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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 40/144 -
the ship at first, but when his countrymen who had been visiting there left her, he jumped overboard and was swimming like a duck after them, when, at a sign from the Bishop, one of the Pitcairners leapt after him, and speedily brought him back. He soon grew very happy and full of play and fun, and was well off in being away from home, for the French were occupying the island, and poor Basset shortly after was sent a prisoner to Tahiti for refusing to receive a Roman Catholic priest.
Nengone were reached on October 23, and most of the old scholars were ready with a warm welcome; but Mr. Creagh, the London missionary, had taken Wadrokala away with him on an expedition, and of the others, only Kowine was ready to return, though the two married couples were going on well, and one previous scholar of the Bishop's and four new ones presented themselves as willing to go. Urgent letters from the neighbouring isle of Lifu entreated the Bishop to come thither, and, with a splendid supply of yams, the 'Southern Cross' again set sail, and arrived on the 26th. This island had entirely abandoned heathenism, under the guidance of the Samoans. The people felt that they had come to the end of the stock of teaching of these good men, and entreated for an Englishman from the Bishop, and thus, here was the third island in this one voyage begging for a shepherd, and only one English priest had been found to offer himself to that multitude of heathen!
The only thing that could be done was to take John Cho, a former St. John's scholar, to receive instruction to fit him for a teacher, and with him came his young wife Naranadune, and their babe, whom the Bishop had just baptized in the coral-lime chapel, with three other children.
The next few days were spent in great anxiety for Wailumai, a youth from Grera, who was taken ill immediately after dinner with a most distressing difficulty of breathing. He proved to have a piece of sugar cane in his throat, which made every breath agony, and worked a small ulcer in the throat. All through the worst Patteson held him in his arms, with his hand on his chest: several times he seemed gone, and ammonia and sal volatile barely revived him. His first words after he was partially relieved were, 'I am Bishop! I am Patihana!' meaning that he exchanged names with them, the strongest possible proof of affection in Melanesian eyes. He still seemed at the point of death, and they made him say, 'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! Jesus Christ, Son of God.' At last a favourable change took place, but he continued so ill for several days that his two attendants never did more than lie down in their clothes; nor was it till the third day that he at length coughed up the piece of cane that had caused the mischief. He still required so much care that Patteson did not go on shore at Norfolk Island when the five Pitcairners were exchanged for Mrs. Selwyn.
On November 15 Auckland harbour was again reached after this signally prosperous voyage. It is thus summed up in a letter written two days later:--
'November 17, 1857: St. John's College.
'My dear Miss Neill,--Thanks for your £21. 2s., and more thanks still for your prayers and constant interest in this part of the world. After nearly seventeen weeks at sea, we returned safely on Sunday morning the 15th, with thirty-three Melanesians, gathered from nine islands and speaking eight languages. Plenty of work for me: I can teach tolerably in three, and have a smattering of one or two more.
'One is the wife of a young man, John Cho, an old scholar baptized. His half-brother is chief of Lifu Isle, a man of great influence. The London Mission (Independents) are leaving all their islands unprovided with missionaries, and these people having been much more frequently visited by the Bishop than by the "John Williams," turn to him for help. By and by I will explain all this: at present no time.
'We visited sixty-six islands and landed eighty-one times, wading, swimming, &c.; all most friendly and delightful; only two arrows shot at us, and only one went near--so much for savages. I wonder what people ought to call sandal-wood traders and slave-masters if they call my Melanesians savages.
'You will hear accounts of the voyage from Fanny. I have a long journal going to my father, but I can't make time to write at length any more. I am up before five and not in bed before eleven, and you know I must be lazy sometimes. It does me good. Oh! how great a trial sickness would be to me! In my health now all seems easy. Were I circumstanced like you, how much I should no doubt repine and murmur. God has given me hitherto a most merciful share of blessings, and my dear father's cordial approbation of and consent to my proceedings is among the greatest....
'The anniversary of my dear mother's death comes round in ten days. That is my polar star (humanly speaking), and whensoever it pleases God to take my dear dear father to his rest, how blessed to think of their waiting for us, if it be His merciful will to bring me too to dwell before Him with them for ever.
'I must end, for I am very busy. The weather is cold, and my room full of lads and young men. If I was not watching like a cat they would be standing about in all sorts of places and catching cold.
'I send you in a box, a box made by Pitcairners of Pitcairn woods.
'Ever your loving old pupil,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
The little New Caledonian remained at Taurarua with the Bishop, and as there was no woman at St. John's to take the charge of Cho's wife, she was necessarily sent to Mrs. Kissling's school for Maori girls, while her husband pursued his studies at St. John's.
Patteson often gave his services at the Maori village of Orakei, where there was to be a central native school managed by Pirimona (Philemon), a well-trained man, a candidate for Holy Orders.
'However, this did not satisfy his countrymen. As if I had not enough to do, old Wi comes with a request from the folks at Orakei that I would be their "minita," and take the management of the concern. Rather rich, is it not? I said, of course, that I was minita for the islanders. "Oh, let the Bishop take another man for that, you are the minister for us." He is, you know, wonderfully tatooed, and a great object of curiosity to the boys!
Before many days had passed, there had occurred the first case of that fatal tetanus, which became only too well known to those concerned in the Mission. Of course, all weapons were taken from the scholars; but one of the San Cristoval boys, named Tohehammai, fetched one of his own arrows out of Mr. Dudley's room to exchange with an English lad for a shirt, and as he was at play, carrying the arrow in his left hand behind his back and throwing a stick like a spear with the other, he sharply pricked his right arm, within the elbow, against the point of the arrow; but thinking nothing of the hurt, and knowing that the weapons were forbidden playthings, he said nothing for twelve days, but then complained of stiffness in the arm. Two doctors happened to be at the college that day; one thought it rheumatism, the other mentioned the word tetanus, but for three days more the arm was merely stiff, it was hung in a sling, and the boy went about as usual, until, on the fifteenth day, spasmodic twitchings in the arm came on.
Liniment of chloroform was rubbed in, and the boy was kept under chloroform, but in vain; the next day his whole body was perfectly rigid, with occasional convulsions. About 4 p.m. his throat had become contracted, and the endeavour to give him nourishment brought on convulsive attacks. The Bishop came at 8. p.m., and after another attempt at giving him food, which produced a further spasm, he was lying quietly when Patteson felt his pulse stop.
'"He is dying!" the Bishop said. '"Father, into Thy hands we commend his spirit."'
Patteson's 'Amen' came from his heart. The poor fellow made no sound as he lay with his frame rigid, his back arched so that an arm could be thrust under it. He was gone in that moment, unbaptized. Patteson writes:--
'I had much conflict with myself about it. He had talked once with me in a very hopeful way, but during his illness I could not obtain from him any distinct profession of faith, anything to make me feel pretty sure that some conviction of the truth of what he he hd been taught, and not mere learning by rote, was the occasion of his saying what he did say. I did wish much that I might talk again with the Bishop about it, but his death took us by surprise. I pray God that all my omission and neglect of duty may be repaired, and that his very imperfect and unconscious yearnings after the truth may be accepted for Christ's sake.'
The arrow was reported to have been poisoned, but by the time the cause of the injury had been discovered it had been thrown away and could not be recovered for examination. Indeed, lockjaw seems to be so prevalent in the equatorial climates, and the natives so peculiarly liable to it, that poison did not seem needful to account for the catastrophe.
Altogether, these lads were exotics in New Zealand, and exceedingly fragile. In the very height of summer they had to wear corduroy trousers, blue serge shirts, red woollen comforters, and blue Scotch caps, and the more delicate a thick woollen jersey in addition; and with all these precautions they were continually catching cold, or getting disordered, and then the Bauro and Grera set could only support such treatment as young children generally need. The Loyalty Islanders were much tougher and stronger and easier to treat, but they too showed that the climate of Auckland was a hard trial to their constitutions.
On the last day of March came tidings of the sudden death of the much-beloved and honoured Dr. James Coleridge of Thorverton.
'It is a great shock,' says the letter written the same day; 'not that I feel unhappy exactly, nor low, but that many many memories are revived and keep freshening on my mind.... And since I left England his warm, loving, almost too fond letters have bound me very closely to him, and sorely I shall miss the sight of his handwriting; though he may be nearer to me now than before, and his love for me is doubtless even more pure and fervent.
'I confess I had thought sometimes that if it pleased God to take you first, the consciousness that he would be with you was a great comfort to me--not that any man is worth much then. God must be all in all. But yet he of all men was the one who would have been a real comfort to you, and even more so to others.' To his cousin he writes:--
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