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The diary of Reverend David Cargill - Part 2

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, November 05, 2017

SCOTTISH young missionary David Cargill a linguist had departed Britain on his way to a new area and a new environment.

His main target was to preach the Gospel and help the spread of the Christianity in the islands.

Yet, he did not know what to expect as he knew little about life in the islands.

This is the account of the late Reverend Cargill from the book "The Diaries and Correspondence of David Cargill, 1832-1843," edited by Albert J Schutz and published by the Australian National University.

On April 11, 1832, the preachers of the London Districts held a meeting, and on examining Cargill's credentials, found that he "has a matrimonial engagement, free from debt, enjoys good health, willing to go wherever the conference and committee may appoint".

Cargill elaborated on his willingness to go where appointed.

"In offering himself to his fathers in the ministry, he did not feel at liberty to choose for himself any part of the great field the world in preference to another."

He was enlisted for Fiji but was to spend time in Tonga to prepare for the Fiji mission. But Australia was to be he his first pit stop before travelling to Tonga.

After spending time out at sea, he finally reached land.

Land ahoy!

Thursday, March 14, 1833

This evening we discovered Mount Dromedary — a high mountain on the east coast of New Holland. This afforded us a very cheering sight, as we have not seen any land since we took our departure from land's end in Cornwall.

Monday March 18, 1833

This evening about twilight, we passed the five islands, a group consisting of five small islands and inhabited by English immigrants about 40 miles south of Port Jackson.

The coast of New Holland appears bold and rocky. In many places, it seems to rival the grandest of nature's works.

Mount Perpendicular, the name given to the point of land on the north of Jervis' Bay, is marked on the chart as being 620ft high. About midnight we saw the revolving light on the south head of Port Jackson.

Tuesday March 19, 1833

This morning we set our feet on Australian land and were kindly and affectionately received by Mr and Mrs Orton. Joseph Orton, who had been appointed superintendent of the mission by the conference in 1831 had spent his missionary probation in Jamaica.

We all felt as being delivered from the hands and persecutions of wicked men. We greatly rejoiced to have an opportunity of meeting with the people of God in His courts or that we may never forget the obligations under which we are placed to our Heavenly Father.

The landing gave an opportunity to write to London on the effects of the voyage, particularly on the conduct of the captain. But I must not shock you by entering into the particulars of his awful expressions and wicked conduct. His conversation at the table was vulgar in the extreme, and often obscene.

He has threatened to run the ship to the nearest land and get clear of all the passengers. He has attacked us personally and threatened to kill us. Although he never spoke against Mrs Cargill, yet she felt so keenly while he was abusing others, that on one occasion she sustained serious injury.

(Mrs Cargill was, in fact, pregnant, and even after almost two months in Sydney was so ill that Orton had "serious apprehensions" concerning her recovery. During this difficult time, the missionaries in their letters at least remained coyly silent about the nature of her affliction. Later Cargill wrote: "... and we shall be able to prosecute our voyage in a short time or rather when a change which is daily expected and concerning which I shall be more explicit in my next communication shall have taken place."

Wednesday March 27, 1833

It is probable that we shall have to remain three or four months in Sydney. Mrs Cargill is much weakened by the voyage. There have been many hindrances in the way of improvement in Sydney so that religion seems to be at a low ebb. There is, however, the appearance of a little cloud in the heavens. The congregations though small are very attentive to the word. O Lord, I beseech Thee, send now prosperity.

I feel determined through divine grace to be entirely devoted to the work in which I am engaged. May the Lord qualify me for usefulness.

Cargill and Cross

(During his stay in Australia, Cargill met his future co-worker for Fiji, William Cross. Twelve years older than Cargill, Cross was relatively speaking a veteran in the mission field, having been in Tonga since 1828. In 1832, his wife was washed off a canoe in a storm, and Cross, clinging to her body, saved himself by catching hold of some boards. Just before Cargill's arrival in New South Wales, he returned there, "the object of his visit — that of recruiting his health, and also of obtaining a wife". With Cross's four years' experience in Tonga, it seems odd that he was not proposed as a tutor for Cargill, but the latter wrote: "It is not likely that we shall meet with anyone in this place qualified to teach us the Tongan language. Mr Orton has furnished us with a few translations: they will perhaps assist me in better facilities for acquiring the language."

During the voyage we made but little progress in the acquisition of Greek. Mr Whiteley, I think, advanced as far as the end of the first conjugation. What he has acquired, he seems to understand. Mr Tucker could translate the first 12 verses of the book of John. In September, Orton wrote that the latter part of Cross's objective had already been accomplished, and that his health was greatly improved.

* To be continued …

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