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Octavius Hadfield

Letter written by Octavius Hadfield to his father April 22, 1842

To his father.

I often wish to see you all and often feel how great my loss is in being removed from you to this distant part of the earth. I feel sometimes that you can scarcely sympathise with me. You have parted with one or two (dear Alex), but you still have many around you whereas I have parted with all and am a solitary being in this hemisphere. But the love and affection, those bonds and links which nature feels are so strong and firm that they cannot be dissolved, yet unite me to you and keep you fresh in my remembrance. Think not that I despair or repine at my lot, oh no. If I have made a sacrifice, if I have endured a loss, as indeed in one sense I feel that I have, it has not been done presumptiously but at the bidding of One to whose commands all earthly affections must yield and give way, and who, while He commands us to leave earthly parents, etc., for His sake says at the same time "and I will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters." This then is my cause of rejoicing, that whereas I came among these people rather more than two years and a half ago and found them engaged in wars, etc., etc. I now find myself surrounded with believers. But to what shall I ascribe this, to myself? As well might I ascribe it to the paper in which the words of the Lord are printed.

page 176

I started early in March on one of my tours, and went a longer round than I had hitherto been. I went in my boat but in it I go no more for two reasons, first because in crossing the Straits I was nearly being lost in a gale of wind, breaking my rudder and being considered mad by all the seamen about the coast, and secondly because our committee at the North, taking compassion on my eccentric propensities which they find it impossible to cure, have sent down a pretty little craft which is as safe as anything of the kind can be. I went first to Queen Charlotte Sound where my people received me with much affection, having despaired of my life in my late illness.

There were about 700 or more present on Sunday at service and I baptised about 50. I then went on to Rangitoto (D'Urvilles Isd.) and was there delighted with those dear people who I think are the greatest treasures I have, especially some young women there. I then proceeded on about 50 miles into Blind Bay to the new settlement, Nelson, where Capt. Wakefield and others received me very civilly. I preached to a good congregation there but there were but few natives there. I then returned home having been absent three weeks.

I am not very comfortable with regard to the temporal interests of the natives. I fear that ere long they will suffer from the rapid influx of white men among them, and though Lord John Russell's despatch to the Governor respecting their lands, etc., is exceedingly good, I fear it will be very difficult to put his orders into practice. I am expecting to hear of the arrival of our Bishop (Selwyn) since I have seen his consecration in the papers.