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Letter from Samuel Marsden to John Gare Butler, June 11th, 1822

Rev. S. Marsden to the Rev. John Butler. (The original is in the “Hocken” Library.)
June 11th, 1822.

Revd. Sir,

I received your letter in which you allude to our differences. Allow me to say that you must be fully aware that it is not in my power, or yours, to settle these differences, as they are not of a private, but of a public nature, and have been referred to the final decision of our superiors in London. If the Committee of the C.M.S. believe those page 233 charges which you have made against me to be true, they will be bound to withdraw their confidence from me; if they do not believe them, they will make an unfavourable impression towards you. Nothing can therefore be done in this matter until an answer is received to your public letter forwarded by the “Surrey.” In answer to your application for different articles to be purchased by me at Port Jackson for the use of the settlement at Keddee Keddee, this I must also decline for the present, until I know what answer the Committee makes to your letter. If I have no direction or authority, I will have no responsibility. As I have no direction or authority, I must decline all interference for the present. You told me in the presence of a number of gentlemen that you would not obey my orders, nor would you act under me. (Why should he? [gap — reason: illegible] Butler was Superintendent of the Mission.) From that moment I had done; I had no means of enforcing obedience, and therefore it was of no use having any contention on this point, and here we parted. You have taken all the direction, and of course you will take all the responsibility. You will be answerable for all the stores and their expenditure, which you took from Mr. Campbell's store-house. You will remember the cordage and canvas were sent out for the “Active,” and not for your settlement. You have also taken upon you to divide the Society's property amongst individuals, which in my opinion should have been handed over to the storekeeper, agreeably to the direction of the Committee, and served out by him as occasion might require. The Society will expect that every part of the stores are accounted for in a proper way. Everyone should not be left to take his share of the public property, and expend it as he thinks proper. This was never the intention of the Society. If the Society should be satisfied with what you have done in this respect, I shall have no cause to complain. All I mean to say is that if I have not the direction, I will not have the responsibility. You have taken the direction, and you must take the responsibility.

There is nothing now belonging to the Society in Mr. Campbell's store but a little iron, two ploughs, and four harrows. The harrows would not sell because they were not pairs. You had taken harrows with you that were not fellows. I have desired Mr. Hall to send those harrows back which were not fellows. (We presume that these[gap — reason: illegible] harrows were sent out by the Society for utility, and not for sale by Mr. Marsden.)

I also observe an error in your minutes, where it is stated that I have sold the bonnets sent out by the Society. This I must request the committee to correct, for they are not sold. Upon what ground the committee made this statement I cannot say. However, it is not correct. I have mentioned them to Mr. Hall, and he, as well as Mr. Kendall, formerly, tells me they are not wanted at New Zealand. However, I shall not sell them for the present. As the missionaries have generally transferred their affairs from Sydney to London, and as several of them have drawn upon the Society for their salaries before they are due, they cannot want much from Port Jackson. If they do, they have their private agents here to supply them. Under all the circumstances of the Mission, I do not intend to purchase anything for the settlement, unless something very extraordinary occur, till I hear from the Committee. I conceive I should not be justified in doing this.

I cannot check or lessen the evils that afflict the Mission, originating wholly among yourselves, and therefore withdraw from them, (The evils are of Mr. Marsden's creation or distortion.) and as you as a page 234 body will not be governed by any authority here or in London, there is no alternative but to leave you to yourselves at the present to do as you like. God will in due time bless New Zealand with His Gospel. If the present workmen will not answer, He will find other labourers who will. I am not alarmed for the final success of the Mission, tho' at present clouds and darkness rest upon it. The nine bills you have drawn upon me I have paid, tho' you did not endorse them. They were drawn in your favour, and payable to your order. This is incorrect in me. I had no authority to pay them without your indorsement.

Present our kind respects to Mrs. Butler.

I am,
Revd. Sir,
Your most obedt. servant,


Rev. John Butler.