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Historical Records of New Zealand

Rev. S. Marsden to Rev. J. Pratt

Rev. S. Marsden to Rev. J. Pratt.

Parramatta, Feb. 7th, 1820.

Rev. and dear Sir,—

I must now write to you about the Active. As the Rev. J. Butler has come out Superintendant of the missionary settlement, I wish now to be relieved from all responsibility relative to the Active from the 1st of August 1819, the period she returned from New Zealand. I have to request the Society to take the vessel into their own hands from the above period, with all the profits and losses. I have had her valued; the report of her survey and valuation I have forwarded to you, for the information of the Society. I have judged it best, with the advice of Mr. Robert Campbell, a merchant of great intergrity and experience, to fit the Active out as a whaler. She can attend to all the concerns of the settlement and still procure page 478 oil for the benefit of the Society, towaids lessening her expenses. Her outfit for the fishery has been very heavy, but I hope in a few months she will make some suitable return. There is nothing at New Zealand that will pay her expenses. The duty upon the timber, and the port expenses of various kinds, are so ruinous, that she ought not to come into this harbour more than once in a year if it can be avoided. Whether the Committee will approve of the measures I have adopted or not I cannot say. Mr. Butler is now in New Zealand, and can forward the interest of the vessel. Hitherto this has not been the case. Tho’ the settlers were deriving every comfort from the vessel, yet they were totally unconcerned in general about her interest. Perhaps the Society may feel some hesitation in purchasing the vessel from the amount of the expenses. If this should be the case, I must dispose of her, when I hear from you. I think there cannot a doubt remain now upon any man’s mind respecting the practicability of establishing a mission at N. Zealand, after more than five years’ experience. Had any circumstances occurred to prevent the success of the mission, it was my intention to have sold the Active, and not to have called upon the Society for any part of her original purchase-money; but as there is now every reason to believe that success will attend the Society’s labours in these islands, I am anxious to be relieved from such a great charge. I should hope, from the arrangements I have made with Mr. Kermode, of Liverpool, who is now returning to England, and whom I have requested to wait upon you on his arrival in London, that the proceeds of her present voyage will go pretty far towards paying for her, if she is at all fortunate. I had got all the supplies on board of her for the settlement, and also a number of the natives who were returning home when the Dromedary arrived; but as the Dromedary is going to the Bay of Islands I have taken out all the supplies, and the natives also, and put them on board the King’s ship; at least the natives will accompany me, so that the Active will have nothing to do for nine months but to look after a cargo, which will be immediately sent to England or the amount of it to you. Should a regular communication be opened between Port Jackson and N. Zealand in time the Society may perhaps do without a vessel. Much has been done already towards the civilization of the natives in those parts of N. Zealand with which we have had any communication, and nothing has tended more to this object than the chiefs and their sons visiting N.S. Wales. It is very pleasing to see the sons of the rival chiefs living with me, and forming such mutual attachments. I have some very fine youths with me now, who are acquiring the English language very fast. I brought Mr. Butler’s son back again with page 479 me to take the charge of these boys, and to devote his time to their instruction. By the sons of chiefs living together in civil life, and all paid equal attention to, they will form attachments that will destroy that jealousy which has kept their tribes in continual war. As the work has gone on so far I am not afraid that it will stand for want of means. If the Active succeeds the expenses will gradually cease. Should the Society not approve of purchasing the Active I will thank you to have her insured for the amount she is valued at—£1,500. If they should take her they will take her for the valuation put upon her. I shall be obliged to draw upon you for about half of her purchase-money, and shall leave the Active as a security for that sum should she be returned to me again; or if she gets a cargo of oil, I shall send the amount to repay the £750, which I now draw upon you for. Her outfit as a whaler will also have to be charged to my account, but not her expenses in her last voyage to New Zealand—from the 1st of August to the 1st of December—as she was during that four months wholly in the service of the mission. I should not have drawn for any part of her purchase-money without your sanction being again obtained had I not found myself obliged to do this in order to settle some of my pecuniary matters previous to my sailing for N. Zealand. I deem the vessel and cargo, if she gets one, will be sufficient security to the Society for any advances they may make. I have endeavoured to express my meaning as well as I can, and hope you will clearly understand what my intentions are. I wish now to sell the Active, and to be relieved from so great a responsibility. I will give every personal assistance in any way in my power to promote the mission, and shall not think any toil too much to forward so great a work. Mr. Robert Campbell will manage the concerns of the Society so far as respects the vessel with great fidelity, and I have now hope that in a little time we may be able to form an auxiliary society in N.S. Wales as soon as the present Government is changed, and men are less afraid of the powers that be. I would here observe that I have been compelled to purchase nails, &c., &c., for the intended houses and churches, and also a variety of other articles, which you will see by the vouchers for purchasing animal food for the support of the settlement from the natives. The consumption of animal food is now very considerable. A very nice young man whom I have long wished to employ in the mission, truly pious and his heart engaged in the work, is going over with me. His name is James Shepherd, a native of the colony. His father is a very pious man; I sent him once to visit N. Zealand to see the natives, page 480 and he has been very desirous of devoting himself to the work of the mission. He understands gardening, grafting trees, &c. A man of this kind will be of infinite service.

I have, &.,

Saml. Marsden. Rev. J. Pratt.