Te Ika a Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants
Chapter XIX. Samuel Marsden
Chapter XIX. Samuel Marsden.
Of all the persons connected with the civilization of New Zealand, no one stands higher than Samuel Marsden. Cook took possession of the country in the name of his Sovereign, but it was Marsden who first unfurled the banner of the Prince of Peace, and claimed those fair realms, then laid in heathen darkness, on behalf of the King of kings. It was Marsden who first introduced their savage inhabitants to Christian philanthropy, and enlisted the sympathy of the Church in their behalf; and having obtained aid, he brought it himself, and was the first to proclaim the message of mercy on their shores. He was the honored instrument who laid the first stone of the Church, and thus commenced a work which page 282 has increased in magnitude with increasing years, and has now added those wide-spread realms to the kingdom of the Lord our righteousness.
The venerated name of Marsden demands, therefore, a brief summary of his life, as it is so intimately connected with the history of New Zealand, and its emancipation from that savage state in which he first found it.*
Mr. Marsden was born at a village called Horseforth, between Bradford and Leeds, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where many of his relatives still live. He was originally a blacksmith, but his mind being fixed on the ministry, he used every opportunity of preparing himself for it. An anecdote is related of him, that even whilst employed at his trade, and blowing the bellows with one hand, with a bit of chalk in the other, he wrote out the declensions on the fireboard of his forge. Mr. Stone,† the clergyman of the parish, perceiving his serious turn of mind, kindly took him to live with him, and brought him up for the ministry.
* There is every reason to believe, that it was the last sermon preached by Mr. Marsden, at Cowes, Isle of Wight, (where he touched before he sailed for Australia,) which was the means blessed to the conversion of the dairyman's daughter.
† Incumbent of Guiseley, in the parish of Rawden.
* One individual, Captain H——y, thus went on board and took a fancy to Mrs. C——s, a young woman who was coming out to join her husband, a convict; Captain H. went to him, and bought his wife of him for a chest of tea and some tobacco; he lived with her many years, and left a large family by her.
Such was the estimation in which he was held by the home Government, that Governor Macquarie was ordered to undertake no measure of importance without first consulting the senior Chaplain, and one of the first measures of that gentleman was pressing those who had been living in a state of concubinage, to marry, many of them having large families, making their visits at Government House contingent on their doing so. This had the desired effect, and some of the chief families in the colonies have thus originated.
On Mr. Marsden's arrival, he found Governor Phillip had left, after having founded the colony, and Governor Grose then occupying his post, who was succeeded in 1795 by Captain Hunter, who, in 1800, was replaced by Captain King. It was this Governor who obtained two New page 285 Zealand natives, Toki and Huru, from the North Cape, as teachers to show the prisoners at Norfolk Island the way of working flax (phormum tenax), which is indigenous there, as well as in New Zealand. The Governor landed at the North Cape, and gave many valuable presents to the natives: he introduced the pig, which they had not previously seen; he gave them maize and potatoes, so that when those natives returned with all their presents, they raised a very favorable opinion of the Europeans, and the memory of Captain King is preserved even to this day. But a more important result of this visit of Toki and Huru to Norfolk Island was their becoming acquainted with Mr. Marsden. So much was he struck with their intelligence and manners, that from that time he determined to use his best efforts to raise their race from its then debased state. In 1807, he accompanied Governor King to England, and it was then that he brought New Zealand to the notice of the Church Missionary Society. His application was favorably received, and when he returned, in 1810, he brought Messrs. Hall and King with him as lay Missionaries. They were afterwards joined by Mr. Kendal and his family. The party, however, was hindered from proceeding to its destination for several years, on account of the sad massacre of the Boyd, which cast a great damp on the colony, as many of the children of the principal people were in it, on their way to England for education. It is one of the many sad warnings given, to treat natives with kindness, however low they may be considered in the scale of civilization; the neglecting this has been the destruction of many, and too frequently the innocent have suffered for the guilty. Several of the principal Chiefs, however, in the meantime, visited the colony, and found a home at Mr. Marsden's house.
In 1814, Mr. Marsden purchased the brig Active, a vessel of 100 tons, and November 19th he went on board on his first visit to New Zealand, to locate the laborers he had procured for this new mission field. On the 15th December, they sighted the Three Kings, and on the 16th they opened a friendly communication with the natives of the North Cape. He was accompanied by Mr. Nicholas, who afterwards published page 286 an account of the voyage: and by Messrs. King, Kendall, and Hall, with their wives and five children, two sawyers, and a smith; a horse, a bull, two cows, a few sheep, and poultry of different kinds, were also taken. They first anchored at Matouri Bay, about twenty miles to the north of the Bay of Islands.
Mr. Marsden landed with his party at Waiawa, but he and Mr. Nicholas only stayed on shore for the night. There he met Tara, better known by the name George, the Chief who cut off the Boyd, and he slept by his side, in full confidence that he might do so with perfect safety. This fearless conduct shows his natural strength of mind most forcibly, when he could thus, without protection, entrust his life the very first night he slept on shore alone with that savage and cannibal Chieftain. It is interesting to know, that the very first work of this servant of Him who is the Prince of Peace, was to make peace between the Bay of Islands and Wangaroa natives, and to put an end to the deadly feud which had so long existed between them. Thus the foundation of the Gospel in New Zealand was laid in peace—a happy omen for its future success. The description which Mr. Marsden himself gave of that memorable night, is so graphic, that it must be given in his own words:—“As the evening advanced, the people began to retire to rest in different groups. About eleven o'clock, Mr. Nicholas and I wrapped ourselves up in our great coats, and prepared for rest also. George directed me to lie by his side. His wife and child lay on the right hand, and Mr. Nicholas close by. The night was clear, the stars shone bright, and the sea in our front was smooth. Around us were numerous spears, stuck upright in the ground, and groups of natives lying in all directions, like a flock of sheep upon the grass, as there were neither tents nor huts to cover them. I viewed our present situation with sensations and feelings that I cannot express—surrounded by cannibals, who had massacred and devoured our countrymen, I wondered much at the mysteries of Providence, and how these things could be! Never did I behold the blessed advantage of civilization in a more grateful light than now. I did not sleep much during the night. My mind was too page 287 seriously occupied by the present scene, and the new and strange ideas which it natually excited.
“About three o'clock in the morning, I rose and walked about the camp, surveying the different groups of natives. Some of them put out their heads from under the top of their kakahu's (a rough shaggy mat, which is like a bee-hive), and spoke to me. When the morning light returned, we beheld men, women, and children asleep in all directions, like the beasts of the field.”
His confidence and efforts to obtain peace were rewarded. In the morning Ruatara, Hongi, and Korokoro came and hungied, i.e. rubbed noses, the Maori way of salutation, with the Wangaroa Chief, in token of future peace and amity.
From Matouri, they went to the Bay of Islands, near the entrance of which Ruatara lived, at a place called Rangihu, and there the first missionary station was placed, and there also the first Sabbath was kept, and that day was indeed a high day, for it was Christmas-day, 1814. Ruatara appears to have done everything in his power to do honor to the occasion: he enclosed about half-an-acre of land with a fence, and hoisted the British flag, which, though not bearing the dove as the emblem of peace on its waving folds, has still floated as the defender of those who bore the message of peace, and imparted confidence that, however remote the spot, wherever it was hoisted, they were safe.
Mr. Marsden remarked, “On Sunday morning, when I was on deck, I saw the English flag flying, which was a pleasing sight in New Zealand. I considered it was the signal and dawn of civilization, liberty, and religion, in that dark and benighted land. I never viewed the British colors with more gratification, and I flattered myself they would never be removed till the natives of the island enjoyed the happiness of British subjects.” These words were prophetic.
Ruatara passed the remainder of the day in preparing for the Sabbath: he erected a pulpit and reading-desk in the centre of the enclosed space; these he made out of an old canoe, and covered with cloth, given him in Sydney; he formed seats in a similar way for the European portion of the congregation. Then, page 288 having made all his arrangements he and his two companions, dressed in regimentals given them by the Governor, with swords by their sides, and switches in their hands, marshalled their people on either side of Mr. Marsden, who had the honor of there first preaching the Gospel, and the lesson for the day furnished a most appropriate text—“Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” (Luke ii., 10). He told Rua-tara that he must interpret the sermon to his people; he replied, bye and bye, not understand it yet. Thus was commenced the preaching of that Word which, after the lapse of a little more than a quarter of a century, was to make such a wonderful change in the land, and, like the grain of mustard seed, was to grow and become a great tree. Various were the difficulties it had to contend with—times of prosperity and adversity. It passed through every phase, overcame every obstacle, found its way to the hearts of the people; it opened their eyes to discern the fallacies and enormities they had been guilty of, and it constrained them to abandon them.
What caste is in India, the tapu was in New Zealand; it held unlimited sway over their minds, and compelled obedience to its requirements. But it could not exist with Christianity. That word declares, “No man can serve two masters.” No sooner had the Gospel obtained root in the land, than the power of the tapu was destroyed; the native mind became as completely emancipated from its thraldom as if it never had existence.
Ruatara soon after died at Rangihu, to Mr. Marsden's great sorrow; he regarded his removal as a most mysterious act of Providence, as he appeared to be the instrument raised up for enabling him to introduce the Gospel. But the Lord clearly pointed out in his death, that it was not on an arm of flesh he was to lean, but on that Word which said, “I will be exalted amongst the heathen.” Ruatara charged his children and people, on his death-bed, to protect the Missionaries, and made each of them promise to be their defenders. The guardians of his children took this duty upon themselves, and answered for them, “We will protect our teachers.”
Mr. King, one of the original teachers left by Mr. Marsden, page 289 died in 1854, having thus been nearly forty years at his post. What changes has this good old man seen; what difficulties has he had to contend with! He removed from Rangihu about a mile further up the bay, to a more suitable locality, at Tepuna, and there this faithful old labourer in the Lord's vineyard lived and died.
On the Monday morning, he landed the teachers,—the natives had selected a spot, and on this they were located. Mr. Marsden, however, remained with them until the end of February, to see them properly settled, and then he returned to Sydney.
It is not my intention to dwell on Mr. Marsden's ministry in New South Wales, but merely to regard him as connected with the New Zealand Mission; otherwise it would enlarge this sketch beyond its proper limits; but even when at home, New Zealand was not forgotten. An important service was rendered to the cause by his establishing an industrial school for New Zealand. In the interval between his first and second visit, he had as many as twenty-four natives under his care, and he reported that they had all conducted themselves to his entire satisfaction.
It is pleasing to see how firm this good man's faith was, that the time had come, when heathen darkness was to give way to Christian light. “I believe,” said he, “that the time is now come for these nations to be called into the outward church at least. The way is clear; Divine goodness will provide the means for their instruction. I admit that many difficulties will be met with on all untried ground; and that the wisest men will sometimes mistake, in their view of accomplishing their objects, with respect to a nation which has had no intercourse with the civilized world. Yet these difficulties will be overcome, under the blessing of God, by constant perseverance; and I have no doubt but that this will be the case in the present instance, with regard to New Zealand. Time will make this matter more easy. The work is now begun—the foundation is now laid—and I hope we shall soon see the structure arise.”
* These particulars I received from old Mr. King.
* The brig Mercury was all but taken in Wangaroa harbour in 1825, for trading on the Sabbath. Tepuhi inquired of the Missionaries, Do you know this tribe? They said, No. Is not this their sacred day? I know it is yours. He then exclaimed, with equal astonishment and indignation, See how they trade! They must be a mean tribe. The vessel was taken, but afterwards given up again to the Missionaries.
February 16th, 1830, Mr. Marsden sailed on his sixth visit, accompanied by his daughter, Miss Mary Marsden: he reached the Bay at a very important and critical time. War had broken out amongst the natives, and the Chiefs were haranguing their men as the vessel hove in sight, but immediately the news spread that Mr. Marsden had arrived, it put a stop to the page 293 battle. He lost no time in visiting the hostile parties, and after some difficulties and delay, he succeeded in his benevolent efforts, and peace was made. On the 11th April, he witnessed the baptism of a man and two women; he also was gratified with the flourishing state of the schools, every individual in them being pretty well acquainted with the Church Catechism, and the chief truths of the Gospel, many also could write, and were pretty well acquainted with the first rules of arithmetic.
The natives were quite enthusiastic in their reception of Mr. Marsden; they welcomed him with songs and dancing, and firing of guns. On one occasion, more than 2,000 armed men were present; he was surrounded by hundreds as he went from place to place. On the 2nd April, he visited Rangihu: there on the highest mound were Ruatara and his son interred; the latter, a promising young man, who was to have returned to Parramatta, died the very morning of Mr. Marsden's arrival. During his illness, he would often say, Oh! what would Mr. Marsden say were he to come whilst the New Zealanders are fighting? He would be very angry. Mr. Marsden's health being very indifferent, his friends hastened his return before the winter, or rainy season set in, and on the 16th of June he reached Sydney.
After this visit of the venerable and indefatigable founder of the Mission, the work began steadily to increase. The Gospel had reached the hearts of the savage natives, and now began to show its power.
The station at Kaitaia in the north was commenced, and at the Thames, Matamata, and Waikato fresh ground was occupied. The Missionary could now traverse the country with some degree of safety, although this could not be done by the natives themselves. An instance of this occurred at the Waikato. When the brethren first attempted to cross that river, on moki, or canoes formed of several bundles of sedge tied together, no other means being presented, the natives spied them approaching, and taking them for enemies, immediately levelled their guns. The Missionaries tied a white handkerchief to the end of a paddle, and hoisted it up. It was no sooner seen than down went the guns, and they were page 294 permitted to proceed in peace. Rotorua also was occupied, and afterwards Tauranga; and although wars still raged, and dreadful acts of cannibalism continued to be perpetrated, the Gospel, in spite of all opposition, rapidly progressed. All these places were occupied between the years 1832–5.
February 9th, 1837, Mr. Marsden, accompanied by his youngest daughter, sailed in the Pyramus, on his seventh and last visit. He was then in his seventy-second year; with holy joy he beheld how wonderfully his work had expanded. Stations had been formed at the Thames, at Tauranga, and the interior, and although war was again raging, still there was every prospect of final success. The aged man's heart was rejoiced. He had seen the beginning, he now saw it in its increase, and was enabled to bless God. His feelings must have been gratified by the universal respect and love manifested towards him; even the heathen natives viewed him as their friend and benefactor, but the Christians, as their beloved father in Christ.
He visited all the Stations in H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Captain Hobson, afterwards the first Governor of New Zealand; he passed through Cook's Straits, and by that way returned to Sydney.
Mr. Brown states: “Mr. Marsden preached this morning from Rom. viii., 38, 39.—His earthly tabernacle is much shaken, but glory is shining through the chinks. It was an affecting, yet delightful spectacle, to see him in the pulpit: his eyes, too weak to read even his text correctly, and yet beaming with immortality, when dwelling on the Christian's triumph over life and death, things present and things to come, through the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A most suitable text to form the final address of this aged servant and apostle of the Lord. Well calculated to shew the stedfastness of his own faith, and to confirm that of his hearers.
Nothing more remains to be said. When his work was finished in New Zealand, little remained for him to do elsewhere. On Christmas-day of the same year, the Bishop of Australia preached at Paihia, and confirmed there, just 23 years from the time of Mr. Marsden's first sermon.page 295
Chevalier Captain Dillon, in his interesting narrative respecting the fate of La Perouse, calls him the apostle of the South Seas, and he was a Roman Catholic.
Indeed, Mr. Marsden's thoughts, though chiefly resting on New Zealand, were not confined to it. He took the warmest interest in every mission, and aided each to the utmost of his power, so much so, that the London Missionary Society appointed him one of its directors. He exhibited a similar feeling for the welfare of the Wesleyan Mission, of which he might also be called the founder. In fact, his was truly a Catholic spirit. His heart's desire was, the establishment of his Lord's kingdom on earth, by whatever hands it might be done.
July 27, 1837.—Mr. Marsden returned to New South Wales; and the following May, whilst on a ministerial visit to Windsor, he was suddenly taken ill in the clergyman's house. His last words were “New Zealand,” and thus terminated his long course of usefulness. No funeral had ever taken place in New South Wales which was attended like his: all were there, from the highest to the lowest—the members of Government—the clergy—the laity—the rich—the poor—the Presbyterian—the Wesleyan—and even the Papist. Indeed, nothing could exceed the respect paid him at his death and in life too! I remember once riding down George-street, Sydney, with him; every person moved, rich and poor. The Chief Justice ran into the middle of the street, just to catch his eye; he would have passed without noticing him, for he seemed quite indifferent to the respect paid him. Many, however, came to his gig, and would not be said nay, but would have a word or a nod, and these appeared to be of the lowest ranks. Mr. Marsden's person was not prepossessing; he was slovenly in dress, and stern in look; but those who knew him, found him a warm-hearted friend. His home was open to all; he gave no invitations, but if his friends did not go without one, he was angry He had always some New Zealanders about him; he esteemed them superior to every other aboriginal race. He once told me he met a Maori in the country, and asked him what he was doing; he said he had kept a store in the interior, until he was robbed by bush- page 296 rangers who took away all but chairs and tables; and then his creditors came, and a man got up, and knock, knock, went his hammer, until chairs, tables, and every thing remaining went also; but I am going to sea again, and when I get a little money, I will begin business again. He said, now here you see the energy of the New Zealanders; they are sure to be a great people.
The Rev. Mr. C——t once accompanied him into the interior: they called on a man whose house was kept with the greatest order. And his wife, a picture of neatness, came and respectfully laid the cloth for their breakfast. Mr. C——t expressed his admiration, for such sights were then uncommon. Mr. Marsden laughed, and afterwards told him the following story:—Once when he was there, he asked the man how he was getting on, as he had recently married a woman out of the factory (all convicts of the worst sort): he complained that she would not do anything; she would neither cook nor keep the house tidy; everything was in confusion; and when he spoke to her, she laughed. Mr. Marsden ordered him to call her; she would not come: at last, Mr. Marsden called in a voice of thunder, she then came. He demanded, what is this that I hear of you? So you won't obey your husband, although you have sworn to do so before the Lord. Words will make no impression on you; severer measures must be adopted. He then laid his horsewhip over her shoulders most lustily, until the worthless hussy went down on her knees, and begged for pardon, promising to behave better for the future. Mr. Marsden told her he would give her a trial; but she must take care and not forget her promise. Some time afterwards, when he called, he asked him, well John, how does your wife behave? Oh, said he, thanks to you, sir, there cannot be a better wife now, she is everything I can wish.—We must remember, New South Wales was then a convict colony.
On another occasion, when he had his youngest daughter with him in a gig, he was stopped by a highwayman, or bushranger as they are called, who demanded his money. Mr. Marsden remonstrated with him, and spoke to him of his sins. The man said, it does not signify, I am in for it; it is too late page 297 now to give over; and told him to give over preaching; bidding his daughter empty her father's pockets, and give him the money, which she did, Mr. Marsden still continuing his lecture, and telling him the next time he saw him would be at the gallows. Some time after, a man was to be hung, who sent for him; he then recognized the person who had robbed him. He said, your word has turned out true: here you meet me at the gallows. Mr. Marsden prayed fervently for him; the criminal seemed to respond with all his heart; and then the drop fell. He was a Roman Catholic; and I believe his name was O'Donohu, a notorious bush-ranger.
A short time before Governor Bligh's deposition, he obtained leave to go home: and on that occasion, secured several good men for the little rising colony, two of whom still survive, the Reverends Dr. Cowper and R. Cartwright.
Mr. Marsden was wont to remark, that from the vilest scum of the earth, the Lord was gathering a people for himself; and he might have added, and making that people, so opportunely raised up in the Australian wilderness, the grand point d'appui of all the Polynesian Missions, which could not have existed without a colony there, to come to in all their necessities.
Few persons have received more praise or abuse than Mr. Marsden. His enemies were many and bitter; they accused him of penuriousness, and a sordid desire of gaining money; and yet few kept so hospitable a house, and knew so little of his own affairs as he did. One of his daughters related to me a circumstance which she witnessed:—A gentleman called one day, and said, he came to repay the money he had borrowed of him, many years before. Mr. Marsden said, you must make a mistake. You do not owe me anything. O! said the gentleman, I cannot be mistaken. It was when I first landed on these shores, an indigent youth, that you most liberally advanced me one hundred pounds, to set me up in trade; and, by God's blessing, that laid the foundation of my prosperity. I am now a rich man; and here are your hundred pounds, with interest, and my grateful thanks for your disinterested kindness. In vain Mr. Marsden refused; page 298 he was compelled to take both. Miss Marsden was present on that occasion; but there were doubtless many similar ones which never will be known until that day when all things shall be revealed.
When Dr. Lang was building the first Presbyterian church in Sydney, and could not go on for want of funds, what did this Catholic-minded man do? he was the senior chaplain of the colony, and at that time was without a rival creed. Did he view with jealousy this inroad on his own peculiar province, and rejoice that the church could not be finished? No: unsolicited he furnished funds for its completion; which, without this opportune aid, its founder could not have accomplished. So likewise when the Wesleyans were talking of a chapel at Windsor, where Mr. Marsden had land; he offered a donation of a sufficient extent on which to erect a mission-house and chapel.
The following is an extract from his letter on the occasion, which is equally creditable to both parties:—“To give you the right hand of fellowship, is no more than my indispensable duty. You may rely with confidence on my continued support and co-operation in all your laudable attempts to benefit the inhabitants of this populous colony. I am fully persuaded that your ministerial labours will tend to promote the welfare of these settlements, as well as the eternal interests of immortal souls. The importation of convicts from Europe is very great every year. Hundreds have just landed on our shores from various parts of the British Empire: hundreds are now in the harbour, ready to disembark; and hundreds more are on the bosom of the great deep, and hourly expected. We must not expect that governors, magistrates, and policemen, can find a remedy for the moral diseases with which those convicts are infected. Heaven itself has provided the only remedy, which is the blessed Balm of Gilead. We must expect great discouragements; but let us go on sounding the rams' horns; the walls of Jericho will and must fall in time. We are feeble; but the Lord is mighty, and will bring Israel to Mount Zion. I pray that the Divine blessing may attend all your labors for the salvation of souls in this colony.”page 299
When his funeral sermon was preached at Parramatta, the Wesleyan superintendent wrote:—Next Sunday morning we intend to close our chapel; and as a mark of respect to the memory of this venerable man, go to church to hear his funeral sermon.*
Here then we close this brief sketch, with the declaration of Bishop Broughton, that although he was the first legally appointed Bishop of Australia, he must always consider Samuel Marsden to have been the first actual one.
A church has been erected at Parramatta, as a most suitable monument to his memory. And a tablet is to be placed in it, which the New Zealand converts at Wanganui have caused to be made, as a token of their love for the father of their church.