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Letter from Samuel Marsden to John Gare Butler, May 14th, 1824

May 14th, 1824

Rev. Sir,

Shortly after you left Parramatta on the 12th inst., I was informed that you sent for Daniel Jackson, the stonemason, to your house, who is doing the stone work at the Seminary for me, and questioned him relative to the mode in which I payed him for his labour, and requested him to go down with you to Sydney, and to state in the secretary's office a conversation you had had with him on the same subject some time before. Jackson refused to accompany you well knowing that he had nothing to allege against me. You then laid a quantity of papers before him, which you wished him to sign. He requested you to read what you wanted him to sign before he put his name to the papers. When you had read what you thought proper, Jackson objected to sign the documents, being convinced you wanted those papers signed by him for the purpose of doing me an injury. I may here observe, if your intention had been fair and honest, and you only wished to know how I did pay Jackson, to prevent the Society from being cheated, you had no occasion to have asked him, because I had told you repeatedly that I was to pay Jackson in dollars; but as money was very scarce at the present time, I had spoken to Jackson and wished him to take from Jones, the butcher's, what animal food he wanted for his own private use, and for which he would be charged the price paid by the commissary, which is fourpence per pound, and the butchers' price is sixpence per pound, which would be a saving to Jackson of twopence per pound, and at the same time an accommodation to me, as Jones the butcher generally took what sheep I could spare, and I could settle Jackson's account with Jones. As to my paying Jackson in anything but dollars and animal food, nothing of the kind was ever proposed by me; as a proof of this assertion, he received nothing but dollars from me, and animal food from Jones. I have paid him two hundred dollars on account, and he may have received about £6 in meat from the butcher.

The buildings are only about four feet high as yet, so I think he has been pretty well paid for his work as far as he has gone. I had told you that Jackson was a rogue, and required to be well looked after. Tho' he is a rogue, he is too wise to be taken in by a stranger. From the character I had given him, you might think he might answer your purpose, but you never were more mistaken. I do most sincerely regret that you should so far forget what is due to your rank in society as to tamper with convicts, and trust your character in their keeping. I may ask you, not as a minister of the Gospel, not as a Christian, but as an honest man, what your private action was in asking Jackson to accompany you to the secretary's office to make statements there, and when he declined, to urge him to sign papers privately in your own house, with a view to defame my reputation?

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When I determined upon building the Seminary, (as it was then mutually agreed between us that you should remain at Parramatta until communications were received from home), I informed you what agreement I had made with the different mechanics, viz., the carpenter was to receive £90 in dollars for his work, the lime-burner sevenpence per bushel for lime in dollars, and account of which you kept yourself, and what the timber was to be per hundred feet, etc., etc. I should have said nothing to you about those subjects had I not believed that you would give an eye to these men as soon as you could have been accommodated with the school room, which was to be completed first on your account.

I only mention these things to show that you did not send for Jackson to your house and question him to gain honest information. Because that I had given you without asking for, but for purposes I need not mention. Do not suppose that I am under any apprehension that either you or the whole colony can injure me in any serious way. If you or five hundred convicts were to swear that I had committed murder, their oaths would not convict me of this crime, if no murder had been committed; nor will the Society believe that I have cheated them, until I call upon them for the payment of the buildings, and I am sure I shall not call upon the Committee for a shilling until the buildings are completed; and therefore there is no occasion for you to anticipate a crime that may never be committed. Allow me to ask you whom I have defrauded? Have I defrauded you, or have I defrauded any other of the missionaries or the Society in any one thing? You know well I can have no intention to do this.