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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to brother George July 6, 1840

To brother George.

Since my removal from the North I am quite satisfied. I have been living alone and have had many difficulties to encounter, especially from my ignorance of the language. It is now eight months since I came down here and I am now speaking the language tolerably; at least I speak it badly enough, but Mr. Williams and the natives say I speak it well so I have lately taken courage and am improving. My health is also improved—my chest is much better and except on particular occasions it feels quite well. I am stronger and can undergo a great deal of fatigue and hard work. I frequently sleep out in my tent for a fortnight together in frosty nights and am also often wet in crossing rivers, etc., but I never take cold.

My only trial at present is a want of time for reading and prayer, without which the soul cannot flourish. Now that I can speak the language my soul is indeed delighted with my work. The natives all along the coast call me their father. Yes, there is a kind of pleasure which is unutterable in the work. For instance yesterday in this place (Waikanae) to see about 500 persons who were but a short time ago buried in darkness and in sin, page 165 listening with the greatest possible attention while I was preaching from Romans 4, 6-7 and in the evening on 'I am the Good Shepherd'. Yes, on such occasions the Spirit sheds a fragrance on the soul, which leads one to forget ones Fatherland and all the troubles of this life. However I feel deeply convinced of the necessity of setting apart much time for prayer in as much as "every man's work will be tried with fire of what sort it is".

I have too much to do here and consequently can do nothing properly. I have two houses 10 miles apart and am absent from both a great deal, so that I never satisfy myself or anybody else. Some of the chiefs told me the other day that if I had not come here the war would not have ended and that many ere this belonging to both sides would have been dead. I hope now that Captain Hobson has arrived their wars will be put a stop to. I have lately had two journeys to Wanganui, one with Mr. H. Williams who went partly with the view of obtaining the signatures of the chiefs to a deed of surrender of the sovereignty of the land to the Queen. All I did was to witness them, but I would rather have nothing to do with the Government—however they are very civil to us. I went again with Mr. & Mrs. Mason who lately arrived here. They stayed in my house a week and then I took them on to their station at Wanganui—it is about 65 miles from me. I like them much, but they were exceedingly ignorant of the difficulties of travelling in this country.