1.3 Reverend Handt's Report
i. 1835 Report
[note] Rec. Nov. 28/36
Annual Report of Mission of the Mission at Wellington Valley by J.C.S. Handt.
Attention was be paid to the temporal and spiritual improvement both of Adults and Children.
About 15 Children were under instruction in the course of the year. Of them we had in general from 4 to 7 on occasion staying with us. The time of their stay was uncertain; sometimes they would remain for months before they took a ramble into the bush; but at other times a few weeks only or even a few days. The Girls have proven to be more steady and tractable than the Boys: one of them has been staying now at Wellington about 3 years, and another above one year, and they are proving useful in many extents. The Children do not want in ability of learning so much as steadiness and a desire to improve. Their intellects want merely to be developed, and their habits regulated; and this appears to be the great task the Mission has to accomplish. It is often with difficulty that the Boys are induced to attend to instruction or do a little work sometimes however they will work, and in general they attend irregularly to instruction as may be expected.
When the Children are spoken to on religious subjects their minds appear sometimes seriously impressed, and they yield a ready assent to all the truths of Christianity; but no real spiritual mindedness has yet manifested. So far they have improved, that, if one falls into the sin of cursing or swearing, another generally informs the Missionaries of the circumstance, knowing that it is wrong. Great difficulty is sometimes experienced in obtaining the Children from their Parents and Friends, so that entreaties, persuasions and promises seem to be of no avail.
With regard to the Adults, we had in general from 8 to 12 staying with us but sometimes less; at other times we had from 20 to 30 and upwards. They are instructed as opportunity presents itself, at home, in the bush or in the camp, by talking, or reading a passage of Scripture, or delivering a short discourse to them, in their own language. Their attention is not always to be gained, as they are frequently given to much talk and jest. When they are listening to what is said, their attention will be sometimes drawn aside by a cow or a horse or another object near them. At other times, when they appear to be very attentive, they will start the question, when a bullock is to be killed. When asked whether they love God and his Son, they will sometime reply in the negative. When one would talk to them on religious subjects, they would sometimes say, that they were hungry, (for this is their general theme whether they really or not,) and that they first wanted to be fed. They give even sometimes a first denial of hearing spiritual things and that because of an antipathy against them.
But the Adults nevertheless sometimes afford a little encouragement. When the undersigned has beheld at times their filth, misery and wretchedness, and felt so dejected in his mind, that he could scarcely open his mouth to speak to them, they would desire him to talk to them about spiritual things; or when he had ceased speaking, they would request him to say a little more. Their minds seemed sometimes so impressed, when under religious instruction, that they every reason and then heaved a sigh; and when questioned abut their love to God and his Son, the answer would be in the affirmative; yet no real change of conduct has as yet taken place.
Their fear of death is very great, and they are loath to hear anything on the subject; and yet it is difficult to speak on religious matters without touching this point.
[page] 5 [sic?]
It is a lamentable fact that their increase is inferior to their decrease, especially as they often kill their half cast offspring. Four deaths took place at Wellington in the last year, viz. two Adults and two Children. An Adult, a woman, also died 4 miles from Wellington; and an old man, who was under medical treatment at Wellington, went away and died after he had left. On the other hand, the undersigned can only remember three births, which took place in the neighbourhood of Wellington; and one of these Children was killed. The mother of this child often having been under instruction at Wellington, was taken away by her husband, and prostituted among the white people which connection occasioned the existence of the said Child. The undersigned saw her a few days after the atrocious act had been perpetrated and seriously reprehended her for her [?] but she endeavoured to turn off the reproof by a laugh. Another woman, from whom more humanity was expected was called upon to testify that it was wrong but she cooly replied that it was just a pretty Child. Such[?] was [?] though [?] Christian sympathy and call forth the utmost exertion to remove these poor creatures, from destruction: and most with [?] are chiefly owing to the wicked intercourse with many of their white neighbours.
The dialect spoken by the Wellington Blacks is called Wirradurri; that spoken by the Bathurst Blacks Wandangurra; that of the Mudje Blacks Yarrayarra; and that of the Blacks of the south of Mudje Kammillarai. The last mentioned dialect extends as far as the Hunter, and differs materially from Wirradurri. The others differ more or less. It is however clearly to be perceived, that they are of one origin. Of the dialect spoken at Wellington a Dictionary and Grammar have been composed. St. Luke’s Gospel and some other parts of Scripture have been translated, as also several parts of the Liturgy, and Doctor Watts’s small Catechism. It is not to be expected that these translations can be correct; for
the beginning must be imperfect at first, and perfection must be attained gradually. As to the Grammar editions and improvements have been made, as the idiom of the language was more fully known.
Reports of the Mission to the Aborigines for the year ended 1835.
For transmission to England
Rev. JCS Handt’ Report on the Mission: 1835