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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

New Zealand's First Martyr

New Zealand's First Martyr.

Even in New Zealand you may take in your hand the book which belonged to the first native martyr here. That man attempted to preach the Gospel near Hokianga. He was told that any man would be destroyed who should make the attempt, but first writing in pencil a devout prayer in the book which you can still read, he went unarmed amongst these people. They attacked him, they beat him down with the butt end of their muskets, he having this book alone as his defence. He raised it to protect his head, and you will see the indentation of the butt end of the musket which drove the book into his skull, which is still stained with his blood and brains. It will be something to look upon 100 years hence, and I cannot but think that every one who does look upon it will feel reverence and admiration for the man who, as yet little more than barbarian, conceived it to be his duty, at the risk of his life, to do what he could for the benefit of his countrymen. We are indebted to Mr. John White of Hokianga for this book, and a narrative of the transaction which he has written on the title page. You will also find there a little manuscript in the Australian language. You will find that an Italian nobleman determined to take priest's orders, in order that he might be instrumental in converting the natives of Australia. He was taken from a ship and landed on an inhospitable shore, but sometime afterwards a little colony was established there for the purpose of giving refuge to people wrecked from ships in Torres Straits. That man was carried by the natives to this new settlement. He was in need of medical assistance, being weak from bad food and long privation. He was in a desperately declining state. In a few days he died. His only property was the manuscript which will be in your possession. It was a manuscript in the language of the people amongst whom he lived. page 24 It was presented to me, and I have found it to contain matter of great interest. Such an interest undoubtedly attaches to it. It affords evidence of the great qualities that the man possessed, and which inspired him with the resolution to undertake the task he had imposed upon himself. No man, it appears to me, could look upon a manuscript such as this unmoved. You will find also in your Library, many other letters of missionaries and early Christians, of the greatest interest, from all parts of the world. I am confident that in number, variety, and interest, no such collection has ever before been formed, nor could it have been, for in no other age have such great and manifold efforts been made to convert so many nations. But let me tell you of some of the curious ways in which some of those books were acquired. I will tell you how one volume was acquired.