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Letter from Samuel Marsden to John Gare Butler, January 22nd, 1822

Marsden to Butler.
Jany. 22nd, 1822.

Revd. Sir,

On Wednesday, 16th, I wrote you a second letter on the subject of yours to me of the 8th, and just as I was putting the wafer in, you came into Mr. Campbell's office, accompanied by Mr. Cowell, when I immediately handed you my letter, which you then read, and told me you would give me no answer to it. (Butler comments: “I told Mr. Marsden I would stand by what I had written. The letter accompanies these papers.—B.”) As this rested with yourself, I had no more to say at that time upon the subject. As you have, after making your charges, declined to support them, I feel (Mr. Butler's comment: “I offered to come forward at P.J., and prove them. This I did in presence of Mr. Cowell.) called upon to make a few observations upon them by way of reply. In the first place you charge me with defamation. You observe, “When you returned from New Zealand, you immediately began to speak evil of me and mine.” In answer to this charge, I page 197 beg to say that when I returned to New South Wales, many of our friends (Mr. Butler comments: “There are many friends to the Mission, but many of them have said to me that Mr. Marsden hinders them coming forward, by the way in which he acts.”), were anxious to learn the state of the Mission, and also how every individual felt in their new station. I satisfied their enquiries as far as I could in general conversation, without the most distant intention of injuring anyone in the Mission. (Very unusal for Mr. Marsden.) My most ardent wish was that all might be happy, and prosper in their work—with respect to yourself, I thought you were too violent with the natives, and I feared this would be productive of evil, and not good. (Rev. Butler comments: “Shamefully wrong, the whole of the natives will testify of my kindness to them.”) I was sorry Mrs. Butler was not more reconciled to her situation. (Salt-junk—no house—general cook.) (Rev. Butler's comment: “For a very good reason Mrs. B. was dissatisfied. Mr. Marsden made her wretched, see my journal.”) She had come out against her will, and therefore she was to be pitied, as that would always make her unhappy. No person should be forced into such work; if they are, they cannot be happy. Mrs. Butler repeatedly told me she never wished to come, and on that ground she has cause to complain, and demands commiseration; her difficulties would be much lighter if her mind were at ease. (Rev. Butler comments: “Wonderful! He allows Mrs. Butler to work very hard. But he cares not for it.”) I never charged Mrs. Butler with neglect of duty; I know she is a woman who cannot be idle, and has slaved very hard. (Rev. Butler's comment: “Very pretty! Well he may say I do not understand.”) If this is speaking evil of you and yours, I have done so. I have never accused you of neglect of labour, for I have always said you have laboured hard. As for charging you with neglect of duty, I do not understand exactly what you mean. The term duty is used in too general a way. If you had mentioned to what part of your conduct you applied the term, I should have known what reply to have made. As a Magistrate of the British Realm (The boot pinches here—Marsden had been removed from the “Bench.”) here I think you mistake the extent of your authority, as you could not act even in New South Wales in that capacity. Your Magisterial authority was merely local. (Rev. Butler's comment: “By his wish I became a magistrate. Is this right?”) You observe, “Since you have taken upon you to traduce my character without any just cause, you must hereafter stand prepared to justify your own.” I do not see the force of this argument. One man may accuse another, and yet the accuser may have done no wrong. You accuse me of selling the things which you say you wrote for. The articles which you allude to were not your property, but the Society's. They were not consigned to you, but to me as the Society's Agent. (Rev. Butler's comment: “But I expected to have a portion for my family's use, as I wrote for them.) If you mean to insinuate that I derived any advantage from the sale of these goods, you are mistaken. You know better, and you know why I diverted them to be sold—because there were no invoices of the prices of the different articles, but only the sum total. Without I had known the price of each separate article, I would never venture to send them to New Zealand, for if I had made a mistake and overcharged a single penny on any other article, and it had been discovered, I should have been accused of fraud and speculation. (Rev. Butler's comments: “The goods which I applied for were, I apprehend, the only goods for sale, and there was an invoice of them (2). The goods were not for sale, I believe, but for the natives. These goods were ‘Manchester’ for the schools, which were sent out in page 198 the ‘Elizabeth,’ that I complain of.”) Knowing the persons I had to do with (Rev. Butler's comment: “Are we all liars, and Mr. Marsden the only true man?”) I was not going to subject myself to groundless suspicions, to endless explanations and continued complaints. All you can say, my agent sold them, and I have told you the reason. (Mr. Butler's comment: “No!”) But you cannot say my agent or I put a farthing in our pockets. I admit I sent under the care of the Rev. T. Kendall, such goods as he chose to take, whose prices were known. I conceived he was the proper person to take charge of them during the voyage, and to hand over the public stores on his arrival, to Mr. Francis Hall, the storekeeper. (Rev. Butler's comment: “Wrong.”) I admit also that the shipping expenses and the insurance, amounting to about six per cent., were added to the different articles, which were for sale to the workmen and settlers, in order to keep the sum total of what the goods cost, correct. Mr. Kendall put the insurance and shipping charges upon the different articles with his own hand, under my directions. I conceived this just. The sum is not worth mentioning. (Rev. Butler's comment: “There are two distinct invoices, the goods of one committed to Mr. Kendall at Rangahoo, the other of Hall, Kedde Kedde.) (Readers, please note that, before ordination, Butler had been for many years foreman-clerk to a large carrying company, and would instantly perceive the trickery.)

Should the Committee in London think this an unjust “tax,” they will remit it. You told me you thought it was just that all the labourers should pay the small additional sum, but unjust that you should pay it. You receive £200 per annum, (Rev. Butler's comment: “Only £160; my son £40.”) while the carpenters receive but £60. I think it no disgrace either to me or to the Society to charge the actual amount of the original cost paid in London, nor do I think I should be a faithful agent if I omitted this charge. (Rev. Butler's comment: “This is grossly false and wrong, for Mr. Marsden kept teasing me about them, in order to draw words from me. I told him it might be just or unjust with us, just to them (carpenters), I only wished to speak for myself.”) You ask, “Have you not endeavoured to defraud me?” I answer, “No, never.” (Rev. Butler's comment: “It was, and I have Mr. Marsden's letter who saith the £55.”) The £55 was never charged to you in any of your accounts, and you know well that it never was or intended, and you cannot show it was. (Rev. Butler's comment: “I can.”) And therefore I do not hesitate to say that your insinuation is false and unfounded. I admit a small bill drawn by Mr. King was charged to you by Mr. Campbell, but not by me. The mistake was rectified the moment it was pointed out. You suffered no loss, and you know Mr. Campbell was a man of such honor and integrity that he would immediately correct the error. You ask, “Have you not acted quite as badly refusing to honour a just bill which I paid for timber on account of the Society?” I never refused to pay a just bill. (Rev. Butler's comment: “Wrong, the bill is just, and so proved by all the committee at New Zealand.”) I contend the bill was not just. I am not a little astonished that you should mention such a disgraceful business. Shortly after your arrival in New Zealand, it was determined you, Messrs. Hall and Kemp should settle at Keddee Keddee. (Rev. Butler's comment: “Among the most warlike tribes, where we should want £25 worth powder to shoot them.”) You wanted timber to build your house, with a considerable quantity of logs were lying upon the beach at Rangee Hoo. On my enquiring to whom they belonged, Messrs. Kendall, Hall and King claimed them as their property. I proposed to give them whatever they had given for them (Rev. Butler's comment: “This is all Mr. King page 199 claims.”) in order to forward your building at Keddee Keddee. Messrs Hall and Kendall agreed to my proposal (Rev. Butler's comment: “Mr. Kendall was paid in powder by Mr. Marsden, Mr. Hall in money, and I have the account.”) Mr. King presented a bill, and demanded to be paid in money. I told him I could not purchase the timber, and pay for it in money. (Rev. B. comments: “What! in powder and muskets, for it was bought with these articles.”) It would appear very strange to purchase timber from the settlers in money (Rev. Butler's comment: “And how very strange to refuse Mr. King, after paying Mr. Hall.”) for building their own houses with, and I would not set such a precedent, (Rev. Butler's comment: “Alas! then why pay Mr. Hall in money?”) but that Mr. King might have payment in any articles he wanted. You ask me if I have not charged your son £19 for victuals? I answer, “ I have, and justly, too. (“Unjustly!”—B.) I had many reasons for wishing your son to return with me to New South Wales soon after our arrival in New Zealand, some of which I shall mention. It gave me much concern to see such personal difference between you and your son. I had never seen a father provoke a son to wrath so much as you did him, nor a son so disobedient to a father as he was to you. I was apprehensive that some very serious evils would arise from these differences, independent of the bad effects produced upon the minds of the heathen by your mutual quarrels. (Rev. B.'s comment: “Exceedingly exaggerated. Mr. M., like a drowning man, he will catch at a straw.”)

[Compiler's comment: A better simile would have been to liken Mr. M. to the patiki, which escapes detection by stirring up the muddy bottom of the estuary. Mr. M. must avoid, and he does, the references to his purchase of tattooed heads, purchase of the land by payment with gunpowder, and his shipment of the fifty-one bayonets. Probably Mr. M. only intended the natives to use these for trading purposes, as patiki or flatfish spears.]

Lo, the poor Maori, whose untutored mind
Puts the taotahi on his gun
And stabs his foe behind.

(Pope's “Essay on Man,” up-to-date.)

Your son then talked of destroying himself (Rev. B.'s comment: “A complete lie.”) or of making his escape, as Mrs. Butler can testify, (Rev. B.'s comment: “He never!”) and she was very unhappy on his account. I felt much for her distress. This was one reason why I wished your son to be removed for a time. You may remember that, shortly after we landed at Range Hoo, a very serious quarrel happened between you and the chief Motoee, about a pit-saw. You suffered yourself to be overcome by the most violent passion, and for a mere trifle; I was present. I expected Motoee would have given you a mortal blow every moment with his maree, from your threatening language toward him. (Rev. Butler's comment: “Exaggerated and false. See my journal for the truth) [probably Oct. 14th, also Oct. 6th, 7th, 1819.”] (Marsden returned from Hokianga to Rangihoo Oct. 12th) At length I got you into Mr. Hall's house, when I retired into the bedroom. In a few moments I heard Mrs. Butler scream aloud that the natives were killing you. I hastened to the spot, where I found you had renewed your quarrel with Motoee, and Motoee was brandishing his maree over your head. (Rev. Butler's comment: “He never did. Mr. Marsden was not with me, but Tu-tiree.”) After separating you a second time, I returned to Mr. Hall's, page 200 where I found your son in the act of loading a musket to shoot Motoee. I did not doubt but that moment he intended to do so. I was alarmed at the idea of a thoughtless youth presuming to shoot a New Zealand chief, by which the life or every European in the settlement might have been sacrificed. This very act made a deep impression on my mind, (Rev. Butler's comment: “It would have been well if many others of more importance had done the like.”) particularly when I contrasted your conduct and his together. I did not think it was prudent for him to remain until you were more settled, and better acquainted with the character of the natives. As I was pressed by the chiefs to take their sons with me to Parramatta, I thought he might be usefully employed in teaching them under my eye and roof. I should treat him as one of my family, and he would meet no improper company at my table. It was arranged between you and me that he was to have a salary of £40 per annum, and a ration equal to what was issued to people at New Zealand, but his wine, spirits, and other extras were to be paid out of his salary. (Rev. Butler's comment: “This is false, for I told Mr. M. I would not pay any part of his food.”) I charged for his board and lodgings 12/- per week, half to himself, and half to the Society. (Good milch-cow, that Society.) He was treated in every respect as I should treat my own son, and enjoyed all the comforts of my table, and the best society in the colony. He must have been a considerable expense to me, more than what I charged, when the price of living in the colony is considered. I believe he would not have got such a lodging and table for less than £2 per week. As you have refused to pay me the £19—it's for 15 months' lodging, etc.—I have no doubt the Society will. I was also anxious that your son should form friendships with the chiefs' sons who would be under his care. I had some other reasons for wishing your son from New Zealand (Rev. Butler's comment: “I should like to know what these are. As soon as I can see Mr. Marsden I shall enquire.”) which I need not mention. I have now replied to the principal part of your letter of the 8th inst. You observe “My heart aches while I put these important questions.” I hope I have relieved you of the heartache, and you are now quite well. (Rev. Butler's comment: “I am not, but worse than ever because I know him guilty.”) I shall now make a few remarks upon your letter of the 11th, in which you state you wish to attach “eternal disgrace” to me and all my colleagues—for not receiving you into their houses. Some of my colleagues are extremely poor, but I believe they are willing to use hospitality according to their ability. I think you have not put it into their power to show their willingness to receive you into their houses. On your arrival, you never reported yourself to me, which you ought to have done. (Rev. B.'s comment: “I saw and shook hands with Mr. Marsden the very first morning of my arrival.”) I at first thought this was an unintentional omission, and therefore, on my arrival at Sydney, I requested the Rev. R. Hill to accommodate you with a room in his house, and a seat at his table when you remained in Sydney, and to show you every attention as a minister of the Established Church. If you had been my son, I could not have done more for you. When I saw you for the first time in Sydney, you appeared as if you wished to avoid me. (Rev. B.'s comment: “How can this be? Mr. M. avoided me, and left me to go to Parramatta as I could, and then without an invitation.”) I also requested Mr. Campbell to supply you with what money you might want, and he told you in my presence he would. You did not apply to me for lodgings. If you had, they would have been provided for you. You united yourself with persons* whose society you approved of more than page 201 the society of the established clergy. No doubt you had your reasons for doing so, and you pleased yourself. Of all the crimes that have been laid to my charge, no one to my knowledge ever accused me before of the want of hospitality. You complain you were in great want of money. This could not be; you had only to ask and to have. State things fairly and honestly. You pressed upon me to answer these letters. I have done so. Perhaps you will be satisfied. I only regret the loss of time, as I might employ it much better—and have none to throw away in such differences.

I think the day will come, and much sooner than you think of, when you will see and feel the impropriety of writing these two letters, as there is nothing in them of that meekness and lowliness of heart which our blessed Saviour hath taught us; and at the same time He hath also said, “It must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom that offence cometh.” If I have given offence, I must bear the judgment, and if you have, you must bear it.

I am, Rev. Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,


Rev. John Butler.