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A Victorian Christmas: Charles Darwin in New Zealand

Updated Friday 18th December 2015

In 1835, Charles Darwin had what he hoped would be his last Christmas before returning to Britiain.

Paihia, New Zealand Creative commons image Icon Kiwi Flickr under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license A modern view of Paihia

In a few more days the fourth year of our absence from England will be completed. Our first Christmas Day was spent at Plymouth, the second at St. Martin's Cove near Cape Horn; the third at Port Desire in Patagonia; the fourth at anchor in a wild harbour in the peninsula of Tres Montes, this fifth here, and the next, I trust in Providence, will be in England.

We attended divine service in the chapel of Pahia; part of the service being read in English, and part in the native language. Whilst at New Zealand we did not hear of any recent acts of cannibalism; but Mr. Stokes found burnt human bones strewed round a fireplace on a small island near the anchorage; but these remains of a comfortable banquet might have been lying there for several years.

It is probable that the moral state of the people will rapidly improve. Mr. Bushby mentioned one pleasing anecdote as a proof of the sincerity of some, at least, of those who profess Christianity.

One of his young men left him, who had been accustomed to read prayers to the rest of the servants. Some weeks afterwards, happening to pass late in the evening by an outhouse, he saw and heard one of his men reading the Bible with difficulty by the light of the fire, to the others. After this the party knelt and prayed: in their prayers they mentioned Mr. Bushby and his family, and the missionaries, each separately in his respective district.

 

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