viii. Oct-Dec 1834
[note] Rec. July 13/35
J.C.S. Handt’s Diary from October to December 1834.
[7 October 1834]
Tuesday, Oct.7. The number of Boys have increased to-day, two others having consented to stay with us for a time.
[8 October 1834]
Wednesday, 8. When instructing the Boys, one of them refused to write, because each of them, who came yesterday, had received a new slate. I would not, at first, appear to take any particular notice of his behaviour; but when he prevented another Boy from writing by taking away his slate, I took it from him again. This made him so angry, that he threw away his pencil; and said he would go into the bush. Under such circumstances it is difficult to know how to act towards them; for if we were to punish them they would probably go away and not return any more; and if they be not corrected at all, they become more and more careless and insolent. In this instance I told the Boy, if he did not behave better, he might as well go into the bush. But as I saw he was in no great earnest about going, I told him to look for the pencil. which he had thrown away; this he did, though I did not expect it, and behaved for the present somewhat better. When they are instructed in their lessons, and questioned on religious subjects, they say sometimes, Why do you talk so much
to us about these things?
[13 October 1834]
Monday, 13. Three of the Boys asked leave this morning, to go into the bush for a few days. I tried to persuade them to remain, but finding that it was to no purpose, I told them soon to return. One of them however remained here, but was afterwards scolded by his father for not having gone with the two.
[15 October 1834]
Wednesday, 15. A black Boy who came here to-day wanted to stay with us for a while.
[16 October 1834]
Thursday, 16. A party of Blacks came to-day, and stayed at night not far from our dwelling.
[18 October 1834]
Saturday, 18. Shortly after the Boys had been instructed this morning, I was told by one of them, that the other two had gone away. I went therefore after them with the Boy who had informed me of the circumstances, and found them not very far from the Establishment. I entreated them to return with me, but as they seemed to be bent upon going into the bush: all I could do with such independent beings as they are, was to invite them soon to return to us again.
[20 October 1834]
Monday, 20. A Boy, who sometime ago asked permission to go into the bush for a few days, had been persuaded by some white men, belonging to a certain Settler's dray, to go with them etc. On their journey they stopped at the Sergeant's at Wellington, and we learnt that the Boy was with them. I went there and brought him back. When I asked him afterwards, why he had not come back by himself, he said that the men of the dray
had forbidden him to return to us.
[22 October 1834]
Wednesday, 22. We find that the Boy just mentioned has imbibed the practice of swearing since he left us. But this is no more than can be expected from the society he has been in.
[27 October 1834]
Monday, 27. A promising Boy, who had been here several times at intervals, having been seen passing through the Settlement with some white men who were driving cattle down the country, I went after him, in order to persuade him to return with me, that he might have the benefit of instruction with the others who are here. One man, who had come with a dray, which was going down the country with the cattle, when he saw what I was doing, told the Boy in a commanding manner to return to him. I would not allow it, as the Boy had already consented to go with me; but when he began to be insolent, I threatened him, as I took him for a prisoner to tell the Sergeant, who was living near the spot where the circumstance took place, to confine him in gaol. The Sergeant then interfered telling him to attend to his own business. Another fellow, who was on horseback rode up to me, and began to be particularly insolent; probably it was because he had served out his time as prisoner, for he told me that he was a free man. He threatened to take the Boy from me forcibly, which I dared him to do, telling him that we were placed here by Government to instruct the Blacks, and that it was our duty to keep them with us etc. I told him also that
it was no advantage to the black Children to stay with them, for they taught them nothing but wicked things, and endeavoured to make them as bad as themselves. Br Watson coming up in the mean time, and the Sergeant being present the fellow ceased talking, and rode off. An Overseer of a certain station, who was with the party on horseback, said with a laugh, "Oh, let him go! I know he" (namely the Boy) "will not stay with them, while I am in these parts." The white men around us, who, in general, may be considered as the very scum of human Society, render our situation here very unpleasant, and even dangerous, especially when we are travelling in the bush.
[29 October 1834]
Wednesday, 29. The Boy last mentioned, who had gone with the others to fish to-day, sent back the blanket which we had lent to him, having been already persuaded by a white man to leave us.
[1 November 1834]
Saturday, November, 1. A black man and his two women, with whom I was conversing about dying and a future state, said they did not wish to hear of those things, and that they were not good. I answered that it was necessary to talk of them, as both they and I were soon to die etc.
[8 November 1834]
Saturday, 8. Mr Watt, who has a few months since arrived in this Country from India, is visiting these parts, and took up his lodging in the Mission House. He was well acquainted with Mr Gutzlaff, and told me several interesting circumstances concerning my Country-man and Brother Missionary.
[10 November 1834]
Monday, 10. It is sometimes very difficult to persuade the Boys to come to School, or to engage their attention, when under instruction. One of them, when desired to come to school to-day, said that what I told him about God was not true. After School I reminded him of what he had said before, and spoke seriously to him about it; wishing to put an end to the conversation he answered that he had merely said it in Joke.
The time of harvest is approaching, and according to all appearances there will, by the blessing of providence, be a plentiful harvest.
[5 November 1834]
Saturday, 15. The Boys have been very troublesome during the week, frequently refusing to come to School and to prayer; or to do anything which they were desired to do. They went this morning towards the river as they frequently do; but about noon they sent their blankets which had been lent to them, informing us by the black man who brought the blankets, that they would not return, but would go into the bush. They came back, however, towards evening, and seemed to have laid aside their sulky tempers. Mrs Handt, when giving them their supper, spoke seriously to them about their former misconduct, upon which one of them began to cry; but it hard to say what was the real cause of his tears.
[16 November 1834]
Sunday, 16. The Blacks who are here, most of whom were washed and dressed, attended divine service as usual, and conducted themselves with propriety.
[22 November 1834]
Saturday, 22. Several Blacks came to us to-day with whom I entered into a conversation. When I asked them, whether they would stay here for a while, they replied in the negative, and said they were going to the river fishing. When I was in the garden to-day with the Boys, who are here under instruction, one of them began of his own accord to repeat part of the morning hymn, "Awake, my soul! and with the sun." But the same Boy, after having received a good mess of potatoes, went away without asking permission or mentioning his intentions.
[23 November 1834]
Sunday, 23. Had divine service. One of our neighbours, called Mr Fisher, who had about six months ago broken one of his legs, attended again for the first time since he met with the accident.
[24 November 1834]
Monday, 24. The Boy who went away the day before yesterday, returned this morning with another Boy mentioned under date Oct.29. The latter is a very interesting Boy, and I hope he will stay now with us for a while. In the evening, another Boy who is lame was persuaded to study with us. Several fresh yeeners visited us to-day, and seemed to be of a sensible disposition when talked to about religious matters.
[25 November 1834]
Tuesday, 25. Went in search of a Boy [Umbi], who had left us about five weeks ago, in order to bring him back if possible. I found him at a station about ten miles from here, and inquired of him where the other Boy was, who had gone away with him, when he left us; he replied that he had gone away, and he did not know where he was.
People in WellPro Directory: Fisher, Thomas
When I asked him, why he did not go back to Wellington, he replied that he would go by and by. I tried to persuade him to come with me now, and offered to take him with me on horseback; but during the time I was speaking to a person in a hut close at hand, he hid himself. I then dismounted, and sought for him, calling him by name; but had nearly broken my limbs, having had a fall while walking on a tree which had been thrown across the Bell river by a flood. My errand however was not accomplished as I was obliged to return alone.
[26 November 1834]
Wednesday, 26. A large party of Blacks came up to us to-day. In the evening they encamped a considerable distance from our dwelling, where I visited them, and talked to them about God and Jesus Christ. As the Boys, who are here under instruction, had taken their nightquarters with them, I heard them say their prayers there.
[27 November 1834]
Thursday, 27. Many of the Blacks went away again to-day, and the lame Boy, who had come on Monday evening, went with them. One would think that this Boy would be very glad, if he could sit down quietly, and was taken care of; but it does not appear that this is the case. They will sacrifice everything to their desire of roving about.
[29 November 1834]
Saturday, 29. Several Blacks visited us to-day, among whom was the Mother of one of our Boys, who are staying here; and as she expressed a desire to see her Son, I told the Boy to go and see her, but he seemed to be backward to do so. One of the two Boys, who went away on the eighteenth of Oct. returned to-day, and was content to stay again with us.
[1 December 1834]
Monday, Dec.1. A large party of Blacks visited us to-day, among whom were a few Boys. They promised to stay with us, but, whether they will keep their word, is doubtful. In the afternoon, they all went to encamp a short distance from our dwelling; where I followed them, in order to converse with them. They appeared to pay a little attention, when talked to about God and the Saviour.
[9 December 1834]
Tuesday, 9. The Blacks who came yesterday took their departure this morning; and the Boys who had come with them, would not be persuaded, at present, to stay any longer with us.
[12 December 1834]
Friday, 12. Several Blacks visited us this afternoon, and stayed here at night.
[13 December 1834]
Saturday, 13. The Blacks, who came yesterday, went away again.
[14 December 1834]
Sunday, 14. A large Party of Blacks came to us this morning, but they soon took their departure. In the afternoon I was informed by some women that they were sitting down at a certain place in the direction of Cobolyen, to which place I went in the afternoon. When I was yet afar off, I heard a noise; and coming nearer I saw a great number of Blacks quickly moving to and fro among each other, and brandishing their Bargans and Bondies (instruments of war.) When I arrived at the place where they were; they appeared to be in a great agitation, some of them disputing with the others, and beating the
ground with their Bargans, so that I thought they would instantly commence fighting; this however was not the case. The hostile parties continued a long while to quarrel with each other in this manner: not in a whole body, but one, two or three perhaps of each party. One group of them had come from Buree, about thirty or forty miles from here, who seemed to be neuter, as they all sat on the ground taking no part in the quarrel. And one of them particularly informed me that they had nothing to do with it. This man is called Sandy, and was one of those Blacks who accompanied us from Molong to Wellington two years ago, when we first came here. He said he would visit us tomorrow. The other two parties who were at enmity with each other, were the Wellington tribe and part of the Mudje Tribe, who had come from about thirty or forty miles distance. The latter had a man wounded in his right arm. This had happened before I came, and was done by throwing a Bargan or Womera. After the mischief had happened, they had broken the instrument in pieces, and one of our Boys picked up a piece of it, still stained with blood. As soon as practicable, I talked to them on the impropriety of fighting especially on a Sunday . They assented that fighting was not good, but those of the distant Tribes could form no idea of its being particularly wrong to fight on a Sunday . There were several stockmen present, and I began to suspect that they would entice our Boys to desert us, especially as, when coming up from the water, I found one of them speaking to a Boy, whom they have
twice before persuaded to leave us. When therefore the hostile parties seemed to be reconciled to each other, I called the Boys together and went home with them. After they had had their supper, they asked permission to go again to the Blacks, and to encamp with them for the night. As I thought the white men would have left the place by that time, and as the two older Boys seemed to be bent upon going, I knew it would be of no use to insist on their staying.
[15 December 1834]
Monday, 15. The two Boys, just mentioned, did not return from the Camp this morning, but went to Cobolyen, as I learnt from one of the young men. Their unstable disposition is a great discouragement. I hope however that they will soon come back again.
[16 December 1834]
Tuesday, 16. When talking to the Blacks on the subject of religion, one of them replied, that she thought I was telling stories. I felt grieved at this expression, but if the prophet of God's chosen and exalted people of old exclaimed "Who hath believed our report?" there is not much reason to wonder at the unbelief of these most wretched and degraded of all human beings.
[17 December 1834]
Wednesday, 17. As the two Boys, mentioned the day before yesterday, had not returned to-day; and I supposed them to be at a certain station; I went there. Paddy, I was told, had not been seen there at all; and Billy had gone with one of the Stockmen for Cattle; and would not return, it was supposed, till tomorrow. I earnestly entreated the person who acts as Overseer at the Station, and his Wife, to endeavour to persuade him to come back to us, when he returned; but I have no reason to think that
they will be much concerned about it. This Boy went on pretty well in learning, and afforded me some encouragement, but now my hopes are blunted. As he appeared rather superior in intellect to the other Boys I began to indulge a hope that he might become useful in translating the language; his going away however has deprived me of this hope also. I have no proper person whatever to assist me, and therefore go on but slowly.
[20 December 1834]
Tuesday, 20. One of the black women was crying out with pain this afternoon, being exceedingly ill.
[22 December 1834]
Tuesday, 22. Most of the Blacks left here to-day, to go to Cobolyen, where was to be a dance, as I was informed.
[25 December 1834]
Thursday, 25. Christmas Day. Had divine service, which was pretty well attended.
[26 December 1834]
Friday, 26. A large party of Blacks came to-day from Cobolyen. Some of them were Ging Ging Blacks, so called from a place of that name far down the Macquarie River. They had never been here before. Conversed with them on the all-important subject of religion. I enquired after their names also, but they were unwilling to tell them, and merely answered that they were black fellows. Towards evening they went over the Bell River. I went in search of them afterwards, but could not find them, however I supposed them to be farther away than they really were.
[27 December 1834]
Saturday, 27. The poor black women mentioned under date the 20th instant, died this morning on our premises. Some of the black females came and tied her up in her Oppossum cloak, and a piece of old cloth, with her leg bent under her.
They then carried her on a sheet of bark to a short distance from the house, when on finding a hole that had been previously dug for another purpose, they halted, and a black man proceeded to dig in it, with occasional assistance from two others; till it was about three feet deep, and just so large as to fit the corpse in its bended position. When they had finished it, they laid first some small branches and dry grasses in it together with a little bag which had belonged to her, and then the corpse upon these things. Afterwards they covered the body with dry grass and small branches, and then filled up the grave to the surface of the ground with larger branches and pieces of wood. A mound of earth was then raised upon it, and then covered with large boughs and pieces of wood. As I learnt that the Blacks were encamping beyond the Bell River, I went there but could not find them.
[28 December 1834]
Sunday, 28. The Boys had gone away last night to the camp, but one of them did not return this morning.
[29 December 1834]
Monday, 29. Went this morning to the camp of the Blacks, beyond the River. The Boy who did not return yesterday was not there, or at least he kept out of my sight; and the Blacks said they did not know where he was. I met the father of Billy, a Boy mentioned under date the 17th instant, and inquired of him whether Billy had not slept in the camp last night, agreeable to the information I had received from another Boy; he replied in the affirmative, but said that he had gone away now. I requested him to tell him to come back to me, when he returned, as I wanted him very much, but he gave me no answer, and those who stood
by, said, they would not tell him. When I had seen them all, and was about to return, I requested Billy's father to come up with me to Wellington, as I thought I could prevail better with him concerning his son, when he was away from the other Blacks, but he declined coming. In the evening I went again; but did not see Billy, and his father said that he had not yet come back; nor could I learn where the other Boy, just mentioned, was, even not from his mother, who was then present in the camp. Probably she had concealed him on purpose. Such and similar cases fill the mind with great grief and anxiety. Indeed, none but ourselves can any proper idea of the trials and exertions we have to endure with regard to the poor Blacks. May God give us grace, that in patience we may possess our souls! Went around to all the Blacks in the camp, and talked to them. On counting them, I found that they were ninety-six in number: Women and Children included. There were however some absent; as I afterwards learned, so that the whole perhaps amounted to about a hundred. One of the largest parties that have been at Wellington, as far as I remember. There were several strange Blacks among them, who, when invited to come up the next day to our dwelling, would not comply with the request.
[30 December 1834]
Tuesday, 30. The Blacks left Wellington to-day and went to Cobolyen. The Boy who did not
return on Sunday morning, came back to-day.
[signed] J.C.S. Handt.
[note] Read in Committee 8 January 1835, W. Watson.
Rev J.C.S. Handt’s Journal
April to Dec. 1834