THE MELANESIAN ISLES. 1856-1857.
And now, in his twenty-ninth year, after all the unconscious preparation of his education, and the conscious preparation of two years, Coleridge Patteson began the definite work of his life. Bishop Selwyn was to sail with him in the "Southern Cross," making the voyage that had been intermitted during the expedition to England, introducing him to the Islands, and testing his adaptation to the work there. The first point was, however, to be Sydney, with the hope of obtaining leave to use Norfolk Island as the headquarters of the Mission. They meant to touch there, weather permitting, on their way northward.
Ascension Day was always Bishop Selwyn's favourite time for starting, so that the charge might be ringing freshly in his ears and those of his companions, 'Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'
There was morning service and Holy Communion at the little College chapel on the 1st of May, Ascension Day of 1856; then the party went on board, but their first start was only to Coromandel Bay, in order that the Bishop might arrange a dispute with the Maoris, and they then returned to Auckland to take up Mrs. Selwyn. The crew were five in number, and Mr. Leonard Harper, son of the future Bishop of Lyttelton, likewise accompanied them, and relieved Patteson of his onerous duties as steward.
The first adventure was such a storm as the little vessel had never yet encountered. The journal-letter thus describes it:--'On Saturday morning it began to blow from the north-east, and for the first time I experienced a circular gale or hurricane. Mrs. Somerville, I think, somewhere describes the nature of them in her "Physical Geography." The wind veered and hauled about a point or two, but blew from the north-east with great force, till about seven P.M. we could do no more with it and had to lie to. Ask old D. what that means, if you can't understand my description of it. The principle of it is to set two small sails, one fore and one aft, lash the rudder (wheel) amidships, make all snug, put on hatches, batten everything down, and trust to ride out the storm. As the vessel falls away from the wind by the action of one sail, it is brought up to it again by the other-sail. Thus her head is always kept to the wind, and she meets the seas, which if they caught her on the beam or the quarter would very likely send her down at once. About midnight on Saturday the wind suddenly chopped round to W.S.W., so that we were near the focus of the gale; it blew harder and harder till we took down the one sail forward, as the ropes and spars were enough for the wind to act upon. From 1 P.M. to 7 P.M. on Sunday it blew furiously. The whole sea was one drift of foam, and the surface of the water beaten down almost flat by the excessive violence of the wind, which cut off the head of every wave as it strove to raise itself, and carried it in clouds of spray and great masses of water, driving and hurling it against any obstacle, such as our little vessel, with inconceivable fury. As I stood on deck, gasping for breath, my eyes literally unable to keep themselves open, and only by glimpses getting a view of this most grand and terrible sight, it seemed as if a furious snow-storm was raging over a swelling, heaving, dark mass of waters. When anything could be seen beyond the first or second line of waves, the sky and sea appeared to meet in one cataract of rain and spray. A few birds were driving about like spirits of the storm. It was, as Shakspeare calls it, a regular hurly. Add to this the straining of the masts, the creaking of the planks, the shrill whistle of the wind in the ropes and cordage, the occasional crash of a heavy sea as it struck us with a sharp sound, and the rush of water over the decks, down the companion and hatches, that followed, and you have a notion of a gale of wind. And yet this was far from all the wind and sea can do, and we were never in any danger, I believe. That is, an unlucky sea at such a time may be fatal, and if anything about the schooner had been unsound it might have been awkward. At prayers, the Bishop read the prayer to be used in a storm, but I never myself entertained the idea of our being really in peril, nor did I suffer anything like the anxiety that I did when we were rounding Cape Palliser on our way to Wellington with the Judge. Here we had sea room and no fear of driving upon rocks. It is blowing a good deal now, as you see by my writing. I have a small ink-bottle of glass, made like an eel-pot (such as tax- gatherers use), tied to my buttonhole, and with this I can scribble away in almost any sea. Dear me! you could not sit still a minute, even now. I was qualmish on Saturday, and for a minute sick, but pretty comfortable on Sunday, though wearied by the constant pitching and rolling.'
The day after this, namely May 15, the Bishop and Mr. Patteson rowed into Cascade Bay, Norfolk Island, amid a heavy surf, but they saw no cascade, as there had been no rain for a long time; and there were only rocks surmounted by pine trees, no living creature, no landing- place, as they coasted along. At last they saw a smooth-looking rock with an iron staple, and concluding that it was the way of approach, they watched their time, and through the surf which broke over it they leapt on it, and dashed ashore before the returning swell caught them. They walked inland, and met a man, one of twelve convicts who had been left behind to receive the Pitcairners, who had not yet arrived, but were on their way from their original island in H.M.S. 'Juno.' The vegetation and climate struck them as beautiful; there were oranges, lemons, sweet potatoes, and common potatoes, and English vegetables, and the Norfolk Island pine growing to a great height: 'but,' writes Coley, 'it is coarser in the leaf and less symmetrical in shape than I had expected. I thought to have seen the tree of Veitch's nursery garden on a scale three or four times as large, and so I might have done in any of the gardens; but as they grow wild in the forest, they are not so very different from the more common fir tribe.'
They saw one house, but had little time, and getting down to the smooth rock, stood there, barefooted, till the boat could back in between the rollers; the Bishop leapt in at the first, and the boat made off at once, and till it could return, Patteson had to cling to the clamps to hinder himself from being washed off, as six or seven waves broke over him before the boat could come near enough for another spring. These difficulties in landing were one of the recommendations of the island, by isolating the future inhabitants from the demoralising visits of chance vessels.
Then followed some days of great enjoyment of the calm warmth of the semi-tropical winter, chiefly varied by catching a young shark, and contrasting him with his attendant pilot, as the ugliest and prettiest of fish. Patteson used the calm to write (May 30) one of his introspective letters, owning that he felt physical discomfort, and found it hard to banish 'recollections of clean water, dry clothes, and drink not tasting like medicine; but that he most of all missed the perfect unconstrained ease of home conversation.'
Then he continues:--
'But now, don't you see, Fan, how good this is for me? If you think impartially of me, as you recollect me, you will see how soft and indolent I was, how easily I fell into self-indulgent habits, how little I cared to exert myself and try and exercise the influence, etc., a clergyman may be supposed to possess; there was nothing about me to indicate energy, to fit me for working out a scheme and stamping my own mind upon others who came in contact with me. Perhaps there is no one person who can trace any sensible influence to anything I ever did or said.
'Now I don't of course venture to say that this is otherwise now; but I think that this is the best training to make it so. I think that I ought to be gaining strength of purpose, resolution, energy of character, under these circumstances. And observe, what should I be without some such change pressing on me? Just imagine me, such a one as I was at Alfington, alone on an island with twenty-five Melanesian boys, from half as many different islands, to be trained, clothed, brought into orderly habits, &c., the report of our proceedings made in some sort the test of the working of the Mission; and all this to be arranged, ordered, and worked out by me, who found H. B---- and W. P---- a care too great for me.
'on't you see that I must become very different from what I was--more of a man; to say nothing of the higher and religious side of this question? While then there is much that my carnal self-indulgent nature does not at all like, and while it is always trying to rebel, my better sense and the true voice within tells me that, independently of this particular work requiring such a discipline, the discipline itself is good for the formation of my own character. ...Oh! the month of June at Feniton! the rhododendrons, azaleas, and kalmias, the burst of flowers and trees, the song of thrush and blackbird (both unknown to New Zealand). The green meadows and cawing rooks, and church towers and Sunday bells, and the bright sparkling river and leaping trout: and the hedges with primrose and violet (I should like to see a hedge again); and I am afraid I must add the green peas and beans, and various other garden productions, which would make salt pork more palatable!" Yes, I should like to see it all again; but it is of the earth after all, and I have the "many-twinkling smile of Ocean," though there is no soft woodland dell to make it more beautiful by its contrast. Well, I have had a happy hour scribbling away, and now to work.'
'I am less distressed now,' he adds, a few days later, in the same strain, 'at the absence of all that is customary in England on these occasions (great festivals), though I dare not say how far the loss of all these privileges produces a bad effect upon my heart and character. One often loses the spirit when the form is withdrawn, and I still sorely long for the worship of God in the beauty of holiness, and my mind reverts to Ottery Church, and college chapels and vast glorious cathedrals.'
On the 10th of June the 'Southern Cross' was in Sydney harbour, and remained there a fortnight, Bishop Barker gladly welcoming the new arrivals, though in general Bishop Selwyn and his Chaplain announced themselves as like the man and woman in the weather-glass, only coming-out by turns, since one or other had to be in charge of the ship; but later an arrangement was made which set them more at liberty. And the churches at Sydney were a great delight to Patteson; the architecture, music, and all the arrangements being like those among which he had been trained.
'A Sunday worth a dozen gales of wind!' he exclaims, 'but you can hardly judge of the effect produced by all the good substantial concomitants of Divine worship upon one who for fourteen months has scarcely seen anything but a small wooden church, with almost all the warmth of devotion resting on himself. I feel roused to the core. ...I felt the blessing of worshipping the Lord with a full heart in the beauty of holiness. A very good organ well played, and my joy was great when we sang the long 78th Psalm to an old chant of itself almost enough to upset me, the congregation singing in parts with heart and voice.'
His exhilaration showed itself in a letter to his little cousin, Paulina Martin:--
''Southern Cross," Sydney Harbour: June 18, 1856.
'My darling Pena,--Are you so anxious to have a letter from me, and do you think I am going to forget all about you? However, you have had long before this two or three letters from me, I hope, and when I write to grandpapa or grandmamma or mamma, you must always take it as if a good deal was meant for you, for I have not quite so much time for writing as you have, I dare say, in spite of music and French and history and geography and all the rest of it. But I do dearly love to write to you when I can, and you must be quite certain that I shall always do so as I have opportunity.
'Don't you ever talk to me about any of your English watering-places and sea-port towns! No one knows anything about what an harbour can be for perfect beauty of earth, air, and sea, for wooded banks and rocky heights, and fine shipping and handsome buildings, and all the bustle and stir of a town of 80,000 inhabitants somehow lost and hidden among gum trees and Norfolk Island pines and parks and gravel walks; and everywhere the magnificent sea view breaking in upon the eye. Don't be angry, darling, for I love Dawlish very much, and would sooner go and sail the "Mary Jane" with you in some dear little basin among the rocks at low tide, and watch all the little crabs and other creatures with long Latin names, than walk about Sydney arm-in- arm with the Bishops of New Zealand and Newcastle, to call on the Governor. But I must say what I think about the natural scenery of places that I visit, and nowhere, even in New Zealand--no, not even in Queen Charlotte's Sound, nor in Banks's Peninsula, have I seen anything so completely beautiful as this harbour--'"heoi ano" "that's enough." The Governor told us yesterday that when he was at Hobart Town, he made the convicts cut a path through one of the deep gullies running down from a mountain 4,500 feet high to the sea. The path was two miles long, and all the way the tree-ferns, between twenty and thirty feet high, formed a natural roof arched and vaulted like the fretted roofs of our Tudor churches and chapels. There is a botanical garden here with a very good collection of all the Australian trees and shrubs, and with many New Zealand and many semi- tropical plants besides. All the English flowers and fruits grow here as well, so that in the warmer months it must look beautiful. It is close to the sea, which runs here in little creeks and bays close up among the public walks and buildings; and as the shore is all rocky and steep at low water, there is no mud or swamp or seaweed, but only clear green water quite deep and always calm and tranquil, because the harbour is so broken up and diversified by innumerable islets, gulfs, &c., that no wind can raise any sea of consequence in it.
'Just now it is winter time--slight frost at night, but no appearance of it after the sun is up; bright hot days, and bracing cold nights, the very perfection of a climate in winter, but in summer very hot. It is so funny to me to see regular stone and brick houses, and shops, and carriages, and cabs, &c., all quite new to me.
'To-night there is a great missionary meeting. Bishops of Sydney, New Zealand, and Newcastle present. Bishop of Newcastle and a Mr. King advocate the cause of the Australian blacks, and the Bishop of New Zealand and unfortunate I have to speechify about Melanesia. What on earth to say I don't know, for of course the Bishop will exhaust the subject before me.
'However, I must try and not be in a great fright; but I would sooner by half be going to have a talk with a parcel of Maoris. Now, you must get Fanny Patteson to tell you all about our voyage from New Zealand, our adventure at Norfolk Island, &c.
'We sail on Monday, 23rd, for Norfolk Island again, as it is in our way to the Solomon group, because we shall get the S.E. trades just about there, and so run away in style to the Solomon Islands, and perhaps farther north still, but that is not probable this time.
'Always, my darling,
'Your affectionate cousin,
'J. C. PATTESON.'
This meeting was called by the Australian Board of Missions to receive information or propositions concerning the missions to the Australians and Melanesians. Bishop Barker of Sydney was in the chair, and the Bishop of Newcastle, who had made one Melanesian cruise in the 'Border Maid,' was likewise present. The room was crowded to excess, and from 900 to 1,000 were certainly present, many more failing to get in. Afterwards Patteson writes to his father:--
'The Bishop of New Zealand, in introducing me to the meeting, spoke before all these people of you and me in a way that almost unnerved me, and I had to speak next. What he said is not reported, or very badly--calling me his dear friend, with his voice quivering--I never saw him more, or so much affected--"I ought to be most thankful to God for giving me so dear a companion, &c." But he spoke so of you, and people here seemed to know of you, coming up to me, and asking about you, after the meeting. The Bishop of Newcastle spoke of you most kindly, and really with very great feeling. An evening I had dreaded ended happily. Before I dined with the three Bishops; last night with Chief Justice Sir Alfred Stephen, and met the trio again, Bishop everywhere speaking of me as one of his family. "No, my boys are not with me; but we have my dear friend Mr. Patteson." Of course all this exhibition of feeling never comes out when we are alone, we know each other too well. And now the romance of Mission work is over, and the real labour is to begin. There has been bad work among the islands lately, but you know in whose hands we are.'
The collections both at the door and on the following Sunday were very large, and a strong warm feeling was excited in Sydney which has never since died away. Mr. Patteson was much beloved there, and always met with kind welcome and ready assistance from all classes. But there was one great disappointment. The Bishop of New Zealand, on formally setting before Sir William Denison, Governor-General of Australia, his plan for making Norfolk Island the site of a school for training Melanesian teachers, and eventually the seat of a bishopric, received a refusal, and was not permitted even to place a chaplain there. Sir William, as he tells us in his published diary, had heard from some quarter or other rumours respecting the Melanesian scholars which made him suppose that their presence might have a bad effect upon the Pitcairners; and repeated that his instructions were that the islanders should be left as much as possible to themselves. The request to be permitted to place Mr. Patteson there was refused on the ground that Norfolk Island belonged to the see of Tasmania, and not to that of New Zealand. But the Bishop of Tasmania could hardly visit it without great inconvenience, and he had therefore placed it under the care of his brother of New Zealand, full in whose track it lay. The matter was referred to the Colonial Secretary, and in the meantime Bishop Selwyn adhered to his purpose of visiting it on leaving Sydney, and though he could not place his chaplain there, leaving Mrs. Selwyn to assist in the work of training the new comers to the novelties of a more temperate climate and a more genial soil than they had known on the torrid rock of Pitcairn's Island.
Accordingly, on the 4th of July, the 'Southern Cross' again approached the island, and finding that the Pitcairners had come, and that their magistrate and Mr. Nobbs, their clergyman, would gladly welcome assistance, the Bishop brought Mrs. Selwyn on shore, and left her there to assist Mr. Nobbs in preparing the entire population to be confirmed on his return. But the Pitcairners have been amply written about, and as Coleridge Patteson's connection with them was only incidental, I shall not dwell on them or their history.
The 'Southern Cross' reached Anaiteum on the 14th of July. This island was occupied by Mr. Inglis and Mr. Greddie, of the Scottish Presbyterian Mission, who had done much towards improving the natives. Small canoes soon began to come off to the vessel, little craft consisting of no more than the trunk of a tree hollowed out, seldom more than a foot broad, and perhaps eighteen inches deep, all with outriggers--namely, a slight wooden frame or raft to balance them, and for the most part containing two men, or sometimes three or four. Before long, not less than fifteen or twenty had come on board, with woolly hair and mahogany skins, generally wearing a small strip of calico, but some without even this. They were small men, but lithe and supple, and walked about the deck quite at ease, chattering in a language no one understood except the words 'Missy Inglis,' as they pointed to a house. Presently another canoe arrived with a Samoan teacher with whom the Bishop could converse, and who said that Mr. Geddie was at Mare. They were soon followed by a whale boat with a Tahitian native teacher, a Futuma man, and a crew of Anaiteans.
'The Futuma man had expended his energies upon his hair, which was elaborately dressed after a fashion that precluded the possibility of any attention being bestowed upon the rest of his person, which was accordingly wholly unencumbered with any clothing. The perfection of this art apparently consisted in gathering up about a dozen hairs and binding them firmly with grass or fine twine of cocoa-nut fibre plastered with coral lime. As the hair grows, the binding is lengthened also, and only about four or five inches are suffered to escape from this confinement, and are then frizzed and curled, like a mop or a poodle's coat. Leonard Harper and I returned in this boat, Tahitian steering, Samoan, Futuman, and Anaiteans making one motley crew. The brisk trade soon carried us to the beach in front of Mr. Inglis's house, and arrived at the reef I rode out pick-a-back on the Samoan, Leonard following on a half-naked Anaitean. We soon found ourselves in the midst of a number of men, women and children, standing round Mr. Inglis at the entrance of his garden. I explained to him the reason of the Bishop's being unable to land, that he alone knew the harbour on the other side of island, and so could not leave the vessel.
'Then, having delivered the boxes and letters we had brought for him from Auckland, we went into his house, gazing with delight at cocoanut trees, bananas, breadfruit trees, citrons, lemons, taro, &c., with bright tropical colouring thrown over all, lighting up the broad leaves and thick foliage of the trees around us.
'The house itself is built, after the fashion of these islands, of wattle plastered with coral lime, the roof thatched with the leaves of the cocoa-nut and pandana; the fences of the garden were made of cane, prettily worked together in a cross pattern; the path neatly kept, and everything looking clean and tidy. We sat down in a small, well-furnished room, and looked out upon the garden, verandah, and groups of men and women standing outside. Presently Mrs. Inglis came into the room, and after some discussion I was persuaded to stay all night, since the schooner could not reach her anchorage before dark, and the next day the water-casks were to be filled.
'An excellent dinner was provided: roast fowl with taro, a nutritious root somewhat like potato, rice and jam, bananas and delicious fruit, bread and Scotch cheese, with glasses of cocoa-nut milk.
'Afterwards he showed us the arrangements for boarding young men and women--twelve of the former, and fourteen of the latter. Nothing could well exceed the cleanliness and order of their houses, sleeping rooms, and cooking rooms. The houses, wattled and plastered, had floors covered with native mats, beds laid upon a raised platform running round the inner room, mats and blankets for covering, and bamboo cane for a pillow. The boys were, some writing, some making twine, some summing, when we went in; the girls just putting on their bonnets, of their own manufacture, for school.
'They learn all household work--cooking, hemming, sewing, &c.; the boys tend the poultry, cows, cultivate taro, make arrowroot, &c. All of them could read fluently, and all looked happy, clean, and healthy. The girls wear their native petticoats of cocoa-nut leaves, with a calico body. Boys wear trousers, and some had shirts, some waistcoats, and a few jackets.
'We walked about a small wood adjoining the house, through which a small fresh-water stream runs. In the wood we saw specimens of the various trees and shrubs, and flowers of the island, including those already noticed in Mr. Inglis's garden, and the breadfruit tree and sugar-cane, and a beautiful bright flower of scarlet colour, a convolvulus, larger than any I had ever seen elsewhere; also a tree bearing a very beautiful yellow flower.
'We then returned to the house, and shortly afterwards went to the church, which is at present used also as the school-house, though the uprights of a larger school-house are already fixed in the ground.
'Men, women, and children to the number of ninety-four had assembled in a large oblong building, wattled and plastered, with open windows on all sides; mats arranged on the floor, and a raised platform or bench running round the building for persons who prefer to sit after the English, instead of the native fashion,
'All that were called upon to read did so fluently; the singing was harsh and nasal enough, but in very good time; their counting very good, and their writing on slates quite equal to the average performance, I am satisfied, of a good English parish school. They listened attentively when Mr. Inglis spoke to them, and when at his request I said a few words, which he translated. The most perfect order and quiet prevailed all the time we were in the school. At the end of the lessons they came forward, and each one shook hands with Leonard Harper and myself, smiling and laughing with their quick intelligent eyes, and apparently pleased to see strangers among them.
'By this time it was dusk, and we went back to the Mission House, and spent a pleasant evening, asking and answering questions about Anaiteum and the world beyond it, until 8 P.M., when the boarders came to prayers, with two or three persons who live about the place. They read the third chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel in turns, verse by verse, and then a prayer from Mr. Inglis followed. At 8.30 we had private family prayers, and at 9 went to bed.
'July 16.--We got up at four, and were soon ready for our walk to the south side of the Island; Mr. Inglis came with us, and ten or twelve natives. For the first half-mile we walked along the beach among cocoa-nut trees, bananas and sugar-canes, the sun, not yet above the horizon, tingeing the light clouds with faint pink and purple lines, the freshness of the early dawn, and the soft breeze playing about us, gladdening at once our eyes and our hearts. Soon we struck off to the south, and passing through taro plantations, began to ascend the slopes of the island. As we walked along we heard the sound of the logs beaten together, summoning the people to attend the various schools planted in every locality, under the management of native teachers, and we had a good opportunity of observing the careful system of irrigation adopted by the natives for the cultivation of the taro plant. Following the course of a small mountain stream, we observed the labour with which the water was brought down from it upon causeways of earth, carried in baskets from very considerable distances; occasionally the water-course is led round the head of various small ravines; at other times the trunk of a tree is hollowed out and converted into an aqueduct; but no pains have been wanting to make provision for the growth of the staple food of the island.'
From this scene of hope and encouragement the 'Southern Cross' sailed on the sixteenth, and passing Erromango, came in sight of Fate, also called Sandwich, a wooded island beautiful beyond description, but with a bad character for cannibalism, and where the Samoan teachers had been murdered. So the approach was cautious, and the vessel kept a mile from the shore, and was soon surrounded with canoes, one of them containing a native who had been instructed in Samoa, and was now acting as teacher.
'The first canoe that came had five men on board. Girdles of beautifully plaited cocoa-nut fibre round their waists were their only clothing, but some had wreaths of flowers and green leaves round their heads, and most of them wore mother-of-pearl shells, beads, &c., round their necks and in their ears. They do not tattoo, but brand their skins. All five came, and presently three more, and then another; but seeing a large double canoe with perhaps twenty men in her coming close, we stood away. Two of our visitors chose to stay, and we have them on board now: Alsoff, a man of perhaps forty-five, and Mospa, a very intelligent young man from whom I am picking up words as fast as I can. F. would have laughed to have seen me rigging them out in calico shirts, buttoning them up. Mospa gave me his wooden comb, which they push through their hair, as you ladies do coral or gold pins at parties. Another fellow whose head was elaborately frizzled and plastered with coral lime, departed with one of my common calico pocket-handkerchiefs with my name in Joan's marking. This is to adorn his head, and for aught I know, is the first, and certainly the best specimen of handwriting in the island. We hope to call at all these islands on our way back from the north, but at present we only dodge a few canoes, &c.
'July 20.--I suppose you like to know all little things, so I tell you that our Fate friends, being presented each with a blanket, just wound themselves up on the cabin floor, one close to Leonard and me, and slept away in style; that I soon taught them to eat with a knife and fork, and to-day have almost succeeded in making them believe that plum pudding (our Sunday dish) is a fine thing.
'July 21.--All day we have been very slowly drifting along the west side of Espiritu Santo. A grand mountainous chain runs along the whole island, the peaks we estimate at 4,000 feet high. This alone is a fine sight--luxuriant vegetation to nearly the top of the peaks, clouds resting upon the summit of the range, from the evaporation caused by the vast amount of vegetable matter.
'As we were lying to, about half-way along the coast, we espied a brig at anchor close on shore. Manned the boat and rowed about two miles to the brig, found it was under the command of a notorious man among the sandal-wood traders for many a dark deed of revenge and unscrupulous retaliation upon the natives. At Nengone he shot three in cold blood who swam off to his ship, because the people of the place were said to be about to attempt to take his vessel. At Mallicolo but lately I fear he killed not less than eight, though here there was some scuffling and provocation. For the Nengone affair he was tried for his life at Sydney, Captain Erskine and the Bishop having much to do with his prosecution. He is now dealing fairly (apparently) with these people, and is certainly on very friendly terms with them. The Bishop has known him many years, and baptized some years ago his only child, a son. We are glad to let these men see that we are about in these seas, watching what they do; and the Bishop said, "Mr. Patteson is come from England on purpose to look after these islands," as much as to say, Now there will be a regular visitation of them, and outrages committed on the natives will probably be discovered.
'Well, on we rowed, half a mile to shore--such a lovely scene. A bend in the coral reef made a beautiful boat harbour, and into it we rowed. Clear as crystal was the water, bright as tropical sun at 2.30 P.M. could make it was the foliage on the shore. Numbers of children and boys were playing in the water or running about on the rocks and sands, and there were several men about, all of course naked, and as they lead an amphibious life they find it very convenient. They work little; breadfruit trees, cocoa-nut trees, and bananas grow naturally, and the yam and taro cultivations are weeded and tended by the women. They have nothing to do but eat, drink, and sleep, and lie on the warm coral rock, and bathe in the surf.
'There was no shyness on the part of the children, dear little fellows from six to ten clustering round me, unable to understand my coat with pockets, and what my socks could be--I seemed to have two or three skins. The men came up and soon shook hands, but did not seem to know the custom. A Nengone man was ashore, and with him I could talk a little. Soon I was walking on shore arm-in-arm with him, stark naked, and he was asking me about Mrs. Nihill and her child. A little boy of the island held the other hand, and so, leaving the boat, we walked inland into the bush to see a native village. Ten minutes' walk brought us to it--cottages all of bamboos tied together with cocoa-nut fibre, thatched with leaves, a ridge- pole and sloping roof on either side reaching to the ground. No upright poles or side-walls; they were quite open at the two ends, perhaps 20, 30, or even 40 feet long; the general appearance clean and healthy. Their food was kept on raised stages as in New Zealand, and they had plenty of earthenware pots and basins, some of good shape, and all apparently strong and serviceable. Large wooden or earthenware platters are used for stirring up and pounding the yams with a heavy wooden pestle, and they have a peculiar way of scraping the yam, on a wooden board roughened like a grater, into a pulp, and then boiling it into a fine dough.
'They have plenty of pigs and dogs, which they eat, and some fowls. Spears I saw none, but bows and arrows. I took a bow out of a man's hand, and then an arrow, and fitted it to the string; he made signs that he shot birds with it. Clubs they have, but as far as I saw only used for killing pigs. There is a good deal of fighting on the island, however. Recollect with reference to all these places, that an island fifty or sixty miles long, one mass of forest with no path, is not like an English county. It may take months to get an accurate knowledge of one of them; we can only at present judge of the particular spots and bays we touch at. But there is every indication here of friendliness, of a gentle, soft disposition, and I hope we shall take away some of the boys when we return. I never saw children more thoroughly attractive in appearance and manner,--dear little fellows, I longed to bring off some of them. You would have liked to have seen them playing with me, laughing and jumping about. These people don't look half so well when they have any clothes on, they look shabby and gentish; but seeing them on shore, or just coming out of a canoe, all glistening with water, and looking so lithe and free, they look very pleasant to the eye. The colour supplies the place of clothing. The chief and most of the men were unfortunately absent at a great feast held a few miles off, but there were several women and many children.
'We went to their watering place, about a quarter or half a mile from the beach, a picturesque spot in a part of the wood to which the water from the hills is carried in canes of bamboo, supported on cross sticks. The water was very clear and sweet, and one of our little guides soon had a good shower-bath, standing under the shoot and then walking in the sun till in a few minutes his glistening skin was dry again. Coming back we met a man carrying water in cocoa-nut shells, six or eight hanging by strings two feet long at each end of a bamboo cane slung across over his shoulder, nicely balanced and very pretty. One of our party carried perhaps two and a half gallons of water in a bamboo stuffed at the end with grass. About five P.M. we went back to the schooner and made sail for Bauro (San Cristoval).'
At this place there was a great disappointment at first in the non- appearance of William Diddimang, an old baptized scholar at St. John's; and though he came at last, and dined on board, he had evidently so far fallen away as to be unwilling to meet the Bishop. The canoes here were remarkably beautiful, built of several pieces, fastened with a kind of gum. The shape was light and elegant, the thwarts elaborately carved with figures of birds or fish, and the high prow inlaid with mother-of-pearl let into black wood.
As a Sunday at sea was preferable to one among curious visitors who must be entertained, the schooner put out to sea to visit one to two other neighbouring islets, and then to return again to Bauro.
Kennell Island, where she touched on the 27th, proved to be inhabited by Maoris. One man, who swam alone to the vessel, offered the salutation of rubbing noses, New Zealand fashion, and converse could be held in that language. Two more joined him, and spent the night on board in singing a kaka or song of love for their visitors. Next day the island was visited. 'Oh the beauty of the deep clefts in the coral reef, lined with coral, purple, blue, scarlet, green, and white! the little blue fishes, the bright blue starfish, the little land-crabs walking away with other people's shells. But nothing of this can be seen by you; the coral loses its colour, and who can show you the bright line of surf breaking the clear blue of this truly Pacific Ocean, and the tropical sun piercing through masses of foliage which nothing less dazzling could penetrate. Our three friends, with two more men, their wives and children, form the whole population of the south end of the island at all events, perhaps twenty in all. I trod upon and broke flowering-branches of coral that you would have wondered at.'
Bellona likewise had a Maori-speaking population. There was no passage through the reef, so the Bishop and Patteson took off their coats, one took two hatchets and the other two adzes, and with a good header, swam ashore. Walking up the beach, they found a place in the bush with nine beautiful canoes, with nets, and large wooden hooks in them, but at first no people; and they were leaving their presents in the canoes when Patteson spied two men, and advanced to them while the Bishop went back to fetch the goods. After a rubbing of noses and a Maori greeting, the men were reassured, and eleven more came up, one a chief with a spear in his hand. 'I had my straw hat fastened by a ribbon, which my friend coveted, so I let him take it, which he did by putting his adze (my gift) against it, close to my ear, and cutting it, off--not the least occasion to be afraid of them.' A characteristic comment, certainly! But there was no foolhardiness. The Bishop was on the alert, and when presently he saw his companion linger for a moment, a quick 'Come along,' was a reminder that 'this was not the beach at Sidmouth.' The peculiar quickness of eye--verily circumspect, though without the least betrayal of alarm or want of confidence, which was learnt from the need of being always as it were on guard, was soon learnt likewise by Patteson, while the air of suspicion or fear was most carefully avoided. The swim back to the boat was in water 'too warm, but refreshing,' and ended with a dive under the boat for the pure pleasure of the thing.
Then, as before arranged, Bauro was revisited on another part of the coast, where Iri was ready with a welcome, but Diddimang appeared no more. He had returned to native habits, and had made no attempt at teaching, but the visits he had made to New Zealand were not lost, for the Bishop had acquired a knowledge of the language, and it was moreover established in the Bauro mind that a voyage in his ship was safe and desirable. 'This part of Bauro was exceedingly beautiful:--
'Here were coral crags, the masses of forest trees, the creepers literally hundreds of feet long, crawling along and hanging from the cliffs, the cocoa-nut trees and bananas, palms, &c., the dark figures on the edge of the rocks looking down upon us from among the trees, the people assembling on the bright beach--coral dust as it may be called, for it was worn as fine as white sand--cottages among the trees, and a pond of fresh water close by, winding away among the cliffs.'
Here a visit was paid to Iri's boathouse, which contained three exquisite canoes, beautifully inlaid; then to his house, long, low, and open at the ends, like those formerly described, but with low wattled side walls. Along the ridge-pole were ranged twenty-seven skulls, not yet blackened with smoke, and bones were scattered outside, for a fight had recently taken place near at hand. 'In this Golgotha,' the Bishop, using his little book of Bauro words, talked to the people, and plainly told them that the Great God hated wars and cruelty, and such ornaments were horrible in his sight. Iri took it all in good part, and five boys willingly accepted the invitation to New Zealand. One little fellow about eight years old had attached himself to Coley, clinging about his waist with his arms, but he was too young to be taken away. Iri came down to the beach, and waded up to his waist in the water as the boat put off.
In the night Gera, or Guadalcanar, was reached, a fine mountainous island, with a detached reef. Numerous canoes surrounded the vessel, bringing yarns for barter. Fish-hooks were of no account; it was small hatchets that were in request, and the Bauro boys could hold some sort of converse with the people, though theirs was quite another dialect. They were gaily decked out with armlets, frontlets, bracelets, and girdles of shell, and almost all of them wore, not only nose-rings, but plugs of wood or mother-of-pearl in the tip of the nose. One man in particular had a shell eyelet-hole let into his nose, into which he inserted his unicorn decoration. The Bishop amused himself and Coley by saying, as he hung a fishhook on this man's nose-hook, 'Naso suspendis adunco.' Others had six or eight pieces of wood sticking out from either side of the nose, like a cat's whiskers. Two young men were taken from hence, and more would have gone, but it was not thought well to take married men.
The isle of Mara or Malanta had a very shy population, who seemed to live inland, having probably been molested by the warlike Gera men. It had been supposed that there was a second islet here, but the 'Southern Cross' boat's crew found that what had been taken for a strait was only the mouth of a large river, where the casks were filled.
The wondrous beauty of the scene, sea and river alike fringed with the richest foliage, birds flying about (I saw a large blue bird, a parrot, I suppose), fish jumping, the perfectly still water, the mysterious smoke of a fire or two, the call of a man heard in the bush, just enough of novelty to quicken me to the full enjoyment of such a lovely bay as no English eyes save ours have ever seen.'
No communication with the native inhabitants was here accomplished, but at four little flat, cocoanut-covered islets, named after Torres, were the head-quarters of an English dealer in cocoa-nut oil. The native race were Maori-speaking, but their intercourse with sailors had given them a knowledge of the worst part of the English language, and as usual it was mournfully plain how much harm our countrymen instil.
The next group, sighted on the 17th of August, had already a remarkable history, to which Patteson refers in his journal, with no foreboding of the association those reefs and bays were to acquire for him, and far more through him.
Alvaro de Mendana had, in 1567, gone forth from Peru on a voyage of discovery in the Pacific, and had then found, and named, most of the Solomon Isles. Grera and Bauro owed their names of Guadalcanar and San Cristoval to him. In 1594, he obtained permission to found a colony on San Cristoval, and set forth with his wife and four ships. But the Bauro people were spared that grievous misfortune of a Spanish settlement; Mendana missed his way, blundered into the Marquesas first, and then came upon a cluster of islands, one large and beautiful, two small, and one a volcano in full action.
He called the large island Santa Cruz, and fancied the natives of the same race he had seen in Bauro, but they knew nothing of the language he had learnt there, and though courteous at first, presently discharged their arrows. However, he found a beautiful harbour on the other side of the island, and a friendly and dignified old chief called Malope, who in South Sea fashion exchanged names and presents with him. Mendana and his wife Dona Ysabel seem to have wished to be on good terms with the natives, and taught them to sign the cross, and say amigos, and they proceeded to found their intended city, but neither Mendana nor Malope could restrain their followers; there were musket-shots on one side and arrow-shots on the other, and at last, the chief Malope himself fell into the hands of some Spanish soldiers, who murdered him. Mendana punished them with death; but his own health was fast failing, he died in a few weeks, and his widow deserted the intended city, and returned home with the colonists, having probably bequeathed to the island a distrust of white men.
All this was in Patteson's mind, as he shows by his journal, as the lovely scenery of Santa Cruz rose on him. The people came out in canoes with quantities of yams and taro, of which they knew the full value; but the numbers were so large that no 'quiet work' could be done, and there was little to be done but to admire their costume, armlets, necklaces, plates of mother-of-pearl, but no nose ornaments. They had strips of a kind of cloth, woven of reed, and elaborate varieties of head-gear, some plastering their hair white with coral lime, others yellow, others red; others had shaved half the head with no better implement than a sharp shell, and others had produced two lines of bristles, like hogs' manes, on a shaven crown. Their decorations made a great sensation among the Solomon Islanders, who made offers of exchange of necklaces, &c.
In the evening the schooner made for the volcano, about three miles off. It was a magnificent sight--a perfect cone, the base of the mountain and all except the actual cone being under water. The cone was apparently about 2,000 feet high, clouds hanging about it near the top, lurid and fiery, increasing the grandeur of the glow at the summit. Every minute streams of fire, falling from the top or sides, rushed down the mount, so that for a space of perhaps half a mile in breadth the whole cone was always streaked, and sometimes covered with burning-masses of stones, cinders, &c. Bumbling noises were heard only a few times.
'About 7 to 9 A.M. we sailed quite round the island, and saw there that the fiery appearance at night is not actually fire or flame, but caused by hot burning stones and masses of scoria, &c., constantly falling down the sides of the cone, which on the lee side are almost perpendicular. On the weather side are cocoa-nut trees, and one small house, but we could see no people. It was grand to see the great stones leaping and bounding down the sides of the cone, clearing 300 or 400 feet at a jump, and springing up many yards into the air, finally plunging into the sea with a roar, and the splash of the foam and steam combined.
This was on the 12th of August, and here is the ensuing note, how full now of significance, which it would be faithless to term melancholy:--'We then went on to Nukapu, an island completely encircled by a coral reef. The natives soon came off in canoes, and brought breadfruit and cocoa-nuts. They spoke a few words of Maori, but wore their hair like the people of Santa Cruz, and resembled them in the character of their ornaments and in their general appearance. They had bows and clubs of the same kind, tapa stained with turmeric, armlets, ear-rings and nose-rings of bone and tortoiseshell.'
Returning to Santa Cruz, a large supply of the produce was obtained by barter, but the people were still in such noisy crowds that nothing could be effected beyond these commercial transactions.
Tubua was the next ensuing island, a lovely spot within its encircling ring, over which the Bishop and Patteson waded, and found thirteen men on the beach. Patteson went up to the first, tied a bit of red tape round his head, and made signs that he wanted a cocoa-nut in exchange for a fish-hook. Plenty were forthcoming; but the Bishop, to his companion's surprise, made a sudden sign to come away, and when the boat was regained he said: 'I saw some young men running through the bush with bows and arrows, and these young gentry have not the sense to behave well like their parents.'
Vanikoro was the next stage. This too had its history, encircled as it is with a complete reef of coral, in some parts double. In the year 1785, two French vessels, which were commanded by Count La Perouse, and named 'La Boussole' and 'L'Astrolabe,' had set forth from Brest on a voyage of discovery in the Pacific. They made a most discursive survey of that ocean, from Kamtschatka southwards, and at the end of 1787 were at the Samoan Isles, then unconverted, and where their two boats' crews were massacred, and the boats lost. The ships came to Port Jackson, in Australia, to build fresh boats, left it in February 1788, and were never heard of more. One or two attempts were made to ascertain their fate, but none succeeded till, in 1826, a sandal-wood trader named Dillon found in the possession of a European, who had lived since 1813 in Ticopia, the silver guard of a sword, and ascertained from him that the natives had several articles, such as china, glass, and the handle of a silver fork, which evidently came from a ship. He had been told that these articles had been procured from another isle called Vanikoro, where two large ships had been wrecked.
His intelligence led to the fitting out of a vessel, in which he was sent to ascertain the fate of the Frenchmen, and by the help of the man who had been so long in Ticopia, he was able to examine a Vanikoran chief. It appeared that the two ships had run aground on the parallel reefs. One had sunk at once, and the crew while swimming out had been some of them eaten by the sharks, and others killed by the natives; indeed, there were sixty European skulls in a temple. The other vessel had drifted over the reef, and the crew entrenched themselves on shore, while building another vessel. They went out and foraged for themselves in the taro fields, but they made no friends; they were ship-spirits, with noses two hands long before their faces (their cocked hats). Articles were recovered that placed the fact beyond a doubt, and which were recognised by one of the expedition who had left it in Kamtschatka, the sole survivor. Of the fate of the two-masted vessel built by the shipwrecked crew, nothing was ever discovered.
The Mission party landed here, but saw nobody. They sent a black boy up a tree for cocoa-nuts, and left a tomahawk beneath it as payment. That there were inhabitants somewhere there was horrible proof, for a frightful odour led to search being made, and the New Zealander Hoari turning up the ground, found human bones with flesh hanging to them. A little farther off was a native oven, namely, a pit lined with stones.
This was Patteson's nearest contact with cannibalism, and it left a deep impression of horror.
The Banks group of islands came next--Great Banks Isle, or in the native language Vanua Lava, Valua or Saddle Isle, a long narrow ridge of hills, Mota or Sugarloaf Island, an equally descriptive name; Star Island, and Santa Maria. These places were to become of great importance to the Mission, but little was seen of them at this time-- the walls of coral round them were remarkably steep and difficult of access.
Valua had no beach and no canoes, and such swarms of natives clustering upon the cliffs that the Bishop did not think it prudent to land. In Mota, though the coast for the most part rises up in sheer crags, forty or fifty feet above the sea, with a great volcanic cone in the centre, a little cove was found with a good beach, where a number of inhabitants had assembled. They were entirely without clothing or ornament, neither tattooed nor disfigured by betel-nut, and their bright honest faces greatly attracted Patteson, though not a word of their language could be then understood. He wanted to swim ashore among them, but the Bishop would not allow it, lest it should be difficult to escape from the embraces of so many without giving offence. Great numbers swam out to the boat, and canoes brought fruits of all kinds, and bamboos decked with leaves and flowers. 'I crammed native combs in my hair,' says Patteson, 'picked up what words I could, and made up the rest by a grand display of gesticulation.'
At Santa Maria, the next day, there was the like scene around the boat, only the sight of a bit of striped calico caused immense excitement. At other islands it had been unheeded, but here the people were mad to get it, and offered their largest yams for strips of it, and a pair of scarlet braces were purchased for two beautiful bows.
At Vanua Lava, or Great Banks Island, on the 20th, a large canoe with seven men came alongside, three-quarters of a mile from shore. They would not, however, venture on board till Patteson had gone into the water, and placed himself in their canoe, after which they were induced to come on deck, were 'decorated with the order of the tape,' and received axes. No weapon was seen among them, and there was reason to think them the tractable and hopeful race they have since proved.
Bligh Island, the next visited, plainly revealed itself as the cone of an enormous submerged volcano, the water forming a beautiful and extensive bay where numbers of people could be seen. There was a landing and a little trading for yams, and then, after the like intercourse with some of the inhabitants of the cluster of small islets named after Torres, the vessel steered for Espiritu Santo, but wind and time forbade a return to the part previously visited, nor was there time to do more than touch at Aurora, and exchange some fish-hooks for some bows.
At Malicolo, in 1851, the Bishop and his party, while fetching water, had been assailed with stones and arrows, and had only escaped by showing the utmost coolness. There was, therefore, much caution shown in approaching this bay, called Port Sandwich, and the boat stopped outside its breakwater coral reef, where numerous canoes flocked round, the people with their bows and arrows, not attempting to barter. Their faces were painted some red, some black, or yellow. An old chief named Melanbico was recognised by the Bishop, and called by name into the boat. Another old acquaintance named Nipati joined him, and it was considered safe to row into the harbour. The Bishop had learnt a little of the language, and talked to these two, while Patteson examined Nipati's accoutrements--a club, a bow, arrows neatly made, handsomely feathered, and tipped with a deadly poison, tortoiseshell ear-rings, and a very handsome shell armlet covering the arm from the elbow eight or nine inches upward, his face painted red and black. The Bishop read out the list of names he had made on the former visit, and to several the answer was 'dead, or 'shot,' and it appeared that a great mortality had taken place. Large numbers, however, were on the beach, and the Bishop and Patteson landed among them, and conversed with them; but they showed no disposition to trade, and though some of the lads seemed half-disposed to come away with the party, they all changed their minds, and went back again. However, all had behaved well, and one little boy, when offered a fish-hook, at once showed that he had received one already. It was plain that a beginning had been made, which might lead to further results.
Two whales were seen while rowing back to the ship. One--about a third of a mile off--leapt several times fairly out of the water, and fell back on the sea 'with a regular crack,' dashing up the spray in clouds. There was now very little time to spare, as the time of an ordination at Auckland was fixed, and two important visits had yet to be paid, so the two Fate guests were sent ashore in the canoes of some of their friends, and the 'Southern Cross' reached Nengone on the 1st of September. The Bishop had left a boat there some years before, and the Samoan teacher, Mark, who had been Mrs. Nihill's best friend and comforter, came out in it with a joyful party full of welcome. The Bishop and Patteson went ashore, taking with them their two Bauro scholars, to whom the most wonderful sight was a cow, they never having seen any quadruped bigger than a pig. All the native teachers and their wives were assembled, and many of the people, in front of the house where Mr. Nihill had died. They talked of him with touching affection, as they told how diligently he had striven to bring young and old to a knowledge of his God; and they eagerly assisted in planting at his grave a cross, which the Bishop had brought from Auckland for the purpose, and which bore the words: 'I am the Resurrection and the Life.'
The coral lime church and the houses of the teachers among the cocoa- nut trees gave the place a civilised look, and most of the people had some attempt at clothing. Here several passengers were taken in. The two girls, Caroline Wabisane and Sarah Wasitutru, were both married--Caroline to a Maori named Simeona, and Sarah to a man from her own isle called Nawiki. All these and two more men wished to go to St. John's for further instruction, and were taken on board, making up a party of fourteen Melanesians, besides Sarah's baby. 'Mrs. Nihill will be glad to have the women,' writes Coley, 'and I am glad to have the others--not the baby, of course.'
Close quarters indeed, but not for very long, for on the 3rd of September the schooner again put into Norfolk Island, and on the next Sunday Coley was present at the confirmation of the whole population, excepting the younger children, and at the subsequent Communion. Strong hopes were then entertained that the Pitcairners, standing as it were between the English and the islanders, would greatly assist in the work of the Gospel, but this plan was found only capable of being very partially carried out.
Off Norfolk Island, he wrote to his brother an account of the way of life on the voyage, and of the people:--
'They are generally gentle, and seem to cling to one, not with the very independent goodwill of New Zealanders, but with the soft yielding character of the child of the tropics. They are fond, that is the word for them. I have had boys and men in a few minutes after landing, follow me like a dog, holding their hands in mine as a little child does with its nurse.
'My manner of life on board is as I described it before. I eschewed shoes and socks, rather liking to be paddling about all day, when not going on shore, or otherwise employed, which of course made up eight or ten out of the thirteen hours of daylight. When I went ashore (which I did whenever the boat went), then I put on my shoes, and always swam in them, for the coral would cut my feet to pieces. Usual swimming and wading attire--flannel shirt, dark grey trousers, cap or straw hat, shoes, basket round my neck with fish-hooks, or perhaps an adze or two in my hand. I enjoyed the tropical climate very much--really warm always in the water or out of it. On the reefs, when I waded in shallow water, the heat of it was literally unpleasant, more than a tepid bath.'
On the 13th of September, the little missionary vessel came safe into harbour at Auckland, and Coley and his boys--they were considered especially as his--took up their quarters at St. John's College. All through the voyage he had written the journals here followed for the general benefit of his kindred, and at other leisure moments he had written more personal letters. On his sister Fanny's birthday, when the visit to Malicolo was just over, after his birthday wishes, he goes on:--
'And now, how will you be when this reaches Feniton? I think of all your daily occupations,--school, garden, driving, &c.--your Sunday reading, visiting the cottages, &c., and the very thought of it makes me feel like old times. When occasionally I dream, or fall into a kind of trance when awake, and fancy myself walking up from the lodge to the house, and old forms and faces rise up before me, I can scarcely contain the burst of joy and happiness, and then I give a shake and say, "Well, it would be very nice, but look about the horizon, and see how many islands you can count!" and then, instead of thoughts of home for myself, I am tempted to induce others to leave their homes, though I don't really think many men have such a home to leave, or remain so long as I did, one of the home fire-side.
'I have been reading one or two of the German books you sent out. "Friedrich der Grosse" is interesting, but henceforth I don't think I shall have time for aught but a good German novel or two for wet days and jumping seas; or such a theological book as I may send for.'
The effect of the voyage seems to have shown itself in an inflamed leg, which was painful, but not disabled for some time. There was a welcome budget of letters awaiting him,--one from his uncle Dr. Coleridge, to which this is the reply:--
'September 15, 1856: St. John's College.
'Your letter of March 26 was awaiting my arrival here. How thankful I am that (as Fan says) in little as in great things God is so good to us. Letters from me arriving on the anniversary of my departure! and all at Thorverton!
'You are clearly right in what you say about my post in the S. X. I did not like it at first, just as a schoolboy does not like going back to school; but that it was good for me I have no doubt; and now see! here I am on shore for seven or eight months, if I live so long- -my occupations most interesting, working away with twelve Melanesians at languages, etc., with the highest of all incentives to perseverance, trying to form in them habits of cleanliness, order, decency, etc.
'Last night (Sunday--their first Sunday in New Zealand), after explaining to the Solomon Islands boys, seven in number, the nature of the Lord's Prayer as far as my knowledge of their language would carry me, I thought myself justified in making them kneel down round me, and they uttered with their lips after me (i.e. the five most intelligent) the first words of prayer to their Father in Heaven. I don't venture to say that they understood much--neither does the young child taught at his or her mother's knees--neither do many grown persons perhaps know much about the fulness of the Prayer of Prayers--(these scenes teach me my ignorance, which is one great gain)--yet they knew, I think, that they were praying to some great and mighty one--not an abstraction--a conscious loving Being, a Father, and they know at least the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.
'Their first formula was: "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, only One God." I can't yet explain that our Blessed Lord came from heaven and died for our sins; neither (as far as human thought may reach) does the power of God's Spirit as yet work in their hearts consciousness of sin, and with that the sense of the need of a Redeemer and Saviour. I asked in my sermon yesterday the prayers of the people for the grace of God's Holy Spirit to touch the hearts and enlighten the understandings of these heathen children of a common Father, and I added that greatly did their teachers need their prayers that God would make them apt to teach, and wise and simple in endeavouring to bring before their minds the things that belong unto their peace. You too, dear Uncle, will think I know of these things, for my trust is great. In this cold climate, 26° or 27° of latitude south of their own island, I have much anxiety about their bodily health, and more about their souls.
'The four youngest, sixteen to eighteen, sleep in my room. One is now on my bed, wrapped up in a great opossum rug, with cold and slight fever; last night his pulse was high, to-day he is better. I have to watch over them like a cat. Think of living till now in a constant temperature of 84°, and being suddenly brought to 56°. New Zealand is too cold for them, and the College is a cold place, wind howling round it now.
'Norfolk Island is the place, and the Pitcairners themselves are most co-operative and hearty; I trust that in another year I may be there.
'Thank you for all your kind wishes on my birthday. I ought to wish to live many years, perhaps, to try and be of use; especially as I am so unfit to go now, or rather I ought not to wish at all. Sometimes I feel almost fainthearted, which is cowardly and forgetful of our calling "to fight manfully under Christ's banner." Ah! my Bishop is indeed a warrior of the Cross. I can't bear the things Sophy said in one of her letters about my having given up.
It seems mock humility to write it; but, dear Uncle, if I am conscious of a life so utterly unlike what all you dear ones fancy it to be, what must it be in the sight of God and His holy angels? What advantages I have always had, and have now! and not a day goes by and I can say I have done my duty. Good-bye, dear dear Uncle.
'Always your affectionate and grateful nephew,
'J. C. PATTESON.
'Love to dear Aunt.'
Almost the first experience after settling in at St. John's College was a sharp attack of fever that fell on Kerearua, one of the Bauro lads. Such illnesses, it seemed, were frequent at home and generally fatal. His companion Hirika remarked, 'Kerearua like this in Bauro ah! in a few days he would die; by-and-by we go back to Bauro.' The sick boys were always lodged in Coley's own room to be more quiet and thoroughly nursed. Fastidiousness had been so entirely crushed that he really seemed to take pleasure in the arrangement, speaking with enthusiasm of the patient's obedience and gratitude, and adding, 'He looks quite nice in one of my night-shirts with my plaid counterpane, and the plaid Joan gave me over it, a blanket next to him.'
The Melanesians readily fell into the regular habits of short school, work out of doors, meals in hall and bed-time, and they were allowed a good deal of the free use of their limbs, needful to keep them happy and healthy. Now and then they would be taken into Auckland, as a great treat, to see the soldiers on parade, and of course the mere living with civilization was an immense education to them, besides the direct instruction they received.
The languages of Nengone and Bauro were becoming sufficiently familiar to Mr. Patteson to enable him to understand much of what they said to him. He writes to Miss Neill (October 17):--
'I talk with them about common things, and learn a great deal of their wild savage customs and habits, but I can do but little as yet in the way of real instruction. Some ideas, I trust, they are beginning to acquire concerning our Blessed Lord. Is it not a significant fact that the god worshiped in Gfera, and in one village of Bauro, is the Serpent, the very type of evil? I need not say that these dear boys have won their way to my heart, they are most docile and affectionate. I think some will really, if they live, leave their own island and live with me at Norfolk Island, or here, or wherever my dwelling may be whenever I am not in the "Southern Cross."
'But of course I must not dwell on such notions. If it come to pass that for some years I can retain a hold upon them, they may be instructed sufficiently to make them teachers in their turn to their own people. But all this is in the hands of God. My home journal will tell you particulars of our voyage. Don't believe in the ferocity, &c., of the islanders. When their passions are excited, they do commit fearful deeds, and they are almost universally cannibals, i.e. after a battle there will be always a cannibal feast, not otherwise. But treat them well and prudently, and I apprehend that there is little danger in visiting them, meaning by visiting merely landing on the beach the first time, going perhaps to a native village the next time, sleeping on shore the third, spending ten days the fourth, &c., &c. The language once learnt from the pupils we bring away, all is clear. And now good-bye, my dear Miss Neill. That I think of you and pray for you, you know, and I need not add that I value most highly your prayers for me. When I think of my happiness and good spirits, I must attribute much, very much, to God's goodness in accepting the prayers of my friends.'
After the old custom of telling the home party all his doings, the journal-letter of the 27th of November goes through the teaching to the Bauro boys:--
'I really think they comprehend thus much, that God, who made all things, made man, Adam and Eve, very good and holy; that Adam and Eve sinned, that they did not listen to the word of God, but to the Bad Spirit; that God found them out, though they were afraid and tried to hide (for He sees and knows all things); that He drove them out of the beautiful garden, and said that they must die; that they had two sons, Cain and Abel; that Cain killed his brother, and that all fighting and killing people, and all other sins (I mention all for which I have names) came into the world because of sin; that God and man were far apart, not living near, no peace between them because men were so evil. That God was so good that He loved men all the time, and that He promised to save all men who would believe in His Son Jesus Christ, who was to die for them (for I can't yet express, "was to die that men might not go down to the fire, but live for ever with God "); that by and by He sent a flood and drowned all men except Noah and seven other people, because men would not be good; that afterwards there was a very good man, named Abraham, who believed all about Jesus Christ, and God chose him, and his son Isaac, and his son Jacob, and his twelve sons, to be the fathers of a people called Jews; that those people alone knew about God, and had teachers and praying men: and that they killed lambs and offered them (gave them to God as a sign of Jesus Christ being one day slain and offered to God on a cross) but these very men became wicked too, and at last, when no man knew how to be happy and good, Jesus Christ came down from heaven. His mother was Mary, but He had no father on earth, only God the Father in heaven was His Father: the Holy Ghost made Mary to be mother of Jesus Christ.
'Then I take two books, or anything else, and say, This one is God, and this is man. They are far apart, because man is so bad and God is so good. But Jesus Christ came in the middle between them, and joins them together. He is God and He is Man too; so in(side) Him, God and Man meet, like the meeting of two men in one path; and He says Himself He is the true Way, the only true Path to God and heaven. God was angry with us because we sinned; but Jesus Christ died on the cross, and then God the Father forgave us because Jesus Christ gave His life that we might always live, and not die. By and by He will come to judge us; and He knows what we do, whether we steal and lie, or whether we pray and teach what is good. Men of Bauro and Gera and Santa Cruz don't know that yet, but you do, and you must remember, if you go on doing as they do after you know God's will, you will be sent down to the fire, and not see Jesus Christ, who died that you might live.
'I think that they know all this, and much in the exactly equivalent words. Of course I find difficulty in rendering religious ideas in a language which contains scarcely any words adequate to express them, but I am hopeful enough to believe that they do know so much at all events. How far their hearts are affected, One alone knows. It is indeed but little after they have been with us four months; but till I had them on shore, I could get very little work done. The constant boat work took me away, and anywhere in sight of islands, of course they were on deck in eagerness to see the strange country. Then I could not work with energy while my leg would not let me take exercise. But it is now beginning to be a real pleasure as well as duty to teach both Nengone and Bauro people. Enough of the language to avoid most of the drudgery has been got over, I hope, though not near enough for purposes of 'exact and accurate translation.'
I have given at length this account of Patteson's fundamental teaching, though to some it may seem to savour of the infant school, because in spite of being hampered by imperfect knowledge of the language, he has thrown into it the great principle both of his action and teaching; namely, the restoration of the union of mankind with God through Christ. It never embraced that view of the heathen world which regards it as necessarily under God's displeasure, apart from actual evil, committed in wilful knowledge that it is evil. He held fast to the fact of man having been created in the image of God, and held that whatever good impulses and higher qualities still remained in the heathen, were the remnants of that Image, and to be hailed accordingly. Above all, he realised in his whole life the words to St. Peter: 'What God hath cleansed that call not thou common,' and not undervaluing for a moment Sacramental Grace, viewed human nature, while yet without the offer thereof, as still the object of fatherly and redeeming love, and full of fitful tokens of good coming from the only Giver of life and holiness, and needing to be brought nearer and strengthened by full union and light, instead of being left to be quenched in the surrounding flood of evil. 'And were by nature the children of wrath,' he did not hold to mean that men were objects of God's anger, lying under His deadly displeasure; but rather, children of wild impulse, creatures of passion, swayed resistlessly by their own desires, until made 'children of grace,' and thus obtaining the spiritual power needful to enable them to withstand these passions. An extract from the sermon he had preached at Sydney may perhaps best serve to illustrate his principle:--
'And this love once generated in the heart of man, must needs pass on to his brethren; that principle of life must needs grow and expand with its own inherent energy; the seed must be developed into the tree, and strike its roots deep and wide, and stretch out its branches unto the sea and its boughs unto the rivers. No artificial nor accidental circumstances can confine it, it recognises no human ideas of nationality, or place, or time, but embraces like the dome of heaven all the works of God. And love is the animating principle of all. In every star of the sky, in the sparkling, glittering waves of the sea, in every flower of the field, in every creature of God, most of all in every living soul of man, it adores and blesses the beauty and the love of the great Creator and Preserver of all.
'Viewed indeed from that position which was occupied by ancient philosophers, the existing contrarieties between nations might well appear inexplicable, and intellectual powers might seem to be the exclusive heritage of particular nations. But Christianity leads us to distinguish between the nature of man as he came fresh from the hands of his Creator, and that natural propensity to sin which he has inherited in consequence of his fall from original innocence. It teaches that as God has "made of one blood all nations to dwell together on the face of the whole earth," and has given in virtue of this common origin one common nature destined to be pure and holy and divine, so, by virtue of Redemption and Regeneration, the image of God may be restored in all, and whatever is the result of his depravity therefore may be overcome. And this seems to be the answer to all statements relating to the want of capacity in certain nations of the earth for the reception of Divine Truth, that every man, because he is a man, because he is a partaker of that very nature which has been taken into the Person of the Son of God, may by the grace of God be awakened to the sense of his true life, of his real dignity as a redeemed brother of Christ.
'The spark of heavenly fire may indeed have been all but quenched by the unbridled indulgence of his passions; the natural wickedness of the heart of man may have exhibited itself with greater fearfulness where no laws and customs have introduced restraints against at least the outward expression of vice; but the capacity for the Christian life is there; though overlaid, it may be, with monstrous forms of superstition or cruelty or ignorance, the conscience can still respond to the voice of the Gospel of Truth.'
And one who so entirely believed and acted upon these words found them true. The man who verily treated the lads he had gathered round him with a perfectly genuine sympathy, a love and a self-denial--nay more, an identification of self with them--awoke all that was best in their characters, and met with full response. Enthusiastic partiality of course there was in his estimate of them; but is it not one of the absolute requisites of a good educator to feel that enthusiasm, like the parent for the child? And is it always the blind admiration at which outsiders smile; is it not rather indifference which is blind, and love which sees the truth?
'I would not exchange my position with these lads and young men for anything (he wrote, on December 8, to his uncle, the Eton master). I wish you could see them and know them; I don't think you ever had pupils that could win their way into your heart more effectually than these fellows have attached themselves to me. It is no effort to love them heartily. Gariri, a dear boy from San Cristoval, is standing by me now, at my desk, in amazement at the pace that my pen is going, not knowing that I could write to you, my dear old tutor, for hours together if I had nothing else to do. He is, I suppose, about sixteen, a most loveable boy, gentle, affectionate, with all the tropical softness and kindliness.
'We have seven Solomon Islanders--five from Mata, a village at the north-west of San Cristoval, and two from the south-east point of Guadalcanar, or Gera, a magnificent island about twenty-five or twenty miles to the north-west of San Cristoval. From frequent intercourse they are almost bilingual, a great "lounge" for me, as one language does for both; the structure of the two island tongues is the same, but scarcely any words much alike. However, that is not much odds.
'Then from Nengone, where you remember Mr. Nihill died after eighteen months' residence on the island, we have four men and two women, both married. Of these, two men and both the women have been baptized, some time ago, by the Bishop, in 1852, and one by the London Mission, who now occupy the island. These four I have, with full trust, admitted to the Holy Communion. Mr. Nihill had taught them well, and I am sure they could pass an examination in Scriptural history, simple doctrinal statements, &c., as well as most young English people of the middle class of life. The other two are well taught, and one of them knows a great deal, but, poor fellow, he misconducted himself at Nengone, and hence I cannot recommend him to the Bishop for baptism without much talk about him.
'But I think my love is more poured out upon my Bauro and Gera lads. They are such dear fellows, and I trust that already they begin to know something about religion. Certain it is that they answer readily questions and say with their mouths what amounts almost to a statement of the most important Christian truths. Of course I cannot tell what effect this may have on their hearts. They join in prayer morning and evening, they behave admirably, and really there is nothing in their conduct to find fault with. If it please God that any of them were at some future time to stay again with us, I have great hopes that they may learn enough to become teachers in their own country.
'The Nengone lads are quite in a different position. Their language has been reduced to writing, the Gospel of St. Mark translated, and they can all read a little English, so that at evening prayers we read a verse all round, and then I catechise and expound to them in Nengone.
'I really trust that by God's blessing some real opening into the great Solomon group has been effected. There is every hope that many boys will join us this next voyage. No one can say what may be the result. As yet it is possible to get on without more help, but I do not for a moment doubt that should God really grant not only a wide field of labour, but some such hope of cultivating it, He will send forth plenty of men to share in this work. Men who have some means of their own--£100 a year is enough, or even less--or some aptitude for languages, surely will feel drawn in this direction. It is the happiest life a man can lead, full of enjoyment, physical and mental, exquisite scenery, famous warm climate, lots of bathing, yams and taro and cocoa-nut enough to make an alderman's mouth water, and such loving, gentle people. But of course something depends on the way in which a man looks at these things, and a fine gentleman who can't get on without his servant, and can't put his luggage for four months into a compass of six feet by one-and-a-half, won't like it....
'You know the kind of incidents that occur, so I need not repeat them to you. I have quite learnt to believe that there are no "savages" anywhere, at least among black or coloured people. I'd like to see anyone call my Bauro boys savages! Why, the fellows on the reef that have never seen a white man will wade back to the boat and catch one's arms to prevent one falling into pits among the coral, just like an old nurse looking after her child. This they did at Santa Maria, where we two swam ashore to a party of forty or fifty men, and where our visit was evidently a very agreeable one on both sides, though we did not know one syllable of the language, and then.... But I almost tremble to think of the immense amount of work opening upon one. Whither will it lead? But I seldom find any time for speculations; and oh, my dear tutor, I am as happy as the day is long, though it never seems long to me!.... My dear father writes in great anxiety about the Denison case. Oh dear! what a cause of thankfulness it is to be out of the din of controversy, and to find hundreds of thousands longing for crumbs which are shaken about so roughly in these angry disputes! It isn't High or Low or Broad Church, or any other special name, but the longing desire to forget all distinctions, and to return to a simpler state of things, that seems naturally to result from the very sight of heathen people. Who thinks of anything but this: "They have not heard the Name of the Saviour Who died for them," when he is standing with crowds of naked fellows round him? I can't describe the intense happiness of this life. I suppose trials will come some day, and I almost dread the thought, for I surely shall not be prepared to bear them. I have no trials at all, even of a small kind, to teach me how to bear up under great ones.'
In truth Coleridge Patteson had entered on the happiest period of his life. He had found his vocation, and his affections were fastening themselves upon his black flock, so that, without losing a particle of his home love, the yearnings homewards were appeased, and the fully employed time, and sense of success and capability, left no space for the self-contemplation and self-criticism of his earlier life. He gives amusing sketches of the scenes:--
'The donkey here, a fatally stubborn brute, is an unceasing amusement to my boys. No one of them can retain his seat more than ten minutes, but they all fall like cats on their legs amid cries of laughter. The donkey steers straight for some small scrubby trees, and then kicks and plunges, or else rubs their legs against the sides of the house, and all this time the boys are leaping about the unfortunate fellow who is mounted, and the fun is great.
'Wadrokala, one of the Nengone lads, who had recently made his first communion, became the prominent scholar at this time. He had thought a good deal. One night he said: "I have heard all kinds of words used--faith, repentance, praise, prayer--and I don't clearly understand what is the real great thing, the chief thing of all. They used these words confusedly, and I feel puzzled. Then I read that the Pharisees knew a great deal of the law, and so did the Scribes, and yet they were not good. I am not doing anything good. Now I know something of the Bible, and I can write; and I fear very much, I often feel very much afraid, that I am not good, I am not doing anything good."'
He was talked to, and comforted with hopes of future work; but a day or two later his feelings were unconsciously hurt by being told in joke that he was wearing a shabby pair of trousers to save the good ones to take home to Nengone. His remonstrance was poured out upon a slate:--
'Mr. Patteson, this is my word:--I am unhappy because of the word you said to me that I wished for clothes. I have left my country. I do not seek clothes for the body. What is the use of clothes? Can my spirit be clothed with clothes for the body? Therefore my heart is greatly afraid; but you said I greatly wished for clothes, which I do not care for. One thing only I care for, that I may receive the life for my spirit. Therefore I fear, I confess, and say to you, it is not the thing for the body I want, but the one thing I want is the clothing for the soul, for Jesus Christ's sake, our Lord.'
Soon after a very happy Christmas, Wadrokala and Kainwhat expressed a desire, after a final visit to their native island, to return with Mr. Patteson, and be prepared to be sent as native teachers to any dark land, as the Samoans had come to them.
Wadrokala narrated something of the history of his island, a place with 6,000 inhabitants, with one tribe forming a priestly caste, the head of which was firmly believed by even these Christian Nengonese to possess the power of striking men dead by his curse. Caroline, Kainwhat and Kowine were the children of a terrible old chief named Bula, who had fifty-five wives, and whose power was almost absolute. If anyone offended him, he would send either a priest or one of his sons to kill the man, and bring the corpse, of which the thighs were always reserved for his special eating, the trunk being given to his slaves. If one of his wives offended him, he sent for the high priest, who cursed her--simply said, 'She has died,' and die she did. A young girl who refused to marry him was killed and eaten, or if any person omitted to come into his presence crouching, the penalty was to be devoured; in fact, he seems to have made excuses for executions in order to gratify his appetite for human flesh, which was considered as particularly dainty fare. Everyone dreaded him, and when at last he died a natural death, his chief wife was strangled by her own brother, as a matter of course. Such horrors as these had pretty well ceased by that time, though still many Nengonese were heathen, and the priests were firmly believed to have the power of producing death and disease at will by a curse. Wadrokala, with entire conviction, declared that one of his father's wives had thus been made a cripple for life.
Nengonese had become almost as familiar to Coley as Maori, and his Sundays at this time were decidedly polyglot; since, besides a regular English service at Taranaki, he often took a Maori service, and preached extempore in that tongue, feeling that the people's understanding went along with him; and there were also, in early morning and late evening, prayers, partly in Nengonese, partly in Bauro, at the College chapel, and a sermon, first in one language, and then repeated in the other. The Nengone lads, who had the question of adherence to the London Mission at home, or the Church in New Zealand, put to them, came deliberately to entreat to remain always with Mr. Patteson, saying that they saw that this teaching of the Church was right, and they wished to work in it. It was a difficult point, as the London Mission was reasserting a claim to the Loyalty Isles, and the hopes of making them a point d'appui were vanishing; but these men and their wives could not but be accepted, and Simeona was preparing for baptism. A long letter to Professor Max Muller on the languages will be found in the Appendix. The Bishop of New Zealand thus wrote to Sir John Patteson respecting Coley and his work:--
'Taurarua, Auckland: March 2, 1857.
'My dear Judge,--Your letter of December 5 made me very happy, by assuring me of the satisfaction which you feel in your son's duties and position. I do indeed most thankfully acknowledge the goodness of God in thus giving me timely aid, when I was pledged to a great work, but without any steady force to carry it on. Coley is, as you say, the right man in the right place, mentally and physically: the multiplicity of languages, which would try most men, is met by his peculiar gift; the heat of the climate suits his constitution; his mild and parental temper makes his black boys cling about him as their natural protector; and his freedom from fastidiousness makes all parts of the work easy to him; for when you have to teach boys how to wash themselves, and to wear clothes for the first time, the romance of missionary work disappears as completely as a great man's heroism before his valet de chambre.
'On Sunday, February 22, we had a native baptism, an adult from Nengone and his infant child. Coley used the Baptismal Service, which he had translated, and preached fluently in the Nengone tongue, as he had done in the morning in New Zealand. The careful study which we had together of the latter on our voyage out will be of great use in many other dialects, and Mrs. Nihill has given him her husband's Nengone manuscripts.
'You know in what direction my wishes tend, viz., that Coley, when he has come to suitable age, and has developed, as I have no doubt he will, a fitness for the work, should be the first island Bishop, upon the foundation, of which you and your brother Judge, and Sir W. Farquhar, are trustees; that Norfolk Island should be the see of the Bishop, because the character of its population, the salubrity of its climate, and its insular position, make it the fittest place for the purpose.
'Your affectionate and grateful friend,
'G. A. NEW ZEALAND.'
By the same mail Patteson himself wrote to Miss Neill:--
'If it please God to give us some few native teachers from Bauro and Grera, not to be sent before, but to go with or follow us (i.e. Bishop and me), in a short time the word of God might be heard in many a grand wild island, resplendent with everything that a tropical climate and primeval forests, etc., can bestow, and thickly populated with an intelligent and, as I imagine, tolerably docile race, of whom some are already "stretching out their hands unto God."
'All these Solomon Islanders here would answer questions about Christianity as well, perhaps, as children of nine or ten years old in England. Some seem to feel that there is a real connection between themselves and what they are taught, and speak of the love of God in giving Jesus Christ to die for them, and say that God's Holy Spirit alone can enlighten their dark hearts.
'That beautiful image of light and darkness seems common to all nations. The regular word used by the Nengone people, who are far more advanced in Christian knowledge and practice, for all heathen places is "the dark lands."
'On Sunday week, February 22, we had a deeply interesting service in the College chapel at 7.15 P.M., just as the English world was beginning its Sunday. Simeona and his infant boy of four weeks and three days old were baptized. The College chapel was nicely lighted, font decorated simply. I read the service in Nengone, having had all hands at work setting the types and printing on Friday and Saturday. The Bishop took the part of the service which immediately precedes the actual baptism, and baptized them both--first the father, by the name of George Selwyn, then the baby, by the name of John Patteson. This was the special request of the parents, and as it is my dear Father's name, how could I object? He is, of course, my godson, and a dear little fellow he is. At the end of my sermon, I added a few words to "George," and besought the prayers of the Nengone people for him and his child. We have now four regular communicants among them--Wadrokala, Mark (Kainwhat), Carry and Sarah. George is baptized, and baby; and Sarah's child, Lizzy, I baptized long ago. In about two months (D. V.), we are off for a good spell of four or five months among the islands, taking back this party, though some of them will, by and by, rejoin us again, I hope.'
The plan of starting in April for a four or five months' cruise was disconcerted, as regarded Bishop Selwyn, by the delay of Bishop Harper and the Archdeacons in arriving for the intended Synod, which was thus put off till May, too wintry a month for the Melanesians to spend in New Zealand. After some doubt, it was decided that Mr. Patteson should make a short voyage, for the mere purpose of returning his scholars to their homes, come back to Auckland, and make a fresh start when the Bishop was ready.
In prospect of the parting, Patteson writes to his beloved old governess (March 19, 1857):--
'You will like a report of my pupils, especially as I can give most of them a good ticket, little mark and all, as we used to say of yours (though not as often as we ought to have done) to our dear mother. You never had such willing pupils, though you turned out some, I hope, eventually as good. In your hands these lads would be something indeed. Really they have no faults that I can detect, and when their previous state is considered, it is wonderful; for all this time they have been with us, the greatest fault has been a fit of sulkiness, lasting about half a day, with three of them. Their affection, gentleness, unselfishness, cheerfulness, willingness to oblige, in some of them a natural gentlemanly way of doing things, and sometimes indications of what we should call high principle--all these things give one great hopes, not for them only, but for all these nations, that, refined by Christianity, they may be bright examples of manly virtues and Christian graces.'
To some, no doubt, these expressions will seem exaggerated, but not to those who have had any experience of the peculiar suavity and grace that often is found in the highbred men of native races, before they are debased by the corruptions brought in by white men. Moreover, in every case, the personal influence of the teacher when in immediate contact with a sufficiently small number, is quite enough to infuse good habits and obviate evil ones to an extent quite inconceivable to those who have not watched the unconscious exertion of this power. Patteson knew that too much reliance must not be placed on present appearance.
'It is dangerous (he says), to have persons clinging to you too much. I feel that; but then these fellows, I take it, are very impulsive, and no doubt the cocoanuts in their own land will exercise a counter- influence to mine, and so I shall soon be undeceived if I learn to think too much of their personal affection; but I never knew such dear lads, I don't know how I shall get on without them.
'You must be looking forward to your spring and summer. How delicious some of those days are in England! We miss the freshness of a deciduous foliage, our evergreens look dull, and we have no deciduous trees as yet. A good scamper with Joan on the East Hill, or a drive with Fan in the pony carriage along a lane full of primroses and violets would be pleasant indeed, and so would a stroll with old Jem up the river be happy indeed, and I could almost quit the "Southern Cross" for dear Father's quarter-deck in the "Hermitage," but that I am, I believe, sailing in the right vessel, and, as I trust, on the right course to the haven where we may all meet and rest for ever.'
On Good Friday the three Nengone young men who had been baptized were confirmed, and on the Wednesday in Easter Week the 'Southern Cross' sailed, this time with a responsible sailing master. At Nengone Mr. Patteson had a friendly interview with Mr. Craig, the London Society's missionary, and explained to him the state of things with regard to these individual pupils; then, after being overwhelmed with presents by the Christian population, shaped his course for Bauro.
On the way he had the experience of a tropical thunderstorm, after having been well warned by the sinking of the barometer through the whole of the day, the 27th of April. 'At 7.30 the breeze came up, and the big drops began, when suddenly a bright forked flash so sustained that it held its place before our eyes like an immense white-hot crooked wire, seemed to fall on the deck, and be splintered there. But one moment and the tremendous crack of the thunder was alive and around us, making the masts tremble. For more than an hour the flashes were so continuous that I think every three seconds we had a perfect view of the whole horizon. I especially remember the firmament between the lurid thunder clouds looking quite blue, so intense was the light. The thunder rolled on without cessation, but the tremendous claps occurred only at intervals. We have no lightning conductor, and I felt somewhat anxious; went below and prayed God to preserve us from lightning and fire, read the magnificent chapter at the end of Job. As the storm went on, I thought that at that very hour you were praying "From lightning and tempest, good Lord, deliver us." We had no wind: furious rain, repeated again from midnight to three this morning. About eleven the thunder had ceased, but the broad flashes of lightning were still frequent. The lightning was forked and jagged, and one remarkable thing was the length of time that the line of intense light was kept up, like a gigantic firework, so that the shape of the flash could be drawn with entire accuracy by any one that could handle a pencil. It was a grand and solemn sight and sound, and I am very thankful we were preserved from danger, for the storm was right upon us, and the danger must have been great.'
A ready welcome awaited the 'Southern Cross' at Bauro, in a lovely bay hitherto unvisited, where a perfect flotilla of canoes came off to greet her, and the two chiefs, Iri and Eimaniaka, came on board, and no less than fifty-five men with them. The chiefs and about a dozen men were invited to spend the night on board. The former lay on the floor of the inner cabin, talking and listening while their host set before them some of the plain truths of Christianity. He landed next day, and returned the visit by going to Iri's hut, where he pointed to the skulls, discoursed on the hatefulness of such decorations, and recommended their burial. He also had an opportunity of showing a Christian's horror of unfilial conduct, when Rimaniaka struck his mother for being slow in handing yams; and when a man begged for a passage to Gera in direct opposition to his father's commands, he was dismissed with the words, 'I will have nothing to do with a man who does not obey his own father.'
At Gera there was also a great assembly of canoes, and as all hands were wanted on board, Patteson went ashore in a canoe with the brother of one of the scholars. He was told that he was the first white man who had ever landed there, and the people showed a good deal of surprise, but were quite peaceable, and the presence of women and children was a sign that there was no danger. When he tried to return to the ship, a heavy sea came on, and the canoes were forced to put back, and he thus found himself obliged to spend the night on the island. He was taken into a house with two rooms, in each of which numbers of men were lying on the ground, a small wood fire burning in the midst of each group of three or four.
A grass mat was brought him, and a bit of wood for a pillow, and as he was wet through, cold, and very tired, he lay down; but sleep was impossible, from tormenting vermin, as well as because it seemed to be the custom of the people to be going backwards and forwards all night, sitting over the fire talking, then dropping asleep and waking to talk again. A yam was brought him after about an hour, and long before dawn he escaped into the open air, and sat over a tire there till at high tide, at six o'clock in the morning, he was able to put off again and reach the ship, where forty-five natives had slept, and behaved well.
'The sense of cold and dirt and weariness was not pleasing,' he confesses, and certainly the contrast to the Eton and Oxford habits was great. There was a grand exchange of presents; hatchets, adzes, hooks and empty bottles on one side, and a pig and yams on the other. Immediately after follows a perilous adventure, which, as we shall find, made a deep impression. It is thus related in a letter for the benefit of Thorverton Rectory:--
'At Sea: Lat. 19° 50' S.; long. 167° 41' E.
'My dearest Uncle,--May is a month specially connected henceforward in my mind with a merciful deliverance from great peril, which God vouchsafed to us on May 2nd. We touched on a reef at the Isle of Guadalcanar, one of the Solomon Islands, in lat. 9° 50', and but for God's mercy in blessing our exertions, we might have incurred fearful danger of losing the Mission vessel. As it was, in a couple of minutes we were off the reef and in deep safe water--to Him be the praise and the glory! I have written all particulars as usual to my father, and now that the danger has been averted, you will rejoice to hear how great a door is opened to us in that part of the world. Personal safety ensured, and, so far as can be judged of, no apparent obstacle in the way of the Mission in that quarter. Had this great peril not occurred--and it was to human eyes and in human language the mere "chance" of a minute--I might have dwelt with too much satisfaction on the bright side of the picture. As it is, it is a lesson to me "to think soberly." I can hardly trust myself to write yet with my usual freedom of the scenery, natives, &c. One great thought is before me--"Is it all real that we touched on that reef in the sight of hundreds of natives?" It was not a sense of personal danger--that could not occur at such a time; but the idea that the vessel might be lost, the missionary operations suspended, &c.; this shot through me in those two minutes! But I had no time for more than mental prayer, for I was pulling at ropes with all my strength; not till it was all over could I go below and fall on my knees in a burst of thanksgiving and praise. We suppose that there must be a very strong under-current near the reef at the mouth of the bay, for the vessel, instead of coming round as usual (and there was abundance of room), would not obey the helm, and we touched an outlying rock before we could alter the sails, when she rounded instantly on the other tack. Humanly speaking, she would have come off very soon, as the tide was flowing, and she received no damage, as we came very gently against the rock, which was only about the size of an ordinary table. But it is an event to be remembered by me with thankfulness all my life. I think the number of natives who had been on deck and about us in canoes that morning could not have been less than 450. They behaved very well. Of the five principal chiefs three could talk some Bauro language, so I could communicate with them, and this was one reason why I felt satisfied of their good-will. They gave me two pigs, about 500 or 600 cocoa-nuts, and upwards of a ton of yams, though I told them I had only two small hatchets, five or six adzes, a few gimlets, and empty bottles to give in exchange. If I had not been satisfied of their being quite friendly, I would not have put ourselves so entirely into their power; but it is of the greatest consequence to let the natives of a place see that you are not suspicious, and where there is no evident hazard in so doing, I think I ought to act upon it. Perhaps the Bishop, being an older hand at it, will think I was rash; but as far as the natives are concerned, the result shows I was quite right; the letting go a kedge in deepish water is another matter, that was a mistake I know now. But we could not work the vessel by reason of the crowds of natives, and what was I to do? Either not stand close in, as they all expected, or let go a kedge. If I did not go into the mouth of the bay, they would have said, "He does not trust us," and mutual suspicion would have been (possibly) the result, and I could not make them understand rightly the reason why I did not want to drop the kedge or small anchor.
'I had slept on shore about three miles up the bay among a number of natives, twenty-five or twenty-six in the same room with me, on the previous evening: at least, I lay down in my things, which, by the bye, were drenched through with salt and rain water. They said I was the first white person that had been ashore there. They treated me very well. How in the face of all this could I run the risk of letting them think I was unwilling to trust them? So I think still that I was right in all but one thing. I ought to have ascertained better the nature of the current and the bottom of the harbour, to see if there was good holding ground. But it is easier to do those things in an English port than in the sight of a number of natives, and especially when there is but one person able to communicate with the said natives. If I went off in the boat sounding, who was to look after the schooner? If I stayed on board, who was to explain to the natives what was being done in the boat? Besides, we have but five men on board, including the master and mate, and one of them was disabled by a bad hand, so that if I had manned the boat, I should have left only three able-bodied men on board--it was a puzzle, you see, dear Uncle. Now I have entered into this long defence lest any of you dear ones should think me rash. Indeed, I don't want to run any risks at all. But there was no risk here, as I supposed, and had we chosen to go round on the other tack we should have known nothing of a risk now. As it was, we did run a great hazard of grounding on the reef, and therefore, Laus Deo.
'Oh! dear little Pena, if you had only seen the village which, as yet, I alone of white people have been allowed to see--the great tall cocoa-nuts, so tall and slender at the top, that I was almost afraid when a boy was sent up to gather some nuts for me--the cottages of bamboo and cocoa-nut leaves--the great forest trees, the parrots flying about among the branches--the crowd of men and children and a few women all looking at, and some talking to the strange chief, "who had spoken the truth and brought their kinsman as he promised,"--the sea in the harbour shut off by small islets and looking like a beautiful lake with high wooded and steep banks--the pretty canoes on the beach, and the great state canoe lying at its stone anchor about fifty yards off, about fifty feet long, and inlaid throughout with mother-of-pearl, the spears leaning against the houses--men stalking about with a kind of club (the great chief Puruhanua gave me his);--I think your little head would have been almost turned crazy....
'June 4th, Auckland.--We reached harbour a week ago in a violent squall of wind and rain at 8.45 P.M. Anxious night after the anchor was dropped, lest the vessel should drag. Nine days coming from Norfolk Island, very heavy weather--no accident, but jib-boom pitched away while lying to in a south-easter....
'Your loving nephew,
'J. C. P.'
The Rev. Benjamin Thornton Dudley, for several years a most valuable helper in the work, both at home and abroad, gives the following account of his own share in it, and his recollections of that first year:--
'The first time I ever saw Mr. Patteson was in the beginning of 1856, when you (this is a letter to Mrs. Selwyn) all visited Lyttelton in the newly arrived "Southern Cross." That indescribable charm of manner, calculated at once to take all hearts by storm, was not perhaps as fully developed in him then as afterwards, and my experience was then comparatively limited, yet his words in the sermon he preached on behalf of the Melanesian Mission (a kind of historical review of the growth and spread of the Gospel), although coming after the wonderful sermon of the Bishop in the morning, made a deep impression on several of us, myself among the number.
'You came to Lyttelton at the end of 1856 again, this time without him, and the Bishop brought me up to St. John's College, and placed me under him there. I remember at first how puzzled I felt as to what my position was, and what I was expected to do. Not a single direction was given me by Mr. Patteson, nor did he invite me to take a class in the comparatively small Melanesian school. Gradually it dawned upon me that I was purposely left there, and that I was expected to offer myself for anything I could do. When I offered myself I was allowed to assist in this and that, until at length I fell into my regular place. Although the treatment I received in this respect puzzled me, I felt his great kindness from the first. How bright he was in those days, and how overflowing with spirits when among the Melanesians. What fun there used to be of a morning, when he would come and hunt the lazy ones out of bed, drive them down to the bath house, and there assist their ablutions with a few basins of water thrown at them; and what an amount of quiet "chaff" used to go on at breakfast time about it as we sat with them in the great hall, without any of those restraints of the "high table" which were introduced at dinner.
'During the first voyage made that year to return our Melanesian party, I think Mr. Patteson was feeling very much out of sorts. I do not remember any time during the years in which I was permitted to see so much of him when he took things so easily. He spoke of himself as lazy, and I confess I used to wonder somewhat how it was that he retired so completely into the cabin, and did apparently so little in the way of study. He read the "Heir of Redclyffe," and other books of light reading in that voyage. I understood better afterwards what, raw youth as I was at the time, puzzled me in one for whom I was already beginning to entertain a feeling different from any previously experienced. That seems to me now to have been quite a necessary pause in his life after he had with wholeheartedness and full intention given himself to his work, but before he had fully faced all its requirements and had learnt to map out his whole time with separate toil.'
So concluded what may be called the first term of Coley Patteson's tutorship of his island boys. His work is perhaps best summed up in this sentence in a letter to me from Mrs. Abraham: 'Mr. Patteson's love for them, and his facility in communicating with them in their own tongue, make his dealing with the present set much more intimate and effective than it has ever been before, and their affections towards him are drawn out in a lively manner.'