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Letter from John Gare Butler to Josiah Pratt, January 22nd, 1822

22nd January, 1822.

To Revd. Josiah Pratt,
Church Missionary House,
Salisbury Square, London.

My Dear Sir,

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 13th March, 1821, by a whaler, Captain Gardner, the morning we sailed from New Zealand to Port Jackson. I suppose you will expect an abstract of my voyage, and the reason of my visiting Port Jackson.

First of all I would say that Captain Potton, of the “Westmorland,” has behaved to me in a very gentlemanly manner, and paid particular attention to all my requests.

We sailed from New Zealand on the 27th November, 1821, and arrived at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, December 11th, 1821. We had a very pleasant voyage; public prayers in the morning and evening, and Divine Service twice on Sundays. I preached in the morning, and the Revd. Williams, a Tahietian missionary, in the afternoon.

I apprehend (as it is not fully stated by the committee) you feel anxious to know the reason of my visit to this place. Now the reason is this: I was in great need of wearing apparel of all sorts for myself and family, as well as many other little comforts which I could not obtain in any other way. When I first agreed with Mr. Marsden, he wished to be my agent at Port Jackson, and promised if I committed my concerns to his trust, he would pay particular attention to my wants, and send me all the little things which I might write for from time to time, for the comfort and use of my family, and pay me interest for all moneys left in his hands. This spontaneous offer I gladly accepted, and relied on Mr. Marsden in full confidence.

Well Sir, to be very short, I wrote to Mr. Marsden time after time for things, but I never could get him to pay any attention to my orders, and while my brethren who employed other agents obtained everything they sent for, I was left completely without, and no market to run to in a heathen land. I even wrote to my son, Samuel Butler, and he put the order into Mr. Marsden's hands, and besought him to get the goods, and send them down in the “Active;” but, like the man who had two sons, he said, “I go, sir,” and went not. I never received them, and further, as I conceived that those accounts which are settled ofttimes, are generally the most correct, I wrote to him to draw a balance between us, and forward the account to me, but here also I failed, as you will see by the minutes of the committee, held Oct. 1st, 1821. However, I received a letter dated Sydney, March 10th, 1821, in which it appears he intended to send my account that time. He begins his letter by saying, “Dear Sir, you will look over your account, and see that it is correct. I may have forgot something or other. The £55 you received in cash, when you were here, which is the first sum.” This £55 is the travelling expenses which I complain of, as having been charged to me by Mr. Marsden, in his settlement at the time, when I am led to believe, by comparing the date that I signed my name for the above sum, and the date of his letters, the money had been repaid page 204 to him by the Society, there being one year and nine months between the dates. We had a very long passage out from England, it is well known, and I was in debt to Mr. F. Hall for some moneys furnished by him for general use, and the remainder was laid out in Sydney for the use of goods for our whole party.

When I arrived here I saw Mr. Marsden on my landing, at Mr. Campbell's. I paid my respects to him, and asked after his family. He appeared to be busy with Mr. Cowell, and I left them, and went into the town to deliver some letters—I returned to the wharf, and Mr. Marsden was gone. I then asked Mr. Campbell to favour me with a sight of the accounts, which I had signed when at Port Jackson. He replied, “They were sent to London at that time.” I said, “Sir, you must have a copy of them, I should think, and I would like to see it.” “I do not know, however,” said he, “I cannot find it now.” I then told him I must see it before I went out of the counting-house. He then opened a drawer, and produced a copy of the accounts immediately, and I saw the £55 in question, which was all I wanted. I then paid my respects to the late Governor Macquarie, Esquire; this I conceived my duty, as he appointed me a magistrate at New Zealand, and I had some communications of a magisterial nature to make to him. He very kindly invited me to dine with him, and wanted to introduce me to Governor Brisbane. Both these favours I gladly accepted. When I was introduced to Governor Brisbane, he treated me with every mark of respect, and appointed a day to see me at Parramatta.

I waited on his Excellency, according to appointment, and had a good deal of conversation with him about New Zealand. His Excellency was pleased to manifest his goodwill towards the Mission, and said he would render us every assistance in his power, and asked me if the gift of some cattle and sheep would be of any service. To which I replied, “Your Excellency, they will be of great utility.” He then said, “Sir, be so good as to drop me a line respecting them.” I then answered, “Your Excellency, I will.” This I did, and have sent you a copy of the letter. He also wished me to hold my magisterial authority —which I promised to do. He then invited me to dine with him on Christmas Day. This favour, also, I gladly accepted.

Wednesday, December 12th, I breakfasted with Mr. Leigh, who was then about to leave the colony in the brig “Active” for New Zealand. Mr. Marsden called, in his chaise, having the Revd. Mr. Cartwright with him. They were on their way going to Parramatta. They came indoors, and Mr. Marsden said to me, “Mr. Butler, where are you going to lodge?” I answered, “I do not know, for I am a complete stranger.” He said, “I think you can get lodgings at Mr. Hill's.” I answered, “Very well, sir.” After Mr. Marsden was gone, I called on the Revd. Mr. Hill, but was not asked indoors.

In the course of the day, I called on the Rev. Mr. Cooper, who invited me in, and we sat down, and had some conversation about New Zealand. Mr. Cooper said to me, “Sir, where are you going to lodge?” I answered, “I am not certain, but I think at Mr. Hill's.” I called again at Mr. Hill's, and was answered at the door, and not receiving any invitation from Mr. Hill, I was led to conclude I was not wanted. I then went to see Capt. Thompson, of the brig “Active,” who received me into his house, and furnished me with a good bed, and gave me the best his house could afford, and I shall for ever stand indebted to him and his wife for their great kindness and hospitality.

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On Saturday I went to Parramatta to the Rev. Mr. Marsden, and remained until Tuesday morning at Mr. Marsden's, when I returned to Sydney, and immediately collected my thoughts for business, and those things for which I came more especially to the colony.

In the evening Mr. Marsden sent for me and Mr. Cowell to visit him on business. We attended according to Mr. Marsden's request, and I found that Mr. Marsden's objects were to enquire of me about Mr. Cowell's concerns. I gave him all the information in my power. I certainly thought Mr. Marsden or Mr. Hill would say something about my lodgings, but not a word passed, and I returned to my host, Capt. Thompson.

Next morning I went to Mr. Campbell's, saw Mr. Marsden and asked him to settle my accounts. He said, “Mr. Butler, I must settle your accounts at Parramatta, but you can have any money you want from Mr. Campbell on account.” “I thank you, sir,” said I, “but I would be glad to have my accounts adjusted as soon as possible, in order to know how much I have coming to me.” Mr. Marsden then left me, and the next day I took my book to Parramatta, and I asked Mr. Marsden several times to look over my papers. He gave me several evasive answers, and at length told me he must settle with me at Mr. Campbell's office, Sydney. I said, “Very well.” I then set off up the country for a few days to see Captain Irvine, who was a member of the committee here, and Mr. Hassell. I was treated very kindly by both of them.

I preached at Mr. Hassell's on Sunday, December 23rd, 1821, under his verandah, there being no church within twenty miles of this place, and they had only three sermons preached at this place for two years past. Mr. Hassell sent notices round to the neighbouring farmers and when the time came for Divine Service, I found a considerable number of persons coming to hear the Word of God. After service, I churched a woman, and christened a child.

Monday morning, December 24th, 1821, I bid adieu to this truly pious family, with my earnest prayer for the divine blessing on them and theirs. I called at the Rev. Cartwright's, Liverpool, by the way, and arrived at Parramatta in the afternoon. I went to Mr. Marsden's, and remained until Friday morning. From the coldness with which I was received and treated, I concluded I was not wanted there, so I returned to Sydney, and put my things on board the “Westmorland,” where I now remain, going on shore daily to do my business, and returning on board to sleep. I saw Mr. Marsden at Sydney, and asked him to settle my accounts; he said, “Go to Mr. Campbell's, and he will settle them.” I then went to Mr. Campbell's, and he said, “Sir, I can do nothing with your accounts until Mr. Marsden comes, and I expect him here by and by.”

In a little time Mr. Marsden came, and I said to him, “Sir, I would really be very glad if you will look over my accounts.” (Mr. Cowell was with me at the time.) He then said, “I am too busy,” and I said, “Sir! will you let Mr. Campbell and I look over them?” He said, “Why do you ask such a question? I trust him with all my affairs, and it would be singular if I could not trust him to settle with you!”

After Mr. Marsden was gone, I asked Mr. Campbell for my accounts, and as soon as I got it, I said, “Sir, I perceive here are moneys standing against me which ought not.” He said to point them page 206 out. I did so, and proved his account to be wrong. Moreover, I said to him, “Sir, you have not given me credit either for a bill of £26/18/11 drawn in favour of me at New Zealand.” Said he, “Since you have your books on board the ‘Westmorland,’ you had better take this paper and make them out according to your books.” I then took the papers with me on board, and made out the accounts, which on examination were found to be correct. Mr. Campbell then said, “Sir, leave me this account, and I will get you this money.”

In a day or two after, I saw Mr. Marsden at the office, and said, “Sir, the accounts are made out and ready; they only want your approval. It will not detain you many minutes to look over them,” when he again put me off. “I am going away with Mr. John Palmer, and cannot settle to-day now.”

It was not till after all these suffering tricks, together with a good deal of harsh and unkind treatment which will hereafter be substantiated on oath if necessary, by those who have had ocular proof, that I wrote my letter to Mr. Marsden in which so many strong interrogations appear, and notwithstanding all he can say or urge against them, or however he may endeavour to explain them away, I fear, alas! on examination they will be found too true, if it is done impartially; and of this I am sure and certain, that the committee will examine without reference to any man's situation.

Mr. Marsden received my letter on the Friday, and he came down on the Monday following to settle with me.

Mr. Cowell was present at the meeting. At this meeting, Mr. Marsden, I conceive, acted very wrong, for he endeavoured to keep back nine months' salary, that is to say, from January 1st to October 1st, 1821; and it was not until I threatened him with immediate law, that he paid me my very hard earned wages.

With respect to the letter which I have written to Sir Brisbane, Sir Thos., I beg leave to observe that, even before I wrote to him, I acquainted the Revd. Mr. Samuel Marsden with all the particulars which passed between us, and I begged Mr. Marsden to go with me to his Excellency about the cattle, which he promised to do. After finishing the letter, I took it to Mr. Marsden at Mr. Campbell's office, for his inspection and approval. He refused to look at it, in the most indignant manner; he would neither read it, nor suffer me to read it to him, altho' I besought him in the most earnest manner.

If this is proper usage for a missionary to receive from the agent of the Society here, then I think it is but fair that all the world should know it. With respect to Mr. Cowell, I must say that the poor man has been used exceedingly ill by Mr. Marsden, almost from his first arrival in the colony. I am certainly meeting of people who are sounding of these things in my ears. There is but one opinion here, generally speaking, concerning him—it is this that Mr. Cowell is a sober, steady, and well-disposed young man.

The other morning I breakfasted with him, and a person came to his house for a little money, and he had not a sixpence in his place. He sent an order down to Mr. Campbell, Mr. Marsden's agent, for £10, and the order was refused. Afterward I went down with Mr. Cowell, and was present when Mr. Cowell said to Mr. Marsden, “Sir, I would be glad if you would let me have a little money,” and Mr. Marsden said, page 207 “No! I cannot advance you another shilling.” The poor man was completely upset by Mr. Marsden's treatment. Mr. Cowell asked him, saying, “Sir, do you mean to cut off my subsistence altogether? I have a person now at my house waiting for a little money, which I owe him.” Mr. Marsden said, “I cannot help that. I cannot advance you any more money.”

We went back to the house, and found his wife in tears, and for the honour of the Society which I love from the bottom of my heart, as well as to manifest my sympathy for a brother, I said, “Mr. Cowell, you shall not want while I have a sixpence left,” and I immediately advanced him £23 for his use.

Last Sunday I performed Divine Service, assisted by Mr. Cowell on board the “Westmorland” in the harbour, and preached from the 107 Psalm: “They that go down to the sea in ships,” etc., etc. We had a great congregation of sailors, considering the notice was very short. D.V., we propose having service on the “Westmorland's” deck next Sunday, when we are led to expect our congregation will be more numerous. I am going to Parramatta this day, Jan. 23rd, 1822, to dine with his Excellency, Sir Thomas Brisbane, and I have an invitation to dine with his Excellency Governor Macquarie on Saturday night next, and shall feel myself highly honoured in having an opportunity of certifying my sincere respects for all the kindness his Excellency has manifested toward me, who am altogether unworthy of so much notice.

Mr. Cowell and his family will accompany me to New Zealand in the “Westmorland,” and we expect to sail on or about Tuesday, 29th January, 1822.

Give my sincere love to all friends, and may God bless and preserve you and yours, is the earnest prayer of

Your very affectionate,