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(“HOCKEN” COLLECTION.) Marsden to Butler

(“HOCKEN” COLLECTION.) Marsden to Butler.

Jany. 12th, 1820.

My very Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure to inform you that we had a fine passage in the “Active” to Port Jackson, where I found all my family well, and daughters shortly after at the Lord's Table. I had suffered much anguish page 32 of mind when at New Zealand at the very horrid idea which some entertained of my children, my spirits were more wounded than at anything I had met with in life. They devote their time to instruct the ignorant, and to guide the poor wanderer; no wicked insinuations will ever cause me to relinquish my labours for the good of the New Zealanders, and I bless God that He has honoured me with such a feeling, which I hope will attend me to the grave. Your son Samuel is very steady, and behaves well. I think his visit to Parramatta will be a real service to him. He has no companions to lead him wrong, and he sees none but the best characters this colony affords. I think you will find him more inclined to do all you wish when he returns to you. He is just treated as if he was my own son, and is under no painful restraint, and free from care, and will do well I have no doubt.

With respect to myself, I can say but little. As yet, I have not seen the Governor since my return, nor am likely to see him. How matters will end I cannot tell as yet, but I think I shall earry my point—our difference is now before the House of Commons. The whole state of the Colony will now come before the House. I think the Governor will not remain long in the Colony. Whether I shall return to England or not is yet uncertain, but I rather think I shall remain where I am. Several members of the House of Commons have warmly espoused my cause, and have pledged themselves to see justice done to my character. The Governor must be very angry. What will be done here, I cannot tell as yet; no doubt every attempt will be tried to do me all the injury possible. I have determined to maintain the contest to the end. The foundation on which I stand is truth, and I only have to maintain my ground and not be driven from my post by any attacks, and then I must conquer. I may have hard to fight. We are expecting arrivals from England every day, when I shall know more. I think it probable two King's ships will come out, and after they have landed their prisoners, will visit New Zealand. In short, if they do, I shall visit you again if I can obtain permission, and see how you are going on. I hope you will go on well. Always bear in mind the importance of the work in which you are engaged, and what an honour you enjoy. You cannot magnify your office too much, nor think too highly of your situation as an ambassador to the heathen. Much will depend upon your wisdom, patience and perserverance, and I hope you will possess all these virtues. You know well what a state the Mission was in when we first arrived; when I saw what those sent out to instruct the heathen were doing, my very heart was pained within me. I trembled for the consequences. Their sin appeared exceeding great to me, and I did think then, and have thought since, that if God intended to be merciful unto them, he would bring them into sore affliction. When Mrs. Gordon's father called upon me (who is a pious man), after my arrival at Parramatta, before he saw his daughter, I told him Mr. Gordon had neglected his duty, and I feared on that account he would have some affliction. The next news I had, Mrs. Gordon died in Sydney; none of them saw their conduct in the same light I did, they appeared to be stupid and insensible. Mr. King, I think, will sooner or later be convinced of his error. I hope he will continue now to do what is right, and not fall again into the snare of the devil. I do expect the Society will take very serious notice of his conduct.

(Oh, reader! pause. Do not gasp at the sentiments of the gentle Marsden; in the days of old, it was customary to enjoy the writhings of some poor heretic at the stake, while fire consumed the tortured body. A good description of a page 33 refined flogging may be obtained from that inflicted upon a lad named Patrick Galvin, under Marsden's orders and supervision, detailed by Joseph Holt in his Memoirs. What sympathy had Marsden for poor Gordon? These men, or most of them, were selected by Marsden himself, and placed in an uncultivated locality in 1814, by him; yet not until August, 1819, did he visit them, and then but to chide and deride. Their sin, this, that they had not procured bumper cargoes for Mr. Marsden's brig, the “Active.”
Butler! it will be your turn soon to fall into the snares of the devil, but his name is not Satan.)

The letter continues:—

It will give me the greatest gratification to find you all go on well, and that the work prospers in your hands. The field is open for your labour, and you must succeed in the end. I have had repeated conversations with the Commissioner respecting New Zealand, and hope Government will attend to it when present powers that be are removed. I shall embrace every opportunity to promote the interests of the country you live in, so that you may depend at all times upon my support while I remain in this Colony. I hope my difficulties will be less than what they have been in time. I have sent over Mr. James Shepherd to live with Te Morengha and his party. You will give him all the aid you can in building him a little house, as he is well acquainted with gardening, grafting trees, etc., etc., so that he will be very useful in all these respects. I will send him some assistance as soon as I can. Should the King's ships come, I will try to send the horses, etc.

You will be so good as give our kind respects to Mrs. Butler; she will be gratified to know that her son is well, and goes on well. I think he will now be weaned, and when he comes back again, she will not regret that he came with me, as he will be more likely to be a comfort to her, than if he had never been from her. I shall send the wheat, etc., etc., in the “Active.”

I remain,

Dear Sir,
Yours affectionately,


To Rev. John Butler.