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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 130/144 -


and thus preserving charity. If one-twentieth part of a diocese insists upon certain observances which nineteen-twentieths repudiate, it seems clear that the very small minority is put out of court. Yet how often the small minority contains more salt than the large majority!

'I know indeed I am speaking honestly, that I am not worthy to understand dear Mr. Keble on many points. "The secret of our Lord" is with such men, and we fail to understand him, nous autres I mean, outside the sanctuary. Yet there is, I must confess it to you, my dear uncle, a something about his book on Eucharistic Adoration which has the character to me of foreign rather than of English divinity. I don't want to be exclusive, far from it. I don't want to be Anglican versus Primitive; but yet somehow, to me, there is a something which belongs more to French or Italian than to English character about some parts of the book. It is no doubt because I can't see what to his eye was plain.'

[An account of the voyage follows as before given.] 'The islanders are beginning to find out the true character of the many small vessels cruising among them, taking away people to the plantations in Queensland, Fiji, &c. So now force is substituted for deceit. Natives are enticed on board under promises (by signs of course, for nowhere can they talk to them) of presents, tempted down below into the hold to get tomahawks, beads, biscuit, &c., then the hatches are clapped on, and they are stolen away. I have to try and write a statement about it, which is the last thing I can do properly.'

[Then the history of the weddings and baptisms.] 'There is another pleasant feature to be noticed. The older scholars, almost all of whom are Banks Islanders, talk and arrange among themselves plans for helping natives of the islands. Thus Edward Wogale, of Mota, volunteers to go to Anudha, 300 or 400 miles off, to stay there with his friend Charles Sapinamba of that island, to aid him in working among his people. Edward is older and knows more than Charles. They talk in Mota, but Edward will soon have to speak the tongue of Anudha when living there. B---- and his wife offer to go to Santa Maria, Robert Pantatun and his wife to go to Matlavo, John Nonono to go to Savo, and Andrew Lalena also. This is very comforting to me. It is bona fide giving up country and home. It is indicative of a real desire to make known the Gospel to other lands. So long as they will do this, so long I think we may have the blessed assurance that God's Holy Spirit is indeed working in their hearts. Dear fellows! It makes me very thankful.

'My clerical staff is increased by a Mr. Jackson, long a friend and supporter of the Mission....

'Atkin is a steady-going fellow, most conscientious, with a good head-piece of his own, diligent and thoughtful rather than quick. He and Bice read Hebrew daily with me, and they will have soon a very fair knowledge of it. Joe Atkin knows his Greek Testament very fairly indeed: Ellicott, Trench, Alford, Wordsworth and others are in use among us.

'I wish you could see some of these little fellows. It is, I suppose, natural that an old bachelor should have pleasure in young things about him, ready-made substitutes for children of his own. I do like them. With English children, save and except Pena, I never was at my ease, partly I think from a worse than foolish self- consciousness about so ugly a fellow not being acceptable to children. Anyhow, I don't feel shy with Melanesians; and I do like the little things about me, even the babies come to me away from almost anyone, chiefly, perhaps, because they are acquainted at a very early age with a corner of my room where dwells a tin of biscuits.

'To this day I shut up and draw into my shell when any white specimen of humanity looms in sight. How seldom do one's natural tastes coincide with one's work. And I may be deceiving myself all along. It is true that I have a very small acquaintance with men; not so very small an acquaintance with men passed from this world who live in their books; and some living authors I read--our English Commentators are almost all alive.

'I think that I read too exclusively one class of books. I am not drawn out of this particular kind of reading, which is alone really pleasant and delightful to me, by meeting with persons who discuss other matters. So I read divinity almost if not quite exclusively. I make dutiful efforts to read a bit of history or poetry, but it won't do. My relaxation is in reading some old favourite, Jackson, Hooker, Jeremy Taylor, &c. Not that I know much about them, for my real studying time is occupied in translating and teaching. And so I read these books, and others some German, occasionally (but seldom) French: Reuss, for example, and Guizot. And on the whole I read a fair amount of Hebrew; though even now it is only the narrative books that I read, so to say, rapidly and with ease.

'I wish some of our good Hebrew scholars were sound Poly- and Melanesian scholars also. I believe it to be quite true that the mode of thought of a South Sea islander resembles very closely that of a Semitic man. And their state of mental knowledge or ignorance, too. It is certainly a mistake to make the Hebrew language do the work of one of our elaborated European languages, the products of thoughts and education and literary knowledge which the Hebrew knew nothing of. A Hebrew grammar constructed on the principle of a Greek or a Latin grammar is simply a huge anachronism.

'How did the people of the time of Moses, or David, or Jeremiah think? is the first question. How did they express their thoughts? is the second. The grammar is but the mode adapted in speech for notifying and communicating thoughts. That the Jew did not think, consequently did not speak, like a European is self-evident. Where are we to find people, children in thought, keenly alive to the outer world, impressible, emotional, but devoid of the power of abstract thought, to whom long involved processes of thought and long involved sentences of speech are unknown? Consequently, the contrivances for stringing together dependent clauses don't exist. Then some wiseacre of an 18th or 19th century German writes a grammar on the assumption that a paulo-post-futurum is necessarily to be provided for the unfortunate Israelite who thought and talked child's language. Now, we Melanesians habitually think and speak such languages. I assure you the Hebrew narrative viewed from the Melanesian point of thought is wonderfully graphic and lifelike. The English version is dull and lifeless in comparison. No modern Hebrew scholar agrees with any other as to the mode of construing Hebrew. Anyone makes anything out of those unfortunately misused tenses. Delitzsch, Ewald, Gesenius, Perowne, Thrupp, Kay too, give no rule by which the scholar is to know from the grammar whether the time is past, present, or future, i.e., whether such and such a verse is a narrative of a past fact or the prophecy of a future one. It is much a matter of exegesis; but exegesis not based on grammar is worth very little.

'Really the time is not inherent in the tense at all. But that is a strong assertion, which I think I could prove, give me time and a power of writing clearly. Sir William Martin is trying to prove it.

'All languages of the South Seas are constructed on the same principle. We say, "When I get there, it will be right." But all South Sea Islanders, "I am there, and it is right." The time is given by something in the context which indicates that the speaker's mind is in past, present, or future time. "In the beginning God made" rightly, so, but not because the tense gives the past sense, for the same tense very often can't have anything to do with a past sense, but in the beginning indicates a past time.

'The doctrine of the Vaw conversive is simply a figment of so-called grammarians; language is not an artificial product, but a natural mode of expressing ideas.

'And if they assume that Hebrew has a perfect and imperfect, or past and future (for the grammars use all kinds of names), why on earth should people who have, on their showing, a past tense, use a clumsy contrivance of turning a future tense into a past, and vice versa?

'If people had remembered that language is not a trick invented and contrived by scholars at their desks, but a natural gift, simple at first, and elaborated by degrees, they could not have made such a mess.

'The truth is, I think, that such a contrivance was devised to make Hebrew do what European scholars decided it must do, these very men being ignorant of languages in a simple uncivilised form.

'But, my dear Uncle, what a prose! Only, as I think a good deal about it, you will excuse it, I know.

'Well, it is time for the weddings! The Chapel looks so pretty, and (you can't believe it) so do the girls, Emma, Eliza, and Minnie, to be married to Edwin, Mulewasawasa, Thomas. The native name is a baptismal one, nevertheless, and a good fellow he is, my head nurse in my illness.

'I can't write about politics. Then comes the astounding news of this fearful war. What am I to say to my Melanesians about it? Do these nations believe in the Gospel of peace and goodwill? Is the Sermon on the Mount a reality or not? Is such conduct a repudiation of Christianity or not? Are nations less responsible than individuals? What possible justification is there for this war? It is fearful, fearful on every ground. Oh, this mighty belauded nineteenth-century civilisation!

'Yet society has improved in some ways. Even war is not without its accompaniment of religion. And it brings out kindly sympathy and stimulates works of charity. But what a fearful responsibility lies upon the cause of the war. It is hard to acquit Louis Napoleon of being really the cause.

'There would be great pleasure in seeing all the younger ones, not equal of course to that of seeing you all; but as I get older in my ways and habits, I think that my mind goes back more to the young ones. True, I have a large family about me, 145 Melanesians here now. Yet there is the want of community of thought on some subjects, and the difficulty of perfectly easy communication with them. No Melanesian tongue is like English to me.

'I wrote a first sheet, but filled it up with mere stupid thoughts about questions of the day, not worth sending. And this long letter, badly written, too, will weary your eyes.

'I must end. My kindest love to Aunt, Mary, and all. Always, my dearest Uncle,

'Your loving and grateful Nephew,

'J. C. PATTESON.'

Two letters of December 12 follow; the first to Bishop Abraham.


Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 130/144

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