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2-216 (Text)

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author,male,Porter, William,un addressee,male
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Porter, 1841
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Mission House, Wellington Valley 
April 6, 1839 
Dear Sir 
Having so much sameness in my daily labours in consequence of the severe drought and the almost total absence of the Natives, I have considered it best to give the Society the substance of my proceedings and prospects in a letter. That I have done either as a Missionary or as an Agriculturist has been comparatively little. What I have suffered has been much more. 
The severe drought with which the Colony has been visited for many months past still continues with all its distressing consequences. We have been prevented entering into any Agricultural employments in which we ought now to be fully engaged. We have not, and can not sow the grain of wheat until the Lord is pleased to send us a fall of rain. Nor can we even plough one single furrow as a preparatory step. We have spent much time in dragging cows out of the River, the water of which had fallen so low and left so much mud that the cows in going to drink stick fast in it, being too weak and poor (thru the scarcity of food) to get out again without help. We have sometimes had as many as 2 or 3 in a day to drag out. A great many of our cows with calves have died, some in the bush, others have been drowned in the River before they could be got out. The calves generally died afterwards being too young to support themselves upon so scanty a subsistence. The Bullocks that we slaughter, being so young and so poor are exceedingly light, rarely exceeding 300 pounds in weight, and often times much less than that. This causes us to kill so many more, to supply us with the necessary quantity of Beef. On the one hand our cows and calves are dying through want, and on the other we are killing more Bullocks than usual to make up the required weight so that in a very short time our Herd will consist (with very few exceptions) only of a few young cattle from 0 months to one and a half years' old. Our Sheep have certainly done much better than the cattle; comparatively few have died, and those generally very old ones. Still the Mothers that we have killed, (like the Bullocks) have been very light, and requiring three to make the same weight as two would weigh six months ago. Our horses also are very poor; we have scarcely one that is fit to do a day's work. We endeavour to keep alive those that we do work by giving them a few reeds which the Natives get for us out of the River. 
Our wheat crops having entirely failed we are obliged to buy every Bushel we want at the high price of one pound per Bushel and give nearly one pound per cart to have it brought us the distance of seventy miles so that a Bushel of wheat costs us ultimately about one pound ten per Bushel and we ate a little more than three Bushels weekly. The reason we are obliged to have our wheat fetched is this. Our own Bullock team is quite broken up. Six Bullocks have died; four more our men left on their way from Sydney with Supplies (being unable to travel) and I never expect that we shall find them again. The remaining four that we have are nearly all unfit for work. 
We have only four Months' Rations of Tea and Sugar in the Stores and no prospect of getting any more up from Sydney for almost every team that attempts to come up to Wellington lose the greater number of their Bullocks on their way, with there being no feed for them. The distress is becoming truly alarming, as it will be impossible in a short time, if the drought continues, to obtain the necessities of life, Flour and Salt. We have been obliged to use the greatest possible economy in giving food to the Natives which has caused a great many of them to go away. And those that do remain are very unsteady in their habits. Sometimes being with the Police Constables and sometimes with us just as it suits them - fanciful minds. What I have done as a Missionary has been almost nothing for it has occupied almost the whole of my time six Days of the week in providing the necessities of life for our Establishment: and on the Sabbath we have two Services at our Chapel which (taking into consideration the extreme indolence of the Natives) leaves me but little time to devote to their Institution. Still whenever I have time and opportunity to instruct them either in reading or conversation. I trust I never allow it to escape. 
All these things, dear sir, added to those many difficulties, trials and lamentable recurrences of which the Home Society, I have no doubt, are by this time made acquainted with. I mean more particularly, the conduct of the Colonial Government, in proceeding to take away the Land from the Mission to build a Town upon it and also the unhappy way in which we as Missionaries have almost universally been living with respect to each other. 
All these things, dear sir, cannot fail to make a deep impression on the mind of a sincere Christian and would be more than he could bear, were he not supported and comforted by the Lord his God. 
The Society may conjecture, but they cannot enter fully into all the trials and sorrows I have met within my short Missionary career at Wellington Valley. Had my trials and sorrows arisen simply from the persecuting spirit of a sinful world or as discouragements from the Natives, I could rejoice that the Lord had counted me worthy to suffer for His sake. For then I might hope (and that confidently) for better prospects. But when my trials are of that kind and arising from those caused, too well known to the Society, hope at once vanishes and my heart is filled with the heaviest grief. Nothing but a sense of duty, dear sir, induces me to continue here, where I have not the least prospect of encouragement or success. This I do anxiously waiting the decision of the Society respecting the removal of the Mission. 
I trust that whenever or wherever the Society may re-establish the Mission amongst the Heathens of the country, it may be established on a better place than the present one is. I do think it to be improper and prejudicial to the interests of a Mission to employ any person in it who are not sincere Christians. 
It is far from my wish to dictate to the Society, but when I see evils existing which I consider may be remedied, I cannot but point them out for the consideration of the Society. 
I trust the Lord will direct the Society in all their decisions, respecting the Mission to these Poor Heathens. Such is the prayer of, 
Dear sir, 
Your humble Servant in the Lord, 
William Porter.