Historical Records of New Zealand
Rev. S. Marsden to J. Pratt
Rev. S. Marsden to J. Pratt.
As the Revd. Mr. Butler and his colleagues will write to you, it will not be necessary for me to trouble you with any long statements. I am much struck with the singular providence of God that the same ship which brought them out should at the same time bring my leave of absence, a favour which I so very earnestly solicited about fourteen months ago. The reasons that then urged me to leave the colony do not so strongly exist as they did at the time I made application to return to Europe. As two asst. chaplains have been sent out, and permission for me to return home, I consider this a favorable opportunity to request the Govr. to allow me to accompany Mr. Butler to New Zealand in order to arrange the future plans for the permanent welfare of that settlement. I accordingly wrote to the Governor stating that it was not in my power to avail myself of the indulgence granted me to return home, as the Surry would sail immediately for Europe, by that ship; and therefore begged His Excellency would allow me to proceed to New Zealand for a short time, which favor the Governor granted me on condition that I would provide accommodations for the clergymen who did my duty in my absence free from all expense to the Crown. This condition I readily complied with. Had I not received leave of absence I should not have presumed to have asked permission to visit New Zealand. Having obtained the Govr’s permission, and knowing the Active was too small to carry the passengers and their stores, and being absent on her voyage, I determined to take up the first vessel I could in the harbour in order that the Reverend Mr. Butler, &c., might, as soon as possible, arrive at their place of destination and begin their work. I therefore hired an American brig, 200 tons, who was in the cove, and the time appointed for our sailing is fixed for the 25th instant. The settlers for New Zealand would get no advantage in this colony; and heavy expense would have been incurred daily while they remained here where everything is at such a price, and the sooner they begin their work the longer time they would have to do it in. It is my intention to take over a few mechanics to enable them to put up the necessary buildings, church houses, &c., &c., and to form a regular government amongst them before I return, if my life is spared. I hope also to have a little more time to examine into the country and to see what are its capabilities. How wonderfully has God overruled the wills and affections of simple men with respect to this mission. If there was one object in page 436 life that I wished to attain more than any other it was this—that I might visit New Zealand. If I had not been compelled to apply for leave of absence for reasons I need not explain I never should have done so. But how has this turned out to the accomplishment of my wishes? I hope now to introduce Mr. Butler to all the leading chiefs, to conciliate their esteem, and to fix the settlement on a firm foundation. I cannot doubt the suitableness of the instruments you have sent out. Their wisdom on the voyage and prudence since their arrival convince me that they are fully bent upon their work, and if they can only begin at the right end, we may hope for a successful issue of their labors. I shall assist them to the utmost of my power. The evils that have existed at the settlement have comparatively been small, where every man did what was right in his own eyes. The place will now be changed, and I trust we shall be able to lay down such rules, and keep those who are employed in the work to their proper duty, so as to prevent the existence of any great differences amongst them. When the Active arrives at Sydney I shall leave orders for her to be fitted out, and to be sent for me. After my return from New Zealand it will depend upon existing circumstances whether I proceed to Europe or not. If I should see it necessary I shall come to London; if very cogent reasons do not urge me I shall remain. The change of Government would be the strongest inducement to remain. A continuance of the present system would urge, if not compel, my departure. I am happy that two clergymen have been appointed. The Revd. Mr. Hill, I have no doubt, will be a blessing to the colony. Mr. Cross wants solidity at least, if not something more. I should have been glad could I have entertained as favorable an opinion of him as I do of Mr. Hill; and wish most sincerely I may be able to do this at any future period. After my return from New Zealand, and any change of public measures is adopted, I then hope we may be able to give you some little assistance, and form a regular auxiliary society. At present things must remain as they are.
I have, &c.,