ii. Jan-March 1838
Journal of James Gunther, Missionary at Wellington Valley, New Holland from the 1st of January to the 31st March, 1838.
[1 January 1838]
January 1st. Our Family Prayers this morning had quite the appearance of a public Service, since besides our European servants and Native children a large number of Native men attended, from between 20 and 30. I expounded from II Peter Verse III, with applications suitable for the commencement of the New Year. It cheered my heart to see such an unusual number attending (I never before saw so many) and I conceived it a happy beginning of another year, wishing and praying that it might be indicative of better things. Oh! that the Lord may visit with his mercy & Spirit these wretched, perishing people! Thus reviving our hope amidst many discouragements & trials of faith & patience. Two instances however of a distressing nature occurred this day. Immediately after Prayers we were informed that one of the Native men had, before he came up from the Camp to prayers, struck one of his wives (unfortunately the Fellow has three or four) very severely, and she consequently felt very poorly. Mr Watson & myself proceeded alone * to the camp and found the woman, having a great hole in her left side out of which the blood ran profusely. She was in great fear of its proving fatal and we were not without some apprehension. She poor thing feared the same and excited our pity, since she is in a state of pregnancy, she thought the blood was coming from the Infant. The Husband was present to whom of course we gave a severe reproof; he appeared to be very sorry & acknowledged it was very wrong & stupid of him; but added “That is the way we Blackfellows do.” He manifested much pity & paid any attention he could to his injured Wife.
In the evening, a little after dark, we were alarmed by a very great noise & cry at the Camp which is about ¾ of a mile off. We proceeded thither with great haste. But, when approaching all became silent except on old woman who was chattering & scolding away with much irritation. An old man wanted to kill a woman belonging to the same man that [??] wives in the morning. But with all our inquiries we could not learn any further particulars of the case. The aggressor had hid himself. It afforded us some satisfaction to have so much influence on a number of savages (there were from 70 to 80) as to silence them at once by our presence.
[2 January 1838]
January 2.We had again a number, about 22, of Natives at morning prayers; and during the whole of the day, considerable numbers were about the Mission House, so that we were sufficiently engaged by talking to them & attending to their wants. When they come to prayers they think they have full right to be fed.
[3 January 1838]
January 3.Eighteen Natives (I did not include the children) at Prayers. As a rare case we now have had for several weeks from 50 to 80 Natives encamping near us; Today however they are mostly preparing to leave, intending to make some young men, a ceremony of much interest among them, for the performance of which they go sometimes to a great distance & collect great numbers of their countrymen.
[4 January 1838]
On the 4th. Most of the Natives left early this morning; a few, however, would stay for Prayers. After Prayers all the rest, even the young men whom we call our own, were determined to go to the bush; an occasion like the present appears to be a great temptation for them. We could not help speaking rather sharply to them, and I more especially endeavoured to see what I could do by reasoning & severe language. They were observing to each other that the “Short one” (meaning myself) was very angry. They appeared to feel a little uneasy and Jemmy Buckley said, “I am very sorry for going but I must go.” He could not withstand the temptation.
[5 January 1838]
The 5th.To our great surprise many of our Natives came back this morning for which they assigned two reasons, the one was that they had been quarrelling all last night, and
were divided into two parties; the other was, our talking to them, in the way we did yesterday, made them feel uneasy & induced them to return. They slept most of the day; I could hardly get Jemmy to read to me for a quarter of an hour.
[6 January 1838]
6th.The Morning prayers were attended by several of the Native men; also during the day some of them were engaged in work such as threshing &c &c &c. Jemmy manifested some anxiety to day for reading and it was with difficulty I found time to teach him, since my time at present is much taken up with domestic affairs, Mrs. Gunther being frequently poorly.
[7 January 1838]
7th.Preached today from Matthew Verse 3. Only 8 Native men present, to whom Mr Watson gave an address in their own language. Also with about half a dozen of Native women he held afterwards a short service. In the evening when visiting the Camp, we were surprised to find, that all the men had gone, leaving about 8 women guardless & exposed to every intruder both White & Black.
[8 January 1838]
On the 8th. Jemmy Buckley & one of the name of Friday, who has been staying here for some time, and often made himself useful about the House, went away secretly this morning, lest we should dissuade them from going. So we have none about to do any work except our curious Fred; he was very industrious all the day threshing & fetching water. As to work he is worth all the rest. But he is sometimes very insolent.
I just remember yesterday evening, when Mr Watson asked him the meaning of a word he impudently refused to tell, and, when Mrs Watson desired a Boy, Ngalgan, the former forbid him to tell and desired him to throw stones like himself, in order to annoy us by thus profaning the Lord’s Day.
[9 January 1838]
The 9th.There were several Black men & women at Prayers this morning. One of the latter burst out into laughing when we were kneeling down. It was the first time she was present. Some of the men were induced to thresh during the day. Was glad to see our Dray return from Bathurst this evening, bringing us a Woman from the Factory. We have felt the need of a servant much of late, since Mrs Gunther feels often poorly & utterly unable for her work and frequently tires & has to more than is good for her, in consequence of which my time is much taken up by domestic business.
[10 January 1838]
January 10.The number of Natives has considerably decreased these last few days; still we may find sufficient engagement amongst them. I numbered more than twenty at the Camp this evening. Was struck with the fact, that three families constituted abut half the number I counted, not, because of a numerous offspring but on account of polygamy. There were two who had each three wives & a third one who had two. Gave a reading lesson to a young man of the name of George today, who came on his own accord, asking me to teach him. When Mrs Gunther was talking to him, he said he now wished to become “Coborn boojery” a fictitious term for “very good”. The poor Fellow took a few days since a Black woman away from a white man, with whom she was living in adultery with the consent of her husband. The latter pretended, when she was living with the wicked European, he did not want her any more, in consequence of which George, who appears to be much opposed to the unlawful intercourse of White & Black, thought proper to take her for himself. Today, however, her former husband wished her back again undoubtedly for the purpose of lending her again to the White man, and George was obliged to submit. Disorderly habits of this description between the Blacks themselves, and in connexion with White men, are quite usual, and cause, especially when the latter is the case, many an annoyance & grief to the Missionaries. We might perhaps have some influence upon the Natives in opposing these irregularities amongst themselves, if it were not for the wicked conduct of & the snares laid by our ungodly European neighbours. We engaged George today to mind a flock of sheep, and he is very ready to commence his charge tomorrow. We very much wish we could do with Black shepherds.
[11 January 1838]
On the 11th.We had 5 Native men & women at Prayers. This evening our Native Youths, Jemmy & Friday, who had secretly stolen themselves away the other day, returned together with one of the name of Sandy. The way they made their appearance was grievous to us; They approached the House with a very wild noise & shouting & had their faces & the whole of their bodies most frightfully disguised by painting. It is truly distressing, whilst they know so much better, to see them again & again behave as those who know only of a savage life in the bush.
[12 January 1838]
January 12th.Again a few Natives at Prayers. We have at present, almost constantly, some about, affording opportunity of conversing with them; but it is difficult to engage their attention for an interesting or serious conversation. Jemmy promised this morning to set to work today; but regardless of his promise, he idled away the day at the Natives Camp. When he made his appearance in the evening, I repeatedly passed him, without speaking to him. This he appeared to feel as much or more than if I have given him a severe reproof, for he has some pride about him, & cannot bear, not to be noticed. It was the more distressing to him, that I should punish him in this way, since he is already in disgrace with Mr Watson & has for some time scarcely ventured to speak to him.
[14 January 1838]
January 14. There were 8 Native men & 2 women at the English Service this day when I addressed my congregation from Matthew Verse 20. A small party of Native women had Service in their own tongue, by Mr Watson.
[15 January 1838]
The 15th. Took a ride in the heat of the day on some errand, in consequence of which I felt very poorly the rest of the day, my head especially was much affected. We are beginning to feel very uncomfortable about our Government Woman received a few days ago, as her conduct does not prove satisfactory. We are quite in a dilemma as it regards a female servant. We can not well do without, unless I spend my time in domestic affairs & allow Mrs Gunther to exert herself more than she is able to bear; on the other hand it is a rare case to obtain a woman from the Factory of a desirable character at all.
[18 January 1838]
The 18th. We have much difficulty at the present to satisfy our Natives as it regards supplying them with tobacco, which they desire as eagerly as food, if not more so; and our supply of that is gone. For these last few days I took charge of the little we had, & was obliged to give them very small pieces each; they were so dissatisfied that they complained of me to Mr Watson.
[17 January 1838]
On the 17th. Several Natives have returned from the bush. Very few at Prayers this morning. I have never seen our droll Fred in so good a humour as he was during the whole of this day, nay, the appearance of his conduct resembled that of a man, that is influenced by religion. I observed him this morning in our kitchen, asking a blessing before he took his breakfast in a very becoming manner. In the afternoon he told me a number of words in Wirradurai with much readiness, appearing to make an effort to do his utmost for my instruction, a circumstance rather uncommon. Sometimes we have the greatest difficulty to gain a single word. In the evening I heard Fred repeat part
… Now we apprehend that almost the only motive of their attending is to receive some food; of course, they have none but animal desires as yet. However their attendance[?] on the means of grace affords us an opportunity to make known unto them our great errand. We deem it indeed desirable that work should be made another condition and as far as we are able we do, so several were engaged to day in various ways. But it will be difficult to act here strictly to that condition, not only because of the lazy habits of the Natives, but also because we are often at a loss to find suitable work for all, and, what is still more difficult, we have no proper person to direct & superintend them unless we do all ourselves.
Jemmy Buckley was quite insolent to me this morning, because I refused him a cake of mine, which he wished to feed on when going out for cattle: “You stupid fellow;” he said, “you never give me anything” though I have given him various articles. It is grievous to observe the ingratitude, even of the best of them.
[19 January 1838]
January 19. Both Mr. W. & myself spent the day at the Stockyard, superintending the mustering, & branding, of cattle. Several Native men had been at Prayers & received some meat, and then went off to the riverside, so that we could not get one to assist our men in their hard work. Jemmy refused to fetch cattle in almost the only business for which he is useful & inclined. He idled away his day at the Camp.
[20 January 1838]
Jan: 20th. We spent another day in mustering the Cattle. The heat being so very great & oppressive, it affected my head to stand all the day, with little interruption, outside. Mr. Watson being poorly & almost worn out with anxiety, I felt it my duty to assist him. But alas! what a preparation this, for the ensuing Sabbathday! During the day I finally found time
to begin my sermon and thus had, after being worried and rendered unfit for duties, to sit up greater part of the night to write a sermon. I must candidly confess, I thought it a hard case. I am indeed grieved and discourage, that missionaries should be obliged to be engaged so much, nay most of their time, like farmers & labouring men. What can they be expected to do in their proper sphere of labour, when their hands are so much employed & their minds embarrassed by secular concerns? I cannot but believe, if the Society at home & the Committee in Sydney were aware of the real state of this Mission, and our situation, better arrangements would forthwith be made.
We are dragging on the concern with much anxiety & trouble, and, if we ask ourselves, What are we doing? we must answer , we do, and can do little, very little as to the real object of the Mission.
[21 January 1838]
Jan: 21. About 8 Native men at English Service, when I preached from Isaiah. LV: 67; afterwards Mr W. had Service with them in their own language, also with about half a dozen Nat. women. It was for the first, after a considerable time, that Mrs G. prevailed on Jemmy to read to her. Having sat up so long last night I was very much exhausted after Service was over.
[22 January 1838]
The 22d. We finished our mustering business only today, and, perhaps I can hardly say finished, as a number of cattle are absent. Another portion of the day I had to devote to domestic work, and the rest to conversing etc etc with the Natives. By our intercourse with them, though we may not devote to them the time we wish, & effect little towards their improvement, much time is wasted, if it can be called so, since they are constantly teazing us for one thing or other, food tobacco clothes etc etc etc and if we set them about some work, it lasts frequently long, till we succeed & they commence.
[23 January 1838]
The 23d. There were 8 Native men at Prayers, if I remember right, whom we gave meat afterwards for their breakfast, that they might go & assist our White men in burning the stubbles & old grass, in the Wheat Paddock, guarding the fence against being set on fire, and lending a helping hand in repairing part of it; instead of which they went off to the Camp, not making their reappearance. Our White men also need constantly looking after, thus, had not Mr. Watson & myself gone twice in the night to watch & secure the fence, we should have had it burnt down.
[24 January 1838]
The 24th. An equal number of Native men at Prayers as yesterday. Mr. W. also had 15 Native women at Church, whom he gave an address in their language. Having caught a bad cold last night I was poorly today
[25 January 1838]
January 25. Only 4 Native men at Prayers this morning, and 6 women for Wirradurai Service. Fred distinguishes himself from all his countrymen by industry. He has now for about ten days been threshing, and to day, more particularly, I noticed him to be hard at work. He was threshing with all his might with scarcely any interruption, though the heat was almost insupportable, the thermometer being 96 degrees in Mr. W’s. Study. Mrs. G. suffers much from the heat; she could hardly sustain it today.
Jemmy Buckley causes us much grief at the present, he behaves worse than ever & idles nearly[?] every day at the Camp. His ill conduct distresses us the more, since we were always inclined to entertain much hope of him.
[26 January 1838]
The 26th. Two Native men only at Prayers, and the women came up too late for their Service.
We have to relate a most distressing circumstance in reference to our Children, occurring this day, or other we can only allude to it, as modesty forbids description. They have been observed committing most filthy & abominable actions, such as one would fain hope Children of their age to be incapable of (this age being only from about 6 to 8 or 9). But the elderly Girls, who are so expert in wickedness, were the leaders & seducers, especially Nanny, to whom we thought proper to give a good flogging. We ought to have those elderly Girls separate from the rest, but we have no convenience for them.
It is discouraging & trying faith & patience to the utmost, when ever those little ones, for whom, of course, we entertain most hope of doing them good exhibit wickedness in so shocking a degree and become daily more corrupted by the example of those, whose superior knowledge ought to improve them. We can only pray: Lord have mercy upon this Mission!
[28 January 1838]
The 28th. Being Sunday I addressed my mixed congregation (consisting of 8 Native men besides our Children) and a few women and a small number of Europeans) from the Parable of the Loaves, Matt: XIII. Mr. W. had Service with a number of Nat: women in their own dialect.
[29 January 1838]
The 29th. The heat having been so excessive, and the air so sultry yesterday, that it was almost more than we could bear, we were thankful to be refreshed to day by cooling winds.
[30 January 1838]
January 30. Was glad to see this morning some of the Children teaching the elderly women to read. The latter also were quite rejoiced to receive tobacco to dry, as they went without yesterday, our provision being exhausted. One circumstance happened to day which deeply distressed us, a European of whom we had a far better opinion was discovered, taking too much liberty with our Native Girls; and we learned that he had been trying to seduce them for some time, and is paying his visits, with impure motives, to the Native Camp.
[31 January 1838]
The 31st. What we learned yesterday was confirmed to day & more than confirmed. Besides we heard that several Europeans frequent the Camp by night. It is awful to think of & most discouraging to know, that, what we endeavour to teach those poor savage heathen during the day, is counteracted during the night by heathenised professors of Christianity. We were on the watch yesterday night & to night. Amidst these & other discouragements I felt not a little encouraged today by Mr. W. reading an account of the long trial of patience the missionaries experienced at Otahiti; now so prosperous a mission I felt our labour will also not be in vain.
[1 February 1838]
February 1st. For these last few days we have only two & three Native men at Prayers; this morning they have increased again to half a dozen; also 10 women came up from the Camp. A number of Natives have returned from the bush.
[2 February 1838]
February 2d. Yesterday & to day I have to take a side over part of the Mission Ground, to order a flock of sheep off, that has been intruding, eating up the little grass left from the drought. Every body thinks this is Government Land, & therefore common property, a circumstance, which causes many an unpleasantness; and what a pity, that the missionary should have to interfere with such things! In my side I had a narrow escape; my horse got shy on a stony hill, and threw me, when I received a few bruises on the face etc but thank God! no serious injury.
Our Government woman behaves so badly, that we shall be obliged to return her to the Factory. She abused Mrs. G. (who was reproving her) in most insolent language. I don’t know what we shall do for a servant. I do not see the possibility of doing without, and know the difficulty of obtaining a suitable person in this Colony. The case of servants is altogether one of the most trying on this Mission. I feel often grieved that we should be obliged to have servants on the Mission, which cannot but prove an obstacle. The idea of convicts, these wretched characters on a Christian mission, is, I cannot forbear to say it, revolting to my mind. Oh! what an acquisition a few pious people of the labouring class would be! Then we might look with some comfort on our work.
[3 February 1838]
February 3d. Was poorly this morning & obliged to take medicine, perhaps poorly owing to the fall I had yesterday & still more to my watching so late last night at the Native Camp, as we felt our duty to do; when I caught a cold. Was, however, able towards evening to begin preparing a sermon for tomorrow.
[4 February 1838]
Sunday the 4th. There were 8 Native men at the Church, when I preached from Isaiah. LLX: 1.2. They have also service in their language, Mr. Watson likewise had service with about the same number of women.
[5 February 1838]
The 5th. At English Prayers about half a dozen Native men, all the Wirradurai 9 women.
[6 February 1838]
The 6th. We got rid today of our Factory woman sending her back, as she proved quite an annoyance of late. (P.S. What a character she must have been *, from the fact that she ran away from the man that had her in charge on road, and took the bush, but was found and secured by the Police.) 10 Native men had Wirradurai Service some of whom were at the English Prayers also 10 women had Service in their language.
[7 February 1838]
The 7th. Several Native men at Family Prayers and also had Service in their own language as well as 8 women. I attempted to day to teach several young men, that knew nothing of reading previously, the alphabet, but with little success; for I could hardly cause them to pay any attention. Still for the sake of receiving some tobacco, they pretended, at least to look at the paper.
[8 February 1838]
The 8th. Only 4 men came from the Camp for Prayers & 10 women. When we visited the Camp this evening; counted 41 Natives, not including children; of whom, however, there is a small number. Indeed it is surprising, how improportionate [sic] the rising generation is; it is no doubt owing to their wretched, abominable, practices, both among themselves, and with Europeans, and to the wicked practice of murdering their offspring. But, alas! it is awful to think of, that Europeans, professed Christians, almost, if possible, surpass these poor savages in wickedness of all kinds. This very day we received information of a most outrageous action: a European committed the horrible murder of three person at once, two men & a woman; the latter being in a far advanced state of pregnancy. The murderer and the murdered are Irish. It happened two or three days ago about from 20 to 30 miles off this place.
[9 February 1838]
The 9th. 11 Native men at English Prayers, who also afterwards have Service in their own language; Fred, however, could not attend. I don’t know what is the reason, he does not at all like Service in his own language. Also 13 women had Prayers in their language to themselves.
[10 February 1838]
February 10th. Again a few Natives at the English Prayers, and about 23 here & women had Service in their own language: but Mr Watson is always obliged to make less * of them, as men & women will not go together. Besides conversing a little with some women, who plagued me much for tobacco, our provisions of which is exhausted . I spent most of the day in visiting.
[11 February 1838]
Sunday 11th Mr. Watson us today a sermon from Luke. VI, so speaking of the faith of the woman these alluded to and showed I, the Evidences[?] of her faith II, the friends of the same. 8 Native men attended Service, who, also, had an address in their own language as well as 10 women. I was grieved to observe only one European at Church, besides our own ones & the soldiers.
[12 February 1838]
The 12th No Native men at Prayers, but to 9 women Mr Watson administered, the Word in their own language; some of them also were sought to read. Had again to take a ride, to a [?] about the flock of sheep, which had been intruding before, & reported to intrude again, and I was sorry to find it actually the case, learning from the shepherd, who is a prisoner; that he received an order from his Overseer to that effect, that though the latter has promised in a letter he would order them off. It is most annoying, particularly for the Missionary. to have to deal with such a set of disreputable characters, and in such matters as these.
[13 February 1838]
The 13th There were no less than 15 Native women here, who had a Wirradurai Service, 7 men also were at Prayers & some of them afterwards at work. 10 of the women were also attempting to read, being taught by the children under Mr W’s. superintendence. Several of the women have, for sometime, every day been reading & the Children, at least some of them, do remarkably well in teaching the former. In the afternoon Mr W. and myself spent some hours in the study of Mr Threlkeld’s Grammar. The dialect, however, he writes about differs much from that of our Natives.
[14 February 1838]
The 14th Twelve Native men & thirteen women attended Prayers today. Was part of the day engaged in collecting a number of words of the Native language, which I had written on littler papers, into a book.
[15 February 1838]
The 15th I felt it once more my duty to ride out, to order off the flock of sheep, so often intruding. Unless we are very decided & threaten in good earnest, it appears we shall not succeed.
People in WellPro Directory: Threlkeld, Reverend L.E.
[16 February 1838]
February 16th. Mrs Watson being very poorly & requiring Mr Watson constant attendance had the entire management of the stores, which kept me employed all the day; served out more than a hundred pounds of beef. Had also English Prayers with 14 women which I however did with some hesitation as, I was afraid they would understand little. Mrs G. attempted to teach 2 of the Women to read.
[17 February 1838]
February 17. We had only half a dozen Native men at Family Prayers, & 10 women attended Mr W’s. Wirradurai Service. We inspected today the Old Buildings, to see what arrangement might be made for the advantage of the Mission. Some of the buildings are almost ready to tumble down.
After Evening Prayers we proceeded to the Native Camp, about a mile distant. On our way a very grand sight presented itself to our eyes; the mountains to the SW were on fire, to a very considerable extent, several miles in length. It is in summer by no means an uncommon sight but I never saw it extended so far. The spectacle resembled a large city in flames, or, as I observed to Mr Watson something like the City of London with its numerous lamps of gas. These fires are commonly occasioned by the Natives, either made by them on purpose to [?] the oppossum etc etc etc out of their holes, or, it is done through their carelessness about fire for when there is much old grass, if you drop one spark, it may spread far & wide. These fires, if not extinguished by rain may last for weeks & spread to many miles distance.
We spent about an hour at the camp, visiting each party at their respective fires & conversing with them. Observed several fresh comers or rather such that made their reappearance. We met also Jemmy Buckley there , who has been abroad for these three weeks, longer than he commonly used to do. He has not done well at all of late, growing worse & worse, it appears. With him, more especially, we carried on a long conversation intending it at the same time for the need of young men, encamping with them - 14 in number. We could of course not help reproving him for his conduct. Mr Watson pointed out to him, more especially, his ingratitude: though he had enjoyed so much in the Mission he was treating us & our message with the utmost indifference & carelessness. I added , “Yes whatever we may give him or do for him he never thanks us.” “Oh yes I do,” he emphatically replied, “I often think of what you are telling me.” He would make us believe; his heart was good, and asked Mr W. “Who told you, I am wicked”: when he was shown that his actions prove it. He [? first to understand the effects of our reproofs & meanings by laughing (a weapon not unfrequently applied by the Natives), at each he called out “[?] the way, you always frighten me.” We numbered 41 Natives at the Camp.
[18 February 1838]
February 18. Sunday Mr Watson had fixed Service with Native women & then with 10 men in Wirradjuri. 8 Native men also attended the English Services when I preached from Luke. XV: 7. Jemmy was also present; it appears he has not altogether disregarded our yesterday evening’s lecturing.
[19 February 1838]
February 19. 9 Native men & 11 Women had Prayers in their own language; also 11 men attended the English Prayers.
I have to relate an event of personal joy & gratitude: my dear Wife was in the evening safely delivered of a fine, healthy, Girl, Mrs G. felt constrained* to acknowledge the hand of our good God, having supported her & delivered from danger; and we were both filled with praise to the Almighty for the great many vouchsaved[?]. Yes, his name be blessed & his goodness magnified, for evermore. May this token of his favour, together with many others, tend to increase our faith & may we be enabled to trust in him all times; may we feel our renewed obligation, to devote ourselves entirely to the Service of our great & kind teacher. To him we would dedicate, also, the charge entrusted to us. Oh! That we may be enabled, if the Lord please to spare her, to praise her up in his fear & love, once may she, according to his sovereign mercy, prove an heir of grace & of glory!
[20 February 1838]
The 20th. Prayers attendance 21 Native men & women. The women who had heard of the little Stranger were very anxious to see her & watched some time for an opportunity to that effect, before the House. When at last permitted to have a peep at her, through the window, they were highly delighted, calling out “Marombary”, (very good or fine etc etc). One old woman in particular smiled at the little daughter of the Missionary, with much interest & was as it were quite in an exstacy [sic], leaping & swinging her hands. A number of women also were taught to read this morning. - When in the evening very late Mr W. & myself went to the Native Camp, we were very much grieved to hear one of the Native men who was in a rage at his dog, latter the following awful execration “Damn my soul!” When reproving him & pointing out to him the wicked language he used, we discovered that the poor fellow was not aware of its meaning. But it is a melancholy & appalling fact that these savage heathen have learned from the English, from professed Christians, little more than wickenedness & vice & that almost the only terms they know of English is the language of swearing & filthiness.
[21 February 1838]
The 21st. English Prayers attended by 13 Native men & and Wirradurai Service by 14 Women. We had much rain today, in consequence of which the Natives, especially the women felt uncomfortable & sought shelter in our huts & kitchens. They cannot fear the rain at all, especially when accompanied by cold as it often
is. Yet, they will not learn a lesson from it & in spite of all our admonitions & every inducement that is held out to them, they prefer to continue in their unsavoury habits. They may complain to day much of the rain & even feel some desire to have houses or huts for themselves like Europeans; but let the sun shine tomorrow & all will be forgotten. Thoughtlessness is indeed one of the leading features of their character.
[22 February 1838]
February 22. After the rain, I made today another attempt, to plant some vegetables in the garden, we have been without any piece of vegetables for these 4 months.
[23 February 1838]
February 23. I had Family Prayers at the Church this morning, when no less than 18 Native men attended & about the same number of women attended at Watson’s Wirradurai Service, most of whom were also taught to read.
Mrs. G. is not quite so well as she has been. I need scarcely say that most of my time at the present, is taken up by domestic employment; as indeed it has been during the whole of my service here; and I am afraid it will continue so, if no better arrangements are made. Now I shall sometimes have another domestic charge indeed to what I frequently had already, I mean that of nursing. Unless we can have some European servant, I shall never be able to do much; if I say, we require at least one suitable servant, I say evidently nothing unreasonable. To have another Woman from the Factory at Bathurst, is preposterous in every respect, as they are the outcasts of the outcasts.
[24 February 1838]
The 24th. As we neither were able to attend much to the Natives during the day, on account of other engagements, we availed ourselves of the night to pay them a visit at the Camp. We were the more anxious to see them, as we were aware that there was an unusual number. But we were not able to leave home before 10 o’clock at night & had to walk almost two miles. The Camp presented at some distance a very interesting scene, there being at the least 50 fires so that it looked like a little town. I numbered not less that 122 Natives though I could not number every one of them. We talked to many of them. Mr Watson, besides a short address to a number of mostly young men, greater part of whom were entire strangers to us, and had perhaps never before heard anything of the Gospel; they were very attentive & acknowledged the immortality of the soul. We felt both rather poorly, when we had returned, which was about 2 o’clock.
[25 February 1838]
The 25th. Mr Watson had two Services this morning before the usual Church hour with the Natives, in their own tongues the first was attended by about 20 men & the second by 17 women. He also was obliged to take the English Service, as I was unable to prepare myself on account of
Mrs G. being very poorly. His text was from Rev. XVII: 14. In the first place he showed; in what way men war against the Lamb, and in the second, he showed he showed the result of this war. It was a good sermon and its characteristics were boldness & plainness. With much [?] and in the most intelligible language he pointed out the great opposition & obstacles we have to experience in our Mission from Europeans, as being also war against the Lamb.
There were no Natives at the English Service as they all left in a great hurry after their Service, since they are collecting & preparing for war. We had also a little girl of about 9 years of age, added to our number of Children, which now amounts to a dozen, including a boy who is not * in the Children’s hut, and more attentive to the latter* than to his book. After Evening Prayers we proceeded to the Camp, which was some four* miles off in a different direction from which was last* evening. When approaching the Camp, we heard a very great noise; they were engaged in their Native dance: The scenery was a very wild & boisterous one indeed and our Jemmy Buckly carried it to as great an excess as any of them; he has behaved very badly indeed of late. All the dancers were painted in a frightful manner & had their heads ornamented with feathers. I counted from 60 to 70 men partly performers & partly spectators, besides others that remained at their respective fires. Only half a dozen or so women were present at the scene; as singers. I always fancy that these wild dances most commonly taking place previous to a fight are intended to inspire them with courage for the engagement. As the Natives were so entirely absorbed in their dancing dissipation we were obliged to leave again with any conversation worth mentioning. The whole number must have amounted to at least 150.
[26 February 1838]
February 26. There came about a dozen Native men, mostly aged, that are notable or not willing to fight; but the rest has proceeded. The former attended Family Prayers, also 14 women made their appearance. We had, however, little time to attend to them, as few were taught to read. I did a little work in the garden. The Natives remaining have encamped very near us, only a few hundred yards off the Mission House. When we visited them late in the evening, we were grieved to learn that some Europeans had been at the Camp, of course for no good purpose, during the time we were at Prayers. Not withstanding the greatest part of the Natives have gone away, then see as many as 36 men & women left.
The parents of the Child we received yesterday wanted her back this evening. As they have separately done & thus are only cheating the missionaries we refused to give her up, showing them that we will not be played with. We were grieved to learn afterwards that one of our eldest girls, Jane was the cause of it, as she endeavoured to pred[?] the minds of the parents, saying that the other children would beat the new comer. They appeared to be a little satisfied when we declared that we would protect her. It’s a distressing fact that even one Children acts frequently so [?].
[27 February 1838]
February 27. Morning Prayers attended by 12 Native men; and the number of women that made their appearance amounted to 17, many of whom were taught to read, or, rather the knowledge of the Alphabet. When visiting the camp in the evening some strange and superstitious circumstance occurred: as an old man was crying out for some time as loudly as he could. When we inquired as to the cause, we were told that he called on the flies, to carry certain news to another tribe. He also addressed his dogs telling them, when he was dead, they might eat his flesh, but throw his bones into the water. There were between 40 & 50 Natives at the Camp.
[28 February 1838]
The 28th. Again a number of Native men at Prayers & several women reading. In the night we visited & watched again the Native camp.
[1 March 1838]
March 1st. 7 Native men at Prayers & a number of women reading. When at the Camp this morning, we saw a Native of the name of Charly, who had returned from the bush yesterday with a very serious wound in his head close upon the brains, about a inch long & almost as deep. Some Native attacked & wounded him, who then was killed by the companion of the former, called Waddy Charly. The latter related his murderous deed, if we may depend on the fact with the greatest indifference & innocence[?] adding, quite as coolly, he believed, that the Native he had killed, was gone to hell fire.
[2 March 1838]
March 2d. Only few Native men at Prayers. A number of those who went last Monday on a fighting expedition returned today, without having seen, it appears, the enemy. Jemmy & George were among the number, the latter by his absence obliged us to send a White man to mind the flock of sheep he has been minding for some time; he did, however, not leave them as is sometimes the case, with the Black shepherds, without apprizing the master of it. He is ready to take them again.
[3 March 1838]
March 3d. Our morning Prayers were attended by no less than 23 Native men, also 15 women came to see us, some of whom have a reading lesson, but they had no service. Mr W. has not been able, for some time, to have his Wirradurai Service with them. It is a most distressing fact, that whilst the Natives are so numerous, we are not able to attend to them; at least, it is by far the smallest portion of our time, that we can devote to them, on account of so many secular, general & domestic arrangements. We had a Committee Meeting this very day, to consider the matter, & to make representations to the Corresponding Committee at Sydney, concerning better arrangements. We are dragging on the concern for little or no purpose. Our character* as missionaries & ministers of the Gospel are buried beneath the load of secular duties, so that we can do little more than keep up
(March 3d contd).
The framework of the machinery, our real objective, for which we came here, is thus made a secondary consideration. I sometimes can hardly find time to prepare a sermon; unless it be late at night, as for instance, to say; for I have to attend part of the day to the House. I served out meat to 36 Natives, but did by no means satisfy them as I was obliged to give them rather small portions.
We understood this afternoon for our Fred that the Natives were going to a very fierce (wicked) corrobory [fictitious word for Native dance] advising us, at the same time, we better not go to see them. This was, perhaps, his cunningness; and we felt it the more our duty to disturb them by going. We went after Evening Prayers; we had to walk about 1 mile; and when we reached the place the scene was finished. No doubt they were apprehensive* of our coming & hastened on that account. However, all of them, young & old, men & women. were very frightfully painted and the majority still, as it were, intoxicated from the dissipation they had enjoyed. There was every sign of the scene having been very wild. Jemmy Buckly, though his Father in law, for whom he has regard and affection, appears to be dying, was almost worse than any. Having been warned & reproved by us, more particularly by Mr W. he got into a rage & said, “You always always come & tell us this!” “What you always come to the Camp for & tell us we should go to hell etc etc etc” Don’t you go to hell? The poor fellow appeared almost ready to beat us. I thought perhaps it is a better sign than that indifference, as common, to the Natives. His passion soon turned into mocking & laughing. He exhibited large sheets of bark most curiously painted inside and indeed out. What “bonjezy’ (fictious word for good or beautiful). What foojesy[?]! What like [?] What like Wandong? (Wandong is the Native work for the Evil Spirit. These mocking gestures were accompanied by excessive laughter.
I numbered about 80 Natives at the Camp.
[4 March 1838]
March 4. Was obliged to go to Church with sermon only half finished, as I had no time for preparation. There were 22 Native men Mr W’s Service (only 4 were at the English) about the same number of women had Service in their tongue. The Natives intended to have a repetition of the same wild pleasure as yesterday evening; but, lest we should interrupt them, they resolved to go to a distance of at least 4 miles, and we, consequently, could not find them when we came to their old camp; to our surprise, not a single one had stayed behind, they even took old Jemmy Buckly, who is so very ill, away.
[5 March 1838]
March 5th. Some of the Natives have come back this morning, most of them have gone into the bush, stating, they would not return to Wellington any more. Yet their works & resolutions are not
to be depended upon, besides, they may be instrumental in spreading among others, what they have learned here of religion. One of their principal reason, however, for leaving appears to be that they are afraid of others coming to fight & kill them. I numbered 30 to 40 at the Camp in the evening. Old Jemmy Buckly was very ill, as if almost breathing his last. The poor man has been gradually decaying; he appears to be in fear of death & to feel some apprehension, what would become of his soul, when other Natives endeavoured to comfort him. One observed to him that he would die altogether. Mr W. administered medicine to him & we went repeatedly to the Camp very late in the night. It is an affecting sight to see them struggle with death, without any hope to cheer “their darkened minds”.
[7 March 1838]
March 7. The poor man appears to be getting better again. We went repeatedly to the Camp yesterday, & to day. 7 Natives at Prayers this morning.
[8 March 1838]
March 8th. We neither found time to day to go to the Camp nor to attend to the Natives that came up, Mr W having to wait on Mrs W. who was very ill today; and I had to attend to Mr G & I am very sorry to say that I have every reason to believe poor Mrs W was laid up in consequence of her kind & [?] attendance to Mrs G. night & day; she has not had one good night’s rest for more than a fortnight. I thought it a mercy she could stay so long, being poorly besides. The Woman we obtained is this neighbourhood [?] a visit, is of little service. I am daily more surprised at the arrangements of this Mission, in all its bearings; as for instance that the Missionary’s Wife should be expected to do without a servant, before the least dependence can be placed on the services of any Native, male or female.
[9 March 1838]
March 9th. Having been kept awake last night by Mrs G. & the Baby, I felt rather poor today; want of sleep always incapacitates me for my work. Mrs W. much better today. 8 Native men at Prayers, counted 35 Natives at the Camp in the evening, when found Old Jemmy Buckley rather worse.
[10 March 1838]
March 10th. When preparing my sermon to day, I made the Church my Study, as I could not find a quiet room in the House, in fact there is scarcely any room suitable for a studying, as we are too confined.
[11 March 1838]
March 11. Mr W. had 14 Native women at Wir: Service, and I had about a dozen men at the English, when I preached from Luke. XXII: 22, inferring from it the following theme, “To fulfil his purposes, God sometimes avails himself of the wickedness of men, yet they are, on that account, not excusable”. We found 41 Natives at the Camp in the evening. We watched for some time, since there were some bullock drivers with their dray encamping not far from the Native camp & we had occasion to suspect the former.
We received some information to day from the Colonial Government, which greatly interested our minds, that of a Police Establishment being formed here, as already resolved by Government. We are requested to appropriate some of the Old Buildings for a Lockup House, Court House & residences for a few constables. If the Government persists in it, we can foresee & apprehend nothing less than the ruin of this Mission. Our hopes which of late are reviving with regard to the Natives are thus blasted. Lord have mercy on the poor Natives & plead their cause for the sake of thine honour & praise!
[12 March 1838]
March 12th The distressing news we received yesterday takes up all our thoughts, and the more we consider it, the more we feel convinced of its fatal consequences. We deem it our most bounded & sacred duty, if possible, to counteract it, by presenting a petition to the Colonial Government & giving a fair statement of the circumstances of the Mission & our just apprehensions. Whatsoever we may effect, we should not do satisfaction to our consciences, if we did not freely & boldly, though respectfully express our views to Government & speak a loud sound in defence of a good cause.
[13 March 1838]
March 13th We finished our address to the Acting Governor, which we began yesterday. This morning; and sent at once a man off with it to the Post Office at Bathurst. After this my time was spent in domestic business regarding cleanliness. As we are surrounded by dirty & filthy creatures and so limited in room, it is with difficulty that we can keep ourselves clean & wholesome.
There were 17 Native men at Prayers this morning.
[14 March 1838]
March 14th. We were much grieved & annoyed this evening when visiting at the Natives Camp on account of the absence of two young women, who had gone out fishing this morning, and not returned. We had little doubt but that some Europeans had decoyed them away. Their husbands appeared to care little about them & came back; but these will not give us any information about the runaways. Their wickedness, deceitfulness & weakness are in inconceivable. Mr Watson took occasion to reprove & warn them in strong terms & we especially expressed our indignation at that unlawful intercourse so common between White men & Black females. One of the Natives replied, when Mr W. was reproving them so warmly, “Why don’t you talk that way to White fellas?” as much as to say, “Begin with your own countrymen, to make them better.” It is melancholy but the Black has some sight
and must be in some respect[?] justified for passing a remark like that. But we could declare that we did not fail, when opportunity is offered, to reprove White men also.
[15 March 1838]
March 15th. We entertained some suspicion as to where the Women alluded to yesterday, were, and we are more confident in it today. There is a Surveyor in this Neighbourhood at present, where men have encamped a few miles from here, & as we understand, seduced their poor women. It is a most discouraging fact, that, with very few exceptions, all European men are bad enough to make the Native females the victims of their filthy lusts. We had about 10 Natives at Prayers. Afterwards I prevailed on 4 young men to go to the Garden to dig. But before we could begin, I was sadly annoyed about finding* tools; I found only a few after an hour’s search, most appeared to have been lost or stolen. If we do not constantly look after every trifle all goes to ruin, the White men are as careless as the Black and little more to be depended upon; and they always find it very convenient to say; “The Black fellows have lost it!!” “The Black fellows destroy everything!” Alas! Alas! Why must we have such men on our Establishment! men who in every aspect prove an annoyance to the Missionaries & a hindrance to this work.
[16 March 1838]
On the 16th. Prevailed again on a few young men to work along with me in the Garden, from them I collected also a number of words in Wirradurai. About 14 men at Prayers who also had a short Service in Wirradurai. Jemmy Buckly has done remarkably well for these last few days in ploughing, as also another young man, called, Billy, of whom we hope he will stay with us. Jemmy appears to be determined to build soon a hut for himself. He also ran this evening to tell us that they were fighting at the Camp & wished us to prevent it. We hastened off to the Camp but though we had to go only a few hundred yards, all was over, when we came there; one man was slightly wounded in the head, in consequence of his interfering & endeavouring to protect others from fighting.
[17 March 1838]
The 17. [sic] Having to attend to the House in consequence of Mrs W. being poorly & needing Mr W’s. attention, I could not prepare for Sunday before tonight.
[18 March 1838]
Sunday the 18th. Took for my text, John. V: 39. There were 12 Native men and boys at Church and 14 women were addressed in their own language by Mr Watson. To our deep regret, Mr W. caught that person, who ought to be here for our protection, at the Camp; endeavouring to seduce a Native woman by offering her presents. Old Jemmy Buckly is very ill, not expected to live over the night.
[19 March 1838]
March 19. Old Jemmy is better again, contrary to all our expectations. About a dozen Natives at Prayers. I prevailed on 4 young men to read a little or rather to spell & learn the alphabet. In the afternoon Mr W. & myself were engaged in composing* the Annual Report of this Mission for our Colonial Government.
[20 March 1838]
March 20. I obtained 8 pupils of the Young men who * the best humour & appearance to have much willingness for reading; but I was grieved to be interrupted in my very agreeable engagement being called off into The House, as Mr W. was otherwise engaged. I have no doubt, if we could devote our whole time to the teaching of the Natives & watch their good humours etc etc etc we should soon succeed with a number of them both male & female, in reading. But when you are once called away, they will be sure to be either scattered, or out of their willing disposition, before you are again at liberty.
We were watching a long time this evening at the Camp, as we are very anxious to find out those wicked European invaders.
[21 March 1838]
March 21st. The number of Natives attending Prayers was unusually small this morning only 5. I also had much difficulty to get 4 of the young men to read. They are so irregular in taking their meals, so that when I wished them to read, the one would call out, “I have not had my breakfast”, another was eating his, a third one preparing it, while others disappeared in the mean time.
[22 March 1838]
The 22d. I counted 13 men at Prayers, 8 of them I afterwards was able to teach. To day, at last, some of our young men took a step, which we long wished to see. When we had done reading, Jemmy Buckly & George pronounced solemnly, “Now we are going to build a hut”. I would hardly depend on their word, but they were in good earnest, selecting at once a place, digging holes & putting up posts, they & others with them were very actively at work. Fred also made preparations for a hut for himself. I hope, please God! it is indicative of better things.
[23 March 1838]
The 23d. Our Young men were very early at work this morning building their huts; and the activity & cleverness they displayed, proved quite an enjoyment to us. They just found time to attend Evening Prayers; but when I asked them about reading, they told me, “We are busy today, we cannot read.” I am impressed they are doing so well without any European assisting them.
When I looked at Fred’s hut and observed its large size, as also the framework intimating something like a [?], I said: “Well, Fred, you do not need so large a hut, this (pointing to my part[?], will be large enough.” “And, where shall I sleep?” he replied. “Hie, hie! do want a sitting & a sleeping room? To be sure!” he emphatically answered. Jemmy also wants [?] a fence round the hut, “like a gentleman.”
[24 March 1838]
March 24th This morning most of the young men went to split slabs for the huts, 4, who stayed at home, wanted me to teach them to which I gladly complied.
[25 March 1838]
The 25th My congregation being so very small today on account of the rain, only ourselves & servants present, I left the sermon I had readied last night & preached, extempore, from Romans. 5: 1.2.3.  There were 14 Natives, mostly young men, at Church, who were all nicely dressed & presented a pleasing sight; the rain prevented the elderly men and the women from attending. Mr W. gave the Natives an address in Wirradurai between the Prayers, & my sermon. Having caught a cold I felt very poorly this evening & was obliged to go to bed before dark, whilst Mrs W. went to the Camp watching some wicked White men.
[26 March 1838]
The 26th Thank God I was much better this morning. Did some work in the garden in the afternoon. Our young men went again to day to cut stuff for their huts. The weather being very wet, we allowed them the use of coarse frocks (gaberdines) commonly worn by convicts. When thus standing dressed in the kitchen, Jemmy called out, being one of the number “Here they are, all Government men.” He said it in a joke, but it was as I guessed intended for a little reflection on us; for they do not like at all, to wear the dress of prisoners & often call out with great stress, “We are free men!”
Visiting the Camp this evening it struck me that the Natives have encamped for about 9 nights in the same spot, this is different from their original habits, they would remove after every third night, apprehending, Wandong (the devil) “sits down” there after such time.
[27 March 1838]
The 27th Spent a very bad night, sleepless, night, of account of vehement pain in my right eye, the consequence of a severe cold, but after some medicinal application, it improved much during the day.
[28 March 1838]
The 28th About 8 Native men at Prayers. The young men were engaged today in leading* their slabs & filling up the huts. This evening Mr Watson’s life was in danger. When approaching the Natives’ Camp one of
apprehensive of the person approaching being a Black from some other tribe, about to attack them as an enemy (the night being rather dark) threw his bargan, which closely passed Mr Watson; Mr Watson stated (I was not with him) that the whole Camp was alarmed, when they heard it being. Mr W; once the Native that threw the weapon, as well as others, some one anxiously inquired whether he was not hurt.
[29 March 1838]
Only half a dozen Natives at Prayers. This evening one of the Young men, of the name of Cochrane, surprised & pleased me much, as he was able to repeat the Lord’s Prayer almost as well as an English man.
[30 March 1838]
I have no heart whatever at present to write a Diary as I can relate so little or nothing worth mentioning. I studied a very little of the language today & that was all I found time to do, & so it is every day, as I am so much engaged in domestic affairs.
[31 March 1838]
The Number of Native attending Prayers has for these last few days been rather smaller than usual; there were 7 present today. When we approached the Camp this evening we heard a sad cry; one of the Native men had given his two wives a severe beating. His name is Pierre[?] Gordy; When Mr Watson administered strong reproaches to him & was reminded by me he grew very impudent & insolent and was almost ready to beat Mr W. also. He is one of the worst about lending his wives to White men and is living on the wages of sin as he is too idle to do any work. He received a severe lesson about the whole of his conduct. But though he was ever so much irritated against us he soon grew friendly & flattered us again asking for tobacco.
As a general remark I would just, what indeed may appear from the Diary, that, though we are not able to speak of a real change in any of the Natives yet a growing desire or at least willingness to be taught manifests itself in many of the Natives especially the young men, as also some disposed to become a little more settled, and the number of Natives staying at the Mission for some continuance over of time has undoubtedly of late, for these last three months been greater than perhaps ever before; at least for more so than the 5 months previously I have spent here. One cause might be that they have been fed rather more regularly of late. To feed them is indeed necessary if we want them to stay with us , otherwise they cannot be
expected to stay. For as their natural resources decrease; by the increase of European settlements, it is not a very easy thing for them to obtain their subsistence in the bush in our immediate neighbourhood so that that they are tempted to go & beg from station to station. How little desirable this is may easily be perceived for in the first place it creates that idle habit of beggars, in the second place they learn in most places nothing but more vice whilst it is the third place obliges them to be scattered so that the missionary even if he will follow them in their wanderings seldom can find a number together. The necessity of having more means coming forward for the support of a good number will from this circumstance be evident, as well as the need of such assurances as will enable us to devote our whole time to them: to teach them as much as possible when they are here. To watch their humours & their movements. They will not study our time, we need to study theirs. They are a trying race of people and we require much wisdom, much faith, much patience, an entire reliance on the word & promises of the divine word and much of the [?] love of Christ activating our minds. May the Lord abundantly grant us these graces!
Note] Rev. J. Gunther’s Journal;
Jan. to Mar. 1838.