vi. Jan-April 1834
J.C.S. Handt's Diary from the 18th of January to the 2nd of April 1834.
[18 January 1834]
January, 18. There are now four black children staying with us. May the Lord induce them to remain, and to attend to instruction. The poor creatures around us both young and old, are, as usual, still wandering from place to place, as sheep without a shepherd. But our gracious and merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, is able to gather even those straying and careless ones from the mountains, plains and valleys, that they may listen to the things which belong to their peace, may embrace the gospel which bringeth salvation, and be numbered to his flock.
[20 January 1834]
Monday, 20. Another black boy came to-day to stay with us for a time. He was here before at two different times, but went again into the bush. It seems to be impossible to make them give up the bush entirely. They stay however sometimes for months together, going away occasionally for a day or two only.
[23 January 1834]
Thursday, 23. Not many Blacks here beside the Children at present.
[26 January 1834]
Sunday, 26. Had divine service as usual. Some of the Blacks also attended.
[7 February 1834]
Friday, February, 7. One of our Boys, of whom we had entertained rather a favourable opinion, has left us this day to our great discouragement. Of such a disheartening nature have been many of our attempts hitherto. May the Lord, after having shewed us that we can do nothing of ourselves, appear with
deliverance from his sanctuary, in the behalf of these poor degraded people.
[13 February 1834]
Saturday, 13. Again two of the Lads have deserted us, and have gone to the bush. May our strength be according to our trials.
Mr and Mrs Watson set off to-day for an excursion into the country among the Blacks.
[14 February 1834]
Friday, 14. Mr and Mrs Betts came to-day, to pay us a visit. Mrs Betts is a daughter of the Rev. S. Marsden. There have been no Blacks here since Saturday. It seems that they have left these parts for the present but will I hope, soon return.
[16 February 1834]
Sunday, 16. Had divine service. A considerable number of the white people within our neighbourhood were present. May the time soon arrive, when with an ardent desire, and in godly sincerity, the Blacks shall flock around us to hear of the great works of God. And though there is no appearance of their doing so at present, yet who can tell what God may do at a future period!
[17 February 1834]
Monday, 17. Several Blacks paid us a visit this morning. It appeared to me that they would soon be off again, and therefore I immediately gave them some meat in order to retain them. As soon, however, as they had devoured their dinner, they went away, but not without hearing a little of the all important subject of religion. Two of them remained, one Boy who had left us last week, and an Adult, who is frequently here.
[19 February 1834]
Wednesday, 19. When I told the black man, who remained here since last Monday, to grind some wheat, he replied that he
could not, because he had the headache, but promised to do it tomorrow; asking me at the same time for a pipe and some tobacco. He received them on condition that he should keep his promise.
Three police men came this evening to Wellington, and took up their quarters at the Barracks.
[20 February 1834]
Thursday, 20. Mr and Mrs Betts returned this morning to Molong. The black man, mentioned yesterday, unwilling to fulfil his promise, has disappeared this morning. He returned in the evening, and thought to receive his supper, which he was justly denied, until he had ground some wheat.
[22 February 1834]
Saturday, 22. Mr and Mrs Watson safely returned this evening from their excursion into the country with a few Blacks whom they had prevailed upon to accompany them.
[23 February 1834]
Sunday, 23. The service was performed as usual. The police men attended, but in the afternoon they left these parts for Bathurst.
[2 March 1834]
Sunday, March 2. The three girls and the man and the women who came with Mr Watson on the 22 of last month, went away again in a clandestine manner, taking the blankets with them, which was only lent them so long as they stayed here. By following them the Blankets were recovered without difficulty, for they drew them off. They themselves made their escape by plunging into river, and swimming to the other side, like persons pursued by their enemies. These are very discouraging circumstances, and try the feelings. The more we endeavour to do them good, the more they seem to withdraw. They do not appear to care for anything but for food. Many of them are infected with a horrible
disease, and are wandering about without help, without clothes, without shelter. May the Lord pity them in their deplorable condition, and rouse them from their brutish carelessness and indifference, that they may enjoy the comforts of a civilized life and partake of the gospel of Christ.
[8 March 1834]
Saturday, 8. A few Blacks paid us a visit this morning, but soon went away again. They have, as yet, shown no real desire for the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, whom he has sent; but we still hope for better things; for "hope", as the Apostle says, "maketh not ashamed." God is well able to enliven and to raise these dry bones, though there may at present be no appearance of it. He works in a mysterious way, and performs his wonders so, as to secure the glory to himself.
[16 March 1834]
Sunday, 16. Spoke with a young black man, and felt some encouragement, when he appeared attentive, and asked me the question, whether God did lie down, and whether he slept. May the Redeemer's Kingdom soon break forth in the hearts of these people!
[24 March 1834]
Monday, 24. Set out for the bush, and took a black man for my guide, with the intention of going among the Blacks. We left Wellington Valley about 11 o'clock, and travelled eastwards. The ground is exceedingly dry about Wellington and Cobolyen, on account of the great heat and want of rain; but the farther we came the fresher the grass appeared. For about 7 miles the country was chiefly flat, and moderately timbered, but afterwards we found it hilly and rocky, and the trees were, in general, smaller. The rocks stood sometimes out of the ground as straight and majestic as if they had been planted there by art. When we had travelled about eight miles, we came to a creek, were we found four Blacks. One of them was a Miyaryir (Doctor)
or one who pretends to cure disease among them. They generally suppose that Won-ding (the Devil) makes them sick; and that the Doctor is able to remove him. When I had talked to them awhile we proceeded on our journey. After some time we arrived at a place, called Gonny-galdery, where we pitched our tent. Shortly after we heard at a distance a great lamentation. My companion soon discovered that it was a party of Blacks mourning over the dead. He called to them, and received an answer in confirmation of his supposition. They afterwards came up to us, and seemed to be in dismal state of mind. We learnt that it was a man who had died, and that he had been buried the same day. His two wives were also among the party, one of who had a new born Infant, of which she had been delivered only the night before. But so superstitious are they in the observance of their rites, that this poor woman had been obliged to walk about nine miles to-day. It being their custom, as I learnt by inquiry, to leave the place of a newly buried corpse for a season, especially if the person had been of any consequence, as in this case, they informed me, it was. She complained exceedingly of pain in her body, but was craving, as they usually are, for food. Indeed, she appeared to be the very picture of misery, and, I think, could have moved to compassion the most unfeeling mind. I made her some tea, and gave her a little bread and meat, but when the others saw it, they came and asked me for food also. I had however, not so much as to supply them all. As they were most of them sitting around their little fires according to their families, I had a fair opportunity of talking to them by going from family to family, and sitting down with them.
[25 March 1834]
Tuesday, 25. An old man asked me this morning several questions about the Maker of the objects around him. O that it would please the Lord to bring him to the knowledge of the things divine! The poor wretch is infected with the venereal disease. None of them could be induced to tell me the name of the person whom they had yesterday interred; it being a law among them not to mention the
name of a deceased person. The woman whom I met yesterday, is dreadfully diseased, also in consequence of a dissolute life; and so is her Babe and so degraded I scarcely think that it will live. They are a people lost in misery and wretchedness. Several of them went away this morning, and the few Children they had with them. I requested them to go to Wellington, but they replied that they would not go so far at present. My guide went this morning for our horses, which had wandered from us, but returned without them. He had tracked them, and observed that they had broken their hobbles. In the rocks, however, he had lost sight of the track, and concluded that they must have gone home. He took his breakfast and then went again in search of them. He will probably have to go so far as Wellington. I intended to proceed on my journey to-day, but must now relinquish my design, which I hope, however, will be for the best.
[26 March 1834]
Wednesday, 26. The sick woman seems to be a very debased character. She thinks she will soon be well, and then she intends to live with the Whites at the stock-stations. I told her that it was very wrong if she did and that God was angry at such conduct. She and the other women daub themselves every morning with pipe-clay. This they do, as I was informed, in honour of their late husband, and they will continue to do so for a season. They smear their faces and their hair all over, also the upper part of the body, and their arms and legs. When the Blacks use the pipe-clay as an ornament, for instance when they have a dance, they make generally lines only on their bodies, and draw them perhaps in various directions, especially on the face. These two women have twelve dogs about them, though they have no food for themselves of their own, except an Oppossum yesterday and to-day another, which the healthier of them caught each day. I saw the sick woman to-day, picking the fleas from one of their dogs and eating them. Yesterday I saw another women carrying a little dog on her back wrapped up in her Oppossum cloak, its head only appearing so that at the first sight of the object I was at a loss to know what it was.
[27 March 1834]
Thursday, 27. The horses, having been found at Wellington, were brought to us this morning by one of our men who had a black Boy for his guide. They
would probably have arrived last night, had not the Boy lost himself in the bush. It is, indeed, seldom the case that a Black goes astray in the bush, and I should scarcely have credited the man, had not the Boy confirmed it and laughed at the accident. The Boy would not go any farther, and I therefore took the man with me. We travelled for about 7 miles over stony ground, large rocks exhibiting themselves at various places. On the left side we passed a ridge of mountains. We came then to a fertile district, the ground covered with grass, notwithstanding the dryness of the weather. After having gone about nine miles farther, a new scene opened itself before our view, three high mountains presenting themselves on our right side, and three on our left, and each three terminating in a mountainous range. Our road led through the middle of them: when we had passed them, we were not far from a place called Gonduwang, where Mr Rouse, a Settler, has a farm. I thought I should have met with some Blacks here but was disappointed in my expectation.
[28 March 1834]
Good Friday, 28. Had divine service with the white men on the farm. They had never had service here before, though the station has been established for about nine years. As I was informed that there were some Blacks at a place called Bulyam Boagy, four miles from here, I went to it, but found none.
[29 March 1834]
Saturday, 29. Travelled over a fruitful district not much timbered, with mountains on the right, and a plain on the left, to a place called Yuroilduroi, where I found a party of Blacks. I sat down among them, and conversed with them; when they made several inquiries, and among other questions, asked me whether God had a desire or love for the Blacks. There were three Boys among them, whom I very much wished to come with me on my return to Wellington; but they
could not be persuaded. Being informed that there were more Blacks at Mudjey, I set out for it towards evening, but missing the path, and being thus obliged to return for about two miles, it was late before I reached it.
[30 March 1834]
Sunday, 30. The Blacks have encamped about a mile from here. One of them, a stout man, who considers himself to be a chief among them came up this morning from the camp, with another who said he belonged to the Bathurst Blacks. I talked to them, and learning that the former had a few Children, I entreated him to lead them to me that they might be instructed in the things about God at Wellington; but he seemed quite averse. The Overseer of the farm of this place did also what was in his power to persuade him, upon which the little black man answered that he believed he was also a Parson. Before I had spoken to him about his Children, he promised to go with me to the camp, but afterwards, he declined. I went however by myself, and found it by the smoke rising from their little fires. As it had rained much last night; they had just put up some sheets of bark in a standing direction, either against a tree or some sticks, put in the ground for that purpose. Each family was sitting around its fire under these sheets were I talked to them. One woman who was sick was more attentive than the rest. She was not however the only person, who was sick. One woman had a half cast little Infant. I had been informed that they had a Girl of about four years old among them of the same description. It was said that she had lost her mother, and was taken care of by an old woman. This Child I should have endeavoured to obtain by giving the old woman a trifle, had she not gone into the bush with it the day previous.
[31 March 1834]
Monday, 31. The rain was pouring down this morning in torrents. It had rained since Saturday evening with little intermission, so that I feared the rivers would swell, and prevent my return, especially as there was not the least appearance this morning of its subsiding very soon, and as it was now the season in this country when much rain is expected, and sometimes the lower parts of the country are inundated. As soon therefore as it began to clear up I hasted towards home, and rode in the
rain about eight miles. Shortly after I fell in with a party of Blacks sitting in groups around their fires under sheds of erected sheets of bark. I conversed with them about the thing needful, and was listened to with some attention. There was an old women among them sitting by herself; and a little Boy under her care ran about chopping the trees with his small hatchet. When I asked for her husband, she replied that she was poor, having no husband. I offered her a handkerchief if she would let me take the little Boy to Wellington to be instructed, but she would not consent, and when pressed hard, she began to cry.
[1 April 1834]
Tuesday, April 1. This morning about 10 o'clock, I fell in with very disagreeable company. Our man was riding a few steps before me, neither of us having the slightest apprehension of what was awaiting us. Thus going gently along, we came unexpectedly around the foot of a hill where two armed Bushrangers sprang from behind a thick tree and came upon us in a moment. One, who had two pistols, put one of them before our man's breast, while the other, the Ringleader, pointed his musket before me and inquired where my money was. I answered, I had no money. He made me however dismount, and searched my waistcoat pockets, and the pockets of my trousers with one hand, while in the other he was holding his musket. In the mean while I talked to him, telling him who I was, and on what errand I had gone out. That I had taken this journey on account of the Blacks to talk to them about Religion, and to show them the way to Jesus; and if I could do good too him also, in any way, I should be very glad. He said he wanted money, I answered as before that I had none, and that he might believe me. He then desired my pistols, but I told him that I carried no fire arms. When he had taken out my handkerchief, and returned it, (by which I think his heart was softened a little) I asked him whether he would not keep it. "No", he said. He began to search my coat pockets, and the first thing he took hold of was a Greek Testament. Not taking it out, he asked what book it was, I said, "A New Testament." Hearing this he left off searching, and said to his fellows, "This man has no money." He now asked our man, who was an assigned servant from Government, how I behaved
towards him. The man answered in my favour, and then they were satisfied. But the Ringleader said, if I had behaved ill towards the man, he would have stripped me of every thing. He now began to speak quite otherwise than before. He had used insolent language at first, but now he said I should not be frightened, and he was sorry that they had stopped us. If he had known that I was such a man he would never have done it. He made me however promise not to tell the soldiers at Wellington of the circumstance; and in a distressing tone said that they had to live here and there in the woods[?]. Formerly he said, he could have a ride on any horse and now he would assist me in getting on the horse. Being about to do so, he asked first whether I had some bread in my bundle, "Yes," I replied, and also a little tea and sugar. For I thought it is better to mention these things before they find them. I then opened my bundle, and let them take all these articles. I had also in the bundle another handkerchief of the same sort as that in my pocket. He asked, whether it was the same, and as I replied in the negative he said he would take it. I made haste then to fasten the bundle again on the horse, and to be off. For I thought they might still turn against us. Besides, they themselves seemed to be desirous that we should be gone. We rode on not looking behind us, which, I thought might cause suspicion in their minds. Thus we were obliged by the Almighty and Merciful God out of the hand of Robbers, who might have easily have proved Murderers. Praise and thanksgiving be unto my God and Saviour for this remarkable deliverance.
[signed] J.C.S. Handt
[signed] W. Watson
Rev J.C.S. Handt’s Journal
April/33 to April/34