irregular living when he embarked. Privations on shipboard consequently brought on the scurvy, which soon terminated his existence. He died almost unlamented, even by his own family, as he was a perfect tyrant to his wife and children. His death much affected me for some time. For though he persecuted me, his persecutions many times drove my soul to God, and thus in the end proved the greatest blessings.

"It was subsequently discovered that the mutinous plot of December 13, to assassinate the surgeon, was conceived and arranged by the chief mate. He was consequently broke, and carried into port a prisoner. It is expected he will be sent to England to take his trial.

"During the whole voyage, when the weather would permit, I officiated on the quarter-deck, or in the after-cabin, every Sunday. The ship's company attended regularly our evening prayers. They were very attentive, and at times affected. The spiritual results of these ministrations are only known to Him to whom all hearts are open, and from whom no secrets are hid. The crew were most orderly and well conducted, and I parted from them with regret and reluctance.

"After we left the Downs, we had not a gale of wind the whole voyage, the Lord being merciful to us. The voyage was tedious, on account of our having been becalmed above a fortnight near the equinoctial line. At this period the heat was excessive, but our kind Captain did all in his power to shelter us by awnings, etc., from the burning sun. He was most kind in providing us with

[Image of page 49]

comforts during the voyage. We had always an abundant supply of fresh provisions, porter, and excellent wines.

"Mr. B., the other cabin-passenger, embarked in the last stage of consumption, as did also one of his children. He was going out as Registrar to Van Diemen's Land. I believe that he was a Christian man. On the 5th of April it pleased God to deliver Mr. B. from the miseries of this sinful world. His end was peace--peace with God, and with all the world. His remains were taken to Van Diemen's Land, and were respectfully interred.

On Thursday the 15th of April we anchored at Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, the first land we had made since leaving England. Here fifty female prisoners were landed, and immediately taken into service by their respective masters and mistresses. Here I met Rev. ------ Bedford, Government chaplain to the colony, a faithful and zealous minister of Christ. He was most kind to us during our stay. I rode with Mr. Hall and the Surveyor-General about twenty miles into the country, to inspect a grant of 2000 acres of land made to Mr. Hall by the Government. This afforded me an opportunity of seeing something of the interior. The grant seemed most eligible, and was well watered; well-watered land being rare in the colony. We had read and heard in England, that Van Diemen's land was 'THE GARDEN OF THE WORLD.' This is certainly an exaggeration. It is doubtless a fine healthy country, and some of the land is tolerably good, but a large portion is very poor. The settlers are depressed, selling their wheat at five shillings a bushel, and buying all necessaries at a high price. Hence, it is self-evident that

[Image of page 50]

the colony cannot flourish in its present state. I never wish any of my friends to emigrate from England to this 'GARDEN OF THE WORLD' till times shall he better. I fear the morals of the colonists are as bad as the morals of the aborigines. The bushrangers, who have been transported and made their escape into the bush, shoot each other as readily as we shoot rabbits. One of these now in prison at Hobart Town is a perfect cannibal, and has as much longing after human flesh as a cannibal can have. What sin is not human nature in an unregenerate state able to commit? How thankful ought we to be that we have been born in a Christian land! Oh, the precious electing love of the ever-blessed God, in causing us to differ from our guilty countrymen, transported for their crimes to this foreign land!

"On the 25th inst. we set sail from Hobart Town. Our passage to Sydney occupied twelve days, on account of contrary winds. On May 6th, in the evening, we anchored within the heads of Sydney river, and on the 7th ascended the river to Sydney. On the 11th we left Sydney, and proceeded to Paramatta by water, which we did not reach till late in the evening. As soon as the New Zealanders heard of our arrival, they came running down to the boat like wild men to welcome me to Paramatta. The time I spent on the baggage, in company with these dear, interesting people, I reckon among the happiest moments of my life. I shall never forget the affection with which these dear young men received me. They formed a dance, and never shall I forget their exuberant joy. Oh that I felt more sensibly the privilege I

[Image of page 51]

enjoy of having been appointed a missionary to New Zealand! Privations we have endured, and must expect to endure, but the work in which we are engaged carries with it its own reward. Oh that I could love the ever-blessed God with all my heart! Oh that I could praise Him as I ought for His distinguishing grace and great love in our appointment to New Zealand! Pray, my dear sir, that the Lord may give us an apostolic spirit, that we may finish the work He has given us to do to His honour and glory. Oh that the Lord may go with us, and bless us with His gracious presence!

"The Society is about to erect a water grist-mill in New Zealand, which is to be framed here at Paramatta. Mr. Charles Davis is to stay to frame it. He has been most strongly advised to marry before he proceeds to New Zealand. The Society has also a small ship, about 100 tons' burden, building in New Zealand, for the use of the mission. A seminary is likewise in the course of erection at Paramatta, for the reception of the children of missionaries, and for natives, male and female, that they may be properly educated.

"The children were sadly frightened one Sunday whilst at dinner by the vessel shipping a sea, which came pouring down the companion into the after-cabin, where they were dining. We were all alarmed at the moment, and the berths nearest the companion were all filled with water. Some on deck were knocked down, but no material damage was done. The same night one of the guns broke loose on the deck, and injured two or three of the sailors, the wind blowing fresh.

[Image of page 52]

"Dear sir, please to remember me very kindly to all my dear friends. Tell them that I have never repented of leaving my native country. Every one seemed to think, that leaving England with such a family as ours would prove a great trial. I must beg the favour of you, sir, to assure them, that such has not been the case. I hope the cause of Christ flourishes in Sherborne and Yeovil, and all over England.

"There are two faithful preachers of the gospel in Sydney, namely, the two chaplains, the Rev. Messrs. Cooper and Hill. But, generally speaking, vital religion is at a very low ebb here.--I remain, your affectionate child in the Gospel of Christ,


"PARAMATTA, 7th July 1824.

"DEAR MR. COLEMAN,--I embrace the opportunity, afforded by the delay of the ship 'Midas,' to inform you that things here wear a brighter aspect than heretofore. The seminary buildings progress rapidly. I have been there to-day to mark out some land for a garden. To-morrow, if spared, the New Zealanders are to begin to make the garden, under my direction. We have nine fine young men and a boy with us. With great pleasure I inform you that they are orderly, attentive to instruction, and well-conducted. How it would delight our friends to see these dear young men kneeling with us around our family altar. Surely they cannot be far from the kingdom of God. The prospect of the triumph of the Gospel in this mission is bright indeed. Pray, my dear sir, by fervent intercession on our behalf, pull down blessings upon us.

[Image of page 53]

I am nothing, and know my own weakness, but the time seems near at hand when God the Father will fulfil the covenant engagement He has entered into with God the Son, to give Him the heathen for His inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for His possession. Happy, happy they whom the ever-blessed God employs to effect His purposes of love, and win souls unto Christ! Mrs. Davis unites in kind remembrances with, dear sir, your humble servant,



"REV. AND DEAR SIR,--With pleasure I take up my pen to hold communication with one whom I never expect to see in the flesh again, with one whose remembrance will ever be dear to my soul. Very gracious and very merciful have been God's dealings with us. Oh that I could live more on His covenant love!

"Thursday, August 3, we left Port Jackson for New Zealand in the brig 'Governor Macquarie.' During the passage we experienced what it was to be in the mighty deep. For two days and three nights we knew not but that the next wave might swallow us up. The sea was continually beating over our little bark, which was ill able to sustain the violence of the waves. The sea was continually beating into our cabin. Our beds were wet. We had scarcely a dry place to remain in. Fortunately the dear children's bed was dry, but Mrs. Davis's bed was drenched. The sea once struck the brig so violently as to carry away part of her bulwarks. Another heavy sea

[Image of page 54]

broke over us, and smashed part of the sky-light of the cabin, though strongly protected by iron bars. The 4th of August was a dreadful night indeed. On the morning of the 5th I went on deck to see the works of the Lord in the mighty deep. I sat about an hour on the leeward side of the quarter-deck, holding by a rope to keep me from being washed overboard, the sea at times breaking quite over me. With delight I sang the two first verses of that beautiful hymn, 'Jesus, lover of my soul.' Never, my dear sir, shall I forget the heavenly joy my soul then experienced. I looked on the raging sea with complacency, and felt that peace which passeth all understanding. Gladly would I have taken my flight into the presence of my Saviour. I could have sunk into the furious billows in peace. Oh, the preciousness of Christ to the believer's soul in times of danger! Thus, in the morning, I was privileged to rejoice in God, but in the evening darkness clouded my soul. It seemed as if we were never to reach New Zealand, but to be swallowed up in the deep. All looked dark and mysterious. I could only sigh and groan to God. I feared not for the safety of my own soul, but for the souls of my dear children. These feelings soon subsided, leaving me in a state of filial fear and reverential trembling before God.

"Saturday the 15th, we safely landed at Rev. Henry Williams's, Marsden's Vale, and were heartily welcomed by them to their house. Sunday the 16th, during divine-service in the house, we heard a terrific shout outside the fence, raised by a party of natives from Waitangi, who, headed by two chiefs, came to invite us to settle among

[Image of page 55]

them. So many tall men with tattoed faces looked rather formidable. In the afternoon I accompanied Mr. Williams and Mr. Fairburn and these natives to Waitangi, where Mr. Fairburn colloquially preached to them the Gospel. They were most attentive.

"We remained at Mr. Williams's house a week, and then proceeded to Keri Keri. After this I embraced the first opportunity to survey the country, and found it very barren. Mr. Kemp has wheat, barley, and oats on land which had been broken up seven years. I do not believe that he will reap more than the seed sown. The breaking up of this land has been very expensive, and will never remunerate the Society. I have now visited all the places of note within twenty miles of the Bay of Islands, and have found but little good land, and that cultivated by the natives, who have cleared it of timber, and raise with great care different kinds of potatoes and Indian wheat. Some natives cultivate from ten to fifteen acres of land. I at last fixed on a spot about twenty miles inland from Keri Keri, where land could be procured which would pay for cultivation. The place is called Tiame, at the foot of a beautiful hill called Puke-Nui, or great hill. The soil of the hill is excellent to the very summit, which was formerly a volcano. On the top, which appears to have been the crater, and has sunk down about fifty feet beneath the summit, are four acres of the richest land I have seen in New Zealand. The country is covered with pumice stones for about three miles. There is a lake abounding with fish and fowl distant three miles from this hill, ten miles long and five miles wide, no doubt formed by an

[Image of page 56]

earthquake, of which the natives have some traditional knowledge. From this hill we could see the vessels riding in the harbour twenty-three miles distant. Here I sat down with Mr. Shepherd, and took a survey of the adjacent country. We counted upwards of twenty native villages, which could all be visited by a missionary once a week. Three miles distant is Waimate, a populous place. In these two districts there cannot, I think, be less than 2000 souls. These people could all be visited once a fortnight, and the Gospel preached in every village, by two missionaries. Mr. Shepherd has long travelled among them, and is known by them, from the least to the greatest. He is the only individual at Keri Keri who can speak the Maori language. He is an invaluable man, and I trust the Society knows how to appreciate his services. He has had much to suffer from the natives, and much from some of his brethren.

"Since we have been in New Zealand there has been much to try, but nothing to discourage us. One trying occurrence I will now mention. Mr. King took a goat from this place, which belonged to him, but had been stolen by Moka the chief. Soon after the goat had been taken away by Mr. King, Moka came down to the settlement just as the herd of goats and one sheep were brought in from the bush. He threw off his mats and tried to seize the sheep as a payment for the goat. He caught the poor animal, and tried to break its legs, or do it some other injury, which Mr. Shepherd prevented. Whilst Mr. Shepherd held the sheep, Moka vociferated in a most savage manner, and struck Mr. Shepherd with a piece of

[Image of page 57]

wood across his arm and fingers. As a large party of natives had assembled, Mr. Kemp persuaded Mr. Shepherd to let go the sheep. When Mr. Shepherd had done so, Moka led it off in triumph. The next morning I met this barbarous savage, and told him that he had stolen the sheep from me, as I was sent to New Zealand to take charge of the cattle. I also gave him to understand that I should write to England that he was a thief. About two hours afterwards, being upstairs shaving, I heard Moka vociferating violently. The poor children rushed upstairs in a great fright, saying, "Papa, papa, Moka is below, naked, with a club in his hand to make a fight with you for having entered his name in your book as a thief." Our brethren now came to our assistance. The yard was soon filled with natives anxious for an opportunity to plunder our house. But after a little while Moka went away without doing any mischief. Moka is a chief of equal power with 'Hongi, but of a very different character. 'Hongi is a manly savage, Moka a brutal savage, a savage of the worst kind.

"I humbly hope that the day is near at hand when the Spirit will be poured out on this noble race. The brethren here are active, and I cannot but think that the Lord will give them their heart's desire. Certainly we have very much to bear with from these poor heathen, but we have nothing to discourage us, as they will hear the Gospel when it is carried home to them, and will argue about it, though they will not come to hear. They are also very kind to us when travelling amongst them. At one of our meetings, when we were discussing the utility

[Image of page 58]

of forming a settlement in the interior, 'Hongi made this remark: 'If you mean to teach the people, you must go to them. They will not come to you. And if you do anything, it will be by teaching children, as their hearts are not so hard as ours.' This was a very wise and just observation.--I remain, dear sir, your unworthy servant,


"GLOUCESTER TOWN, KERI KERI, 28th December 1824.

"MY DEAR MR. COLEMAN,--Your kind letters, dated 22d June and 10th July came safely to hand yesterday. I have just time to answer them by the 'Asp,' now on the eve of sailing for England, so I hope you will receive this May 1825.

"I am sorry to hear that malicious and wicked reports have been raised of the distress of the ship, shipwreck, etc., etc., and of Mrs. Davis's unwillingness to embark. These are all gross falsehoods. During our voyages from England to New Zealand, the hand of the Lord was mercifully held out for our support. Few families have been more highly favoured than ourselves while ploughing the mighty ocean. Ere this you will have received an account of our two voyages. I cannot but look back with astonishment on the many mercies we have received from our covenant-keeping God. Mercy and truth have followed us all our steps. In our voyage from Port Jackson we sailed with a captain who intended this should be his last voyage, because the owner of the ship was a wicked man, and at sea he could not live so near to God as he wished

[Image of page 59]

to do. He did everything in his power to make us comfortable. Dear man, I hope to spend an eternity of bliss with him in the kingdom of our Father! Nothing strikes me more forcibly than the recollection of the many mercies which have followed us since we quitted Woodrow Farm. Truly our souls may sing, with the soul of the Royal Prophet, of mercy and judgment.

"That Mrs. Davis was unwilling to embark, is a GROSS FALSEHOOD. She certainly felt very severely separation from her many kind friends, whom she never expects to meet again in time. In London, the Lord, in love and mercy, raised us up many very kind friends. Perhaps she felt more at parting from these friends than from some of her other friends in the country. During the voyage, with so large a family, she had her trials. Her chief trial since she left England has been a cold reception contrasted with the hearty hospitality she experienced in London. But, blessed be God, at Port Jackson she was quite at home with the New Zealanders, and most happy in their company. In New Zealand, she is perhaps more free from care than ever she had been in England. I BELIEVE THERE IS NO WOMAN IN NEW ZEALAND WHO LOVES THE NATIVES BETTER, OR FEELS MORE FOR THEM, THAN MRS. DAVIS. She delights to talk to them in her own way, and the natives are fond of her, and call her mother. What I deem my greatest blessing is, that she has never manifested the least fear of the natives in their most angry fits. Sometimes, when I have been vexed with them, she has said: 'Don't you consider that they are savages--they are far better than I expected to find them;

[Image of page 60]

if they were treated more kindly they would be better.' Mrs. Davis, moreover, has some very good native servant-girls, in many respects quite as good as English servants. Our dear children are all quite happy, and the elder ones very useful. Instead of our family being a trouble, they are a rich blessing. Mary Ann's knowledge of straw work is of great service. She makes hats for us all. Some of the native girls are learning to plait straw. They learn it almost instantaneously. I myself have had nothing worthy of the name of trouble since I left Stourton Caundle. Blessed be God for His unspeakable mercy in sending us to New Zealand. Tell my old friends that I still love them. I mean my old friends at Stourton Caundle, who were my greatest enemies, AND GAVE ME THE GREATEST TROUBLE I EVER HAD BY THEIR ENDEAVOURS TO POISON THE MIND OF MRS. DAVIS, AND TO DISSUADE AND HINDER HER FROM PROCEEDING TO NEW ZEALAND. 1 As to society, we were never so well off and happy as we now are. As to the natives, they are most of them good neighbours, especially 'Hongi the chief.

"Since my last letter I have had two months additional experience in New Zealand, and I can assure you, that the more I see of the New Zealanders, and the longer I live among them, the more I like them. They are a very fine, noble race of heathen. I have also travelled to Okianga, on the other side of the island, where I found a very kind people, a large missionary field, and a fine country. They are ready to receive the Gospel--not that they have the least desire for the Gospel, but they wish

[Image of page 61]

for missionaries to settle among them, and are willing to hear the Gospel, and WE KNOW THE GOSPEL NEVER CAN BE PREACHED IN VAIN. Ah, my dear sir, the sole want of this country is a faithful proclamation of the Gospel! Where are the ministers of the Established Church, and why is it that they come not to evangelize this people? A version of the Bible in the Maori language is greatly needed. When the children of the school have read the dialogues in Rev. Thomas Kendall's book, we have nothing further provided for their instruction. Mr. Shepherd has a good knowledge of the Maori language, and has translated the Gospel of St. John, which we hope soon to have printed. Mr. Puckey's son is also well acquainted with the Maori tongue.

"Mrs. Davis and the dear children desire to be kindly remembered to you. Dear sir, remember us very kindly to all our friends.--I remain, your dear child in the Gospel,


1   See page 40.

Previous section | Next section