Pederick and Johnson
The Reverend Pederick’s mission in the foothills around the Victorian goldfields initially hadn’t extended beyond the reaches of the Irish, and only with great forbearance had he set foot in the lonely Chinese encampments.
In his protectorate role he had at first, found the company of the poorest Chinese distasteful. However, in their adversity, the humble humility with which they went about their daily grind echoed perseverance to him, in a way he had learnt at his mother’s knee.
He recalled the proclamation he had read to the chinamen two weeks earlier and his mind now raced as he faced the Govenor’s representative, who was now here to take an accounting of the miners grievances back to Melbourne.
“So Pederick, what is the essence of the claims made by our loyal subjects against the heathen,” Johnson intoned.
Pederick shifted uncomfortably in the chaise as he thought back to his meetings on the fields.
This bureaucrat, had never faced less than a squatter in his dealings with the hoipolloi and his tone was, well dismissive.
Johnston had heard the stories of Pederick’s mission work and whilst on Sunday’s Johnson fervently agreed and look as askance as the next Christian at any sense of superiority over other races, he knew in his heart that Chinese were heathen and Satan grasped those who deviated from such obvious certainty.
Pederick moved forward as he spoke. It was clear that there would be no argument here, rank and position determined the outcome of these conversations as clearly as did morning followed evening.
“Mr Johnston, I do feel that there are issues the Chinese have on the fields which are not properly addressed by the troopers and less so by the mining officials”
Johnston looked up and with an eyebrow called forth Pederick’s support case.
“ Well if I may continue, the proclamation made two weeks ago has been observed to the letter by the Chinese and their leaders have the proof..
Johnston’s lip curled in a sneer. Pederick took little heed before continuing,
“Its not a contention that the rum swillers have rampaged through the Chinese quarters and that there has been, to say the least, inaction on the part of the troopers”
Johnston’s face showed not a glimmer of knowledge, as he knew that from the troopers commander that rallying the men in protection of Chinese was nigh impossible.
Johnston interjected, “And so Pederick in your role as Protector what are you suggesting the Crown should do, exactly”. He didn’t stress the ‘exactly’ but the words not said and the silence before so saying left Pederick in no ambiguity as to the import of his response. Johnston only took his report as he was required to do and it was clear the interview was ending.
“Sir” he stated in a manner which like Johnston’s ‘exactly’ portended his strength of resolve.
“Sir” he began again, “ Its intolerable that the Crown allows the flaunting of parliament’s express wishes”
Johnston thought he knew what was coming next.
“The Chinese continue to have the protection under the law afford all her Majesty’s subject, in spite of the proclamation. As their assigned Protector it falls to me to seek your intervention to ensure the upholding of these laws. God save the Queen”
The words resonated between them. Differently though to when he had sought the Lord’s blessing on her Majesty when he read the anti Chinese proclamation to the yellow hordes two weeks earlier. Between such men these terms and form were well known and then again showed that the desecularisation of the State had some way to progress. A useful ploy when all else fails Johnston had often thought. For Pederick though it was a matter of faith and his whole being was wishing God’s infinite mercy down on her regal Majesty.
Johnston knew that Pederick, in appealing to the Crown to uphold parliament’s laws, was taking a further step in the campaign which many of the evangelical churches had embarked upon, to further their social justice crusade. Shame enough that these churches had taken the side of the working classes against the might of the squatocracy, then slavery and so called industrial issues.
“So your report is that the the Crown should protect these heathen. Sir is that your report?” Johnson scoffed.
Pederick was not dissuaded,
“Yes, Excellency, as the appointed Protector I advise thus.”
“Then I shall take your report in writing to the Council and advise in due course” Johnson replied, “For the time being that is where the matter rests. Thank you and goodbye”
Both stood simultaneously, Pederick in no doubt that his days as Protector were numbered?
“Good day to you, sir, and may God bless” Pederick replied.
And with that he stepped backwards two steps, turned and left through the mahogany doors into the outer office.
For the rest of the day the matters weighed on Pedrick’s conscience. Not so Johnson’s.