4.2 William Porter's Journals
i. July-Sept 1838
[note] Rec'd May 16/39
of William Porter, Wellington Valley
From 1st of July to September 30th 1838
July 1st. Early this morning we arrived in Sydney Cove; and being the Lord’s-day we were anxious to get on shore that we might spend the Day in thanksgiving and praise to the God of mercy for having preserved us in health and safety: during so long and unpleasant a voyage. What a true emblem of the Christian’s life is such a voyage; such an alternate succession of storms and calms but at last to be brought in peace and safety into the glorious haven of eternal rest by the mighty power and guidance of the "Great Captain of our Salvation."
2nd. Presented my Instructions to the Rev. Mr. Cowper. He appeared somewhat surprised; that I should be sent out to cultivate the Land: when he said the Society in London knew that the land was only lent for a short time: and that the Colonial Government had determined to make a Township exactly where the Mission now stood, and that in a short time, we might expect to have the Land; took from us, and perhaps removed to another part of the Colony. I was still more surprised than Mr. Cowper appeared to be, to hear such intelligence so very different from what I expected.
3. Went with the Rev. Mr. Cowper, to endeavour to procure suitable lodgings; after much difficulty we succeeded.
4. Went to the Customs House to get my Baggage cleared; felt exceedingly fatigued in my legs in consequence of being so long confined on board a ship.
5. Took a walk with my Brother Hadfield, a few miles out of the Town, which we should have much enjoyed, had it not fatigued us so much in our legs.
6. Went to the Vessel and got a few Boxes away.
People in WellPro Directory: Cowper, Reverend William
July 7. Called upon Rev. Mr. Cowper, he communicated some very painful intelligence respecting the mission at Wellington. I felt much discouraged. But prayed the Lord to guide and comfort me.
8. Went to St Philip’s Church and heard Rev. W. Cowper, felt a little more at home as I could worship the Lord in His own house.
9. The Corresponding. Committee sat and resolved that I should proceed to Wellington on Monday next.
10. Got some more of my Baggage from the Vessel; and sent my Linen to be washed.
11. Spent the evening with Mr. Johnson George. I was again sorry to have been given so discouraging account of the Mission.
12. Got the remainder of my Baggage on shore and took part of it to Mr. Campbell’s Wharf.
13. Took a seat in the Bathurst Mail, and paid the fare to proceed to that place on my way to Wellington Valley.
14. Packed up to-day, to be ready to leave on Monday afternoon.
15. Spent this Sabbath in greater peace and rest than any since I left England. Had some sweet Christian converse with my Brother Hadfield on our anticipated separation on the morrow. Our mutual esteem and affection for each other has been gradually increased since we left England. I thank the Lord that I have been most edified by his higher advancement in Divine wisdom and knowledge.
16. My dear Hadfield and myself commended each other to the Lord in our united prayers. He accompanied me to the Mail Office. We then walked out of the Town a little before the Mail started. With tears and prayers we bid each other “Adieu!” Each assured that if it was not our lot to meet again on earth we should meet again in heaven never more to part. We arrived at Penrith (which is 35 miles from Sydney) about 11 o’clock this evening.
17. Left Penrith this morning at 4 o’clock for Bathurst crossed the Nepean River, and began to ascend the Blue Mountains; and truly a wild & dreary prospect it presented. Our horses being so poor, I felt obliged to walk for many miles up these Mountains. Passed several road and
People in WellPro Directory: Cowper, Reverend William
Iron Gangs of Convicts during the day. I felt for them, when I considered the miserable way in which they dragged, and their existence. Shut out altogether from the means of grace.
18. Arrived early this morning at Bathurst after travelling all the night, to get to the end of our long, tedious and sometimes dangerous journey. Went to bed at the Inn but was too much fatigued to sleep.
19. A servant sent from the Mission at Wellington with 2 saddle horses, arrived here today. Mr Watson having been previously informed of my coming. We left Bathurst at 3 p.m., rode 27 miles and halted for the night at the house of Mr Lorn’s a respectable Settler. Passed a comfortable night [and] rose with a grateful sense of God’s protecting mercy and found myself very agreeably situated in a pious family of Wesleyans.
20. After joining with my friends in family worship we partook of breakfast. I bade them farewell and pursued my journey. Arrived this evening at Molong at a Cattle Station belonging to J. Betts Esqr, son-in-law of the late Rev. S. Marsden.
21. Left Molong early, being yet 35 Miles from Wellington and arrived safe at Wellington about 4 p.m. Received a hearty welcome from my Brethren & Sisters in Christ and also from the natives: who introduced themselves to me by making a low bow, and each one giving me his hand. After the moment of excitement was over, the little children and Girls, about 12 in number: sang several Hymns, and read Several Portions of the Bible in a way very much to the credit of those who taught them.
22. Rose this morning much refreshed, attended Divine service in our Chapel this morning: about 30 Natives attended including the Children. I admired their order and apparently devout attention. Felt that I had much cause for thanksgiving. Here I resolved to send up my Prayer.that the Lord at last had brought me to my destination.
23. Employed myself a little in the Garden; with congratulations I find they know how to use our Tools, tolerably well.
July 24 & 25. I am still employed in the Garden with the Native Youths. I can get them to work very well for a short time. After working for an hour or two they sit down to rest. I read to them out of the last Chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. And spoke to them of the Missionary Society, its objects &c. One of them said why do they not send out more Missionaries here. We want some more. I told him I expected they would shortly.
26. Viewed the Land under cultivation, and some of the Cattle; and also the Sheep; Found them all suffering from the extreme dryness of the Season.
27. Had the Natives again in the Garden burning weeds &c. of which we have an abundance. After working for about 2 Hours, they all suddenly left me and went to look at a man being flogged who had been tried at the Court which is held here every Friday. The Government Establishment I fear will be a great annoyance to us if continued here.
28. Sowed some seeds in the Garden; took some of the little Boys to break the large lumps. They are active little fellows.
29. Being correctly initiated into my secular duties I taught some of the younger men to read; which forms a part of every day’s labour. Had about 20 Natives at Church as we have no Service in the afternoon. I employed my time by reading with some of them and Catechised them. I find they are acquainted with some Divine truths.
30-31. Still continue to employ the Natives in the Garden when they are in the humour to work, which is not always the case. They are a great deal more inclined to read than to work; being naturally the most indolent people in the world. Once* on* the* * this* .of Bungary will sit for hours reading if someone would sit to hear him. He is a youth of some ability: and will soon be able to read in the Bible in English, if he continues with us.
August 1. Took charge of the Stores and relieved Mr Watson of other secular duties which hitherto he continued to perform because I was not sufficiently acquainted with them.
2. As part of every Day is spent in mainly the same employment I shall here give a general account of those labours. Generally rise at 6 in the morning, sometimes a little earlier; spend half an hour in meditation and prayer then go to the Stockyard & see that the servants have begun to milk the Cows: bring a little for breakfast. Read until 1/2 past seven: when we take breakfast; afterwards I generally take the morning prayers. After prayers give the Natives meat out of the Stores for breakfast. Afterwards serve out other stores as they are required for the Day. Send the Servants to their various employments: then sometimes take a ride in the Bush after the Cattle or go to the Sheep Station until Dinner, which is about 1 o’clock. After Dinner teach the Young men to read until 10 then spend the remainder of the evening generally in reading or writing or both. Retire for the night about 11. This I may say forms a part of daily labours, without much digression.
3. After my usual duties took a ride in the Bush, to look over the Mission Land. Passsed the grave of a deceased Native whose son I had with me as a guide. I told him we must all soon become the same as his father and endeavoured to shew him the importance of being prepared for such a change.
4. Went with a few of the Natives into the Garden & after working for about an hour they sat down & I read to them the 9 and 10 Chapters of St John’s Gospel. They listened with great attention, and when I applied the subject to themselves they appeared to feel it; and when I spoke of the sinfulness of the heart, they said they believed all I said: they asked me to pray for them, that they might have better hearts. And one of them added that he prayed every night & morning. I encouraged him to persevere.
5. Was very much annoyed & grieved with the Natives disputing about their Clothes. Mr Gunther, who takes care of
August 5 continued.
their Clothes has something to do please all of them.
6. Was very much tried with our Natives. They would neither work nor read: We reasoned with them of the sinfulness of being so idle. They confessed that they did not do right: but said they could not help it. Such is the power of habit.
7-8. Very much discouraged at the prospect of the Mission .Nothing but darkness on all sides we are annoyed within by our servants and without by our neighbours. Our mission is carried on wrong principles, * * * as we are we are obliged to keep ourselves* servants. And who are they?. All without exception either are, or have been convicts. I will leave a Christian Society to judge for themselves if they are proper persons to be employed on a Missionary establishment especially surrounded as we are by many native females.
9. Nearly all our Natives went away during the night - they almost *break ** their wild and unsavoury habits. Took a ride with Mr Watson into the bush to look after our Cattle which through the great scarcity of food are scattered for many miles all around*.
10. Went to seek among our Cattle for a Bullock to slaughter; came back after 2 hours idleness without finding one text* enough. Spent 3 or 4 hours in comparative idleness looking after our servants who are both idle and Saucy*. I see more & more every day of the evil of employing such fellows. I thoroughly tired* of them.
12 * few Natives at Church this morning as very few of them have returned. Passed a day of prayer*& rest. And took prayers this evening at the request of Mr Gunther.
13.Our Men busily employed at the Building called the Old Barracks preparing it for the residence of Mr and Mrs Watson & the Native Children.
14. Our Dray returned this morning which we had sent to Mr Tom’s for 40 Bushels of Wheat.
15. Our Natives being so unsettled of late, we thought it our duty to tell them that those that would not write or read, should not eat. We hope it will have some effect upon them.
16. In acting up to our decision of yesterday, we mustered 7 Natives, to help us make a Stock Yard down at the Old
People in WellPro Directory: Tom, William
August 16 continued.
Barracks; They worked better than I have ever yet seen them. They are active young men if they were more to be depended upon.
17. Some of our Natives went away again today.
19. The Natives that went away on Friday returned during the night. We had a considerable number at Church this morning.
20. Received a letter from Mr Gisborne the Police yesterday informing me of the Building allotted for my residence. I went to look about and found it to be out of repair and in such an inconvenient situation that I refused to have it.
21. Having been blessed with fine showers of rain during the night: I sowed some more seeds in the Garden as we have the pleasure of more rain.
22. Some difficulty in finding the Bulls, for it is almost one man’s labour with a Dray to fetch wood and water. We are to[sic] far from them and the Natives refuse* * task*
25. Our Men still employed in making the Camp (that is the Old Barracks) ready for Mr Watson and the Children.
26.Enjoyed a short release from my problems [?] duties. Had a number of the Natives to teach them to read: and after reading some asked to sing which they are very good at doing; indeed the desire which they have to be able to sing; induces some of them to learn to read that they may be able to understand what they attempt to sing.
Fred who is nearly blind, he wanted to know why he could not read. I told him that it had pleased God to deprive him almost of his sight which prevented his seeing the words. But that he must listen to the words which we read: and that by so doing he might be able to remember as much as any of them. He can already repeat part of the Church Service; several portions of Scripture; and can sing several Hymns tolerably well. They are delighted if they can make any improvements, particularly in singing.
27. This evening Fred came again to be taught to read. Poor fellow, wish he was able to see, that he might learn: but the Lord knows best. I read to him the account of the death and sufferings of Jesus Christ. And endeavoured to show him
People in WellPro Directory: Gisborne, Henry Fyshe (Wellington Police Magistrate)
August 27 continued.
the necessity of and the Infinite value of those sufferings. He appeared to understand something of the plan of redemption and Salvation:, and also to feel something of an impression made upon his mind. I afterward prayed with him. It was encouraging to hear his hearty responses to the petitions I offered upon his behalf.
28. Mr and Mrs Watson, with the Children, removed to their new residence the Camp; leaving me to occupy that part of the Mission House; they have hitherto occupied. Fred came again this evening for me to read to and pray with him, which I accordingly did. I must think that a little Divine light is beginning to dawn upon his dark and ignorant mind. But he is going to live with Mr Watson which will prevent my knowing the working of his mind so much as I have been enabled lately.
30. Mr Bingham, the Commissioner from the Colonial Government came to the Mission Station; for the purpose of inspecting the state and prospects of the Mission. I felt encouraged thinking that the many evils we have to contend with will be impartially represented, and I trust eventually removed. Mrs Watson, unfortunately was took [sic] very ill this morning. In the afternoon somewhat better.
31. Mrs Watson much better. We have reason to hope that she will soon be convalescent.
After prayers this evening, our Natives began to sing and pray by themselves. This is the first attempt of the kind with them. Whether they were activated by sincere motives; or merely from a curious desire to imitate us, we could not quite determine. They sang and Prayed with much apparent devotion; but afterwards set up a loud cough[?]; but we think this was from a shame that.other Natives would know of it. Every Christian knows what influence that Bold-faced Shame (as Bungun call it) has upon his mind, when called upon to make a public profession of religion, especially when he has reproaches cast upon him for doing so; by his ungodly neighbours. I am sorry that we cannot devote more time to the spiritual instruction of these poor inquiring heathens, the great and chief object which we profess that we are come for.
September 1. Brought some young Cattle up to day to cut and brand. Some of the Young men [?] this evening desiring to be taught to read. After hearing them read, I read to them the 10 Chapters of St John’s Gospel and explained to them Our Saviour’s Character as the “good Shepherd”. They listened with great attention and appeared to understand me.
2. Mr Bingham the Commissioner attended Divine service and had an opportunity of witnessing the behaviour of our Natives during the same. I regret that so few of the surrounding settlers attend. After service our Brother Gunther administered to us the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
3. Having employed a man who wished to stay here a few days to make a few articles of iron ware; he unfortunately set fire to the Blacksmith’s Shop. But through active exertion we soon put it out without much damage.
5. Went to see Mr Watson at the Camp; this afternoon, and at his request stayed and took evening Prayers there. When I returned a few of the Natives came to my room. I heard them read 3 Chapters of St John’s first Epistle.
7. Mr Raymond, a person who for some time has been allowed by Mr Watson to live here at Wellington Valley: very unjustly placed a flock of sheep on the Mission Land. I requested him in a letter to take them off. He returned me an insolent answer: refusing to do so. I immediately wrote to Mr Bingham who is still staying in the neighbourhood; requesting him to represent this case to His Excellency the Governor.
8. Today, thank God, we had a fine shower of rain, which was indeed acceptable in this “dry and barren Land” where very little or no water is.
9. When I wished to hear our Natives read this afternoon they all ran away; but returning shortly after; I heard them in St John’s first Epistle. They continued with me for 2 hours. After reading I spoke to them a little of the subject of the Epistle. I asked George if he believed what I said of Jesus Christ? He answered I believe it all: I asked him why he did not become good since he believed? He said he should when God should change his heart: I here directed him to Jesus Christ: and exhorted him to pray for a new heart at the same time reading a few of those Gracious Promises held out to penitent sinners.
People in WellPro Directory: Raymond, William O'Dell
September 10. Most of our Natives exceeding idle today, we attribute this to their [sic] being so many old Natives about us who always dissuade them form working. I determined to act upon the Apostles' injunction: those that would not work should not eat.
11-12. Nearly all our Natives left us again. I attribute this to my refusing to feed them, on account of their indolence.
13. This morning a few of the Natives returned, they first came & looked through my window: to see (as they said) if I was "tallai"[?], their word for angry. I could scarcely scold them because of the amusing way in which they came.
14-15. Had a few Lambs droped [sic] during the week, being the last for this season. The weather has these few days past been again unfavourable. The little rain we have had is all gone and is now exceedingly dry and hot.
17-20. The weather still continues unfavourable, very dry and increasingly hot. It will soon become very serious, as this part of the Country will soon be parched up. Our Natives went away to day down the river. They first asked Mr Gunther and myself if we would allow them. We of course tryed [sic] to persuade them not to go. After some hesitation they told us, they must go: but would soon return. I then left them. After breakfast they came to my room were I was reading: and after standing a few minutes (as if at a loss what to say) they told me they were come to say "good bye". I spoke a few words to them in an affectionate strain; endeavouring to make an.impression on their minds; it was not without effect: they hung down their heads; and appeared at a loss what do: They at length said that they must go or black fellows would be "tallai"[?] with them. I gave them to see that I was sorry. One of them (Cochrane) said "we sorry " "as well you sorry ". They went away apparently much affected, promising soon to return. Such is the power of early habit that it compels them to act contrary to their apparent inclination. It is encouraging to see them so affected at leaving us.
23. This is the first Lord’s Day that I have spent here without some Natives to teach. Spent the Day in peace & in the enjoyment of reading & meditating upon the Word of God. Oh that my mind was more abstracted from the cares of this World.
24. The heat so unusually oppressive that our men can do but little except what is absolutely necessary such as fetching wood & water.
September 25, 28. Our men having finished the necessary repairs at the Camp the residence of Mr Watson and the Children; they have begun this week to make some repairs at our residence which is in very bad repair: and that part which I occupy I wish to have finished before my Baggage arrives, which I expect in a very few days: as I have heard of its being on the Road from Bathurst.
29. The past week being so excessively hot I could not go out in the middle of the Day: and having no Natives, I employed myself chiefly in reading & copying my Journal. One of the Natives (Bungary) returned this morning.
30. Enjoyed a Sabbath of rest. Mr Gunther Preached from Matt. 6: Chapt 19-21 Verses an impressive & very appropriate Sermon for this Money making Colony. It appears to engross the minds of all (Clergymen not excepted), the keeping of Cattle, and getting of wealth. The Lord preserve me from the often offered temptations.
After the conclusion of my Journal I would beg leave to offer a few remarks respecting the state & prospect of the Mission. Though I am the youngest, the least experienced in the affairs of the Mission, and the lowest in every degree amongst my Brethren here. Still as I have an interest in the Cause; and see many existing evils; I consider it my duty to point them out; hoping that hereafter they may be remedied.
In the first place, it appears necessary that we should occupy and graze and cultivate a large portion of Land, for our own maintenance, and that of the Natives which we have about us. To perform this, it requires a number of men; as Shepherds, Stockmen &c and as we cannot yet depend upon the labours of the Natives; we must have Europeans for Servants. Now the Servants we have either are or have been Convicts: this every Christian will at once conclude are not proper persons to be on a Missionary establishment. And I have had sufficient experience in the 3 months that I have been here; to convince me that they retard very much the spiritual advancement of the Natives.
The most eligible plan, in forming a Missionary establishment among these poor heathens that suggests itself to my mind is this: To have a little Settlement of Christians, 5 or 6 in number, some of them to undertake a little of wood & iron work. Christians who are possessed of a Missionary spirit: and who will feel it their duty; and a pleasure also (although they be only mechanics or labourers) to devote a little time to the spiritual instruction of the Natives. And who by their holy life and conduct would be an example to the [?] which [?] speaks more forcible than many words. I cannot but think that such individuals may be found by the Parent Society, if really sought after. This may be objected to, that is, the sending of such men from England, on account of the temptation which they would have, to leave the Society after being here a short time for a much more pecunicary situation. To this I must say that if they had a real Missionary spirit, I think these temptations would not overcome them. But if this cannot be obtained I should say, it is highly desirable that we have a few steady married men who are every way more to be desired than single men. As respects the Natives themselves; I am not discouraged far otherwise: For however I would not devalue. the past labours of my Brethren: I must candidly confess that I think no real means has yet been employed for their conversion. To perform any extensive good among them I think it highly necessary; that we obtain a full knowledge of their language, and get the Bible and other books translated into their language. For I am certain that a great many of them understand very little English: who I have no doubt would very soon be able to read the Bible in their own language.
These things I hope the Society will take into consideration, they are my own opinions I formed from my experience at the Mission: which may be considered too short to be able to judge. But the facts are so evident, that I do not hesitate to say, that my declarations are strictly true.
[note} W.M. Porter's Journal, 3
July to Sept. 1838.