iv. July-Sept 1838
[note] Recd. May 16/*9
James Gunther Missionary at Wellington Valley
From the 1st of July to the 30th of Septbr. 1838
[1 July 1838]
July 1st Sunday. The subject of my discourse was “The Afraid[?] Gate[?]”. Luke XV, 23-24. Several Natives attended Church; many went away to day to the bush. The Young men were running about part of the afternoon, but returned towards evening; so that they could read a little to Mrs G.
[2 July 1838]
July 2d. Our Native Youths are very unsettled to day, intending to follow those who left yesterday. George & Jemmy left in the afternoon; only for a few days as they say.
Mr W. was distressed to find some Women with whom he conversed at the Camp, so utterly unsuspecting of any thing regarding their soul’s salvation.
This day the Military Establishment that had been here for the protection of the Mission since it existed was finally removed. This shows [?] clearly the intentions of the Colonial Government.
[3 July 1838]
July 3d. Gave a short reading lesson to Cochrane & Lowry this morning. In the afternoon I was employed in the Garden, cutting the vines.
We have to acknowledge a very Providential deliverance experienced this night. We were in danger of having the Mission House burnt down. Fortunately, or I should rather say, providentially, I sat up late, writing, when about 15 minutes to 12 o’clock, I heard the dogs bark with much vehemence, soon mingled by a loud human voice, I hastily ran out & beheld the flames burst out the Chimney of Mr W’s Study. Three or four Native youths, some of whom had partly[?] been the cause[?], had given the alarm & stood knocking & calling at Mr W’s. Study. It lasted not above a minute when Mrs W. opened the door frightened & trembling. Mr W’s. study’s opening is back to back with the chimney of the outer kitchen, where some Native youths had a huge fire which, the brick work being in a fine state, broke through into Mr W’s study.
Mr W. not making a fire in his chimney unfortunately had put some boxes in the fire place, & a table, and various other articles close to it. Two or three small boxes were already nearly consumed by the flames & several other articles on fire. A few minutes delay might have rendered our efforts to extinguish, ineffectual for the flames were not above two inches distant from the bookshelf & other very combustible articles. Two White men had come to my assistance; but felt so much presence[?] of mind & was so unusually quick that I needed little help. I threw all that was on fire out of doors & in a few minutes the danger was counteracted. I was surprised, that I neither injured myself, nor my clothes, though [?] things in full flames. I ordered some of the Nat. men to go up on the House & to pass water down the chimney. Mr W. being so suddenly, & boisterously, aroused from his first sleep could hardly recover from trembling & confusion, before all was over, & felt therefore the more thankful that I was so immediately at hand. We of course drove the Natives out, & ordered them to encamp outside; for they are too careless as to be fit inmates in a house.
[4 July 1838]
July 4th George & Jemmy returned today but only for the sake of drawing the rest away also, Cochrane and Lowey went, only Fred & Bungary were remaining and about half a dozen Women at the Camp. The ingratitude, thoughtlessness, & heathenish folly, of these poor sons of the bush are beyond description and often almost exhaust our patience. We can only commit them to the mercy of the Lord.
[5 July 1838]
The 5th George came this afternoon & when I was speaking to him told me, he would now settle & have done with Natives, living here altogether, with his newly obtained wife. But how annoyed we were to find an hour after, that not only he had gone but he had drawn Bungary away also, at least, the latter went with him, whether on his own account or no. He is a very industrious Boy & more civilised & domesticated than almost any. This very day he was showing us a bedding[?] of his own making, which would have done credit to a European; also some carpenter-work of his attracted my attention. We should of course very much regret his leaving. Amidst all these grievances & discouragements it pleased me much to learn concerning Cochrane, who of late attended Prayers very regularly, more so than almost any other Native, that he always recollected something of what was read or spoken.
[6 July 1838]
The 6th We expected the Natives had gone far into the bush, but many returned to day so for instance our Young men viz. George, Jemmy, Cochrane & Lowey, also Bungary.
[7 July 1838]
July 7th Mr W. & myself intended to take a ride this morning, but, to our deep regret, we were out a long time. We lost ourselves, though not 3 miles distant from the Mission House & we had to ride about for several hours till we found our way home.
We punished our young men today not only by reproving them for their unsteady conduct, but by now allowing them as much food as usual, in a consequence of which they felt very miserable & behaved partly impudent, especially Jemmy. Hunger, however, & the ambition to be noticed made them pliable towards everyone and they began to do some work such as sowing & breaking wood for us. On the whole, however, we have heard much, very much, of their wickedness today.
[8 July 1838]
July 8th. We had a considerable number of Visitors at Church, but no Europeans, except our own men. We have indeed an ungodly rotten set of Europeans around us. Preached from the Parable of the Unfruitful Figtree.
[9 July 1838]
July 9th I had a long conversation this morning with the Young men pointing out to them their folly, & our great errand to them. When I adverted to the ignorance of the Natives, & their ridiculous notions, Jemmy would make me believe that “Black fellows knew a great deal etc etc etc.” From the manner he spoke, apparently, with feelings of veneration, & with a great degree of self sufficiency, I inferred, that these poor savages must maintain far more superstitious notions or sacred feelings, if I may express myself so that those who have only had a superficial acquaintance with their habits, are led to believe. As they are far from being communicative about these things, we can not ascertain the real facts. Had a little reading with some of the Young men, & prevailed on a few to cut some trees down or saw them down for firewood.
In the afternoon Mrs W. Mrs G & myself took a ride, about 4 miles, distance, to see a Native youth who is very ill. We found him indeed so bad, as if almost struggling with death & I was sorry he was too weak as to pay attention to or, understand what I wished to say to him or ask. He is one of the most amiable Natives, in fact, I should say the most amiable I knew; he also has repeatedly told
Mr W. he believed what to teach them. Unfortunately, we could never detain him here for any length of time. On account of his amiable disposition, he has always been much carried* by some Gentleman or other & more indulged than we could do. This circumstance may partly have brought on his early death; for one day he would live & be dressed like a gentleman; the next day we could observe him roaming about in the bush with nothing but a piece of opposum cloak on. To this immense change he was subject even during his last illness, through the foolish pretensions & superstitions of the Natives who took him away from a medical Gentleman, where he had every attention paid to him. Pretending to heal him & to drive away the Bad Spirit, they almost starved him & of course he was exposed to cold. His name is Billy, of Ngannima, the place where he mostly lived.
[10 July 1838]
July 10th Poor Billy died last night & a number of our Natives went off this morning to assist in burying him. Jemmy Buckley took the last of those this morning to fetch a young man (last[?] bad[?] girral Native) who has been very seriously injured. Cutting wood from a tree, a large piece fell on his right foot & took off 3 toes. The foot is in a very bad state; but Mr W. will make an attempt to cure it.
In the evening Mr W. & myself visited the Camp & entered into some conversation with a Native, of the name of, Tommy, formerly much at the Mission, latterly, since he has got a wife, very unsteady. He was a near relative & friend of the Deceased. We took occasion from the death of his friend to exhort & warn him. When Mr W. pointed out hell fire, Tommy grew angry & called out: “Don’t you talk that way! you were in fire. Where that fire came from in your house?” Alluding to the late fire in Mr W’s study. Mr W answered: “Natives have made that fire.” “No, no,” replied the Black, “I never believe that. Godder (God) made it; he badly with you (angry), he make fire.” We were not a little surprised, to hear the poor man make an application like this of religious truths he knows whilst it proved to us that the Natives understand & know more of what the missionaries tell them than we sometimes are led to suppose.
[11 July 1838]
The 11th George, Cochrane, Lowry & Friday were reading to me a long time this morning.
[12 July 1838]
The 12th We had a great number of Natives at Prayers this morning but they wanted to be paid for it. We, however, have almost resolved as indeed our limited means oblige us to do, to feed no more so many, at least not those who will not work. Being, then, dissappointed [sic], they went to the Mountains a hunting & drew most of our Young men away. Consequently I could not teach them much today. Cochrane & Jemmy [?] [?] stayed at home & read a little.
[13 July 1838]
July 13th Much reading to day. I had 8 young men.
We were happy & thankful to hear at last of the safe arrival of Mr Porter at Sydney, through Luke Cooper, so that the Missionaries & especially Mr W. may soon be released from secular engagements, at least in a great measure. But, at the same, we were rather distressed to learn from some private letter that the Colonial Government appear to be determined to have a Police Establishment etc etc etc here.
[14 July 1838]
The 14th Whilst the Missionaries among more civilised heathen Natives have to record many an interesting dialogue etc etc we, among these unthinking savages, are very rarely able to mention any thing important or striking, in our conversations with them. Therefore any observation, however trifling, & apparently, unimportant, indicative of some thought, or attention, pleases us & proves a little encouragement. Thus when we were reading today & the Verb “digs” occurred, Cochrane called out, “Till I dig about it.” thus recollecting, part of the text I preached from last Sunday.
In the evening the Young men were very unsettled, noisy, angry & impudent, because, as they alledged [sic]; we were always “suspecting” them; in reference to the Girls; they are very much dissatisfied with Mr W. in that respect, & that Mrs G. dropped an expression indicative of suspicion, to day, has increased this uneasiness.
[15 July 1838]
Sunday the 15th. Mr W. preached today from Job XXXIV, 29 (part of). “When he giveth quietness who can make trouble? and when he hideth his face who can behold him?” applying the former to the condition of the believer & the latter to the lot of the wicked. There were a considerable number of Natives at Church, but Jemmy Buckley & Cochrane absented themselves, they have been irritated & impudent much of the morning, the former refusing to put on the clothes Mr W. has given him, some time ago, & then wanting me to give him a coat[?], which I felt my duty to refuse. The latter was also dissatisfied about his clothes. After Service I reproved them & warned them of their danger, when they only made a laugh of it. “Ah said I, you will cease to laugh when you are put in hell fire. “This increased their rage & spirit of mockery & Cochrane began to use quite [?] language, for instance. “I wish I was in hell fire.” It grieves me deeply, that he should [?] to such an excess, especially, when I consider the encouragement he affords, at times. An hour afterwards Mrs G. talked very seriously to them, and they began to feel very sorry for this conduct & appeared to be quite miserable, so that it was satisfy[?] to them when I showed [?] to teach them[?].
[16 July 1838]
July 16. Cochrane told me today; “Mrs Gunther make me sorry yesterday; I will no more sing heathen songs.” He & others were very anxious to read.
[17 July 1838]
July 17th We were highly delighted this evening; when sitting at tea, to hear a number of the Native youths say prayers, in our kitchen, with much apparent seriousness; I observed, especially in George something like pure[?] devotion, & the attention of a child. Fred was leading the rest. They repeated several of the Church Prayers. Made also an effort to sing a hymn. The contrast in the conduct of these Young men is very remarkable; in one hour they can act, as if influenced by religious feelings, in the next hour they [?] nothing but the savage. I have little doubt, they feel at times, what they ought to be & to do; but there is that unsteady level[?] which nothing but the grace of God poured forth richly upon them can establish & make firm.
[19 July 1838]
July 19th Had much reading with the Young men, for several days, & and I trust, they, at least some of them, will soon be able to read English correctly. I often regret the irregularity of the English pronunciation which makes it very difficult to give a just idea of what spelling etc is; for a poor savage who not only is a foreigner to the language, but has no idea whatever of the art of reading. They would, undoubtedly for some succeed in their own language, especially if we introduced, & strictly adhered to, the elementary source of letters, not allowing about half a dozen sounds for one letter, as is done with the very first of the English Alphabet.
[20 July 1838]
July 20. This at last is the unhappy day that we received the decision of the Colonial Government, with regard to those Buildings etc etc. They have decided against us, and to our deep regret the Co. Committee approve, partly, of the arguments. His Excellency the Governor adduced[?]. I cannot express my feelings & views fully in these pages; but I must own it appears to us like the death stroke of this Mission. I quite admit, that the Lord overrules all things, for his designs, & glory, and is able to bring good out of evil; but that faith will sometimes scarcely up hold me, & I think, it was the duty of the Committee in Sydney to oppose, at least, till the questions had been referred to the Home Society & Home Government. I scarcely trust our Parish Society will claim this right, without hesitation, and not allow these poor Natives to be deprived of the Gospel message.
[21 July 1838]
July 21st To day we had the pleasure of welcoming Mr Porter, but were sorry, he should find us in such a gloomy frame. I trust, he will cheer us up a little.
[22 July 1838]
Sunday 22d. The sermon I preached today may be called a missionary sermon. My text was Matth: VI, 10. “The kingdom comes!” We had a great number of Natives at Church especially young men.
[23 July 1838]
The 23d. Mr Porter began, at once, this morning, to pursue the work more particularly assigned to him. We mustered a number of our Native youths, whom he took into the Garden, superintending them there in clearing the ground from weeds, which have of late, become so prevalent, & digging it up. The Young men were in the best humour for any thing a person, new engages their attention more.
[26 July 1838]
The 26th We spent greater part of these last few days in the Garden with Mr Porter & the Young men, who continue very industrious, sometimes they preferred reading a little between their laborious work of digging. We also went a little about the estate to afford Mr P. a sight of it, visiting the sheep station etc etc etc.
[27 July 1838]
June 27th We were very much grieved & annoyed today, may my innermost feelings revolted. Whilst we were all three at work in the Garden, with the Young men, the Constables exhibited a sight which at once made all the Young men run off, and we were shocked at the gross insult, as we almost must call it, offered to us. A poor prisoner with a bare back was flogged just in sight of us & the Mission House so that if one of the Ladies had happened to see it, they should probably have fallen into fits, which would indeed not have been the first instance. Both Mr W. & myself proceeded to the scene and gave them, especially, Mr W. a good reprimand. They ceased when they saw us coming, before the man had the number of stripes allocated to him.
Whilst such scenes are an insult to a Christian Mission, when exhibited in its very centre, the impression it must make on the Native mind, and by no means prove favourable; it undoubtedly will not recommend to them the religion & the laws of Europeans. It must be evident to every unbiassed[?] mind, that these two institutions are utterly incongenial [sic]; and the end must be that either the one or the other must be removed.
[28 July 1838]
July 28. Was part of the day engaged in collecting words of the Native dialect.
[29 July 1838]
July 29th Mr W. preached today from that beautiful text; “The statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage.” Psalm CXIX, 54. I enjoyed the sermon much.
[31 July 1838]
July 31st Gave Jemmy a long reading lesson this morning, by himself; he always prefers to be taught by himself; it may partly be owing to pride, he does not like to be excelled by others at all.
Whilst I was engaged in teaching Jemmy (outside as usual), several women made their appearance with evident signs of mourning; their heads & faces covered with pipe clay etc etc with smoking boughs in their hands. They seemed to trace with their smoking boughs, holding them close to the ground the very footsteps of one that was deceased, which I inferred, more particularly from the fact, that they traced close to my Study door, Kitchen & such like places. I understood afterwards, it was done in respect to Pooky[?], one of those Native prisoners, that went to Sydney some time since who is reported to have been executed. I hope it is not true. I could not call it just [We have learned since that the report was false] as the poor man has not at all enjoyed the benefits of civilisation, neither can he speak the English nor is there any body in the Colony that could interpret for him and Mr W. who might do it, has not been sent for.
When I was in the Garden today where the Young men at present are daily at work under Mr P’s. direction, I observed some of them cutting themselves, in order to raise those marks with which they adorn their bodies. I reproved them for doing so, stating that God forbids it in the Bible. Cochrane then asked: “Where the Bible come from?” I answered: “From God, to be sure.” “To what country he sent it first?” he continued, “To England?” I then explained to him the fact & took occasion to enter into a conversation with him Mr W. coming near & joining me.
[1 August 1838]
August 1st I spent again part of the day in teaching our Young men to read, as mostly every day, at least, a little.
[3 August 1838]
August 3d. I was agreeably surprised by Fred this afternoon; I was walking about with my Vocabulary of the Native language and at last approach Fred’s hut, when he called out, lying prostrate on the ground & being poorly, “Mr Gunther pray for me!” I could hardly credit what I heard & therefore replied “What do you say Fred?” when he replied: “Pray for me!” I asked him then, whether he was afraid he should die, to which he gave no direct answer. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” “Yes, he replied, I believe long in him.” “I believe all you say & Mrs G. say & I believe all Mr W. say & Mrs W. say.”
August 3d (continued).
Among other questions I asked him, whether he was ready & prepared for dying & whether he thought he was good enough for Heaven? He thought he was good. I proceeded to question him whether he knew what a sinner is? He replied: “The Natives, sinners.” “But why what makes them to be sinners?” I replied, to which he gave the satisfactory answer “Because they are wicked” upon which he enlarged a little. “Do you know what it means to repent?” was another question I put. He could not answer this question at once; but still we had some notion of the thing; for when I said it means to feel sorry for our sins; he added “Yes to feel, that we are bad.” etc etc etc.
I improved the opportunity to exhort him & others with him in the hut. Cochrane also present to whom I said: “I am afraid you do not care for your soul.” He strongly replied “yes I do.” I then* especially, addressed myself to the Young men saying, “I hope you will become better than these wicked old fellows.” of whom several were present.
[5 August 1838]
Sunday 5th. Preached from Deutmy VI, 5.6. We had a considerable number of Natives at Church some of whom, I am told, were very attentive. There were also a few more Europeans present than at times. In the afternoon when I was teaching the Youths, I entered into a religious conversation with Cochrane, when he would say he did believe & added, “But those Natives at the Camp will not believe us.” “Ah, said I, they will believe by & by; but perhaps too late.” The person* too late he appeared as often to apply to the punishment in hell, and put the curious question; “What the devil say to them when they come to hell?’ I hardly knew what answer to give, but said after some hesitation; “He will think that they are very foolish, because they might have been saved & would not.” He then wanted to know something more about the devil, when I pointed out to him his former glory & happiness, his rebellion & subsequent rejection & misery.
I witnessed a very strange spectacle at the Native Camp this evening or rather late in the night after 10 o’clock. When I approached the Camp I saw all the Natives standing in one group together, a number in a straight line, a few were lying on the ground, the women standing in the back. Each countenance betrayed an anxious look; solemn silence prevailed. My first impression was that they must be in battle array, I was led the more to this conclusion, as the report of an ensuing fight is spreading, & a number of the Natives have made their reappearance to day. I made no enquiry for several minutes, till I was struck, at last with the sight of a young man, lying on his back, on the ground, apparently dead, or, at least, as if in a fit. But when I made the enquiry if the man was a dying, they smiled at me. I understood the man
dropped down in a kind of fit, in consequence, as they maintain, of some bad Natives (It reminds me of witches etc etc) having put branches & leaves in his inside. The Native doctors, I was told, were just going to cure the patient & to draw the branches out. One of them came immediately, fixing his lips on the navel of the poor man & pretending to draw out the branches. Another one of them, for whom they looked with great anxiety, was at last, observed at some distance, coming out of a bush. He crawled along the ground, like a creeping animal, making his way in a straight line towards the Patient. After every push he had given his body he rested a few seconds, muttering, repeatedly, a very heavy groan, with a very low, melancholy, voice. When he had reached the Patient he spread himself right over him, and it lacked half a minute till his cure was performed. Doctor & Patient jumped up together, once the bystanders applauded, with clapping their hands, also violently blowing with their breath, as they do, when they attempt to drive away the devil. I was very anxious to learn further particulars, but could not receive a satisfactory answer. I said to some of them: “It is all yambul (nonsense, pretence).” But they would make me believe, as they indeed appeared to believe, firmly, that there was reality in the thing. That there was something the matter with the young man, I rather believe from what I observed, though I cannot account for the proceeding s of the doctors. This is another proof that these Aborigines are by no means free from superstitious sentiments[?], nor does it prove less, that Satan has his dominion over them. Oh! that it may please the Lord soon to make us instrumental in [?] [?] his strongholds!
[6 August 1838]
August 6. All our young men ran away to the Mountains this morning, on a hunting excursion, as a large number of Natives have arrived. When we paid them a visit at the Camp, late in the night, I counted 46 fires from which I inferred that there must be above a hundred Natives.
[7 August 1838]
The 7th I prevailed on Jemmy & Cochrane to read a little to me, but the Young men in all very unsettled, & determined to spend their time at the Nat: Camp. Cochrane told me: “I must go to the Camp, the old men make me go.” I replied: “What need you care about those old, wicked fellows?” He significantly asked: “Why you care for the Governor?” “These old men our Governors, we must do what they say.” This is too free; and if it were not for the elderly Natives, we should do much better, with the young generation.
[8 August 1838]
August 8th This is the Anniversary of my arrival here, when I have with gratitude to remember many & great mercies, but also many neglects & challenges – our
Young men came up very late from the Camp today, not much before noon. I gave them a sharp reproof. I also asked George: “Why, I thought the Natives were going to fight you & Billy!” (These two have had their recently obtained wives inside with the Children for some time & have thus incurred the displeasure of others). George replied: “Yes, they wanted to do so, but they are afraid of the Policemen taking them.” Except a few young men, & two sick old women, all the Natives have left today.
[9 August 1838]
August 9th To our great grief & annoyance, George, & Billy, have stolen themselves away last night with their wives. What an ungrateful, treacherous, race they are; you can not depend on any. I could scarcely have believed it of George; but the poor fellows cannot resist the influence of the old men; who undoubtedly by threatening have induced them to take such a treacherous step. All the young men are gone also, except Old Fred & Friday. The latter, we suspect, is watching an opportunity, to take away one of our Girls. The Boys Bungary & Ngalgan are remaining too.
[10 August 1838]
August 10th Was engaged in writing today. Jemmy Buckley & Cochrane returned this morning.
[12 August 1838]
August 12th Besides our Children we had not half a dozen Natives at Church. The text I preached from was Proverbs XXX,12. In the afternoon I had to officiate at the funeral of a European. Mr Porter reproved Jemmy this evening for his wicked conduct, especially for idling and playing away this Sunday, saying: “Jemmy! Jemmy! These are bad goings on; there is too much wickedness in you still etc etc.” Jemmy appeared to admit, rather feelingly, the truth of Mr P’s observation.
[13 August 1838]
The 13th. Had only Cochrane to read to me this morning. When taking a ride this afternoon with Mr W. to pay a visit at a neighbouring station, I was struck much with the barren, melancholy, aspect of the land for want of rain; all is parched. Nature looks as if anxious to cheer us with the lovely scene of spring, but unable to do so.
Fred asked me in the Evening, though I doubt if with much sincerity: “Mr G. when am I going to be baptised?” I answered: “When you believe in Jesus Christ.” He replied “I long believe in him.” The question respecting baptism, & the assertion that they believe, I have repeatedly heard from several of the Young men and, Oh! that it might please God to make them ask with a sincere desire & he grant them real faith!
I endeavoured to show Fred that he did not truly believe as yet, that he was too wicked still and he thought his long stay, & other more steady conduct, make him fit for baptism. I was sorry to hear him soon afterwards talk of going to the bush to take a wife. “Ah, said I, you will fetch me one of those wild, wicked women, that shows that you are wicked still & not fit to be baptised.” His reply was rather striking viz: “I put her in the Playground to the Girls, & you make her good.”
[14 August 1838]
August 14 Succeeded with Cochrane, Jemmy & Lowey to give them a reading lesson.
[15 August 1838]
The 15th Was amused today by the Young men, telling me how frightened they were, when they first saw White Fellows. “They hastened away; & ran up the Mountains.” One said: “We thought it was the Devil.”
Mr W. & myself were highly delighted, when walking about late in the night, with our Fred, who, was repeating part of the Church Prayers in his hut. He pronounced, especially the Lord’s Prayer, with so much distinctness, solemnity & emphasis that one was ready to imagine, he was a true & devoted worshipper of God. Even his pronunciation was remarkably correct. He concluded his apparently devotional, exercises with singing the “Evening Hymn.”
[16 August 1838]
The 16th All our young men were very actively engaged today in making a new Stockyard; they were working away famously. When I paid them a visit, Cochrane called out to me: “No reading today! no reading! Never will read, too much work! [Consequently] Never will be baptised!” As if reading was the principal qualification for baptism. He admitted however that something more was required, and when I urged faith in Jesus Christ he replied with some emphasis: “I do believe”. “All those that live in the hut (meaning the Young men) do believe, not those at the Camp.” Though fatigued with work our Young men wanted to read, late in the night, both Mr W. & myself taught them, after 10 o’clock. They have received “Common Prayer Books” to read in with which they are highly delighted. Any thing new attracts their attention.
[17 August 1838]
The 17th The Young men viz: Fred, Jemmy, Cochrane, Lowey Friday & Bungary went today to cut bark for our establishment, and I resolved to accompany them. The bark did not strip well, in consequence of which their attention was most particularly drawn to the searching of opossums; I was struck with their sagacity,
(August 17 continued)
in tracing the little animal! By the little almost imperceptible scratch it makes with its paws, they can not only discern whether the animal has actually ascended a tree & likely to be in a hole; but they will see also whether it has come down again. The dexterity of the Natives in climbing up the trees, by the little incision they make, a hold for the large toe is no less surprising. It was the first time today I saw it. Their intrepidity with which the hand men about & [?] on the branches is likewise astonishing. As the Gumtrees are mostly hollow all through, which holes being the abodes of the opossum. The Natives cut the tree open, at the bottom, & set it on fire within, so that the poor animal must either come out or become a prey to the flames. When I observed Cochrane how he was cutting bark & conversed with him, he said: “ I am happy about that Book.” ( Meaning the Prayer Book, he has received.) “It is always in my care[?].” he thought of its contents. I had “Campbells Travels in the South of Africa” with me and read a few things to them, of the Blacks of that country being much better than themselves, more attentive to the missionaries etc etc and exhorted them by their example.
I also gained a few words of their language. We were, at last, obliged to return home, on account of rain coming on. Though I got a little wet, I did not mind, feeling thankful, that the Lord has granted some refreshment after this long drought.
Late in the evening after tea Cochrane & Lowey were reading to me in my Study. When we had done reading, Cochrane said: “Now we are going to pray,” to which I of course readily complied. But whilst he was about to kneel down, he was tempted to laugh, perhaps, it appeared strange to him that he should have made the proposal. “Oh! no!” said I, “that will not do: if you will laugh I cannot pray with you.” He said, he would not laugh any more & added; “I know that wrong; that take (is taking) God’s name in vain.” Such an application of the 3d Commandment appeared to me very striking & delighted me much. We have indeed been reading the “Ten Commandments” just before, but I did no[t] make any comment on any of them, so that it must be allowed to be an original thought of his.
[18 August 1838]
August 18th As I delayed a little this morning teaching the Young men, Lowey came to me throwing me his “Prayer Book” & saying: “What I get this book for?” “Ah said I you want me to teach you.” “Yes to be sure!” he replied.
Bungary amused us very much today, by forming a number of figures of common clay, some of which were exceedingly well done. There was for each: a Lady with a bonnet, a House with three stories containing a number of windows & chimneys, a gig, Candlestick etc etc etc. Most of all I admired a Bullock, it bore a most striking resemblance, the very expression of the countenance was well imitated.
George was back this evening, but, as we expected without his Wife. We gave him of course some reproof; but he appears to be determined to stay with us & would rather submit to a reproof.
[19 August 1838]
August 19th Mr W. preached from Acts X, 43. A very small attendance at Church; no Europeans but ourselves & men, only 8 Native Young Men & boys besides the Children.
Bungary’s conduct this evening amused us as if we can depend entirely, on what he tells us. That there is at least some truth in it, we have reason to believe. When the Magistrate, Mr G. rode by this evening, before dark, Bungary & Ngalgan ran after him & he spoke to them, they accompanying him some distance. Bungary asked the Justice of Peace “Why you not come to Church this morning?” To which he replied, if was not his duty. The heathen Boy, then, added “What your duty then?” I believe your duty flogging. The Magistrate also, as they say, made various enquiries, which, if true, would by no means betray a favourable disposition towards the Mission. Of course, we are not surprised at it. A similar instance occurred last evening. We sent Cochrane to the Post office with letters when some Gentlemen, if not Magistrates themselves, at least intimate with our Magistrates put many, very inquisitive, questions to him. Among the rest they told the poor Youth “The Missionaries only give you their tea leaves for your tea.” and alluding to myself (Cochrane commonly stays in my Kitchen etc etc) being a German, said to him “Germany a very wicked country.” Whatever may be true of the statements of these youths, so much we know well, that our neighbouring settlers & the Magistrates are by no means favourable to the Mission, once perhaps, would greatly rejoice if they could effect its ruin. We had another prove this evening confirming my opinion. The Magistrate who was directed to give Mr Porter [?], wrote a letter to the latter and refuses the one suitable & [?] & directing him to a very unfair & inaccessible abode.
People in WellPro Directory: Gisborne, Henry Fyshe
[20 August 1838]
August 20th. I went with Mr Porter this morning to inspect the Building the Magistrate has assigned to him. It is really not worth having, ready to tumble down & cannot be repaired unless if it were taken down, some use might be made of the bricks, but few of them would remain whole. Not to speak of its being to[o] inconveniently situated. Mr Porter afterwards, when riding out fell in with the Magistrate, when a short conversation ensued, in which the latter even acknowledged, he knew that the said Building was not a fit residence for him, but there was no other to spare. Consequently those who have the first claim are to be accommodated *. Mr W. also carried on some correspondence with the Magistrate respecting the keys for the buildings so that we were much annoyed & distressed to day. If we must go on in such an unpleasant quarrelsome way & have such people close to & amongst us, we almost better leave at once. The two Establishments will never do together.
[22 August 1838]
August 22d. Spent yesterday & to day principally in gardening together with Mr Porter.
[23 August 1838]
August 23d This morning our Young men went away to the bush only for a few days, as they say.
[24 August 1838]
The 24th. Jemmy & Friday have returned this evening. Was glad to find that in one of the Colonial Newspapers, that the subject of Aboriginal Native Missions among them, the contaminating influence of Europeans among them etc etc etc has been taken into some consideration in the Legislative Council.
[25 August 1838]
The 25th Was rather poorly this morning. - The rest of our Young men, ie. George, Cochrane & Lowey have come back today but they are all by no means in a good humour.
[26 August 1838]
The 26th, The Youths have been in a most shocking humour last night & continue so this morning, exceedingly boisterous, & noisy, thinking & talking about nothing, but to get wives. They appear to have been planning, for some time, to take away the Girls & the difficulty to succeed seems to annoy them much. Jemmy was one of the worst. They are certainly a most discouraging race of human beings; to do any good among them, human efforts can effect little. May it please the Lord to grant them some [of] his heart changing power. - I preached from II Kings V, 13-14. In the afternoon I prevailed on Cochrane, Lowry & Jemmy to read a little to me. We then concluded with singing, joined by Mr Porter & his Pupils, this Nglagan & Bungary.
[27 August 1838]
August 27th Had a reading lesson with several of the [?], afterwards they all went to erect a hut for Fred, near The Barracks where Mr W. is going to live. In the evening they were very noisy again, several also had painted themselves & went on very badly in our kitchen. Whilst the service was going on Fred who himself was noisy before, knelt down in the area of the * of the Kitchen & began to pray ie. repeating portions of the Prayer Book with much apparent devotion. After some time Jemmy & Cochrane left also off their boisterous concert & began to pray, Fred leading them.
[28 August 1838]
The 28th Our Young men have been in a frightful humor, most of the day, though repeatedly reading* a little. They are quite enraged at Mr W’s taking the Girls down to the Barracks, or Camp, as it is called, where they were so much more secured, then they have been here. They do not mind what they say against Mr W. Indeed they say more than they believe to be true, mere G* for the sake of annoying. Their ingratitude & insolence are shocking. But it is no more than we must expect [?] to our Divine Teacher who also endured the contradiction[?] of sinners.
[29 August 1838]
The 29th It was today that the Watsons left us and went to their new residence, the Prisoners’ Camps formerly & a much suitable place for the Children, secure & containing a nice play ground. May the Lord’s blessing rest on them & may the change be for the better! May the little separation rather tend to unite our hearts more closely together.
[30 August 1838]
The 30th Had both Reading & praying exercises with the Young men, for a considerable time, but not satisfied yet, they went from me to Mr P. To teach them also.
Mrs W was very poorly today so much so that Mr W. began to fear & sent for a medical Gentleman in the neighbourhood.
[31 August 1838]
August 31st Not much reading today, the Young men were principally employed in work. We were happy to learn this morning that Mrs W. was much better.
[1 September 1838]
Septb 1st Saturday when my principal business was to prepare for the evening Sabbath day.
[2 September 1838]
Septb. 2d Preached from Rev: 3, 20. Our usual number of Natives at Church. I also administered the Lord’s Supper, when I had only three Communicants ie. Mr Watson, Mr Parker & Mrs G. After Evening Prayers our Young men wanted to sing, and we sang: “O’er the gloomy hills of darkness.” When singing was over, they wished to be by themselves in the rooms & then knelt down & prayed in English, Fred leading the rest.
[4 September 1838]
Septb. 4th Reading yesterday and today. Several Natives having returned from the bush (ie. had only few about of late) I paid a visit at the Native Camp, which I have not done for some time.
[5 September 1838]
Septb 5 Had a little reading this afternoon with a few Native females. In the evening I was much delighted with the Young men, singing the two following hymns, remarkably well. “O’er the gloomy hills of darkness” “From all that dwells below the skies”.
[6 September 1838]
Septb 6th. Jemmy, George & Bungary were reading to me a considerable time, also a few women. Late in the evening we had something like a small hurricane after a very hot day.
[7 September 1838]
Septb 7. Again a little reading today, but in consequence of some work to be done, not all the Gr* men could read. Jemmy & Cochrane behaved very imprudently, this evening, especially to Mrs G. for all he does for them.
[9 September 1838]
Septb. 9 Mr W. gave me us a sermon from the Library of Blind [?]. I have the young men reading the afternoon.
[14 September 1838]
Septb. 14. Was very poorly today suffering much in my head and could do little or nothing. The Young men were very wild[?] this evening.
[11 September 1838]
Septb. 11. Read for about two hours with our Young men this morning, the rest of the day I was obliged to be nurse.
[12 September 1838]
On the 12th Mrs G. had an accident yesterday: a Black woman breaking would [ie. wood], when the former was near & a piece flew in her right eye, in consequence of which she suffered much last night & continues to do so, today. I was obliged therefore not only to be nurse, but also cook.
All the Natives left in the evening, except three women & even the two boys Bungary & Ngalgan went away.
[13 September 1838]
On the 13th The Young men returned before noon, but were very idle except Cochrane, who made himself very useful in the House; he even nursed Baby. It is surprising how she likes black faces; she prefers to see & even to go to a Black fellow; however frightful his appearance may be, than to smile ala[?] White faces of strangers.
Jemmy Buckly was extremely impudent & insolent this evening, because I found fault with him for his idleness. Mrs G. heard him say “All these bloody parsons ought to be shot.” Such language, of course, is not Aboriginal, but what these poor savages have learned from Europeans.
[14 September 1838]
Septb 14 My time at present is much taken up by domestic engagements, as we have not a single hand to do any thing, for us except one Black girl whose time is chiefly taken up in nursing. Besides, she needs[?] about [?] to be looked after.
or watched, as she is liable to be drawn into evil, both by Black & White men. It is indeed most distressing, that we should be obliged to have such Europeans about who can only prove a snare[?] to the Natives. It is the greatest discomfort of this Mission, and a circumstance which must counteract our efforts. As it regards our [?] on the Young men, it is out of [the] question, one day they may exceedingly well; the next day you cannot do anything with them.
[16 September 1838]
Septb. 16 There were about a dozen Natives at Church besides the Children. I preached from Matt: 10, 29.30.31 and grew so they[?] warm towards the conclusion. The Young men ran about part of the afternoon, but had a little reading & singing towards evening; they sing well their favourite hymn, “O’er the gloomy hills of darkness.”
[17 September 1838]
Septb. 17 The Young men had gone away last night & returned* this morning, in rather a bad humour; behaved very impudent, because we did not at once wait on them & feed them. Jemmy even broke my Study door in (it was certainly not very fast[?]). He received a severe reproof & intimation[?], that if he would not behave better, we should no longer allow him to be with us. Afterwards he felt sorry & endeavoured to make up for it. George made himself very useful.
The reason, why they have gone away these last few nights - to Ngannima, when this is a Native Camp, is that they wish to take a Young woman from a Native Man, who has more than one, [?] has severely[?] injured the one they endeavoured to take, burning her legs with hot ashes & even burning out one of her eyes.
[18 September 1838]
Sept. 18th There were only three Native women left last night and these took refuge into our Playground. But, to our great grief, a White man was heard making efforts to get one of them out, and, what is the worst, we have sufficient reason to believe it was one of our own men. Alas! alas! When will this evil be remedied!
George, Jemmy & Cochrane did well today.
[19 September 1838]
The 19th All the young men are engaged today in putting up a fence & doing exceedingly well.
[20 September 1838]
The 20th The Young men, the only Natives that were with us for some time left all today, except Fred & Bungary; they instead going to the Bush for several days. When I endeavoured to dissuade them
from going, Cochrane observed: “Why, you cannot teach us.” I was truly sorry to know that he had reason for saying so. If I must be situated, as I am at the present, my [?] [?] can little answer the purpose for which I have been sent. If the Society really knew, how we situated, & knew the character of this Mission fully, and the habits etc etc of the Natives, they would not wish us to do without a servant. It is impossible for Mrs G. to do any longer as she is under the necessity of doing at the present, like a common servant, her health etc & [?] not accustomed[?] of it, not to say, any thing [?] my time, at least, the best part of it, must be wasted too. Yes if the Natives did wait[?] my time as I must theirs the[?] might consci[?] of it, but as this is far otherwise, I cannot possibly go on. Let me be a missionary, let me have time to make some proper effort and then I shall be able to submit to other privations, discomforts & difficulties.
[22 September 1838]
Sept. 22d I’m sorry Bungary has left today also; so we have no Natives about excepting two old sick women with whom I can converse very little, & who have only bodily wants, to anything else they are as insensible, almost if not entirely, as bricks[?].
[23 September 1838]
Septb 23d Only two Natives at Church besides the Children. I felt quite uncomfortable to see no more & to have not one about all the afternoon. Mr W. preached from Pet.1:8-9.
[28 September 1838]
Septb 28. It was not before today that Bungary came back from the bush.
I spent these last few days principally in writing, with regard to which I have been very neglectful for a long time, having to copy ever so much of my Diary for the Society.
[30 September 1838]
Septb. 30. Preached today from Matt: Vi,19  & endeavouring to testify against the spirit of aggrandizing so prevalent[?] in this part of the world. My congregation of White people, however, was small. Natives there were only the Children, as well as Fred & Bungary.
Rev. J Gunther’s Journal,
July to Sept. 1838