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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden To Rev. J. Butterworth

Rev. S. Marsden To Rev. J. Butterworth.

Parramatta, January 29th, 1824.

Dear Sir,—

I cannot deny myself the pleasure of writing a few lines to you by our mutual friend Mr. Justice Field, whose return to England I most sincerely regret. I know he has been a very powerful check upon many public evils, and a protector of the characters and property of the injured and oppressed in his official situation. He will continue to be esteemed by the purest and best part of society in these settlements while the rememberance of his upright conduct as a judge remains.

I am very sorry to inform you that the health of the Revd. Samuel Leigh is declining very fast. On my arrival in New Zealand in August last he intreated me to visit him at Wangaroa, where he was stationed, as he was very ill. Wangaroa lays about 50 miles to the north of the Bay of Islands. I complied with his wishes. When I arrived I found him very ill. It was the opinion of his colleagues that he should be removed as soon as possible from Wangaroa, as he could neither get medical assistance nor any other comfort that his case required. I perfectly agreed with his colleagues, and took him back with me to the Bay of Islands, where every attention was paid to him that was in our power. He still continued to grow worse, and it was before resolved that he should return with me to Port Jackson to see what a change of situation, with medical advice, would do for him. We embarked together, but were shipwrecked, tho’ no lives were lost. When an opportunity offered, we returned to N. S. Wales. Mr. Leigh still continues to decline, and I have no hopes of his recovery myself. He is a worthy man —has laboured hard in this part of the world, and has been a very faithful missionary. He is very much attached to the natives of N. Zealand, and is anxious to return if it was possible. Mr. Leigh has had much anxiety upon his mind. The young men who are preachers have acted very contrary to his wishes, and have not been so frugal as they ought, but have followed their own wishes, contrary to his advice, which has brought on a heavy expence to the Society, which he was always anxious to avoid. I know well what young men who are missionaries page 619 generally are; I have had five-and-twenty years’ experience of them, and I have always found them very difficult to govern— many I have seen, and have had to do with, who put little value upon the public money—never thought that it was collected from the widow’s mite and the schoolboy’s penny. There is a turn in most young men to be extravagant and free from all restraint. I need not make these observations, because I am sure the Wesleyan Committee will know this from the bills that must be drawn upon them. Missionaries will do wrong at such a distance, whatever the society may be to which they belong. I have much trouble with many who are connected with the C. M. Society. Notwithstanding all the evils that exist amongst them, the work of the Lord will go on. If one man will not do what is right, the Lord will find another, that the cause must not be relinquished. With respect to the C. M. Society, I, as agent, have been compelled to suspend some, to dismiss others, and severely to censure others. The same happened to the missionaries belonging to the London M. S. in the Society Islands: some behaved well, and some very bad. I always love to see a missionary careful of the public property. When he is careless about his expenses it is a bad sign. Every article of food is very cheap here—bread, meat, &c., &c.—so that a missionary may now live much more comfortably upon a small sum than what he could a few years ago. I should be glad to see some of your missionaries manifest a different spirit; but I fear there are some who never will. They have not been sufficiently careful of the society they formed in this colony, and this, I fear, will do them no good in the end. I think it would be well if you should have a little conversation with Mr. Justice Field on this subject. You may converse with him freely and confidentially on any subject you wish to gain information upon. He will, from his local knowledge, be able to satisfy your inquiries. I know, from long experience in this colony, that little is to be expected from any association with men who have been convicts but fraud and imposition, and this is an error into which some have fallen. I have not entered into particulars, as Mr. Justice Field, to whom I refer, will see you in London.

I have, &c.,

Samuel Marsden.