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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to Rev. E. Bickersteth

Rev. S. Marsden to Rev. E. Bickersteth.

Parramatta, 2nd February, 1826.

Revd. and dear Sir,—

I received the various dispatches by the Revd. Wm. Williams, to which I shall pay particular attention. I hope we shall now be able to form a corresponding committee with some success. After the last committee was constituted, a gentleman in the colony of great influence at that time solicited me to allow him to become a member. I declined to comply with his request in as delicate a manner as I could, from a conviction page 645 that both his principles and conduct rendered him an improper person to be admitted into such a situation. My refusal offended him exceedingly, but I hoped his anger would cool. I was not aware that he would have carried his resentment to the length he did at that time, and would have continued to do so ever since to the present period. I cannot doubt but that it was thro’ his baneful influence that I was compelled to dissolve the committee: he had raised such a spirit of opposition secretly against me. Tho’ he is still in the colony, his influence is not so great as it then was, and is never likely to be. He will never attempt again to become a member of the corresponding committee. I have never thought it prudent to mention this circumstance before. I may do it now, as I have nothing, neither has the Society anything, to apprehend from that quarter. I considered it very unfortunate to be compelled to dissolve the corresponding committee without daring to state my secret reasons. It requires great wisdom and caution in acting with men in power whose vindictive feelings are secretly burning and ready to burst into a flame on the smallest occasion. If I had not dissolved the committee at that very time circumstances afterwards soon occurred which would have obliged me to have done so. The seminary is now occupied by Messrs. Shepherd and Harnblin, with their families. Mr. Williams resides with the Revd. Mr. Wilkinson, a former acquaintance.…With respect to the seminary at Parramatta, I beg to observe that it is now ready, and has been some time occupied by the New Zealanders and the family of Mr. Shepherd. Mr. Shepherd will now return to his duty, as his eye is better. Some of the New Zealanders will return who have resided at Parramatta now more than two years, as they returned with me from New Zealand. I have not drawn upon the Society for any part of the expenses attending its erection. Before the Society are put to that expense I should wish sufficient time to be given to ascertain how far it will answer the purpose intended. If on trial it is found to answer I will then give the Society a legal title to it, with the necessary ground for a suitable garden. If on the other hand any circumstance should occur to render such a building unnecessary I take the expense upon myself, the Society paying me legal interest while it appropriate to the service of the mission for the money I have expended. I am satisfied that all the female children of the missionaries at the age of five years should be removed from New Zealand. The scenes which they must daily behold amongst the natives will naturally tend to destroy female delicacy, which is the strongest guardian to female virtue. I have seen with much pain the effects of young females been exposed to indelicate scenes in the page 646 Society Islands. The same may be expected to take place in New Zealand while the inhabitants remain in their present state of degradation.…Should the missionaries in New Zealand wish to have their children preserved from the unavoidable effects of living amongst savages, they must have them educated for some time to come in New South Wales. The children also of the chiefs might be instructed here. I think one young man who lives with me (named Shaw) will have made so much improvement as to be able to render much assistance to the Revd. Wm. Williams. I have suggested the above hints to you for the consideration of the committee. In time the missionaries’ children may be instructed in New Zealand; at present this cannot be unless their parents devote a great part of their time to their instruction.…When the missionaries who are here arrive at New Zealand I purpose to fix them in the following stations: Messrs. Kemp and Clarke will remain at Kiddee Kiddee; Mr. King, where he is at Rangheehoo; the Revd. H. Williams will remain at Pyhea; the Revd. Wm. Williams I purpose to fix him on the bank of the main river leading up from Motoroa to Kiddee Kiddee with Mr. Hamlin— they will be about three miles from Kiddee Kiddee, at a place called Towhee’s Point; Mr. Shepherd, with the two Mr. Davises, will be fixed at Kowakowa, about 14 miles up the river above the Revd. Henry Williams. On the west end of the Island Motoroa I purpose a small house to be built, as it is the common resort for the natives of different tribes passing to and from the southward, as well as to the shipping. The house will be convenient for all the missionaries to hold their meetings in occasionally, being by water five miles from the Revd. Wm. Williams’s station, 6 from his brother, 5 from Rangheehoo, 8 from Kiddee Kiddee. It will be particularly convenient for the natives to come to at appointed times for medical assistance. On this point of land the Revd. Wm. Williams may have his hospital for the natives, as they can all come by water, and he can visit them by water. In stormy weather the missionaries can always put up there for the night when on their passage from different settlements, instead of lying exposed upon the sea-beach, which has often been the case with myself when I was there. I am persuaded Mr. W. Williams will gain the affections and confidence of all the natives far and near, from the mildness of his manners, and his medical knowledge. The last time I took my leave of the natives they begged I would not send them an angry man. In Mr. Williams they will have got the man they wished for. It gives me much satisfaction that the Society are sending out persons qualified for their work. You will find things go on well. We may look with confidence for the Divine blessing.… page 647 Before I conclude this letter I beg just to mention that we have not been able to meet with a proper person for the aborigines. I think we shall raise funds in the colony so as to make the attempt. I have little hope of being able to render much assistance to them; they are so degraded. It is our duty to try what can be done; but the prospect is very dark as yet. I think they will gradually waste away, until few remain. I am happy to say that I have a brighter prospect before me as far as concerns my temporal peace. The Archdeacon and myself are upon good and I may add friendly terms. I shall be very comfortable with the Colonial Secretary. My enemies have greatly abated their fury since the arrival of the Archdeacon, and have turned shafts against him. I am apprehensive he will not remain long amongst us, unless he…[Remainder of letter missing].

[Addressed to] Revd. E. Bickersteth.