vii. April-Sept 1834
J.C.S. Handt's Diary from April to Sept. 1834.
[8 April 1834]
April, 8. Spoke with a Black man, called Geordy, who has been among white people as long as they have occupied these parts, and asked him, why he did not leave off his idle habits of roving about in the bush, and work as white men do; that he might have plenty to eat and not go begging victuals from them, as he now did. He laughed, and answered that he did not like to work, but preferred wandering in the bush.
[19 April 1834]
Saturday, 19. Again I have to lament that the Blacks seem to be as careless as ever about the conversion of their souls. The most that we can do for them is to sigh and to pray that the Spirit of the Lord may quicken and regenerate their hearts, and enlighten and sanctify their minds, and thus bring them to the knowledge of the Gospel and the blessings of the Saviour.
[26 April 1834]
Saturday, 26. A party of Blacks passed here to day. Some women only stayed for a short time, who, when I asked them, why all the rest had passed, replied that they would have a dance to night. O that they might soon learn to sing the praises of Immanuel, and to be joyful in the Lord! At present we are obliged to harp on the willows, but then we should take them down, and tune the song of Zion.
[1 May 1834]
Thursday, May 1. Some Blacks, who came to-day, said that the dance should take place to-night a few miles from here, with others of their associates, and they soon left for that purpose.
[3 May 1834]
Saturday, 3. The intended dance took place last night I understand. Two of our men being disabled, and another engaged at home, Brother Watson and I have been assisting to plough for some days. We hope with the blessing of God to be more successful this year, than we have been last with regard to our harvest, as we have had a good deal of rain lately.
[4 May 1834]
Sunday, 4. Had divine service as usual in English.
[16 May 1834]
Friday, 16. Time rolls on, and it does not seem to brighten our prospects with regard to the poor Blacks. But if we consider, for how many years the Missionaries laboured in the South Sea Islands, New Zealand etc. before the work began to prosper, it is a stimulus to our perseverance and an encouragement to hope that ere long the Gospel will flourish here also. The children who are staying here are improving in reading and writing etc. and we meet sometimes with other pleasing occurrences among those whom we occasionally see here or in the bush; so that notwithstanding all obstructions we would not be disheartened. "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie though it tarry." We are commanded to "wait for it; because it will surely come."
[26 May 1834]
Monday, 26. A most melancholy event happened this day, one of our men having been drowned in fetching water from the river. And the man who was with him saved himself by swimming. The bullock was also drowned, and before anyone could reach the place both the bullock and the cart were underwater. It was with difficulty that they were drawn out of the water; but the body of the poor
man could not be found. He was naturally stupid and helpless, and we fear was unprepared for death. His sudden departure has caused a little seriousness among the other men, which I wish may be lasting.
[3 May 1834]
June, 3. The body of the poor man was found floating upon the water to-day. It was taken out and buried.
[12 May 1834]
Thursday, 12. Endeavoured to persuade the Blacks to cut some bark for me, but could not succeed. One who promised to cut some tomorrow, went away towards evening.
[21 May 1834]
Saturday, 21. Spoke with a young man, whose native name is Maddy, and tried to explain to him in what manner Christ was crucified for fallen men. He seemed to take notice of what I said, but the result must be left to him who knows the heart.
[26 May 1834]
Thursday, 26. It is pleasing to observe that the Blacks sometimes pay a little attention, when spoken to about religious matters. True it is that they are in general careless and indifferent towards spiritual things, and care for nothing but food and tobacco, which indeed is very discouraging. But it is true also that amidst these gloomy prospects, there appears every now and then a gleam of hope. The children who stay here afford us also sometimes encouragement, and in general more than the Adults. The Lord's name be praised!
[2 July 1834]
Wednesday, July, 2. The several Boys who are at present with us receive daily instruction. May the Lord incline their hearts to remain with us!
There are some black women staying near our house, who seem to pay a little attention when talked to, and to make some inquiries.
One of the Boys assisted one man in catching the horse, and he said if it had not been for the Boy, he should not have caught it. Last week some of the Boys went for wood with the cart and horse. Thus they can make themselves useful, if they wish.
[15 July 1834]
Tuesday, 15. Mrs Handt being near her confinement, and the Soldiers’ wives, who assisted her before, having left this place, I went to Murrumburgeri, about 22 miles from here, to obtain the assistance of a person, who has recently settled there, and is called a Doctor. He advised that Mrs Handt should go to Bathurst, as he could not comply with my request of staying a few days previous to the event in the neighbourhood, or at our house, on account of his business of his Cattle Station and as the distance from his place to ours was very far to send for him on such an occasion. He also said that he had not practiced much midwifery these 10 years, but that he would, in case of necessity, when sent for, tender every assistance he was able.
I spoke to the stockmen about the one thing needful, after they had come into the hut in the evening. One of them, a Londoner, seemed to be a very wild youth. When I offered him a tract, he refused to take it, and said religion was a thing about which he never had cared. I asked him whether he would not repeat of it, when on a dying bed. He endeavoured to make light of what I said, was however persuaded to accept of a tract; and after he had read it, said, there were good things in it. When he swore afterwards, I asked him how he would like it, if God were to damn him in answer to his petition; but he tried to turn off in a Joke what I said. I gave to all of them some tracts.
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[16 July 1834]
Wednesday, 16. I thought to have met with some Blacks at this station, but there is none. I therefore intended to go this morning to a place 6 miles from here, had my horse not strayed away. I went in search of him this morning with the Doctor, but as we could see nothing of him, we separated. He went along the river, and I on the road, where I tracked him with his hobbles, and found he had gone towards home. Happily it so occurred that a dray of the Doctor's was going to Cobolyen, which is but 4 miles from Wellington, and thus I was enabled to return in the evening with my saddle, oppossum cloak and blanket. Through this circumstance an opportunity was afforded me to talk again to that wild youth mentioned yesterday, as he was driving the bullocks; but I fear it was to little purpose. He said he did not want to read the Bible, because if a person had much knowledge, and did not act accordingly, he would fare the worse for it. I told him that wilful ignorance was as culpable as to act against knowledge. He endeavoured to excuse his conduct in several ways, which proved that he loved his sins, and was loathe to part with them. The other man, his assistant, who had been transported for machine-breaking was of a more teachable disposition, and I felt sorry that he had such a bad companion. He was a fine singer, which I observed, when in the afternoon he began to sing the "Evening Hymn". "Glory to thee, My God, this night" etc.
Turning out of the road on our way, in order to make some inquiry about the horse at a station, I met with 4 Blacks there, with whom I talked about the Saviour. Two of the poor creatures were sick, and I endeavoured to persuade them to pray God make them better.
[20 July 1834]
Sunday, 20. A rainy day. Very few of the Whites attended divine service. The Blacks who are here, were present, and behaved with as much decorum as usual. May the time not be far, when they shall attend the divine ordinances with sincere devotion. Spoke with two of them in the afternoon of the Saviour, that he had died for them etc., and when I asked them, whether they loved him they replied in the affirmative. Had some further conversation with them, which was also rather encouraging.
[25 July 1834]
Friday, 25. Mrs Handt had an accident, which we thought would be of serious consequences, but by the goodness of divine providence nothing materially injurious has followed at present. Though the Blacks afford us no great encouragement at present, as they are indifferent to anything but what relates to food, yet there is reason to hope that some of the rising generation may be brought to see and value the comforts of a divine life, and to imbibe the doctrine of Christianity. And even with regard to the present, we are not altogether without proof that the Lord is with us, and that he sometimes inclines the heart of one or another of the poor Blacks, to listen to instruction, and to wonder at the good news. We cannot indeed say that any material change
has taken place in them, yet we know that his word shall not return empty, but accomplish that for which he has sent it.
[26 July 1834]
Saturday, 26. Having agreed with Br. Watson that we should have the assistance of a Government woman, Mrs Handt being near her confinement with her second child, I set out for Bathurst to fetch one, and took a young Black man for my companion, and for a guide through the creeks and rivers. The roads are very bad and the river high on account of the great rains which have fallen of late; and we have still frequent showers. Met with no Blacks on the road, nor at the place where I stayed for the night, though I took it almost for granted that I should find some at that Station. We had much rain after sunset, which will render the roads still more difficult to pass.
[27 July 1834]
Sunday, 27. A rainy day. Stayed where I was, and kept divine service. The creek which runs through this station is rising very fast.
[29 July 1834]
Monday, 28. Proceeded on my journey in company with the Overseer of this station, who has to go to Sydney on account of some men, in prison there, who were taken up for cattle stealing. It is very common in this country to steal cattle, horses or sheep, though such criminals, when convicted, have in general to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. We had to pass a deep creek. but providence directed us to a man in the neighbourhood, who offered to show us a good crossing place. We passed it in safety, though
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it was very dangerous from the strength of the current.
[29 July 1834]
Tuesday, 29. The road was as yesterday very wet and boggy; and the creeks high. We however met with no accident, which is a fresh cause for thankfulness. Could not cross the river at Bathurst, and was obliged to remain on this side.
[30 July 1834]
Wednesday, 30. Crossed the river this morning, and sent the Black man to Mr Rankin’s mill, to see whether my dray was there, as I had not met it on the road, though it had left Wellington nearly two weeks before I did, in order to fetch some flour. The black man, however, did not return at the expected time; and therefore I went myself towards evening, when I found the men at a loss how to act as there was no flour at the mill, and Mr Rankin was not at home. I succeeded in buying some wheat, but had to pay twelve shillings per bushel, though it was of an indifferent quality. The wheat is at present scarce and dear on account of the failure of the last crop.
[1 August 1834]
Friday, August, 1. Left Bathurst, and after having examined the protecting hand of the Almighty in many instances, arrived on the third day at Wellington in safety.
[7 August 1834]
Thursday, 7. Went with the black Boys, who are here at this settlement, into the bush to cut some bark. This bark is very useful for building sheds and huts; and what the Boys got to-day was to build a hut for themselves. When they were thus employed, they were at the same time seeking for grubs, which live in the rotten trees; and one of them having
found a very large one, seemed to eat it with great relish.
[9 August 1834]
Saturday, 9. The Boys went away this morning, and I was afraid they would not return; but it appeared that they had only gone away for fear that should be asked to assist in building the hut.
[12 August 1834]
Tuesday, 12. One of the Boys was persuaded by a stockman who lives at Cobolyen to desert us. This is very trying to our feelings. We want to keep them to do them good, and such profligate characters entice them away from us to make them like themselves, and to indulge their own idleness by employing them in attending to the cattle or sheep under their care. Such an employment suits the character of the Blacks, and they seem more willing to work for others than for us, which probably arises from their being conscious of our desire to keep them. We have frequently more trouble to make them do any thing; or to look after them while doing it, than if we did it ourselves. I do not mention this, because of having the trouble with them, but merely to show the difficulty we labour under in this respect.
[13 August 1834]
Wednesday, 13. Went with a young black man to fetch the Boy back, who had left us yesterday. We did not find him at the station, but I was informed that he went this morning into the bush for grubs. I asked the man, why he had enticed him from us. He denied that he had done so, but said that the Boy had asked him, whether he might stay at his place last night, which request he had complied with. I did not much credit
what he said, and told him, how trying it was that we should exert our utmost to keep the black Children in order, if possible, to do them good, and then see them allured to forsake us, and to return to their former habits. I resolved then to go on horseback after the boy, which intention the men at the station endeavoured to frustrate by telling me that I should not find him, as he would discover me before I did him and conceal himself. I went however, and by the guidance of providence found him not far from the river and brought him back. May God give him a disposition to stay with us and to receive instruction. The Macquarie was difficult to cross and I had nearly been off from the horse before I was aware on account of its leaning itself against the current which was very violent.
[18 August 1834]
August 18. This morning about half past four o'clock, Mrs Handt was safely delivered of a Daughter. 
[20 August 1834]
Wednesday, 20. There are considerably more Blacks staying here, than there were last winter. Their prejudices seem to wear off, and their confidence in us appears to increase. This is encouraging, though we have in many other aspects no reason to be sanguine in our expectations.
[25 August 1834]
Monday, 25. The Blacks, who have been staying for a few days, returned this evening to their wives, each of them having a few Oppossums, and a piece of a Kangaroo. Their wives seemed to be elated at the arrival of their husbands. One of them, called Coborn Neddy, has one wife; but each of the others has two.
[29 August 1834]
Friday, 29. When I spoke with the Blacks about Jesus Christ, one of them asked me who had told me that he had died for the Blacks and Whites. I answered that I had a book which told me so, and that God said so.
[30 August 1834]
Saturday, 30. The Blacks saw to-day a white man, walking beyond the Bell river, along the mountains, westward from Wellington, whom they took for a Bushranger because it is not very likely that any person would have had any business there, except he went in search of cattle, and then he would have had some dogs at least with him, if no horse. But this man, they said, had neither. I could not see him, however, the distance being too great.
[4 September 1834]
Thursday, Sept. 4. About thirty of the Blacks paid us a visit this afternoon with Boby their king; and encamped about a quarter of a mile from our dwellings. When I went to them in the evening, they were sitting around their fires, with their dogs about them. Their Kings have not much control over them, and are Kings more in name than in power.
[5 September 1834]
Friday, 5. The Blacks were nearly all painted this morning, and most of them went away in the course of the day.
[7 September 1834]
Sunday, 7. Many of the Blacks, who left here two days ago, returned to-day, each one having two or three Oppossums. One of them, called Needle, swore at a dog in the English language, when
it came near towards his Oppossums. I told him that it was bad language, at which God was angry, and only that of wicked white men. He did not appear to be conscious of having said anything wrong, and put the blame upon the dog for coming to take his meat. I reproved them also for hunting Oppossum on Sunday, but it is difficult to convince them of its being a sin. One of them called Geordy, who had seen me on my last journey, recognised me, and remembered several little incidents, which had taken place when I was with him.
[8 September 1834]
Monday, 8. Spoke in the morning with king Boby and some other Blacks about God and Jesus Christ: they were attentive but with regard to their personal interest in these things, indifference seemed to pervade their minds. However God is able to open their hearts, and we hope that he will do so at the time appointed. In the meantime we must not despise the days of small things. Many of the Blacks came to us this afternoon in addition to those who were here before, and stayed all night. The young men sang at night with great animation and cheerfulness some of their heathenish songs.
[19 September 1834]
Tuesday 19. Most of the Blacks left here this morning, to go a hunting in the mountains after some Wallabins, which, one of them said, was a small sort of the Cangeroo kind. When talking to some black women, they made a few inquiries about God, which showed their low ideas of the Supreme Being, and their degraded state of mind. I felt very much
grieved about it, but could not help pitying them on account of the darkness of their minds; for they were not aware of having said anything wrong.
[13 September 1834]
Saturday, 13. A large party of Blacks came to-day, and took up their abode for the night at a short distance from our dwelling. They have visited us more frequently of late, than they did before; and though we cannot say that they come to us for the benefit of their souls, yet the circumstances merely of their coming here affords encouragement, for it shows that their prejudices against us are wearing off, and that they put more confidence in us than formerly.
[14 September 1834]
Sunday, 14. When talking with the Blacks this morning, I observed that two women, who were making a hole in the ground with their sticks, became suddenly alarmed. One of them was so terrified that she caught away her little boy from the hole in great haste. I inquired after the cause of their fright, when I saw a small snake moving in the fresh ground. The other women threw it into the fire with her stick, intending probably to eat it afterwards, as they are accustomed to do. About thirty Blacks attended divine service, and behaved pretty well.
[15 September 1834]
Monday, 15. Spoke with the Blacks this evening about the Saviour. One woman heaved a heavy sigh, which made me think that their hearts are sometimes affected, though we can seldom perceive it.
[16 September 1834]
Tuesday, 16. The Boys asked leave this evening to sleep in the camp (the place where the other Blacks had made their lines) which request was granted them. I went afterwards, and while there, heard them say their prayers, which I was pleased to see they were not ashamed to do among the young men, who were there and by their example induced some of these to join them.
[17 September 1834]
Wednesday, 17. The Boys returned this morning from the camp, and in the evening wanted again to go there; but asked Mrs Handt, to hear them first say their prayers.
[20 September 1834]
Saturday, 20. Spoke with a black this morning, and told him what an occasion of grief it was to us, that they would not leave off their old habits and practices, and sit down with us to be instructed as we had come to this place for that very purpose. He replied that he believed we felt grieved about it; but the black fellows were stupid. May the Son of righteousness soon arise with healing in his wings on their benighted souls!
[21 September 1834]
Sunday, 21. The Boys went away this morning after breakfast, not long before service, which they ought to have attended. I felt sorry about it, and went after them, but could not find them. They have been troublesome for some days past, and went several times fishing, when it was the time that they should have been instructed. However they returned generally in the evening; but to-day they have not come back. They have probably gone to
feast on a bullock, which was drowned yesterday in the Macquarie River, when in the shafts of a dray, the dray being upset by the violence of the current.
[21 September 1834]
Monday, 21. The Boys returned this evening, and one of them said he would not go in the bush any more. They desired also to say their prayers, and to have their supper.
[24 September 1834]
Wednesday, 24. We were again visited by a large number of Blacks; and we have no reason at present to complain that they keep aloof from us. But the difficulty now arises from our not having sufficient to feed them on, as we are short of flour.
[27 September 1834]
Saturday, 27. Two of the Boys went away this morning, though one of them promised last Monday when he returned, not to go in the bush any more. But it seems he made then that promise in order to get his supper. There is not much reliance to be placed on what they say; for if they want food they will promise any thing.
[28 September 1834]
Sunday, 28. The two Boys, who left yesterday, returned to-day. I did not expect that they would come back so soon; but it seems that though they like to have a ramble every now and then, they wish also sometimes to be with us, which is an encouraging circumstance.
[30 September 1834]
Tuesday, 30. Am making an attempt to translate the Passion of our Lord into the Aboriginal language; and for that purpose have began the twenty-six Chapter of St. Matthew. I hesitated whether I should make a trial at present; but a weak and imperfect beginning, may be better than no beginning, as it gives rise to the inquiry for words and sentences which otherwise I should not think of.
[signed] J.C.S. Handt.
[signed] W. Watson