By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Robert Moffat - The Missionary Hero of Kuruman
Author: Deane, David J.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Robert Moffat - The Missionary Hero of Kuruman" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


The _Missionary Hero_ of KURUMAN.







_Publishers of Evangelical Literature._



The record of a life like that of Robert Moffat, the South African
missionary, can never be devoid of interest until all appreciation for
noble deeds and patient endeavour becomes extinct in the heart of man.
Till then, our pulses will quicken and our enthusiasm kindle as we read
of dangers encountered and overcome, of the true courage that could
undismayed encounter the king of beasts roaming on the African plain,
and of passing the time with savage chiefs, beneath the spears and clubs
of whose warriors thousands had been slain. Or our sympathy is awakened
as stories of sickness and suffering, of hunger and terrible thirst, of
trying disappointments, continued year after year, are related. Anon,
gratitude causes the tear to start to our eye as we witness the love
that prompts the effort to win the heathen to the Saviour, and see the
once benighted ones clothed and subdued, learning in mind and heart the
truth of the Gospel. Gratitude arises that we have men, heroic Christian
men, who count nothing dear to them, not even their lives, that they may
win sinners to the love of Jesus Christ.

Such an one was he, whose memoir we present to our readers, with the
earnest desire that his strong faith may strengthen ours, that his quiet
courage may excite us to perseverance in well-doing, and that his
deliverance from manifold and very real dangers may lead us to place
reliance upon Him in whom Moffat trusted, and who never forsakes those
that trust in Him. May we all see, and especially the youth of our land,
as we read the records of such noble lives, that true godliness detracts
not from true manhood, but rather that it glorifies and ennobles it,
until evil is overcome, and the wicked are put to silence.

In writing this brief sketch of the life of the Rev. Dr. Moffat, the
author has been much indebted to those who have trodden the path before
him; especially to the two well-known works, "Robert and Mary Moffat,"
by their son John S. Moffat, and to Robert Moffat's own book,
"Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa." He also owes his
acknowledgments to "The Missionary Magazine," "The Chronicle of the
London Missionary Society," to the Reports of various Missionary
Societies, "A Life's Labours in South Africa," and to other works from
which information upon the subject has been gathered. To the two first
named the author especially refers those of his readers who wish for
fuller details than are given in this volume.



















The history of missions in South Africa abounds in interesting facts and
incidents. Stories of heroism, strange adventures, and descriptions of
journeyings among savage tribes and through countries frequented by
beasts of prey, form part of its details. Its theme is love to God and
love to man, and its facts have been called into existence through the
efforts of noble-minded and true-hearted men and women to bring their
coloured brethren and sisters to the knowledge of the Saviour, Jesus

Many names are held in veneration in connection with these missions,
names of those who, having laboured faithfully upon earth, have been
called to their reward; among these none stands forward with greater
prominence than that of Robert Moffat.

A brief glance at the development of the colony at the Cape of Good
Hope, and at the early efforts made to evangelise the native races, may
enable the reader better to understand the work carried on by Robert
Moffat, and the success achieved; also to realise something of the
position of affairs when he first landed in South Africa.

Discovered by the Portuguese in 1486, it was not until the middle of the
seventeenth century that much was done in the way of European
colonisation. In 1652 the bold and mountainous promontory of the Cape
was taken possession of by the Dutch, and a settlement was founded on
the site of the present Cape Town. The earliest colonists were chiefly
Dutch and German farmers; who were joined a little later on by numbers
of French and Piedmontese Huguenots, driven from their native lands for
conscience' sake.

At this early period the whole of what is now designated the Colony, was
inhabited by Hottentots, a people lighter in colour than the Kafirs and
Bechwanas, having pale yellow-brown skins, symmetrical in form when
young, hardy, and having small hands and feet. They have nomadic
tendencies; and, in their uncivilised state, scarcely practise
agriculture. Their system of government is somewhat patriarchal; and
they live in "kraals," or villages, consisting of bee-hive shaped huts,
arranged in circular form. Their ideas of a Deity are extremely faint,
they possess little in the nature of religious ceremonies, but the power
of sorcerers among them is great. According to the locality occupied,
they are known as Hottentots, Namaquas, or Corannas.

As the European colonists increased in numbers, they gradually advanced
northward and eastward, either driving back the natives or subjugating
them as slaves to their service. In 1806 the colony passed into the
hands of the English, and, after a season of conflict, the Hottentots
within the British territory were emancipated. This act of justice took
place on 17th July, 1828.

In the early years of the present century, the natives of South Africa
comprised--besides the Hottentots, who occupied the southern portion of
the country, and were thinly scattered, to the north-west, in Great
Namaqualand--the Kafirs, who dwelt in the south-east, beyond the Fish
River; the Basutos, whose kraals were south of the Orange River; the
Bechwanas and kindred tribes to the north of that river; and far away to
the north-west, beyond Namaqualand, the Damara tribes, of whom but
little was known at that time. Besides these, there were the Bushmen, a
roving people, small in stature, and sunk to the lowest depths of
barbarism, hunted down by the Dutch farmers like wild beasts, who had
their hands turned against every man, and every man's hand turned
against them.

To the Moravians belongs the honour of first seeking to bring the
natives of South Africa under the influences of Christianity. In 1737
George Schmidt, who had been sent forth by the small Moravian church of
Herrnhut, arrived in Cape Colony, and at Genadendal (the Vale of Grace),
then known as Bavian's Kloof (the Glen of Baboons), established a
mission station, where he laboured among the despised and oppressed
Hottentots with much success for seven years. His work excited
considerable opposition and persecution. He gathered a small Christian
community and a school; but the Boers, or Dutch farmers, becoming
jealous of the black population receiving education, he was summoned to
Holland, and not allowed to return.

Fifty years elapsed before the Brethren were able to resume their work;
but in 1792, three humble Christian artisans recommenced labour at
Genadendal. The occupation of the colony by the British Government gave
security to their mission, and it soon grew to be a large settlement,
and a centre of light and civilisation to the surrounding country.

In 1799 the London Missionary Society commenced work in Cape Colony; at
first by four brethren, who were shortly reinforced by Dr. J.P.
Vanderkemp, a native of Holland, a man of rare gifts and dauntless
courage. Successively scholar, cavalry officer, and physician, he was
for some years a sceptic, but being converted through the drowning of
his wife and child, and his own narrow escape from death, he commenced
the earnest study of the Bible and the Eastern languages, and gained
such wonderful proficiency in the latter, that it is stated he had a
fair knowledge of sixteen.

Vanderkemp chose the Kafir tribes for his field of labour, and in 1799
proceeded from Graf Reinet, then the most distant colonial town, and
that nearest to the Kafirs, to the headquarters of that people.
Frequently in danger of his life, among those who considered the murder
of a white man a meritorious deed, he worked and endured great hardship
and privation, that he might make known the truths of the Gospel to the
ignorant around, until the close of the year 1800, when, owing to a
rebellion among the farmers, and the general unsettled state of the
frontier, he was compelled to relinquish his mission.


Afterwards he laboured among the Hottentots of the colony with rare
self-devotedness, often in great straits and many perils, but with
frequent manifestations of the Divine blessing upon the work carried on.
Finally, the Hottentot mission was transferred to Bethelsdorp, where
steady progress was made. The scholars readily learned to read and
write, and their facility in acquiring religious knowledge was
astonishing, considering the peculiar apathy, stupidity, and aversion to
any exertion, mental or corporeal, which characterised the natives. Dr.
Vanderkemp died in 1811, after breathing out the Christian assurance,
"All is well."

While Dr. Vanderkemp bent his steps towards Kafirland, three other
missionaries, by name Kitcherer, Kramer, and Edwards, proceeded to the
Zak River, between four hundred and five hundred miles north-east of
Cape Town. Here a mission was established to the Bushmen, which,
although unsuccessful in its original intention, became the finger-post
to the Namaquas, Corannas, Griquas, and Bechwanas, for by means of that
mission these tribes and their condition became known to the Christian
world. After moving from their original location to the Orange River, at
the invitation of a Griqua chief, Berend Berend by name, the mission was
carried on among the Corannas, Namaquas, and Bastards (mixed races),
finally removing in 1804 to Griqua Town, where it developed into the
Griqua Mission, under Messrs. Anderson and Kramer, and became a powerful
influence for good; continuing in existence for many years.

Mr. Anderson thus describes the condition of the Griquas when he first
settled in their midst, and for some time afterwards:--

"They were without the smallest marks of civilisation. If I except one
woman, they had not one thread of European clothing among them; and
their wretched appearance and habits were such as might have excited in
our minds an aversion to them, had we not been actuated by principles
which led us to pity them, and served to strengthen us in pursuing the
object of our missionary work; they were, in many instances, little
above the brutes. It is a fact that we were present with them at the
hazard of our lives. When we went among them they lived in the habit of
plundering one another; and they saw no moral evil in this, nor in any
of their actions. Violent deaths were common. Their usual manner of
living was truly disgusting, and they were void of shame."

By missionary effort these unpromising materials yielded such fruit,
that, in 1809, the congregation at Griqua Town consisted of 800 persons,
who resided at or near the station during the whole or the greater part
of the year. Besides their stated congregations the missionaries were
surrounded by numerous hordes of Corannas and Bushmen, among whom they
laboured. The land was brought under cultivation, and fields waving with
corn and barley met the eye where all had been desolation and
barrenness. In 1810 a threatened attack from a marauding horde of Kafirs
was averted in answer to prayer. Mr. Janz, the only missionary then on
the place, with the people, set apart a day for special supplication;
they sent a pacific message and present to the Kafirs, who immediately
retired. In place of war there was peace, and the blessings of
civilisation followed the preaching of the Gospel.

A mission had also been commenced by the London Missionary Society in
Great Namaqualand, north of the Orange River, on the western coast of
Africa; a country of which the following description was given by an
individual who had spent many years there: "Sir, you will find plenty of
sand and stones, a thinly scattered population, always suffering from
want of water, on plains and hills roasted like a burnt leaf, under the
scorching rays of a cloudless sun."

The missionaries, after a journey of great difficulty and suffering,
reached the land of the Namaquas, and halted for a time at a place which
they named "Silent Hope," and then at "Happy Deliverance;" finally they
settled at a spot, about one hundred miles westward of Africaner's
kraal, called Warm Bath. Here, for a time, their prospects continued
cheering. They were instant in season and out of season to advance the
temporal and spiritual interests of the natives; though labouring in a
debilitating climate; and in want of the common necessaries of life.
Their congregation was increased by the desperado Jager, afterwards
Christian Africaner, a Hottentot outlaw, who, with part of his people,
occasionally attended to the instructions of the missionaries; and they
visited the kraal of this robber chieftain in return. It was here that
he first heard the Gospel, and, referring afterwards to his condition at
this time, he said that he saw "men as trees walking."

Terrible trials soon came upon these devoted missionaries. Abraham
Albrecht, one of their number died, and Africaner, becoming enraged,
threatened an attack upon the station. The situation of the missionaries
and their wives was most distressing. Among a feeble and timid people,
with scarcely any means of defence, a bare country around, no mountain,
glen, or cave in which they could take refuge, under a burning sun and
on a glowing plain, distant two hundred miles from the abodes of
civilised men, between which and them lay the dreary wilderness and the
Orange River; such was their position, with the human lion in his lair,
ready to rouse himself up to deeds of rapine and blood.

For a whole month they were in constant terror, hourly expecting the
threatened attack. Their souls revolted at the idea of abandoning the
people, who were suffering from want, to become a prey to a man from
whom they could expect no quarter. On one occasion they dug a square
hole in the ground, about six feet deep, that in case of an attack they
might escape the musket balls. In this they remained for the space of a
week, having the tilt sail of a waggon thrown over the mouth of the pit
to keep off the burning rays of an almost vertical sun. Eventually they
withdrew northward to the base of the Karas mountains, but finding it
impossible to settle, retired to the Colony.

Africaner approached the station, and finding it deserted, plundered it
of whatever articles could be found; one of his followers afterwards
setting fire to the houses and huts. Thus for a season, this mission was
brought to a close. It was after a time resumed at a place south of the
Orange River named Pella.

Thus missions in South Africa had been commenced, stations among the
Hottentots and others had been formed, good work had been done, and the
way pioneered. The field was opened and it was wide, but as yet the
labourers were few.

At the time when Vanderkemp closed his eyes on this world, a lad was
working as an apprentice to a Scotch gardener, rising in the dense
darkness of the cold winter's mornings at four o'clock, and warming his
knuckles by knocking them against the handle of his spade. He was
passing through a hard training, but this lad was being prepared to take
up the work which Vanderkemp had so well begun, though in a somewhat
different sphere, and to repair the loss which had been sustained by the
missionary cause through his death. The name of this lad was Robert




Robert Moffat was born on the 21st of December, 1795. His parents dwelt
at that time at Ormiston, in East Lothian, Scotland. They were pious
God-fearing people; the mother though holding a stern religious faith,
yet possessed a most tender loving heart, and very early sought to
instil into the minds and hearts of her children the love of God and a
knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

Of the early childhood of the future missionary very little is stated.
In 1797 his father received an appointment in the Custom House at
Portsoy, and in 1806 the home of the Moffats was at Carronshore, on the
Firth of Forth. At this time the family consisted of four sons and two
daughters, besides the subject of this memoir.

A glimpse of the interior of their cottage, during the long winter
evenings, is given, which shows how the mother by her gentle influence
may become the means of sowing seed, which shall spring up in after
years bearing fruit a hundred-fold. The lads were gathered by the
fireside learning to knit and sew, and while so engaged their mother,
who took great interest in the missionary enterprises then carried on,
read aloud, in such publications as she could obtain, the descriptions
given of the work and sufferings of the pioneer labourers in heathen
lands, more especially of the Moravians in Greenland and the East

Of educational advantages, Robert had but few in his early days. One,
"Wully Mitchell," as he was popularly called, the parish schoolmaster
was his first tutor; and "the Shorter Catechism," the title-page of
which contained the alphabet, his first instruction book. His progress
was but slow, his hands often being made to suffer for the dullness of
his brains. A boy living in the midst of shipping, his desires were more
for nautical matters than for Wully's books, and so he ran off to sea.
The captain of the ship on which he was, became much attached to the
lad, so with his parent's consent, he made several voyages in the
coasting trade. Many hairbreadth escapes fell to his lot, and at last he
quitted the sea, as he states "to the no small joy of my parents."

When about eleven he accompanied his elder brother, Alexander, to Mr.
Paton's school at Falkirk. This school was for writing and book-keeping,
but such as chose to pay received lessons in astronomy and geography
after school hours. Alexander was one of these, and Robert was allowed
to wait for his brother in the large room while the class was being
conducted. "I felt queer," he tells us "to know what the master was
doing within the circle, and used to look very attentively through any
little slip of an opening under an elbow, while I eagerly listened to
the illustrations given, the master all the while never suspecting that
I was capable of understanding the planetary system. What I could not
understand my brother explained on our way home." In this manner he
picked up some knowledge of astronomy.

At this school the lad continued for six months. It was the last he ever

When about fourteen, Robert Moffat was apprenticed to a gardener, named
John Robertson, a just but hard man, who lived at Parkhill, Polmont. The
toil was severe and the food scanty. Often in the bitter cold of a
Scottish winter the lads employed were required to commence work at four
o'clock in the morning, and had to hammer their knuckles against the
handles of their spades to try and bring some feeling into them. Here he
remained till the end of 1812.

While thus engaged, he managed to attend an evening class occasionally,
and made an attempt at learning Latin and mensuration. He also picked up
some knowledge of the smith's craft, and acquired sufficient skill to
play a little on the violin. A special craving, which stood him in good
stead in after life, impelled him to learn something of whatever he came
in contact with.

Upon the completion of his apprenticeship, in 1812, he obtained a
situation at Donibristle, a seat of the Earl of Moray at Aberdour. Here,
he delighted his fellow-workers of an evening by his violin
performances, was fond of athletic sports, in which he excelled, and
became an accomplished swimmer, saving the life of one of his
companions, who having got out of his depth was in imminent danger of

In this situation he continued about a twelvemonth, and then, being
about sixteen, he found employment as under-gardener to Mr. Leigh, of
High Leigh, in Cheshire. While at Donibristle he had been able to
frequently visit his parents; the time had now come when he must bid
them adieu.

The parting scene between Robert and his mother has been sketched by his
own hand and appeared in the Bible Society's "Gleanings for the Young."
It is described as follows:--

"When we came within sight of the spot where we were to part, perhaps
never again to meet in this world, she said--

"'Now, my Robert, let us stand here for a few minutes, for I wish to ask
one favour of you before we part, and I know you will not refuse to do
what your mother asks.'

"'What is it, mother?' I inquired.

"'Do promise me first that you will do what I am now going to ask, and I
shall tell you.'

"'No, mother, I cannot till you tell me what your wish is.'

"'O Robert, can you think for a moment that I shall ask you, my son, to
do anything that is not right? Do not I love you?'

"'Yes, mother, I know you do; but I do not like to make promises which I
may not be able to fulfil.'

"I kept my eyes fixed on the ground. I was silent, trying to resist the
rising emotion. She sighed deeply. I lifted my eyes and saw the big
tears rolling down the cheeks which were wont to press mine. I was
conquered, and as soon as I could recover speech, I said--

"'O mother! ask what you will and I shall do it.'

"'I only ask you whether you will read a chapter in the Bible every
morning and another every evening?'

"I interrupted by saying, 'Mother, you know I read my Bible.'

"'I know you do, but you do not read it regularly, or as a duty you owe
to God, its Author.' And she added: 'Now I shall return home with a
happy heart, inasmuch as you have promised to read the Scriptures
daily. O Robert, my son, read much in the New Testament. Read much in
the Gospels--the blessed Gospels; then you cannot well go astray. If you
pray, the Lord Himself will teach you.'

"I parted from my beloved mother, now long gone to that mansion about
which she loved to speak. I went on my way, and ere long found myself
among strangers. My charge was an important one for a youth, and though
possessing a muscular frame and a mind full of energy, it required all
to keep pace with the duty which devolved upon me. I lived at a
considerable distance from what are called the means of grace, and the
Sabbaths were not always at my command. I met with none who appeared to
make religion their chief concern. I mingled, when opportunities
offered, with the gay and godless in what are considered innocent
amusements, where I soon became a favourite; _but I never forgot my
promise to my mother_."

After several delays, High Leigh was reached on Saturday, 26th December,
1813, and there the young man found himself surrounded by a genial
atmosphere. The head gardener took to him, and soon left a great deal in
his hands. This made his work very heavy and responsible; but, although
labouring almost day and night, he yet managed to devote some time to
the study of such books as he could obtain. The kindly notice of Mrs.
Leigh was attracted to him, and she lent him books, and encouraged him
to studious pursuits.

In very early years serious impressions had been made upon the heart of
Robert Moffat. The earnest teachings of his minister, combined with his
mother's counsels and prayers, left recollections which could never be
effaced. These impressions were now to be deepened, and the good seed
that had been sown to be quickened. The Wesleyan Methodists had
commenced a good work at High Leigh, and a pious Methodist and his wife
induced Moffat to attend some of their meetings. He became convinced of
his state as a sinner, and unhappy, but after a severe and protracted
struggle, he found pardon, justification, and peace, through faith in
Jesus Christ, and henceforth his life was devoted to the service of his
Lord. Energetically he threw himself into the society and work of his
new friends, but by so doing, lost the goodwill of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh,
who were grieved that one in whom they took so much interest should have
become a Methodist. So were these good people despised by many in those

At this time Robert's worldly prospects were brightening, and a position
of honour and comfort seemed opening before him. But the anticipations
of that day were not to be.

Apparently unimportant events frequently determine the whole course of
our lives, and a simple incident was now about to change the current of
this young man's life, and to convert the rising gardener into the
God-honoured and much-beloved missionary. How this came to pass we now

While at High Leigh, Robert Moffat had occasion to visit Warrington, a
town about six miles distant He set off one calm summer evening. All
nature seemed at rest, and thoughts of God and a feeling of admiration
for His handiworks took possession of the young man's mind. His life was
reviewed, and with thoughts full of hope he entered the town. Passing
over a bridge he noticed a placard. It contained the announcement of a
missionary meeting, over which the Rev. William Roby, of Manchester, was
to preside. He had never seen such an announcement before. He read the
placard over and over again, and, as he did so, the stories told by his
mother of the Moravian missionaries in Greenland and Labrador, which had
been forgotten for years, came vividly to mind. From that moment, his
choice was made; earthly prospects vanished: his one thought was, "how
to become a missionary?"

Many difficulties seemed to stand in the way between Robert and the
accomplishment of his desire, but the same Divine power which had
implanted the desire, prepared the way for its fulfilment. He visited
Manchester, shortly after the event just related, to be present at a
Wesleyan Conference; and while there, with much hesitancy and
trepidation, ventured to knock at the door of Mr. Roby's house and
request an interview with that gentleman. He was shown into the parlour,
and the man whom he had been hoping, yet dreaded, to see, quickly made
his appearance. "He received me with great kindness," said Moffat,
"listened to my simple tale, took me by the hand, and told me to be of
good courage."

The result of this interview was a promise on Mr. Roby's part to write
to the Directors of the London Missionary Society concerning him, and to
communicate their wishes to him as soon as they were received. In the
meantime Robert returned to his ordinary occupation.

After waiting a few weeks a summons came from Mr. Roby for Moffat to
visit Manchester again; and, with the view of his studying under the
care and instruction of that reverend gentleman, it was arranged that he
should accept a situation in a nursery garden belonging to Mr. Smith, at
Dukinfield, that place being near at hand. Moffat continued here about a
year, visiting Mr. Roby once or twice each week. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
were a pious and worthy couple, and their house was a house of call for
ministers. They were always ready for every good work whether at home or

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths," is one
of the maxims of Holy Writ that should be engraven upon the heart and
mind of every youth and maiden. Robert Moffat's desire was for the glory
of God and the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, and God was not only
opening the way for His servant, but was preparing a faithful and
devoted helpmate for him in his various spheres of labour through life.

Robert's employer had an only daughter, named Mary, beautiful of
countenance, but more beautiful in heart. She had been educated at the
Moravian school at Fairfield, and was distinguished for fervent piety
and deep sympathy with the missionary cause. The two young folks were
thrown together, mutual esteem deepened into love, and the maiden,
possessed with so large a missionary spirit, was prepared to share the
lot of the young herald of the Cross. For a time, however, it was
ordained that Robert should pursue his course alone.

After being at Dukinfield nearly a year, the Directors resolved to
accept the services of Robert Moffat. He left Mr. Smith's employment and
removed to Manchester, so that he might be close to Mr. Roby, to receive
such superintendence as was possible in his studies. This period
extended to but a few months, so that of college training and
opportunities Robert had little experience.

The time rapidly drew near for his departure abroad. A hurried visit was
paid to the parents whom he never expected to see again, and then he
awaited his call to the mission field.

On the 13th of September, 1816, after bidding farewell to Mr. Roby,
whose "kindness, like that of a father," wrote Moffat, "will not be
easily obliterated from my mind," he started for London. While in the
Metropolis he visited the Museum at the Rooms of the London Missionary
Society, and the following extract from a letter to his parents, in
connection with this visit, shows the spirit which actuated the youthful
missionary at this time:--

"I spent some time in viewing the Museum, which contains a great number
of curiosities from China, Africa, the South Seas, and the West Indies.
It would be foolish for me to give you a description. Suffice it to say
that the sight is truly awful, the appearance of the wild beasts is very
terrific, but I am unable to describe the sensations of my mind when
gazing on the objects of Pagan worship. Alas! how fallen are my
fellow-creatures, bowing down to forms enough to frighten a Roman
soldier, enough to shake the hardest heart. Oh that I had a thousand
lives, and a thousand bodies; all of them should be devoted to no other
employment but to preach Christ to these degraded, despised, yet beloved

With such enthusiasm he prepared to enter upon the work that lay before





The valedictory service was held at Surrey Chapel on the 30th of
September. Nine missionaries were set apart; four for the South Seas,
one of whom was John Williams, the martyr of Erromanga, and five for
South Africa. At first it had been intended that Robert Moffat should
accompany John Williams, but this was subsequently altered.

The missionaries for Africa embarked at Gravesend on the 18th of October
in the _Alacrity_, and after a prosperous voyage reached Cape Town on
the 13th of January, 1817.

Two of the party were appointed to stations within the colony; Moffat
and Kitchingman were destined for Namaqualand. Before they could proceed
on their journey, however, permission had to be obtained from the
Government, and this was at first refused.

While detained in the colony, Moffat lodged with a Dutch farmer, at a
village thirty-six miles from Cape Town, named Stellenbosch. Here he
learnt Dutch, an acquisition of great advantage to him in after life, as
it enabled him to preach to the Boers, and to as many of their native
servants as understood that language. He also accompanied the Rev.
George Thorn, of the Dutch Reformed Church, on an evangelistic tour. It
occupied six weeks, during which time they rode a distance of about
seven hundred miles.

After a further sojourn at Stellenbosch, Moffat visited Cape Town, and
busied himself in gaining such practical knowledge as came within his
reach. He also visited the military hospital there. Many of the soldiers
were Scotch, and he had a warm heart for soldiers, his brother Alexander
having gone to India in the ranks some years before.

At last the requisite permission came, and Moffat and Kitchingman
prepared for their journey. Waggons were bought, oxen hired, leave taken
of friends, and on the 22nd of September, 1817, Mr. and Mrs.
Kitchingman, Robert Moffat, and a missionary named Ebner, who, for a
time, had been with Africaner, and who had come to Cape Town for
supplies, set out on their way to Namaqualand.

The history of the Namaqualand Mission has been sketched in outline in
our introductory chapter. Africaner, although an outlaw and a terror to
the farmers of the colony, had a respect for the English. He visited the
missionaries on one occasion, prior to their removal to Warm Bath, and
said, "I love the English, for I have always heard that they are the
friends of the poor black man." He also sent his children to them for
instruction; yet subsequent events, as we have seen, enraged him, and
led him to destroy the mission station at Warm Bath.

The Rev. J. Campbell, in his first visit to Africa, 1812-1814, crossed
the interior of the continent to Namaqualand. During his journey, he
found in every village through which he passed the terror of
Africaner's name; and he afterwards said "that he and his retinue never
were so afraid in their lives." From Pella, where the mission station
then was, Mr. Campbell wrote a conciliatory letter to Africaner, in
consequence of which that chieftain agreed to receive a missionary at
his kraal. Mr. Ebner had been sent from Pella, and had been labouring
for a short time previous to his visit to the Cape in 1817. Good had
been accomplished, Africaner and his two brothers, David and Jacobus,
had been baptised, but then the situation of the missionary became
extremely trying, he lost influence with the people, and his property,
and even his life, were in danger.

Soon after leaving Cape Town, Mr. Ebner parted company with the
Kitchingmans and Moffat, and they pursued their way alone. The details
of the journey illustrate the difficulties of travelling in South Africa
in those days. "In perils oft," aptly expresses the condition of the
missionary in his wanderings, as he travelled mile after mile, often
over dreary wastes of burning sand, famished with hunger, parched with
thirst, with the howl of the hyena and the roar of the lion disturbing
his slumbers at night, and with Bushmen, more savage than either,
hovering near, ever ready to attack the weak and defenceless.

The farmers, from whom the travellers received hospitality as they
passed the boundaries of the colony, were very sceptical as to the
conversion of Africaner, and gloomy indeed were their predictions as to
the fate of the youthful missionary now venturing into the power of the
outlaw chief. One said Africaner would set him up for his boys to shoot
at, another that he would strip off his skin to make a drum with, and a
third predicted he would make a drinking-cup of his skull. A kind
motherly dame said, as she wiped the tear from her eye and bade him
farewell, "Had you been an old man it would have been nothing, for you
would soon have died, whether or no; but you are young, and going to
become a prey to that monster."

On one occasion Moffat halted at a farm belonging to a Boer, a man of
wealth and importance, who had many slaves. Hearing that he was a
missionary, the farmer gave him a hearty welcome, and proposed in the
evening that he should give them a service. To this he readily assented,
and supper being ended, a clearance was made, the big Bible and the
psalm-books were brought out, and the family was seated. Moffat inquired
for the servants, "May none of your servants come in?" said he.

"Servants! what do you mean?"

"I mean the Hottentots, of whom I see so many on your farm."

"Hottentots!" roared the man, "are you come to preach to Hottentots? Go
to the mountains and preach to the baboons; or, if you like, I'll fetch
my dogs, and you may preach to them."

The missionary said no more but commenced the service. He had intended
to challenge the "neglect of so great salvation," but with ready wit
seizing upon the theme suggested by his rough entertainer, he read the
story of the Syrophenician woman, and took for his text the words,
"Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their
masters' table." He had not proceeded far in his discourse when the
farmer stopped him, saying, "Will Mynherr sit down and wait a little, he
shall have the Hottentots."

He was as good as his word, the barn was crowded, the sermon was
preached, and the astonished Hottentots dispersed. "Who," said the
farmer, "hardened your hammer to deal my head such a blow? I'll never
object to the preaching of the Gospel to Hottentots again."

After a toilsome march, during which Mr. Kitchingman and Moffat took it
in turn to drive the cattle, losing some through the hyenas by the way,
they reached Bysondermeid, to which station Mr. and Mrs. Kitchingman had
been appointed. There Robert stayed one month, receiving much useful
information from Mr. Schmelen, the missionary whom Mr. Kitchingman had
come to replace, he having been ordered to Great Namaqualand, where he
had laboured before.

At length, his oxen being rested, Robert Moffat bade adieu to Mr. and
Mrs. Kitchingman, whose friendship he much valued, and with a guide and
drivers for the oxen started onward. Their way led through a
comparatively trackless desert, and they travelled nearly the whole
night through deep sand. Those were not the days of railway trains, and
travelling had to be undertaken in cumbrous, springless bullock-waggons,
several spare oxen being taken to provide for losses and casualties.
Towards morning the oxen were so exhausted that they began to lie down
in the yoke from fatigue, compelling a halt before water had been
reached. The journey was resumed the next day, but still no water could
be found.

As it appeared probable that if they continued in the same direction,
they would perish through thirst, they altered their course to the
northward, but the experiences were as bad as before. At night they lay
down exhausted and suffering extremely from thirst, and the next morning
rose at an early hour to find the oxen incapable of moving the waggon a
step farther. Taking them and a spade to a neighbouring mountain, a
large hole was dug in the sand, and at last a scanty supply of water was
obtained. This resembled the old bilge-water of a ship for foulness, but
both men and oxen drank of it with avidity.


In the evening, when about to yoke the oxen to the waggon, it was found
that most of them had run off towards Bysondermeid. No time was to be
lost, so Moffat instantly sent off the remaining oxen with two men to
solicit assistance from Mr. Bartlett at Pella, while he remained
behind with his goods. "Three days," said he afterwards, "I remained
with my waggon-driver on this burning plain, with scarcely a breath of
wind, and what there was felt as if coming from the mouth of an oven. We
had only tufts of dry grass to make a small fire or rather flame; and
little was needed as we had scarcely any food to prepare. We saw no
human being, not a single antelope or beast of prey made its appearance,
but in the dead of night we sometimes heard the roar of the lion on the
mountain. At last when we were beginning to fear that the men had either
perished or wandered, Mr. Bartlett arrived on horseback, with two men
having a quantity of mutton tied to their saddles. I cannot conceive of
an epicure gazing on a table groaning under the weight of viands, with
half the delight that I did on the mutton."


Fresh oxen, accustomed to deep sand, conveyed the weary travellers to
Pella, where Moffat remained a few days, being greatly invigorated in
mind and body by the Christian kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Bartlett and the
friendly attentions of the heathen converts.

Starting again, he came to the Orange River, crossing which was
generally a work of difficulty at that time. The native teacher from
Warm Bath, who had come to Pella to conduct Moffat to his village, led
the missionary to a ford opposite to that place. The waggon and its
contents were swam over on a fragile raft of dry willow logs--a
laborious and tedious operation, the raft having to be taken to pieces
after each journey, and the separate logs conveyed back again by
swimmers. All the goods being over, Robert was asked to place himself
upon the raft. Not altogether liking its appearance, and also wishing
to save the natives trouble, he took off his clothes and, leaving them
to be conveyed across, plunged into the stream. The natives were afraid
as they saw him approach the middle of the current, and some of their
most expert swimmers sprang in to overtake him, but in vain. When he
emerged on the northern bank, one of them came up out of breath and
said, "Were you born in the great sea water?"

Robert Moffat reached Africaner's kraal on the 26th of January, 1818,
and was kindly received by Mr. Ebner. The chief soon made his
appearance, and inquired if the new missionary had been appointed by the
Directors in London. Receiving an affirmative reply, he ordered a number
of women to come. Then pointing to a spot of ground he said to the
women, "There you must build a house for the missionary." In half an
hour the structure was completed, in appearance something like a
bee-hive. In this frail house, of sticks and native mats, Moffat lived
for nearly six months, being scorched by the sun, drenched by the rain,
exposed to the wind, and obliged often to decamp through the clouds of
dust; in addition to which, any dog wishing for a night's lodging could
force its way through the wall, sometimes to the loss of the
missionary's dinner next day. A serpent was occasionally found coiled in
a corner, or the indweller of the habitation had to spring up, in the
middle of the night, to save himself and his house from being crushed to
pieces during the nocturnal affrays of the cattle which roamed at large.
He lived principally upon milk and dried meat, until, after a time, he
was able to raise a little grain and garden stuff.

A few days after Moffat's arrival, Mr. Ebner departed, so that the young
missionary was left entirely alone in a trying and most difficult
position, a stranger in the midst of a strange people. "Here I was,"
said he, "left alone with a people suspicious in the extreme; jealous of
their rights which they had obtained at the point of the sword; and the
best of whom Mr. Ebner described as a sharp thorn. I had no friend and
brother with whom I could participate in the communion of saints, none
to whom I could look for counsel or advice. A barren and miserable
country; a small salary, about twenty-five pounds per annum. No grain,
and consequently no bread, and no prospect of getting any, from the want
of water to cultivate the ground, and destitute of the means of sending
to the Colony. These circumstances led to great searchings of heart, to
see if I had hitherto aimed at doing and suffering the will of Him in
whose service I had embarked. Satisfied that I had not run unsent, and
having in the intricate, and sometimes obscure course I had come, heard
the still small voice saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it,' I was
wont to pour out my soul among the granite rocks surrounding this
station, now in sorrow, and then in joy; and more than once I have taken
my violin, once belonging to Christian Albrecht, and, reclining upon one
of the huge masses, have, in the stillness of the evening, played and
sung the well-known hymn, a favourite of my mother's--

    'Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
    To sing the great Redeemer's praise.'"

Robert Moffat looked to his God for help and guidance, and his heart was

At this period the chief, Christian Africaner, was in a doubtful state
of mind; while Titus, his brother, a man of almost reckless courage, was
a fearful example of ungodliness, and a terror to most of the
inhabitants on the station. Soon after the commencement of his stated
services--which were, according to the custom of the missionaries at
that period, religious service morning and evening, and school for three
or four hours during the day--the heart of the youthful missionary was
much cheered by noticing the regular attendance of the chief. Although
not a fluent reader, the New Testament became his constant companion,
and a change passed over him apparent to all. The lion at whose name
many trembled became a lamb, and the love of Jesus Christ filled his
heart. He who was formerly like a fire-brand, spreading discord, enmity,
and war among the neighbouring tribes, was now ready to make any
sacrifice to avoid conflict, and besought parties at variance with each
other to be at peace.

Even Titus was subdued, and although he never made a profession, yet he
became a steady and unwavering friend to the missionary, and many times
ministered to his wants. "I hear what you say," he would reply when the
truth was pressed upon him, "and I think I sometimes understand, but my
heart will not feel." Two other brothers of the chief, David and
Jacobus, became believers and zealous assistants in the work of the

The extreme heat endured in the native house, and the character of the
food, milk and meat only, brought on a severe attack of bilious fever,
which in the course of two days induced delirium. Opening his eyes as
soon as consciousness returned, Moffat saw his attendant and Africaner
sitting beside his couch, gazing upon him with eyes full of sympathy and
tenderness. Taking some calomel he speedily recovered, and was soon at
his post again.

The place where Africaner dwelt being quite unsuitable for a permanent
mission-station, on account of the scarcity of water, it was determined
to take a journey northward to examine a country on the border of
Damaraland, where it was reported that fountains of water abounded.
There was, however, only one waggon and that a cripple, and neither
carpenters nor smiths were at the station to repair it. Without it they
could not go, so after thinking the matter over Moffat undertook its
repair. Before doing so he must needs have a forge, and a forge meant
bellows; but here was a difficulty, the native bellows were of no use
for the work in hand. He therefore contrived, by means of two goat-skins
and a circular piece of board, to make a pair of bellows of sufficient
power to fan the fire and heat the iron, and with a blue granite stone
for an anvil, a pair of tongs indicative of Vulcan's first efforts, and
a hammer, never intended for its present use, he successfully
accomplished his task, and afterwards repaired some gun-locks, which
were as essential for the comfort and success of the journey as the

The party that set out was a large one, including Africaner, three of
his brothers, and Moffat. The country which they passed through was
sterile in the extreme, and the expedition proved a failure. They
therefore returned home again after an absence of a few weeks. The
school and mission services were resumed, but, as David and Jacobus
Africaner were now able assistants, Moffat undertook itinerating visits
on a more extensive scale than he had done before. For this purpose
Titus presented him with his only horse. Previously Moffat had ridden
upon a bullock with horns, a dangerous practice, as, if the bullock
stumbles, the rider may be thrown forward and transfixed upon them.

Privations and dangers frequently attended these itinerating journeys.
Referring to one of them Robert Moffat states, "After tying my Bible and
hymn-book in a blanket to the back of my saddle, and taking a good
draught of milk, I started with my interpreter, who rode upon an ox. We
had our guns, but nothing in our purse or scrip, save a pipe, some
tobacco, and a tinder-box. After a hot day's ride to reach a village,
the people would give us a draught of sweet milk, and then old and
young, assembling in a nook of the fold, among the kine, would listen to
my address on the great concerns of their soul's salvation. I exhorted
those who could read to read to others and try to teach them to do the
same, promising them a reward in heaven, for I had none to give on
earth. When service was over, having taken another draught of milk, and
renewed my conversation with the people, I lay down on a mat to repose
for the night. Sometimes a kind housewife would hang a bamboos, a wooden
vessel filled with milk, on a forked stick near my head, that I might,
if necessary, drink during the night."

Once he slept on the ground near the hut in which the principal man of
the village and his wife reposed. During the night a noise as of cattle
broken loose was heard. In the morning he remarked upon this to his
host, when that individual replied, "Oh, I was looking at the spoor this
morning, it was the lion!" adding that a few nights previously a goat
had been seized from the very spot on which Moffat had been sleeping.
Upon Moffat asking him why he had put him to sleep there, the man
replied, "Oh, the lion would not have the audacity to jump over on you."

Sometimes it happened that after travelling all day, hoping to reach a
village at night, the travellers would find when they got to the place
that all the people had gone. Then hungry and thirsty they had to pass
the night. In the morning after searching for water, and partaking of a
draught if they were successful in finding it, they would start off
again with their hunger unsatisfied, and deem themselves fortunate if
they overtook the migrating party that evening.

Of his ordinary manner of living at this time, he says, "My food was
milk and meat, living for weeks together on one, and then for a while on
the other, and again on both together. All was well so long as I had
either, but sometimes they both failed, and there were no shops in the
country where I could have purchased, and, had there been any, I must
have bought on credit, for money I had none."

His wardrobe bore the same impress of poverty as his larder. The clothes
received when in London soon went to pieces, and the knowledge of sewing
and knitting, unwillingly learnt from his mother, often now stood him in
good stead. She once showed him how a shirt might be smoothed by folding
it properly and hammering it with a piece of wood. Resolving one day to
have a nice one for the Sabbath, Moffat tried this plan. He folded the
shirt carefully, laid it on a smooth block of stone--not a hearth-stone,
but a block of fine granite--and hammered away. "What are you doing?"
said Africaner. "Smoothing my shirt," replied his white friend. "That is
one way," said he, and so it was, for on holding the shirt up to the
light it was seen to be riddled with holes. "When I left the country,"
said Moffat, "I had not half-a-dozen shirts with two sleeves apiece."


Robert Moffat's stay in Namaqualand extended to a little over twelve
months. Near its close he made on Africaner's account--with the view of
ascertaining the suitability of a place for settlement--a journey to
the Griqua country, and after a terrible experience, in which he
suffered from hunger, thirst, heat, and drinking poisoned water, he
reached Griqua Town, and entered the house of Mr. Anderson, the
missionary there, speechless, haggard, emaciated, and covered with
perspiration, making the inmates understand by signs that he needed
water. Here he was most kindly entertained, and after a few days started
back again. The return journey was almost as trying as the outward one,
but he reached Vreede Berg (Africaner's village) in safety. The chief
received Moffat's account of his researches with entire satisfaction,
but the removal of himself and people was allowed to remain prospective
for a season.

Missionary labours were resumed. The school flourished, and the
attendance at the Sabbath services was most encouraging. The people were
so strongly attached to their missionary, that although he was
contemplating a visit to the Cape, he dared not mention the subject to
them. In a letter written at this time, alluding to his every-day life,
he says, "I have many difficulties to encounter, being alone. No one can
do anything for me in my household affairs. I must attend to everything,
which often confuses me, and, indeed, hinders me in my work, for I could
wish to have almost nothing to do but to instruct the heathen, both
spiritually and temporally. Daily I do a little in the garden, daily I
am doing something for the people in mending guns. I am carpenter,
smith, cooper, shoemaker, miller, baker, and housekeeper--the last is
the most burdensome of any. An old Namaqua woman milks my cows, makes a
fire, and washes. All other things I do myself, though I seldom prepare
anything till impelled by hunger. I drink plenty of milk, and often eat
a piece of dry meat. Lately I reaped nearly two bolls of wheat from two
hatfuls which I sowed. This is of great help to me. I shall soon have
plenty of Indian corn, cabbages, melons, and potatoes. Water is scarce.
I have sown wheat a second time on trial. I live chiefly now on bread
and milk. To-day I churned about three Scotch pints of milk, from which
there were two pounds of butter, so you may conceive that the milk is
rich. I wish many times that my mother saw me. My house is always clean,
but oh what a confusion there is among my linen."

In November, 1818, letters reached Robert Moffat from England. One came
from Miss Smith, in which that young lady stated that she had most
reluctantly renounced hope of ever getting abroad, her father
determining never to allow her to do so. This was a sore trial, but it
only led the child closer to his Father, and that Father, who doeth all
things well, in His own good time, brought to pass that which now seemed

Early in 1819, circumstances required Mr. Moffat to visit Cape Town.
Conversing with Africaner on the state and prospects of missions, the
idea flashed into Moffat's mind that it would be well for that chief to
accompany him, and he suggested it to his coloured friend. Africaner was
astonished. "I had thought you loved me," said he, "and do you advise me
to go to the Government to be hung up as a spectacle of public justice?"
Then, putting his hand to his head, he said, "Do you not know that I am
an outlaw, and that one thousand rix-dollars have been offered for this
poor head?" After a little while he replied to the missionary's
arguments by saying, "I shall deliberate and _roll_ (using the words of
the Dutch Version of the Bible) my way upon the Lord. I know He will
not leave me."

[Illustration: AFRICANER.]

To get Africaner safely through the territories of the Dutch farmers to
the Cape was a hazardous proceeding, as the atrocities he had committed
were not forgotten, and hatred against him still rankled in many a
breast. However, attired in one of the only two substantial shirts
Moffat had left, a pair of leather trousers, a duffel jacket, much the
worse for wear, and an old hat, neither white nor black, the attempt was
made, the chief passing as one of the missionary's attendants. His
master's costume was scarcely more refined than his own.

As a whole, the Dutch farmers were kind and hospitable to strangers,
and as Moffat reached their farms, some of them congratulated him on
returning alive, they having been assured that Africaner had long since
murdered him. At one farm a novel and amusing instance occurred of the
state of feeling concerning them both. As they drew near to this place,
Moffat directed his men to take his waggon to the valley below while he
walked towards the house, which was situated on an eminence. As he
advanced the farmer came forward slowly to meet him. Stretching forth
his hand with the customary salutation, the farmer put his hand behind
him, and asked who the stranger was. The stranger replied that he was

"Moffat!" exclaimed the sturdy Boer in a faltering voice, "it is your

"I am no ghost," said the supposed phantom.

"Don't come near me," said the farmer, "you have been long since
murdered by Africaner. Everybody says you were murdered, and a man told
me he had seen your bones."

As the farmer feared the presence of the supposed ghost would alarm his
wife, both wended their way to the waggon, Africaner being the subject
of conversation as they walked along. Moffat declared his opinion that
the chief was then a truly good man.

"I can believe almost anything you say," said the Boer, "but that I
cannot credit."

Finally he closed the conversation by saying with much earnestness:
"Well, if what you assert be true respecting that man, I have only one
wish, and that is to see him before I die, and when you return, as sure
as the sun is over our heads, I will go with you to see him, though he
killed my own uncle."

The farmer was a good man, who had showed Moffat kindness on his way to
Namaqualand. Knowing his sincerity and the goodness of his disposition,
Moffat turned to the man sitting by the waggon, and addressing the
farmer said, "This, then, is Africaner."

With a start, and a look as though the man might have dropped from the
clouds, the worthy Boer exclaimed, "Are _you_ Africaner?"

Africaner arose, doffed his old hat, and making a polite bow replied, "I

The farmer seemed thunderstruck, but on realising the fact, lifted up
his eyes and said, "O God, what a miracle of Thy power! what cannot Thy
grace accomplish!"

On reaching Cape Town, Robert Moffat waited upon Lord Charles Somerset,
the Governor, and informed him that Africaner was in the town. The
information was received with some amount of scepticism, but the
following day was appointed for an interview with him.

The Governor received the chief with great affability and kindness, and
expressed his pleasure at thus seeing before him, one who had formerly
been the scourge of the country, and the terror of the border colonists.
He was much struck with this palpable result of missionary enterprise,
and presented Africaner with an excellent waggon, valued at eighty

Moffat visited the colony on this occasion with two objects; first, to
secure supplies, and secondly, to introduce Africaner to the notice of
the Colonial Government. Having accomplished these, he fully intended to
return to his flock. Events were, however, ordered otherwise.

While Moffat was in Cape Town, a deputation from the London Missionary
Society, consisting of the Rev. J. Campbell, and the Rev. Dr. Philip,
was also there. It was the wish of these two gentleman that he should
accompany them in their visits to the missionary stations, and
eventually be appointed to the Bechwana mission.

The proposition was a startling one, but after careful thought, and with
the entire concurrence of Africaner--who hoped to move with his tribe to
the neighbourhood of the new mission--Moffat accepted it. Africaner
therefore departed alone, generously offering to take in his waggon to
Lattakoo, the new station, the missionary's books and a few articles of
furniture that he had purchased.

Once more these two brethren in the faith met on this earth, and this
was at Lattakoo. The proposed removal of the tribe, however, never took
place, Africaner being called up higher before that plan could be
carried out.

The closing scene in the life of this remarkable man was depicted by the
Rev. J. Archbell, Wesleyan missionary, in a letter to Dr. Philip, dated
the 14th of March, 1823:--"When he found his end approaching, he called
all the people together, and gave them directions as to their future
conduct. 'We are not,' said he, 'what we were,--_savages_, but men
professing to be taught according to the Gospel. Let us then do
accordingly. Live peaceably with all men, if possible; and if
impossible, consult those who are placed over you before you engage in
anything. Remain together, as you have done since I knew you. Then, when
the Directors think fit to send you a missionary, you may be ready to
receive him. Behave to any teacher you may have sent as one sent of God,
as I have great hope that God will bless you in this respect when I am
gone to heaven. I feel that I love God, and that He has done much for
me, of which I am totally unworthy,'

"He also added, 'My former life is stained with blood; but Jesus Christ
has pardoned me, and I am going to heaven. Oh! beware of falling into
the same evils into which I have led you frequently; but seek God, and
He will be found of you to direct you,'"

Shortly after this he died.





Up to this time, Robert Moffat had pursued his course alone. No loving
helpmeet had cheered him in his efforts, or with womanly tenderness
ministered to his wants. But though far away, he was fondly remembered
and earnestly prayed for, especially by one noble Christian lady, over
whose fair head scarce twenty-three summers had passed, and whose heart
had been torn with the severe struggle, between filial love and regard
for her parents on the one hand, and her sense of duty and affection for
her missionary friend on the other, which for two and a-half years had
been carried on therein.

At last, when hope seemed to have vanished, the parents of Mary Smith,
to whom the idea of parting with their only daughter was painful in the
extreme, saw so clearly that it was the Lord who was calling their child
to the work which He had marked out for her, that they felt they dare
not any longer withhold her from it, and therefore calmly resigned their
daughter into His hands. Thus it came to pass that,--after a short stay
in London, and at Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, at which places she won
all hearts by her unfeigned and exalted piety and zeal, and by her
modest, affectionate manner,--we find her on board the sailing-ship
_British Colony_, on her way to South Africa, in the care of the Rev. R.
Beck, a minister of the Dutch Church, and his wife.

As arranged, the deputation, accompanied by Robert Moffat, left Cape
Town on their tour of inspection of the stations in the eastern part of
the Colony and in Kafirland. This journey necessitated an absence of
twelve months, during which time Robert expected his bride to arrive.
This was a trial of faith, as it seemed hard that she should be obliged
to land in a strange country, and find none of her own to welcome her.
But with Moffat even love followed after duty.

It so happened, however, that after visiting the line of stations
through the eastern districts as far as Bethelsdorp, the party, at that
place, found their progress effectually barred through war with the
Kafirs. They were therefore obliged to return to Cape Town, thus giving
Moffat the opportunity and great joy of receiving his affianced wife
upon her landing from the vessel. She reached Cape Town in safety, and
on the 27th of December, 1819, the happy couple were united. They
received each other as from the Lord, and for more than fifty years,
during cloud and sunshine, their union was a true and blessed one.

Robert Moffat had been appointed to the Bechwana station at Lattakoo, or
Kuruman, as it was afterwards called; and for that place the missionary
party, which consisted of the Rev. John Campbell and the Moffats, set
out early in the year 1820.

A feeble attempt to establish a mission to the Bechwanas had been made,
by the Dutch Missionary Society in Cape Town, as early as A.D. 1800, and
two missionaries, named Edwards and Kok, had been despatched. They were
directed by the chief to settle on the banks of the Kuruman River, at a
distance from the natives, and the effort degenerated into a mere
trading concern. In 1805, the Bechwanas were visited by the celebrated
traveller Dr. Lichtenstein, and, in 1812, by Dr. Burchell, but it was
not until the visit of the Rev. J. Campbell, a little later, that any
real negotiations were entertained for the settlement of missionaries
with this people. The chief, Mothibi, then said to Mr. Campbell, "send
missionaries, and I will be a father to them."

In response to this invitation Messrs. Evans and Hamilton left England
in 1815, and, full of hope, reached Lattakoo on the 17th of February in
the following year. Instead of being received as they anticipated, they
were repulsed, and directed to settle at the Kuruman River, thirty miles
distant. Disappointed and despondent they returned to Griqua Town. Mr.
Evans relinquished the mission, but a further attempt was made
afterwards by Messrs. Read and Hamilton, and this time permission was
obtained for them to dwell with the chief and his people. Thus the
Bechwana Mission obtained its first real footing.

In June, 1817, the tribe, under Mothibi, removed from the position where
the missionaries first found it, and settled by the Kuruman River. When
the Rev. J. Campbell returned, to the Colony, Mr. Read accompanied him;
thus, pending the arrival of Robert Moffat, Mr. Hamilton was left alone
in charge of the mission.

The journey as far as Griqua Town was accomplished without any special
incident. At first the route lay through fertile valleys and lovely
mountain scenery, but soon this changed, and for hundreds of miles the
travellers had to pass through the desolate region of the Karroo desert.
When about half-way through this sterile district, they came to the site
upon which was to be built the village of Beaufort West, where they were
most kindly entertained by a Scotchman named Mr. Baird, the newly
appointed magistrate.

The Orange River, so frequently an insurmountable obstacle to progress,
was passed in safety, the water being very low, and two or three days
later Griqua Town was reached. Here a halt was made. Lattakoo lay one
hundred miles beyond.

At this time some uncertainty existed as to whether the Moffats would be
allowed by the Colonial Government to settle at Lattakoo; thus far
consent had been withheld. They had advanced trusting that the way would
be opened, and after a short rest at Griqua Town, the party continued
their journey, and reached Lattakoo five days after leaving the Griqua
station. It was intended that Robert Moffat should take the place of Mr.
Read, as an associate with Mr. Hamilton in the work of the mission.

The new arrivals were introduced to Mothibi, and were soon visited by a
retinue of chiefs. The manner, appearance, and dress of these natives
much interested Mary Moffat. The whole missionary party stayed together
for three weeks, settling the affairs of the mission; then the Rev. J.
Campbell and Mr. Read started on a journey to visit the Bahurutsi, a
tribe who dwelt nearly two hundred miles to the north-east of Lattakoo.
Moffat and his wife remained with Mr. Hamilton, so that the new
missionary might win the affections of the Bechwana chief and his


Upon the return of the Rev. J. Campbell and Mr. Read, after an absence
of two months, and a short rest at Lattakoo, all the missionaries,
excepting Mr. Hamilton, set off westward along the bed of the Kuruman
River to visit several of the Bechwana tribes which were scattered about
that region. The natives of these parts, never having seen white people
before evinced much curiosity concerning their visitors; especially
about Mrs. Moffat and her dress. To see the missionaries sitting at
table dining and using knives and forks, plates, and different dishes,
was wonderful to them, and for hours they would sit and gaze upon such
scenes. The Word of Life was preached to these natives by either Mr.
Campbell or Robert Moffat as the party journeyed along.

Their absence from Lattakoo extended to a little over a fortnight, and
on their return, finding, by intelligence received from Dr. Philip, that
permission had not as yet been obtained from the Governor for the
Moffats to settle at that place, Robert and his partner had to return,
much cast down, to Griqua Town, there to commit the matter into the hand
of God, and patiently await the time when He should open the way for
them to commence the work they had so much at heart. Mr. Hamilton was
therefore again left alone with simply a Griqua assistant and a few

Just before leaving Lattakoo, Robert Moffat met Africaner, who had
safely brought from Vreede Berg the cattle and property belonging to the
missionary, and also the books and articles of furniture which had been
intrusted to his care when leaving Cape Town. All were in good order,
particular attention having been paid to the missionary's cattle and
sheep during his long absence. This was the last meeting between Moffat
and Africaner.

While on their journey, and when near Griqua Town, information reached
the missionary party that permission had been granted for the Moffats to
settle at Lattakoo. As, however, the affairs at Griqua Town at this time
were altogether disorganised, it was arranged that they should stay
there for a few months to set the affairs of that place in order.

During their stay at that station Mrs. Moffat had a severe illness, and
her life was despaired of, but this precious life was preserved, and not
only was his dear one restored, but a bonny wee lassie was given to them
both, who was named Mary, and who, in after years, became the wife of
Dr. Livingstone.


At Griqua Town they bade farewell to the Rev. J. Campbell. To them he
had become much endeared, as they had been in his company as
fellow-travellers for many months. He and Mr. Read returned to the
Colony; twenty years later, however, the two friends met again, but that
was upon the Moffats' return to their native land.

In May, 1821, Mr. and Mrs. Moffat again arrived at Lattakoo, and then
commenced a continuation of missionary conflicts during which their
faith was severely tried, but which ended, after many years, in
triumphant rejoicing as they saw the people brought to Christ, and
beheld the once ignorant and degraded heathen becoming humble servants
of the Lord, reading His Word and obeying His precepts.

In looking at the Bechwanas as they were when the Moffats first settled
among them, for up to that time the efforts of the missionaries had been
unattended with success, we find a people who had neither an idea of a
God, nor who performed any idolatrous rites; who failed to see that
there was anything more agreeable to flesh and blood in our customs than
in their own; but who allowed that the missionaries were a wiser and
superior race of beings to themselves; who practised polygamy, and
looked with a very jealous eye on any innovation that was likely to
deprive them of the services of their wives, who built their houses,
gathered firewood for their fires, tilled their fields, and reared their
families; who were suspicious, and keenly scrutinised the actions of the
missionaries; in fact, a people who were thoroughly sensual, and who
could rob, lie, and murder without any compunctions of conscience, as
long as success attended their efforts.

Among such a people did these servants of God labour for years without
any sign of fruit, but with steadfast faith and persevering prayer,
until at last the work of the Holy Spirit was seen, and the strong arm
of the Lord, gathering many into His fold, became apparent.

The Bechwana tribe with whom Robert Moffat was located was called the
Batlaping, or Batlapis.

The patience of the missionaries in these early days was sorely tried,
and the petty annoyances, so irritating to many of us, were neither few
nor infrequent. By dint of immense labour, leading the water to it, the
ground which the chief had given the missionaries for a garden was made
available; then the women, headed by the chief's wife, encroached upon
it, and to save contention the point was conceded. The corn when it
ripened was stolen, and the sheep either taken out of the fold at night
or driven off when grazing in the day time. No tool or household utensil
could be left about for a moment or it would disappear.

One day Mr. Hamilton, who at that time had no mill to grind corn, sat
down and with much labour and perspiration, by means of two stones,
ground sufficient meal in half-a-day to make a loaf that should serve
him, being then alone, for about eight days. He kneaded and baked his
gigantic loaf, put it on his shelf, and went to the chapel. He returned
in the evening with a keen appetite and a pleasant anticipation of
enjoying his coarse home-made bread, but on opening the door of his hut
and casting his eye to the shelf he saw that the loaf had gone. Someone
had forced open the little window of the hut, got in, and stolen the

On another occasion Mrs. Moffat, with a babe in her arms, begged very
humbly of a woman, just to be kind enough to move out of a temporary
kitchen, that she might shut it as usual before going into the place of
worship. The woman seized a piece of wood to hurl at Mrs. Moffat's head,
who, therefore, escaped to the house of God, leaving the intruder in
undisturbed possession of the kitchen, any of the contents of which she
would not hesitate to appropriate to her own use.

A severe drought also set in, and a rain-maker, finding all his arts to
bring rain useless, laid the blame upon the white strangers, who for a
time were in expectation of being driven away. Probably, however, the
greatest trial at this time was caused by the conduct of some of the
Hottentots who had accompanied them from the Cape, and who being but new
converts were weak to withstand the demands made upon them, and brought
shame upon their leaders. Shortly after his arrival Moffat thoroughly
purged his little community. The numbers that gathered round the Lord's
table were much reduced, but the lesson was a salutary one and did good
to the heathen around.

A callous indifference to the instruction of the missionaries, except it
was followed by some temporal benefit, prevailed. In August, 1822, Mary
Moffat wrote, "We have no prosperity in the work, not the least sign of
good being done. The Bechwanas seem more careless than ever, and seldom
enter the church." A little later Moffat himself stated in one of his
letters, "They turn a deaf ear to the voice of love, and treat with
scorn the glorious doctrines of salvation. It is, however, pleasing to
reflect that affairs in general wear a more hopeful aspect than when we
came here. Several instances have proved the people are determined to
relinquish the barbarous system of commandoes for stealing cattle. They
have also dispensed with a rain-maker this season."

The Bushmen had a most inhuman custom of abandoning the aged and
helpless, leaving them to starve or be devoured by wild beasts; also if
a mother died it was their practice to bury the infant or infants of
that mother with her.

During one of his journeys, a few months prior to the date last
mentioned, Moffat came upon a party of Bushmen digging a grave for the
body of a woman who had left two children. Finding that they were about
to bury the children with the corpse he begged for them. They were given
him and for some years formed a part of his household. They were named
Ann and Dicky.

The importance of acquiring the language of the Bechwanas soon became
apparent to the earnest-hearted missionary. One day he was much cast
down and said to his wife, "Mary, this is hard work." "It is hard work,
my love," she replied, "but take courage, our lives shall be given us
for a prey." "But think, my dear," he said, "how long we have been
preaching to this people, and no fruit yet appears." The wise woman made
answer, "The Gospel has not yet been preached to them _in their own
tongue in which they were born_. They have heard it only through
interpreters, and interpreters who have themselves no just
understanding, no real love of the truth. We must not expect the
blessing till you are able, from your own lips and in their language, to
bring it through their ears into their hearts."

"From that hour," said Moffat, in relating the conversation, "I gave
myself with untiring diligence to the acquisition of the language."

As an instance of the drawback of preaching by means of an interpreter,
the sentence, "The salvation of the soul is a very important subject,"
was rendered by one of those individuals as follows: "The salvation of
the soul is a very great sack." A rendering altogether unintelligible.

For the purpose of studying the language Moffat made journeys among the
tribes, so that he might for a time be freed from speaking Dutch, the
language spoken with his own people at Lattakoo. Itinerating visits were
also made in turn every Sabbath to the surrounding villages, and
occasionally further afield, but sometimes, after walking perhaps four
to five miles to reach a village, not a single individual could be found
to listen to the Gospel message.

The only service in which the missionaries took any real delight at this
time, was the Sabbath evening service held in Dutch for the edification
of themselves and the two or three Hottentots, with their families, who
belonged to the mission.

In addition to sore privations, discouragements, false accusations, and
the loss of their property, the missionaries found even their lives at
times imperilled. The natives and all on the station were suffering
greatly from a long continued drought. All the efforts of the
professional rain-maker had been in vain, no cloud appeared in the sky,
no rain fell to water the parched land. The doings of the missionaries
were looked upon as being the cause of this misfortune. At one time it
was a bag of salt, which Moffat had brought in his waggon, that
frightened the rain away; at another the sound of the chapel bell. Their
prospects became darker than ever. At last it appeared that the natives
had fully decided to expel them from their midst. A chief man, and about
a dozen of his attendants, came and seated themselves under the shadow
of a large tree near to Moffat's house. He at that moment was engaged in
repairing a waggon near at hand. The scene which ensued and its result
we give in his own words:--


"Being informed that something of importance was to be communicated, Mr.
Hamilton was called. We stood patiently to hear the message, always
ready to face the worst. The principal speaker informed us, that it was
the determination of the chiefs of the people that we should leave the
country; and referring to our disregard of threatenings, added what was
tantamount to the assurance that measures of a violent character would
be resorted to, to carry their resolutions into effect, in case of our
disobeying the order.

"While the chief was speaking, he stood quivering his spear in his right
hand. Mrs. Moffat was at the door of our cottage, with the babe in her
arms, watching the crisis, for such it was. We replied:--

"'We have indeed felt most reluctant to leave, and are now more than
ever resolved to abide by our post. We pity you, for you know not what
you do; we have suffered, it is true; and He whose servants we are has
directed us in His Word, "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye
to another," but although we have suffered, we do not consider all that
has been done to us by the people amounts to persecution; we are
prepared to expect it from such as know no better. If you are resolved
to rid yourselves of us, you must resort to stronger measures, for our
hearts are with you. You may shed blood or burn us out. We know you will
not touch our wives and children.'"

Then throwing open his waistcoat Moffat stood erect and fearless. "Now
then," said he, "if you will, drive your spears to my heart; and when
you have slain me, my companions will know that the hour has come for
them to depart."

At these words the chief man looked at his companions, remarking, with a
significant shake of the head, "These men must have ten lives, when they
are so fearless of death; there must be something in immortality."

Moffat pithily observes, "The meeting broke up, and they left us, no
doubt fully impressed with the idea that we were impracticable men."




In March, 1823, a second daughter was born to the Moffats, who was named
Ann. At that time the Batlaping were thoroughly indifferent to the
Gospel, but their hostile spirit to the missionaries had passed away.

Robert Moffat had heard of a powerful Bechwana tribe, named the
Bangwaketsi, whose chief was Makaba, dwelling about two hundred miles to
the north-east. To this chief and people he now contemplated paying a

Rumours had also been current at intervals, for more than a year past,
of strange and terrible doings by a fierce and numerous people, called
the Mantatees, who were advancing from the eastward. To gain definite
intelligence concerning this people, and also with the view of paying
his contemplated visit to Makaba, Moffat resolved upon undertaking a
journey to that chief. He was also influenced by the desire to open up a
friendly intercourse with so powerful, and it might be dangerous, a
potentate as Makaba; and likewise by the wish of gaining opportunities
of more fully studying the language and becoming acquainted with the
localities of the tribes; the ultimate design of all being the
introduction of the Gospel among them.

An invitation arrived from Makaba, and the way seemed open. Mothibi,
however, the Bechwana chief, was greatly averse to the undertaking, and
threw all possible obstacles in its path, short of actual armed
resistance. His people were forbidden to accompany the missionary, who
was obliged therefore to start with only the few men he had.

As he journeyed forward the reports concerning the Mantatees were again
heard, and on reaching Nokaneng, about twenty miles distant from
Lattakoo, he learned that the invaders had attacked a Bechwana tribe,
the Barolongs, at Kunuana, about one hundred miles off. Spies were sent
out but returned without any definite tidings, and the journey was

For four days the party travelled across a dry and trackless country,
when they came to a fine valley, in which were some pools and plenty of
game. Here they remained two days, and then prepared to continue their
journey to the Bangwaketsi. Just as they were about to start, however,
they ascertained from two natives that the Mantatees had attacked the
Barolongs, and were in possession of a village somewhat in the rear of
the missionary's party.

No time was to be lost. The distance was retraced with all speed, and
the alarming news told at Lattakoo. A public meeting was convened, and
Moffat gave a circumstantial account of the information he had gathered.
The enemy were a numerous and powerful body, they had destroyed many
towns of the Bakone tribes, slaughtered immense numbers of people, laid
Kurrechane in ruins, scattered the Barolongs, and, in addition, were
said to be cannibals.

The alarming tidings produced at first, a gloom on every countenance,
and silence reigned for a few minutes. Then Mothibi, in the name of the
assembly, said he was exceedingly thankful that their missionary had
been "hard-headed" and pursued his journey, thus discovering to them
their danger.

Moffat counselled that as the Bechwanas were quite unable to resist so
savage a force as the Mantatees, they had better either flee to the
Colony or call in the aid of the Griquas, volunteering to proceed to
Griqua Town to give information and procure assistance. The chief at
that place was one Andries Waterboer, who had been educated by the
missionaries, and who, before his election as chief, had been set apart
for a native teacher. Mr. Melville, the Government agent, also resided
in the town.

Moffat reached Griqua Town safely, and Waterboer promised to come to the
assistance of the Bechwanas as soon as he could muster his forces.
Moffat then returned to his station.

Eleven anxious days were passed at Lattakoo, waiting the arrival of the
Griquas. By the time they arrived, the enemy had reached Letakong, only
thirty-six miles away. The Griqua force consisted of about one hundred
horsemen, armed with guns, and it being reported that there were white
men among the invaders, Moffat was asked to accompany the force, as,
having some knowledge of the language, he might be able to bring about a
treaty with them. He agreed to go, and Mr. Melville started with him.

Before leaving, all met to pray for Divine counsel and help. A blessing
on the means of preventing a further effusion of blood was asked, and if
recourse to violent measures became necessary, it was prayed that the
heads of those engaged might be shielded in the day of battle.

The small force pressed forward as far as the Matlaurin River, about
half way, where all bivouacked. Leaving the main body, Waterboer,
Moffat, and a few others, rode onward for about four hours, and then
halted for the night among some trees. At day-light they proceeded until
they came in sight of the enemy. These were divided into two parties,
one holding a town, out of which they had driven the inhabitants, and
the other lying on the hills to the left of the town. As the horsemen
drew near, they could perceive that they were discovered, and among the
masses of the invaders could be seen the war-axes and brass ornaments as
they glittered in the sun.

Riding forward, Moffat and Waterboer found a young woman belonging to
the Mantatees, whose whole appearance denoted direful want. Food was
given her, and some tobacco, and she was sent with a message to her
people that the strangers wanted to speak with them and not to fight. An
old man and a lad were also found dying of starvation, these were helped
and talked to in full sight of the enemy. All possible means were tried
to bring them to a parley, but in vain, they only responded by making
furious rushes, showing their intention to attack.

The whole day was spent in this manner, and at evening Moffat left
Waterboer and the scouts, and rode back to confer with Mr. Melville and
the other Griqua chiefs, to see if some means could be devised of
preventing the dreadful consequences of battle. One of the Griqua
chiefs, named Cornelius Kok, nobly insisted on Moffat taking his best
horse, one of the strongest present. To this generous act the missionary
afterwards owed his life.

All the party were in motion the next morning before day-light. The
whole of the horsemen advanced to within about one hundred and fifty
yards of the enemy, thinking to intimidate them and bring them to a
conference. The Mantatees rushed forward with a terrible howl, throwing
their war clubs and javelins. The rushes becoming dangerous, Waterboer
and his party commenced firing, and the battle became general. The
Mantatees obstinately held their ground, seeming determined rather to
perish than flee, which they might easily have done.

After the combat had lasted two hours and a-half, the Griquas, finding
their ammunition rapidly diminishing, advanced to take the enemy's
position. The latter gave way and fled, at first westward, but being
intercepted, they turned towards the town. Here a desperate struggle
took place. At last, seized with despair, the enemy fled precipitately,
and were pursued by the Griquas for about eight miles.

Soon after the battle commenced, the Bechwanas who accompanied the
Griqua force came up, and began discharging their poisoned arrows into
the midst of the Mantatees. Half-a-dozen of these fierce warriors,
however, turned upon them, and the whole body scampered off in wild
disorder. But as soon as these cowards saw that the Mantatees had
retired, they rushed like hungry wolves to the spot where they had been
encamped, and began to plunder and kill the wounded, also murdering the
women and children with their spears and battle-axes.

Fighting not being within the missionary's province, he refrained from
firing a shot, though for safety he kept with the Griqua force. Seeing
now the savage ferocity of the Bechwanas in killing the inoffensive
women and children, he turned his attention to these objects of pity,
who were fleeing in all directions. Galloping in among them, many of the
Bechwanas were deterred from their barbarous purpose, and the women,
seeing that mercy was shown them, sat down, and baring their breasts,
exclaimed, "I am a woman; I am a woman." The men seemed as though it was
impossible to yield, and although often sorely wounded, they continued
to throw their spears and war-axes at any one who approached.

It was while carrying on his work of mercy among the wounded that Moffat
nearly lost his life. He had got hemmed in between a rocky height and a
body of the enemy. A narrow passage remained, through which he could
escape at full gallop. Right in the middle of this passage there rose up
before him a man who had been shot, but who had collected his strength,
and, weapon in hand, was awaiting him. Just at that moment one of the
Griquas, seeing the situation, fired. The ball whizzed past, close to
Moffat. The aim had been a true one, and the way of escape was clear.

This battle saved the mission. It did more than that--it saved the
Mantatees themselves from terrible destruction. As a devastating host
they would in all probability have advanced to the borders of the
Colony, and being driven back, would have perished miserably, men,
women, and children, either of starvation, or at the hands of those
tribes whom they would have overcome in their advance, and through whose
territories they must have passed in their retreat.

After the battle was over, Mr. Melville and Robert Moffat collected many
of the Mantatee women and children, who were taken to the missionary
station. Alarm prevailed there for some days, it being feared that the
Mantatees might make a descent upon the place after the Griquas had
left. At one time the prospect was so ominous that the missionary band,
with their wives and children, after burying their property, left
Lattakoo for a short time, and sought shelter at Griqua Town. The
threatened attack not being made, and as it was found that the Mantatees
had left the neighbourhood, the station was again occupied.

The Bechwanas were deeply sensible of the interest the missionaries had
shown in their welfare, at a time when they might with ease and little
loss of property have retired in safety to the Colony, leaving them to
be destroyed by the fierce invaders.

For a long time past, it had been evident to Moffat that the site upon
which they dwelt at Lattakoo was altogether unsuitable for missionary
purposes. The great scarcity of water, especially in dry seasons,
rendered any attempt at raising crops most difficult, and even water for
drinking purposes could only be obtained in small quantity. Advantage
was therefore taken of the present favourable impression, made upon the
minds of Mothibi and his people, to obtain a site for a new station. A
place eight miles distant, about three miles below the Kuruman fountain,
where the river of that name had its source, was examined and found to
offer better advantages for a missionary station than any other for
hundreds of miles round. Arrangements were made with the Bechwana chiefs
so that about two miles of the Kuruman valley should henceforth be the
property of the London Missionary Society, proper remuneration being
given as soon as Moffat returned from Cape Town, to which place he
contemplated paying a visit shortly.

This new station will be known in the further chronicle of events, by
the name of Kuruman.

At the beginning of 1824, the Moffats were in Cape Town. They had gone
there to obtain supplies, to seek medical aid for Mrs. Moffat, who had
suffered in health considerably, and to confer personally with Dr.
Philip about the removal of the station. Mothibi having been anxious
that his son, Peclu, should see the country of the white people, had
sent him, accompanied by Taisho, one of the principal chiefs, to Cape
Town with the missionaries.

The young prince and his companion were astonished at what they saw.
With difficulty they were persuaded to go along with Robert Moffat on
board one of the ships in the bay. The enormous size of the hull, the
height of the masts, the splendid cabin and the deep hold, were each and
all objects of wonder; and when they saw a boy mount the rigging and
ascend to the masthead, their astonishment was complete. Turning to the
young prince, Taisho whispered, "Ah ga si khatla?" (Is it not an ape?)
"Do these water-houses (ships) unyoke like waggon-oxen every night?"
they inquired; and also; "Do they graze in the sea to keep them alive?"
Being asked what they thought of a ship in full sail, which was then
entering the harbour, they replied, "We have no thoughts here, we hope
to think again when we get on shore."

Upon the same day that the Moffats reached Cape Town, a ship arrived
from England, bringing three new missionaries intended for the Bechwana
station. Of these, however, one only and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes,
were able to accompany the older missionary upon his return to his post.

Mrs. Moffat's health being somewhat improved, the party left Cape Town,
and after a tedious and monotonous journey of two months, Robert and
Mary Moffat reached Lattakoo in safety. They had left Mr. and Mrs.
Hughes at Griqua Town, where they were to remain for a season. Upon
reaching home Mr. Hamilton was found pursuing his lonely labours with
that quiet patience so characteristic of him.




Shortly after his return, and pending the final arrangements for the
removal of the missionary station, it was considered advisable that
Robert Moffat should pay his long promised visit to Makaba, the chief of
the Bangwaketsi. He left on the 1st of July, 1824, and was accompanied
by a large party of Griquas, who were going into that region to hunt

Skirting the edge of the Kalahari desert for some time they afterwards
deviated from their course through want of water, and visited Pitsana,
where a great concourse of natives had gathered, consisting of the
different sections of the Barolong tribe, who had been driven from their
country the previous year during the invasion of the Mantatees. Thence
they proceeded onward till they reached Kwakwe, the residence of Makaba
and his people, and the metropolis of the Bangwaketsi. Here the
missionary was most favourably received by the king, who remarked, with
a laugh, "That he wondered they should trust themselves, unarmed, in the
town of such a _villain_ as he was reported to be."

He entertained Moffat and his party royally, declaring, "My friends, I
am perfectly happy; my heart is whiter than milk, because you have
visited me. To-day I am a great man. You are wise and bold to come and
see with your own eyes, and laugh at the testimony of my enemies."

Moffat tried on several occasions to converse with the chief and his
people on Divine things, but apparently with little success. At length
on the Sabbath he resolved to pay Makaba a formal visit, so as to obtain
a hearing for the subject. He found the monarch seated among a large
number of his principal men, all engaged either preparing skins, cutting
them, sewing mantles, or telling news.

[Illustration: NATIVES SEWING.]

Sitting down beside him, and amidst his nobles and counsellors, Moffat
stated that his object was to tell him news. The missionary spoke of
God, of the Saviour, but his words fell upon deaf ears. One of the men
sitting near, however, seemed struck with the character of the Redeemer,
and especially with His miracles. On hearing that He had raised the
dead, the man said, "What an excellent doctor He must have been to raise
the dead." This led to a description of His power, and how that power
would be exercised at the last day in the Resurrection. The ear of the
monarch caught the sound of a resurrection from the dead, "What," he
exclaimed in astonishment, "What are these words about? the dead, the
dead arise!"

"Yes, all the dead shall arise."

"Will my father arise?"

"Yes, your father will arise."

"Will all the slain in battle arise?"


"And will all that have been killed and devoured by lions, tigers,
hyenas, and crocodiles again revive?"

"Yes; and come to judgment."

"And will those whose bodies have been left to waste and to wither on
the desert plains and scattered to the winds again arise?" asked the
king, with a kind of triumph, as though this time he had fixed the

"Yes!" answered he, with emphasis; "not one will be left behind."

After looking at his visitor for a few moments, Makaba turned to his
people, saying in a stentorian voice: "Hark, ye wise men, whoever is
among you, the wisest of past generations, did ever your ears hear such
strange and unheard-of news?"

Receiving an answer in the negative, he laid his hand upon Moffat's
breast and said, "Father, I love you much. Your visit and your presence
have made my heart as white as milk. The words of your mouth are sweet
as honey, but the words of a resurrection are too great to be heard. I
do not wish to hear again about the dead rising! The dead cannot arise!
The dead must not arise!"

"Why," inquired the missionary, "can so great a man refuse knowledge and
turn away from wisdom? Tell me, my friend, why I must not add to words
and speak of a resurrection?"

Raising and uncovering his arm which had been strong in battle, and
shaking his hand as if quivering a spear, he replied, "I have slain my
thousands, and shall they arise!"

"Never before," adds Mr. Moffat in his _Missionary Labours_, "had the
light of Divine revelation dawned upon his savage mind, and of course
his conscience had never accused him, no, not for one of the thousands
of deeds of rapine and murder which had marked his course through a long

Starting homewards, the Griqua hunting party, for some altogether
unexplained reason, announced their intention of returning with the
missionary instead of remaining behind to hunt; a most providential
circumstance, which in all probability saved the lives of Moffat and his
followers and many more besides.

A few hours after leaving Makaba, messengers met the returning company
from Tauane, the chief of the Barolongs, asking the help of the
missionary party as he was about to be attacked by the Mantatees. On
reaching Pitsana they found that such was the case. The attack was made
and repelled by the Griquas, about twenty in number, mounted and armed
with guns; and thus the town was saved, the flight of its inhabitants
into the Kalahari desert, there to perish of hunger and thirst,
prevented, and the safety of Robert Moffat and his companions secured.

The time during which Moffat had been absent from Lattakoo, had been a
most anxious one for his wife and those who remained at the station. A
band of marauders had gathered in the Long Mountains, about forty miles
to the westward, and after attacking some villages on the Kuruman, had
threatened an attack on the Batlaping and the mission premises. The
dreaded Mantatees were also reported to be in the neighbourhood. One
night when Mary Moffat was alone with her little ones and the two
Bushmen children, Mr. Hamilton and the assistants being away at the new
station, a loud rap came at the door, and inquiring who was there,
Mothibi himself replied. He brought word that the Mantatees were

A hasty message was sent to Mr. Hamilton, who arrived about eight
o'clock in the morning when preparations were made for flight.
Messengers continued to arrive, each bringing tidings that caused fresh
alarm, until about noon, when it was ascertained that the fierce and
savage enemy had turned aside and directed their course to the

The station was safe, but the loving heart of the missionary's wife was
torn with anguish, as she foresaw that the dreaded Mantatees would be
crossing her husband's path just at the time when he, almost alone, was
returning on his homeward way.

Prayer was the support of Mary Moffat under this terrible ordeal, and
the way prayer was answered has been seen, in the unaccountable manner
in which Berend Berend and his party of Griquas changed their minds and
resolved upon returning with Robert Moffat, instead of remaining to hunt
elephants in the country of the Bangwaketsi.

The remainder of the year 1824 witnessed bloodshed and strife all
around. War among the Bechwanas, attacks by the marauders of the Long
Mountains, commotions among the interior tribes: the land was deluged
with blood; even the warlike Bangwaketsi were dispersed, and Makaba was
killed. Once again the missionaries had to flee with their families to
Griqua Town, leaving Mr. Hamilton, as he was without family in charge of
the new station, with two horses ready for flight in case of danger.

The end of the year found the Kuruman missionaries,--who now consisted
of Robert and Mary Moffat, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. Hamilton,--with
the exception of the last named, at Griqua Town.

The new station at the Kuruman had been occupied shortly before the
departure of the fugitives; and early in 1825, finding that the
immediate danger had passed, the Moffats, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs.
Hughes, rejoined Mr. Hamilton. Two events of a distressing character to
the Batlaping and their missionaries occurred about this time. The first
was the passage of two terrible hail-storms over a portion of the
country, destroying the crops, killing lambs, and stripping the bark
from trees. The second was the death of the young prince, Peclu, who had
an excellent disposition, was comparatively enlightened, and whose
influence the missionaries expected would have been most salutary among
his countrymen.

This sorrowful event, combined with a further attack upon the Batlaping
by the marauders, determined Mothibi and his people to leave their
present place of settlement and remove to the eastward. For a
considerable time, however, they remained in an unsettled state,
suffering from attacks, and leading a vagrant life.

The work of laying out the new station was proceeded with. Three
temporary dwellings had already been erected, consisting of a wooden
framework, filled up with reeds, and plastered within and without; the
foundations of more permanent dwellings had also been laid. Mr. Hughes,
who had been to Cape Town for supplies, returned, accompanied by a mason
named Millen and a few Hottentot assistants from Bethelsdorp. The
company at the station was a large one, and to provide them with food
was a work of difficulty.

The Kuruman fountain, the source of the Kuruman river, issues from
caverns in a little hill. It was the purpose of the missionaries to lead
the water from the river to irrigate their gardens. For this purpose a
trench was cut two miles in length. This was a work of great labour and
was attended by considerable danger. It was found necessary that the men
when working should have their guns with them, in case of being
surprised by the robbers who roved about. Moffat says, "it was dug in
troublous times."

Sickness and death entered the missionary dwellings. An infant son was
born to the Moffats, and five days after called away. Mr. Hughes was
laid low through a severe cold, and brought to the gates of death. When
all hope seemed to have vanished he began to amend, though his health
was not restored until he and Mrs. Hughes made a journey to the Cape. In
1827 he left Kuruman and removed to the Griqua Mission. The mother of
Mary Moffat died in October, 1825, but the news did not reach her
daughter in Africa until April, 1826.

Referring to this time Robert Moffat says: "Our situation during the
infancy of the new station, I shall not attempt to describe. Some of our
newly arrived assistants, finding themselves in a country where the
restraints of law were unknown, and not being under the influence of
religion, would not submit to the privations which we patiently endured,
but murmured exceedingly. Armed robbers were continually making inroads,
threatening death and extirpation. We were compelled to work daily at
every species of labour, most of which was very heavy, under a burning
sun, and in a dry climate, where only one shower had fallen during the
preceding twelve months. These are only imperfect samples of our
engagements for several years at the new station, while at the same
time, the language, which was entirely oral, had to be acquired."

Notwithstanding all the impediments to such an enterprise, Robert Moffat
had made some progress towards establishing a literature in the native,
or Sechwana tongue. A spelling-book, catechism, and some small portions
of Scripture had been prepared, and sent to the Cape to be printed, in
1825. Through a mistake, these were unfortunately sent on to England,
causing much disappointment and delay.

Things settled down somewhat in 1826. The discontented Hottentots
returned to the Colony, leaving the missionaries and Mr. Millen to carry
on the work of laying out the station, erecting the buildings, and the
other manual labour connected with the undertaking, assisted only by
such poor help as they could get from the Bechwanas.

The native population at the station had been much reduced. Such of the
Batlaping as had not moved away, had settled down about the Kuruman
valley. They did not oppose the Gospel, but they appeared quite
indifferent to it.

For several years the country had been parched through drought, but
early in 1826 rain fell plentifully. The earth was soon covered with
verdure, but the bright prospects of abundance were quickly cut off.
Swarms of locusts infested the land, and vegetation was entirely
destroyed. This led to great scarcity, and although the natives caught
and ate the locusts, hunger and suffering prevailed. The missionaries'
cattle could not be let out of sight, or they were instantly stolen. One
day two noted fellows from the mountains pounced down upon a man who had
charge of some oxen. They murdered the man and made off with an ox.

To become proficient in the Sechwana language was the earnest purpose of
Robert Moffat. At the end of the year 1826, having moved into his new
dwelling, built of stone, and the state of the country being somewhat
more tranquil, he left his home and family, to sojourn for a time among
the Barolongs, so that he might live exclusively with the natives and
attend to their speech.

He made the journey by ox-waggon, and was accompanied by the
waggon-driver, a boy, and two Barolongs who were journeying to the same
place as himself. The dangers attending these journeyings from tribe to
tribe were by no means imaginary, the following, related in Moffat's own
words, serving as an illustration of some of the perils often

"The two Barolongs had brought a young cow with them, and though I
recommended their making her fast as well as the oxen, they humorously
replied that she was too wise to leave the waggon, even though a lion
should be scented. We took a little supper, which was followed by our
evening hymn and prayer. I had retired only a few minutes to my waggon
to prepare for the night, when the whole of the oxen started to their
feet. A lion had seized the cow only a few steps from their tails, and
dragged it to the distance of thirty or forty yards, where we distinctly
heard it tearing the animal and breaking its bones, while its bellowings
were most pitiful. When these were over, I seized my gun, but as it was
too dark to see half the distance, I aimed at the spot where the
devouring jaws of the lion were heard. I fired again and again, to which
he replied with tremendous roars, at the same time making a rush towards
the waggon so as exceedingly to terrify the oxen. The two Barolongs
engaged to take firebrands and throw them at him so as to afford me a
degree of light that I might take aim. They had scarcely discharged them
from their hands when the flames went out, and the enraged animal rushed
towards them with such swiftness, that I had barely time to turn the gun
and fire between the men and the lion. The men darted through some thorn
bushes with countenances indicative of the utmost terror. It was now the
opinion of all that we had better let him alone if he did not molest us.

"Having but a scanty supply of wood to keep up a fire, one man crept
among the bushes on one side of the pool, while I proceeded for the same
purpose on the other side. I had not gone far, when looking upward to
the edge of the small basin, I discerned between me and the sky four
animals, whose attention appeared to be directed to me by the noise I
made in breaking a dry stick. On closer inspection I found that the
large round, hairy-headed visitors were lions, and retreated on my hands
and feet towards the other side of the pool, when coming to my
waggon-driver, I found him looking with no little alarm in an opposite
direction, and with good reason, as no fewer than two lions with a cub
were eyeing us both, apparently as uncertain about us as we were
distrustful of them. We thankfully decamped to the waggon and sat down
to keep alive our scanty fire, while we listened to the lion tearing and
devouring his prey. When any of the other hungry lions dared to approach
he would pursue them for some paces with a horrible howl, which made our
poor oxen tremble, and produced anything but agreeable sensations to
ourselves. We had reason for alarm, lest any of the six lions we saw,
fearless of our small fire, might rush in among us."

[Illustration: BAROLONG WOMEN.]

From these dangers Moffat was mercifully preserved and after journeying
for six days he reached the village of a young chief named Bogachu. At
this place, and at one about twenty miles distant, he lived a
semi-savage life for ten weeks. To use a common expression he "made
himself at home" among them. They were kind and appeared delighted with
his company, especially as when food run scarce, he could take his gun
and shoot a rhinoceros or some other animal, when a night of feasting
and talking would follow.

Every opportunity was embraced by the missionary of imparting Christian
instruction to these people; their supreme idea of happiness, however,
seemed able to rise no higher than having plenty of meat. Asking a man,
who seemed more grave than the rest, what was the finest sight he could
desire, he replied, "A great fire covered with pots full of meat,"
adding, "How ugly the fire looks without a pot"

The object of the journey was fully gained; henceforth Robert Moffat
needed no interpreter; he could now speak and preach to the people in
their own tongue. He found all well on reaching home and prepared to
settle down with a feeling of ability to the work of translation.

The prospects of the mission at this time began to brighten. Several
thousands of the natives had gathered on the opposite side of the
valley, near the mission station. They were becoming more settled in
their minds, and would collect in the different divisions of the town
when the missionaries visited them; the public attendance at the regular
religious services daily increased, and the school was better attended.
No visible signs of an inward change in the natives could yet be seen,
but Moffat and his fellow-workers felt certain that this was not far

War again intervened and darkened the brightening prospects. Once more
the missionaries, after prayerful consideration, felt it necessary to
flee to Griqua Town, suffering much loss of time and of property.
Happily the storm passed over, and, on returning to the Kuruman, they
found their houses, and such property as they had left behind, in good
order, a proof of the influence they were gaining over the once thievish
Bechwanas. Half the oxen and nearly all the cows belonging to the
missionaries were, however, dead, no milk could be obtained, and, worse
than these evils, the people had fled, leaving their native houses but
heaps of ashes.

Sorrowfully these servants of God resolved once more to resume their
labours. A few poor natives had remained at the station, whose numbers
were being increased by others who arrived from day to day.

At this trying time the hearts of Robert Moffat and his companions were
cheered by the arrival of the Rev. Robert Miles, the Society's
superintendent, who, having made himself conversant with the affairs of
the station, suggested the great importance of preparing something like
hymns in the native language. By the continued singing of these, he
stated the great truths of salvation would become imperceptibly written
on the minds of the people.

The suggestion so kindly made was acted upon, and Moffat prepared the
first hymn in the language. The spelling-books also arrived, which
enabled the missionaries to open a school in the Sechwana tongue. Mr.
Miles returned, and the stated labours of the mission were carried
forward. With few interruptions they had been continued for ten years
without fruit. But the dawn of a new era seemed now ready to rise above
the horizon.

Yet again, however, was their faith to be sorely tried by the terrible
scourge--war. The desperadoes consisted this time of a party advancing
from the Orange River, among whom were some Griquas. The suspense and
anxiety were great, but recourse was had to prayer. On this occasion the
missionaries determined to remain at their post. A first attack was
repulsed through the intrepidity of an escaped slave named Aaron
Josephs, and a peaceful interval intervened of about two months, when a
second attack on the mission premises was threatened. By Moffat's
directions, the heights at the back of the station were crowded with
men, to give the appearance of a large defending force, though probably
not a dozen guns could have been mustered among them. The assailants
seeing the preparations for defence, drew up at some distance, and,
after a short delay, sent forward two messengers with a flag of truce.
Moffat went out to meet them, and learned that a renegade Christian
Griqua named Jantye Goeman wished to see him at their camp.

A meeting was arranged half way between the station and the camp, and
Jantye, who was ashamed to let the missionary see his face, as he had
known him at Griqua Town, tried to lay all the blame upon another
renegade, a Coranna chief named Paul, who had, in days gone by,
entertained Robert Moffat and visited his dwelling.

At this moment a waggon was seen approaching, and fearing it might
contain some one from Griqua Town, and seeing that a hostile movement
was made towards it, Moffat turned to Jantye and said, "I shall not see
your face till the waggon and its owners are safe on the station." He
instantly ran off and brought the waggon through, when it was found to
contain the Wesleyan missionaries Mr. and Mrs. Archbell from Platberg.

At last, after much hesitation, Paul himself came near. He could not
look at Moffat, and kept his hat drawn down over his eyes. He told the
missionary that he himself need have no fear, but that revenge should be
had upon the Batlaping who were at Kuruman.

"I shall have their blood and their cattle too," said Paul, as his eyes
glared with fury.

Long and patiently Moffat argued with him, showing him the enormity of
his crimes. At last the victory was won. No shot was fired, and both the
station and the Batlaping were saved. Turning to his men, and referring
to some of the missionary's cattle which had been stolen, he cried,
"Bring back those cows and sheep we took this morning."

It was done. Then he said, "I am going. There are the things of your
people. Will Mynheer not shake hands with me for once?"

"Of course I will," said Moffat, "but let me see your face."

"That I will not, indeed," he replied, "I do not want to die yet. I can
see your face through my hat."

The rude hand of war was henceforth stayed, and the land had peace for
half-a-century, during which time great and happy changes took place at
the Kuruman station.




The long delayed, and fervently prayed for time had come at last. For
ten weary years these earnest and faithful missionaries had laboured
without seeing any results. Now their hearts were to rejoice as they
should witness the work of the Holy Spirit, and see those over whom they
had so long mourned, brought to the Saviour, and out of heathen darkness
into Gospel light.

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof,
but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth;" so was it
with the awakening among the Bechwanas at the Kuruman. There seemed no
apparent cause for the intensity of feeling that was now displayed by
these people. Men, who had scorned the idea of shedding a tear, wept as
their hearts were melted. The chapel became a place of weeping, and
some, after gazing intently upon the preacher, fell down in hysterics.
The little chapel became too small to hold the numbers who flocked to
it, and with the voluntary aid of Aaron Josephs a new building,
fifty-one feet long by sixteen wide, with clay walls and thatched roof,
was erected to serve as a school-house and place of worship, until the
large stone church, which was to form the most prominent feature of the
station, should be completed.

This temporary church was opened in May, 1829, and in the following
month, after very careful examination, six candidates for baptism were
selected from among the inquirers. Speaking of these converts Robert
Moffat said, "It was truly gratifying to observe the simplicity of their
faith, implicitly relying on the atonement of Christ, of which they
appeared to have a very clear conception, considering the previous
darkness of their minds on such subjects."

They were baptised on the first Sabbath in July, a large number of
spectators from the neighbouring towns, and a party of Griquas, being
present. In the evening the missionaries, the new disciples, and a
Griqua, twelve in all, sat down to the Lord's table. In connection with
this event an interesting anecdote is related showing the strong faith
of Mary Moffat!

On one occasion, some time before this event, when all seemed dark, her
friend Mrs. Greaves of Sheffield had written to Mary Moffat kindly
inquiring if there was anything of use which she could send. The reply
returned was, "Send us a communion service, we shall want it some day."
Communication between the Kuruman and England was tardy then, and before
an answer came to her letter the darkness increased, and the Bechwanas
seemed as far from salvation as ever. On the day preceding the reception
of the first converts into the Kuruman Church, a box arrived from
England, which had been twelve months on the road, and in it were found
the communion vessels that Mary Moffat had asked for more than two years

Great as was the change, the missionaries rejoiced with trembling. They
knew that there were great prejudices to be overcome, and that the
relation in which the Christians stood to their heathen neighbours would
expose their faith to trial. But they prayed and believed that He who
had begun the good work would carry it on.

The change of heart speedily produced a change in dress and habits.
Those who had been baptised had previously procured decent raiment, and
prepared it for the occasion with Mrs. Moffat's assistance. A
sewing-school had hitherto been uncalled for, the women's work having
been that of building houses, raising fences, and tilling the ground;
now Mrs. Moffat met those who desired to learn as often as her strength
would permit, and soon she had a motley group of pupils, very few of the
whole party possessing either a frock or a gown. The scarcity of
materials was a serious impediment to progress, but ornaments, which
before the natives had held in high repute, were now parted with to
purchase the skins of animals, which being prepared almost as soft as
cloth were made into jackets, trousers, and gowns. When a visit was paid
by a trader, British manufactures were eagerly bought.

In the progress of improvement some amusing incidents occurred. A man
might be seen in a jacket with one sleeve, because the other was not yet
finished; or others went about in duffel jackets with sleeves of cotton
of various colours; gowns like Joseph's coat were worn, and dresses of
such fantastic shapes, that to tell the fashion of the same would have
been a puzzle.

To Mrs. Moffat general application was made both by males and females.
One brought skins to be cut into dresses, another wanted a jacket, a
third a pattern, while a fourth brought his jacket sewed upside down,
and asked why it did not fit. Fat, which before they always considered
was to be rubbed on their bodies or deposited in their stomachs, they
now found useful in making candles to give light in their dwellings.

The prospects of the missionaries continued cheering, and the increased
anxiety for instruction and growth in knowledge among the candidates
greatly strengthened their hands. "I seek Jesus," one would say; a
second, "I am feeling after God, I have been wandering, unconscious of
my danger, among beasts of prey; the day has dawned, I see my danger."
The missionaries were cautious men, and were slow to receive members
into their little church, but the evidence was complete that numbers
were saved.

The happy death of a native woman about this time afforded them much
encouragement. When she knew her end was near, she said to those around,
"I am going to die. Weep not because I am going to leave you, but weep
for your sins and your souls. With me all is well, for do not suppose
that I die like a beast, or that I shall sleep for ever in the grave.
No! Jesus has died for my sins; He has said he will save me, I am going
to be with Him." Thus one who a few months before was as ignorant as the
cattle, departed with the full assurance of an eternal life beyond the

Rumours had for some time past reached the Kuruman station of a strong
and warlike people who dwelt to the eastward, spoke another language,
and were strangers to the Bechwanas. In the latter portion of 1829, two
envoys were specially sent from Moselekatse, the king of this people,
the Matabele, to the mission station at Kuruman, to learn about the
manners and teaching of the white men there.

These envoys, who were two of the king's head men, were entertained, the
principal objects, industries, and methods of living were pointed out to
them; but their greatest wonder was excited when they beheld the public
worship in the mission chapel. They listened to the hymns, and to the
address, part of which only they understood, and were much surprised
when they heard that the hymns were not war songs.

When the time came for the ambassadors to depart, they begged Robert
Moffat to accompany them, as they were afraid of the Bechwana tribes
through whom they would have to pass on their return journey. This
circumstance led to his visiting the warlike Moselekatse, over whom he
obtained a marvellous influence.

The details of the journey we must pass over. As they advanced they saw
evidences on every hand of the terrible Mantatees, and the still more
terrible Matabele. In places, where populous towns and villages had
been, nothing remained but dilapidated walls and heaps of stones,
mingled with human skulls. The country had become the abode of reptiles
and beasts of prey; the inhabitants having perished beneath the spears
and clubs of their savage enemies.

The reception accorded Robert Moffat by Moselekatse may best be
described in the missionary's own words:--

"We proceeded directly to the town, and on riding into the centre of the
large fold, we were rather taken by surprise to find it lined by eight
hundred warriors, besides two hundred who were concealed on each side of
the entrance, as if in ambush. We were beckoned to dismount, which we
did, holding our horses' bridles in our hands. The warriors at the gate
instantly rushed in with hideous yells, and leaping from the earth with
a kind of kilt round their bodies, hanging like loose tails, and their
large shields, frightened our horses. They then joined the circle,
falling into rank with as much order as if they had been accustomed to
European tactics. Here we stood, surrounded by warriors, whose kilts
were of ape skins, and their legs and arms adorned with the hair and
tails of oxen, their shields reaching to their chins and their heads
adorned with feathers.

"A profound silence followed for some ten minutes; then all commenced a
war-song, stamping their feet in time with the music. No one approached,
though every eye was fixed upon us. Then all was silent, and Moselekatse
marched out from behind the lines with an interpreter, and with
attendants following, bearing meat, beer, and other food. He gave us a
hearty salutation and seemed overjoyed."

The waggons were objects that struck the dusky monarch with awe. He
examined them minutely, especially the wheels; one point remained a
mystery, how the iron tire surrounding the wheel came to be in one piece
without end or joint. Umbate, the head-man, who had visited the mission
station, explained what he had seen in the smith's shop there. "My
eyes," said he, "saw that very hand," pointing to Moffat's hand, "cut
these bars of iron, take a piece off one end, and then join them as you
now see them." "Does he give medicine to the iron?" the monarch
inquired. "No," said Umbate, "nothing is used but fire, a hammer, and a

This powerful chieftain was an absolute despot ruling over a tribe of
fierce warriors, who knew no will but his. He was the terror of all the
surrounding country, his smile was life, his frown scattered horror and
death. Yet even in his savage breast there were chords that could be
touched by kindness, and Moffat received many tokens of his friendship
during the eight days that he stayed in his town.

During one of their first interviews the monarch, laying his hand upon
Moffats shoulder, said, "My heart is all white as milk; I am still
wondering at the love of a stranger who never saw me. You have fed me,
you have protected me, you have carried me in your arms. I live to-day
by you, a stranger."

Upon Moffat replying that he was unaware of having rendered him any such
service, he said, pointing to his two ambassadors: "These are great men;
Umbate is my right hand. When I sent them from my presence to see the
land of the white men, I sent my ears, my eyes, my mouth; what they
heard I heard, what they saw I saw, and what they said it was
Moselekatse who said it. You fed them and clothed them, and when they
were to be slain you were their shield. You did it unto me. You did it
unto Moselekatse, the son of Machobane."

Moffat explained to this African king the objects of the missionary, and
pressed upon him the truths of the Gospel. On one occasion the king came
attended by a party of his warriors, who remained at a short distance
dancing and singing. "Their yells and shouts," says Moffat, "their
fantastic leaps and distorted gestures, would have impressed a stranger
with the idea that they were more like a company of fiends than men." As
he looked upon the scene, his mind was occupied in contemplating the
miseries of the savage state. He spoke to the king on man's ruin and
man's redemption. "Why," said the monarch, "are you so earnest that I
abandon all war, and do not kill men?" "Look on the human bones which
lie scattered over your dominions," was the missionary's answer. "They
speak in awful language, and to me they say, 'Whosoever sheddeth man's
blood, by man also will his blood be shed.'" Moffat also spoke of the
Resurrection, a startling subject for a savage and murderer like

The kindness of the king extended to the missionary's return journey.
Food in abundance was given to him, and a number of warriors attended
his waggon as a guard against lions on the way. After an absence of two
months he reached home in safety, where he found all well, and the
Divine blessing still resting upon the Mission. Copious showers had
fallen, and the fields and gardens teemed with plenty. The converts and
many others, leaving their old traditions as to horticulture, imitated
the example of the missionaries in leading out water to their gardens,
and raised crops, not only of their native grain, pumpkins,
kidney-beans, and water-melons, but also vegetables, such as the
missionaries had introduced, maize, wheat, barley, peas, potatoes,
carrots, onions, and tobacco--this latter they had formerly purchased
from the Bahurutsi, but now it became a profitable article of traffic.
They also planted fruit trees.

As an illustration of their zeal, which was not always according to
knowledge, the following may be given. The course of the missionary's
water-trench along the side of a hill, appeared as if it ascended,
therefore several of the natives set to work in good earnest, and cut
courses leading directly up hill, hoping the water would one day follow.

The spiritual affairs of the station kept pace with the external
improvements. The temporary chapel continued to be well filled, a
growing seriousness was observable among the people, progress was made
in reading, and there was every reason for encouragement. Early In
1830, after the second mission-house had been finished and occupied by
Mr. Hamilton, the foundation of a new and substantial stone church was
laid. Circumstances, however, and especially the difficulty of procuring
suitable timber for the roof delayed its completion for several years.

The work of translation had been kept steadily in view. In June, 1830,
Robert Moffat had finished the translation into Sechwana, of the Gospel
of Luke, and a long projected journey to the coast was undertaken by him
and his wife. The journey had for its objects, to put the two elder
children to school, to get the translation of Luke printed, and to
collect subscriptions among friends in the Colony towards the building
of the new place of worship.

At Philippolis, on their journey, they met with the French missionaries
Rolland and Lemue, of the Paris Protestant Missionary Society, and also
with Mr. and Mrs. Baillie, who had been appointed by the London
Missionary Society to the Kururnan Mission. At Graham's Town, Mary
Moffat remained behind to place the children at the Wesleyan school near
there, and Robert visited several of the mission stations in Kafirland,
and afterwards some of those within the Colony, finally reaching Cape
Town in October, 1830.

At that early day printing in Cape Town was in its infancy. It was
therefore found necessary to make application to the Governor to allow
the Gospel of Luke In Sechwana to be printed at the Government Printing
Office. The request was cheerfully acceded to, but compositors there
were none to undertake the work. This difficulty, combined with the
promise of an excellent printing press, which Dr. Philip had in his
possession for the Kuruman Mission, induced Moffat to learn printing.
He was joined by Mr. Edwards, who was now appointed to the Kuruman
station, and under the kind superintendence of the assistant in charge
of the office, they soon not only completed the work they had in hand,
but acquired a fair knowledge of the art of printing. Besides the Gospel
of Luke, a small hymn-book was printed in the Sechwana language.

A violent attack of bilious fever followed these labours, which had been
carried on in the hottest season of the year, and when the time came for
Robert Moffat to leave Cape Town he had to be carried on board the ship
on a mattress. The sea passage to Algoa Bay, however, although a rough
one, tended greatly to his restoration to health.

Sickness among their oxen, and the birth of a daughter, whom they named
Elizabeth, detained the Moffats some time at Bethelsdorp, on their
return journey; from which place, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Edwards,
they went forward to the Kuruman, where they arrived in June, 1831. They
carried with them the edition of the Gospel of Luke, a hymn-book printed
in the language of the people, a printing-press, type, paper, and ink,
besides liberal subscriptions from friends in the Colony towards the
erection of the mission church.

Great was the astonishment of the natives when they saw the
printing-press at work. Lessons, spelling-books and catechisms were
prepared for the schools. To see a white sheet of paper disappear for a
moment and then emerge covered with letters was beyond their
comprehension. After a few noisy exclamations one obtained a sheet, with
which he bounded through the village, showing it to all he met, and
saying it had been made in a moment with a round black hammer (a
printer's ball) and a shake of the arm.

A large box containing materials for clothing from a friend in
Manchester, Miss Lees, had also formed part of the baggage brought from
the Cape. Materials being now at hand, and Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Baillie
co-operating, a sewing-school on a much larger scale was established, to
the great comfort and improvement of the natives.

The congregation continued to increase and new members were added to the
church, but sorrows tempered the joy of this happy time. Small-pox
entered the country, and many of the inhabitants died; with them passed
away one of the daughters of Robert and Mary Moffat. Towards the end of
1832 the labourers at Kuruman were cheered by a visit from Dr. Philip,
who arranged that the two French missionaries, Rolland and Lemue, should
commence a mission station at Motito, a place nearly forty miles
distant, in a north-easterly direction.

In January, 1835, a scientific expedition under Dr. Andrew Smith,
arrived at Moffat's station. This visit appeared as though ordered by an
over-ruling Providence for the especial benefit of himself and his
devoted wife. It found them in sore trouble, and it brought help and a
friend in time of need. Mr. Edwards was away and Robert had been
overworked. When Dr. Smith arrived, he found him suffering from an
attack of intermittent fever, and hastened to render aid. Under the
Doctor's skilful treatment he speedily recovered. On the 10th of March
another son was added to the Moffat family, and shortly afterwards Mary
was suddenly taken seriously ill, and became so weak, that for many days
her recovery seemed hopeless. The Doctor was at that time away
surveying, but upon receiving information of the position of affairs at
Kuruman, he immediately hastened to render all the assistance in his

Speaking of this friend, raised up so unexpectedly, Robert Moffat writes
in his book: "His tender sympathy and unremitting attention in that
trying season, during which all hope of her recovery had fled, can never
be erased from our grateful recollection, for in the midst of his active
and laborious engagements at the head of the expedition, he watched for
several successive nights, with fraternal sympathy, what appeared to be
the dying pillow of my beloved partner, nor did he leave before she was
out of danger."

A life-long friendship was cherished for the one who had come to them in
their sore need, and who was always most gratefully remembered by the
African missionary and his exemplary wife.

Shortly after these events, at the request of Dr. Smith, Robert Moffat
accompanied the expedition on a visit to Moselekatse and the Matabele
country. Moselekatse was delighted to see his missionary friend again.
The scientific expedition had permission to travel through any part of
the monarch's territories, but Moffat, the king kept as his guest.
Together they visited, in the missionary's waggon, several of the
Matabele towns, and many conversations were held, in which the
importance of religion, and the evil effects of the king's policy were
faithfully pointed out.

By this journey, which occupied three months, a way was paved for some
American missionaries to reside with Moselekatse, and the country was
surveyed to find timber suitable for the roof of the new Kuruman
church. This timber was afterwards collected by Messrs. Hamilton and
Edwards--the wood-cutters having to travel to a distance of two hundred
and fifty miles--and fashioned into the roof of the church; which stands
at this day a monument of the united labours of Hamilton, Moffat, and
Edwards; and a wonder to beholders as to how such an achievement could
have been performed with the slender means then at hand.


Upon Moffat's return home again, his wife, by Dr. Smith's orders, left
for the Cape to recruit her strength; and Robert Moffat went
itinerating among the scattered Bechwanas. A most interesting time was
spent at a village, one hundred and fifty miles from Kuruman, where a
chief named Mosheu and his people resided. Three times did the
missionary preach to them on the first day, besides answering the
questions of all who gathered round. Many were most anxious to learn to
read, and such spelling-books as Moffat had with him were distributed
among them.

Some of the head men thought they would like to try, and requested
Moffat to teach them. A large sheet alphabet, torn at one corner, was
found, and laid on the ground. All knelt in a circle round it, some of
course viewing the letters upside down. "I commenced pointing with a
stick," says he, "and when I pronounced one letter, all hallooed to some
purpose. When I remarked that perhaps we might manage with somewhat less
noise, one replied, 'that he was sure the louder he roared, the sooner
would his tongue get accustomed to the seeds' as he called the letters."

Somewhat later, a party of young folks seized hold of the missionary,
with the request, "Oh, teach us the A B C with music." Dragged and
pushed, he entered one of the largest native houses, which was instantly
crowded. The tune of "Auld Lang Syne" was pitched to A B C, and soon the
strains were echoed to the farthest corner of the village. Between two
and three o'clock on the following morning, Moffat got permission to
retire to rest; his slumbers were, however, disturbed by the assiduity
of the sable choristers; and on awaking after a brief repose, his ears
were greeted on all sides by the familiar notes of the Scotch air.

Very pleasing progress was made by these people in Christian knowledge.
Mosheu brought his daughter to Mrs. Moffat for instruction, and his
brother took his son to Mr. Lemue at Motito for the same purpose.

The mission at the Kuruman continued to prosper, both at the home and
the out-stations. Numbers of Bechwanas were added to the church, both at
Kuruman and Griqua Town. Under Mr. Edwards' superintendence the readers
largely increased, and the Infant School, commenced and carried on by
Mrs. Edwards, with the assistance of a native girl, was highly
satisfactory. Civilisation advanced, some of the natives purchasing
waggons, and using oxen for labour which formerly had been performed by
women. Clothing was in such demand, that a merchant named Hume, an
honourable trader in whom the missionaries had confidence, built a
house, and settled at the station. The new church, after much labour,
was opened in November, 1838, on which occasion between eight and nine
hundred persons attended the service; and on the following Sabbath, one
hundred and fifty members united in celebrating the Lord's Supper.

Persevering Christian love, combined with strong faith, much prayer, and
untiring labour, had changed the barren wilderness into a fruitful land.





The work of Bible translation had been steadily pressed forward; all
available time having been devoted by Robert Moffat to that undertaking.
By the end of 1838, the whole of the New Testament had been rendered
into the native tongue, and a journey was made by the Moffats to Cape
Town, to recruit their health, and to get the Sechwana New Testament
printed; the task being too heavy for the mission press. Cape Town was
but little better off than the Kuruman for accomplishing a work of this
magnitude, and it speedily became apparent that the printing would have
to be undertaken in England.

Twenty-two years had passed away since the youthful missionary stood
upon the deck of the _Alacrity_, and bade farewell to the land of his
birth. During that time he had never allowed his interest in the affairs
of his native country to grow cold. Letters and newspapers had been
eagerly welcomed, and the memory of friends in the far distant isle had
been most keenly cherished, both by him and his Mary. Now once more they
were to tread upon its well-loved shores, and to tell to its people the
story of God's work among the savage tribes of South Africa.

There were no floating "Castles"[A] at that time, making the journey in
twenty days, and a passage had to be taken in a small ship
homeward-bound from China, having troops on board. Measles raged at the
Cape, and sickness was on board ship. Between the two the Moffats had
much to endure, and the vessel had not left Table Bay when another
daughter was born to add to their joy and anxiety. Three days' after his
sister came, dear six-year-old Jamie, lying beside his prostrate mother
in her cot, was called to the Better Land, with the words, "Oh, that
will be joyful, when we meet to part no more," upon his dying lips.

[A]: [Donald Currie's line of Mail steamships, the _Garth Castle_, &c.,
which make the voyage to the Cape in twenty days.]

On the 6th June, 1839, the ship anchored off Cowes, and a few days later
reached London. The reception of Robert Moffat was most enthusiastic,
and so great was the demand for his presence at public meetings, that it
was with the utmost difficulty he procured liberty to visit his own

Twenty years had made great changes in the homes at both Dukinfield and
Inverkeithing. Mary Moffat's aged father was living, but her mother and
a brother had been called away, another brother was in America, and a
third was a missionary in Madras. Robert's parents were still living,
but a brother and two sisters had passed away. Many friends, whose kind
and generous thoughtfulness had often cheered the heart of the faithful
missionary and his faithful wife in their voluntary exile, now gathered
around them, among whom were Mrs. Greaves of Sheffield, the donor of the
Communion Service, and Miss Lees of Manchester.

Of the events connected with this visit to England, want of space
precludes us from giving details. A great wave of missionary enthusiasm
at that time swept over the country, and Moffat found himself hurried
from town to town with but scant opportunities for rest. In May, 1840,
he preached the Anniversary Sermon for the London Missionary Society,
and, at their Annual Meeting, Exeter Hall was packed so densely that
after making his speech in the large upper hall, Moffat had to give it
again in the smaller hall below.

An anecdote related in the course of his speech at the Bible Society's
May Meeting shows the value set by a native woman upon a single Gospel
in the native tongue. "She was a Matabele captive," said Moffat. "Once,
while visiting the sick, as I entered her premises, I found her sitting
weeping, with a portion of the Word of God in her hand. I said, 'My
child what is the cause of your sorrow? Is the baby still unwell?' 'No,'
she replied, 'my baby is well,' 'Your mother-in-law?' I inquired. 'No,
no,' she said, 'it is my own dear mother, who bore me.' Here she again
gave vent to her grief, and, holding out the Gospel of Luke, in a hand
wet with tears, she said, 'My mother will never see this word; she will
never hear this good news! Oh, my mother and my friends, they live in
heathen darkness; and shall they die without seeing the light which has
shone on me, and without tasting that love which I have tasted!' Raising
her eyes to heaven she sighed a prayer, and I heard the words again, 'My
mother, my mother!'"

His hope when he landed had been to get the printing of the Sechwana New
Testament speedily accomplished, and to return to South Africa before
winter; but it was not until January, 1843, that he was able once again
to sail for Africa.

In 1840 two new missionaries were set apart for the Bechwana
mission--- William Ross and David Livingstone. With them Robert Moffat
was able to send five hundred copies of the Sechwana New Testament.

As the sheets were passing through the press, it was suggested to him
that the Psalms would be a valuable addition to the work. With his
characteristic energy he immediately commenced the task, and, a few
months after the sailing of Ross and Livingstone, he had the joy of
sending to Africa over two thousand copies of the New Testament, with
which the Psalms had been bound up. By the end of 1843 six thousand
copies had been sent out. A revision of the book of Scripture Lessons
was also undertaken and carried through the press. A demand was made
upon him to write a book, in response to which he prepared his well
known work, "Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa," which was
published in 1842, and met with great success.

At length the time drew near when once more Robert and Mary Moffat
should cross the sea to their beloved home at Kuruman. Valedictory
services of a most enthusiastic character were held in Scotland,
Newcastle, Manchester, and London. At Edinburgh a copy of the
"Encyclopaedia Britannica" was presented to Robert Moffat, and at
Newcastle a set of scientific instruments was given him. A great impetus
was imparted to missionary work abroad through these and preceding
meetings, during his sojourn in England, and when on the 30th of
January, 1843, he and his wife embarked at Gravesend, accompanied by two
new missionaries for the Bechwana field, they carried with them the
esteem of a wide circle of friends, and had the fervent prayers of many
offered up on their behalf.

On the 10th of April they landed at Cape Town, and six weeks later
embarked in a small coasting vessel for Algoa Bay. At Bethelsdorp, a
village a few miles beyond Port Elizabeth, they rejoined Messrs. Ashton
and Inglis, who with their wives had gone on before by steamer; but here
they were detained for several months, waiting for a vessel to arrive
from England which had on board a large quantity of baggage for the
missionaries and their work.

[Illustration: CAPE TOWN.]

At last the start was made, the long train of ox waggons wended their
way, the Orange River was crossed, this time on a pont or floating
bridge, and at the Vaal River, one hundred and fifty miles distant from
Kuruman, the missionary party were met by David Livingstone, who had
ridden forth to bid them welcome.

From this point onwards friends both white and black emulated each other
in testifying their gladness at their friend's return, until as the
Moffats drew near to Kuruman their progress became like a royal one. At
last between two and three o'clock on the 10th of December, 1843, they
sat down once again in their own home, amongst those for whom they had
toiled so zealously, and over whom their hearts yearned with a holy
love. The delight of the natives at having their missionary and his wife
among them again was unbounded. In a letter published in the _Missionary
Magazine_, October, 1844, Moffat thus writes, giving an account of their
reception:--"Many were the hearty welcomes we received, all appearing
emulous to testify their joy. Old and young, even the little children,
would shake hands with us. Some gave vent to their joy with an air of
heathen wildness, and some in silent floods of tears; while others,
whose hearts had sickened with deferred hope, would ask again and again,
'Do our eyes indeed behold you?' Thus we found ourselves once more among
a people who loved us, and who had longed for our return."

The mission having been largely reinforced, it was arranged that Mr, and
Mrs. Ross should go to Taung, about one hundred miles east of Kuruman,
where a portion of the Bechwana tribe had settled under Mahura, a
brother of Mothibi; while Edwards and Livingstone were to commence work
among the Bakhatla, two hundred miles to the north-east. Inglis was to
go to the same neighbourhood; thus the regular missionary staff of the
Kuruman station comprised after their departure, the venerable Mr.
Hamilton, who had seen the commencement of the Bechwana Mission in 1816,
Mr. and Mrs. Ashton, and the Moffats.

The place to which Edwards and Livingstone had gone was a large native
town near to the haunts of lions. These greatly harassed the cattle and
deprived the missionaries of sleep. One day a hunt was arranged.
Livingstone joined the party, was attacked by the lion, and was only
rescued with a broken and mangled arm by the bravery and devotion of his
native servant, Mebalwe, who himself got severely bitten.


During his recovery from this injury Livingstone visited the Kuruman,
and there won the heart of Moffat's eldest daughter, her mother's
namesake, who soon afterwards exchanged the name of Mary Moffat for that
of Mary Livingstone. In due course she accompanied her husband to
Chonwane where for a time he was located with Sechele, the chief of the

The life of the missionaries at the Kuruman was a, busy one. All were
fully employed. Moffat's principal work was translation, and in this his
colleague Ashton afforded him much critical assistance, besides
relieving him almost entirely of the duties of the printing office. But
other work had to be undertaken. The natives needed much help and
guidance; dwelling-houses had to be enlarged and new schoolrooms built,
and, as there were no funds for the payment of artisans, the
missionaries had to put their own hands to the work; besides which, as
money was not forthcoming to meet the cost of the new schoolrooms, a
kind of amateur store was opened by the missionaries' wives for the sale
of clothing to the natives.

The Rev. J. J. Freeman who visited Africa a few years later, in 1849,
gives us a picture of the Kuruman station as he saw it. "It wears," says
he, "a very pleasing appearance. The mission premises, with the walled
gardens opposite, form a street wide and long. The chapel is a
substantial and well-looking building of stone. By the side of it stands
Mr. Moffat's house, simple yet commodious. In a cottage hard by, the
venerable Hamilton was passing his declining days, extremely feeble, but
solaced by the motherly care of his colleague's wife. The gardens were
well stocked with fruit and vegetables, requiring much water, but easily
getting it from the 'fountain.' On the Sunday morning the chapel bell
rang for early service. Breakfasting at seven, all were ready for the
schools at half-past eight. The infants were taught by Miss Moffat
(their daughter Ann, afterwards Mrs. Frédoux) in their school-house;
more advanced classes were grouped in the open air, or collected in the
adjacent buildings. Before ten the work of separate teaching ceased, and
young and old assembled for public worship. A sanctuary, spacious and
lofty, and airy withal, was comfortably filled with men, women, and
children, for the most part decently dressed."


This description may be supplemented by that of a scene of frequent
occurrence, given in "Robert and Mary Moffat" by their son Mr. John A.
Moffat. He says: "The public services were, of course, in the Sechwana
language. Once a week the missionary families met for an English
devotional meeting. It was also a sort of custom that as the sun went
down there should be a short truce from work every evening. A certain
eminence at the back of the station became, by common consent, the
meeting-place. There the missionary fathers of the hamlet would be
found, each sitting on his accustomed stone. Before them lay the broad
valley, once a reedy morass, now reclaimed and partitioned out into
garden lands; its margin fringed with long water-courses, overhung with
grey willows and the dark green syringa. On the low ground bordering the
valley stood the church, with its attendant mission-houses and schools,
and on the heights were perched the native villages, for the most part
composed of round, conical huts, not unlike corn-stacks at a distance,
with some more ambitious attempts at house-building in the shape of
semi-European cottages. Eastward stretched a grassy plain, bounded by
the horizon, and westward a similar plain, across which about five miles
distant, was a range of low hills. Down to the right, in a bushy dell,
was the little burying-ground, marked by a few trees."

In 1845, Robert Moffat narrowly escaped an accident that would have
involved most serious consequences. He was superintending the erection
of a new corn-mill, and whilst seeing to its being properly started,
incautiously stretched his arm over two cog-wheels. In an instant the
shirt sleeve was caught and drawn in, and with it the arm. Fortunately
the mill was stopped in time, but an ugly wound, six inches in length,
with torn edges, bore witness to the danger escaped. This wound laid him
aside for many weeks, but finally he recovered from the effects of the

For the next four or five years things pursued an even course at the
Kuruman. In 1846, Mary Moffat started on a journey to visit the
Livingstones at Chonwane. She availed herself of the escort of a native
hunting party, and took her three younger children with her. She passed
through the usual dangers of such a journey, as the following extract
from a letter written to her husband will show:--

"I am very glad of Boey's company.... I should indeed have felt very
solitary with my lone waggon with ignorant people, but he is so
completely at home in this field that one feels quite easy. We do not
stop at nights by the waters, but come to them at mid-day, and then
leave about three or four o'clock. We cannot but be constantly on the
outlook for lions, as we come on their spoor every day, and the people
sometimes hear them roar. Just before outspanning to-day, Boey, being on
horseback looking for water, met with a majestic one, which stood still
and looked at him. He tried to frighten the lion, but he stood his
ground, when Boey thought it was time to send a ball into him, which
broke his leg, by which means he is disabled from paying us a visit."

Early in 1847 a general meeting of those engaged in the Bechwana mission
was held at Lekatlong (near what are now the Diamond Fields). On his way
homewards from this meeting Moffat visited some of the Batlaping
villages along the Kolong River. A striking advance had taken place of
late years, and a severe contest was going on between heathenism and
Christianity. A little company of believers had gathered in each place,
and were ministered to by native teachers, who had spent a few months in
training at Kuruman.

In the same year Mary Moffat left for the Cape to make arrangements for
educating her younger children. As Robert could not leave his work she
journeyed alone, having as attendants four Bechwana men and a maid.
These partings wrung the mother's heart. The time spent on the road was
precious, and although it extended to two months, seemed all too short.
She felt that never again would she have her young children about her.
The son, John, was placed at school in Cape Town for a time, and the two
daughters were sent under the care of a worthy minister to England. Of
the parting with these her darlings Mary Moffat wrote:--"Though my heart
was heaving with anguish I joyfully and thankfully acceded forthwith
(_i.e._, to the offer of the Rev. J. Crombie Brown to take the
children), and set about preparations in good earnest. This was about
the end of January. On the tenth of February they embarked, and after
stopping the night on board I tore myself from my darlings to return to
my desolate lodgings to contemplate my solitary journey, and to go to my
husband and home childless." Of her it may be said, _She left all and
followed Him_!

In 1848 the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes had been finished and
Isaiah begun. In 1849 "Pilgrim's Progress" was added to the Sechwana
literature, and the work of translation steadily progressed. "Line upon
Line" had also been rendered into the native tongue by Mr. Ashton.

But while all was peaceful and in a measure prosperous at the Kuruman,
clouds were gathering to the eastward, which were destined eventually to
throw a dark shadow over the whole Bechwana Mission. The encroachments
of the Boers upon the natives led to much bloodshed, and to the
dispersion of several native tribes, with the consequent abandonment of
mission-work among them. One of the early sufferers was Moselekatse,
who, having been attacked in 1837, had retired to a place far away to
the north-east, and for some years nothing was heard of him, except by
vague rumour; indeed his very existence was a matter of doubt.

Livingstone had settled with Sechele at Kolobeng, which place he used
simply as a base of operations for visiting the eastern tribes, and
prosecuting missionary work among them. Much good was done, and the
Scriptures in Sechwana, as far as issued, were circulated among the
people. But the Boers advanced, the natives were dispossessed of their
lands, and missionaries were expelled from their regions. Finding that
all hope of carrying on the work in this neighbourhood was over,
Livingstone turned his eyes northward, and commenced that series of
explorations which absorbed the remainder of his life. Sechele retired
to a mountain fastness, named Lithubaruba, away to the north-west.

As time passed onward, Robert Moffat felt more than ever the importance
of completing the work he had undertaken--the translation of the entire
Bible into Sechwana. Every minute that could be devoted to the task was
eagerly embraced, his labours often extending far into the night.
Numerous interruptions made the work more difficult. "Many, many are the
times I have sat down and got my thoughts somewhat in order," he writes,
"with pen in hand to write a verse, the correct rendering of which I had
just arrived at, after wading through other translations and lexicons,
when one enters my study with some complaint he has to make, or counsel
to ask, or medical advice and medicine to boot, a tooth to be extracted,
a subscription to the auxiliary to be measured or counted; or one calls
to say he is going to the Colony, and wishes something like a passport;
anon strangers from other towns, and visitors from the interior arrive,
who all seem to claim a right to my attentions."

This incessant application was making inroads upon his health, and the
strong powerful frame and iron constitution of the Scotch missionary
began to show signs that could not be neglected. A peculiar affection of
the head troubled him--a constant roaring noise like the falling of a
cataract, and a buzzing as of a boiling up of waters. It never ceased
day and night, and he lost much sleep in consequence of it. His only
relief seemed to be in study and preaching, when the malady was not
noticed; but immediately these occupations were over it was found to be
there, and reasserted itself in full force.

In 1851 the rebellion of the Kat River Hottentots occurred, which, for a
long time, brought obloquy upon the missionaries of South Africa and the
Mission cause.

In 1852 Mr. Hamilton was gathered to his rest, after having been the
faithful coadjutor of Robert Moffat, and a missionary at the Kuruman for
thirty-four years; the next year tidings reached Mary Moffat that her
beloved father had ended his pilgrimage at the ripe age of ninety years.

A short time previous a letter had been received from the Directors of
the London Missionary Society, urging Robert Moffat to take sick leave
and visit the Cape, or to return to England, but, as rest and change
were absolutely essential, Moffat determined to find the needed
relaxation in visiting his old native friend, Moselekatse. He was also
in doubt as to the fate of his son-in-law, Livingstone, who had started
long before for the tribes on the Zambesi.

Carrying supplies for that missionary, in hope of being able to succour
him, in May, 1854, Moffat once again bade his faithful partner farewell,
and started for a journey to a comparatively unknown country, seven or
eight hundred miles away. The son of Mr. Edwards, the missionary who for
some time had laboured with Moffat at Kuruman, and a young man named
James Chapman accompanied him, for purposes of trade. After journeying
for several days through a desert country, they reached Sechele's
mountain fastness. Moffat found that chief in great difficulties, but
still holding to the faith into which he had been baptised by
Livingstone. One hundred and twenty more miles of desert travelling
brought the party to Shoshong, the residence of another chief and his
tribe. Thence after groping their way for eighteen days in a region new
to them, without guides, they reached a village containing some natives
who were subject to the Matabele king.

For some days Moffat and his companions were not allowed to advance. The
Induna in charge of the outpost was afraid of a mistake, but at last a
message came that they were to proceed, and finally they drew near to
the royal abode. The chief was filled with joy at meeting his old friend
"Moshete." An account of the interview is described in Moffat's journal,
from which we extract the following:--"On turning round, there he
sat--how changed! The vigorous, active, and nimble chief of the
Matabele, now aged, sitting on a skin, lame in his feet, unable to walk,
or even to stand. I entered, he grasped my hand, gave one earnest look,
and drew his mantle over his face. It would have been an awful sight for
his people to see the hero of a hundred fights wipe from his eyes the
falling tears. He spoke not, except to pronounce my name, Moshete,
again and again. He looked at me again, his hand still holding mine, and
he again covered his face. My heart yearned with compassion for his
soul. Drawing a little nearer to the outside, so as to be within sight
of Mokumbate, his venerable counsellor, he poured out his joy to him."

The old chief was suffering with dropsy, but under Moffat's medical care
he recovered, and was soon able to walk about again. The advice which
had been given to him by his missionary friend during their previous
intercourse, had not been wholly lost, the officers who attended him, as
well as those of lower grades, stating that the rigour of his government
had since that time been greatly modified.

Moffat stayed with Moselekatse nearly three months. After much
persuasion, permission was given him to preach the Gospel to the
Matabele people, a privilege hitherto always denied. On the 24th of
September, 1854, these people received, for the first time, instruction
in the subjects of creation, providence, death, redemption, and

It was Moffat's purpose to journey forward beyond the Matabele to the
Makololo tribe, to leave supplies at their town of Linyanti, so that
Livingstone might obtain them if he returned safely from St. Paul de
Loanda, on the west coast. Moselekatse would not accede to the idea of
him going alone, and finally the king himself determined to accompany
him. The Makololo and Matabele were, however, like many other of the
native tribes, hostile to each other. With the bags, boxes, &c., on the
heads of some of the men best acquainted with the country, the party set
out, but after travelling to the farthest outpost of the Marabele, the
king declared it was impossible for the waggons to proceed. At Moffat's
earnest request, he sent forward a party of his men with the supplies,
which in due course reached the Makololo, who placed them on an island,
built a roof over them, and there they were found in safety by
Livingstone when he returned some months afterwards from the west coast.

Towards the end of October, Moffat bade farewell to the Matabele king.
Moselekatse pressed him to prolong his stay, pleading that he had not
seen enough of him, and that he had not yet shown him sufficient
kindness. "Kindness!" replied Moffat, "you have overwhelmed me with
kindness, and I shall now return with a heart overflowing with thanks."
Leaving the monarch a supply of suitable medicines to keep his system in
tolerable order, and admonishing him to give up beer drinking, and to
receive any Christian teacher who might come as he had received him, the
missionary took his departure. The long return journey was accomplished
without any remarkable event, and in due course Moffat reached his home
again in safety.

By this journey his health was much improved, his intercourse and
friendship with the people of the interior were cemented and extended,
and he looked forward with hopeful assurance to the early advancement of
Christianity to those distant regions.





The great task was at length accomplished; the work of nearly thirty
years brought to a close. The Word of God in the language of the
Bechwana people, in all its glorious completeness and power, was now in
their hands.

To Robert Moffat the labour had been of a herculean character. He had
spared himself no labour or drudgery which its prosecution involved. To
accomplish it he had left his home and lived a semi-savage life for
nearly three months, that he might perfect himself in the language.
Without any special training for the important undertaking, and under
the greatest disadvantages, he had not only acquired the language, but
reduced it to its elements, and then presented it in a synthetic and
grammatical form. Beyond that his earnest desire had been to render the
whole Bible into the native tongue.

As age increased, the importance of finishing the work became more and
more apparent, till even a minute spent in anything but purely
mission-work, or his translation duties, seemed as wasted time. Writing
when the end was near, he said: "When I take up a newspaper, it is only
to glance at it with a feeling like that of committing sacrilege. I have
sometimes been arrested with something interesting, and have read it
with ten or more strokes in the minute added to my pulse, from the
anxiety caused by the conviction that I am spending precious time apart
from its paramount object, while I feel perfectly composed over anything
which I am satisfied has a direct bearing on the true object of the

But the work was now accomplished, the last sheet had been passed for
press, the last verse of the Old Testament completed, and now his mind,
which had been for so many years strained under the weighty
responsibility of translating the Word of God, was free. Of his feelings
on this occasion he made mention in a speech delivered some years later
at Port Elizabeth, on the occasion of his final departure from South
Africa. We quote from the Chronicle of the London Missionary Society for
August, 1870.

"At last," he said, referring to the commencement of the undertaking, "I
came to the resolution that if no one else would do it, I would
undertake it myself. I entered heartily upon the work. For many years I
had no leisure, every spare moment being devoted to translating, and was
a stranger even in my own family. There was labour every day, for back,
for hands, for head. This was especially the case during the time Mr.
Edwards was there; our condition was almost one of slavery. Still the
work advanced, and at last I had the satisfaction of completing the New
Testament. Of this 6000 copies were printed by the Home Society.

"When Dr. Livingstone came, he urged me to begin at once with the Old
Testament. That was a most stupendous work. Before commencing it I
passed many sleepless nights. It was the wish of all that I should
undertake it. I did so, and went on with the work from time to time, as
I had leisure, daily and nightly. I stuck to it till I had got as far as
the end of Kings, when I became completely done up. The Directors were
afraid that I was killing myself. I was advised to go home, to leave the
work, but I decided otherwise. I determined to look up Moselekatse, and
went off with a son of brother Edwards. By the time I had found
Moselekatse, I had got all right again. I came back and resumed my work,
and continued it till its completion. I cannot describe to you the
feelings of that time--of the writing of the last verse. I could hardly
believe that I was in the world, so difficult was it for me to realise
the fact that my labour of years was completed. Whether it was from
weakness or overstrained mental exertion, I cannot tell; but a feeling
came over me that I would die, and I felt perfectly resigned. To
overcome this I went back again to my manuscript still to be printed,
read it over, and re-examined it, till at length I got back again to my
right mind. This was the most remarkable time of my life, a period I
shall never forget. My feelings found vent by my falling upon my knees
and thanking God for His grace and goodness in giving me strength to
accomplish my task. My work was thus accomplished, and now I see the
Word of God read by thousands of Bechwanas in their native tongue."

An incident related in his speech at the Bible Society's Annual Meeting
upon the occasion of his first visit to England in 1839, shows the
importance to the natives of having the Bible in their own tongue.
Speaking of his translation of the Gospel of Luke, he alluded to the
state of the unconverted heathen, and the contrast manifested by the
Christian converts. When the heathen saw the converts reading the Book
which had produced this change, they inquired if they (the converts)
talked to it. "No," answered they, "it talks to us; for it is the Word
of God." "What then," replied the strangers, "does it _speak_?" "Yes,"
said the Christians, "it speaks to the heart!" This explanation was
true, and was often illustrated in fact; for among those to whom the
same Book was read by others, it became proverbial to say that the
readers were "turning their hearts inside out!"

[Illustration: DR. LIVINGSTONE.]

In 1854 Mary Moffat paid another visit to the Colony, and was in
consequence away from home when Robert returned from his journey to
Moselekatse. Tidings reached him about that time of the death of his
mother, the one who first instilled into his breast an enthusiasm for
the missionary calling. She died as she had lived, a godly, consistent
woman, and was called to the heavenly city at the age of eighty-four.

In 1856 Dr. Livingstone, after his unparalleled walk from Loanda, on the
west coast, to Quillimane, on the east--from the shores of the Atlantic
to those of the Indian Ocean--visited England. His visit, and the
description he gave of the country and natives, rekindled missionary
enthusiasm, a special interest being taken in the Matabele and Makololo
tribes. The London Missionary Society resolved to establish missions
among them. As the locality where the Makololo dwelt was in the midst of
a marshy network of rivers, it was considered as a necessary condition
of commencing the proposed missionary work that they should remove to a
spot on the north bank of the Zambesi, opposite to where the Matabele
dwelt on the south bank. The two tribes were, however, hostile to each
other; and, to overcome this hostility, it was determined to
simultaneously establish missions among both tribes. With this object in
mind the Directors wrote to Robert Moffat, proposing that he should go
for a twelvemonth to the Matabele, taking two younger men with him, and
plant a mission among this people.

This letter reached him just as he had completed the translation and
printing of the Old Testament; and, notwithstanding that he was then
sixty-two years of age, and had already been forty-one years hard at
work for the Society, he determined to go. He felt, however, that it was
necessary for him to start at once, and prepare the minds of Moselekatse
and his people for the coming among them of missionaries. Thus it came
about that once again Robert Moffat quitted Kuruman, and started forward
for the long and trying journey, through the African desert, to visit
his old friend, and obtain his consent to the settlement of missionaries
among his people.

Visiting the chief Sechele on the way, he pursued his course until he at
length reached the headquarters of Moselekatse. The king was not very
enthusiastic about receiving missionaries for himself and his people. He
was somewhat suspicious; and his former experience with the American
missionaries at Mosega had been rather unfortunate, the Boers having
attacked the Matabele, and, after pillaging the mission station, carried
the missionaries away with them. However, he would receive the
new-comers,--but his friend Moshete must come also. "I love you," said
he, "you are my father. These new men I do not know them. All men are
not alike."

This African monarch had sufficient knowledge to know that, if the
doctrines of the Bible prevailed among his tribe, his claims to divine
honour would for ever cease. His warriors used to pay him homage as
follows: "O Pezoolu, the king of kings, king of the heavens, who would
not fear before the son of Machobane (his father's name), mighty in
battle?" and with other similar marks of adulation. He also had a shrewd
suspicion that the opening of the country for white men to come and
settle, would mean, eventually, the downfall of the power of himself and
his people? but in his friend Ramary, or Moshete, he had implicit

As an instance of the power which Moffat had obtained over this despotic
chief of a fierce African tribe, it may be related that he prevailed
upon Moselekatse to grant deliverance to the heir to the chieftainship
of the Bamangwato, a large tribe living at Shoshong, to the north-east
of Sechele's people. It was after a long conversation that the thing was
settled. Macheng, the heir, who had been detained captive for sixteen
years, was called, and Moselekatse addressing him said: "Macheng, man of
Moffat, go with your father. We have arranged respecting you. Moffat
will take you back to Sechele. That is my wish as well as his, that you
should be in the first instance restored to the chief from whom you were
taken in war. When captured you were a child; I have reared you to be a

The effect of this deliverance on the neighbouring tribes was very
great. It occurred while Moffat was with Moselekatse, arranging for the
settlement of the new missionaries. When he and his charge arrived at
Sechele's town, on his way home, he was met by Sechele and the other
chiefs of his tribe, who marched on in front, and led them to a kind of
natural amphitheatre, where at least ten thousand of the people, in all
their equipments of war, were assembled. Sechele commanded silence, and
introduced the business of the meeting. Speaker followed speaker, in
enthusiastic language giving expression to the joy they felt at seeing
the chief of the Bamangwato return from captivity. In the course of his
speech one said as follows:--

"Ye tribes, ye children of the ancients, this day is a day of marvel....
Now I begin to perceive that those who preach are verily true. If Moffat
were not of God, he would not have espoused the cause of Sechele, in
receiving his words, and delivering Macheng from the dwelling-place of
the beasts of prey, to which we Bechwanas dared not approach. There are
those who contend that there is nothing in religion. Let such to-day
throw away their unbelief. If Moffat were not such a man, he would not
have done what he has done, in bringing him who was lost--him who was
dead--from the strong bondage of the mighty. Moselekatse is a lion; he
conquered nations, he robbed the strong ones, he bereaved mothers, he
took away the son of Kheri. We talk of love. What is love? We hear of
the love of God. Is it not through the love of God that Macheng is among
us to-day? A stranger, one of a nation--who of you knows its distance
from us?--he makes himself one of us, enters the lion's abode, and
brings out to us our own blood."

On reaching home, from his visit to the Matabele, Moffat found that the
Livingstones were starting for the Zambesi, and were to call at the Cape
on their way; also that a large party of new missionaries had been
appointed to commence the new interior missions. The Moffats at once
started for the Cape, and there met Dr. and Mrs. Livingstone and their
companions. Once more the mother and daughter embraced each other, and
as the latter had suffered much on the voyage, it was arranged that she
should accompany the missionary party, and travel overland to the

At Cape Town Moffat also had the pleasure of welcoming his own son, the
Rev. John Moffat, who was to proceed to the Matabele as a missionary,
paid for out of Dr. Livingstone's private resources. Sir George Grey,
Her Majesty's High Commissioner, warmly encouraged the proposed plans
for extending Christianity and commerce to the interior tribes, and
arranged with Robert Moffat for establishing a postal communication with
the Zambesi _viâ_ Kuruman.

All arrangements having been completed the missionaries left Cape Town
on their way to Kuruman, from whence they were to proceed to their
respective stations, with the Makololo and the Matabele. Delays,
however, intervened; the Boers had attacked some of the Batlapings, and
threatened to attack the Kuruman station; the difficulties of the road
also prevented some of the party arriving with the others. At last,
however, the way was made clear, the opposition of the Boers to the
advance of the party was, through the intervention of Sir George Grey,
overcome, and on the 7th of July, 1859, the first division started for
their far distant destination. This division comprised Mr. Helmore, a
veteran who for many years had been stationed at Lekatlong, with his
wife and four children, and Mr. and Mrs. Price. There was also a native
teacher from Lekatlong, named Tabe, who determined to accompany his old
missionary, and the usual staff of native attendants. These were all to
proceed to the Makololo. The situation was a grave one. The end of the
journey was a point a thousand miles farther into the interior than any
of them had ever been, except two native servants, who had accompanied
Livingstone on a previous occasion. But they went forward in faith not
knowing what lay before them, but trusting all into the hands of Him,
without whose knowledge not even a sparrow falls to the ground.

A week later Mr. Thomas and John Moffat with their wives left; they were
speedily followed by Robert Moffat and Mr. Sykes. At Sechele's town the
two portions of this latter division were united, and thence they
journeyed onwards towards the Matabele. Disease broke out among some of
their oxen, and, on reaching the first outpost of Moselekatse's people,
a messenger was sent forward to the king explaining the state of
affairs, and proposing that the oxen of the missionaries should be left
in quarantine, and that Moselekatse should supply his own oxen to bring
the party to headquarters. This message was sent so as to avoid
connecting the advent of the Gospel among these people with that of a
pestilence among their herds of cattle; which would inevitably have
been the case had the diseased oxen proceeded onwards and infected those
belonging to the Matabele.

An answer was returned to the effect that the party were to proceed, and
that though the epidemic took effect, they should be held guiltless.

Moffat despatched a second messenger, to say that he had heard the
king's words, and in a couple of days would leave; but that he begged
the monarch to reflect on the consequences of the epidemic being
introduced among his tens of thousands of cattle, and to believe that
the mission party felt the most extreme anxiety upon the subject.

They then proceeded forward very slowly for two or three days, when they
were met by another messenger, who stated that Moselekatse was gratified
with the anxiety expressed for him and his; and that now, fully
convinced of his danger, he desired that all their oxen should return,
and that warriors were advancing to drag the mission waggons to

Every one started with surprise at the strange idea, but soon the
warriors came, shields, and spears, and all, also a number of oxen to be
slaughtered for food. After some war evolutions, the warriors took the
place of the draught oxen, and a start was made. There was many "a
strong pull, a long pull, and a pull all together," as the waggons
rolled onward; but after ten days' hard struggle and slow progress, it
became evident that the men sent were unequal to the task, and the
monarch, who for some unknown reason had kept his oxen back, sent them
at last to bring the waggons to his camp.

Moselekatse received his old friend with his usual cordiality; but it
soon became evident that something was wrong. All kinds of evasions and
delays met the request for a spot of ground on which to found a mission
station; days, weeks, and months passed, during which the missionaries
suffered great hardships; and at last the chief broke up his camp and
left them, without oxen to draw their waggons, saying that he would send
people to guide them to the spot where they were to settle, and at which
place he would join them later on.

His conduct seemed strange, and Moffat began to suspect that he had
repented of giving his permission for the missionaries to settle with
him. This proved to be the case; the Boer inroads, following as they had
done, in several cases, the advent of the missionaries, made him
suspicious, and the fears of himself and people having been aroused, the
question was in debate as to whether the settlement should be allowed or

At last a favourable change took place, the clouds dispersed, and the
sky became clear. Oxen were sent to take the missionary waggons forward
to Inyati, there to join Moselekatse. All was settled, a spot which
looked well for a station was pointed out, each of the new-comers
pitched his tent under a tree that he had chosen, until a more solid
dwelling should be erected, and the Matabele Mission was fairly
established. This was in December, 1859.

The Mission was established, but work had only begun. The first six
months of the year 1860 were months of incessant toil to the
missionaries at Inyati. Houses had to be built, waggons repaired, and
garden ground made ready for cultivation. Early and late, Moffat was to
be found at work,--in the saw-pit, at the blacksmith's forge, or
exercising his skill at the carpenter's bench; in all ways aiding and
encouraging his younger companions. He also endeavoured to gain
Moselekatse's consent to the opening of regular communication with the
Livingstone expedition on the Zambesi _viâ_ Matabeleland, but the
suspicious nature of the monarch foiled this project. The isolation of
his country in this direction was so great that, although but a
comparatively short distance away, no tidings whatever could be obtained
of the other party who, under Mr. Helmore, had gone to the Makololo

In June, 1860, Moffat felt that his work at Inyati was done. He had
spared neither labour of mind nor body in planting the Mission, and had
endured hardships at his advanced age that younger men might well have
shrunk from. The hour approached for him to bid a final farewell to
Moselekatse, and once more he drew near to the chiefs kraal, with the
purpose of speaking to him and his people, for the last time, on the
all-important themes of life, death, and eternity. The old chief was in
his large courtyard and received his missionary friend kindly. Together
they sat, side by side--the Matabele despot, whose name struck terror
even then into many native hearts, and the messenger of the Prince of
Peace, the warriors ranged themselves in a semi-circle, the women crept
as near as they could, and all listened to the last words of "Moshete."
It was a solemn service, and closed the long series of efforts which the
missionary had made to reach the hearts of Moselekatse and his people.
On the morrow he started for home, which he reached in safety, having
been absent twelve months.

Meanwhile, terrible trials had befallen the party who had started to
found the Makololo Mission. The difficulties attending their journey to
Linyanti were such as nothing but the noblest Christian principle would
have induced them to encounter, or enabled them to surmount. The chief
of these was the great scarcity of water. One of their trials is thus

"From the Zouga we travelled on pretty comfortably, till near the end of
November, when we suffered much from want of water.... For more than a
week every drop we used had to be walked for about thirty-five miles.
Mrs. Helmore's feelings may be imagined, when one afternoon, the
thermometer standing at 107 deg. in the shade, she was saving just _one
spoonful of water_ for each of the dear children for the next morning,
not thinking of taking a drop herself. Mr. Helmore, with the men, was
then away searching for water; and when he returned the next morning
with the precious fluid, we found that he had walked _full forty

At length, after enduring innumerable difficulties and privations for
seven months, they arrived at Linyanti, the residence of the chief
Sekeletu. He refused to allow them to remove to a more healthy spot, but
proposed that they should live with him in the midst of his
fever-generating marshes, and as no better plan offered, they were
compelled to accept it. In the course of a week all were laid low with
fever. Little Henry Helmore and his sister, with the infant babe of Mr.
Price, were the first to die; then followed the heart-stricken mother,
Mrs. Helmore; six weeks later Mr. Helmore breathed his last; and the
missionary band was reduced to Mr. and Mrs. Price and the helpless
orphans. As the only means of saving their lives the survivors prepared
to depart, but now the chief threw obstacles in the way of their doing
so. Their goods were stolen, their waggon taken possession of; and upon
Mr. Price telling the chief that "if they did not let him go soon they
would have to bury him beside the others," he was simply told "that he
might as well die there as anywhere else."

Finally a few things were allowed for the journey, and the sorrowful
party started homeward, Mr. Price very ill, and his wife having lost the
use of her feet and legs.

With the scantiest possible provision they had to face a journey of
upwards of a thousand miles to Kuruman, but they set forward. Just as
they were beginning to take hope after their heavy trials, and to think
of renewed efforts for the Lord, Mrs. Price was called to her rest. "My
dear wife," wrote the sorrowing husband, "had been for a long time
utterly helpless, but we all thought she was getting better. In the
morning I found her breathing very hard. She went to sleep that night,
alas! to wake no more. I spoke to her, and tried to wake her, but it was
too late. I watched her all the morning. She became worse and worse, and
a little after mid-day her spirit took its flight to God who gave it. I
buried her the same evening under a tree--the only tree on the immense
plain of Mahabe. This is indeed a heavy stroke, but 'God is my refuge
and strength, a very present help in trouble.'"

Finally the bereaved missionary was met by Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie, who
had started to join the Makololo Mission, and, as all turned their steps
towards Kuruman, they were rejoiced by meeting Robert Moffat, who,
having heard of the disaster, and that Mr. Price, with the remnant of
the party, were on the road, had gone out in search of them. All
returned sorrowfully to Kuruman, and the ill-fated Makololo Mission

Robert Moffat and his wife watched the progress of the Mission at Inyati
with the keenest interest. In it they seemed to live their early life at
Lattakoo over again. Their hearts were in the work of the missionaries
at that distant station; and, over and above the earnest desire they had
to see the work of God prosper among those uncivilised natives, was the
tie of kinship, their own flesh and blood being present in the person of
their son, John Moffat, who, with his wife, formed a portion of the
Matabele Mission. Post-bags and supplies were forwarded by every
available opportunity, and warm words of cheer and sympathy from the
aged pair at Kuruman encouraged the workers in the far distant region to
perseverance in their work for the Lord.

Kuruman served indeed as a home station to which all the interior
missionaries could look. The fact of being an interior missionary was
sufficient to secure the travel-worn stranger, or friend, a warm welcome
and good cheer for weeks together, and none entered more heartily or
with deeper sympathy into the plans and endeavours of the wayfarer, or
offered more earnest prayers on the behalf of himself and his work, than
the tried and faithful couple, Robert and Mary Moffat, who had for so
many years borne the burden and heat of the day.

In October, 1861, their daughter Bessie, who was born on board ship in
Table Bay, as they were leaving for their first visit to England,
married Mr. R. Price, whose wife died the previous year, during that
terrible journey from Linyanti, when the Makololo Mission had to be
abandoned. Thus as one fell from the ranks, another stepped forward to
take the vacant place, and carry on the glorious work for the sake of
Him who said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature." The Prices went for a time to Shoshong, hoping to join the
Matabele Mission, but finally laboured among the Bakwena, under the
chief Sechele.

The Kuruman station itself during this time presented a scene of
unabated activity. A revision of the New Testament was in progress, the
youngest Miss Moffat, then the only child at home, was working hard at
schools and classes, and Mr. Ashton was again at work with his old

The year 1862 brought severe domestic bereavements to the Moffats.
During a journey to Durban, in Natal, their eldest son, Mr. Robert
Moffat, died, leaving a wife and four children. He had started to bring
them from Durban to the home he had prepared at Kuruman. He had
primarily been intended for a missionary, and had been sent to England
to be educated for that purpose, but his health failing he had to return
to South Africa, where for some time he served in the Survey Department
under Government, and afterwards became a trader. He was very highly
respected and had thoroughly gained the confidence of the natives.

A few weeks later the sad tidings reached the sorrowing parents from the
Zambesi that their eldest daughter Mary, the wife of Dr. Livingstone,
had been called to her rest. A white marble cross, near Shupanga House
on the Shiré River, marks the spot where this sainted martyr to the
cause of Africa's regeneration sleeps in peace.

In the following year tidings reached Robert Moffat that William Ross
the missionary at Lekatlong, about eighty miles to the south-east, was
seriously ill. In a few hours Moffat was on his way; he arrived in time
to find his friend alive, and did all that could be done to alleviate
his suffering, but shortly after he also passed away. This mournful
event led to Mr. Ashton being transferred to Lekatlong, and for a time
the whole weight of duty at Kuruman rested on Moffat's shoulders.

Although in perils oft, Robert Moffat had never suffered thus far
personal violence from the hands of a native, but now he had a very
narrow escape from death. A young man, who for some time had been living
on the station, had shown signs of a disordered mind, and was placed
under mild restraint. Conceiving a violent personal animosity against
the missionary, he attacked him as he was returning from church, and
with a knobbed stick inflicted some terrible blows, then, frightened at
his own violence, he fled. To one with a weaker frame than Robert
Moffat's the consequences might have been very serious; as it was he
recovered, though with a heart that was sorely grieved.

In 1865, the Mission was reinforced by the arrival of the Rev. John
Brown, from England, and by John Moffat, who had returned from the
Matabele. The relaxation from the active duties of the station thus
afforded was utilised by Robert Moffat in the work of Scripture
revision, the preparation of additional hymns, and the carrying of
smaller works through the press.

Mention has been made of the marriage of their second daughter, Ann, to
Jean Frédoux, a missionary of the Paris Evangelical Society, who was
stationed at Motito, a place situated about thirty-six miles to the
north-east of Kuruman. He was a man of gentle disposition and addicted
to study. Early in March, 1866, he had started upon a tour to carry on
evangelistic work among the Barolong villages along the margin of the
Kalahari desert. While visiting one of these, a low class trader arrived
who had been guilty of atrocious conduct at Motito. The natives insisted
upon the trader going to Kuruman, where his conduct could be
investigated, and, upon his refusing to do so, prepared to take him by
force. He intrenched himself in his waggon with all his guns loaded, and
dared any one to lay hands upon him. Frédoux seeing the serious state
that matters were assuming quietly drew near to the trader's waggon, and
urged him to go peaceably to Kuruman, assuring him that the people were
determined he should go, if not peaceably, then by force.

While thus pleading with this man, a fearful explosion took place, the
waggon and its occupant were blown to atoms, Jean Frédoux and twelve
natives were killed, and about thirty more were injured.

This was a further heavy affliction for Robert Moffat and his wife. As
soon as they heard of the catastrophe, Robert hastened to succour his
widowed daughter, and to consign to the grave at Motito the shattered
remains of his son-in-law.

A few months later another visit was paid to the open grave, this time
to consign to its last resting place the body of Mrs. Brown, the wife of
the Rev. John Brown, who a short time before had taken up his abode at
the Kuruman as a colleague of Robert Moffat.

In 1868 the missionary staff at that station consisted of Robert Moffat
and his son John Moffat. The former had now more than completed the
three-score years and ten allotted to man as the duration of human life,
and unlike the great leader of God's chosen people, of whom it is said,
"his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated," Robert Moffat felt
the infirmities of age creeping very rapidly upon him. Yet he held on
his way for two years longer. A short and constant cough during the
winter months aggravated his natural tendency to sleeplessness, and at
last he felt himself reluctantly compelled to accept the invitation of
the Directors to return finally to England.

Going home to England it could hardly be called, his home was with his
loved Bechwanas, with those for whom he had toiled and prayed so long.
The ashes of his son Robert, and of his devoted daughter Mary reposed
beneath the sands of Africa; his early and later manhood had been spent
beneath its scorching sun. The house he was to leave had been the
birthplace of most of his children, and his home for more than forty
years. Yes, it was hard to leave; and the expectation had become very
real to him that his body and that of his faithful partner would be laid
side by side in that little burial-ground in the bushy dell, marked by a
few trees, at Kuruman. But the final determination had been arrived at,
and with slow and hesitating steps, as though waiting for something,
even then, to prevent their departure, preparations were made for
leaving the station for ever.

Of the general aspect of affairs at the Kuruman during these last two
years we have a graphic description from the pen of the Rev. John
Moffat, who in a letter to the Directors dated 12th October, 1868, wrote
as follows:--

"The public services on the station are a prayer-meeting at sunrise on
Sunday; preaching in Sechwana, morning, afternoon, and evening, with the
Sunday school twice, and a juvenile afternoon service. The early
prayer-meeting is left entirely to the natives, the three preaching
services entirely to the missionaries, and the Sunday school, with the
juvenile service, to my sister. There is also a Wednesday evening
service, a monthly missionary prayer meeting, a church meeting, and a
prayer meeting on Thursday afternoon. This last is in the hands of the
natives. No native takes any part in the preaching on the station,
except in extreme cases, when it is regarded as a makeshift. My father
and I share the preaching between us. Occasionally, say once in three
weeks, one of us rides to two villages to the north-west, holding
services at each; they are respectively eight and twelve miles distant.
My custom at home, in the regular way, is to give New Testament reading
in the morning, a topical sermon in the afternoon, and Old Testament
exposition in the evening. On Monday evening I have a young men's Bible
class, which is to me the most interesting work I have to do, more
especially as I have much encouragement in it.... On the Monday evening,
also, my sister and I hold a practising class for the purpose of trying
to improve the singing. On Tuesday evening I meet male inquirers, on
Wednesday, before the service, I have a Bible class for women, on
Thursday we have an English prayer meeting, and on Friday evening I meet
female inquirers. I need not mention the school conducted by my sister
and three native assistants."

Speaking of the place and people he continues:--

"The population is small and scattered. On the spot there must be a good
many people, and also at the villages to the north-west; but otherwise
the district contains only small villages of from twenty to one hundred
huts. It extends fifty miles west and north-west, and about twenty-five
miles in other directions.

"The people are poor and must remain so. The country is essentially dry.
Irrigation is necessary for successful agriculture, and there are few
spots where water flows. There is no market for cattle, even if they
throve abundantly, which they do not. I despair of much advance in
civilisation, when their resources are so small, and when the European
trade is on the principle of enormous profits and losses. Two hundred
per cent, on Port Elizabeth prices is not considered out of the way.


"Heathenism, as a system, is weak, indeed in many places it is nowhere.
Christianity meets with little opposition. The people generally are
prodigious Bible readers, church-goers, and psalm-singers, I fear to a
large extent without knowledge. Religion to them consists in the above
operations, and in giving a sum to the Auxiliary. I am speaking of the
generality, There are many whom I cannot but feel to be Christians, but
dimly. This can hardly be the result of low mental power alone. The
Bechwanas show considerable acuteness when circumstances call it out.

"The educational department of the Mission has been kept in the
background. On this station the youth on leaving school have sunk back
for want of a continued course being opened to them. The village
schoolmasters, uneducated themselves, and mostly unpaid, make but a
feeble impression. The wonder is that they do so much, and where the
readers come from. It is hard to say that the older missionaries could
have done otherwise.... I cannot tell you how one thing presses on me
every day: the want of qualified native schoolmasters and teachers; and
the question: how are they to be obtained?"

On Sunday, 20th March, 1870, Robert Moffat preached for the last time in
the Kuruman church, and on the Friday following the departure took
place. "Ramary" and "Mamary," as Mr. and Mrs. Moffat were called, had
completely won the hearts of the natives. For weeks past messages of
farewell had been coming from the more distant towns and villages, and
now that the final hour had arrived and the venerable missionary, with
his long white beard, and his equally revered wife, left their house and
walked to their waggon they were beset by crowds of people, each one
longing for another shake of the hand, a last parting word, or a final
look; and, as the waggon drove away, a long pitiful wail rose from those
who felt that their teacher and friend was with them no more.

After a rough but safe journey of eight weeks, Robert and Mary Moffat
reached Port Elizabeth on the 20th May, 1870, and received a hearty
welcome from a large number of missionaries and other Christian friends,
who had gathered to meet them. Making a brief stay they embarked in the
mail steamer _Roman_ and landed at Cape Town on the 2nd of June. Here
they were entertained by the Christian community at a public breakfast.
A few days later they embarked in the steamship _Norseman, en route_ for




In the Chronicle of the London Missionary Society for March, 1870, the
following notice appeared: "Our readers will be glad to hear that there
is now a definite prospect of welcoming again to England our veteran
missionary, the Rev. Robert Moffat. He may be expected, with Mrs.
Moffat, about the month of June. Mr. Moffat no longer enjoys his former
robust health. In his last letter he writes: 'What to me was formerly a
molehill is now a mountain, and we both have for some time past begun to
feel some of the labour and sorrow so frequently experienced by those
who have passed their three-score years and ten.'"

The _Norseman_ reached Plymouth on the 24th of July, and next day Robert
and Mary Moffat landed at Southampton, thus returning to their native
land, to leave it no more, after an absence of over fifty years; during
which time they had visited it only once before.

On the 1st of August he was welcomed by the Society, at an influential
meeting, convened for the purpose, in the Board Room of the Mission
House, in Blomfield Street. At that meeting, alluding to his previous
visit in 1839, and to the printing of the New Testament in Sechwana, he
stated as follows:--

"When I came to the Cape, previous to my first visit, I brought a
translation of the New Testament, which I had translated under
considerable difficulties, being engaged a portion of the day in roofing
an immense church, and the remainder in exegetical examinations and
consulting concordances. I was anxious to get it printed, and I brought
it down to the Cape, but there I could find no printing-office that
would undertake it. The Committee of the Bible Society very kindly--as
they have always been to me, I say it with pleasure--forwarded paper and
ink to the Cape expecting I should get the work done there. As I said,
there was not a printing-office that would undertake it. Dining with Sir
George Napier, the Governor, I informed him of the difficulty. He said,
'Jump on board a ship with your translation and get it printed in
England, and you will be back again while they are thinking about it
here. Print a New Testament among a set of Dutch printers! why I can't
even get my proclamations printed.' I said, 'I have become too
barbarous; I have almost forgotten my own language; I should be
frightened to go there.' 'Oh stuff!' he said.

"Some time after he met me in the street: 'Well, Moffat, what have you
determined upon?' 'I am waiting the return of Dr. Philip.' 'Don't wait
for anybody; just jump on board a ship. Think of the importance of
getting the New Testament put in print in a new language!' He invited me
to dinner again and said, 'Have you come to a conclusion? I wish I could
give you mine. I feel some interest in the extension of the knowledge of
the Word of God. Take nobody's advice, but jump on board a ship for
England.' He spoke so seriously that I began to feel serious myself.

[Illustration: MARY MOFFAT.]

"Dr. Philip came, and when the Governor explained the circumstances, the
Doctor said, 'Go, by all means.' I was nervous at the thought. I was not
a nervous man in Africa. I could sleep and hear the lions roar. There
seemed so many great folks to meet with. I came to England and by-and-by
I got over it."

On the Wednesday, following this meeting, he was entertained at a public
breakfast at the Cannon Street Hotel.

For a few weeks the Moffats dwelt at Canonbury, though Robert himself
was so much engaged in visiting different parts of the country,
Edinburgh included, where he met with many old friends, that he was not
suffered at this time to dwell for long in any one place.

The winter was spent at Brixton, and on the 21st of December, £1000 was
presented to Robert Moffat as a birthday gift, a most cheering tribute
of esteem to a tried and faithful servant of Jesus Christ.

The effects of this act of kindness had not passed away when a heavy
cloud hung over the happy home at Brixton. She, who for more than
half-a-century had been the loving helpmeet of the African missionary,
sharing his joys and sorrows, his hopes and discouragements, and many of
his privations and perils, lay dying. A troublesome cough, a difficulty
of breathing, a few long deep breaths, and she was gone, without even a
word of farewell; called home to receive the "Well done, good and
faithful servant," and to enter into the joy of her Lord. Her last words
were a prayer for her husband, that strength might be given him to bear
the blow.

Robert Moffat indeed needed strength in this hour of affliction. His
first exclamation on finding that she had really gone was, "For
fifty-three years I have had her to pray for me," and writing to his old
friend and fellow-labourer, Roger Edwards, who was then at Port
Elizabeth, he said, "How lonely I feel, and if it were not for Jeanie
(his daughter) it would be much more so."

The events of the next few years may be briefly summarised. He travelled
much to different parts of the country, visiting High Leigh, the old
house at Dukinfield, and Carronshore. His services were continually in
requisition for missionary meetings, and doubtless many of our readers
will be old enough to remember the bronzed face, with its full flowing
beard, blanched by age, the keen eyes, and the venerable form of Robert
Moffat at this time, and to call to mind the pleasure they derived as
they listened to his glowing descriptions of the needs of Africa.

The winter of 1871 was passed at Ventnor, in the Isle of Wight, and
occupied in revising proof sheets of the Old Testament in Sechwana.
While there he was, by Her Majesty's own desire, introduced to the
Queen, whom he had never seen before. He also received the degree of
Doctor of Divinity, from the University of Edinburgh.

To meet the need for training a native ministry, which had been felt by
Moffat and others engaged in the work of the Bechwana Mission, and which
had shortly before his return been pressed upon the attention of the
Directors, several thousand pounds were subscribed, and, as a way of
doing honour to the veteran who was now in their midst, it was proposed
to call the Institute that was to be founded, "The Moffat Institute."
This now stands as a centre of influence amidst the tribes surrounding
the Kuruman station.

In 1873, a number of friends, who thought that the liberal contributions
which had been subscribed to the Institute, hardly gave such a direct
proof of their esteem for their venerated friend as could be desired,
presented Robert Moffat with a sum of upwards of £5000. This liberality
provided for his wants during the remainder of his life, enabled him to
serve the Directors and the cause of missions, without being any longer
a burden upon the funds of the Society, and also placed him in a
position to meet the wants of his widowed daughter and her fatherless

While living at Brixton, Robert Moffat attended the ministry of the late
Rev. Baldwin Brown, in whose mission-work in Lambeth he was much
interested. On his eightieth birthday, 21st December, 1875, he opened
the new Mission Hall in connection with this work, which hall was
thenceforward called by his name. On the same day he received many
congratulatory tokens, among them being an address signed by a great
number of Congregational ministers from every part of the country. Prior
to this in the same year, he had lectured upon Missions in Westminster
Abbey, and in the preceding year he had performed the melancholy duty of
identifying the remains of his son-in-law, Dr. Livingstone, upon their
being brought home from Africa.

Engagements and constant requests for his services made great inroads
upon his time. "People either could not or would not see that he was
getting old," he frequently said; but people knew that as long as he had
strength to speak, he would not grow weary of addressing audiences on
missionary work.

In 1876, we find him dining on one occasion with the Archbishop of
Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, and on another breakfasting with Mr.
Gladstone, in the house of the Rev. Newman Hall. In the following year
by invitation of the French Missionary Society he visited Paris, and
while there addressed a meeting of 4000 Sunday-school children.

On the 20th of December, 1878, he received the freedom of the City of
London, and somewhat over two years later was the guest of the then Lord
Mayor, Alderman, now Sir William, McArthur, for several days, a banquet
being given in his honour.

During the time that Cetewayo was in England Robert Moffat was much
interested in him and paid him a visit. Among the Zulu king's attendants
was a man who could speak Sechwana, and with him Moffat at once got into
conversation. The man's delight was unbounded. He had been in the train
of a son of Moselekatse, and had heard of the missionary. "A u Moshete?"
(Are you Moffat) he asked again and again, with beaming eyes exclaiming
when convinced of the fact, "I see this day what my eyes never expected
to behold, Moshete!"

For the last four years of his life Robert Moffat resided at Park
Cottage, Leigh, near Tunbridge, where he was the tenant of the late
Samuel Morley, Esq. From both Mr. and Mrs. Morley he received much
kindness, which continued until the day of his death.

The end now drew near. In 1883, he complained of great weariness and
intermittent pulsation. This troubled him so constantly that advice was
sought. For a short time this availed. He attended the Bible Society's
meeting in the second week in May, and the meeting of the London
Missionary Society on the 10th, and in July paid a visit to Knockholt,
where he met Mr. and Mrs. George Sturge. From this visit he returned
seeming better, but in a few days unfavourable symptoms again showed
themselves. Yet the strong frame, that had endured so much, seemed loath
to give in, and, whenever able, he was in and out of his garden. He also
took two drives, Mrs. Morley very kindly sending her carriage for that
purpose when he felt able to make use of it.

"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man
is peace." Most beautifully was this truth exemplified in the closing
scenes of the life of this truly noble and good man. On Sunday, 5th
August, he was too weak to attend chapel, and spent a peaceful Sabbath
at home. He was very fond of hymns and would often repeat one after
another. In the evening he chose several which were sung, though
feebleness prevented him from joining the singing. Among those chosen
were: "The sands of time are sinking," "Come, Thou fount of every
blessing," "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds," and "Nearer, my God, to
Thee." His New Testament was his constant companion during these last
days, and whatever the topic of conversation, it always turned with him
to heaven and the Saviour.

On Monday he seemed somewhat better, but on Tuesday night he was much
worse. Hours of pain and sleeplessness were passed, yet he rose on
Wednesday and went out several times to the garden. In the evening he
became very ill and had a fainting fit, but managed after awhile to get
upstairs, and, after remaining on the bedside for some time, propped up
with pillows, he undressed, with little assistance and much
deliberation, winding up his watch, with a cold, trembling hand,--"for
the last time," he said.

The doctor arrived shortly afterwards, who found that he had broken a
blood-vessel. The night was passed partly in peaceful sleep, and partly
in converse with his children who were then present. His daughter says,
"He was just full of his Saviour's love and mercy all through his life;
he repeated many hymns and passages of Scripture."

On Thursday morning he was visited by Mr. Morley and two other friends,
with whom he conversed. He also had his Testament, but finding he could
not read it, his daughters read to him. He repeated many hymns, among
them the Scotch version of the hundred and third Psalm, but stopped and
said, "There is nothing like the original," which was then read from the
Bible. His mother's favourite hymn, "Hail, sovereign Light," was also by
his special desire read to him.

Another sleep--a wandering, perhaps unconscious, look at his children, a
struggle, and then a quietness? and the pilgrimage was over, the spirit
had fled to be present with the Lord whom he had loved so well and
served so faithfully. "His end was peace."

He died on the 10th of August, 1883, in his eighty-eighth year.

The funeral took place a few days later at Norwood Cemetery, when,
surrounded by such relatives as were in England, Sir Bartle Frere, Mr.
Samuel Morley and several other Members of Parliament, deputations from
the various Missionary and several Religious Societies, and by the Mayor
of Bloemfontein, his remains were consigned to the tomb.

Never had a truer hero been borne to the grave, nor one more thoroughly
worthy of the name of MAN.




As soon as it was realised that Robert Moffat had actually gone, it was
felt that a truly great man had departed from among us. A niche in the
temple of earth's true nobility seemed empty. The prevailing feeling was
given expression to by some of the leading journals, which in eulogistic
articles commented upon the life, work, and character of him who had

_The Times_, in its review, contained the following remarks:--"His chief
work was among the Bechwanas. His picture of what they were when he
first knew them would hardly now be recognised, so entirely have they
changed under the new influences which Moffat was the first to bring to
bear upon them. He found them mere savages, constantly at war among
themselves and with their neighbours, ignorant of the arts of
agriculture, and in the utterly degraded state for which we must seek a
counterpart now in the more distant tribes, whom the message of
civilisation has not yet reached. His first care was to make himself
thoroughly master of the language of those to whom he was sent. For
fifty years he has declared he had been accustomed to speak the
Bechwana tongue; he reduced it to written characters, and translated the
Scriptures into it. The Bechwanas, under Moffat's guidance, became new
men. Mission work grew and spread among them; what Moffat had begun to
do was taken up by other hands; a permanent body of native pastors was
created from among the Bechwanas themselves, and the whole region was
raised out of the savage state in which Moffat had found it, and became,
in no small degree, civilised as well as Christianised.... It would
seem, indeed, that it is only by the agency of such men as Moffat and
his like that the contact of the white and black races can be anything
but a curse to the blacks. It is the missionary alone who seeks nothing
for himself. He has chosen an unselfish life. If honour comes to him, it
is by no choice of his own, but as the unsought tribute which others, as
it were, force upon him. Robert Moffat has died in the fullness both of
years and honours. His work has been to lay the foundations of the
Church in the central regions of South Africa. As far as his influence
and that of his coadjutors and successors has extended, it has brought
with it unmixed good. His name will be remembered while the South
African Church endures, and his example will remain with us as a
stimulus to others, and as an abiding proof of what a Christian
missionary can be and can do."

The _Brighton Daily News_ commenced its article by saying:--"The grave
has just closed over one of the most notable men whose figures are
familiar to the inhabitants of Brighton. Robert Moffat, the veteran
pioneer in the mission field, and the simplest of heroes, has passed
away, and many of the noblest of the land followed his remains to their
resting-place." It concluded with, "In the drawing-rooms of fashionable
Brighton, crowded with the lovers of art and science, no one grudged the
cessation of music the most classical, or of conversation the most
charming, to listen to the venerable Doctor when requested to repeat
some incidents of his missionary life. All felt that the scene was
hallowed by the presence of one who had done a work for the good of men,
such as few have been privileged to accomplish. Robert Moffat belonged
to no sect or party. To better the world and advance the one Church
formed the sole end of his being."

Other journals and magazines bore like testimony to his worth.

Of his work we have said much in the preceding pages, and also something
of its results. To this may be added Robert Moffat's own account of some
of the benefits which sprung from the prosecution of missionary
enterprise in South Africa. In his speech at Port Elizabeth, on finally
leaving for England, in May, 1870, referring to the general progress
made in the interior, he said:--

"Christianity has already accomplished much in this long benighted land.
When I first went to the Kuruman scarcely an individual could go beyond.
Now they travel in safety to the Zambesi. Then we were strangers, and
they could not comprehend us. They treated us with great indignity, and
considered us to be the outcasts of society, who, being driven from our
own race, went to reside with them; but bearing in remembrance what our
Saviour had to undergo, we were encouraged to persevere, and much
success has rewarded our efforts. Now it is safe to traverse any part of
the country, and traders travel far beyond Kuruman without the slightest
fear of molestation. Formerly men of one tribe could not travel through
another's territory, and wars were frequent. During my early mission
life, I often heard of men of one tribe going to trade with another, and
being murdered. I was at a native place when a thing of that sort once
occurred. A party of men had come two hundred miles to dispose of some
articles. The resident natives, taking a dislike to them, set upon them
and killed two of their number. I asked them why they had done this, and
tried to show them it was wrong. They seemed to know that; and from that
time I have never heard of anything of the sort.

"The influence of Christianity in that country is now very great, and
constantly increasing. Where one station was scarcely tolerated, there
are now several. The Moravians have their missionaries. The Berlin
Society have theirs, and others are engaged in the good work, besides
numerous native Gospel teachers. Our advanced station at the Matabele is
in a very prosperous state, and I quite expect that the Matabele will
become one day a great nation. They sternly obey their own laws, and I
have noticed that when men of fixed principles become convinced of the
great truths of Christianity they hold firmly to the faith, and their
fidelity is not lightly to be shaken."

In the same speech he also mentioned the fact that whereas at first the
natives would not buy anything, not even a pocket handkerchief, now,
when he was speaking, no less than sixty thousand pounds worth of
British manufactures passed yearly into the hands of the native tribes
around Kuruman.

Thus the missionary prepared the way for the merchant, and the Gospel
for the progress of civilisation.

Of Moffat's character we have had frequent glimpses in the preceding
pages; of his personal appearance and dignified mien our portrait and
pictures give some idea. A few words may, however, be added, based upon
the facts recorded by his son in the last chapter of "Robert and Mary

Tall and strong, with dark piercing eyes, he stood, a man of dauntless
courage, quick and energetic in action, with a resolution in the
performance of duty that no opposition could thwart; yet, withal, of
gentle manner, and of an even temper, proof against the many attacks
made upon it. His disposition was to think well of men, and to believe
what they said. Deceit he hated, it was the one thing he could not
forgive. He trusted men implicitly; and this probably accounted for the
fact that the Bechwanas, who carried the art of lying to perfection,
seldom lied to him. They knew it was the one thing that would make him

His reverence for holy things was very great. He relished a joke as well
as any man, indeed, there was a good deal of humour in him; but woe to
that man who spoke jestingly of the things pertaining to God. The Word
of the Lord was too real and too important for any triviality. God was
ever present to him, and he lived for God. His son says: "Even when I
was alone with him, on some of his itinerating journeys, no meal was
commenced without a reverent doffing of the Scotch bonnet, his usual
head-dress in those days, and the solemn blessing; and our morning and
evening worship was never missed or hurried."

An instance of his forbearance under provocation is afforded in the

"On our return from England in 1843," says the writer just quoted, "we
were a large party, with three or four waggons. One night we outspanned
in the dark, not knowing that we were on forbidden ground--within the
limits of a farm, but a half-mile short of the homestead. In the early
morning a young man rode up, and demanded to know what we were doing
there without leave. My father gently explained that we had done it in
ignorance, but his explanation was cut short by a harangue loud and
long. The stripling sat on his horse, my father stood before him with
bowed head and folded arms, whilst a torrent of abuse poured over him,
with a plentiful mixture of such terse and biting missiles of invective
as greatly enrich the South African Dutch language. We stood around and
remembered that only a few months before the man thus rated like a dog
was standing before enthusiastic thousands in England, who hung with
bated breath upon his utterances. Something of shame must have arrested
the wrath of the young man, for he suddenly rode away without impounding
our cattle, as he had threatened to do. We inspanned and proceeded,
calling on our way at the house, and there we found ourselves received
by a venerable white-haired farmer and his wife with open arms, for they
and my parents proved to be old friends. Right glad were we that nothing
had been done on our side to make us ashamed to meet them."

In his home he was a true father, and the influence that surrounded his
children must have been a happy one, seeing that so many of them
embraced the missionary calling, and followed in the footsteps of their
venerated parents. Mary, the eldest daughter, married Dr. Livingstone;
Ann, the French missionary, Jean Frédoux; Bessie, a younger daughter,
was united to the Rev. Roger Price; and a son, the Rev. John Moffat,
became for a time his father's coadjutor at the Kuruman station.

In bringing this memoir to a conclusion, we may be permitted to glance
at South Africa as it is at the present time, and to note some of the
contrasts between its condition now, and that as stated in our opening
chapter, prior to Robert Moffat's arrival.

At the time when he first landed at Cape Town, the work of evangelising
the heathen was confined principally to two Societies--the Moravian
Mission and the London Missionary Society. Now the Societies exceed
twelve in number, and represent the following nationalities: English,
American, French, Swiss, Norwegian, and the people of Finland.

First, in order of date, may be noticed the work of the Moravian
Brethren, which is chiefly carried on among the Hottentots and Kafirs.
Their chief station is Genadendal, eighty miles east of Cape Town, which
has several smaller stations grouped around it. Besides these, still
farther east, among the Kafir tribes, is the station of Shiloh, also
having a number of out-stations gathered round it.

The London Missionary Society follows with its eleven principal stations
and nine out-stations. This Society is now labouring in South Africa, in
Kafirland, Bechwanaland and Matabeleland. The Report for 1886 shows
sixteen English missionaries and sixty-five native preachers as engaged
in preaching and teaching, and as results, 1361 Church members. These
returns are however incomplete, and very much has occurred, through the
numerous wars and unsettled state of the country, to retard the progress
of missionary work.

Next comes the Wesleyan Missionary Society, who, commencing operations
at Cape Town in 1814, extended their stations round the coast from
Little Namaqualand to Zululand. They are also labouring among the
Barolongs in the Orange Free State, in Swaziland, and at the Gold
Fields at Barberton, in the Transvaal.

The Scotch Presbyterians are represented by the missions of the Free
Church of Scotland, and the United Presbyterian Church. These confine
their labours principally to British Kaffraria and Kafirland. The Free
Church has a high-class Institution at Lovedale for the training of a
native ministry and also for teaching the natives many of the useful
arts, and an improved system of agriculture. There is an efficient staff
of teachers, and in 1885, 380 pupils attended the Institution, of whom
seventy-one were Church members and ninety-one candidates or inquirers.
A similar institution has also been established among the Fingoes at
Blythswood in Fingoland.

More than fifty years ago, at the suggestion of Dr. Philip, the Rhenish
Mission commenced work among the Hottentots of Cape Colony, but its
operations extended, and now embrace Little and Great Namaqualand, south
and north of the Orange River, and, away beyond, the territory known as
Damaraland. Their stations are in a flourishing condition, and some
15,000 converts bear evidence to the success of their efforts. This
Society also looks after the preparation of native teachers, &c., and
has an excellent institution for that purpose at Worcester, near Cape
Town, its principal station.

Still farther north, beyond Damaraland is Ovampoland, occupied by the
Missionary Society of Finland. Seven ordained Missionaries and three
Christian artisans were equipped and despatched to work in this region,
at the suggestion of the Rhenish Society. Their enterprise is of
comparatively recent date and results cannot yet be tabulated. The
influence for good exerted will, however, doubtless yield fruit

The missions of the Berlin Society stretch from the eastern portion of
Cape Colony to the Transvaal, and embrace also the Orange Free State and
the Diamond Fields. They have over 7000 converts, and a large number of
children under instruction in various schools.

Basutoland, to the east of the Orange Free State, is cared for by the
French Evangelical Missionary Society, who commenced work in South
Africa in 1829. Their first missionaries were appointed to the
Bahurutse, then tributary to Moselekatse, but being repulsed through the
jealousy of that potentate they settled at Motito, and finally accepted
an invitation from Moshesh, chief of the Basutos, to work among that
people. The mission has fourteen principal stations and sixty-six
out-stations, with about 20,000 adherents, of whom about 3500 are Church

In 1835 six missionaries, appointed by the American Board of Foreign
Missions, arrived from the United States to labour in South Africa.
Three proceeded to Natal and settled near Durban. The other three
journeyed to Moselekatse at Mosega. Their mission was however broken up
through the incursions of the Boers, and they were compelled to flee to
Natal. For some years the mission there was much harassed through war,
but it is now firmly established and is doing excellent work of a
religious and educational character, having a number of well-instructed
native pastors and teachers, besides the staff of European missionaries.
In 1886 the Board reports having in connection with this mission seven
stations and seventeen out-stations, and 886 Church members.

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel commenced its missions in
South Africa in 1838. Its work is divided between the Colonists and the
natives, and is carried on in Cape Colony and Natal; its dioceses
stretching round the coast much in the same manner as the Wesleyan

Besides those already mentioned, there are at work now in South Africa
the Norwegian Missionary Society, labouring in Natal and Zululand; the
Hermannsburg Mission, founded by Pastor Harms, whose operations are
carried on in Natal, Zululand, and the Transvaal; and the Swiss society,
The Mission of the Free Church of the Canton de Vaud, whose efforts are
directed to a tribe inhabiting a country between Delagoa Bay and

[B]: [Many of the facts contained in this review of Mission work in South
Africa have been gleaned from "South Africa," by the Rev. James Sibree,

Thus the missionary cause has grown, notwithstanding the many
difficulties it has had to contend with, and now the sound of the Gospel
is heard throughout the land. From the southernmost part of what was the
"Dark Continent," but which is now termed by some the "Twilight
Continent," and which we trust may soon be blessed with the full light
of Christianity, there stretches away a series of mission stations right
to the Zambesi; and there joining hands with the system of Central
African missions the glad tidings of salvation are wafted onward to the
great lake, the Victoria Nyanza, in the north; eastward to the coast;
and, in the west, made known to thousands by means of the various
organisations now doing such excellent work on the Congo River.

In a central position, amidst the tribes of South Africa, Kuruman, the
scene of Robert Moffat's trials and triumphs, stands to-day, surrounded
by a number of native towns and villages, where native teachers, trained
in the Moffat Institute, are located, and native Churches have been
formed,--a beacon shedding its glorious rays around, dispelling the
darkness, and bringing the heathen to the knowledge of the Saviour,
Jesus Christ.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Robert Moffat - The Missionary Hero of Kuruman" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.