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- Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 80/144 -


understand what heathenism is, and will seek, by God's blessing, to work honestly without prejudice and without an indiscriminating admiration for all their own national tastes and modes of thought--a few such men, agreeing well together and co-operating heartily, will probably be enabled to lay foundations for an enduring work. I do not at all wish to apply hastily for men--for any kind of men--to fill up posts that I shall indeed be thankful to occupy with the right sort of men. I much prefer waiting till it may please God to put it into the head of some two or three more men to join the Mission--years hence it may be. We need only a few; I don't suppose that ten years hence I should (if alive) ever wish to have more than six or eight clergy; because their work will be the training of young natives to be themselves teachers, and, I pray God, missionaries in due time. I am so glad that you quite feel my wants, and sympathise with me. It is difficult to give reasons--intelligible to you all at a distance--for everything that I may say and do, because the circumstances of this Mission are so very peculiar. But you know that I have always the Primate to consult with as to principles; and I must, for want of a better course, judge for myself as to the mode of working them out in detail.

'Two plans are open for obtaining a supply of young men. First, I may receive some few ready-trained men, who nevertheless will have to learn the particular lessons that only can be taught here on the spot. Secondly, I may have youths of (say) sixteen to eighteen years of age, sent out from such a school as Stephen Hawtrey's for example, who will come with a good general knowledge of ordinary things, and receive a special training from myself. I think, too, that New Zealand will now and then supply an earnest, active-minded young fellow--who will be a Greek or Latin scholar, yet may find a useful niche in which he may be placed. At present I have means only to maintain one or two such persons, and this because I am able to use the money my dear Father left me for this purpose. Indeed, I have no other use for it. The money received on public account would not keep the Mission in its present state, and the expenditure ought to be increased by maintaining more scholars and teachers. I don't forget what you say about the philological part of my business. My difficulty is this, mainly: that it is next to impossible to secure a few hours of continuous leisure. You can have no idea of the amount of detail that I must attend to: seeing everything almost, and having moreover not a few New Zealand matters to employ my time, besides my Melanesian work. I have, I suppose, a considerable amount of knowledge of Melanesian tongues, unknown by name to anyone else perhaps; I quite feel that this ought not to die with me, if anything should suddenly happen to me. I hoped this summer to put together something; but now there is this Maori war, and an utterly unsettled state of things. I may have to leave New Zealand with my Melanesians almost any day. But I will do what I can, and as soon as I can. Again: I find it so hard to put on paper what I know. I could talk to a philologist, and I fancy that I could tell him much that would interest him; but I never wrote anything beyond a report in my life, and it is labour and grief to me to write them--I can't get on as a scribe at all. Then, for two or three years I have not been able to visit some islands whose language I know just enough of to see that they supply a valuable link in the great Polynesian chain. One might almost get together all the disjecta membra and reconstruct the original Polynesian tongue. But chiefly, of course, my information about Melanesia may be interesting. I have begun by getting together numerals in forty quite unknown dialects. I will give, at all events, short skeleton grammars too of some. But we have no time. Why, I have from five hundred to two thousand or more carefully ascertained words in each of several dialects, and of course these ought to be in the hands of you all at home. I know that, and have known it for years; but how to do it, without neglecting the daily necessary work?

'Again: the real genius of the language, whatever it may be, is learned when I can write down what I overhear boys saying when they are talking with perfect freedom, and therefore idiomatically, about sharks, cocoa-nuts, yams, &c. All translations must fail to represent a language adequately, and most of all the translation into a heathen language of religious expressions. They have not the ideas, and the language cannot be fairly seen in the early attempts to make it do an unaccustomed work.

'I remember more of you and my Aunt than you suppose. Even without the photograph (which I am very glad to have--thank you for it), I could have found you and Aunt out in a crowd. I can't say that I remember my own generation so well.

'Thank you again for writing so kindly.

'Always, my dear Cousin,

'Affectionately yours,

'J. C. PATTESON, Missionary Bishop.'

The next mail carried the reply to Johanna's sympathy with the troubles of the time of sickness in the early part of the year.

'August 28, 1863.

'My dear Joan,--Very full of comfort to have all your kind loving thoughts and words about our sickness. I know you thought and talked much about it, and indeed it was a very heavy visitation viewed in one way, though in another (and I really can't analyze the reason why) there was not only peace and calmness, but eyen happiness. I suppose one may be quite sure one is receiving mercies, and be thankful for them, although one is all the time like a man in a dream. I can hardly think of it all as real. But I am sure that God was very, very merciful to us. There was no difficulty anywhere about the making known the death of the lads to their relatives. I did not quite like the manner of the people at Guadalcanar, from which island poor Porasi came; and I could not get at the exact place from which Taman came, though I landed on the same island north and south of the beach from which I brought him.

'I do not at all think that any interruption of the work has been occasioned by it. It was very unfortunate that I could not, last voyage, make visits (and long ones too, as I had hoped) to many islands where in the voyage before I had met with such remarkable tokens of good-will, especially Leper's Island and Santa Cruz, but I think that if I can make a regular good round next time, it may be all as well. I imagine that in a great many islands it would now take a good deal to shake their confidence in us. At the same time it was and is a matter of great regret that I did not at once follow up the openings of the former year, and by returning again to the New Hebrides and Solomon Islands (as in the contemplated six months' voyage I intended to do), strengthen the good feeling now existing. Moreover, many scholars who were here last year would have come again had I revisited them and picked them up again. But the Mota sickness, the weather, and Mr. Tilly's illness made it more prudent to return by what is on the whole the shorter route, i.e., to the west of New Caledonia.

'You should have been with me when, as I jumped on shore at Mota, I took Paraskloi's father by the hand. That dear lad I baptized as he lay in his shroud in the chapel, when the whole weight of the trial seemed, as it were, by a sudden revelation to manifest itself, and thoroughly overwhelmed and unnerved me. I got through the service with the tears streaming down my cheeks, and my voice half choked. He was his father's pride, some seventeen years old. A girl ready chosen for him as his wife. "It is all well, Bishop, he died well. I know you did all you could, it is all well." He trembled all over, and his face was wet with tears; but he seemed strangely drawn to us, and if he survives this present epidemic, his son's death may be to him the means in God's hands of an eternal life. Most touching, is it not, this entire confidence?

'At Aruas, the small island close to Valua, from which dear Sosaman came, it was just the same; rather different at the west side of Vanua Lava, where they did not behave so well, and where (as I heard afterwards) there had been some talk of shooting me; but nothing occurred while I was on shore with them to alarm me.

'At Ambrym I landed with Talsil (Joval, from the same place, had died), a great crowd, all friendly, walked into the village and sat down, speechifying by the principal man, a presentation to me of a small pig; but such confidence that this man came back with me on board, where I gave him presents. I much wished to land at Taman's place, but could not do so, though I tried twice, without causing great delay.

'I could have brought away any number of scho1ars from almost any of these islands, probably from all. I have great reason to regret not having revisited Ambrym and other islands, but I think that a year hence, if alive, I may feel that it is better as it is.

'These Norfolk Islanders, four of them, I take as my children, for I can't fairly charge them (except Edwin Nobbs) to the Mission, and I wish to give Norfolk Island some help, as it is really, though not by letters patent, part of my charge. Edwin Nobbs is a thoroughly good fellow, and Fisher Young is coming on very well.

'Now, my dearest Joan, good-bye. My hats will come no doubt in good time, my present chapeau is very seedy, very limp and crooked and battered; as near green as black almost--a very good advertisement of the poverty of the Mission. But if I go about picking up gold in Australia, I shall come out in silk cassock and all the paraphernalia--very episcopal indeed!

'Your loving Brother,

'J. C. PATTESON.'

Herewith was a letter for Dr. Moberly:--

'St. Andrew's College, Kohimarama: August 29, 1863. 'My dear Dr. Moberly,--Thank you for a very kind and most interesting letter written in May. I know that you can with difficulty find time to write at all, and thank you all the more. If you knew the real value to us of such letters as you have now sent, containing your impressions and opinions of things in general, men, books, &c., you would be well rewarded for your trouble, I assure you. To myself, I must say to you, such letters are invaluable; they are a real help to me, not only in that they supply information from a very good authority on many questions which I much desire to understand, but even more because I rise up or kneel down after reading them, and think to myself, "how little such men who so think of me really know me; how different I ought to be," and then it is another help to me to try and become by God's grace less unlike what you take me to be. Indeed, you must forgive me for writing thus freely. I live very much alone as far as persons of the same language, modes of thought, &c., are concerned. I see but little (strange as it may seem to you) even of my dear Primate. We are by land four or five miles apart, and meet perhaps once or twice a month for a few minutes to transact


Life of John Coleridge Patteson - 80/144

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