Charlotte Weale to Frederick Chesson, 12 August 1884, C149/142

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Weale, Charlotte









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Bodleian Libraries

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C149-142


22 Montague Place
Russel Square

Dear Mr Chesson,

… Topia was so pleased at my sending him by Skidmore and special invitation to come and see me that he arrived here quite bright looking and when Mr Spencer began to talk to them about business matters in the midst Topia gazing earnestly at me began to sing … a loving welcome in very Gregorian style, then he made a pause Maori like and Mr Spenser continued his talk presently … Topia with his sons and the others joined in chorus. Presently stopped and said ‘now to business’ and after a while began again to chant. Mr Spencer got into a hopeless bewilderment and when I asked him to explain the song, it was quite beyond him. He does not know any of their songs and legends. ‘I never bothered my head with them and tho that one no doubt has been sung as a mark of loving respect yet I don’t know a word of it.’ Then, he told me he cd study mathematics for 4 hours and enjoy it, but has a very poor memory ‘as to … by the time I have been at it for two hours I am quite done up and so much of that sort of thing is expected of a clergyman in England.’ Clearly tho ‘quite able and willing’ to translate documents he is not equal to translating any prolonged talk and discussion. I quite wished for Wharepapa or … or Parihanga here today. The men talked with such animation, now agreeing, now differing, and so on and I cd not follow it enough and wished greatly that I cd. Mr Spencer said oh they will go on like that, it’s the way of maories to make such talk, and then at length express a decision, I am sick and tired of it. So my longing remained unsatisfied.

Mrs Grace writes asking me to fix a day when she may come up from Rickmansworth to see me and the maories and begs for a bed to stay over the night. That I can’t offer her, the house is full and I am only acquainted by letter with Mrs Grace and she is also not what I call a gentlewoman and dreadfully afraid of any high ch influence and talks of the gospel not being preached at the parish ch where she … However she wrote to invite herself and has kindly translated many letters for me and I am quite disposed to welcome her on Saturday and try and get all the maories to come here and hope to make it enjoyable to them and her. Her acct of why Tawhiao went off to see her on Saturday in such hot haste is amusing. I told you how unsympathizing Mr Spencer was over the old gentleman’s ailments and that he told him ‘no Dr can cure you; its all a punishment for yr bad life.’ So it seems Tawhiao got frightened and took it into his head that he was stricken with leprosy and remembering how the prophet of old bid … in Jordan to be cleansed and his own tribe believing in the virtue of bathing in the middle of the night in a strongstream he went off and with Patara and Skidmore surveyed the river at Rickmansworth and fixed on a bathing place wh wd do. Patara returned to London in the expectation that the king and Skidmore would return on Tuesday aftnoon wh they did. Mrs Grace writes ‘Mr Skidmore and I … till close upon one o’clock and then he … accompanied Tawhiao to the river in wh he bathed. They returned in about an hour and went to bed; then rose for breakfast and after prayer I had some talk with Tawhiao respecting his grievances and abt his peculiar religious ideas. He says members continue steadfast to their first faith tho they have had for years no teacher amongst them. But he is very old fashioned and determined in his own opinion and evidently difficult to be moved.’

Dear Mr Chesson,

I shall try to have a real talk with Tawhiao when Mrs Grace is here on Saty, as my feeling is to treat his delusions gravely and with sense, going into his errors one by one, and telling him of others who fell into delusions and were recovered by the grace of god and show him lovingly where and how he is mistaken…to quote a few texts to him and say that shd … belief, all will perish who do not believe thus is useless and in my belief wh I … to the acceptance of the faith and contrary to God’s love.

I can credit that Mr Spencer has a weak head and is not quick enough to follow a babel of talk and that 5 men all vigorous and emphatic and amusing themselves every now and again in correct his … is overwhelming to him. He laughed over their catching him up as he termed it for his wrong Maori idioms and mistakes telling him he had been born in NZ and ought to know better. But that wh I can’t get over is his unwillingness to come and interpret with one at a time with me. They all say, one along come at a time and talk is best. It is a disappointment to me, however we know who lets disappointments come. I am so glad to have seen Topia again and I cheered Tawhiao too telling him not to lose hope that I had the list names and addresses of over 45 persons who all last month in their country prayed for these Maories that god wld come to Tawhiao and his companions and to their tribe thro their visit to England. Once more good day, with kind regards to Mrs Chesson, Yours sincerely, C.F.B. Weale.