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2-241 (Original)

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author,male,Porter, William,un addressee,male
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Official Correspondence
Porter, 1841
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Wellington Valley, N.S. Wales, 
Feb. 22, 1841 
Dear Sir, 
For many months past it has been my very anxious wish to address the Home Society on the subject of this Mission, but hitherto I have deferred doing so as we have long expected some further communication from them. And, I, wishing to suppress any impatience of spirit, and avoid being premature in anything I have to state. But should I delay the subject any longer I feel, that I should be wanting in my duty, to the Society, to which I belong. Yet while I take the liberty of addressing myself to them on the affairs of this Mission, I wish to apologise for so doing, as I hold but an inferior and subordinate situation in connection with them. The apology I have to offer, is - the very discouraging state of the Missions which calls for the serious attention of the Parent Committee both in regards its location, and also the manner of its being conducted. What I wish to effect in my present communication is to labour for the Home Society a faithful representation of the present state of the Mission; which if I succeed in doing I think they will concur with me in concluding that some better place must be adopted, or the Mission must be abandoned. 
The first thing I shall take the liberty of noticing is the locating of the Police Establishment upon the Mission Land. This has been, and still is, one of the greatest hindrances to the success of our exertions. But I need not use any arguments to prove this, as I know the Home Society take precisely the same view on this subject as myself (which you, dear sir, communicated to me in a Letter dated Dec. 24th, 1838.) It is true, the Col. Government have repeatedly promised to remove the Police from us, and when His Excellency the Governor was here in November last, he assured us again, that it would be so and ordered a Township to be laid out, about seven or eight miles from us - which has indeed been surveyed: but at present there is not the least appearance of anything more being done. And I have some reason to believe that His Excellency is now hesitating whether he shall remove the Police at all from their present location. Perhaps he may consider that the present situation of the Mission is not a desirable one, principally because there are so few Natives that continue for any length of time about Wellington Valley; and it is anticipated that there will be much fewer shortly as a neighbouring Settler has laid out the Township on his own Estate about three miles from us, and some of the allotments are sold and buildings are being erected upon. On the opposite side of the Mission Land, about five miles from us - there is another Township laid out by a private individual, on which there is an "Inn" built. So that in a very short time we shall be situated between two Townships and one of them contiguous to the Mission Land. And it is a well-known fact that the Natives will never continue long near any town. His Excellency when at the Mission expressed his readiness to provide another tract of Land for the location of the Mission, if it was considered desirable to remove it. 
My own opinion dear sir, is - that Wellington Valley is now not a desirable situation for a Mission. We ought to be located where the Natives are more numerous, which will not be, except we go farther into the interior. But while I would recommend the removal of the Mission, I must also tell the Society that in many respects the labours of the Mission would be greatly increased, at least for some time, and the expenses of the Mission increased also. I, for my part, am quite ready to remove to any other desirable situation if the Home Society will but have a proper Missionary Establishment. 
To explain more fully what I mean it will lead me to notice a very serious hindrance to our Missionary exertions - which is the necessity we are under (from the small number that we are) of engaging as Servants unprincipled men, who either are, or have been "convicted felons", I trust I need no arguments to convince any Christian Society that to employ such men, to be connected with a Mission, is a manifest evil, yea, I do not hesitate to call it a great sin - they pull down and destroy whatever we attempt to build. Or in other words - whatever good impressions, we may succeed in making on the minds of any of the Natives, they soon erase them by their filthy conversation, or immoral example. 
It may be thought, that it is not unavoidably necessary to employ such men. To this I must reply that if it was not unavoidable I would not employ them. But I will endeavour to show that in the present circumstances of the Mission it is unavoidably necessary to employ such men. In the first place, the Society has a large tract of Land for the use of the Aborigines. To make the best use of this for the support of the Mission it is necessary to keep a large farming establishment. To manage this in a proper manner it requires many persons. Some for one employment and some for another. And as the services of the Natives cannot be depended upon (for they may be with us today and tomorrow 20 miles off) it necessarily follows that I must either engage Europeans, or the business of the Farm must be unavoidably neglected. And in the selection of Servants there is very little or no choice, as they are almost universally men of bad character. 
Some may think that it is possible for me to do the business of the Farm with the services of the Natives - but whoever thinks so, they are quite mistaken, and it shows that they know very little of the Native character. It is my opinion, formed from nearly three Years' residence among them, that until these Natives become the subjects of Divine Grace their services can never be depended upon, no not even the most civilised of them. They are so wedded to their naturally wild, volatile and wandering habits, that though they may work well for a time, they will again and again leave us, to ramble amongst their old companions, in the bush. That generally when their services are most required. Since Mr Watson has taken away the Native Children, the Adults have become so much more unsettled and unsteady in their habits, that they very rarely stay with us more than three or four days at a time, so that very little can be done in the way of teaching them. I must candidly confess that our Mission is fast degenerating into nothing more than a farming establishment. 
In concluding my present communication, I beg leave earnestly to recommend to the Home Society the desirability of either having such a Missionary establishment which would enable us to dispense with the services of "convicted felons" - or that they would abandon the Mission altogether. To continue it as it is, is not only useless but it is bringing contempt and disgrace upon the C.M.S. and causing the Gospel of Christ to be reproached by the world around us. 
Waiting a reply at your earliest convenience, 
I remain dear sir 
Your humble Servant in Christ Jesus 
William Porter.