John Gibson Paton.

John G. Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides. An autobiography (Volume 2) online

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F T is a true joy to me, that I am enabled to
* place Pa,rt Second of my brother's Auto-
biography in the hands of the Public without
undue delay.

The amount of interesting and precious
material, entrusted to me to be re-written and
prepared for the Press, has, by its very abun-
dance and variety, landed me in the greatest
perplexity. Amidst all the toil and anxiety
of producing such a book, my only painful
experience has been the necessity of cutting
out page after page, every whit as beautiful
and valuable as any of the pages for which
room has been found.

That observation applies very specially to
the "Letters," which constitute Chapter IX.
These I verily regret to publish in mere frag-


ments, instead of in their own rounded com-

Two whole Chapters, as outlined by my
brother, I am sorrowfully necessitated to omit,
so that the Life-Story itself may not be too
much enlarged or overloaded. The one refers
to " The Kanaka, or Labour Traffic in the
South Seas " ; and the other to " Annexation,
and the Future of the New Hebrides." Both
are of vital import among- the Public Questions
of the day ; and, in the discussion of both, his
position and opportunities have led him to take
a not inconsiderable share. But the claims of
what may more properly be regarded as the
Personal Narrative were paramount ; and the
allotted space, within the limits of this volume,
left me, for the present at least, no other choice.

Readers would think me foolishly uplifted,
if I indicated one-hundredth part of the chorus
of approbation, that has reached me regarding
Part First of this Autobiography. My best
wish for the Second Volume is that it may be
similarly welcomed; and that it may bring a


special blessing to as many hearts in all quarters
of the world. More than that I could not
reasonably anticipate.



October, 1889.




Preliminary Note i

Call for a Mission Ship 2

A Brutal Captain 3

Sun- Worshippers, or Slaves ? 5

The Lights of Sydney 6

Thrown upon the Lord 7

Mr. Foss's Open Door 8

Climbing into Pulpits . 9

Shipping Company for Jesus 10

The Golden Shower 12

Wanted ! More Missionaries 13

Commissioned to Scotland 14

Wayside Incidents of Australian Travel 16

Lost in the Bush 17

Sinking in the Swamp 21

Put through my Catechism 23

" Do for the Parson ! " 24

Crossing the Colony on Novel Conditions ... 25

Pay-Day at a Squatter's 29

Three Days in a Public House 31

A Meeting among the Diggers 35

Camping Out 37

A Squatter Rescued 39

John Gilpin's Ride through the Bush .... 40




A Fire- Water Festival 47

At Tea with the Aborigines 48

" Black Fellow all Gone ! " 50

The Poison-Gift of Civilization 51

The " Scattering " of the Blacks 52

The " Brute-in-human-shape " Theory , . . -54

The Testimony of Nora 55

Nathaniel Pepper and their " Gods ". . . 57

Smooth Stone Idols 58

Rites and Ceremonies 59

" Too Much Devil-Devil " 60

The Quest for Idols 61

Visit to Nora in the Camp 63

Independent Testimonies 65

Nora's own Letters 68

The Aborigines in Settlements 71


Dr. Inglis on the Mission Crisis ..... 73
Casting Lots before the Lord . . . -74

Struck by Lightning 75

A Peep at London 76

A Heavenly Welcome 77

The Moderator's Chair 78

Reformed Presbyterian Church and Free Church . 80

Tour through Scotland 82

A Frosted Foot 83

The Children's Holy League 84

Missionary Volunteers 85

A God-provided Help-Mate 86

Farewell to the Old Family Altar .... 88

First Peep at the Day spring 90


The Day spring in a Dead- Lock . . . .91

Tokens of Deliverance ...... 93

The John Williams and the Dayspring ... 95
Australia's Special Call 98


First of Missionary Duties ...... loo

Mare and Noumea ....... 101

The French in the Pacific ...... 103

The Curaqoa Affair ...... .104

The " Gospel and Gunpowder " Cry .... 105

The Missionaries on their Defence .... 106

The Mission Synod's Report ..... 107

The Shelling of the Tannese Villages . . . 109

Public Meeting and Presbytery ..... in

Fighting at Bay ........ 114

Federal Union in Missions ...... 115

A Fiery Furnace at Geelong ..... 116

Results of Australian Tour ...... 119

New Hebrides Mission Adopted by Colonies . .120


Williams on the Reef . . . .123

A Native's Soliloquy ....... 124

Nowar Pleading for Tanna ...... 125

The White Shells of Nowar ..... 126

The Island of Aniwa ....... 127

First Landing on Aniwa ...... 129

The Site of our New Home ..... 130

"Me no Steal!" ........ 131

House-Building for God ..... .132



Native Expectations 135

Tafigeitu or Sorcery 136

The Miracle of Speaking Wood 138

Perils through Superstition 139

The Mission Premises a City of God . . . 141

Builders and their Wages 142

Great Swimming Feat ...... 144

Stronger than the " Gods " of Anivva . . . . 145


Navalak and Nemeyan on Aniwa .... 149

Taia the " Orator " 1 50

The Two next Aneityumese Teachers . . 1 5 r

In the Arms of Murderers 152

Our First Aniwan Converts . . . . 1 53

Litsi Sore 153

Surrounded by Torches . . . . . 155
Traditions of Creation, Fall, and Deluge . . .156

Infanticide and Wife-Murder 159

Last Heathen Dance 162

Nelwang's Elopement . . .. . . .163

Yakin's Bridal Attire 169

Christ-Spirit versus War- Spirit 171

Heathenism in Death Grips 174

A Great Aniwan Palaver 175

The Sinking of the Well 1 76

Old Chiefs Sermon on " Rain from Below " . .189

The Idols Cast Away 192

The New Social Order 194

Back of Heathenism Broken 196


My First Aniwan Book 198

The Power of Music . ... 201



A Pair of Glass Eyes 202

Church Building for Jesus 203

The Hanging of the Bell 206

Patesa and his Bride 207

An Armed Embassage 210

Youwili's Taboo 212

The Conversion of Youwili 216

The Tobacco Idol 218

First Communion on Anivva 221

Our Village Day Schools 223

New Social Laws 225

A Sabbath Day's Work on Aniwa .... 226

Our Week-Day Life 229

The Orphans and their Biscuits 231

The Wreck of the Dayspring 233

God's Own Finger Posts 234

" God's Work our Guarantee " 235

Profane Swearers Rebuked ..... 237

A Heavenly Vision ....... 238

On Wing through New Zealand 239

Our Second Dayspring 240


The Gospel in Living Capitals 241

" A Shower of Spears " 243

The Tannese Refugees 244

Pilgrimage and Death of Namakei .... 245

The Character of Naswai 250

Christianity and Cocoa-Nuts 254

Nerwa the Agnostic 255

Nerwa's Beautiful Farewell 258

The Story of Ruwawa 260

Waiwai and his Wives 262

Nelwang and Kalangi 268



Mungaw and Litsi Sore . . . . . 270

The Maddening of Mungaw 271

The Queen of Aniwa a Missionary .... 275

Surrender of Nasi to Jesus ...... 277

Daylight Prayer Meeting on Aniwa .... 280

Candidates for Baptism . . . . . . 281

The Appeal and Testimony of Lamu . . . 282


Editorial Preface . 285

Letter for 1867 286

Not Tanna but Aniwa 287

" Missi Paton versus Teapots " 288

The Humour of Taia 288

Evening Village Prayers 289

" Make Him Bokis sing" 289

My Sewing Class 289

" That No Gammon " 290

" Talk Biritania " ....... 290

The Marriage of Kahi 291

Letter for 1869 292

First Communicants on Aniwa 292

Mungaw and the Mission Boys 293

The Blessing of the Day spring .... 294

Letter for 1874 294

Home to Aniwa 295

" Taking Possession " 296

"Another Soul Committed to our Care" . . . 296

Hutshi and her Lover . ...... 297

Six Missionaries on Aniwa 298

Letter for 1875 299

Missi Paton and " Joseph," and the Tannese . . 300

A Tropical Hurricane 301

The Disgrace and Sale of Hutshi .... 303



Taia Baited by Nalihi . . . . ' . .308
Earthquakes and Tidal Waves . . . . ,310

Farewells . . 311

Letter for 1878 312

A Madman at Large 312

The Passing of Yawaci 324

Madness and Death of Mungaw 325

Our Native Elders 334

Music on the Waters 335

A Wicked Vow 335

Letter for 1879 336

New Year's Day on Anivva 336

A Miserable Slaver 337

Litsi Married Again . 337

Mission Synod on Erromanga ..... 338

Tragic and Holy Memories 339

Daylight at last on Tanna 340

Pigs in Galore 341

Arrowroot for Jehovah 341


" Wanted ! A Steam Auxiliary " 342

Commissioned Home to Britain ..... 343

English Presbyterian Synod 344

United Presbyterian Synod 345

The " Veto " from the Sydney Board . . . .345

Dr. Hood Wilson 347

The Free Church Assembly 348

Neutrality of Foreign Mission Committee . . . 349

The Church of Scotland 350

At Holyrood and at Alva House 351

Irish Presbyterian Assembly 352

The Pan- Presbyterian Council of 1884 . . . 353

My " Plan of Campaign " 354



Old Ireland's Response 355

Operations in Scotland 356

Seventy Letters in a Day 358

Beautiful Type of Merchant 359

My First ^100 at Dundee 360

Peculiar Gifts and Offerings 361

Approach to London 364

Mildmay's Open Door 366

Largest Single Donation 367

Personal Memories of London 368

Garden Party at Mr. Spurgeon's . . . .370

The Hon. Ion Keith- Falconer 371

Three New Missionaries 372

" Restitution Money " . ..... 375

The Farewell at Mildmay 376

Welcome to Victoria 377

The Dream of my Life 378

The New Mission Ship Delayed . . . 378

Welcome back to Aniwa 379

Parting Testimony 380

Fare-thee-well 382



Preliminary Note. Call fora Mission Ship. A Brutal Captain.
Sun- Worshippers or Slaves ? The Lights of Sydney.
Thrown upon the Lord. Mr. Foss's Open Door. Climbing
into Pulpits. Shipping Company for Jesus. The Golden
Shower. Wanted More Missionaries. Commissioned to
Scotland. Wayside Incidents of Australian Travel. Lost
in the Bush. Sinking in the Swamp. Put Through My
Catechism. " Do for the Parson ! " Crossing the Colony
on Novel Conditions. Pay-Day at a Squatter's. Three
Days in a Public House. A Meeting among the Diggers.
Camping Out. A Squatter Rescued. John Gilpin's
Ride through the Bush.

STRANGE yet gratifying news has reached me.
Part First of my Autobiography has met with a
wonderful response from the Public. Within three
weeks of its appearance, a second edition has been
called for.

At the Editor's urgent appeal, therefore, and as-
sured also that the finger of God is guiding me, I
take up my pen to write Part Second, feeling that
I am bound to do so by my promise at the close of
the first volume, and by loyalty to the Lord, who
seems thus to use my humble life-story to promote
the glory of His Name both at home and abroad.

r. ' i


But, oh, surely never any man was called upon to
write a book amid such distracting circumstances !
Ceaselessly travelling from Church to Church and
from town to town from one end of Australia to the
other, addressing a meeting almost every evening
of the week, often also during the afternoons, and
several Congregations and Sabbath Schools every
Lord's Day, the following pages are the outpourings
of a heart saturated with the subject, but bereft of
all opportunity for quiet thought or studious hours.

Having thus far done my part, I leave all else to
the careful Editorship of my dear brother, whose
loving hand will put everything into shape for the
public eyes. This only I can sincerely testify, The
Lord has called for it, and I lay on His altar the
only gift that I have to offer, believing that He will
both accept it and use it as He sees to be for the
best. *

# *

Rescued from Tanna by the Blue Bell in the
Spring of 1862, I was landed on Aneityum, leaving
behind me all that I owned on Earth, save the clothes
upon my back, my precious Bible, and a few trans-
lations that I had made from it into the Tannese
language. The Missionaries on Aneityum Messrs.
Geddie and Copeland united, after repeated delibera-
tions, in urging me to go to Australia in the interests
of our Mission. In this appeal they were joined
now by my companions in tribulation, Mr. and Mrs.
Mathieson. A Mission Ship was sorely needed was


absolutely required, to prevent the needless sacrifice
of devoted lives. More Missionaries were called for,
and must somehow be brought into the field, unless
the hope of claiming these fair Islands for Jesus was
to be for ever abandoned.

With unaffected reluctance, I at last felt constrained
to undertake this unwelcome but apparently inevit-
able task. It meant the leaving of my dear Islanders
for a season ; but it embraced within it the hope of
returning to them again, with perhaps every power
of blessing amongst them tenfold increased.

A Sandal-wooder, then lying at Aneityum, was to
sail in a few days direct for Sydney. My passage
was secured for .10. And, as if to make me realize
how bare the Lord had stripped me in my late trials,
the first thing that occupied me on board was the
making with my own hands, from a piece of cloth
obtained on Aneityum, another shirt for the voyage,
to change with that which I wore the only one that
had been left to me.

The Captain proved to be a profane and brutal
fellow. He professed to be a Roman Catholic, but
he was typical of the coarse and godless Traders in
those Seas. If he had exerted himself to make the
voyage disagreeable, and even disgusting, he could
scarcely have had better success. He frequently
fought with the mate and steward, and his tyrannical
bearing made every one wretched. He and his
Native wife (a Heathen but not more so than him-
self!) occupied the Cabin. I had to sleep on boards,


without a bed, in a place where they stored the
sandal-wood ; and never could take off my clothes
by night or day during that voyage of nearly fourteen
hundred miles. The vessel was miserably supplied.
Any food I got was scarcely eatable, and was sent
to me in a plate on deck. There I spent all my
time, except at night or in heavy rain, when I crept
in and lay upon my planks.

The poor steward often came rushing on deck from
the cabin, with blood streaming from his face, struck
by the passionate Captain with whatever came to his
hand. Yet he appeared to be a smart and obliging
lad, and I pitied him exceedingly. Seeing no hope
for redress, I took careful notes of his shocking treat-
ment, and resolved to bide my time for exposing
this base and cruel inhumanity.

On reaching Sydney, the steward was dismissed
without wages, the Captain having accused him to
his employers of refusing to work on board. He
found me out, and told me, weeping, that he cared
more for his poor aged mother than himself, as his
pay was all her support. On my advice, he informed
the Captain that he would summon him, and that I
had consented to appear in Court and produce my
notes of what I had seen, day by day, on the voyage.
He was immediately paid in full, and came to me
big with gratitude.

One hesitates to dwell further on this miserable
episode. But I must relate how my heart bled for
some poor Islanders also, whom that Captain had on


board. They knew not a word of English, and no
one in the vessel knew a sound of their language.
They were made to work, and to understand what
was expected of them, only by hard knocks and
blows, being pushed and pulled hither and thither.
They were kept quite naked on the voyage up ; but,
when nearing Sydney, each received two yards of
calico to be twisted as a kilt around his loins. A
most pathetic spectacle it was to watch these poor
Natives, when they had leisure to sit on deck,
gazing, gazing, intently and imploringly, upon the
face of the Sun ! This they did every day, and at
all hours, and I wept much to look on them, and not
be able to tell them of the Son of God, the Light of
the world, for I knew no word of their language.
Perhaps they were worshippers of the Sun ; and
perhaps, amid all their misery, oh, perhaps, some ray
of truth from the great Father of Lights may have
streamed into those darkened souls !

When we arrived at Sydney, the Inspecting Officer
of the Government, coming on board, asked how
these Islanders came to be there. The Captain im-
pudently replied that they were " passengers." No
further question was put. No other evidence was
sought. Yet all who knew anything of our South-
Sea Island Traders were perfectly aware that the
moral certainty was that these Natives were there
practically as Slaves. They would be privately dis-
posed of by the Captain to the highest bidder ; and
that, forsooth, is to be called the Labour Traffic.


About midnight we came to anchor in Sydney har-
bour. The Captain condescended to say, " I will not
drive you ashore to-night, but you must be off by
daylight." His orders might have been spared. It
was too great a relief to get away from such coarse-
ness and profanity.

As we came to anchorage, I anxiously paced the
deck, gazing towards the gas-lighted city, and plead-
ing with God to open up my way, and give success
in the work before me, on which the salvation of
thousands of the Heathen might depend. Still I saw
them perishing, still heard their wailing cry on the
Islands behind me. I saw them groaning under
blinding superstitions, and imbruing their hands in
each other's blood, and I felt as if crushed by the
awful responsibility of my work and by the thought
of all that hung upon its success or failure. But I
felt also that there must be many of God's dear
people in Sydney who would sympathize with such
work and help me, if only I could get access to them.
At the same time, I knew not a soul in that great
city ; though I had a note of introduction to one
person, which, as experience proved, I would have
been better without.

Unfortunately, I had not with me a copy of the
Resolution of the Missionaries, commissioning me to
plead their cause and to raise funds for the new
Mission Ship. Again and again I had earnestly
requested it, but the Clerk of the meeting, pressed by
correspondence, or for some other reason, gave me


instead that note of introduction, which proved more
of a hindrance than a help in launching my work ;
except that it threw me more exclusively on the
guidance of my Lord, and taught me to trust in Him,
and in the resources He had given me, rather than
in any human aid, from that day till the present hour.

That friend, however, did his best. He kindly
called with me on a number of Ministers and others.
They heard my story, sympathized with me, shook
hands, and wished me success ; but, strangely enough,
something " very special " prevented every one of
them from giving me access to his pulpit or Sabbath
School. At length, I felt so disappointed, so miser-
able, that I wished I had been in my grave with my
dear departed and my brethren on the Islands who
had fallen around me, in order that the work on
which so much now appeared to depend might have
been entrusted to some one better fitted to accom-
plish it. The heart seemed to keep repeating, " All
these things are against thee."

Finding out at last the Rev. A. Buzacott, then
retired, but formerly the successful and honoured
representative of the London Missionary Society on
Rarotonga, considerable light was let in upon the
mysteries of my last week's experiences. He in-
formed me that the highly esteemed friend, who had
kindly been introducing me all round, was at that
moment immersed in a keen Newspaper war with
Presbyterians and Independents. He had published
statements and changes of view, which charged them


with being unscriptural in belief and practice. They,
of course, were rigorously defending themselves.
This made it painfully manifest that, in order to
succeed, I must strike out a new course for myself,
and one clear from all local entanglement.

Paying a fortnight in advance, I withdrew even
from the lodging I had taken, and turned to the Lord
more absolutely for guidance. He brought me into
contact with good and generous-souled servants of
His, the open-hearted Mr. and Mrs. Foss. Though
entire strangers, they kindly invited me to be their
guest while in Sydney, assuring me that I would meet
with many Ministers and other Christians at their
house who could help me in my work. God had
opened the door ; I entered with a grateful heart ;
they will not miss their recompence.

A letter and appeal had been already printed on
behalf of our Mission. I now re-cast and reprinted it,
adding a postscript, and appending my own name
and new address. This was widely circulated among
Ministers and others engaged in Christian work ; and
by this means, and by letters in the Newspapers, I
did everything in my power to make our Mission
known. But one week had passed, and no response
came. One Lord's Day had gone by, and no pulpit
had been opened to me. I was perplexed beyond
measure, how to get access to Congregations and
Sabbath Schools ; though a Something deep in my
soul assured me, that if once my lips were opened,
the Word of the Lord would not return void.


On my second Sabbath in Sydney, I wandered
out with a great yearning at heart to get telling
my message to any soul that would listen. It was
the afternoon ; and children were flocking into a
Church that I passed. I followed them that yearn-
ing growing stronger every moment. My God so
ordered it, that I was guided thus to the Chalmers
Presbyterian Church. The Minister, the Rev. Mr.
McSkimming, addressed the children. At the close
I went up and pleaded with him to allow me ten
minutes to speak to them. After a little hesitation,
and having consulted together, they gave me fifteen
minutes. Becoming deeply interested, the good
man invited me to preach to his Congregation in the
evening. This was duly intimated in the Sabbath
School ; and thus my little boat was at last launched
surely by the hand of the dear Lord, with the help
of His little children.

The kindly Minister, now very deeply interested,
offered to spend the next day in introducing me to
his clerical brethren. For his sake, I was most cor-
dially received by them all, but especially by Dr.
Dunsmore Lang, who greatly helped me ; and now
access was granted me to almost every Church and
Sabbath School, both Presbyterian and Independent.
In Sabbath Schools, I got a collection in connection
with my address, and distributed, with the sanction
of Superintendents, Collecting Cards amongst the
children, to be returned through the teachers within
a specified date. In Congregations, I received for


the Mission the surplus over and above the ordinary
collection when I preached on Sabbaths, and the full
collection at all week-night meetings for which I
could arrange.

I now appealed to a few of the most friendly
Ministers to form themselves into an Honorary
Committee of advice ; and, at my earnest request,
they got J. Goodlet, Esq., an excellent elder, to be-
come Honorary Treasurer, and to take charge of all
funds raised for the Mission Ship. For the Public
knew nothing of me ; but all knew my good Trea-
surer and these faithful Ministers, and had confidence
in the work. They knew that every penny went
direct to the Mission ; and they saw that my one
object was to promote God's glory in the conversion
of the Heathen. Our dear Lord Jesus thus opened
up my way, and now I had invitations from more
Schools and Congregations than I knew how to
overtake the response in money being also gratify-
ing beyond almost all expectation.

It was now that I began a little plan of interesting
the children, that attracted them from the first, and
has since had an amazing development. I made
them shareholders in the new Mission Ship each

Online LibraryJohn Gibson PatonJohn G. Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides. An autobiography (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 26)