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Letter from John Gare Butler to Samuel Marsden, January 9th, 1821

Rev. John Butler to Rev. S. Marsden.
Jan. 9th, 1821.

Rev. and Dear Sir,

With pleasure I inform you that Capt. Thompson, by whom also you will receive this letter, brought us down a seasonable supply of stores, as we were quite out at the time of his arrival. Help often comes when hope is gone. Since your departure, we have been on the most peaceable and friendly terms with our natives, and nothing seems wanting but courage and exertion to go on in our great and glorious work. However, there are many difficulties to contend with; one is the great want of animal food, occasioned principally by the shipping. There are five ships, besides the “Active,” at this time within the harbour, and it is said there are twelve others without, and may be expected at Bay of Islands every day. I need not say to you, that like page 110 the locust in the Land of Egypt, they devour everything: on account of their dealing in muskets and powder. You are fully aware of the evil of these things, as they prevent us from obtaining supplies from the natives, and render pork and potatoes very scarce and dear.

There is no timber at present at Kiddee Kiddee, toward building me a house, and the old American house stands as you left it, save that there are a few shingles on one side. George Harrison is gone to the Coromandel; he went immediately after you left. Enclosed you have his account.

The whole of this last month, I have been very busy in the harvest field, but, from the sourness of the land, and the long continuance of the dry weather, our crops are very thin. I have reaped Mr. Shepherd's barley at Ohkula, but it is not winnowed. The wheat I intend to reap next week. I hope you will give my Christian respects to Mr. Shepherd, as I shall not have time to write to him by this conveyance.

The cattle are all doing remarkably well. Messrs. Kemp and Hall have taken to themselves the heifer of the black cow we brought down with us in the “General Gates.” She has a fine calf, and Mrs. Kemp makes butter. It is agreed upon that I shall have the mother, viz., the black cow, and calf for my use. We mean to write Mr. Pratt, as well as yourself, on this subject, and what Mr. Pratt, or you, Sir, may be pleased to charge, we shall be thankful and willing to pay. As you were pleased to write me a letter permitting any person to have a cow or two, at a certain price, accordingly, Mr. Bean, Mr. Fairburn, Mr. F. Hall, and myself, have chosen one each from among the heifers you sent per “Active” last time. Please to charge the same to our respective accounts. And now, dear Sir, permit me to say it is my earnest prayer and fervent hope that you are at this time in perfect health, and happy in the bosom of your family, and your children like olive branches round your table. May the candle of the Lord ever shine upon you, upon Mrs. Marsden, and upon your children. May the Lord be unto you as the dew unto Israel, and pour upon you the continual dew of His blessing.

I doubt not. that, long ere this, you have called your flock around the Lord's Table, again and again, and that He has met you there and made Himself “known to you, in breaking of bread,” and you have found the Lord Jesus “precious to your souls.” Although absent in body, I have been with you in spirit, beseeching the Lord to give you many souls for your hire as seals to your ministry. Please to give my sincere respects to all friends, and greet them in my name. Mrs. Butler joins with me in the sincerest love to yourself, Mrs. Marsden, and to all your family, and believe me to be,

Dear Sir,

Yours very affectionately,


To the Rev. Samuel Marsden, Parramatta.

P. S.—I hope you will have the goodness to write to me by every opportunity, and send me as many newspapers as you can conveniently spare.