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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 70/144 -
'I must write more when at sea. I have very little time here.
'I hope by God's blessing to make a long round among my many islands this winter; some, I know, must be approached with great caution. Your prayers will be offered for me and those with me, I know, and am greatly comforted by the knowledge of it.
'Fanny tells me what you have said to her about supplying any deficit in the money required for our vessel. I feel as if this ought not in one sense to come upon you, but how can I venture to speak to you on such matters? You know all that I think and feel about it. Send me more your blessing. I feel cares and anxieties now. My kind love to Mrs. Keble.
'J. C. PATTESON, Missionary Bishop.'
Two more notes followed in quick succession to Hursley Vicarage, almost entirely upon the matter of the new 'Southern Cross,' which was being built under Mr. Tilly's eye. The two Bishops were scrupulous about letting Mr. Keble give more than a fair proportion towards the vessel, which was not to cost more than £3,000, though more roomy than her lamented predecessor. Meantime the 'Sea Breeze' was 'again to serve for the winter voyage:--
'St. Barnabas Day, Auckland: 1862.
'My dear Sisters,--Think of my being ashore, and in a Christian land on this day. So it is. We sail (D.V.) in six days, as it may be this day week. The Melanesians are very good and pretty well in health, but we are all anxious to be in warm climates. I think that most matters are settled. Primate and I have finished our accounts. Think of his wise stewardship! The endowment in land and money, and no debts contracted! I hope that I leave nothing behind me to cause difficulty, should anything happen. The Primate and Sir William Martin are my executors; Melanesia, as you would expect, my heir. I may have forgotten many items, personal reminiscences. Ask for anything, should anything happen. I see no reason to anticipate it, humanly speaking, but it is always well to think of such things. I am just going to the little Taurarua chapel to our Melanesian Commemoration service with Holy Communion.
'Oh! if it should please God to grant us a meeting here!
'Great blessings have been given me this summer in seeing the progress made by the scholars, so great as to make me feel sober- minded and almost fearful, but that is wrong and faithless perhaps, and yet surely the trials must come some day.
'God bless you all, and keep you all safe from all harm.
'Your loving Brother,
'J. C. PATTESON, Bishop.'
'Friday, June 27th, 2 P.M.--How you are thinking of all that took place that last night on earth. He was taking his departure for a long voyage, rather he was entering into the haven where he would be! May God give us grace to follow his holy example, his patient endurance of his many trials, the greatest his constant trial of deafness.
'I think if the weather be fair, that we shall go off to-morrow. Oh! if we do meet, and spend, it may be, Christmas together.
28th, 3 P.M.--The first anniversary of our dear Father's death. How you are all recalling what took place then! How full of thankfulness for his gain, far outweighing the sorrow for our loss! And yet how you must feel it, more than I do, and yet I feel it deeply: but the little fond memories of the last months, and above all the looks and spoken words of love, I can't altogether enter into them. His letters are all that letters can be, more than any other letters can be, but they are not the same thing in all ways. The Primate has left us to hurry down the sailing master of the "Sea Breeze." It was a very rough morning, but is calm now, boats passing and repassing between the shore and the schooner at anchor off Kohimarama.'
The habit of writing journals was not at once resumed by Bishop Patteson when his father was not there to read them; and the chance of seeing his sisters, no doubt, made him write less fully to them, since they might be on the voyage when the letters arrived in England. Thus the fullest record of the early part of the voyage is in a report which he drew up and printed in the form of a letter to the Rev. J. Keble:--
'We chartered the "Sea Breeze" schooner in June last for four months: she is a vessel of seventy tons register, a little larger than the old "Southern Cross," and as well suited for our purpose as a vessel can be which is built to carry passengers in the ordinary way. No voyage can of course equal in importance those early expeditions of the Primate, when he sailed in his little schooner among seas unknown, to islands never before visited, or visited only by the sandal-wood traders. But I never recollect myself so remarkable a voyage as this last. I do not mean that any new method was adopted in visiting islands, or communicating with the natives. God gave to the Bishop of New Zealand wisdom to see and carry out from the first the plan, which more and more approves itself as the best and only feasible plan, for our peculiar work. But all through this voyage, both in revisiting islands well known to us, and in recommencing the work in other islands, where, amidst the multitude of the Primate's engagements, it had been impossible to keep up our acquaintance with the people, and in opening the way in islands now visited for the first time, from the beginning to the end, it pleased God to prosper us beyond all our utmost hopes. I was not only able to land on many places where, as far as I know, no white man had set foot before, but to go inland, to inspect the houses, canoes, &c., in crowded villages (as at Santa Cruz), or to sit for two hours alone amidst a throng of people (as at Pentecost Island), or to walk two and a half miles inland (as at Tariko or Aspee). From no less than eight islands have we for the first time received, young people for our school here, and fifty-one Melanesian men, women, and young lads are now with us, gathered from twenty-four islands, exclusive of the islands so long- known to us of the Loyalty Group. When you remember that at Santa Cruz, e.g., we had never landed before, and that this voyage I was permitted to go ashore at seven different places in one day, during which I saw about 1,200 men: that in all these islands the inhabitants are, to look at, wild, naked, armed with spears and clubs, or bows and poisoned arrows; that every man's hand (as, alas! we find only too soon when we live among them) is against his neighbour, and scenes of violence and bloodshed amongst themselves of frequent occurrence; and that throughout this voyage (during which I landed between seventy and eighty times) not one hand was lifted up against me, not one sign of ill-will exhibited; you will see why I speak and think with real amazement and thankfulness of a voyage accompanied with results so wholly unexpected. I say results, for the effecting a safe landing on an island, and much more the receiving a native lad from it, is, in this sense, a result, that the great step has been made of commencing an acquaintance with the people. If I live to make another voyage, I shall no longer go ashore there as a stranger. I know the names of some of the men; I can by signs remind them of some little present made, some little occurrence which took place; we have already something in common, and as far as they know me at all, they know me as a friend. Then some lad is given up to us, the language learned, and a real hold on the island obtained.
'The most distant point we reached was the large island Ysabel, in the Solomon Archipelago. From this island a lad has come away with us, and we have also a native boy from an island not many miles distant from Ysabel, called Anudha, but marked in the charts (though not correctly) as Florida.
'It would weary you if I wrote of all the numerous adventures and strange scenes which in such a voyage we of course experience. I will give you, if I can, an idea of what took place at some few islands, to illustrate the general character of the voyage.
'One of the New Hebrides Islands, near the middle of the group, was discovered by Cook, and by him called "Three Hills." The central part of it, where we have long-had an acquaintance with the natives, is called by them "Mai." Some six years ago we landed there, and two young men came away with us, and spent the summer in New Zealand. Their names were Petere and Laure; the former was a local chief of some consequence. We took a peculiar interest in this island, finding that a portion of the population consists of a tribe speaking a dialect of the great Polynesian language of which another dialect is spoken in New Zealand. Every year we have had scholars from Mai, several of whom can read and write. We have landed there times without number, slept ashore three or four times, and are well known of course to the inhabitants.
'The other day I landed as usual among a crowd of old acquaintances, painted and armed, but of that I thought nothing. Knowing them to be so friendly to us, instead of landing alone, I took two or three of our party to walk inland with me; and off we started, Mr. Dudley and Wadrokala being left sitting in the boat, which was, as usual, a short distance from the beach. We had walked about half a mile before I noticed something unusual in the manner of the people, and I overheard them talking in a way that made me suspect that something had happened which they did not want me to know. Petere had not made his appearance, though in general the first to greet us, and on my making enquiries for him, I was told that he was not well. Not long afterwards I overheard a man say that Petere was dead, and taking again some opportunity that offered itself for asking about him, was told that he was dead, that he had died of dysentery. I was grieved to hear this, because I liked him personally and had expected help from him when the time came for commencing a Mission station on the island. The distance from the beach to the village where Petere lived is about one and a half mile, and a large party had assembled before we reached it. There was a great lamentation and crying on our arrival, during which I sat down on a large log of a tree. Then came a pause, and I spoke to the people, telling them how sorry I was to hear of Petere's death. There was something strange still about their manner, which I could not quite make out; and one of our party, who was not used to the kind of thing, did not like the looks of the people and the clubs and spears. At last one of them, an old scholar of ours, came forward and said, "The men here do not wish to deceive you; they know that you loved Petere, and they will not hide the truth; Petere was killed by a man in a ship, a white man, who shot him in the forehead." Of course I made minute enquiries as to the ship, the number of masts, how many people they saw, whether there was anything remarkable about the appearance of any person on board, &c. The men standing round us were a good deal excited, but the same story was told by them all.
'After a while I walked back to the beach, no indication having been made of unfriendliness, but I had not gone more than a quarter of a mile when three men rushed past me from behind, and ran on to the
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