x. April-June 1835
J.C.S. Handt’s Diary
April to June
J.C.S. Handt's Diary from April to June 1835.
[4 April 1835]
Saturday, April 4. One month elapses after another, and on review there seems but little good to have been effected. May the Lord give us skill, wisdom and prosperity in our arduous undertaking.
[9 April 1835]
Thursday, 9. Some of the Blacks have returned; which is a sign, I hope, that we shall soon be favoured with the visits of many more. The place appears to be very dreary, when there are no Blacks here; but when there are a number of them about us, the aspect is more encouraging and enlivening; though they are in themselves such retched objects.
[13 April 1835]
Monday, 13. Our visitors, the Blacks have increased in number, four more having come up, one man and three women, two of whom are his wives: He left this place about six weeks ago, though he and one of his wives, who accompanied him, were unwell at the time. During their absence they appeared to have grown worse, whereas had they remained, they might have been returned to health against this time. But their wandering habits thus compel them to go from one place to another.
[14 April 1835]
Tuesday, 14. Talked to the sick man and his wives of the great and good God, and of the love of his Son. After having conversed a while, and coming to the Believers' going to heaven after death, and also to the destination of the wicked, he said I should cease talking of these things: he did not want
to hear any more. I answered that I told him very good things, and he ought to listen: heaven was a very good place, and if he did love the Son of God he should go there when he died. But he made no further reply.
[15 April 1835]
Wednesday, 15. When speaking with an old woman, I inquired after a Boy, who generally was with her. She replied that a white man had taken him from her. This Boy was twice with us; the women herself persuaded him to go with her the last time, when she went to another station. Now he has been taken from her, and that by a person who will not teach him anything that is good. I inquired of her also for another Boy, Ngalgan by name, who stayed with us a while ago; she replied he would come either to-day or tomorrow. But I have not seen him today.
When I went in the Evening to the Camp, I took a large stick with me, in order to defend myself against their dogs, of which the Blacks have usually a great number; though their dogs are, in general, very cowardly, yet sometimes I have found great trouble in keeping them off, even with a stick. As it was twilight when I went, two of the women, seeing a person coming towards them, but not recognising me from a distance; and mistaking my stick for a musket, ran away. When I arrived, the other informed me of it, and called them back; and they all joined in a hearty laugh at their mistake.
[16 April 1835]
Thursday, 16. The Boy Ngalgan is not come to-day; though the old woman told me that he would certainly come to-day, if he did not yesterday. This Boy was of a lively disposition, and I felt very much
disappointed at his leaving us before. But they are determined to gratify their own inclinations, in spite of every encouragement, that we can give them to remain. May our Lord give us patience, and at last crown it with success.
[17 April 1835]
Good Friday, 17. When conversing with the Blacks, I told them, that we are quiet this day, because a long while ago, the Son of God had died for the Whites and for the Blacks on that day.
[19 April 1835]
Easterday, 19. Three of the Blacks, who are encamped a distance from our dwelling had been fishing to-day. It is not easy to make them sensible of their doing wrong in breaking the Sabbath; and they will not be convinced at present that the keeping holy of the Sabbath is a duty incumbent on them.
[20 April 1835]
Monday, 20. Discoursed with the Blacks, and read to them a short discourse, containing the chief truths of the Bible. I asked them several times while I was reading, whether they understood what I said, they answered they did, but I fear they did not understand all.
[21 April 1835]
Tuesday, 21. Three other woman paid us a visit to-day, but went away again towards evening. One of them told me that the Boy Ngalgan would come with his mother to-morrow.
The Boy Umbi, mentioned under date Nov 25/34, returned to-day. after having been absent for about six months. His hair had grown so long, and he looked so dirty that I could not recognise him for some time. He was shy at first, but soon became as droll again as he usually was.
[22 April 1835]
Wednesday, 22. Some more Blacks visited us to-day, and encamped with the rest, who were here before, not far from our house: They were about thirty in number. The parents of the boy Ngalgan
was also among them. I inquired of the mother after him; she replied he was afraid to come here, because he thought I was angry with him. I assured her that I was not, but merely wished him to return. I supposed him not to be far from his mother, and therefore I asked him again, where he was, upon which another woman pointed to an Oppossum cloak, that was spread there, and said he was there. The Boy then crept from under it, and they all raised a great laughter. He went with me to our house, willing to stay again for a while. Another Boy, who came today, has also been induced to remain, at least for the present. These are encouraging circumstances, as well as the frequent visits, which the Adults begin to pay us again in large numbers, and thus favour us with suitable opportunities of presenting to them the riches of the Gospel. The Lord be praised for these evidences of his favour; and though we cannot have them further than to an outward appearance, yet they afford inducement to hope for an inward change among these forlorn creatures.
[23 April 1835]
Thursday, 23. The Natives had a dance this evening. As they appeared to be highly gratified with this amusement, and were anxious for us to be there, we went to witness it. On approaching the spot, we saw a number of young men jumping and dancing before a fire, sometimes bending down towards the fire, shaking their limbs and heads, and all the while screaming as loud and as long as their lungs would allow them. They did not stand in regular order, however their motions agreed with the song. Their bodies were painted in red and white stripes, and their hair in spots of white, so as to resemble white feathers.
[note] Read in Committee July 17th [signed] W. Watson
A number of women stood in a group at one side, and sang in a soft and plaintive voice their parts of the song. I could not help pitying them, because they will not taste the better pleasures of religion, and of communion with God. There was a Boy looking at the dance, whom I had not seen before; I went therefore and asked him, whether he would stay with us, he replied in the affirmative, but would not come till the morning.
[24 April 1835]
Friday, 24. The Boy whom I saw last night, came this morning; but his mother took him away again, after he had had his dinner. When I went to the camp this afternoon, his mother said he should come back with me, and asked a blanket for him. I replied that he should have one by and by; for I suspect that his mother wants him only to get a blanket, and then to take him away. He returned with me, and also another Boy, whom I met with in the camp, and who was with us several times, but went away about six months ago with Umbi, mentioned under date 21st instant.
[25 April 1835]
Saturday, 25. When I was about to read to the Blacks to-day, one of them, who is sick, desired me to forbear. I then asked some others, whether they would hear me, who replied that they would. By asking them almost at every period, whether they understood me, I received the benefit of being occasionally corrected. When I read of the consequences of the fall, and came to the awful messenger death, the sick man again cried out that I should cease. I replied that he should wait a little, and something better would follow. I then proceeded to the Redemption of fallen man through the Son of God, and asked him whether
this was not a pleasant subject: he made no reply; but I hope that he did not dislike it so much as the former.
[26 April 1835]
Sunday, 26. When Mrs Handt desired the Boys this morning to wash themselves, and to put on their clean shirts, as they usually do on a Sunday, two of them said, it was too cold to wear shirts, and they would keep on their blankets. Mrs Handt replied that they might put their blankets over their shirts, if they would wash themselves; but they could not be persuaded to do so, and shortly after went away. In the afternoon I saw them in the camp roasting an Oppossum; thus they had been amusing themselves in hunting, preferring that employment to going to Church in comfortable clothing. In the evening they threw stones at the fowls and pigeons, as an annoyance to us. We would not appear to take much notice of their conduct, though it cannot but grieve our minds. One of them, the wiser of the two, went afterwards to the camp to the other Blacks; but the other came and stood about our house, apparently desiring his supper. I reproved him earnestly for his ill behaviour, after which his supper was given to him.
The woman, who took away her Boy last Friday, seemed to be ill humoured, when I requested her this afternoon to let him come with me to the house. She had allowed him to stay with us this morning, and to go to Church. But she now demanded a blanket for herself, her husband, and her Son, upon which condition she promised that he should stay with us. If we had so many blankets, as to supply each of them with one, there is every reason to think that she would go away with the Boy notwithstanding. Indeed we have
scarcely any blankets remaining.
[27 April 1835]
Monday, 27. The other Boy who yesterday behaved in so bad a manner, sent a message this morning, that he would be a good Boy, if we would let him come back. He was received accordingly, but as to his better conduct I very much doubt it, as he was hitherto proved so unruly. When they behave improperly or threaten to go away, we now find it best not to appear as if we were much concerned about them, for experience has taught that the more they perceive we are anxious to retain them, the worse they behave.
When in the camp this afternoon, a woman sitting at a short distance from me, began to scream violently. She then arose and went away. I inquired of her husband, if he had beaten her, but he made no answer, till I asked whether he was deaf, when he replied he had only beaten her a little. One of the Blacks seemed to be more attentive to-day, when I was delivering a short discourse, than I had observed him to be before. I asked him whether it was good news, he answered, yes it was.
[28 April 1835]
Tuesday, 28. Some of them went this morning to Cobolyen in order to feed on a bullock which had died there. They returned however in the afternoon with part of the heart, and gave of it to the others who had remained here. The scene of their eating it, almost in a half raw state, was enough to sicken any but themselves. If their appetites were not so veracious, they had no occasion to eat the meat of animals died of themselves, while they are staying here with us, for they get as much as will be sufficient for a person of a common appetite.
[29 April 1835]
Wednesday, 29. One of the Blacks was swearing this afternoon at
his dog. When I reproved him, he answered that white men did so, and another taking his part, replied that Gentlemen swore too.
[30 April 1835]
Thursday, 30. Find the Blacks averse to religious conversation. O that the Lord would send a hunger and thirst among them for hearing his word. When the women were singing to-day a song; a little Boy belonging to them was dancing in the native style. He had a few days ago received a small article of clothing, but was now quite naked, though it is very cold. When I saw it yesterday, it was as black and dirty as the little fellow himself.
[1 May 1835]
Friday, May 1. Some more Blacks visited us to-day, and they expect some others to come this way.
[2 May 1835]
Saturday, 2. Many of the Blacks have gone away to-day, though according to the intelligence, I received yesterday, I had hoped that their number would increase.
We have had no rain of any consequence here since the month of October last; and on that account the prospect with regard to the next harvest is unfavourable. It is now sowing time, but nothing can be done for want of rain.
[3 May 1835]
Sunday, 3. Collected a few Blacks together, and gave them with the Boys who are here a short address. They were more attentive than I have found them for some days. I found this morning the water outdoors in a bucket covered with ice; the winter having commenced this year rather earlier than usual. Though it is less extremely hot in summer, more so than in Sydney, the winter makes it much colder than it is there. I was two winters in Sydney, but I never saw ice there.
[5 May 1835]
Tuesday, 5. Two of the Boys behave in a provoking manner; they steal anything eatable, they can meet with; though they receive their regular
meals. When they are reproved for their conduct, they perhaps make a song of us, or go to the river or into the bush. There they stay the whole day, and come back in the evening, only with a hope to receive their suppers. On Sunday night, one of them behaved in such a manner, when h said his prayers, that I was obliged to send him away, and the other did not come at all. O for patience, love, and wisdom, to deal with these poor lost creatures!
[6 May 1835]
Wednesday, 6. The two above mentioned Boys came this morning, and stood about the house, but said nothing. We supposed they had repented of their behaviour, and therefore told them to grind a little wheat for their breakfast; but when they refused to do so, we thought it best to make them return their blankets, which had been lent to them; in order to see whether that would not produce a better effect upon their minds. For the present they remained as sulky as before; however in the evening, when it began to be cold, one of them returned, promised to behave better and begged for his blanket. He received it accordingly, and also his supper. This Boy is the best of the two and would not behave so badly if he were not instigated by the other.
[8 May 1835]
Friday, 8. This morning the two above mentioned Boys went away and took another Boy of a more teachable disposition with them. I was soon informed of the circumstance, and immediately followed them; but when they saw me, they ran as fast as they could, one in this direction and another in that. I should have been exceedingly glad, if I could have recovered that Boy only, whom they had seduced to go with them, and I have no doubt if I had been able to talk to him, he would have returned with me. Such circumstances try our faith and patience. Received a letter yesterday from a Christian friend in Sydney, in which I was encouraged
not to faint at disappointments; and it seems to have come just at the time, when encouragement was particularly required.
In the afternoon a large party of Natives visited us; on counting them I found that there were about fifty; but there were some more absent from the party. One of the women was in mourning, being daubed over with pipeclay, particularly the top of the head. The young men told me that it was on account of her husband's death. I could not gain much attention in talking to them.
[9 May 1835]
Saturday, 9. Found the Blacks more attentive to-day, than they appeared to have been for several days past. May God give them a heart to understand what they hear! When I was with the unmarried men this evening, one of them asked me for a drink of water, and for that purpose would go with me to the house to get it. As we were as near to the well as to the house, and I did not intend to return just then, I asked him why he would not go to the well; but he avoided giving a direct answer. I perceived he was afraid of going alone to the well at night, and therefore I offered to go with him. He accepted of the proposal and so did another; and they not only drank themselves, but brought also some water to the rest. This circumstance afforded me a fair opportunity of speaking on the liberty, courage and comfort of those who love God and his Son whom he has sent.
[10 May 1835]
Sunday, 10. The circumstance, which occurred last evening, seemed to have made a good impression upon their minds; for they listened with particular attention, when I visited them this morning, and conversed with them on the great truths of the Gospel.
Was informed the day before yesterday, and yesterday again
that there were two Boys in the camp with the women, but as I never found them, and the Boy who had informed me of the circumstances is a talkative subject, I thought it was a mere tale. This morning however I met them in the camp, and they suffered themselves to be persuaded to stay with us at present. The one, named Yurrumbaddi, is one of those whom I fetched from Murrumburjeri on the 16th of Febr. but who went again on the 22nd of the same month. When Mrs Handt asked him, why he had gone away, he replied that the other Boy had persuaded him to leave us.
Delivered a short discourse to the women, but their attention was much drawn aside, just when I was in the midst of it, by two white men, coming with muskets from a neighbouring station, to go a hunting on a Sunday morning, and accordingly several reports of their muskets were heard in the course of the morning. Most of the Blacks went away in the afternoon to a place about eight miles from here, called Mumbal, where the women, who remained here, supposed they were going to fight. May they not have visited us in vain.
[13 May 1835]
Wednesday, 13. The Boy Yurrumbaddi, one of the two, who came to stay with us last Sunday, seems to be of a more teachable disposition, than those who were left us of late. This circumstance affords me some comfort, after having been tried by the former.
[15 May 1835]
Friday, 15. Some of the Blacks, who went away last Sunday, returned to-day; and I learnt, to my great satisfaction that they had not been fighting, as the women supposed. They told me that they had not been angry, and that the others had returned another way. The father of the boy Yurrumbaddi also came back: I found them more attentive than I supposed.
[17 May 1835]
Sunday, 17. Went early in the morning to the camp, read to
them, and asked them questions. Went to them again in the afternoon and found them sitting around their fires as usual, none of them seeming to have profited as yet by the instructions they have received: the females were particularly jocular and noisy. In the evening there was an addition of two other men to those who were here before.
A good congregation of Europeans to-day.
[19 May 1835]
Tuesday, 19. Read to the Blacks to-day a translation of part of the eighth Chapter of St. Luke, and explained it. I asked them repeatedly whether they understood me, they replied they did; but there was no sign of having produced any impression upon their minds.
[21 May 1835]
Thursday, 21. Read to the Blacks another part of Scripture, and talked to them afterwards about it. When conversing of the love of God and of his Son our Lord, I asked them whether they loved Jesus Christ they replied in the affirmative. But according to all appearance they made this answer without any spiritual feeling. Sometime they plainly answered me that they did not love either God or Christ.
[24 May 1835]
Sunday, 24. Delivered in the afternoon a short discourse to the black women, and conversed with them afterwards. When I was talking to them about spiritual things, they asked me, when we should kill a bullock. O that it may please the Lord to give them a spiritual mind and a new heart!
Have a severe cold, and have felt a great degree of soreness at my breast for several weeks.
[25 May 1835]
Monday, 25. Some more Blacks came last night, two of them are sick, and have a wretched appearance.
[26 May 1835]
Tuesday, 26. Found more attention, when conversing with them, than I expected; and though some of them laughed,
yet they confessed, that what I had told them was true. They informed me that strange Blacks were lower down the Macquarie river, and that they expected them to come here.
The Boys have become troublesome of late with regard to pilfering.
[27 May 1835]
Wednesday, 27. Another women came to-day with a child recently born. Have been favoured by providence with a little rain, and I hope we shall soon have some more. Rain is indeed very much wanted; for it is now the seed time, and nearly over in some parts of the Colony; but on account of the dry weather it has been impossible hitherto to plough the ground at this place.
[28 May 1835]
Thursday, 28. The Boy Yurrumbaddi told me this morning that a Stockman from this neighbourhood, had come to the camp last night, and taken one of the women; and that he had also endeavoured to persuade him, to leave us, and to go with him. This person is a notoriously wicked man and hardened sinner. He has often proved troublesome to the Mission cause.
[30 May 1835]
Saturday, 30. Found great difficulty in gaining the attention of the Blacks, when talking to them about the one thing needful. The men laughed at me, because I was anxious to tell them about religious things. And when I conversed with the women, and thought they were listening to me, they began to inquire, when a bullock would be killed, and after that their attention was taken by a horse, not far from the place.
[31 May 1835]
Sunday, 31. Found the Blacks more attentive than yesterday. On asking two of them, whether they thought that the Blacks would ever be civilised, they replied, Never. However they
said that they believed what was told them about God. But it is evident that the poor creatures do not believe with the heart.
[1 June 1835]
Monday, June, 1. Some of the Blacks told me that they expected some Gingging Blacks to come up. They are so called from a place lower down the River, and have been expected for some weeks.
[3 June 1835]
Wednesday, 3. Read to the Blacks a translation of the transfiguration of our Lord, and of his healing the lunatick. When I was reading to the women, they were so noisy, that I was obliged to desist. They however asked the reason of my having done so. I replied that my reading to them was of no use, as they did not listen, upon which they promised that they would pay more attention. An old man called Bawbagual is sick, but appears to be quite senseless, when spoken to about his soul.
[6 June 1835]
Saturday, 6. Some more Blacks came today, in addition to those who are already here. They encamped with the others not far from our dwelling, some of whom had gone this morning for a pig, which had been killed a few miles from here by dogs; and when they returned in the evening, they gave to those and to the others also; so that they all feasted upon it. They were together about thirty in number.
[7 June 1835]
Sunday, 7. Many of the Blacks went away this morning. Those who remained showed more attention than I had expected. Some of our Gentlemen neighbours took a ride this morning, instead of coming to divine service.
[11 June 1835]
Thursday, 11. The Blacks gave very repugnant answers to my questions about their love to God etc. It could not but fill my mind with grief, and stir me up to pray that the Lord may enlighten and save them.
When in the evening the moon was rising, the Boys said that the devil was sitting there, and had made a fire; and they seemed to be very tenacious in keeping this opinion.
[12 June 1835]
Friday, 12. The Boys stole some flour out of our kitchen tonight, though they got their meals every day.
[14 June 1835]
Sunday, 14. Found very little attention among the Blacks; and an insensibility with regard to spiritual objects seemed to pervade their minds. May the Lord, in mercy, remove the veil of darkness from their minds!
[15 June 1835]
Monday, 15. The old man Bawbagual is very ill. When I talked to him, and said that he should beg Jesus Christ to take his soul to heaven when he should die etc; another black man, generally called Jacky, said I should not talk any more on that subject. I replied that there was no reason for my being silent, as I spoke good things; and asked him, whether he did not love the Saviour of men, upon which he answered "No." Thus the enmity of the human heart against God shows itself even in the wretched Blacks of New Holland.
[17 June 1835]
Wednesday, 17. Two more Blacks came to-day: a father and his son. The former was attentive when I talked to him.
[18 June 1835]
Thursday, 18. When I had gone to the place where the men were sitting, and was just begging to talk to them about the one thing needful, one of them, who on several occasions had shown an antipathy to anything relative to religion, said that there were some Boys sitting not far distant with two women, and asked whether I would not go and fetch them to stay with us. I replied that I supposed he only wanted
me to be gone, that I might not talk to him; but when some others confirmed what he had said, I went the direction they pointed out to me; it was however in vain; for I saw no Black, nor any smoke of fire, a sign by which they generally may be found. When I returned, and told them that I had not seen any Blacks, they replied that they must have gone away.
[19 June 1835]
Friday, 19. Two young men came to-day, one of them left here of late only. The other, when I saw him in the camp, was spreading an Oppossum skin upon a green piece of bark, fastening then skin upon the bark with wooden pegs. This is the way in which they generally spread and dry the skins, when they intend to use them for making a cloak, or when they think of giving them to white men for provisions. When they do not intend to make any use of them, they do not skin the Oppossum, but throw it in the fire as it is, as I have frequently witnessed.
[20 June 1835]
Saturday, 20. Two more women came to-day; but the men who were here went away, some of the young men and two old men excepted.
[21 June 1835]
Sunday, 21. The young men who remained here yesterday, went away to-day, and some of the women did go to the river to get shellfish.
[22 June 1835]
Monday, 22. One of the women who had been fishing yesterday, desired me to-day to discourse to her from the book, as she called it. What was the motive of her desire, I cannot tell, it was however pleasing, hearing such a request from her.
[24 June 1835]
Wednesday, 24. One poor black women died last night on a neighbouring station. It was said that she was wounded on her head, which was perhaps the chief cause of her decease. Who inflicted the wound is not known as yet.
[28 June 1835]
Sunday, 28. There are few Blacks here at present, but I hope we shall soon have some more.
[30 June 1835]
Tuesday, 30. A party of Blacks visited us to-day, and encamped not very far from our dwelling. There is a young women among them, who of late has committed the atrocity of killing her own newborn Infant. She had previously lived with a white man, through whose wicked connexion this unhappy victim had received its existence. I was shocked when informed of the circumstance, much more so, when in the afternoon I talked to her, and found her quite indifferent about it, and her heart as hard to my remonstrances, as if it had been a diamond. When I called another women to witness, in whom I expected to find a better disposition, that it was an abominable act; this women, to my astonishment replied, that it was not a pretty child, and on that account she thought there was no harm in having destroyed it. I told the mother plainly that she would go to hell for having killed her child, especially as she had not done it in ignorance, but known well that it was wrong, having stayed here for several months and received instruction. By speaking in this manner, I hoped to rouse her conscience, but she began to talk and to laugh with the other women.
Have this quarter written a Grammar; translated the Confession, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments; and continued to translate in St. Luke to the 10th Chapter.
[signed] J.C.S. Handt.
Rev. J.C.S. Handt’s Journal,
April to June 1835