ix. Jan-March 1835
J.C.S. Handt’s Diary
January to March 1835
J.C.S. Handt's Diary from January to March 1835
[1 January 1835]
January, 1. New year's day. Some of the Blacks, who left here two days ago, returned to-day. I was told by one of them, that some were still beyond the Bell River, where a great number of them had resorted of late; but when I went there, I could find none.
[3 January 1835]
Saturday, 3. A Boy who came to-day from Cobolyen, has promised to remain with us.
[4 January 1835]
Sunday, 4. The Boy called Billy, who went away three weeks ago returned this morning. He did not make his appearance at first, but remained behind one of the men's huts, and a black man came to inform us of his arrival. I went to him, and he seemed to be a little ashamed. When I asked him, why he had gone away, he replied that he had wanted to be with the other Blacks for a while. I found however that he had chiefly been with the Stockmen at Cobolyen. There are several Blacks here at present, who have encamped not far from our dwelling. Went in the afternoon and had some conversation with them. I learned from them that all the strange Blacks, who had come to these parts some days ago, had again taken their departure.
[6 January 1835]
Tuesday, 6. The black Boy Billy, who returned
the day before yesterday, has gone away again, and another with him; the same who came last Saturday. I went after them about two miles but could see nothing of them. May the Lord afford grace and strength to support us under our great discouragement. Conversed with some Adults. One of them called Charly, seemed to be more attentive than the rest, especially when I talked to him about death and a future state.
[7 January 1835]
Wednesday, 7. Engaged in getting words and phrases, and in talking to the Blacks.
[8 January 1835]
Thursday, 8. Went to the Blacks this evening, where I met with a young man, whom I had formerly known; but from his thin and altered appearance could not recognise him again. These poor creatures are soon reduced by sickness from their being so neglected, and having no comforts to give strength to their bodies. When I had ascertained who he was, I asked him for the reason of his being so thin, upon which he replied that he had been very ill, even at the point of death. This information afforded me a suitable opportunity of speaking about a future state and the Saviour of sinners.
[9 January 1835]
Friday, 9. Learnt to-day that a number of Blacks were encamped about two miles from here, I went therefore in the direction pointed out to me, but could not find them.
[10 January 1835]
Saturday, 10. Was informed by one of our Lads that the Boy, who came here a few days ago to stay with us for a while, had already gone away. As I thought he would be in the camp, in search of which I was yesterday, I went again, and succeeded in finding it; but the Boy was not there, nor his brother who had brought him to Wellington. When I inquired of the women in the camp, where the Boy was, they said they had not seen him. But questioning them more particularly, they informed me that he had gone early this morning towards Wellington. But probably neither of their statements was true; for I suppose he was in the camp last night and went away this morning, but not to Wellington, as I did not find him there on my return. In the evening I was told by some Blacks, that if I did go now to the camp, I should undoubtedly find him, and thus I went again. A young man whom I met first, told me that the Boy's brother was there; and when I asked, whether the Boy himself was present, he nodded assent. However when I inquired of the brother, he said that the Boy was not there; but had gone away yesterday, which I did not much credit; for the Boy had probably hid himself. Went around in the camp and talked to the Blacks about God and the Saviour of sinners.
There were four persons sick among them, two men and two women, who seemed to listen with more attention to what I said, than the rest did. On counting them, I found that they were about thirty in number.
[11 January 1835]
Sunday, 11. The Blacks behaved with great decorum when attending divine worship.
[12 January 1835]
Monday, 12. Most of the Blacks came up from their camp to-day, and stayed here nearly all the day.
[13 January 1835]
Tuesday, 13. When talking to a yeenar (woman) about the things necessary to salvation, she said that she supposed God was like a father and a great gentleman.
[17 January 1835]
Saturday, 17. Have had very sore eyes for several weeks past. They have frequently been so bad that I could not see to read or to write.
[18 January 1835]
Sunday, 18. The Rev Thomas Hassall, son in law to the Rev S. Marsden, paid us a visit last night, and preached an excellent sermon to-day on Exodus III.3. It is refreshing to the mind to be visited by a friend in the wilderness. The Blacks who attended divine service conducted themselves with great propriety.
[20 January 1835]
Tuesday, 20. Mr Hassall left us yesterday, and all the Mission family accompanied him to a short distance, except myself, as I had to deny myself of that pleasure on account of my eyes, which have been very painful since last
Saturday; but they are at present much better through the mercy of God, who has blessed the means used for their recovery.
[23 January 1835]
Friday, 23. It is exceedingly hot and dry, on which account the country wears a dreary and barren aspect. Several persons have been afflicted in our neighbourhood with sore eyes.
[25 January 1835]
Sunday, 25. In a conversation, which I had with the Blacks, respecting faith in Jesus, the dreadful state of the wicked in a future world, and my own hope of going to heaven after death; two of them asked, whether they also should go to heaven, when they died; I told them they should, if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, upon which they replied that they did believe in him. I trust, that from this answer, they understood and felt something of what I had said. Oh, that they had indeed a saving faith in Christ!
[29 January 1835]
Thursday, 29. Some of the Blacks, who were staying here, have left us, on account of the lying report of one of the Settlers in our neighbourhood, who told them that there were soldiers coming from Bathurst, who would take away all the Blacks that were near Wellington. It appears to be the anxious desire of our white neighbours, to prevent the Blacks from staying with us, and to hinder our work in various ways. But till they can do no more injury to the Mission cause, than what is permitted them to do; for the Lord reigneth, and he will accomplish his own purposes.
[30 January 1835]
Friday, 30. As I thought, according to some account which I received, that there was a party of Blacks not far from the station, at a place where they had been not long since; I went there in search of them, but was disappointed in my expectations. February,
[1 February 1835]
Sunday, 1. Not many Blacks here at present; those however who were attended divine service.
[9 February 1835]
Monday, 9. Our visitors, the Blacks, have increased to-day. It is encouraging to see them coming to us, and heart-cheering to have an opportunity of talking to them about the glad tidings of the gospel; though it is not an easy matter to make them fully understand these good news in a spiritual sense. After I had ceased speaking to some of them to-day; one asked me whether I had now done. I asked, if he wished to hear more of these things, upon which he replied in the negative. This answer reminded me of the complaint of the prophet Isaiah concerning the children of Israel in his time, when they would not hear the law of the Lord, and said to the seer, “See not”, and to the prophet, “Prophecy not." His reluctance to hear anything more about these things arose, I suppose, from a fear perhaps of being again troubled in his mind about a future state etc; for I had observed that he did not like to hear of it, though I had as well stated the happiness of those in another world who loved the Lord Jesus. One of them afterwards climbed a large tree, and in a few minutes fetched an oppossum out of one of its hollow boughs, which he killed by striking its head against the tree.
[12 February 1835]
Thursday, 12. One of our Boys went with his mother into the bush this morning. I hope however that he will soon return, as he went away twice before, and after a time came back again.
[15 February 1835]
Sunday, 15. Had divine service which was well attended by our white neighbours, but there were only a few Blacks as there are but few in these parts at present.
Intend to go into bush, but the thoughts that we cannot find any Blacks except at Stockstations is very discouraging. On these Stations they stay in order to get some food for little or no trouble; and the husbands prostitute their wives there to white men for that purpose. So they do, though there is no occasion for it; for if they would stay with us, their little wants would be amply supplied. Horrid diseases, the consequence of such a line of conduct, are therefore raging among the Whites and Blacks.
[17 February 1835]
Tuesday, 17. Set out on my journey among the Blacks to talk to them about the one thing needful wherever I can find them; and especially to see whether I can not, by the help of God, persuade some Children to come to Wellington, if I should find any. I went for that purpose to Murrumburjeri, where it was said some Boys were staying, and took with me the Boy who is living here that he might be an inducement to the above to come to Wellington. I thought of starting very early, but the horses got out of the Paddock last night; and in the morning
several hours elapsed, before they could be found. On the road I met with a Settler, who asked me to go with him to his station to see one of his men who is dangerously ill. I found him indeed very sick, and told him that, if his soul was not in a better case than his body, he was indeed in a miserable condition. He seemed backward however to enter upon the subject of religion, and evaded direct answers upon my questions of this sort; but complained much of the want of proper nourishment. His master told me afterwards that in his healthy days he had been very profligate, (by which conduct his sickness had been brought on) and had made a mock of religion and Scripture. He added however that since his sickness he sometimes prayed. May the Lord have mercy upon his soul. Towards evening I arrived at Murrumburjeri, where I found some young men of the Blacks and three Boys. I talked to them about the creation, fall, and restoration of man. Several of them listened with considerable attention, and when I asked them whether they understood me, they replied in the affirmative. They seemed to be much pleased at the idea that the Blacks and Whites had originally sprung from the same parents. I presented them with some pipes and tobacco, and invited them, particularly the Boys, to come with me to Wellington, where they might have always tobacco and plenty to eat. For these things are the only means at present, by which they can be induced, to comply with a request. Two of the
Boys seemed to be inclined to go; but the young men showed symptoms of dissatisfaction about them going: and the third Boy gave a direct denial. Late at night, I went to their camp, and spoke with them: one of the young men told me without ceremony that none of the Boys should go with me to Wellington. The reason, why these young men wish to keep the Boys, is as I have every reason to fear, that they commit with them the horrid sin of Sodom. How necessary then to get the Boys from them.
[18 February 1835]
Wednesday, 18. This morning, when going to the Black's camp, I found no Boy, and the young men denied their knowing anything of their going away, or of their abode. I accused them of having sent the Boys away in the night, in order to prevent them from going with me: they denied however the fact, and seemed to be very sulky. I went now to seek for the Boys, when one of the young men whom I had not seen in the camp this morning, called me and directed me to go to a certain place along the river, where I should find them. I asked him to accompany me, for the compliance to which he desired me to give him some tobacco, which I promised to give him. However when we came to the place; no Boy was visible. Afterwards another of the young men fetched them from their hiding place on promising him a handkerchief. The two, who yesterday felt inclined to go with me,
were still of the same mind, though one of them cried at the idea of parting with his friends; but the third still refused to come with me. I now set off with the Boys as soon as possible, putting one behind the Boy on horseback, who had come with me; and the other behind me. On the road they desired me to go towards the Macquarie River that they might bathe, with which request I readily complied, but avoided halting at either of the two Stations, which we had to pass on our road to Wellington, where we safely arrived in the afternoon.
[22 February 1835]
Sunday, 22. The Boys whom I fetched on the 18th instant, went away this morning, just before Family prayer; and took the other Boy with them, whom I had with me when I went for them. It would be in vain to attempt to describe our feelings when we meet with such discouragement; words would prove insufficient to do so. May God prepare the way before us in our arduous work; and show us the means which he will be pleased to bless in the conversion of these careless and wretched Aborigines!
[24 February 1835]
Tuesday, 24. Went in search of the three Boys who had gone away two days ago. About 14 miles from here, I was informed, that they had been there the preceding day. Coming to Murrumburjeri, the place from which I had fetched them a week ago, I was told that they were about the place, but had hid themselves. I called them, and sought for them: one of them, the same who had been persuaded by the two others, to leave us, when they went away, gradually made his appearance. The other two did not come; the blankets were however taken from them, as we consider that to allow
them to keep their blankets after staying here for so short a time, and going away in a clandestine manner, would be to encourage them in their duplicity and deceitful dealing towards us. In the few days they were here, they asked two or three times for tobacco on one day; so that I could not apprehend how they could use so much. But when they had gone, I was almost sure that they had intended to take it with them. I had then to return with one Boy only, but felt thankful that he was inclined to return with me.
[26 February 1835]
Thursday, 26. The Boy whom I fetched back the day before today, behaved in a very sulky and trying manner: he refused to be instructed, notwithstanding every persuasion and entreaty; which is a great grief to my mind. Once only I could prevail on him to say his lesson, since he has returned. If we were to use coercive means, as in such cases should be resorted to, he would probably go away altogether; for they are the most independent creatures, the bush being their home and their storehouse. Besides they can get provisions on the several Stockstations around us, by assisting the men in the looking after the stock, a business which agrees with their own mode of living as they have to ramble about in the bush. And because they can on these Stations do as they like, and indulge in every evil practice, being under no moral constraint whatever, but rather encouraged in every sort of wickedness, which well suits their corrupt propensities; they therefore prefer staying at such places. On these accounts our difficulty, in managing them, is great; for we dare not use the road, and yet it is necessary to be firm with them. Sometimes it seems to have a good effect, to refuse giving them a meal, which they have been anxiously expecting: at other times they appear only to be exasperated by it, and are still
more obstinate and unteachable.
[30 February 1835]
Friday, 30. The Blacks have left these parts at present, but it is to be hoped that they will soon return, as they seldom stay for any length of time at one place.
[7 March 1835]
Saturday, March 7. Was informed that there were some Blacks at the junction of the Macquarie and the Bell river, but I saw none when I came there.
[14 March 1835]
Saturday, 14. We have not been visited by the Blacks for some time; several young men however came to us to-day. and there will probably be some more coming in a short time.
[15 March 1835]
Sunday, 15. A Black, who according to all probability, had enticed a young yinar (woman) a few days ago to go away from here, returned to-day, and, when told of his having done wrong, behaved in a very insolent manner. He denied the fact, but what he said in his defence showed that he was guilty. He threatened to tell other Blacks to come with him, and destroy our dwelling; and to give his menaces a formidable appearance, he said that the Blacks were not afraid of us. There is indeed not much occasion to apprehend , that they will take violent measures against us, for fear of the few Soldiers who are stationed here; but they might injure us secretly, setting our dwelling perhaps on fire, or the stacks of wheat. But the Lord is our Protector, and without his permission none can do us any harm.
[18 March 1835]
Wednesday, 18. Spoke with some black young men, and endeavoured to explain to them the wretchedness of their condition; and how much they neglected their temporal and eternal interest, in not complying with our request of sitting down with us planting corn, keeping cattle etc and of receiving instruction. Upon one of them, who formerly stayed with us, I urged the matter particularly; but he seemed to be as deaf to my entreaties as the rest, and replied that
he would go away again in about three or four days. Thus the time does not seem to have fully arrived, when the saving arm of the Lord shall be revealed to these poor creatures; but we must pray that it may speedily be done, and wait by faith for its accomplishment. It affords great comfort to the mind, to consider that all the members of Christ in every part of the world offer up their supplications before the throne of grace for the conversion of all nations, in which the Aborigines of this country are included, and their prayer is made for them by all the Redeemed on earth.
[23 March 1835]
Monday, 23. The disease, which raged in Sydney a few months ago, called the influenza, has also made its appearance in these parts. I had a severe attack of it, and Mrs Handt and our two Children are still suffering under it: the little Boy is particularly unwell.
[24 March 1835]
Tuesday, 24. The Boy, whom I brought back the 24th last month, went away again last night, his father having persuaded him to leave us. This is indeed discouraging; but faith in the promise keeps up our drooping spirits under such circumstances; and when the Lord is pleased to give success to his work, he can do it, even under the most opposing circumstances. It appears the Blacks have also taken away the Boys from the several Stockstations around us; of which circumstance we have however reason to be glad; for when they are in the bush, they have at least no opportunity of being more initiated by the example of bad white men, than they were before.
Have finished the translation of the sufferings of our Lord, as contained in the last three Chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel. Have translated the first five Chapters of St. Luke's Gospel, and Doctor Watt's first Catechism with the Scripture Names and Prayers for little Children. Though these translations can by no means be said to be correct, they are a good exercise in acquiring the language.
Rev. J.C.S. Handt’s Journal
Jan. to March 1835