vii. April-Dec 1839
[note] Rec. Aug 17/40
8 A X
the Reverend James Gunther
of the Church Missionary Society Mission at Wellington Valley
From the 1st of April to the 31st of December 1839,
As preliminary remark & apology I could state that on account of the uniformity of my daily engagements and the scarcity of interesting occurrences many days are omitted in the Journal. The frequent repetitions of almost the same things, in what I have written, will sufficiently show this.
[1 April 1839]
The Young men, lately returned from an excursion into the bush are still very much unsettled. They wandered[?] about the little meat & wasted[?] the day, near the Court House, as there were many Europeans new to* this district. I could consequently not get any to read. In the afternoon some of them were prevailed upon to fetch water from the River; which they had to carry in pales[?] & tubs from a considerable distance. The want of water is consequence of the long & severe drought becomes every day on more serious concerns[?] with us. There was much appearance of rain last night & to day, but, usual, high winds dispersed the clouds.
[2 April 1839]
Three of the Young men read to me a considerable time to day.
[5 April 1839]
Nothing of importance happened except a little reading every day by the Young men. Besides myself, Mrs Gunther & Mrs Porter teach them sometimes.
[7 April 1839]
There was an unusual number of Natives about to day & Divine Service well attended by the Young men. Mr Watson officiated in the morning & I in the afternoon. At Evening prayers I felt much enlargement of mind to address our Young men in a plain, fluent & affectionate manner. May the Divine Spirit impress their minds & carry the truth home to their hearts & consciences! It requires a more than usual plainness & simplicity of expression to be intelligible to them, and I often feel a lack of them. It needs[?] Divine wisdom.
[8 April 1839]
Had only Ingel Jemmy to read to me to day; he read the Church Catechism. We were not a little annoyed by the unsteady conduct of our Young men; Cochrane went off this morning on a visit to a neighbouring Station, and others were engaged by the Constables; for whom they were working hard. They will rather do for any body, than for us, for some little remuneration, not considering the food they got here more than an adequate reward for their services. So long as the two Establishments continue together we shall never get these Young men in order.
[10 April 1839]
Cochrane has come back last night & was reading to me a long time this morning. He was also very anxious to learn the figures, in order to find the chapters & hymns, when I give them out at Prayers.
[12 April 1839]
My sphere of missionary labour is at present very poor & limited, we have only two young men staying with us, and our little Boy Billy to whom we give daily, just as we can get them, that is at no stated times, reading lessons.
In the evening we hailed with much joy, & gratitude a fine shower of rain which the Almighty was pleased to send us, in our great distress. The very sight of rain, after so many month’s drought & whilst every thing around us looks dead & barren, proves a relief & enjoyment to the eyes.
[13 April 1839]
We were thankful to have a few more showers last night & this morning. We take it at least, as a sign that the Lord will be once more favourable to this land.
[14 April 1839]
Officiated this morning & took my text from the first Lesson Numb.XXIII,19; and Mr W. preached a missionary sermon in the afternoon from Psalm 67. We were refreshed by another shower of rain this evening.
[15 April 1839]
We were awoke this morning at 3 o’clock by a thunderstorm & a good fall of rain. We were delighted & felt truly thankful. It is a true observation, that we never appreciate the Divine favours so much, until we are, or, have been, for a time, deprived of them. To avail ourselves of these seasonable rains, Mr Porter & myself, assisted by two Young men, Cochrane & Ingel Jemmy, spent the day in gardening & sowing a variety of seeds. Much rain as there has been these last few days, the ground having been so much burnt up, stands in need of more it has not gone above a few inches. But we were truly rejoiced & admired the Divine favour, when after we had been sowing a number of seeds & returned from the garden to dinner, we beheld a fine shower pouring down on the seed garden. Oh! that it might please the Lord, thus, to grant also his gracious showers on that heavenly seed which we are endeavouring to sow. - After we had done work, Cochrane read to me for a considerable time & Ingel Jemmy to Mr Porter.
[16 April 1839]
We had heavy rains, most of the night, accompanied with vivid lightening & thunder; rain continued greater part of the day. It proved a delightful scene to us, and called forth our most sincere gratitude. It is impossible, for our friends at home, to enter into our feelings on the subject, as they are not able to form an adequate idea of the scene of desolation, all over the Colony, & especially, in this quarter, and, of the actual distress that had already begun & was threatening. It is now upwards of a twelvemonth that we have had no rain at least in this district, of any consequence; add to this the burning heat of the climate, and you will not be so much surprised, we should hail so much the present rain.
Taught our little Boy the Alphabet & had Ingel Jemmy reading to me.
[20 April 1839]
The ground having been so well saturated by the last rains, we spent several days principally in gardening, giving occasionally a reading lesson to one or other of the Natives.
[21 April 1839]
We had rather a better attendance of Europeans, at both, Services, than usual; but we were shocked at the conduct of some Gentleman (as they would be considered) behaving very irrevocably[?], endeavouring to draw the attention of our Native girls upon them & laughing with them.
[22 April 1839]
We begin to be delighted with the difference the country presents. Only ten days ago our beautiful valley looked as barren as a highroad, now, it is covered with a green carpet. This is indeed the Lord’s doing.
[26 April 1839]
I have had much trouble for several days to get the Young men to read to me at all; they would run about from place to place & house to house; but today I was very sharp with them & succeeded with Cochrane, Ingel Jemmy & Bungary to read to me.
[27 April 1839]
Our minds were much taken up to day with the summons we so unexpectedly received, from the Colonial Government, through the medium of the Revd. W. Cowper, that all three of us should appear before the Executive Council in Sydney, to be examined about the state of this Mission. We had a Committee meeting on the subject. May the Lord overrule all for good & defeat the counsel of the enemies of this Mission.
[18 May 1839]
Scarcely anything worth noticing having happened for some time; I omitted noting any thing down in my Diary. Our Young men have for some time been rather irregular in attending their reading
People in WellPro Directory: Cowper, Reverend William
(May 18 continued) X
lessons; they are too often drawn away by our near neighbour, the Constables & others to do a little work for them; of one kind or other. I have devoted of late my time, as much as my domestic engagements etc would allow, to the study of the Native language.
There are sad goings on this evening in our house occupied by some party of the Police Establishment. Certain Gentleman, among whom a Magistrate, & another one connected with the Court; together with Constables & their wives, formed a revelling party, intoxicated them selves & were extremely noisy. What a distressing scene this on a Mission Establishment!
[19 May 1839]
Being Sunday, the day of Pentecost Mr Watson preached in the morning from Deuteronomy. XXXII,49 etc. More [?] a [?] [?] and I in the afternoon from Gal.V.16 etc  the works of the flesh & the fruit of the Spirit.
[20 May 1839]
It was to day Mr Watson left for Sydney to attend unto the Government summons, respecting the state of this Mission. May the Lord grant each of us wisdom & simplicity, above all the spirit of truth.
[25 May 1839]
I was much amused & struck with some observations of Cochrane’s to day. A certain Individual whose vanity & self conceit attract the notice of most persons, passed by, with so much consequence, that our poor heathen youth could not forbear expressing his disgust & observed: “That fellow very proud; No body so proud as that man, he think he magistrate etc etc” adding very significantly: “I believe that fellow not know his heart.” This evidently shows that C. is aware of the close connection of self-knowledge & humility.
[26 May 1839]
Preached this morning from Matt: XXVIII,19  endeavouring to point out the practical bearing of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Had both times a small congregation of Europeans.
[28 May 1839]
I was glad to learn to day that Poll Buckley (A Native woman who is often staying with us) left last night the Camp, because the other women (there were no men there) used very filthy language; were exceedingly giddy, & abused her for not joining with them in their bad conduct.
I have to record to day - and do so with much gratitude & praise towards the Lord - the safe delivery of Mrs G. of a very healthy & strong boy.
[29 May 1839]
A very old Native perhaps, the oldest in this district, died very suddenly to day. He was seen sitting near the fire of his camp with a piece of meat in his hand and not above a quarter of an hour after, he was found dead so close to the fire as to have sustained some injury from it. He was of a very savage disposition, opposed to any change for the better, or, improvement among his countrymen. He also seemed to have been a cannibal, for he was once heard boasting of having roasted & eaten a man’s arm. Our young men buried him without delay & without any ceremony. There was no lamentation made for him. The women, who commonly perform that part of the ceremony, were all absent. Cochrane observed to me rather affectingly “Look all dying away, all dying away!”
Yes it is affecting to see them dying, without God & without hope & at the same time fast dying away as a race.
[30 May 1839]
The Constables brought a Black prisoner in, to day; who has become guilty of several robberies. He seems to be very savage; two constables, assisted by three Aborigines, could hardly take him. The latter in the struggle so cruelly wounded his head, that I fear his life is in danger. The skull is distinctly visible etc. The grand object of his unmerciful
Late this evening one of our European men died, after a long illness. He has been on the Mission from its beginning as an assigned servant, but soon received his freedom. It is with much pain & grief I relate the cause of his malady, & fatal termination. It is the wages of that sin which God has so signally marked with his displeasure, to the prevalence of which in this country, I have adverted before this. What a thing to be related in connexion with a missionary establishment! Surely, the Society has no right to wonder at our frequent & importune complaints; but we have a right to wonder & to continue complaining, that no efforts are made to remedy our crying evils.
[3 June 1839]
It was after some scruple & hesitation that I consented to bury the poor man, according to the Service of our Church. Not only was he a Roman Catholic by profession, but I had reason to doubt the sincerity of his apparent repentance as expressed at times. However, as he declared, at my last visits, that his dependence was solely placed on Jesus Christ & God’s mercy; I thought it becoming, to let charity which hopeth all things, prevail.
[6 June 1839]
Very unexpectedly Mr Watson came back this evening from Sydney with a letter from the Cor. Comt. stating that myself & Mr Porter were not required, the latter had just left this afternoon.
[7 June 1839]
I sent a Native off last night at two o’clock to overtake Mr Porter & to bring him word that he is to come back. Accordingly Mr P. came back this afternoon. Some of our Young men quite regretted, yesterday, Mr Porter’s leaving, and were consequently rejoiced to see him come back to day. There is, after all, some attachment among them to their missionaries.
[31 June 1839]
My engagements of late having been so monotonous & uninteresting, more those of a domestic & general servant; than of a missionary, I ommitted [sic] writing in my Diary. Our Young men have been principally engaged, & still are, in digging up a piece of ground for themselves, to sow wheat in, as we have no team of bullocks, or, horses, to plough with, the former having mostly died during the drought. - I can not teach them in the morning, for the time, as usual, but they frequently read in the evening, after they have done work. I have commenced recently to arrange my Vocabulary, alphabetically, endeavouring, at the same time, to receive additional words etc.
[20 July 1839]
No material change has taken place in my engagements. Our Young men, after they had finished digging for themselves, engaged with some person to dig for wages. Thus I have still not much opportunity to teach them, as I could wish. The few I can get, at times, I must teach at very irregular hours, that is to say, when I can get them. With our two children, & no person to depend on for any thing, I am too frequently obliged to devote my time to domestic work etc. It makes me, really, unhappy, I should be so miserably situated as to be obliged to neglect so much the great object for which I have been sent here, whilst our poor Natives, more than any other heathens of the Society’s Missions, require that the missionary should devote his whole time and energy to them, since they, every one, whether old, or, young, must be trained like children. To relieve me a little from my domestic engagements, I asked Mr Watson, to let me have another of the elderly Native girls, with which he complied, & sent Nanny. She has been here for about a fortnight. But during the last few days she has been poorly & to day she seems
seriously ill, requiring waiting upon & medicine. She has not been very well, since she had the influenza about last Christmass [sic.
[23 July 1839]
The poor Girl is getting worse & worse. We have a great deal of trouble with her, in consequence of our Young men interfering with her treatment. They will send her secretly things to eat which she ought not to eat, & dissuade her from taking the medicine Mr Watson administers to her. They also propose that some of their doctors should make an experiment on her, with their incantations & other superstitious practices. I fear she would be too ready to yield, as with all her religious knowledge, she seems to remain unchanged in her heart. I exhorted her repeatedly to repentance & faith in Christ, intimating that her end might be near.
[25 July 1839]
After some consideration, we though best to send the poor Girl below, to Mr Watson, as he has her under a course of medicine & can keep her apart from the interference of the Young men. She was, however, very unwilling to go.
[26 July 1839]
I was astonished to receive a note from Mr Watson, at 9 o’clock, this evening, informing me that Nanny was no more. I forthwith proceeded to Mr W’s., and learned that she died about an hour ago, also, that Mr W. had baptised her, previously, agreeably to an urgent request on her part, and a confession of her faith in Christ Jesus. Mr W. thought he observed a real change of heart in her. If so, it was, indeed, a sudden change. I would fain hope to God’s mercy that she is saved. - Strange I was not sent for, when she was yet alive to witness the change, which I am sure, would have been a matter of joy to me.
[27 July 1839]
The sudden death of the Girl appears to have made an impression on some of the Young men. Cochrane told me this morning, with much seriousness, in his peculiar way of expressing his mind: “I repeated all night long.” In further conversation with him he declared with some warmth” “I do believe in Jesus Christ.” I said, “A little, I think you do believe.” “No” rejoined he, “much!” “But then--.” “What then?” I asked, Why, he intimated “sometimes” his faith was gone again. Jemmy Buckley intimated the same thing, and said that he “believed coborn” (very much). “Then something come & take it away again” said I “yes, yes!” he exclaimed. He thought Wandong (devil) take it away. Several others expressed a desire of becoming better. But they are the most fickle minded beings, imaginable. I have observed some of them first turning off the melancholy news, with an air of indifference, then expressing a concern for a fit state for heaven; afterwards dissatisfied with the loss of the Girl, & finding fault with Mr Watson for giving her so much medicine which, they said, killed her. They were enumerating six, having been killed on the Mission by medicine. I was unable to remove this impression, they were in a great rage about it.
[28 July 1839]
Had a more than usual attendance of Europeans, today, at Divine Service, also, a considerable number of Natives. In the afternoon the remains of the poor Girl were interred. Four of the Young men carried the Coffin in the usual English style, a considerable number of Young men besides, all decently dressed, and the children, accompanied the funeral. It was an interesting sight. A few years back such a thing would have been utterly incompatible with the notions and feelings of these Native youths. Also
several Europeans attended. Mr Watson, after having read the Service, gave an address to the people more particularly, intended for the Natives. He spoke in the most decisive terms of the Girl having been truly converted & being saved.
Cochrane, still labouring under serious impressions, expressed a hope this evening of his being baptised soon, when I endeavoured to bring home to his heart the requisites for baptism. He fancies he has them in some measure.
[29 July 1839]
Had several of the Young men to read to me this morning. Cochrane begins to read the N.T. pretty fluently; Ingel Jemmy, likewise is doing well. Jemmy Buckly also has made a better effort of late to get on than he used to do.
After evening prayers, they wished me to come to their hut & to sing with them. We sang a number of hymns out of the Cottage hymn book; they seemed not to grow tired at all. Afterwards, they desired me to pray with them, to which request I gladly consented.
[3 August 1839]
It was to day I received the mournful intelligence of the decease of our highly esteemed, & much beloved, Principal, Friend, & Father, the Revd T. Blumhardt. Truly the Church of Christ & the Cause of Missions, have lost an excellent Servant of the Lord’s. May the Lord provide! May our - may mine- end be as his!
[4 August 1839]
Mr Watson preached a funeral sermon this morning, for poor Nanny, from Zachariah.III, 1-2. declaring in most confident language, that she was saved.
People in WellPro Directory: Blumhardt, Reverend Theopilus
[8 August 1839]
It was to day I baptised our little Boy, when I gave him the names “William James.” Being thus incorporated into the visible Church of Christ, may he, indeed, become a partaker of Divine grace! This day was at the same time the second anniversary of our arrival here. Many have been the mercies we have experienced, during the two years, much gratitude do we owe to our heavenly Father. But in reviewing this time there is, alas! also much, very much, cause for sorrow and grief much to humble ourselves & to seek for Divine Guidance & support.
[9 August 1839]
Mr Porter left this day for Sydney. As he seems to be determined to leave this Mission, unless some important alterations are made, his journey will be of importance. May he and the Corresponding Committee be guided by that wisdom from above which alone can keep us in the right path!
[11 August 1839]
Unwilling as I was, and, always am, I was obliged to preach an old sermon over again, having had no time to prepare, during the last two days, as I have, since Mr Porter left, the charge of all the secular concerns of the Mission. I occasionally preach extempore, but felt not at liberty today. In the afternoon I stayed at home to take charge of out children, in order to afford Mrs. G. an opportunity to attend Divine Service, a privilege, of which, for some time, she has been deprived.
[16 August 1839]
Notwithstanding my many engagements, at present, with the secular affairs of the Mission, I found time to give regular reading lessons to some Young men. I told them very decidedly a few days since, that they must read & work, otherwise I should not feed them; they take notice of it.
[17 August 1839]
I had a sad struggle this evening with the Young men. I required some who had been strolling about most of the day to sweep around the House & towards our Chapel, to make the place look decent for the ensuing Sabbath. They were, however, unwilling to obey being, at the same time encouraged in their obstinacy by others. I declared I would not feed them till this was done. Jemmy Buckley, in particular, also, Cochrane grew quite impudent & dissuaded the rest from sweeping. I repeated my threatening, and they persisted in their obstinacy, perhaps, they little expected I should make good my word, which I did. Unfortunately, however, they obtained some refreshment where they ought not to have obtained it. Thus of course my object was partly frustrated.
[18 August 1839]
I did not wish to refuse breakfast to the Young men, it being Sunday, they however, would set me at defiance and refused breakfast. Some accepted of dinner whilst others were fed in the same quarter as last night. I preached in the afternoon from Isiah.XLV,22 a sermon particularly intended for the our poor Aborigines.
[19 August 1839]
Jemmy Buckley & Cochrane continued to set me at defiance, others behaved better & I got several to work in the garden, but had only one to teach.
[20 August 1839]
Cochrane has also come round this morning and was reading to me together with Ingel Jemmy and Ngalgan.
[21 August 1839]
Jemmy Buckley & Cochrane went off this morning on an errand for some body, to some distance, to be absent, at least, two days. There is always something, or other, to, interfere with regularity among these youths.
[24 August 1839]
Several of the Young men have been working, pretty well, in the garden, this week; and, at intervals, were reading either to myself, or Mrs. Gunther.
One of them Lively, who has only been here a short time, but through much intercourse with Europeans, especially one decidedly[?] religious couple, is rather more civilised than some, has much relieved us of late, in our domestic affairs, as
he has been cook for us. A Black widow woman also has, for some time, been repeatedly doing some washing for Mrs Gunther.
[24 August 1839]
We have a tollerably [sic] good attendance at Church to day, both of White & Black.
[26 August 1839]
Most of the Young men were strolling about greater part of the day; they told me, they wanted a “spell”.
[30 August 1839]
During the last few days we have had the Young men very regularly under instruction, immediately after breakfast. I had these that are more advanced as: Cochrane, Ingel Jemmy, Jemmy Buckley & Ngalgan. Mrs G. had others less advanced as: Lively, Paddy, Possum, Paddy Porter, Harry, Tommy, and our Boy Billy. After reading I usually took several into the garden to day & clear out the weeds, whilst others were employed in various ways. Our garden is much infested of late, by grubs which are very destructive, they have destroyed much of our plants, also, in the wheat field they are beginning their destructions.
[1 September 1839]
At church we had a very good attendance, especially, of Young Native men. They also attended Evening Prayers. In fact they have, for upwards of a week, more numerously & regularly attended Family prayers, than ever I knew them before.
[2 September 1839]
I was struck this morning to observe a great change for the worst & quite an uproar among the Young men. Whan I enquired into the cause of it, I was told that Mr. Watson had been speaking very much against them, last night, at the Camp, and was always suspecting them concerning the Black Girl, Noa (Eliza) that is with us. Jemmy Buckley & Lowry went off with indignation. Some of the others were a little employed in reading & working.
[7 September 1839]
The greater part of our Young men have been taught
and employed in work, more or less, every day this week, but, did not do near so well as before. They rarely attended to prayers & went to the Camp every night. A considerable number having come from the bush, they have, as I apprehended, drawn away to day all our youths, except loyal Jemmy Cochrane. Lively, our cook, & Poll Buckley; the Washing woman, are gone also. So we are again without the assistance which we require.
[6 September 1839]
I was quite distressed to see such a small number of Natives at Church, they having not returned from the bush. I officiated both times, Mr Watson being away. We had a very heavy thunderstorm, during Morning Service, & the rain was pouring down the pulpit so that I was obliged to leave it, & finish my sermon in the reading desk.
[11 September 1839]
Was very glad to see Mr. Porter come back safe from Sydney to day.
[12 September 1839]
A little gardening, & teaching the two remaining Young men, is about all I can do at present. - Went in the evening to a neighbouring Sheep & Cattle Establishment, to baptise a European Infant.
[15 September 1839]
Again but few Natives at the Church besides the Children.
[18 September 1839]
I attended yesterday & today again a little to the study of the Native language, after having finished the necessary gardening. I was sorry to spend so much time in the garden of late, but as there is nobody else to do it, or, to make the Natives do it, I found myself justified, especially, as the season is come in so very favourable. There is a wonderful change in the appearance of all around us, from what it was last year. Every thing grows most luxuriantly. The wheat, also, looks very promising. Truly we have much cause for thankfulness.
[5 October 1839]
Our Young men have for about a fortnight & upwards, since their return from the last excursion into the bush, been doing tolerably well, at least some of them, both as it regards working & being instructed. But, the last few days, the whole of them are beginning to be unsettled again, owing to the presence of a considerable number of elderly Natives. They are contemplating what is, in their estimation a grand and important ceremony, the making of some Young men. They have fixed on the Boys: Bungary & Paddy Fisher, who are here at present. They neither of them seem very willing to submit; the former has long resisted, being too much civilised as to give much credence to the foolish pretensions of the Old men. But I fear they will almost compel him. Buba, the marvellous being, authorised to inaugurate the boys into the stage of Young men, has for several nights made a very melancholy & solemn cry at the River side, as a call to have his request granted. This is of course a trick of the Old men.
[6 October 1839]
There was much moving to & fro, & preparation among the Natives for their departure; still we had a good number at Church. In the evening, they had a great corroborey (dance). Fred & Cochrane, however, came back from the Camp. The latter seemed very thoughtful, he was evidently distressed & at a loss what to do, as the Old men pressed on him and all the others to accompany them to the bush & attend the ceremony.
[7 October 1839]
The Natives were determined to go this morning, to a distance of about 30 miles, and endeavoured to drag every one, old & young, away from the Mission. Cochrane was still labouring under a great struggle of mind & told me, he was “miserable.” Yet, he is not unfettered from the Native influence and superstition; for, when I said: “Let those old men one night be shut up in the House, and you will not hear Buba crying at the River side.” he, with others, was much annoyed,
and told me, I ought not to say so before the boys, thus evidently admitting, that I was correct, in my intimations, but desirous to keep up the government of the Old men. At last, most of them left; but, lest we should interfere, they cunningly pretended that the Boys should not go far this time, allowing the latter to begin doing some work. Lowry, however, was left behind, constituting, as I suspected, a kind of constable to secure & take off the Boys; for in the afternoon he stole himself slyly away with them. Ingel Jemmy & Lively were the only ones who stayed.
[19 October 1839]
Several of the Young men have returned from the bush, during the last two or three days, but, as [?]merly, are yet in an unsettled state. The Boys who have been made Young men, dare not make their appearance yet. I spent most of my time of late in the study of the Native language; but was too often interrupted by domestic engagements, as we have been without the Services of any Native except our Girl, Lively being engaged in general work.
[20 October 1839]
Went to Mumbal to day, about 11 miles off to preach there, but had a very small congregation. Mr Watson has been there before, and met the same disappointment. We have been found fault with, for not going to neighbouring European establishments; but our European population have no regard for the means of grace; those who live within two or three miles of us, very rarely, many never, attend Church. Indeed, few can manage to attend Divine Service as most men in this quarter, are shepherds & dare not leave their flocks.
[21 October 1839]
When riding along the Valley, yesterday, I observed a great many caterpillars on the ground, and, when examining to day in our garden, I found, it was swarming with these destructive creatures; indeed, the ground was almost covered, and they have already given proof, that they are likely to devour every thing that is green.
[26 October 1839]
It is truly melancholy & distressing to see what devastations the Caterpillars have caused, within, scarcely, a week’s time. Their number is already, fast, decreasing; but they, really, have done more harm then I ever could have believed; they have eaten up almost every thing that looked green. It is difficult to discern a single plant, or, even, blade of grass uninjured. Our abundance of Vegetables in the garden is entirely gone; the whole Valley presenting a picturesque feature only ten days ago, looks quite barren, and our wheat has also been much injured, though, it being very stony, they have not been able to get to finish their destructions there. The import & truth of these Scripture terms which represent “Locusts, caterpillars etc” as the “Lord’s army” never before struck me so powerfully & impressively. The scene is, truly, awful, and can not be conceived by those who have never seen anything similar to what we see. Hot winds are now accompanying these destroyers, and finish the devastation. Who can forebear calling to mind the language of the Prophet: surely “the Lord has a controversy against this people”. But “who regardeth the arm of the Lord?” We have too little thanked him for the return of his blessings, after the long drought. - It does not appear, however, from what we hear that this visitation extends far. The district of Wellington seems to have suffered most.
[15 November 1839]
I finished to day the arranging and revising of my Vocabulary, to which I have devoted most of my time of late, as I had not many Young men about to teach. I see more & more the necessity of acquiring the Native language, and only regret, I have not more time to devote to it. It will be a long & tedious work, and, I ought to be able to give my whole attention to it. It is extremely difficult to obtain the language from the Natives, and, then, it will require much cultivation before much use can be made of it.
(LAST LINE ?????????)
being under some strong religious impressions. That he is of a reflecting mind, and, sometimes, in serious thought, he often evinces by his conduct, and pleasing observations at reading. A few days since, when the name “Abraham” occurred in his lesson, he asked me: “You see Abraham, when you go to heaven?” “Yes, said I, and all those good men who are mentioned in the Bible.” “But whom, I asked in reply, above all others must we desire to see in heaven?” when he answered “Jesus Christ.” This evening I accompanied him & other Young men to the Camp. Whilst I was visiting, the various parties, at their respective fires, & talking to them, Cochrane separated himself from his company, sitting by himself on a log, apparently, in deep thought. When I came to him and began to speak about his immortal soul, and the state of the Natives’s soul in general, he intimated that he did care for his soul; “but those fellows (pointing to the rest of his country men & in particular the old ones) do not care, they know not whether they have got a soul.” adding “You ought to preach to them every day, then, they would repent.” I told him it was my wish to do so, but he must assist me better in acquiring the language.
[22 November 1839]
Excepting Cochrane all the Natives left to day, he was engaged in doing some Carpenter’s work.
[23 November 1839]
Poor Cochrane could not bear to be left alone, and was overcome by the desire to follow his companions in their wanderings. Nothing, but a thorough change of heart, by Divine grace, will enable them to resist their migratory propensities.
[24 November 1839]
Besides the Children & two or three women, there were no Natives at Church and very few Europeans.
[30 November 1839]
I have been seriously afflicted with bad eyes since last Monday and could neither read nor write the whole week, nor am I yet able. The complaint is rather general.
[7 December 1839]
My eyes are a little improving these last few days, but I was not allowed to do much, the whole of the week, except hearing now & then for a short time, a few Young men reading to me. They Natives were principally, engaged in the harvest this week; about 8 of them did reap well. The harvest is a very poor one, by far the greater part having been destroyed by the Caterpillars; and hot & dry weather, immediately, following.
[8 December 1839]
We had 14 Young men & elderly boys at Church, also, many Natives, besides about the Establishment. It is pleasing, after all, that however much they wander, they again & again come back to the Mission and seem to consider it their home. - Mr W. being poorly I officiated both times. A certain neighbouring Gentleman, who bears J.P. behind his name, sent, to day, a Black woman to attend Church, dressed in a theatrical & ridiculous style, men’s clothes, and with his own, handsomely, bound, Bible & Prayer-book in the hand. Had she come into the Church door, it would, no doubt, have caused laughter with some & thus a disturbance. But fortunately Mrs G. saw her before she had proceeded so far, and kept her in her room, as she was obliged to stay at home. When I came from Church Mrs G. pointed her out to me, and, happily, another Magistrate who had been at Church, just called in, so when we presented the theatrical figure. He was shocked, and said, he would give the Gent a strong reprimand, and I requested him to tell him, if he did so again, I should certainly take some steps against him.
Jemmy Buckley was in a more tractable humour this evening than ever I have seen him. He seems to have received some impression at Divine Service.
[11 December 1839]
Our Black Girl being poorly, at present, I have for some days been quite a domestic servant
[12 December 1839]
Jemmy Buckley read this morning to me, upwards of two hours, with the greatest eagerness. He certainly evinces more desire to get on with his reading than ever I knew him to do and is now making some progress. He was never so fond of his book as some others.
[13 December 1839]
Cochrane & Jemmy Buckley were again reading to me a long time, the latter being still in his anxious mood. But, singular, they never like to be much interrupted in reading by remarks or explanations.
[15 December 1839]
We had again a goodly number of Natives attending Divine worship.
[16 December 1839]
I had two parties reading this morning, at different times; Mrs G. also had a party. The unequality [sic] of our Young men, in their advancement, makes it very tedious for us & engages our time even when we have only a few.
It was to day Mr Watson took a half cast Child, by force, and displayed a great deal of passionate temper on the occasion, the particular lass of which I shall deem it my duty, to report to the Corr. Comte in Sydney.
[17 December 1839]
Most of the elderly Natives have left in consequence of yesterday’s occurrence.
I was engaged for about 3 hours with two parties of Young men & boys, whom I taught to read. Mrs G. also gave a lesson to a few.
[18 December 1839]
I accompanied to day two Scotch Gentlemen, tutors of the Australian College in Sydney to the Wellington caves, three miles from the Mission House, also three of our Native youths being with me. When returning, by myself through the bush, (the Young men were a little distance off) I had a very narrow escape: an old tree, of considerable size, fell on a sudden, just when I had passed under it, reaching within less than two yards of me. There was no wind to cause the fall, it was quite a calm. Oh! for more gratitude & perfect devotion to Him
whose guardian care has preserved me in this & other dangers, to whom I owe my life & all.
[19 December 1839]
I was agreeably surprised at Cochrane, to day, when reading to me Romans. 8, and meeting with the words “walk after the flesh.” he asked: “Do I walk after the flesh?” I said in reply: “Do you know what it means to walk after the flesh?” when he answered yes, he did, and, I rejoined, that I thought, he was walking after the flesh. He seemed satisfied, but did not wish to enter farther on the subject, and went on reading.
[21 December 1839]
Both Mrs G. & myself were engaged in teaching, yesterday, & to day. As they are all so unequal in their attainments and must be divided in several classes, if there are only half a dozen, it takes up much of our time. Some wish to be taught by themselves, alone, especially, those who are farther advanced, have little patience to wait for the others.
We received a visit to day from a Clergyman of the Presbyterian Church, the Revd. Mr Steward, who has been making a long journey, over the bush, to see, in particular, the scattered & destitute people of his Church, & to administer the means of grace to them. We were very much pleased with him, as it is such a rare thing to see a religious person in this quarter. His example is worthy to be imitated by our Church.
[22 December 1839]
Went to a place called Narrowgal, 14 miles off, where I officiated, but had a very small congregation.
[24 December 1839]
Had a little reading yesterday & to day with a few young men. We were thankful to be visited with some refreshing showers, yesterday & to day, as we were very dry again for some time.
[25 December 1839]
Being the commemoration of our Lord’s Nativity I preached from that beautiful text Isaiah.IX,6.  Had rather
a better congregation than some times, but nothing what it might be.
People in the bush the longer they have been deprived of religious ordinances, the less they seem to care for them. As to my own experience, I must candidly confess, I do not remember having spent so poor a Christmass [sic] day, that is to say, poor as to spiritual enjoyment, during the time I have cared for religion, as this day. Every thing seems to conspire to deprive us of the privilege, of the; “ Communion of Saints.”
[27 December 1839]
Not one of our Young men having attended Prayers this morning, I went immediately after to their hut to see what was the matter, & to my surprise & grief found them all still asleep (half past 8 o’clock). I endeavoured to rouse them & reproved them for their laziness, expressing, at the same time, my suspicion, that they must have been roaming about last night. I then left them, but returned after a few minutes, when several of them had got up and were rather in an angry mood, because I had uttered a suspicion, which they took to imply, something very bad, on their part, perhaps, out of a consciousness of guilt. But I would not be silenced by their murmurs and gave them a stronger & bolder lecture, pointing out their indifference towards the means of grace, their idleness, their ingratitude towards us & him who * the grief they cause us so often, and the insolence with which they sometimes speak to us, their obstinacy & thoughtlessness, that so little could be done among these many years missionaries had been with them. Cochrance seemed to feel & acknowledged the truth of all I said, and added, that most of the Natives came here only to get something to eat, and, did not think, of their soul; but he wanted to become a Christian, if no one else would. Jemmy Buckley, likewise, seemed to feel that my remarks were just, & exclaimed: “Well Mr Gunther, I don’t know what will become of me, I don’t know when I shall become a Christian.” Cochrane, admitted afterwards, he could not have the patience we must have with them. These two read then to me in good earnest. Their serious thoughts and impressions, however, wear, commonly, too soon away.
[29 December 1839]
Had a goodly number of Young men at Morning Service, but as soon as it was over, they were determined to go to the River to bathe, it being a very hot day; they promised to be back for the Afternoon Service; however not one of them made his reappearance, till at sunset, Cochrane said he was quite ashamed of himself, when I gave him to understand that his shame & sorrow for doing wrong always, wear away too soon.
[30 December 1839]
It was with grief I learned, to day, that our Youths, yesterday, proceeded from the River up into the Hills, where they were playing & dancing in the afternoon, when, very unexpectedly, Mr Watson, who had been out to day, met them, on his return home. I reproved them very sharply, and told them we better leave them as all we did & said seemed to be no used with them. I discovered another occurrence which reflected no credit on them: we have a few peaches in the Garden which are just beginning to ripen. When I looked after them, this morning, I saw that part of them had gone and observed footmarks of Natives under the tree. I accused the Young men, without hesitation, and was informed, that had been down last night during Prayers. Consequently, I requested Mr Porter, to take Prayers this evening. I then, went down the Garden to watch. Scarcely had the singing begun, when one marched down the hill, right towards the gate of the Garden, and, entering the Garden, proceeded towards the peach tree; but, before he came near it, he was startled by observing me along the fence. He made an attempt to deny his intention, wishing me to believe, he only wanted “to take a walk through the garden.” When I afterwards saw them, in their hut, together with Mr Porter, who said, Mr G. has sadly caught you, they felt much ashamed. Cochrane who seemed to have had no hand in their proceedings, was quite rejoiced.
[31 December 1839]
Our Young men had a quarrel this morning, at day break, before we got up, in consequence of what happened, last night. Cochrane had some arguments with them, as far as I can learn & reproved them for stealing, so that some were much aggravated. Several, then, went off, early & did not make their appearance again till night acknowledging to be ashamed of themselves & promised they would not touch our peaches again. [As Postscript I
would add here that they made good their promise].
Notwithstanding the many trials & discouragements we have with these Young men, I must allow there is some encouragement; for, comparing their present state with the past, I can see some improvement, more willingness to be instructed, with some a progress in learning; as also, occassionally [sic], religious impressions, an attachment to the Mission, for however often they may wander, they, always, come back again ere long. For several weeks past they have been doing tolerably well, both in reading and work. We will not despair looking unto the Lord’s promises & Almighty grace & intreating [sic] him to hasten the time of mercy for these poor & perishing savages.
Rev J. Gunther’s Journal,
April to Dec./39