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Letter from Samuel Marsden to John Gare Butler, April 10th, 1823

Marsden—Butler. (Ex “Hocken” Collection.)
April 10th, 1823.

Rev. Sir,

I herewith forward to you a letter from the Church Missionary Society, written by order of the Committee in consequence of the letters you addressed to me when you were last at Port Jackson.

I beg to recall to your recollection that I reminded you to withdraw those letters, which you declined. I then recommended that if any differences did exist betwen us, that we should follow our Saviour's advice, and submit them to our Christian friends to settle; that I would select two upon my part, and you should select two upon your part. This proposition you also rejected; nothing would satisfy your angry feelings but the submitting these letters to the C.M. Society. I warned you of the consequences at the time, but you would not be advised. You continued under the government of such violent passions, and openly, and publicly cast such personal reflections and reproaches upon me, as compelled me to withdraw from you altogether, with a full page 270 determination never to put it in your power to use the language to me you had done in the presence of several gentlemen, until the C.M.S. had given their opinion upon the letters you assured me you would send to them; upon this I have acted to the present time. Your conduct wounded my feelings very much as a man, and much more as a Christian minister. Had I taken the advice of my friends, I should have taken public notice of what you said to me in Mr. Campbell's office in the presence of the Rev. Mr. Williams and other gentlemen. They thought you had impeached my character very much, and was called upon to vindicate. I replied the inhabitants of this colony knew what my character was, (And men like Macquarie, Lang and Wentworth were not above exposing it!) and that the measures they recommended, was I to adopt them, would neither make my character better or worse in the public opinion, and on that ground, I should not give myself any trouble in the business.

I have thought it just to mention the above, to shew you I have never had the most distant wish to injure you in this colony, nor with the Society. If I had entertained such a wish, you must be aware, I could have indulged it, from the many opportunities your violent passions afforded me.

As the Committee of the C.M.S. have expressed a wish that all past differences should be buried in oblivion, I am very willing to meet their views. You have had time now to reflect upon all that is past, and I trust that you will see that you have not acted under a proper spirit, not only to me, but also to some of your colleagues. I propose to be in New Zealand in a short time, and I hope the Mission will put on a better appearance. I am very sorry that you should have subjected yourself to the severe censures which the Committee has put upon you, but you have brought it all upon yourself, and you must blame yourself alone. I hope nothing of this kind will ever happen again, but that all concerned in the Mission will be of one heart and mind, and then the blessing of God will attend the work, and the power of Satan will be weakened, and the righteous will rejoice. I lament more than any person the evils that have existed among you as a body. Your difficulties have not originated from the natives, but among yourselves. A total change must now be made, and such missionaries as will not obey the Society's directions and positive orders must be dismissed from the work, and others sought after who will submit to those who have authority over them. My great anxiety for the success of the Mission has often induced me not to take public notice of the conduct of some or the missionaries, when I am convinced I ought to have done so. I hope you will weigh all that has been stated to you with coolness, and make up your mind before my arrival in New Zealand upon that line of conduct you intend to follow in future. Pray for divine direction, and may the great Head of the Church guide you in the right way, then your peace of mind will be restored and the mouths of gainsayers will in time be stopped.

I am,

Your obedt., humble servant,


Rev. John Butler.
(The letter referred to is not traceable.)