Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to his mother January 27, 1842
January 27, 1842.
To his mother.
I wrote in the beginning of the month to Octavia, but hope this may reach you before that as the account I felt bound to give you of my state of health was not very good, and I am happy now to be able to give a more favourable report. I then stated that I had been confined to my bed for three weeks, but was recovering. Since that I have been brought by my friend Mr. St. Hill to his house here, where by the very kind and assiduous attentions of himself and Mrs. St. Hill I have been supplied with every comfort. He has the best house in the colony and they have spared no pain in making me comfortable. I have been with them now a fortnight and trust that I shall shortly be enabled to resume my old employment. I have been in the hands of Dr. Fitzgerald, who I think is a clever man. He told me that I was suffering from an affection of the pleura, which required immediate attention lest it should spread to the lungs in which case it might prove fatal. I have been cupped and have had three blisters applied to my side, etc., and am now feeling well. I would that I could feel more grateful to the Lord for His goodness in raising up friends to me in a time of need and supplying me with those means which were necessary for my recovery. "Trust ye in the Lord for ever" is a sweet sentence—oh that wepage 174
could always act upon it. I went to church on Sunday and preached to an English congregation and did not feel much fatigued through my exertions. My chest has been unusually well—I have not coughed once during my illness.
It has been rather painful to me to be unable to live among my dear people and to continue my instructions to them, but the Lord's will be done. They have appeared very anxious for my recovery and appear much attached to me. I wish I had some help, my time is much wasted in moving about from place to place. I begin also to fear that the rapid influx of whites to this country must eventually prove pernicious to the natives. This part of the country will shortly be overrun with settlers if colonisation proceeds as it has hitherto done. I cannot but fear that there will be blood-shed here before long, that a collision will take place between the settlers and the natives. Nothing I firmly believe at the present moment restrains the natives but the power of the Gospel—how long that may continue to act generally as a restraint I cannot conjecture. I see no reason why such an event should take place—the natives are very easily managed, but the impetuosity of some settlers will probably act as a firebrand to cause a general conflagration, and should such a thing happen some of the settlers (though they do not think so) must be the sufferers.
I do not think that there is fair play here—for instance on the arrival of the Lieut.-Governor it was stated that he came to make a treaty with the New Zealand chiefs. In this treaty all their lands and rights were guaranteed to the latter, who allowed the Governor to take quiet possession. This treaty which the Governor made with them, they looked upon as a bona fide act and they understood that lands which should be taken possession of by settlers were to be purchased from them. But now that a footing has been obtained here, a different ground is taken and it is broadly hinted that the treaty was not a bona fide act but a mere blind to deceive foreign powers. The Queen takes possession of the soil and the natives are looked upon as nonenities, and what the result must be requires not any extraordinary measure of foresight to determine. What opinion the unsuspecting simple New Zealander will form of settlers from this act of civilised Christian diplomacy remains to be seen—that it will not be a very favourable one I presume no one will question. This is a fine country, its capabilities have no bounds, the natives are a fine, tractable race, Christianity has its influence among them, and settlers may come here to any extent: there is plenty of room, but a strong Government, that which we read of as a matter of history (for such a thing scarcely exists in these days) is wanted, but under a weak, vacillating Government nothing can prosper.
But enough perhaps of these subjects which though they engage and occupy my thoughts may not interest you. We have nothing however to fear for ourselves, for though some of the natives look upon us missionaries as feelers sent out to prepare the way for colonisation, and the colonists on the other hand view us with suspicion, considering that we influence the natives to oppose their interests, we are nevertheless considered by both parties too useful to be dispensed with at present. I am also bound to say that personally I have met with great civility and kindness from all the leading settlers.page 175
I often wish to pay you a visit and to see you all again but I could be of no use in England and I think as soon as we cease to be useful life becomes a burden. Here, if possessed of a very moderate measure of health I might be materially useful in various ways both among natives and others, and therefore I make up my mind to live here, though I may some day pay you a visit, in which case I should probably persuade you all to accompany me back to N.Z. My father tells me that the population of Ventnor was when he wrote nearly a thousand, but the population of Wellington in which I now am is more than 3000. On my first arrival here there was not a white man here.
Continue to write very fully to me of yourselves and all my friends, etc. The lapse of time does not at all lessen the interest which I take in small particulars concerning you. I certainly am vexed that so many vessels come direct from London to this port in three or four months without bringing letters from you. I wish I could hear from Alexander. I hope when the China war is over that if he returns home he will come to me first. I should be quite happy here if I had either more time for reading, etc., or some friends with whom I could converse with profit, but I feel sometimes strongly concerning the importance of the work in which I am engaged, and my own total inability to perform it adequately, an inability arising from the sinfulness and indolence of my heart. To feed Christ's sheep and lambs is important work and "who is sufficient for these things" says Paul, and if he could feel so how ought I to feel. But Christ is sufficient for me whose "blood cleanseth from all sin." Oh how precious is the doctrine of salvation through faith in Christ.