iii. April-June 1838
[note] Rec'd May 16/39.
James Gunther, Missionary at Wellington Valley
From the 1st of April to the 30th June 1838.
[1 April 1838]
April 1st. We had about 18 Natives at Church mostly young men (I shall always [?] them exclusively of the Children). They presented a pleasing sight, they were all well dressed. As we are accustomed to see them mostly, either naked, or, wrapt up in an oppossum cloak, or a blanket such a sight becomes stiking[?] and interesting. I doubt whether they understood much of my sermon, preached from John. 12: 47-48  when I showed* I, The Divine character of Jesus II, The design of his [?], III, The increased guilt of those that reject him. - Mr Watson had Service in Wirradurai with a Number of women. In the afternoon I taught some of the young men reading. We were much annoyed at the Camp this evening to learn, that some European draged a Native woman away today. It struck me how well the Natives know to shelter them against rain, with only a few sheets of bark.
[2 April 1838]
April 2d. Only 7 Natives, mostly elderly, men, at Prayers this morning. The young men had gone early to cut bark. As we had much rain a number of Native women took shelter in our kitchen for several hours. I just found time for a little conversation & was able to obtain a few words of their language.
[3 April 1838]
April 3d. Spent part of the day in writing letters, being greatly in debt to every one of my friends.
[4 April 1838]
April 4th No more than 5 Natives at Prayers. Was gardening most of the day, transplanting cabbage & turnips, as I cannot get anybody else to do it for
me. To have some vegetables for ourselves & the Native children is no doubt desirable, even as it regards our health. We have been entirely without for these 5 months.
Jemmy’s hut was finished to day; it looks as well as most European huts, and better than many, all done by the Natives, except a little assistance from a European, in laying the roof. When I have visited* George & Jemmy in their new hut after dark and shut the door after me they called out, “Leave the door open that we may hear the bell for Prayers we shall now go to prayers every evening.”
[6 April 1838]
April 6th No less than 17 Native men at Prayers. Afterwards I got three young men to read to me. Mr W. being poorly I also attended to the Stores. We were very much annoyed to learn this evening at the Camp that some European man enticed a Native female, away from the Mission House, during a short absence of both Mr W. & myself.
[7 April 1838]
April 7th I counted 22 Native men at Prayers this morning, During the day I had to attend to the Horses.
[8 April 1838]
April 8th: The text I preached from today Matt. 27: 24.25.26. I call this a memorable day; first because it was the anniversary of our landing safe on these shores, and then we resolved to make it the baptismal day of our little Daughter, Mr Watson standing Godfather I baptised her, giving her the name of Lydia. May it please the Lord to open indeed in due time her heart also; like Lydia’s of old, and render her not only a member of his visible, but his invisible Church also. The solemnity was enhanced by the circumstances that our little Chapel was crowded with Natives of both sexes, who had the curiosity to see the ceremony, about 60 being present including our Children. The Ladies had prepared buns yesterday, for the occassion [sic] & we gave to each Native attending, one as a little remembrance. Some called out in their own language, “Very good; but small!” Of course it did not answer their voracious appetite.
The Natives encamped today very near us, just in front of the Mission so that we could conveniently repeat our visits to them. Their fires presented an interesting scene in the night.
[9 April 1838]
April 9th Prevailed on about 8 Women to be taught to read, the little Boy, Jacky, leading them, under my superintendence. My pity & indignation was raised today, by the sight of a fine Native boy, of about 4 years of age, who has been very seriously injured by a European. He is the Child of the Woman that was enticed away from our House a few days ago. The man who enticed her away, being in a fit of intoxication, threw the boy on the fire, in his hut, so that his face was quite burnt & arms also. These few Natives are indeed an injured race in every respect. Whilst they are made the victims of filthy lust, their life is no more regarded than that of brutes. Europeans even steal from them either by force or by deceit the blankets & clothes they get on the Mission. And where have these poor, injured Blacks any redress, “Oh Black fellow” as he is only deemed worthy to be called, if he injures a White man
is soon seized & proceeded against, but his complaints are by no means eagerly heard or his cause taken in hand & defended. I do not mean to speak against the proceedings of Government; I know too little of the same, but that settlers in general look on an Aboriginal Native with about the same feelings, oh and perhaps, may, undoubtedly with less concern, than they would look on their sheep & cattle
[10 April 1838]
April 11th. [sic] We were much troubled & grieved about our Children. There have been some slabs loosened in the Play ground. We held an examination, so know, who has done it. But the awfulness & obstinacy of not only the Elderly girls, but even the Little children, in denying & stating falsehoods are almost incurable. Everyone told us another tale about it, so that we could not possibly get at the truth. Jane confessed that she loosened some, in a passion, when being scolded. We suspect either intentions on the part of the Young men, to come in, or, on the part of the Girls, to go out.
With some difficulty I prevailed on Jemmy & George to read a little to me, all their thoughts were taken up about getting wives.
[11 April 1838]
The 11th. We have a repetition, and rather more than that, of the same perplexity or vexation about the Children, as yesterday. Some young men, it appears, have come into the Hut last night through the chimney, but were disturbed by Mr W’s. hearing one of the girls call out, and consequently getting up. We ought to have a more secure place for them.
[12 April 1838]
The 12th. We were informed this morning, that two drays, with constables & police men, were not far off & expected today, to be stationed here, a circumstance which made us feel rather uneasy. Only one Constable arrived, & he proceeded from here to a neighbouring Station to take up his residence there for some time, which we took as a proof that they have no authority yet to take possession of the Buildings.
[13 April 1838]
The 13th. Being Good Friday, we commemorated the crucifixion and death of our Blessed Redeemer by solemnising the annual Service, and I trust realising also something, of the blessings of his dying love. I was glad to see several European men attending, whom I did not expect to see. Also a considerable number of
Natives were present. I feel a present desire, to preach to these poor heathens, Christ & his crucifixion. But neither their knowledge of English nor my knowledge of their language, which is indeed is very little, enable me as yet to do satisfaction to the desire of my heart. Mr W. had Service with a number in their own tongue. - I took for my text Isaiah. LIII: 4,5.
[14 April 1838]
April 14. Was altering a sermon from last year for tomorrow, but the task took up almost more time than the composing of a fresh one would have done.
[15 April 1838]
April 15. To proclaim the joyful tidings of a risen Saviour I choose for my text I Cor. XV: 20 showing I, the Certainty of Christ’s resurrection, II, The Victory gained III, Its Effect in the believer’s heart. Rather an unusual number of White people attended Service, also a good number of Natives. I asked the latter afterwards whether they understood me, when several answered, “Some of it.” About half a dozen young men were reading this afternoon, first to myself, & then to Mrs G. George displays quite an eagerness to be taught; he would hardly let me go, when I was called for tea. But to our grief Jemmy & Fred were strolling about, and the former grew quite impudent when Mr W. reproved him. “I can go when I like” he said. He is the most ungrateful being.
[16 April 1838]
April 16. As Mr W. is to proceed to Sydney tomorrow, in order to lay once more our views & objections, respecting the Government Establishment here before the Con. Committee & His Excellency the Governor, much of our time was taken up today in consulting about the subject. In the evening we had some unpleasantness with the Magistrate, Mr Raymond, who required one of the soldiers, to take a prisoner to Bathurst, which we opposed, as they are here only for our protection. We exchanged some letters.
[17 April 1838]
April 17. Mr W. left this morning for Sydney, and my time was mostly taken up with attending to the Stores and such like things.
[18 April 1838]
April 18th. Most of the day spent in the same way as yesterday. A considerable number of Natives made their reappearance today, with several of whom I was conversing, but they would hear & understand little or nothing more than what has a reference to their animal wants.
[19 April 1838]
April 19. There were no less than 23 Native women about the Establishment, and also many men. Gave George a long reading lesson, yet I could not satisfy him, he would have read all the afternoon, had I found time to attend to him. Harry also attended the lesson, & Lowry for a short time.
(April 19 continued)
In the evening, when we were just taking tea, I perceived a great noise at the Native Camp & being at present very close to us, I expected it was only some lively play. At last, however, our Children in the Playground called out: “Black fellows going to fight!” I suddenly rose & hastily ran off to the Camp. All was confusion & perturbation, some were running in a frighful rage, some burst forth their noisy language of anger & revenge; others were just about to throw their spears. Being in the mix of them I exclaimed with bold, firm, & imperative language, sounding my voice as loudly as I could, that I should not allow fighting here, no, never, bidding them at once to be quiet. At the same time I took hold of an old man’s spear; and himself too; he was especially in a great rage. It lasted not above a few minutes & all was quiet. They are great cowards, and very soon frightened, if you show some courage and promptitude.
[20 April 1838]
April 20. We were apprehensive today of the Native men (at least we had intimations to that effect) having resolved, to take away the Girls, under our care. I have entertained some suspicion before these few days; they appear to take advantage of Mr W’s absence.
[21 April 1838]
April 21. Had a very busy day at the Stores, so that I could attend to nothing else. My work was quite like that of a butcher & shop keeper, though it was Saturday, when I ought to have been preparing for to morrow; that I had to do in the night.
[22 April 1838]
April 22. Preached from 1 John. V,4 showing I, The Christians[?] Conflict II, His Weapon, III, His Victory. I had also a short Service with a number of Native women, when I endeavoured to be as plain as possible in English, but am afraid they understood very little. The first Service was well attended both by White & Black.
In the afternoon I catechised the Children, and was very much pleased with Nancy. However wicked the girl’s conduct may be, she appears to pay much attention to, and to be thinking upon, what she is reading, far more so than any of the others. Jane was extremely stupid & absent, but it lasted not many hours, when I could account perfectly well for her inattentive behaviour. Her thoughts were elsewhere; for in the evening at dark, just after Family Prayers, she effected her escape through the Play ground fence, where it appears she loosened a slab beforehand. She left of course her little Boy, about 18 months
old, behind. But on that very account we found it the more our duty to make every effort to have her back. We made a great stir at the Camp and gave our young men the strictest injunctions, to search & to bring her back, else they would have to suffer for it in one way or other, and being almost sure that some of the Natives must be privy to her plans, nay, that some of them enticed her away, I pronounced it most solemnly, at the Camp, that no Native should have a bit to eat till Jane was brought back. To increase their apprehension I also fetched the Military Detachment, in conjunction with whom, I searched the whole of the Camp; The Ladies could neither refrain from going to the Camp & watching & searching all about. I resolved at last being rather exhausted and midnight drawing near; to retire for a few hours, and then to search before the break of day, which Native or Natives might leave; to go off with the Girl, of whom we made sure she must be very near waiting for the party. But Jemmy Buckly released us from our trouble & anxiety, as he brought her back safely at about 12 o’clock in the night. This is what few of these Natives who in general, act a treacherous part to us, would have done we could not help therefore but admiring Jemmy’s conduct. He & George promised one at once, that they would not rest till they had found the Girl & they have proved faithful to their word.
[23 April 1838]
April 23. We discovered today the party that enticed the Girl away, an old blind man, called Blind Bobby, together with his wife. He has another wife, or two, living in adultery with Europeans, and no doubt, he wanted Jane for the purpose of lending her about. But alas! alas! it is not enough, that we are surrounded on all sides with neighbours that prove a snare to the Native females; we are obliged to have these shameless & voluptuous[?], fellows on our very Establishment. I was so shocked & grieved & discouraged today that I felt quite miserable, & was at loss what to do & to think. We received intimations, or, rather information, that all our European men, with scarcely one exception, carry on an unlawful intercourse, & that to a great excess, with the Native females, [in margin] notwithstanding we are so frequently on the watch, despairing ourselves of many an hours rests in the night. I cannot help, conscience compels me, to pronounce with the deepest regret and the greatest astonishment against the arrangements of this Mission I must repeat again & again. “It is preposterous, in the extreme!” to have convict servants, or such, that have been prisoners whether Bond or Free, Ticket of leave men or Emancipated, they all prove with very few exceptions that they are justly banished from their Native sanctuary & emulate[?] the outcasts of mankind. Even with the best
care & caution & enquiry, when we have one of these unfortunate beings, we are deceived and procure, as it were, another champion aiding the cause of our enemy. I have little hope of the prosperity & real success of this Mission so long as we have men that are or have been convicts, and I am only surprised that such a system ever should have been adopted, and for years carried on, whilst it must be evident to every one that takes the subject into consideration, that we have thus at once sowed the seed of destruction and have the enemy strength in the very heart of our Establishment. The injury these men do is indescribable, their conduct in all its bearings is unfavourable to our work. Besides the great abomination I have named, there are various other things connected with such men which work against us; the Missionary must waste his time in constantly looking after them, and taking care of every trifle, if not all shall go to ruin; nor can it prove any satisfaction to us, to let the Natives work along with these men, and be instructed by them in farming business etc etc etc. They either make too familiar with the Natives & teach them all their tricks & vices, or, they abuse & use[?] them.
I hope & trust & pray, that this subject may be seriously considered by all, to whom we have to look for directions, and the necessity acknowledged, and acted upon, to have a few pious, labouring people here. Then we might present a city on a hill, in this dreary wilderness, among a savage tribe, and in the midst of a perverse generation of professing Christians; then we might labour with cheerfulness & encouragement; then we might devote the whole of our time to the grand object; then the Natives might be properly instructed, both their mental faculties would be cultivated & their bodily strength usefully employed; and then, I must add, if proper means are used, if we know that our Establishment rests on a truly Christian foundation, we could with more confidence look for the Lord’s favour & blessing. Oh may the Lord in his mercy behold us & this Mission!
This evening another Girl, of the name of Maria, who has only been here a few months, attempted to make her escape, when I just caught her; had I been a minute later I might have been too late. From some intimations we received this evening, it appears that there is quite a kind of conspiracy among the Natives, to take away our Children. I do not think it very advisable, to keep those elderly Girls much longer, since the Natives, thinking they are marriagable, are almost determined to take them away by some means or other, suspecting we intend to keep them always, a circumstance which prejudices their minds against us, & makes them less willing to entrust their children to our care
[25 April 1838]
April 25. Nothing to relate of yesterday & today, but that my time is take up by attending to the Stores, giving directions to the men & looking after them both White & Black. Have much trouble with the Natives about feeding them. They say very much to induce me to give them oftener & meat a [?] by referring to Mr Watson whom they [?], give them always when they ask, and give them larger pieces. Whether true, or no, they will say so.
[26 April 1838]
On the 26th Had much trouble this morning to get the Natives off to plough. When I found fault with Jemmy Buckley, for idling away best part of the day, he grew quite impudent and said among other things, “What business have you to come here for!” “I am master too!” He then went off in a passion together with Harry. But after a short time they left the plough to the European that was with them, and strolled about in the bush. George alone stayed at home & was very industrious. I was sorry I could find so little time to teach him, anxious as he was.
[27 April 1838]
The 27th. The same trouble repeated, to get the Natives to plough. They ran away again, even George was drawn away. All the host of Natives have gone on the Mountains to hunt. Fred alone stays at home, & has done well for several days, being engaged in threshing. I refused meat to most of them this morning, and, to vex me, these have drawn the rest away. In the evening I passed by the young men after their return without taking any notice of them; they understood me well & called out, “He is tolley! (angry)”. I ascribe much of their unsettled conduct, at the present, to what has happened a few days ago, and their scheme to take away the Girls. Some appear to be uncomfortable, because they are suspected, others may feel sorry that they have not succeeded, and are not very likely to succeed - Jemmy, I have reason to believe, from some observations he made; was found fault with by the rest, for fetching back Jane.
[29 April 1838]
The 29th Having no time yesterday to prepare, I took an old sermon, the subject of which was, The Lysophericcum[?] woman. There was a considerable number of Natives at Church. I trust, they may derive some benefit, at least a few of them, from English Service; but I feel sorry I cannot address them in their own language.
When I was at the Camp this evening, I was sadly caught: one of the Natives asked me for some tobacco, and, I said I have none, thinking I had not taken any with me. After some time another asked me, very pressingly wishing me to examine my pockets, when I found some & gave it to him. Then one called out: “Mr Gunther you told a story.” This will be a lesson to me to be more circumspect. They are very observant.
[1 May 1838]
May 1st Had to send Jemmy Buckley to Bathurst this morning, to fetch a Man & his Wife whom the Con. Committee have sent up; but was much annoyed, that against my will, Jemmy was accompanied by Harry, whom I had intended for another journey.
[3 May 1838]
May 3d. It was the first time I could find a leisure hour with Mr Watson’s absence to give a reading lesson to Native females; there were twelve of them. The Boy, Jacky, taught them, under my superintendence, and he did remarkably well, he displays great abilities. He has only been here for about a twelve month and reads the English pretty fluently.
[4 May 1838]
On the 4th. Was able to repeat my reading lesson to the Women.
[6 May 1838]
May 6th Took my text from the first Lesson, Deuty. IV: 24. “In the Lord thy God, is a consuming fire.” About a dozen Native men at Church, very few White people. The indifference of European professed Christians towards the means of grace! is extremely great, in this part of the world.
Mrs G. gave a long reading lesson to George this afternoon. He is very eager to learn, & I am sorry I find so little time at present to teach him.
[7 May 1838]
May 7. Found just time to give the Native women a short reading lesson. When I gave them meat, I was obliged to give them very small pieces, in consequence of which they were very much dissatisfied, some of them observing, that this was just enough for a parrot. I am at a loss what to do; for I see plainly, we cannot go on as we have done of late; the bullocks being all young, we cannot afford to give all the Natives, that are here at present, and yet, if we want them here, & want to teach them, they must be fed. When visiting at the camp this evening, I was sorry to find all the young men & boys there; they begin to be tired of their huts & the kitchens.
Our Children amuse & delight us much at the present; they sing every evening after dark, when we are at tea, and it is surprising, how well they sing a number of English hymns & tunes, quite by themselves.
[10 May 1838]
May 10th I sometimes can hardly find time to write my Diary, on account of my secular engagements; nor have I to relate anything of interest for the more immediate object I have come here for, I can do little or nothing, except half an hours reading lesson I gave to the Women as I did yesterday & today.
Today the “married couple“ The Committee sent from Sydney arrived here. Would to God they should prove suitable persons!
[12 May 1838]
May 12th Was very sorry to hear from Jemmy (and we may commonly depend on what he says; he is by no means addicted to lies as many other Natives) that the Woman he went for to Bathurst, entered every public house on the road, and was repeatedly intoxicated. What a distressing thing, if this is the character of a Female, who ought to aid in the Mission!
George was exceedingly anxious to read today, but I could find no time to teach him. Mrs G. at last tried to spare an hour for him, but was soon called off from her agreeable employment of teaching, by her domestic duties.
This was my natal day; but I do not recollect having spent one before like this. My time & attention was so much taken up by secular engagements, that I felt utterly unable even to collect myself a little for meditation & prayer, and to review my past life with the mercies I have experienced, the sins I have committed, the neglects I have become guilty off. I had not a quiet hour till late in the night, when all was retired, and then, I had to prepare my sermon for the ensuing Sunday which indeed kept me up most of the night.
[13 May 1838]
May 13. The text I preached from today was John. 10: 14. Several Natives at Church. In the afternoon I began to teach the young men. i.e. George, Cochrane & Bungary; but being rather poorly I soon left off, when Mrs G. continued it for a considerable length of time. I was sorry I felt not able to attend to the Children; Mrs W. however, heard them for a short time, though very poorly also.
[15 May 1838]
May 15th I had a great deal of trouble today as well as yesterday, with the Natives to find the Working bullocks, everyone I send, comes home with the tale: I cannot find them, and others will not go at all to seek. We want them so very much, to fetch wood & water. With some difficulty, I prevailed on a few Natives, to fetch a little wood on their shoulders, that we might be able to cook our dinner in the evening. I gave the Young men & Boys a long & severe lesson about their ill conduct, pointing out, more especially, their ingratitude, their laziness, their backwardness in doing the least service to us, whilst we sacrifice ourselves for them. I told them also that I knew of no other Natives so bad as they, and referred them more especially to their neighbours, the New Zealanders, how much better they did. Jemmy Buckley was very impudent, and made a laugh of all we said, (Mrs G. was joining me in reproving & warning them), and at last began to say; “Very well, go to New Zealand; there are the good Natives!” “Yes, I know” replied I “you do not care for us, you do not want us, you wish to perish, you want to go to hell fire” when he would answer, “Well we shall all go there.” George, however, conducted himself differently: “Well, said he, if you go to New Zealand, I shall go there; I shall go with you.”
Bungary, rather hurt at my reproofs, & trusting he was not deserving of them, said: “I don’t know, how I must behave.” I could not help giving him to understand, that I did not exactly mean him. For his conduct, for some time past, has been exceedingly pleasing. He is always doing some work, & knows to find some employment even if we give him no[?]. He is altogether an interesting boy, superior to any Native I have seen as yet. He has soon[?] a notion of doing or imitating any thing he has seen; for instance; carpentering, he displays his genius more particularly in forming a variety of figures, of common clay, imitations of men animals or utensils, which he does remarkably well. He also is in a great measure domesticated, is a good cook & baker. Whilst we were at dinner today, he came before our window holding a plate in his hand, & wishing us to look at it. There he had a number of biscuits of various shapes, as you see them at home at the confectioners. He has once seen something of the kind at Bathurst.
[16 May 1838]
May 16. For these three days I had the greatest trouble to make the Natives find our working bullocks which we want so much. This morning I received some hints, that they did not wish to find them. The European who knows the run best is ill, and of this circumstance they appeared to take advantage; for if they find no bullocks there is not much work for them. I therefore was very determined & imperative with them this afternoon, threatening that I should not give them any thing to eat till the Bullocks were found. Jemmy & George consequently went to search for them, and it lasted scarcely an hour till they brought them. I must add here, that Jemmy has begun to day to behave very differently from what he has done for some time, as if wishing to make up for the past. I have not seen him so pliable for a long time as he is now.
It was this evening the Police men brought some Aboriginal prisoners, two men, accused of having murdered one of their countrymen, in a treacherous manner, about 40 or 50 miles from here. I knew one of them, called, Pretty Boy, well and always considered him a very false fellow, the other, named Franky, has been here also, during my time but I have no recollection of him. I was sorry, I could speak to them so little, they knowing only a few words in English, and I too little of their language, else I should have pointed out to them, more fully, their sins & preached repentance unto them. P.B. who, however, is considered less guilty, now offered me a child
of his, whom he knew we often wished to have, hoping, I should intercede for him. P. wanting to run away so he said, received a severe wound in his arm by one of the Police firing at him. When I visited at the Camp in the evening, all the Natives appeared to be much afraid, in consequence of the apprehension of these Blacks, and told me, they would fight no more, no more go into the bush, but always sit down here. I of course availed myself of the opportunity to give them lecture. Even our Children were not a little alarmed.
[17 May 1838]
May 17. The Magistrate addressed a letter to me this morning, desiring me to attend the Court to be held concerning those Native Prisoners, that I might be of some assistance interpreting at their examination. I was sorry, to know that I could be of very little service, & told the magistrates so, yet I attended. One of our young men, George who speaks the English better than most, was also called for. That Franky was guilty of the murder was sufficiently ascertained, it was therefore decided to send them to Sydney for trial. I was not a little surprised to learn from the Code of Laws, that the Aboriginal Natives are “amenable” to our English laws, and from the Magistrates, that the law has been acted upon; whilst in another paragraph it is expressly stated that their witness cannot be taken, an inconsistency, which I could not help making my remarks upon, and I expressed my opinion, very freely, concerning the injustice to try savage heathens, according to our laws, whilst there has been so little done for their civilisation or christianisation. That some measures should be taken, with regard to their outrages, becomes more & more a matter of necessity, and I am often inclined to think, that severe measures might have a good effect. But it will be difficult to legislate for them, so as to be humane & just & yet successful. Yet if the Colonists were aware of this duty towards these poor Aborigines, in whose care they grow sick and were determined to fulfil that duty, then they would apply their laws but, alas! alas! what do they care for Black fellows as long as they leave them and their property undisturbed, even the better part of Europeans despair of doing any good among them.
[18 May 1838]
18th of May. Took a ride to day to look after the Mission’s sheep etc etc and was annoyed by serious things we ought almost constantly to ride about. No less I was [?] about the Stores, the afternoon of which steals away all my time & I can scarcely take a quiet meal.
[19 May 1838]
May 19th. Saturday a busy day, but not in the Study as it ought to have been. George grieved me today, by neglecting the work assigned to him & going a shooting with some gentleman.
[20 May 1838]
May 20th. Rose at 4 o’clock this morning, in order to prepare my sermon, having found no time yesterday & being too tired to contemplate. My text was John.16:23.24. Not many Natives at Church & very few Europeans. I was sorry J. Buckley changed his conduct so soon again. He not only would himself not be taught, but prevented others also. Cochrane, who has done well for some time, wished to read, but the former would not let him, and was very impudent to me, using some impertinent expressions in his own language, not suspecting that I understood part of it.
[23 May 1838]
May 23d. I had nothing worth mentioning for these few days, except it be, that I humbled Jemmy a little for his ill conduct on Sunday last, by taking not the least notice of him; consequently, he commenced* to day at least to please me, and went to work fetching wood & water, without being called upon.
[25 May 1838]
On the 25th This morning, at last, Mr Watson returned from Sydney, feeling very poorly, especially suffering of rheumatism. But, I am very sorry to understand that there is so little prospect of our succeeding with the Colonial Government, to have the Police establishment etc etc removed from here. Gave the Native women a short reading lesson.
[26 May 1838]
The 26th. We received orders from the Magistrate today, not to interfere any more with the Buildings here, so we can easily perceive the Government’s intention. This will almost prevent us, or at least, make it far more expensive, to have these buildings, that may be reserved for us, put in proper repair.
[27 May 1838]
Sunday 27th. Rose very early to finish my sermon, which I could scarcely begin yesterday. I had a very grand subject to preach from, and was therefore the more sorry, I have so little time for preparation, the text was Phil: II, 9.10.11. Oh for some of that unction from on high! Then I need not care so much about having my sermon written!
[28 May 1838]
The 28th. Mr W. & myself went with a number of Natives to one of the Paddocks, taking some rails down, when a Spider of a very large kind was discovered, which elicited an observation from Cochrane which I thought worthy of remark. Pointing to the Spider, he said: “Black fellows say, before new God, this fellow make fingers” probably
on account of its having many long & thickish legs. When I wanted to kill it, another young man, Lowrey called out: “Don’t kill that fellow, that fellow not bad.” This he said with so much concern that it appeared to me, the Natives must entertain some superstitious veneration for the animal. It struck me, on the one hand, however ridiculous their ideas, they prove that the notion of a Creator has not altogether been lost among these rude savages, on the other hand the candid and confident admittance*of the God, we profess, on the part of a heathen afforded me pleasure & encouragement. Oh for Divine grace to * their knowledge & to render it a vital principle!
[30 May 1838]
May 30th. Having been told by some of the Natives concerning one of the name of “Coburn Billy”: that he could make rain (a superstition that you not seldom hear) I addressed him this morning at the Camp: “Billy, why you not make rain, they say you can make rain; we need it very much now.” “Who bialla you that way? (Who said so?)”, he replied and would hear nothing of his pretensions. I asked him, “Who then does make rain?” “Bial me know (I don’t know) he replied”. “You know” said I, when he answered, “God make rain.”
Gave George & Cochrane a reading lesson late in the night when they were so serious* & eager that I suppose they would have read for several hours, had I been able to attend to them. George is exceedingly anxious to read; but whether he has any further desire , or, religious *, I cannot tell*. But it struck me the other day, after he had been several times absent from Prayers to hear him say: “I don’t know how it is that, I never come to prayers now, I live like a dog.” He is more civilised & speaks the English better than most of the Natives.
[31 May 1838]
May 31st We had a good number of Natives at work taking the Wheat * down & putting it into the barn. If they can be a number together & make a great noise, they will do well for a short time, till they begin to play & draw each other [?] way into idleness.
[1 June 1838]
June 1st George & Cochrane were again reading a long time this evening & with the same eagerness.
[2 June 1838]
June 2d I wrote a letter to day in conjunction with Mr Watson to the Corg. Committee in Sydney, respecting Government proceedings, when I expressed my mind rather freely; for I think they have by no means supported us, as they ought to have done, and can have little entered in our well founded views, as they coincided with the Colonial Government, whilst we opposed. This is very grievous & distressing.
[3 June 1838]
June 3rd. To commemorate the Day of Pentecost, I preached from John. 16: 8-11, The Threefold office of the Holy Spirit.
[4 June 1838]
June 4th Commenced another week, to take the Stores as Mr Watson continues rather poorly. He was teaching the young men, a long time & I the women a little.
[5 June 1838]
The 5th A number of Natives were at work today, cleaning out in one of the Old buildings, where we, at least once, expected to live.
There was the wild Native dance performance this evening at the Camp and I was glad to observe, that most of our Young men did not join, in the same way they refrained a few days since, and, I have reason to believe, from a sense of its being wrong or unbecoming, or at least, in order to please us.
[6 June 1838]
The 6th We were annoyed this evening about a Constable, taking possession of one of the Old buildings, just at dusk, without referring to the Missionaries, though Mr Watson received the keys & consequently charge of the buildings, which charge has not yet been acclaimed. A similar case took place a few weeks since.
Again dancing at the Native camp and, am glad to add, not joined by any of our young men, except Fred who yesterday as well as this evening, acted as musician by singing & striking two weapons together.
[7 June 1838]
June 7th. Had much reading today with several young men, viz. George, Cochrane, Jemmy & Lowry, the two former ones, especially, evince so much anxiety, that they seldom grow tired, consequently also make most improvement!
[8 June 1838]
June 8th. We were thankful to have at last a little rain after so long a drought.
Mr Gisbourne, the Magistrate, appointed for this district arrived to day, and he had no sooner arrived, than he sent, even at dusk, for one of our men, who had taken, according to my direction, a few pieces of old framework, that was throwing* about in one of the Buildings. He charged him strictly not to touch anything more.
[9 June 1838]
Trinity Sunday the 9th In order to discusss practically the subject of the Day, I addressed my congregation from the Apostolic Benediction (2 Cor: XIII). A considerable number of Natives especially Young men, attended Service. Mr W. who was not able to go to Church instructed a number of women in the Childrens hut. A Black woman, Mary by name, was safely delivered this evening
of a girl at about half a mile distant, in the bush, after much sufferings & cries. She was repeatedly visited by the Female members of the Mission. It is the same woman that was so seriously wounded by her passionate husband, on the 1st of January last!
[11 June 1838]
June 11th The Young men were reading at various times to day, both to Mr W & myself. I also taught a few women. Mr W. resumed the office of store keeping, which I had since he left for Sydney.
[12 June 1838]
June 12th. It is surprising what a hardy constitution the Natives have: the Woman that was confined the day before yesterday walked this morning, i.e. about 36 hours after her confinement, up to the Mission House quite half a mile’s walk.
There was much reading to day, both with men & women; Mr W & myself now engaged in teaching them at various times. I had also a number of the Young men at work in the Garden.
[13 June 1838]
On the 13th Again a day of much reading, some of the young men got up again from their retirement, late in the night, and read to me.
[14 June 1838]
The 14th. Having had a good supply of rain I went to the Garden with several of the Young men, to transplant cabbage & turnips, this being the best season of the year. Bungary & Cochrane made some nice beds of their own & transplanted also. They were also reading, and I was happy to observe, that they are not altogether without thought when they read. Cochrane, for instance, was reading the following sentence; “When I die, let me not die in sin!” and I asked “do you understand what that means: “Let me not die in sin?”” “Let me die good”, he replied.
[15 June 1838]
The 15th We were much grieved this evening, not only by our Native girls but also by our European servants; the very time of Prayers is taken advantage of, by both parties to gratify their senses, even whilst I was kneeling down & supplicating God’s mercies in behalf of the poor Natives, the eyes of fornication were at work. Oh the misery! the misery! the appalling enormity of having such vile Europeans on our Missionary establishment! Could anything be more distressing & discouraging? Can, then, this evil not be remedied? What good can we do on such an erroneous system?
[16 June 1838]
June 16th. We are at the present almost daily engaged in teaching the Natives, especially the Young men; and I am happy to say they are making some progress. A considerable number also attended this morning’s Prayers, as they do mostly every morning; and I was much pleased to hear some of them repeating this morning the “General Confession” so well.
[17 June 1838]
Sunday 17. Mr Watson preached from John VI: 37. “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Several Natives attended Church. As the Young men spent most of the afternoon at the Camp, I could give them only a short reading lesson. In the evening the Natives had again a performance of their wild dance, on account of which our young men absented themselves from Prayers, merely for the sake of witnessing the scene. The number of Natives at the Camp, partly arrived today, was very considerable. Mr W. went first to see them, expressing his displeasure; afterwards I went endeavouring to show my dislike by not speaking to them, but merely noticing closely, who were the attendants.
[18 June 1838]
The 18th The Chief Constable changed his residence to day, & instead of making any reference to where the keys of those old Buildings are deposited, broke door & window open, authorised, as he said, by Mr Gisbourne, the Magistrate. We may infer from such & similar conduct what we have to expect from this kind of people!
The Natives repeated their dancing amusement this evening. George & Cochrane stayed at home to attend Prayers; the rest of the Young men left to be spectators. Jemmy always proves one of the weakest, & is most easily drawn away.
[20 June 1838]
The 20th Much reading yesterday & today. To teach them reading; appears to be all we can effect for the present. There is no real change of conduct visible. This evening, most of the Young men absented themselves from Prayers, to see the dancing spectacle at the Camp which of late is renewed every evening. We commonly spoil their enjoyment by our presence; this evening we tried to show our abhorrence by our absence.
[21 June 1838]
June 21st All the Young men ran away this morning to go a hunting in the Mountains. George read a little before he left
in the night several read to me. It was curious Mr W. & myself, accompanied by a Native boy, had also something of a hunting expedition. We took a ride together, a recreation which we have not enjoyed for a long time. A wild Native dog came in our way, an animal very destructive to sheep & we fortunately had some good dogs of ours with us, which we sent after it & they succeeded in overtaking & killing it.
[22 June 1838]
June 22d. Gave the Young men their reading lesson in the Garden, when they persevered attentively for several hours.
[23 June 1838]
June 23d. This was a busy & puzzling day. A dray has arrived from Sydney with supplies from the Parish, as well as articles of our own procuring; so that we were unpacking. One thing, more particularly, took up our attention, & so lost the attention of the Natives. A little organ (Seraphim) which Mr W. bought in Sydney has arrived. The greatest anxiety & curiosity prevailed among the Natives, old & young, to see the instrument, but that anxiety & curiosity increased, when it was put in the Long room (Prayer room), to hear its sound (Only Mrs G. knew a little to play it). They rushed in from all directions & through every door they could open, first the Males & then the females once the room was thronged for several hours. “Marumbang! Marumbang!*” (very good) they often called out.
It is a pity we have not an accomplished player amongst us the instrument might prove some attraction at Divine Services.
[24 June 1838]
June 24th Gave an extemporaneous address to my congregation, from Hebrews. 2: 3.4. A considerable number of Natives attended Divine Service.
[25 June 1838]
June 25th. The Young men were not much inclined to read to day, being rather in an ill humour, in consequence of Mr W. finding fault with them, because they were hesitating to go to plough, when he requested them, and consequently, Europeans had to go. Jemmy, more particularly, was in a very bad humour, and, in order to vex Mr W. sang his heathen songs, this evening. But his ill humour, or rather, his affective merriness, was soon, afterwards, damped by an event, which I now shall relate more at large.
A little before twelve o’clock in the night, a messenger came from the Native camp, with the intelligence, that Old Jemmy Buckley
(father in law of the former) who has been lying in a state of decay, and often was expected to die, had just breathed his last. The Young men, usually sleep in our kitchen, ran off in great haste. I was just undressing, but, curious to see the scene at the Camp, I dressed again & followed them to the Camp about half a mile off. At some distance I heard a loud, howling cry, which became more & more affecting, the nearer I approached it. A very large, bright, fire also announced the death of the poor man. All the Natives had left their resepective fires, and sat in one group, with little fires before them. The widow of the deceased, & several other women, were pouring forth their lamentations, with violent weeping. With the rest almost a dead silence prevailed, till after some time a consultation began about the place of interment. Though I must have arrived at the Camp only about half an hour after the man expired, I was no more allowed to see his face; for he was already wrapt up and tied together in an old blanket so that nothing was visible. The manner in which the Natives wrap up the corpse is remarkable. They tie the legs up behind & even appear to press the head downwards so that it becomes a very short compact bundle. To effect this, they wrap them up, immediately after they are dead. I stayed for about half an hour & exhorted several of them to prepare for death; but felt sorry, not to know more of their language, to give them a suitable address. They did, however, not much like to hear of death. Whether this poor heathen has received any good from the Missionaries, I cannot tell; but he & his Wife have been attached to the Mission, as long as it existed, and always considered it their home. During his late illness, which reduced him quite to a skeleton, he was frequently visited by us & spoken to, more especially by Mr W.; who often administered medicine to him. His Wife, Poll Buckely, appears to have, if any of the elderly Natives, some good impressions, and it was only yesterday, that she told Mr W.; that she often prays with her husband; but he did not understand much. He was a very rigid adherent to their Native customs, and as a good warrior, a leading man of the Wellington tribe, perhaps more so, than any other, so that he might almost be called a chief, though they have strictly speaking no chiefs. One thing was pleasing in him & his Wife. There was more conjugal affection observed between them, than between any Native couple we know; for generally speaking, there is very little of that to be seen among them.
[26 June 1838]
June 26. It is customary with the Natives, always to bury their dead as soon as possible, consequently arrangements were made at once this morning, to inter the Deceased. We promised them horse & cart to have him conveyed to the spot designated for his interment, which was about two miles off. There being some delay about finding the horse, they had no problem to wait & carry the body away on a piece of bark. Thus, when I came to the Camp, about 10 o’clock, with the Ladies & the Children, to see the Corpse, it was gone and the whole camp deserted. A few articles belonging to the Deceased were burning; for what they do not bury with the corpse, they always burn. The Camp is always deserted the first day after any has died. Anxious to see the burial; I hastened on with our little boys, to the place which was almost down* to the River, called, Mac Quarie. When I approached the place, I first observed four Natives, each making a fire, near the intended grave. They usually mark some trees, as signs of a grave being near. They first cut out the bark, about a foot wide & two feet long; then they cut their figures either crossings or windings. I then saw a large circle about 20 feet in diameter, cleared of weeds & grass & even the roots* making it quite smooth in the midst of which the grave was beginning to be dug. The ground being extremely hard, it was no easy work, but they did it by turns. They used hoes, spades etc etc borrowed from the Mission. The number of Natives present, was considerable; but all were employed in one thing or other. Many were cutting trees & boughs whilst others made a fence of them round the grave, an improvement acquired from Europeans, to guard against cattle assailing the grave. The Women were principally employed in attending to the fires round the Corpse, and causing constantly a thick smoke to ascend, whilst others, and indeed nearly all of them, paid their last respects to the Deceased by howling, lamentations often repeated frequently falling over the corpse with mourning & crying. All the time one of the men ie. also by turns sat as watch close to the head of the Deceased. The finishing of the grave took several hours. They did it very neatly, as smooth & regular as possible, the shape was about round or rather oval. It was formed narrower & narrower towards the bottom, where it was scarcely the length of 4 feet. Towards the top, there was a ledge; about one foot deep. The whole depth was about 6 feet.
(June 26th continued)
When the time of the interment drew near, the Widow, accompanied by several Women, came forward to pay once more their [?]ing homage to the Deceased. I observed one of the Women, when drawing near cutting her head open by a sharply pointed stick, so that her blood ran down properly, which she then spilt upon the Corpse. The Widow, & others, I understood, had cut themselves previously. All threw their faces upon the Corpse & burst out into a most melancholy cry, dropping many a tear on the Deceased. The weeping & lamentation was so affecting, that I, at last could not refrain from shedding some tears; sending up my sighs & prayers to the God of all mercies, in behalf of these poor savages, who at this occasion proved to me so strikingly & affectingly, that they are without God & without hope. “Oh! when will the period come that these rude sons of the forest will be raised from their low & miserable condition, by the hope Christianity inspires!” For some time I was watching the men, whether their hard hearts might be moved also. At last I observed several of them so affected, that they burst out into tears. One of them, a very wild looking warrior, more particularly, attracted my attention: he spread himself over the Corpse & wept most bitterly for about 1/4 of an hour, others imitated him, so did also our Young Jemmy Buckley. The scene was a little interrupted by the distressed Widow, falling into a fainting fit; but one of the men, a professed Doctor soon caused her to revive, by blowing in her nose, mouth & hands. Now the funeral ceremony, if it can be called so, began. The Natives particularly endeavoured to prepare a soft couch for their lamented countryman. First they spread some old grass, then green leaves, upon these a piece of black blanket was spread; also a bag made of skins, such as the Native females carry on their backs, was filled with sago, belonging to the Deceased, & just where his head was to lay. Now the Corpse was put in, it was exactly the length of the grave. Two sheep skins the old man for his bed, were covered immediately upon him, some green leaves & then a quantity of old grass followed. This together with boughs was continued up to the ledge. Here a number of thick pieces of green wood, fitted for the purpose, were laid along, which was continued till a piece of bark made it level with
the ground. Before they began to heap up the earth upon it, the Women were ordered to leave, there were about 20 of them who took their departure with a most melancholy; howling, cry continuing till they were a great distance off. My three boys also were ordered to leave, & to myself were intimations given to the same effect. I hesitated for some time, whether I should go, being very anxious to see the end of all, but as I found it by no means advisable to let the Boys go by themselves, I left also, watching, however, with the Boys at some distance their further movements. I could not observe any thing particular going on, except a great deal of smoke ascending from close to the grave, a thing which was continued not only all the day long, but since the time of the death of the man, indeed the females, & particularly the widow carry frequently smoking boughs with them & that for some length of time after. There is a superstition connected with this smoking practice, they mean, to drive the Devil away, who, they believe, is very active at each occasion. I suspected that the Native men intended to make a great cry before they left the grave, & were perhaps ashamed of being heard by me, and I understood afterwards that this was the case. When I arrived at home most of the women were up at the House, among them also the Widow carrying a smoking branch in her hands. When Mr Watson saw her he was deeply affected, even to tears. She was besides, like some others, all over, painted with common clay & pipe clay, the Widow’s head is quite covered with the latter for a considerable time, forming a crust like a cap. One thing more particularly struck me during the whole scene viz: that there appears to be more affection as well as reflection among these poor heathens, than we are commonly led to suppose. I beg to be excused, if my narrative should be too long & tedious. When I related the whole scene to Mr W. who unfortunately could not attend, he thought it rather interesting, and observed, there was never a Native funeral, to his knowledge, conducted with so much distinction.
[27 June 1838]
June 27. After Morning Prayers I taught a number of Young men to read, for about two hours, during which time the Native women made their appearance, some of them; especially the mourners (some are appointed for the purpose of mourning for some time with the Widow) were walking
about, with burning sticks, & smoking boughs, burning the grass & bushes at every spot where the Deceased had been encamping of late, even for many months back.
When my reading lesson was over my pupils wanted to go a hunting, and I resolved to accompany them, as I like to see them in their Native ways. The excursion, though fatiguing, was interesting. They succeeded in killing two Wallabies (a small species of kangaroo). We went over the Bell river, on the Mountains, & had a good run over rocks & hills. Some part of the mountain interested me much, on account of its formation, it betrayed so evidently, as far as I could judge, the subsiding of the Plain. I also collected a few Native words, especially, names of plants etc etc and was surprised to find that these ignorant Savages, have names for about any & every variety of trees plants & herbs etc etc. The Young men were digging out & eating a root, which I very much admired, even in its raw condition its taste is most agreeable, equalling, though differing from many European roots, for instance, the turnip. In grows in the same way as potatoes, several oblong roots, hanging on one plant sometimes old & young ones to be seen at once. It is as white as marble. The leave is small, of the reed kind.
[28 June 1838]
June 28th Mr W. & myself took a ride together this morning, when we passed the Grave of the lately Deceased. About 8 Natives were at work at it, ornamenting it by making a kind of fence round. The heap of ground upon the Grave was about 9 feet high. It seemed very curious to us, that they left off their work at once, when we made our appearance, & went away. We have reason to believe that they have many strange & superstitious notions, in reference to the dead and perhaps in reference to many other things, though we cannot receive any distinct information; they are reluctant to communicate to us their superstitious secrets. One of the Natives told Mr W. this morning, that they believe, that Wandong (the Devil) enters the Grave, & eats the heart & the liver of the Deceased.
Observing a number of the Mission’s cattle, among which there were several of the Mission’s calves, branded with the brand of one of our neighbours, we drove them home before us.
We had much trouble & struggle this evening with our Young men, among [whom] Jemmy was the worst. They were very impatient to have fowling pieces, to go down the River (Macquarie) for a few days shooting, when we refused. Jemmy became very impudent pointing out to me the Bathurst Blacks, as having all fowling pieces. I told him that we had not come here, as he well knew, to teach them shooting; they better have books & read than pieces for shooting. “Why” said Jemmy. “New Zealand from Black fellows got guns.” “Yes replied I, I will tell you what they say.” “We were very glad when English men came, & brought us guns & brought us shooting; but we were still more glad when you, Missionaries came & taught us to read etc etc”. This answer rather struck them, but soon they went on in the old way. They also expressed their dissatisfaction about the Missionaries keeping the Native girls inside & not allowing the Young men to marry them. “You keep them for White men.” This was their impudence; for they are perfectly aware how much we are opposed to that wicked practice.
[29 June 1838]
June 29. When we visited at the Camp, we found Poll Buckley, the Widow of the Deceased, poorly in consequence of having her head beaten & cut so much. I was surprised, she should go to such an excess in superstitious, heathen, practices as she knows better. Without a change of heart they will not leave off their ways.
[30 June 1838]
June 30th Before I prepared for Sunday, Mr W. & myself, took a short ride, when our new Magistrate Mr Gisbourne overtook us. But, when approaching us, he galloped away, alongside of us, to avoid our presence. This is the politeness & the friendly feelings of a Gentleman. That is expected, by some, to prove rather an acquisition to the Mission. Even if it could be proved that a Police Establishment, if properly managed, by proper persons, will be an advantage to the Mission, every body who will know, knows well, that such magistrates who would prove an acquisition to a Christian Mission, are rare phenomena in Botany Bay.
Rev. J. Gunther’s Journal,
April to June 1838
40 2 ½
People in WellPro Directory: Gisborne, Henry Fyshe