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Letter from Samuel Marsden to Josiah Pratt, February 7th, 1820

Feby. 7th, 1820.

Rev. and Dear Sir,

I must now write to you about the “Active.”

As the Revd. John Butler has come out Superintendent of the Missionary settlement, I wish now to be relieved of all responsibility relative to the “Active,” from the 1st August, 1819, the period she returned from New Zealand. I have to request the Society to take the vessel into their own hands, from the above period, with all the profits and losses. I have had her valued; the report of her survey and valuation I have forwarded to you, for the information of the Society. I have judged it best, with the advice of Mr. Robert Campbell——to fit the “Active” out as a whaler. She can attend to all the concerns of the Settlement, and still procure oil for the benefit of the Society, towards lessening her expenses……There is nothing at New Zealand that will pay her expenses. The duty upon the timber, and the Port expenses of various kinds are so ruinous, that she ought not to come into this harbour more than once a year, if it can be avoided……

Mr. Butler is in New Zealand, and can forward the interest of the vessel; hitherto this has not been the case. Tho' the settlers were deriving every comfort from the vessl, yet they were totally unconcerned in general about her interest…. . I had got all the supplies on board of her for the settlement, and also a number of natives who were returning home, when the “Dromedary” arrived; but, as the “Dromedary” is going to the Bay of Islands, I have taken out all supplies, and the natives also, and put them on board the King's ship.

I have some very fine youths with me now who are acquiring the English language very fast. I brought Mr. Butler's son back again with me to take charge of these boys, and to devote his time to their instruction. By the sons of chiefs living together in civil life and all paid equal attention to, they will form attachments that will destroy that jealousy which has kept their tribes in continual war——. If the “Active” succeeds, the expenses will gradually cease. Should the Society not approve of purchasing the “Active,” I will thank you to have her insured for the amount she is valued at—£1500. If they should take her, they will take her for the valuation put upon her. I shall be obliged to draw upon you for about half her purchase money, and shall leave the “Active” as security for that sum, should she be returned to me again, or if she gets a cargo of oil, I will send the amount to repay the £750 which I now draw upon you for. Her outfit as a whaler will also have to be charged to my account, but not her expenses on her last voyage to New Zealand, from 1st August to 1st December,—as she was during that four months wholly in the service of the Mission.——. A very nice young man, whom I have long wished to employ in the Mission, truly pious, and his heart engaged in the work, is going over with me. His name is James Shepherd, a native of the colony. His father is a very pious man. I sent him once to visit New Zealand to see the natives, and he has been very desirous of devoting himself to the work of the Mission. He understands gardening, grafting of trees, etc. A man of this kind will be of infinite service.

I have, etc.


Rev. J. Pratt.