Emily Bathurst; or, at Home and Abroad
"Oh, Mr. Archdeacon," said Lady Mary, when she met him casually a few days after their conversation at Mrs. Bathurst's, "I have such a charge to bring against your New Zealand missionaries; are you not quite frightened?"A. S.
You gave so decided a verdict in my favour a few days since, that I am not under much apprehension, as I am sure, from your known candour and impartial attention to facts, you will give me a fair hearing, and then I do not fear the result.Lady M.
You try a little flattery to enlist my gratitude on your side, hut I will be proof against it. Can you guess the charge?A. S.
I think I can. But I was not bound to tell you all that had been said against the missionaries, was I?Lady M.
How can you answer it? Here your good devoted missionaries are turning page 112into mere mercenary land-holders, and changing their characters indeed!A. S.
Proof! proof! if you please.Lady M.
One missionary lays claim to 40,000, and another to 50,000 acres of New Zealand land.A. S.
What do they want land for at all?Lady M.
That I cannot tell. They seem to me to have no business with any secular employment.A. S.
A missionary sets to work in New Zealand with a wife and two children. His family increases as years roll on, until, perhaps, he has ten or twelve. He expects to remain there for life. His children are supported by the Society till the age of fifteen. What is to become of them then?Lady M.
Can they not learn some trade, or return home to be educated?A. S.
What trade would gain a livelihood in a land where every one labours with his own hands, and supplies his own wants? How are the parents to pay the expence of the voyage home; and what could the page 113children do here at the age of fifteen without parents or guardians?Lady M.
This is a difficulty, certainly.A. S.
The only resource a missionary has is to procure land for his sons and make them farmers, that they may support themselves.Lady M.
What do missionaries in other lands do?A. S.
In most countries the missionary is compelled occasionally to return home for health; and the climate is so uncongenial to European constitutions63, that the children are compelled to be sent to England at a very early age; and this is one of the trials of missionary life. In New Zealand the case is different. The missionary breaks home ties and goes there to live and die. His children become naturalized and willing to remain in what is to them a native land. The natives become attached to the missionaries' children, and are anxious to retain them amongst them; and it is to be hoped that the children of missionaries, being religiously brought up, page 114may be a blessing to their adopted country, by setting a better example than is usually presented by English settlers in a foreign land.Lady M.
But what can you say to such immense tracts of land?A. S.
That one was almost forced on the missionary who purchased it. It was a disputed piece between two tribes, and neither could settle upon it. The natives almost insisted that it should be purchased by the missionary, and, in consequence, three once hostile tribes are now living in peace upon it. Thus it does not appear that it was bought from any desire of acquisition, and as soon as the wish of the Committee became known, it was readily relinquished. Indeed, before the missionary knew the decision of the Committee, he had made over, by deed, one-third of the land to the Aborigines, and another third for the use of the Church Missionary Society.Lady M.
And what of the other princely acquisition?page 115 A. S.
The other missionary to whom you allude purchased the tract in question in order to enable an expelled tribe to return to what had been their homes, and nearly one hundred immediately took up their abode there. The whole of this princely acquisition was destitute of timber, and much of it covered with moving sand hills. This missionary intended only to retain for himself sufficient to cover his outlay, as he expended 140l. in the purchase. Surely his motive was a laudable one; though hearing all that had been said in this country in connexion with missionaries and their lands, he regretted that he had ever made the purchase.Lady M.
How much land is needful for the support of one man?A. S.
Indeed, it is difficult to say. Much of the land purchased by missionaries comprises an immense proportion of worthless land, bare rock, barren sands, or deeply rooted fern, and in many cases the natives obliged the missionaries to purchase a thou-page 116sand acres of bad land in connexion with some moderate portion of what was capable of cultivation, which alone the missionary wished to possess. But this is certain, that the sole object of missionaries in purchasing land at all, was to make provision for their large families at a time when no other means of support were open to them but those of agriculture; and except in the two cases, which I hope I have accounted for satisfactorily, no missionary appears to possess any excessive number of New Zealand acres. Remember, too, that for the most part the purchase of these lands was made before New Zealand had become a scene of speculation, and when the value of land was comparatively trifling.Lady M.
What price have the missionaries paid for their land?A. S.
Rather more than 3s. 1d. per acre, whereas the New Zealand Company paid about ½d. per acre, as appears from the evidence of their secretary before a Committee of the House of Commons.page 117 Lady M.
The difference is amazing.A. S.
Whenever you think of New Zealand, my dear Lady M., bear in mind these circumstances. The country was utterly barbarous. The people cannibals and unusually warlike and cruel. Ships often dared not touch there. In the face of all this, a band of men plant themselves on the island, and in spite of insults and injuries, and their lives often in danger, persist year after year in their unwearied endeavours to Christianize and civilize their fallen fellow-creatures; twenty, twenty-five, thirty years pass away one man was spared to labour the whole of this time. God abundantly blesses their labours and now in character and conduct some of The New Zealanders would put to the blush many so-called Christian people. Instead of a land to be avoided and dreaded, New Zealand is now considered a most desirable locality for colonization, and is become part and parcel of our Queen's dominion. To religion, and religion alone, is all this to be attributed. More Societies than one have page 118had their share in this good work; but whatever benefits have accrued either to individuals or to the Crown, from the colonization and possession of this beautiful, fertile, and healthy country, they owe them all, under God, to the efforts of voluntary religious societies in England, and by no means the fewest, to the Church Missionary Society.
63 A person’s physical state as regards vitality, health and strength.