Mauritius and Madagascar Journals of An Eight Years' Residence in the Diocese of Mauritius, and of a Visit to Madagascar
by Vincent W. Ryan, D.D.
Bishop of Mauritius
First Four Years--Arrival--Residence--State of Ecclesiastical Affairs--Churches--Mahébourg--Vacoas--Belle Isle--Morne Brabant--Mariners' Chapel--Ordinations--Visit to the Seychelles--Mahé--Praslin--Ile Curieuse--Ile aux Cerfs--Return to Port Louis--Indian Christians' Association--Schools--Confirmation at Vacoas--Sarradie--Prosper--Cassis--Hurricane--Procession of Fete Dieu.
ALTHOUGH the British occupation of Mauritius dates from 1810, there was no Protestant church in the island till 1828, when an old powder-magazine was adapted to that purpose. No bishop visited the members of our Church there till 1850, when the Bishop of Colombo went, for the purpose, chiefly, of holding confirmations. He consecrated three churches, visited several missionary stations, and by his earnest and faithful representations of the wants of the Church, and the formation of the Mauritius Church Association, gave an impulse to the cause, of which the good results are felt to the present day. When, chiefly through the efforts of the late Bishop of London, a sum of money had been secured for the partial endowment of a Bishopric at Mauritius, to be supplemented by the salary of the retiring senior-chaplain, the appointment was offered to me. The first six years of my ministry had been employed in the island of Alderney, where I had been confirmed in an acquaintance with the French language, which had been begun at a former period. Those who thought of me for this reason were not aware of the fact, which many friends will be interested in knowing--that some of my very early days had been spent in Mauritius, from whence I went to Alderney for some years; where the fact of the language being French enabled me to keep up an interest, which I had never lost, in what was then known to me as "the Isle of France."
On the 30th of November, 1854, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Lichfield, Chester, and Gibraltar, consecrated the Bishop of Sydney and myself in the parish church of Lambeth, where a large congregation was assembled, and many of our friends and brethren came there, with a prayerful interest in the solemn service. The sermon was preached by our common friend, the Rev. Canon Champneys; and that night I set forth for Guernsey and Alderney, to bid farewell to my friends, and to endeavour to secure fellow-helpers for my work. I succeeded in obtaining two, and at the Bishop of Winchester's request I consecrated the church at Cobo Bay, the Rev. W. Guille acting as commissary.
On that occasion I met twenty-two clergymen, most of them old friends. At Liverpool, eighty-two afterwards united in a most kind address to the Bishop of Sydney and myself; while the clergy in Islington had presented me with a beautiful case, containing the Bible in eleven versions, and the Prayer-book in eight; and a valuable chronometer watch, made expressly for my tropical service, had been given me by several lay friends in the same place. These, with many other proofs of Christian affection and sympathy, contained in them a source and spring of encouragement which was often afterwards drawn upon. For some time before my consecration I had endeavoured to collect funds, and, chiefly from Liverpool and Islington, had obtained rather more than a thousand pounds. The venerable Dowager Lady Grey had entrusted me with 200l., the residue of funds belonging to a society which had once laboured for the establishment and maintenance of schools in Mauritius. One of the conditions of this advance was that I should defray the outward expenses of Mr. Stephen Thornton, a schoolmaster formerly employed by the society to which I have referred.
On the 15th of March, 1855, our party sailed from Gravesend, consisting, besides my own family, of the Rev. Dr. Fallet, whom I had recommended to the Secretary of State (Sir G. Grey) for the chaplaincy at Seychelles, having ordained him at Highbury, on March 11th, 1855; Mr. Vaudin, a native of Sark; and Mr. Western, a Highbury master. Mr. Bichard was to follow with his family, to take charge of a mission to the seamen. He arrived on the 6th of August, and at once applied himself to his work.
During the voyage out we had prayers every morning and evening in the cuddy, our excellent Captain (Noakes) having given notice to that effect on the second morning after we sailed. We also had two full services every Sunday; that is, the morning and evening prayer and a sermon. There is much reason for thankful hope that these services were greatly blessed to several on board. On the 11th of June we came in sight of Mauritius, having been eighty-two days at sea, during which time the only land we saw was a glimpse of Madeira by moonlight, and a clear view for several hours of the island of Trinidad. The effect produced on all the passengers by the lovely scenery of Mauritius was very great. Before daylight we were up to look out for land, which we soon discovered. The sail up to and along the coast was exquisitely beautiful. The word "fairy-land" seemed to occur to every one. By four in the afternoon we landed. My first welcome was very cheering. Captain Kelly, the harbour-master, came to meet us, and offered to pilot us in. He told me I had been very much wanted, and expressed very great pleasure at seeing me arrive. When we anchored, the two chaplains then resident in the town, Messrs. Pennington and Mason, came on board, with Mr. Stair Douglas; and then Mr. James Fraser, partner of Captain Ireland, invited us to his house at Burnside; and Mr. Wiehe, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Finnis, Mr. Kerr, Mr. Ferneyhough, Mr. Beke, and others, welcomed us very cordially. As the Governor had not arrived, we accepted Mr. Fraser's hospitable invitation to Burnside, towards Pamplemousses. The scene on shore was of the most extraordinary character--French, Creoles, Arabs, Parsees, Indians, with their many interesting costumes, met us on the road. The plants and trees were all of an oriental character--cocoa-nut trees, tamarinds, aloes, bamboos, presented both novelty and variety. The mountains, with evening shadows on them; the sea, appearing at intervals between the openings; the setting sun, and many other objects, combined to make the drive interesting to an extent which only those in like circumstances, after three months at sea, can understand.
The question as to where we were to fix our residence next occupied our attention. The concurrent advice of all friends at home had been that we should not try to reside in town, but I found that it was expected in Port Louis that I should; and as a house had been looked at we took it, at the rate of 16l. per month. The income allowed by the colony, from the date of my landing till January of the ensuing year, was at the rate of 600l. per annum. After a few days our eldest boy fell ill with a raging fever, and for some time we despaired of his life. Through the kindness of Captain and Mrs. Brownrigg we had the opportunity of taking him to Beau Bassin, about six miles from the town; and then we occupied for a month a house at Grand River, tenanted by the Rev. P. Beaton, who was gone to Bourbon; and then we moved into the house of the late chaplain, Mr. Banks, also at Grand River, where we stayed until January, 1858, when we moved to the residence at Failles, since called Bishopstowe; which was purchased for the see with the help of 1000l. from the Government.
The ecclesiastical position of affairs was as follows:--
In the town of Port Louis there were two chaplains: the Rev. Philip Pennington, appointed by the Duke of Newcastle in (April or May) 1854; the Rev. W. L. Mason, appointed by Sir G. Grey, on my recommendation, towards the close of that year; the Rev. J. G. R. De Joux, chaplain of the Mission at Plaines Wilhems and Black River.
The services in town were--1st, a military service at six o'clock in the morning, at St. James's. 2nd. An English service at 11 A.M. 3rd. Another at 5 A.M.
Every claim for any service of our Church, made by any of its English members, among the military, the seamen, the Indians, the residents in the other districts, besides the prisons and the hospitals, Port Louis, was addressed to those two chaplains in town, with the following exception:--The churches of St. John's at Moka, and St. Thomas's at Plaines Wilhems, had one service each performed in them by the Rev. J. M. De Joux, Inspector of Government Schools, whose strength had been most seriously impaired by a paralytic seizure. For the Indians, nothing was doing beyond the colportage of a few copies of the Scriptures by an agent employed by the committee of a Juvenile Church Missionary Society.
Our first Sunday in Port Louis was June 17th. After a disturbed night from the rattling of the hurricane-shutters through a strong trade-wind, we enjoyed a breakfast very much in the English style, and felt thankful to be in our own house, so near the church--just across the road. The soldiers passed at seven to church, and our own service began at eleven. Mr. Pennington read the prayers; Mr. Mason the lessons; and I preached on Rom. xv. 29, feeling that my farewell subject in England was one of the most appropriate I could take on beginning here. Everything was most delightful--the well-ordered church, the large and mixed congregation, and the hopeful character of the text. But the responsibility was most deeply impressed. The evening service was at five, when I read the prayers, Mr. Pennington the lessons, and Mr. Mason preached on Mary and Martha.
The second town in the island, in population and importance, is Mahébourg, standing on a bay on the southeastern coast, about thirty miles from Port Louis. Our first visit there was made on the 15th of June. At four o'clock Mr. Bartlett called at Labourdonnais Street for Mrs. Ryan and myself, and having taken up Mr. Wiehe we proceeded to Mahébourg, which I was anxious to visit at once, to see the state of the church now being built there, and to inquire into the state of things among the population. We had a deeply interesting day. It was bright starlight when we started. The first travellers whom we met were a group of English sailors, whose direction towards the country did not look well in connexion with the frequency of desertions from ships which have recently taken place. In fact, all that I have heard since our arrival respecting the numbers of the sailors, their conduct, and the facilities which are offered by the authorities for their instruction, tends to strengthen my desire to do as much as possible for their good. The next whom we met, overtook, or saw by the roadside, represented another class, urgently needing spiritual assistance.
The swarthy figures of Indian carriers passing by the carriage, with loads of fruit and vegetables on their heads for the early market in Port Louis, others returning with empty baskets or driving empty mule-carts, and the fires by the roadside, around which groups of them were gathered, buying coffee and cakes, gave a very oriental appearance to the scene; while the large Indian village at Grand River, about two miles from Port Louis, and the frequent recurrence of Indian huts, and the sight of Indian labourers, drivers, messengers, along the whole road to Mahébourg, at intervals by no means rare, left an impression of the numbers, the need, the claims of these heathen on our Christian effort, very strong on my heart. And when we came to our journey's end, it was very touching to see Indian labourers employed in helping the workmen who were raising the structure intended to be a house of prayer in the name of Christ. The text naturally recurred to my mind, "The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls"--and with it, the earnest desire that they might be gathered into the fold of the Church, and made partakers of the privileges of the children of God.
A visit to the barracks, where the head-quarters of the 85th Regiment, under Colonel Power, were stationed--one to the Regimental School--and another to a large school, where a great number of day-scholars and boarders were assembled under Mr. George Clark, one of the most able and successful teachers in the island, from whose friendly assistance I have derived many advantages on subsequent occasions, filled up my time at Mahébourg in a very agreeable manner. The church--of which, the design had been originally made by the Rev. W. Banks, and afterwards altered in some respects by the Rev. Mr. Fleming was in a forward stage of erection; and monthly visits were-paid to Mahébourg until it was completed.
The scenery along the road was of the most striking character: every few miles brought some new range of mountains in sight: only the highest peaks had summits of bare rock, all the lower ridges were covered to the top with forest. Fine specimens of the fern-tree abounded on the elevated plain in the centre of the island. And here one feature of the scenery, noticed by the Bishop of Colombo, struck us very forcibly, viz. the large number of bare trees, which looked as if blasted by lightning or stripped and shattered by whirlwinds, but which are really eaten by white ants. The large nests of the ants near the tops of some of them had a very strange appearance.
Wednesday, June 27th.--Captain West, the proprietor of the estate at Grand Bay, called for me at 10 A.M., and I started with him in his carriage, accompanied by Mr. Weston, to look at the schools, as I had promised. The morning had been showery, so that the air was very refreshing, and even cool. We stopped at Pamplemousses, about seven miles from Port Louis, to go over the famous Botanical Gardens there. Mr. Duncan, who has charge of them, was very cordial in welcoming me to the island, and seemed really glad for himself and others at the prospect of a service on Sundays. The trees in the garden were very fine--many kinds of palm, the cinnamon, the clove-tree, the nutmeg, the bamboo, especially the thorny bamboo, gave the place a thoroughly oriental appearance. It was with strange feelings that I looked upon these fine specimens of a vegetation hitherto known to me only by books or in conservatories. From the top of a long avenue of palms the summit of Pieter Botte could be seen through the vista, and the effect was very fine. What would some of our friends in England give for such a sight! Not far from the gardens we saw the site of the new church which is to be erected, and for which a subscription has been begun in the village of Pamplemousses. The situation appears central and convenient, within the seventh mile from town. In proceeding to the estate, we passed through thousands of acres planted with sugar-canes. Some fields were sadly blighted by a weed which has appeared of late years in the island, and which it requires the greatest care to keep down. The sight of Coin de Mire and Round Island, and the intervening sea, which opened on us as we descended the very gentle slope to the estate, reminded me of our first day's view of Mauritius. Much on the estate reminded me of England. The spirit with which each department of work was conducted, the care for all the labourers, the provision for educating their children, continually made me recal similar things in England, while the extensive and powerful machinery resembled Manchester cotton-mills.
In one part of the large machinery-house we found a room for a school, which is used until the school-house (a neat and commodious building) is roofed in. The master, one of the converts from the Vacoas Mission, was only able to speak French, so that there is no English instruction. The number of scholars on the books was 38; present, 35: the larger number Indians, some very young. All the Indian children on the estate are expected to attend. The eldest girl, about fourteen, read, wrote, and ciphered well, and led the singing of a beautiful French hymn on the influences of the Holy Spirit. Several of the boys showed much intelligence, and had a very pleasant manner; but one rough, uncultivated-looking youth, of about twelve years of age, attracted my special notice. There was an inquisitive, penetrating expression about his eyes, which indicated the working of an eager mind, but wherein the powers of that mind consisted was a mystery, for he could not read so well as many of his juniors. Something which was said about him elicited from Mr. West the remark that he was the orphan of an Indian priest, and had succeeded his father as the oracle of the camp--that he wrote out poetry for the Indians, and made so much by that occupation that he did not care about coming to school for his rations. He was sent to fetch specimens of his poetry, and returned with twenty-six sheets of manuscript Hindoo poetry, recently written with great neatness in black ink, with red lines at intervals, and illuminated work on some of the pages remarkably well done. I could not but feel what a treasure that youth might become to his countrymen, if his mind and heart were imbued with the knowledge and love of Christ.
We visited also a school in a building belonging to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, but rented by the Government. The order and discipline were as well maintained as I have ever seen them, and the authority of the master, Mr. Benoit, was complete, though his manner was exceedingly quiet. All the boys and girls present, nearly forty, were Creoles, some of them evidently in good circumstances, and they showed great intelligence. 1 was sorry not to see a single Indian child there.
As on the Mahébourg day, so on this, a leading impression left on my mind is--the Indians, the Indians; and while the impression is fresh I desire to record it. On our way out we saw a string of seven or eight of them led along by the police, and I found that the system of vagabondage, or, as it would have been called in old times here, "marooning," prevails to a great extent--that men are continually running away from the estates to which they had been assigned. On looking at the "camp," on Captain West's estate, long lines of stone houses, capable of accommodating 400, I saw many of these men, who had already done their task and had returned to spend the rest of the day in idleness. In going over the estate we met many thus returning from their work. The few women whom we saw had a very degraded appearance, and altogether I felt that the habits of the people presented the opportunity, and their condition loudly proclaimed the need, for teaching and preaching the Gospel, which alone can truly elevate and civilize, and make happy. My ignorance of the language was very painful to me when I went into the hospital on the estate, in which there were five men, some of whom looked very ill and sorrowful. The utter indolence of the Indian women is spoken of in all quarters. On our return home we saw fields in which the cane had been recently planted; others just prepared for planting, and, in fact, the cane in every stage of its progress. We were thus enabled to judge of the amount of manual labour required. Nothing but ocular demonstration can convey an idea of the rocky nature of the soil in which some of the best crops are reared. A cane-field in some parts, when just ready for the plants, presents the appearance of lines of stone walls, thick and high, some of the stones weighing even tons, and requiring several men with crowbars to move them. After an interval the ground is renewed, by placing the walls in the furrows, and making furrows where the walls had been. This, of course, bears directly on the subject of the Indians. Manual labour to an immense amount will always be wanted. A large number of Indians must form the great proportion of the population of Mauritius, if it is to continue a sugar-producing colony. These Indians are from a low class, even in India. Some dreadful atrocities have been perpetrated by them of late years. One fearful case of suffocation after protracted torture, in which thirteen of them were concerned, and for which three were executed, is spoken of with much horror; and since we landed two frightful murders have taken place, one in the Vallée des Prêtres, a beautiful glen near Pieter Botte, and another this last week in the district of the Savannes. The poor people are indeed in the highways and hedges of humanity. The spell of their, own religion, whatever that was, is to a great extent broken; the check of their native institutions and local associations removed; and nothing adequate to the need done to bring them under the holy influences of the true religion, to train them in the observances of the spiritual worship of God, or to bring them into that communion of saints which surrounds a Christian wherever he is with a brotherhood on earth, and consoles him with the hope of an inheritance in heaven. I say, nothing adequate to the need, for something has been done. A devoted man who had once laboured among the Wesleyans, and left them with very honourable testimonials to his consistent and faithful discharge of the duties he had undertaken, and afterwards worked in a mission belonging to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, has been employed for a year by the Madras Bible Society, with another to help him.
The emancipated slaves have, from the period of my first arrival, excited deep interest, and that interest has gone on increasing with further acquaintance. A large district to the right of the road to Mahébourg goes by the name of Vacoas. The country, some years ago, was covered with forest trees; now a great deal of it is cleared, especially on the slopes of the Trou aux Cerfs, and here the emancipated slaves and their descendants have purchased small plots of ground, built their "cazes" (or cabins) in them, and cleared the ground to cultivate rice, potatoes, and even sugar-canes, on the sale of which articles they make their living. Left to themselves, they are generally very degraded, very ignorant, and sometimes very destitute. Their neighbours of European descent looked down upon them with much the same feeling as the planters on the slaves of old. Amongst these persons Mr. De Joux began his missionary efforts some four years ago, when he was Mathematical Professor at the Royal College here. As soon as he could, he gave up his work at the College to settle among them. The work at Vacoas was an offshoot from that at Petite Piivifere (Bambou), but the accounts I had heard of the religious destitution of the people made me wish to visit it first.
On the 26th of July I started at half-past six, and met Mr. De Joux at a place called Chester Bank. When we reached the little caze, which is now the Vicarage of Vacoas, I was much struck with everything around me. The simplicity and working character of the whole apparatus was very clear. The ground round the house, till very recently a forest, had now very serviceable beds of artichokes, garlick, &c., a reservoir, various buildings for pigs, goats, and poultry, which are most necessary in such an out-of-the-way place to avoid shortness of food. The, view from the windows of the room in which we breakfasted was very grand; the finest sight of the Trois Mamelles that I have yet gained, and more than a couple of miles off. The air was very cool, and a great deal of rain fell in heavy showers nearly the whole time I was there. One of Mr. De Joux's servants seemed particularly pleased to welcome me to the house. He had a fine, expressive, happy-looking countenance. I found he was a Malegache, who had been a soldier in Madagascar, and is now a soldier of Christ. During the prevalence of cholera he acted as Mr. De Joux's chief agent in raising and directing a band of helpers, through whose instrumentality all the families were visited. Finding Mr. De Joux very ill from a repeated attack when he came to the house one day, he determined not to leave him any more, and has continued with him ever since. His joy at the prospect of getting a Bible in Malagasy was great; "Moi bien content" the expression of it. At breakfast, venison was produced. Its appearance was thus accounted for. The day before yesterday Mr. De Joux was riding along in one of the showers so frequent at Vacoas, when he heard a voice shouting out, "Eh, Monsieur! Où allez vous du temps qu'il fait?" "Je vais visiter des malades," he replied to the chasseur with his pack of hounds. "Et moi," the other replied, "je vais manger mon dîner." Next morning a present of venison was sent.
We walked through the rain by a most primitive path to the most completely missionary church I have yet seen--a long building of palisades, well thatched, nicely fitted up with benches, having, when we entered it, the boys' school towards one end and the girls' at the other. The master was away, having gone to see his father at Pamplemousses. The mistress, an intelligent young woman, evidently interested in her work, and delighted to see Mr. De Joux, was superintending the whole. "La pluie et la boue," as a fine boy explained it to me with great naiveté, had kept most of the pupils away. Their parents are squatters with small portions of ground, from two to ten acres, on which they have built their little cazes, and until Mr. De Joux began to work amongst them they were living very much like savages, in many respects. I was intensely eager to see what had been done with these children, and was indeed gratified when I heard the eldest boys and girls read distinctly in French, the next spelling their monosyllables, and the last learning the letters of the alphabet. I felt, Here is a nucleus for good, minds redeemed from the waste. I examined each one of the twenty children, and was greatly pleased with their hearty and affectionate manner. When I asked them to sing, a little collection was brought out, printed for the Mission, and they sang with more heart and voice than softness and melody two beautiful hymns. This also rejoiced me much.
It was easy to see at once that Mr. De Joux was a pastor with his flock. A sick man, into whose caze he took me, asked for Vincent, having heard from Mr. De Joux that he was ill; and both the man and his wife entered readily and heartily into the spirit of some remarks made, of a religious character. Three of their boys belonged to the school. The nice furniture of the humble dwelling was quite in accordance with the refined tone of the people. On our way to and from church we crossed a torrent, which is sometimes so swollen that all the men in the congregation have to help in getting the children, across. One of Mr. De Joux's ministerial experiences was very descriptive of the real character of his work among those simple people. Two days ago he was catechising in the house of a good lady, in one corner of the parish, when he found that even his knowledge of the language and habits of the people did not avail to make them understand and appreciate what he said. The lady volunteered to make it plainer to them, and their countenances at once brightened, and he begged her to go on, with the double purpose of doing her good and of making it plain to them. He had just been telling me that the congregation at Bambou were his "great children," and that these at Vacoas were "mes petits enfans," when we met two men, one of whom at once said, "Un des enfans malade?" (meaning, "Is one of the parishioners sick?") On returning to the house, I found my Malagasy friend near his own little caze. I entered, and saw a bed with snow-white sheets in one room, and another bed in another room, with a prayer-book, hymn-book, &e., on the table. It was a hut made of palm-leaves and bamboos, but beautifully neat and nicely furnished. I asked if they had any children, and found they had one girl--that she sang nicely, that they had hymns every evening, and that she was one whom I had noticed as leader of singing in the school. It was very delightful to wish such people a blessing in the name of the Lord.
A nearly level road, extending ten miles westward of Port Louis, parallel to the sea, leads to the licensed school-room at Belle Isle, belonging to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. On the second Sunday in September I held a confirmation there, when forty-seven candidates presented themselves. I was much gratified and encouraged by that service, and the same effect was produced on several members of the Mauritius Church Association who were present. Five of the candidates had walked ten miles, several eighteen miles, and three (two Creole women and a Christian Indian) had been sent in a cart about nine miles. Many circumstances combined to make me feel most deeply the privilege of uniting in Christian worship with such a congregation. At the close of the service, those who had come from Morne Brabant, eighteen miles off, entreated me, in the name of their friends and relatives, to send them a catechist. The room, the benches, &c., were all ready.
On Sunday, September 30th, I again visited Vacoas. Mrs. Ryan and L. accompanied me to Mr. De Joux's little parsonage. We found that the Roman Catholic neighbours had sent flowers, artichokes, peas, &c., because Mr. De Joux's Bishop was coming. This conduct is just like what we have experienced from the first from the Roman Catholic laity here. But the four priests of the neighbouring parts were so diligent that only three Roman Catholics attended the service. The doors of the thatched church, which is built of palisades, were most tastefully hung with roses, and the bouquets of flowers blended. with the leaves of the Vacoas palm inside the church produced a very pleasing effect. Round this building, at irregular distances of from one to seven miles, the huts of the ex-slaves are found. They were much neglected when Mr. De Joux began his work among them. Marriage was unknown among many of them. They were very ignorant, and the Word of God had no place. He began in a caze, which I have visited with much interest. He has now between forty and fifty children in the school.
There were about 200 adults, besides the children, at the service, and eighty-four persons were confirmed. It was a most thrilling service to me in some parts. "Notre Père qui es aux cieux," came with peculiar power when uttered under such circumstances; and the expression in the second Collect, "dont le service est une liberté parfaite," made me feel how we ought to strive and pray that all who have the bodily enfranchisement may indeed know the liberty wherewith Christ makes His people free.
The accompanying hymn is often sung in our services, and some of its expressions have a very special power under the circumstances,--
Oh! que ton joug est facile!
Oh! combien j'aime ta loi,
Dieu Saint, Dieu de l'Evangile!
Elle est toujours devant moi;
De mes pas c'est la lumière,
C'est le repos de mon coeur:
Mais pour la voir tout entière,
Ouvre mes yeux, bon Sauveur.
Non, ta loi n'est point pénible
Pour quiconque est ne de toi;
Toute victoire est possible
A qui combat avec foi.
Seigneur, dans ta forteresse
Aucun mal ne m'atteindra;
Si je tremble en ma faiblesse,
Ta droite me soutiendra.
D'un triste et rude esclavage
Affranchi par Jésus-Christ,
J'ai part à son héritage,
Aux secours de ton esprit.
Au lieu d'un maître sévère
Pret a juger et punir,
Je sers le plus tendre Père,
Toujours prêt à me bénir.
Dieu qui guide, et qui console,
J'ai connu que le bonheur;
C'est de garder ta parole,
Et je la serre a mon coeur.
Fais moi marcher dans ta voie,
Et me plaire en tes statuts;
Si je cherche en toi ma joie,
Je ne serais pas confus."
Mr. De Joux works nobly for the temporal and spiritual interests of his people. The opposition and the difficulties are great. Men who have been slaves, and have then been left for many years uncared for, are not easily reclaimed; and then, when the effort to reclaim them is made in any quarter, the priests direct their attention especially to that, so that the obstacles are immense. But the encouragement is also very great; and if only our brethren in England will help, the way is open for approaching these poor people with the blessings of the Gospel of peace in our hands. At the north-eastern end of the island there is the same facility of access, but as yet not the means to avail ourselves of it. Mr. De Joux is the only clergyman at present.
Morne Brabant.--This part of the island is twenty-eight miles from the town, and the district until lately was in a very wild, uncultivated state. Many of the residents are of Malegache extraction, and some of them were very earnest for the settlement of a minister amongst them. I promised to go to them as soon as I could, and on the 12th of December I went off early with Mr. Bichard to visit them. The journey to Black River was by land, the scenery most lovely. We took the lower road by the coast, and in fording the river the horses stuck fast, much to my dismay, for I was five days vaccinated, with much irritation of the arm, and there have been many serious, and a few fatal, cases of re-vaccination. (The prevalence of epidemic small-pox has made the use of this precaution general.) However, an Indian appeared, who carried me out of the carriage, across the broad stream, with a very tottering step it is true, and I felt that he was a very different man from a strong English waterman. The state of my arm the day before had not permitted me to make a definite arrangement with Mr. De Joux and the catechist, who had therefore gone on before we reached Petite Rivière on our way. They went in a donkey-carriage more inland, over the hills. At Black River station we found a boat, and waited till Mr. De Joux and Mr. Du Casse came up, and then went by sea to the Morne, which we reached in an hour and a half. The scenery was most enchanting. The white breakers on the reefs, the bright crystal waves under the light of a tropical sun, the line of coast along which we were sailing, rising gradually into mountains clothed with trees to the very summits, and opening out the most beautiful gorges, supplied objects of insatiable interest. It was indeed a beautiful sail. In front, the Morne, a fine high mountain, apparently rising from the sea, but having in reality a large wide plain extending from its outer base, far away to the south-west. On the isthmus, between the Morne and the land, was the house to which we were going. Children and adults were to meet us from the plain on the seaward side of the mountain.
We were welcomed by Madame La Bonte, mother of Madame Beguinnot, in whose house the school is kept and the assembly held, Mons. Beguinnot acting as schoolmaster. Between fifty and sixty persons were assembled,--Europeans, French Creoles, Mozambique ex-apprentices, and Malagasy Christians. I examined the young people and several of the old, and found that very few could read. My former acquaintances, who had twice walked thirty-six miles (eighteen there and back) to be confirmed, were there; very earnest for Malegache books, and for a catechist to come regularly every Sunday. I began the service by reading a French hymn, which was sung; then I said a few Collects from memory in French; after which I addressed them on the latter part of Rev. vii., words which have peculiar force when one sees the representatives of several nations and tongues listening to the word of life. Mr. De Joux then spoke to them, and especially met the objection which the Romish priest has been diligently instilling into their minds,--that we are not likely to hold on. As the work has been interrupted once after having been most prosperously begun, the objection has weight with many: but I trust that, through God's mercy, we shall be so supported from home as not to be exposed to this sorrow. Mr. De Joux's expression when addressing the people sounded rather strange,--"Mes petits enfans,"--when there were those present who were slaves in the time of Mons. Lamartic; but conversation with them soon showed that he was right. I feel much sorrow when I ascertain, in one part of the island after another, how few can read. The Romish schools in such districts are for teaching their catechism, but not for teaching them to read the word of God. Those who can read, and who have the word of God, rejoice in it exceedingly. The issue of my visit was the establishment of that school, the adhesion of the Romish teacher from the Chamarel to us, and the arrangement of a plan for giving Scriptural instruction in a region (the Chamarel mountains) which we never could penetrate before. And on the second day after we had been there, the catechist came to tell me he was so impressed by the desire of the people at the Morne for a Sunday service, that he proposed to go every Saturday (eighteen miles, and some of it a very bad road), returning on the Monday, if the expense of the donkey could be arranged. This leaves a space of twenty-eight miles from Port Louis entirely open to judicious, and, above all, persevering effort. On our return we partook of the very kind hospitality of the officer in command at the station, and called on Mons. Geneve, who is mentioned by the Bishop of Colombo in his Journal. He received us with great politeness, and we returned well pleased with the day's excursion.
I will here introduce a brief mention of some encouraging incidents at the end of 1855.
On the 14th of December, as I was writing in the vestry, a very striking Indian entered the vestry, and came and stood before me, and in a deep thrilling voice said he was a Mohammedan, but an unhappy one, and he wished to put on Christ by baptism. He turns out to be a well-read man, and has gone through very keen trial the last eighteen months, which he has interpreted as a punishment for his hardness of heart when under Christian instruction in India. He had been a monitor for eight years in a mission-school, and appears to have endeavoured to believe that Christianity was not a bad religion, but that Mohammedanism was the true one. The question which has lately given him no rest is, "If Christ fully revealed the will of God, and made a perfect propitiation, what need could there be of Mohammed's teaching?" He afterwards wrote a letter to me, in which he spoke of the privilege he had enjoyed in the instruction of the school at Madras; and when I had another interview with him, I found that his mother had been "learned in explaining the Koran," because her father was one of those who knew it by heart. Her principles used to blot out the instructions received at school, but still some things remained, and here in his distress he remembered them, and wished very much to become a Christian. He was baptized early in the following year.
On Sunday morning, December 16, I had the privilege of conducting the opening service on board the Mariners' Chapel, and a most interesting occasion it was. A month before, the ship had been purchased--a bark which used to trade between this and Melbourne. It had been in the workmen's hands, going through various processes, ever since; and there it was, with a fine clear deck covered with new benches, with a wooden roof over nearly the whole length of the deck, closed in near the bows by the Union Jack, and with long pieces of sailcloth to fill up the space between the roof and the bulwarks if necessary; the reading-desk neatly fitted on to what had been the binnacle of the ship, and the main cabin below ready as a vestry, while a bell was fastened in the bow of the ship to summon the sailors from the neighbouring vessels. The deck was crowded when I was summoned up to begin the service. From the cabin window I had seen the boats coming from different ships, and I found Captain Kelly, the harbour-master (to whose exertions we owe so early a possession of a Mariners' chapel, and so complete a fitting out for the purposes of Christian worship), General Hay, Commissary-General Laidley, several gentlemen connected with the shipping, a large number of captains of ships, amongst them some Americans (the American consul was also there), and a large number of seamen.
It was a most interesting occasion. I preached from Psalm cvii. 23-32, and referred to the Bishop of London's expression of deep interest in such a work, and his quotation from an American bishop, Potter of Pennsylvania. In this way we realised much communion of spirit--the Church on shore coming to meet our brethren from the ships, and a voice from London, and one from Pennsylvania, joining in the same brotherly sentiments.
The completion of the Seamen's Church determined me to ordain Mr. Richard as deacon on St. Thomas's day, instead of waiting, as I had intended, till Easter. Mr. Taylor, the Missionary to the Indians, was also ordained deacon at the same time. Many Indians were present in their white dresses; some with more European costume. That three such labourers as Dr. Fallet and these two should have been put in my way during the year is matter of much thankfulness, and I regard it as an answer to the many prayers for which I have asked, and which I know have been offered up on that behalf.
On Christmas-day our church was completely full in the morning, but very thin in the evening. We felt much communion of spirit with those at home, and the oneness of the spiritual part of the day's observances prevented me from feeling some of the circumstances of difference as much as I should have done. One characteristic difference was that the sexton (rather to my discomfort) got up to shut part of the eastern door, because the trade-wind was rather fresh, and made quite a rustling in the beautiful palm-leaves,, or rather branches, with which the church was thickly decorated. They made me think of another assembly and other palms.
1856.--On July 1st six Bengalees were baptized, with several peculiarly interesting circumstances; such as a nine years' certificate of excellent character, brought by one of them from his master, and the connection of two others with efforts made by Mr. Banks. It is quite pleasant to look at our baptismal register now, with its interlacing of Indian names. The spirit of inquiry seems to me to be spreading, and to be very earnest. A fine youth of sixteen is now in the school with turbaned head and Indian dress, among those who are preparing for the work of teaching by and bye. Another has just been brought to me by his uncle (Peersaib), just landed--a boy of sixteen, who reads English well. Caste is not quite broken here. The youth first mentioned above declined boarding with our catechist because of caste--(he is not yet a Christian, but very earnest in his desire to read the Scriptures)--and I find that a man who was very ill some time ago must have died for want of food, had not his master procured from a distance a member of the same high caste as himself to give him nourishment. Several Indians of high position have been to me lately. On Sunday last the Tamil singing in the school-room sounded in my ears in the intervals of my reading the Commandments. A Teloogoo Christian of good education has just been to me, to tell me of his work, &c. in his new situation. It is very pleasant to hear him say that he understands all my sermons. It was- the pleasant part of the testimony of the poor sailors on board the "Malabar;" but what makes it specially so in his case is the proof of the efficiency of the teaching of the Missionaries in India. Many instances of this have been brought before me. Ability and perseverance must have been applied in the Indian schools to enable them to send forth such pupils as I have seen.
On my way from visiting a sick woman just now (Wednesday evening), I went near the school-room, where Mr. Taylor was holding his service. The full, deep response of the congregation was indeed delightful to hear; and as I heard him enlarging with such fluency, and such easy modulation of voice to them, I felt what a blessing it was to have found such a man here. Perhaps, in all India one more fit for just what there was to do at first could not have been found. Charles Kooshalee's judicious and earnest work among the Bengalees was suggested last night as a theme of grateful thought, when I passed a house where two of his catechumens are preparing with much joy to celebrate their Christian marriage. While standing near the school, the form of a soldier in very distinct outline, coming down the hill from the citadel, reminded me of my early acquaintance with Mauritius, and how the men who served here in those days have passed away. What a comfort to have such indications as God in His mercy has given of His favour:--may He bless our efforts to do a good that shall remain!
July 4th.--Oh! the wonderful meaning conveyed in our blessed Lord's precept, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." I do trust, that when the success given here is spoken of it will be remembered that Mr. De Joux is working at Vacoas, that Mr. Taylor is working among the Indians, Mr. Bichard among the sailors--besides other labourers. These are the men who go the daily rounds, and speak the words, and give the books, &c. Mr. Vaudiu is now at work as my schoolmaster, so that Alderney, Sark, and Guernsey (Mr. Bichard is from Guernsey) have each their agents here. How wonderfully the providence of God works! Possessions of England in Europe where French is spoken, giving labourers for possessions of England in Africa of the same character; the latter being connected with Africa, Madagascar, India, and China.
July 21st.--We are now having cooler weather. Yesterday morning the thermometer was at 68° in the verandah. Twice lately I have had walks on the sea-shore to our left; once with Capt. Gordon, the zealous helper of our work here, and last week with three young men, whose fathers had been cut off by the cholera of 1854. It was a most beautiful walk. We went on towards the west until sunset, and of all the sunsets I ever saw, none equalled that in one respect, viz. the fiery gold which fringed the cloud in which the sun went down. The coral strand on which we were walking, the calm expanse of water before us, the reflection of the light on the feathery palm-trees, the glorious brightness of that island-shaped cloud, made up a scene which I do not think I shall soon forget. And then, when we turned our backs on the west, we had before us the mountains of Port Louis, Pieter Botte, the Pouce, and others, under the light of the full moon. After the work of the preceding days it was a very refreshing walk. Two evenings afterwards, while L. and I were walking before the house in the bright moonlight, a magnificent meteor blazed brightly over the mountains at some height, shedding a light far beyond that of the moon then went horizontally from south to north, divided into two parts; and at last seemed to burst into a thousand sparks. Our Creole servant was greatly moved at seeing it, and described it as "a great light which parted from the moon, and then divided into two stars." Prom the great transparency of the atmosphere, the moon appeared just like a balloon, not with its usually fixed appearance, but giving the idea of being suspended in the atmosphere, and moving on. I never saw a sky in which it seemed so easy to conceive the appearance of bright angels of mercy passing on in their ministrations to the children of God.
One circumstance in our present position may be interesting, viz. that the very house we are living in was formerly used as a receptacle for the poor slaves who were smuggled in from Africa: as many as forty have been stowed in the upper part of the house, waiting for an opportunity to be transferred to the estates. On the question of African Immigration there is a good deal of really earnest inquiry going on. Among all the discussions, the thought occupies my own mind very seriously,--Is not an opportunity going to be presented to us for training native agents for Missionary work along the coast of East Africa? and not only along the coast, but into the far interior also?
Aug. 6th.--Mr. De Joux has just been here, and given me an account of the occupation of the table-land at Chamarel last Sunday. The difficulty of the road in the midst of mud and rain, and over a tenacious red clay, seems to have tried them all; but their success encouraged them greatly, and they obtained at once seventeen children for the school. A beautiful feature in Mr. De Joux's character is the admiration which he so heartily expresses for his devoted catechists. Speaking of their high hopes, he said it was not in their own strength, and mentioned his joy at seeing one of them (in the large room where he and they were sleeping on benches, &c., as they could) praying, as he thought, in the dark, but being visible to Mr. De Joux through the light from a chink in the partition, and bending for a long time in earnest devotion. All that part of the island is chiefly peopled by Africans and Malegaches; but there are some Indians, and I was most thankful to hear that the shepherd of a friend of ours there, who is an Indian, knowing two of the vernacular languages of India, asked permission to gather the children of Indians around into a room on the hillside, which was very cordially given him. Most heartily do I re-echo Mr. De Joux's remark, that we must do our best that all may have a chance of learning for themselves the way of salvation.
Yesterday morning two very different descriptions were given me by the same individual; each, however, adding to the force of our obligations towards the Indians. The first was an account of a dreadful murder. On one of the estates it was known that there were Thugs. Some time ago, a groom complained of some of his subordinates. They resented this, met together, and over a glass of water vowed his death. About a fortnight since he suddenly disappeared. These men had dissembled their resentment, and invited their victim to sup with them. They drugged him, strangled him, and then carried him on the shoulders of four, and threw him down among the sugar-canes. His sudden disappearance caused much uneasiness, and through the unwearied diligence of a police officer the whole matter was discovered. When the body was found, it was so decomposed that the daughter of the murdered man, a child of ten years of age, did not recognise it, but she recognised a red handkerchief which had fallen from the head, and which had the Thuggee knot in it and was covered with hair, as belonging to her father; and it was also ascertained that the handkerchief had been on the man when he was with the others, on whom, for some reason or other, suspicion had fallen. One of them was led to a place where the body lay, and on seeing it, was so startled that he lost his presence of mind. The same effect was produced on two others; and at last the first confessed the whole of what they had done. One wretch coolly said, "Do you suppose it is the first time?"
There is reason to fear that there are other Thugs on the island, and perhaps the trial may lead to their discovery. The recklessness of human life, their own or others', is a sad feature of some of the Indians here. A kind of fatalism is also very prevalent among them. A different picture was given of another man, whose wife died sonic time ago; and he was anxious to have his child baptized, though not a Christian himself, from the impression that his child would be happier from it. The daughter of his employer, who was confirmed last year, began to teach him to read. The Bengalee catechist is indefatigable in his attention to him, and now the man is deferring his child's baptism because he wishes at the same time to be baptized himself.
Sept. 5th.--Yesterday was one of those days of encouragement which often, in God's mercy, succeed times of special, though very imperfect effort. Since April I have had morning-classes on Thursdays for the young, and finding that several were overlooked in the Confirmation of last year, T gave notice that there would be one again this year. I expected at first between 30 and 40. There were 103;--English, French, Creole, Mozambique, Malegache, and Indian; and I had the very great comfort of feeling that every one had been under a pastor's hand. The great majority had passed individually before me.
There was an impression on my own spirit, and on many others, I find, of the power of the blessing of God on the large congregation, which it is very delightful to dwell upon. In connexion with every such use of the means of grace, I feel great comfort in the thought of many prayers offered on our behalf. I may truly say, that not a day passes in which I do not realize to my thoughts with heartfelt gratitude, the efficient help which has been given from home. I do not think I ever felt more deeply my own inability to answer the calls of my position in the way of spiritually improving them than I do here. The comfort is to look beyond the contracted limit of our puny, irregular efforts, to the powerful operation of the counsels and the actings of God in His covenant of grace; and then hope revives again.
The chief incident of the year 1856, so far as the work of my diocese is concerned, was our visit to the Seychelles islands, where Dr. Pallet had been labouring for rather more than a year in succession to Mr. De la Fontaine. The latter clergyman had left the islands rather suddenly, as he was suffering from illness; and some time had elapsed before a suitable candidate for the chaplaincy there could be found. Dr. Fallet applied himself with much zeal and industry to his work, and had the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of his labours in a large and attentive congregation, and in the gradual prevalence of a system of Christian order and morality which it cost him much pains to establish. The account given in the following journal will show what the nature of the work was, and what were the circumstances under which the ministrations of the Church of England had to be carried on for some years, until we were enabled to provide more suitable means and appliances for Christian worship and for elementary education.
H. M. Brig "Frolic," lat. between 5° and 6°, long. 53° East: Oct. 30, 1856.
I thankfully embrace the opportunity of a very fine day to begin an account of our pleasant visit to the Seychelles, on which we started on Saturday, the 11th of the month, at three o'clock in the afternoon. The pressure of work connected with the early arrival of a mail from England, and the replies sent a few days after, with the various arrangements for the work during my absence, particularly under the circumstances of Mr. Hobbs's arrival in very delicate health, and Mr. Walsh's intended departure within a week after us, together with the anxiety about Mrs. Ryan's removal in her weakness from recent illness, made the departure feel hurried, and rather uncomfortable. All that could be done by our kind friends was done to facilitate our movements and plans. Mr. Wiehe sent his carriage to Grand River. Several of us breakfasted with him. Mr. Bartlett was most active in helping, and I prayed with then? and Messrs. Bichard and Taylor in the vestry.
Some extracts from my journal will, I think, be the best method of sending home an account of this visit, as it will secure my naming circumstances which are now so common to me that I should not otherwise do so,--
"Saturday, Oct. 11th.--We were off at three. The breeze was strong and water rough after leaving the Bell buoy; and there was a good deal of sickness amongst us all--distressing in the night, and all the early part of Sunday.
"Sunday, Oct. I2th.--The most un-Sunday-like Sunday I think I ever passed. I was suffering from prostration of strength and repeated and violent sickness, and apparently there was no prospect of my doing anything among the seamen; but just as Service was going to be read by the Captain, I determined to rise from my bed on the deck and try, and I was greatly helped. I read through the Prayers and Communion Service, and gave them an address on the God of Bethel, with allusion to our worship together, not in a church, but on the seas. I felt truly thankful afterwards that I had been enabled to make the effort, and reminded of the promise, 'As thy day, so shall thy strength be.' Very soon afterwards I suffered greatly from sickness again, and had violent attacks till late at night, and was only able to read the service to myself in the afternoon, and one or two hymns with the children on deck. Such days do, indeed, show that 'our solemn and religious days ought to be accounted the flower of our time, and that we should strive to spend them happily.'
Before I proceed with Monday, I must note down our fellow-passengers:--Commander, Capt. Peyton; Doctor, Mr. Walsh; Lieuts. Flood and Stevens; Mate, Mr. Germains; Master, Mr. Wells; Assistant, Mr. Tarrony; Paymaster, Mr. Sanders; Junior Assistant, Mr. Coombes. Captain and Mrs. Wade and their infant were our fellow-passengers, Captain Wade being Civil Commissioner of the Seychelles. They came to Mauritius a few months ago, just at the end of the visitation of the cholera, and they lost their only child, a very interesting boy, nearly three years old. This heavy blow had made us all feel deeply for them.
All our meals were on deck, and there was the greatest kindness on the part of all in attending to the passengers. The order of our days was as follows:--Tea very early; the seamen mustered for prayers (generally three Collects and the Thanksgiving) at about nine; breakfast afterwards; dinner at four; bed between eight and nine.
"Monday, Oct. 13th.--Rose early, and found deliverance from the discomfort and prostration of sea-sickness most welcome. I got the books up. We had prayers at nine, and it was pleasant to find that the whole party was improving. The memory was busily occupied with vivid recollection of many places and very different scenes.
"Tuesday, Oct. 14th.--I passed a very wakeful night, and observed from my bed that it was very dark, and on coming on deck at four, found the eclipse just occurring. How strange that no one had warned any one else about the eclipse! I began distributing little books, and the Memoir of Mr. Anstruther, and read the last division of Sanderson's Sermons, vol. iii., near the end. Many expressions in the Psalms for the day (Morning Prayer) seem very suitable to the circumstances in which we are proceeding to the Seychelles. Many thoughts about the formidable danger of being satisfied with a mere external routine of earnest work.
"Wednesday, Oct. 15th.--Lat. 10° at twelve o'clock. Wet in the night. Ram and slight squalls. Had converse with Mr. Flood about the Scamander and the surrounding country. A good deal of conversation to-day with different individuals. In the evening the sailors singing, 'Cheer, boys, cheer;' 'Red, White, and Blue;' 'The White Squall,' and another: all of them, as fur as I could hear, very appropriate seamen's songs. I was much struck with the effect, though the sentiments were, limited to earthly patriotism and feeling. There is a wide field in England for the work now begun in so many schools, of j training the young to sing proper songs properly.
"Thursday, Oct. 16th.--Distance from Mahé 215 miles, at twelve o'clock. I finished the account of Lemonier, the French botanist; a part of his scheme for collecting plants, &c., carried Mons. Poivre across these very seas a hundred years ago, under the auspices of the French king. How delightful to think of the efforts now made to send everywhere from England the Tree of Life! Conversed with Captain Wade about the affairs of Seychelles, and with the boatswain about St. Augustine's Bay, the people, &c. His impression is favourable. The manoeuvre to-day was firing three rounds and shifting the breeching done in very quick time. One pleasant association with all this is its use in the suppression of the slave-trade. Several of our officers have been on the Western coast. Looking at the map, the Eastern coast seems very close to us here. The evening has been very lovely. Mr. Ellis's Visit to Madagascar, which I have brought with me, is in full requisition.
"Saturday, Oct. 19th.--Land appeared at about seven, but there was a doubt as to which of the islands was seen. Frigate Island, then a strange mass of rocks, Reciffe Island, and Mahé, form the first line from east to west. I was the first to see Mahé. A shell was brought up from forty fathoms, sounded in the night. I was reminded of the Channel Islands. Bird, one of the quartermasters, belonged to Mr. Veck's choir at Forton, and must have been in the choir, I think, the day I was confirmed there. 'Hope deferred, not lost,' has been in circulation to-day. Very beautiful was the appearance of the islands as we drew near--ridges crested with trees running across the length of Mahé, about eighteen miles; the sun setting behind one of the highest hills, and just showing part of his orb like living flame where the slope gave an opening. We came to our anchorage in the dark, St. Ann's and Ile aux Cerfs being to the cast, and the curve of the harbour in the dark shadow of the mountain before us. The ship let go best bower anchor before seven o'clock. We have reason for much gratitude for such a passage. All on board are struck with the wonderful alteration in Mrs. Ryan's appearance. We were unable to go on shore because of the reefs. I doubted this very much at the time, but had reason to be fully convinced of it afterwards; and even when the pilot came I felt it was better to remain on board during the night, so as to be ready for the service with the sailors the next day before I went on shore.
"Sunday, Oct. 20th. Mahé.--A most deeply interesting day. I rose at half-past three, and saw the islands of St. Ann's and Ile aux Cerfs on one side, and Mahé on the other, by moonlight. The whole effect was most lovely. Afterwards, in the course of the morning, we had a view which was perfectly enchanting. I never saw anything like it before. The islands to the east, being shut in with each other, presented the appearance of a beautiful cove, the sea in which was of the brightest and lightest green. The shore was the white coral sand, skirted by gentle undulations, richly wooded; and above all rested a few elegant light clouds. It was, indeed, a scene of surpassing beauty, and elicited the admiration of all who saw it, while it made me think of many who did not. The morning on board was rather confused. At ten we had service--Psalm xxiii. The men were very attentive, and we distributed tracts to each. We struck on coral several times in the boat as we went ashore. There was a large body of people on the shore to meet us.
"We had service soon after four, and a full congregation in the church, which is formed of three rooms of a dwelling-house, turned into one, holding about two hundred people. I preached on 'La Paix de Dieu,' and felt very thankful to have such a subject ready. I had great comfort in speaking, and felt it very exhilarating to think of the different places in which the same Gospel is preached. The large majority before me were of African descent. Mr. J. Le Bran was at church, his wife's health taking him to Seychelles for probably several months. The singing was excellent; Mrs. Griffiths, the wife of the district magistrate, with whom we afterwards dined, having taught the girls. She is a Bordelaise, and her family are Calvinists.
"Monday, Oct. 20th. Make.--After a most refreshing night we saw a beautiful sunrise, and enjoyed two or three walks before breakfast. One was above the Cemetery, in a place formerly set apart, in the time of the French, as the King's Garden, full of cinnamon-trees and other rare and luxuriant plants. Being on the western slope of the hill the shade was complete, and the place most favourable for meditation. Another was up to the flag-staff, to the east of Government House; Mrs. Wade and L. with me. The view from that spot is very extensive, commanding all the sea-line to the east and to the west. The monument to Mons. De Quincy, the last French commandant of the Seychelles, who afterwards served under the English government, is there. Several of his family are buried with him, and at the foot some of their most faithful slaves, the places being marked by wooden crosses. I heard strange stories afterwards from others, as to the treatment of slaves here in former times. Another walk was with Dr. Fallet, when our subjects of converse were arrangements about schools, the church, Praslin, &c. Mons. Dubois, the President of the recently-formed 'Association Protestante de Bienveillance,' called, and I spoke much with him on the advantage which, under God's blessing, may accrue from such associations.
"Mrs. Ryan and I visited the schools: 42 girls were present. They read John iii. nicely, and answered questions well. Their singing was very soft and harmonious; for which, I afterwards found, they were indebted chiefly to the frequent instruction given them by Mrs. Griffiths. The boys, numbering 30 or 31, read the same chapter, not quite so well; but a much larger proportion had a little knowledge of geography. We looked over the library, which has several copies of a few good books and tracts, and a few large Bibles. The Register for this year shows that the books and tracts are fully circulated. I should state here, that the emplacement of our buildings is rented from a Romanist, at twenty dollars a-month. On entering by a wooden gate from the road which skirts the sea, the first building on the left is the Boys' Schoolroom; some thirty yards farther on is the Church-room; on the left, the Girls' School; and a little farther on the Vestry, which is also the library.
"In the evening Captain Wade took us by a walk round part of the hill, beginning by the bamboo arches, up through the King's Garden, and round to the flagstaff, by a beautiful descent on the eastern side of the hill. Cinnamon-groves, many betel-nut creepers, a clove plantation in an elevated dell, valleys full of trees, peaks 2000 feet high, the sea, the islands--all, at different parts, opening to the view.
"Tuesday, Oct. 21st.--I was out early this morning with Captain Wade. We ascended to the ridge of the hills, so as to get a view to the sea on the other side. The whole walk was full of interesting objects and incidents. Our track at first was over a begun road, at present in a dangerous state from the blasted rocks and excavations on it. Then came a foot-track leading to the top of the hill, nearly, if not quite, three miles off; from which we saw a beautiful valley and plain on the right, and in front down to the sea, and a wider road leading to the mill of what had once been a flourishing sugar-plantation. To the left, along the shore, is a beautiful little bay, barred in from the sharks by a coral reef. Just above the high-water mark is a single line of cocoas, and across a calm blue sea the rugged and mountainous island of Silhouette; and the smaller one, called Ile Nord. The ridge was so far in advance of the mountain-range, or rather of a curve of them on each side, that we had a commanding view of beautiful dells on our right, and of dark-green gorges on our left. The vegetation was most luxuriant. At our feet on both sides were pine-apples growing wild, the cocoa-palms waving in every direction, and timber-trees filling the gorges and crowning the mountains to their summits, except where the flames, which are but too readily applied, have cleared the ground; leaving scattered and leafless trunks as the only evidence that the forest once stood where the manioc-root is now planted, or the jungle overspreads the soil.
"It was a good opportunity for seeing the people and ascertaining the nature of some of Dr. Pallet's work. One Negro whom we met, expressed with the most joyous look and hearty words his satisfaction at seeing Captain Wade again--'Moi bien content voir mon commandant.' We met then, or on the next walk we took there, many coming in with fish or vegetables to the town, or returning with their purchases from it. A foot-track diverging from the larger one suggested the search for a caze, which otherwise might not have been seen among the trees, or else the loud and generally joyous accents of conversation made us look and see one or more cazes among the cocoas and bananas. The cazes are generally far superior to those in Mauritius. A Negro was standing near one of them, of which the arrangements were really admirable. About twenty feet from the cabin in which he lived was the kitchen cabin, with all his implements for cooking. Near this was a pig-stye, with two pigs in it; not far off a poulaillicr, or enclosed place for fowls, out of which a goodly number came to feed; and a few paces farther on a clear well of water, at the foot of a small rock, on which a moveable stone was placed. The dwelling had a low verandah and two apartments, in the inner one of which his wife was lying ill. It was very dark, and I could not at first see her, as I spoke to her on prayer and the mercy of God in Jesus Christ; but I was thankful to find from her replies that she entered into the meaning of what I said. Now right and left, and in front, there are many cabins, and groups of cabins, to which we have full access; and there is a little congregation in the bay to which I have alluded, whom Dr. Pallet has visited often. For all this service, however, he greatly needs the help of a Scripture-reader or catechist.
"The sugar estate, and the road from it to the town had been made by an enterprising man of colour now dead, and an unfortunate litigation among his heirs has checked every thing. A superior carpenter's shop stands about half-way, near a marshy part of the ridge, where the rice flourishes greatly. We were here supplied with cocoa-nuts from the tree, very skilfully opened. In one of the cazes an old man had different articles made from the cocoa-tree to sell. A striking feature of the landscape, which we found afterwards in the other islands, was the large--some of them immense--boulder-stones, or rocks, of granite, scattered on every side. We were quite ready for breakfast on returning from this walk; the trade-wind which greeted us on the eastern side of the hill, having a most refreshing and even exhilarating effect. I think we did not see the thermometer under 80°, nor above 84°, while we were there. The heat is great, but the air delicious.
"At twelve Capt. Wade held a levée, at which I had the opportunity of seeing the principal inhabitants, who expressed much pleasure at his return; the ceremony not being quite so formal as some others of the kind at which I have been present. The captain and some of the officers of the 'Frolic' were there. In the afternoon, we visited the schools again; L. and V. with us. We heard the younger girls read, and Mrs. Ryan gave pincushions to them all. To the boys I could only promise three Prayer-books, and hold out the hope of a general distribution of prizes soon. We do feel most grateful when we have the opportunity of bestowing the gifts, which our dear friends at home have sent us, on such as these, and thus make them glad and encourage them in what is so conducive to their present and future good. We called on Madame Griffiths afterwards, and I wrote out 'The Happy Land,' 'Joyful, joyful,' 'I think, when I read the sweet Story of old,' &c., in the hope that, although she is a French lady, she may teach the girls those beautiful hymns. How delightful it would be to hear a group of them singing, under the shade of their waving palms, the very same words which so many thousands of English children in town and country now sing so often! On the other hand, I often felt during the course of the evening service at the church, how delightful it would be if the practice adopted by Dr. Pallet were known and acted on in England. At the close of the prayers, after the hymn, he named the verse at which they left off in the preceding week, and immediately on his doing this several boys stood up. He called on one of them to repeat the passage; it was in Luke vii. Then another; and, to my delight, I saw young men and women, as well as the boys and girls, and even children of five and a-half years of age, stand up from different parts of the room to repeat the story of the raising of the Widow's Son. He allowed as many as forty to repeat, as it was a special occasion, and then gave a few brief explanations, to which all were exceedingly attentive. Captain Wade was as much surprised and gratified as we were, at this proof of the success with which the worthy pastor is building up his flock on the word of God.
"Wednesday, Oct. 22nd.--Confirmation. At eleven I held a Confirmation. The church was full, and ninety candidates came forward, out of ninety-six accepted. Illness, unavoidable absence, and a foolish rejection of some because they had not their tickets, which were taken by the clerk, were the reasons why the full number were not there. But how thankful I felt to see such a number present! After all that had been said about the scattering of the flock since Mr. De la Fontaine's departure, and the relapsing of some to Popery,--to see some from all ranks and various ages coming forward, while those who looked on had been confirmed by the Bishop of Colombo, or were Romanists observing us with eager attention! Mons. Dubois, the President of our Association, was one of the confirmed. There were but few of the upper classes, and nearly all were of African descent. It was a service full of encouragement to me. I spoke to them on 1 Thess. ii. 12,--'That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.' Many circumstances indicative of Providential guidance, and favourable influence from above, give a bright aspect to the condition of this church.
"After the service Mr. Griffiths took us round the ground allotted by the Government for our new church. It is an excellent situation. After resting some time in the middle of the day, I went up the hill again with Mrs. Ryan and V. J.; Captain Peyton and Mr. Flood accompanying us. The view was the same which I have described above, except that Silhouette had a mist resting on the top of its majestic hills. The poor woman was better. We met many of the people, and conversed with several. Several of the Griffiths, and Dr. and Mrs. Pallet, came in the evening. I looked at an account of the operations in Affghanistan, with more interest from knowing that Captain Wade had been in the 13th all through the campaign.
"Thursday, Oct. 25rd. Praslin.--We started early for Praslin, several from the island accompanying us. The passage was very much longer than we expected. Instead of landing by twelve or one o'clock at the part to which we wished to go, we went round the farthest point, lost time by having gone too much to leeward at first, and did not even anchor till it was dark. When we arrived at the farthest point of Praslin, the view was very animated and beautiful. On our right was the island of La Digue, with a long wide beach, a house nicely situated among the trees, an immense towering boulder-stone, and an abundance of trees. Beyond it, rather farther back, the Island of Félicité, looking more rugged and bare in some parts, but said to have the finest timber in these islands. On our left was the most exquisite scenery,--a beautiful bay formed by the small island, which is connected with the end of Praslin by a coral reef, (and which seemed from our position to be joined to the mainland), then having the white beach under a low ridge, looking like an isthmus, connecting the headland point with the mountain range of the interior--a spur of which forms the opposite side of the bay. Here the trees seemed to revel in luxuriance, and many of the celebrated coco-de-mer trees were visible. As we passed on, we had the Ile Curieuse on our right, and a deep bay of Praslin on our left. Here we anchored, and I determined to go on shore, so as to open a communication with the people at once. We landed in the dark, and made our way to the house of a Mons. Adrien. He was away, but I made no scruple to ask for his house. A police-sergeant who had accompanied us, busied himself to get eggs, a messenger, &c. The incident of the night was the return of the messenger after midnight with the following reply,--
'Je vous fais savoir que j'ai parlé au monde pour être present pour demain 7 heures du matin, pour la Confirmation. Je suis, Mons., votre
"Having read this, I soon resumed the sleep which it had interrupted. In the morning, when I saw the people assembled in their best clothing, the men on one side and the women on the other, to receive us, I was indeed very glad; and on learning that seventy-nine were prepared, and that the largest proportion of them were there for Confirmation, I thanked God and took courage. The beautiful little church had many spectators, besides the catechumens, and the hymn was sung with a fervour which reminded me of other French services in very distant lands.
"After the service, we returned by a different path from that which we had taken in the morning, that we might see the coco-de-mer trees, which are peculiar to these islands. The difficulties of our return were great, as it was night. But for the guide, Amédée, I do not think we should have accomplished it. The darkness in some parts was such that I could literally see nothing. Mrs. Ryan held the hand of the guide, who carried Vincent, while I held hers. At one part of the road, when we were in darkness in the valley, we could see the light of the setting sun reflected on the leaves of the tall coco-de-mer trees, but soon the only object of attention was the road,
"Our guide was a fine spirited young man, who has been a few voyages to India, and has now bought several acres of land near a property where his fathers, or their contemporaries, were slaves. We passed the ruins of the residence in the morning. Flights of wide steps, remains of large buildings, and the lines of those magnificent avenues of trees, which French proprietors always like to have near their residences, carried the mind back to a period not very remote, when cargoes of slaves supplied the want of manual labour. The state of things which has followed in the Seychelles is in several respects of gloomy character. The proprietors, or many of them, are very poor; caste prejudice is still very strong, and work is done by the labouring class in return for the permission to work the ground for themselves on other days. The result is an apathetic manner of life in both classes. The relaxation of morals connected with the oppressions of slavery has left sad consequences behind. Popery cherishes the French feeling of some classes, and imposes on the ignorance of others."
I should have mentioned that Dr. Pallet has helped the young man mentioned above, and that he seems to me to take a very kind and paternal interest in all that concerns the real welfare of his people in the different islands. It was quite cheering to see how well they know him in all parts of the islands, though he has not been here more than fourteen months.
After the Confirmation we had gone to the house of a Mons. Monna, a Roman Catholic proprietor, who was a very attentive listener at the church. The family were elegant and polite, and cordially hospitable; and on asking whether I could do anything for them at Mauritius, a tale of sorrow accounted for the pensive appearance of the mother, and caused her tears to flow abundantly. A beloved son had left them eighteen months ago, and they had but too much reason to fear that he had died of cholera in the hospital at Calcutta. Rumours of this had reached them; but no parting message--nothing that belonged to him, had been conveyed to them. I promised to write to Calcutta to inquire.
The adieux of the people were very earnest and affectionate. Many had to walk to distant parts of the island. The proprietress of the property in that bay which I described as on our left when we rounded the island, was rather in a hurry, because she had to walk round a certain point just before the tide rose. I said I would see her if we could, as I wanted to see the coco-de-mer trees, and a friend had asked Mrs. Ryan to bring one if possible. Before we left, she sent a servant with a fine young tree, and a large nut of the right kind. The catechist presented me, in the name of the parish, with a bundle of tortoise-shells--a very acceptable present, so appropriate to the place, and so heartily given, with a graceful regret that they had nothing better.
Ile Curieuse; the Isle of Lepers.--As soon as I found that a visit to this place--the hospital-island to which all lepers are consigned by the Mauritius Government--was practicable, I determined to go. We returned from Praslin too late on Friday night to visit it then, and therefore on Saturday, the 25th, we rowed past the ship to it, and secured time while the sails were being-hoisted, the anchor weighed, &c.
Our Praslin guide, and the catechist Philippe, accompanied us. We landed on a beautiful beach of white coral sand, washed by waves of the clearest crystal. The palms touched the high-water mark, and, with other trees, formed a beautiful grove along the plain, which was terminated by a steep hill. To the left was the avenue leading to the house of the superintendent, Mr. Forbes, who received us on the shore, and led us to it. The house is spacious and airy, and well situated for the purpose of inspecting and managing the two lepers' camps. Mr. Forbes was extremely civil and obliging, and seemed thoroughly acquainted with and interested in the sad charge confided to him. I visited each caze, or cabin, in the two camps, or spoke with the inmates; and as the superintendent said it would be troublesome for many, and impossible for some, to be brought together, I endeavoured to speak to them apart--a solemn and yet not cheerless work. The first we came to was a man whose hands and feet were nearly gone, through the effects of the leprosy; but he did not seem so thoroughly broken down as some whom we saw afterwards. His commodious caze was clean; provision of various kinds around him materials for fishing-rods, if I remember right, and a little garden: but the appearance of the man was in many respects most sad to look upon. With him, as with most of the others, I spoke on Matt. xi. 28,--"Venez à mois vous tous qui êtes fatigués et chargés et je vous soulagerai." The next was named Prosper. He had been highly commended by Mr. Forbes, as the only one who could read or write. He bore deep marks of the disease; and one symptom which I observed in him more than in most, was a frequent rolling of the eye-balls. He is the dresser of wounds of the establishment, and all were struck with the neatness of his little garden. To him I spoke of the consolations of God's word, and found that he most heartily responded. I promised him a Bible. He thanked me, and asked if I would kindly add, "quelques pamphlets et un livre de service." [Mr. Forbes said that the "livre de service," or liturgy, would be particularly valuable, as he reads the Burial Service over the poor lepers when they die.] His expressions led me to ask him whether he had had these books in his possession before, when he said "Yes;" that Mr. De la Fontaine had given him some; that he had read them to the others; but that "le Père Théophile les lui avait arraches tons." I confess that I felt exceedingly indignant when I saw this poor leper, and heard him deploring a loss which no man on earth ought to have the power to inflict on one of the subjects of Queen Victoria. The honest faces of the sailors around me responded to my words as I denounced this heartless conduct on the part of an Italian priest towards a forlorn sufferer in that remote place. On my return to Mahé, I wrote on the fly-leaf of a good-sized French Bible,--
"Donne à Prosper de Ile Curieuse,
par l'Eveque de Maurice, au nom de la Société pour la
Propagation des Connaissances Chretiennes de Londres,
Ce 26 Octobre, 1856.
'Sondez les Ecritures.'
Exhortation de Jesus-Christ. Jean, v. 39."
I trust this conduct will not be repeated by Père Théophile.
The next was a woman, who had been fourteen years in bed. The ladies were not permitted to see her. Indeed the sight was very frightful. The hands so burnt together by the disease that in one of them there was what looked like the thumb bent down, and forced out between the little finger and the next, and having the nail on it, while all the rest was a mass of flesh. "From the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, wounds and bruises and putrefying sores." The coffin, which is kept ready made in every cabin, seemed peculiarly, though sadly, appropriate in hers. It was a very, very solemn scene. Poor thing! she responded softly and mournfully, but yet confidently, to what I said about the presence of the Saviour, and the benefits of prayer, and the joys of heaven.
A blind woman, attended by her god-child; an aged man, almost an idiot, and a woman, attended by their children and a grand-child; a youth, born of leprous parents, who had been discharged, and then sent back unmistakably infected; an old woman, who begged me to get her sent off (her hands and feet were nearly gone, but the disease had not been active lately); some men who seemed prostrate, and others who were sturdy in strength and appetite, though the disease was in them; and several Creoles, uninfected as yet, seeming very passive and gentle, but ignorant of almost everything, were the chief objects of interest afterwards. How often we recurred to the scene! What an impressive lesson of thankfulness for health! What an explanation of Lazarus! What an illustration of sin! I have spoken to Dr. Pallet and the catechist about a more frequent visiting of this island.
On leaving Curieuse, we saw the captain's boat (the whaler) steering for it from the ship. Captain Wade was in it. Being a much lighter boat than ours, it was rowed back, so that they reached the ship at the same time that we did. All sail was set. A canoe came off from the shore for Amédée (the guide) and Philippe (the catechist). We weighed anchor, and returned by the opposite passage to that by which we had come; thus getting a view of the whole island, and of the islets near. A characteristic feature of the scenery was the canoe drawn up on each white beach, not far from the house; this being the only means of conveyance from one part of the island to the other, as well as from the smaller islands to it. The intricacy of the passage with a head-wind gave an opportunity for frequent tacks, and the skilful and quick working of the ship was admirable.
It had been my intention to visit La Digue, where there are also Protestants, and, if possible, Félicité also; but it was impracticable. Though I landed at Praslin in the dark, the moment we could do so, and visited Curieuse while the ship was getting under way, I could not secure any time for more. Had we returned by our former route, it might have been done; but another engagement, which had been put off for safety, as far as possible---viz. to Saturday afternoon at five o'clock--made us wish to get back. We anchored at half-past five, and were very late in meeting the engagement, which was this:--
Dr. Pallet asked me, soon after I arrived from Mauritius, whether I would accept an invitation from the Société de Bienveillance to dine with them. On my replying that it would give me great pleasure, if Captain Wade had made no other arrangements, he said that some of the members had thought it might not be agreeable to me to sit at table with "des noirs." (I mention these things to show what the state of matters is.) On hearing this, I told him that I should be particularly gratified to meet them, and the time was fixed for Saturday evening. Captain Wade and Mr. Griffiths accompanied me. The first lieutenant and doctor of the ship were also there. The place was an upper story of a ship-building dock, very tastefully ornamented with oranges and citrons, and festoons of moss. The repast was a cold collation, and the speech made by Mons. Dubois in French, after an English preface, was very touching. The cordial welcome of their Bishop, and the confidence which they expressed in good results to come from this acknowledgment of their brotherhood with the Church in Mauritius and England, made me see in vivid colours how responsible the charge is. In reply, I dwelt chiefly on the advantage of organization for carrying out the good works of the Gospel, and told them how I had been encouraged as to their prospects by seeing their readiness to do what they could for themselves. Hearing so much English spoken, I spoke in English (but found next day that several of them had assembled to hear it in French from Monsieur Dubois), and I then addressed them in that language.
Sunday, Oct. 26th.--At eight I read prayers, and Dr. Fallet preached. I went off to the ship for service at eleven, and preached there on Psalm c., dwelling chiefly on "all lands," and alluding to the "Frolic"'s recent visit to Tristan d'Acunha on the one side of the Cape, and now to the Seychelles, &c., on the other. In the evening I preached on shore to a very crowded congregation on John, v. 39,--"Sondez les Ecritures." Thus ended my public work, as we expected to sail early the next morning. Very full of promise is the field, and very suggestive of reasons for prayer, work, and hope.
Monday, Oct. 27th.--I was rather uneasy and uncomfortable on rising, feeling that the heat was great; but I walked with Captain Wade to Dr. Fallet's house, with which I was much pleased. There is rich vegetation on part of the way to it, among the rest, beautiful coffee-plants, with large berries on them. On the way back (the house is some distance to the east), Captain Wade showed me a spot on which the parsonage might be built. We called on Mr. Griffiths, and then went to say farewell to the boys and girls who assemble at school at seven in the morning; and then round by the Bazaar. A very large assemblage of the people gathered in the church to see us off. I had reported myself to the captain as ready to leave at any hour on Monday morning; being anxious to get to Mauritius with as few Sundays absent as possible; and we were all ready, but eventually did not start till next day, the paymaster's vouchers, &c., not being collected m time.
What was to be done? We decided on going to the Ile aux Cerfs, about four miles from Mahé, and were taken thither in the cutter; a strong pull for our fine crew, the wind being ahead. A policeman piloted us, and it being high water, we went over several reefs with just water enough. The men did their work, as it all seems to be done on board the "Frolic," very heartily. When we landed on the coral strand we walked to the house, the only one on the island, while the sailors proceeded to the fine cocoa-nut trees to provide themselves. A most interesting incident occurred before we left the beach. An Indian came to me, and eagerly asked if I were from Mauritius, and then told me that he had been one of Mr. Rhenius's scholars; that he greatly wanted a Bible, &c.; and that there were about thirty Indians in Mahé, to whom he could give Tamil books if he had them. Here was a scattered seed! He then guided us towards the house, when the owner of the island, Mons. Deny Calais, came to meet us. His mother, a venerable and cheerful old lady of Indian origin; his sister, who carries on a baking establishment from which Mahé is supplied; his wife and five of his children, who have been educated by an older brother, and who were confirmed in 1850, made up a party such as is not often met with. We could easily have spent a whole day with them on their beautiful island, nearly all of which we could see from the top of one of the hills. He had just cleared, by burning, ground enough to plant 60,000 cocoas, from which he did not expect any profit for six years. Short grass like that in England, and a herd of cows, made us all recal park scenery at home. An immense turtle, forty-one years old, which several of the party remembered as large as a dollar, and many beautiful tortoises caught in the neighbourhood, suggested other associations. Though we were quite unexpected, (the young people having but just returned from their fruitless visit to Mahé to see us off), an excellent luncheon was soon spread, for which we could not stay, as evening was drawing on rapidly. We departed with two beautiful tortoises, sticks and shells, "fee., and with a most pleasing impression of the courtesy and hospitality of our friends, to whom I earnestly wished much blessing from above. Accidentally, as it seemed, I found out that Mr. Calais had had the chief management of the church at Praslin, and heard from him several hints about the best plan for the one which we want; which came just in time for the details given me in the evening by Captain Wade, about the commencement of the fund.
Afterwards I arranged with Captain Wade, Mr. Griffiths, &c., as to the new organization of our School Committee. Captain Wade, President; Mr. Griffiths, Treasurer; Dr. Fallet, Secretary: Messrs. Dubois and Lefevre, other members. It was decided to meet on the first Monday of every month, to apply at once for the Government grant in aid, and to increase the salary of Mr. Collie from 4l. to 5l., and of Mrs. Knowles from 31. to 41. a-month. Mr. Butler, from a distant part of Mahé, came to see us, and professed his willingness to give a caze, and four dollars a-month towards a school, in his part of the island. We received affecting visits from three sisters, who came to thank me for kindness to their mother, who died of cholera in Mauritius in April last; one of them, particularly, was much overcome. We had also another visit, still more touching, from a venerable woman, very neatly dressed in black, with her little granddaughter dressed in white, to thank me for visiting the mother of the child, who had also died of cholera at the same time, after having made every preparation to return to her children and mother at Seychelles. Many presents of fowls, Sic., were brought on this and the following day (Tuesday, October 28th), when we left, I trust really thankful for the refreshing visit.
Nothing could exceed the kindness of our hosts throughout our stay. May much blessing rest on them, and on their dear infant! The earnest state of mind in which the people seemed to be, was most encouraging. There were 153 confirmed--a pledge of the interest of the Church of England in these our brethren, received as heartily as it was given: crowds listening to the word from their pastor's lips--the schools efficiently worked, as far as the instruction which the teachers can give is concerned--an organization created for raising funds for a church--a tried resistance to Popery, which sent three priests when our chaplain was gone, and there was some show of reason for the statement that we had given them up: all these circumstances, combined with the lovely scenery, the beautiful weather, and the interesting character of the place and people, and, above all, with the hope that I may be able effectually to help them, makes the remembrance of our sojourn truly delightful. Now is the time to remember, to pray, and to act.
Tuesday, Oct. 2&th.--Many came on board, as a son of Mr. Griffiths was to accompany us to Mauritius. We left at twelve, passed between St. Ann's and Ile aux Recifs, and saw Mahé till late by the light of the burning timber on the mountains.
At Port Louis, on Wednesday, February 4, 1857, the annual meeting of the Indian Christians' Association was held. This association was organised by Mr. Taylor, with the view of combining the members of our Tamil and Bengalee congregations in some practical efforts of Christian benevolence. A certain subscription constitutes membership, and the objects of the Society may be understood from what it has already done, aided to a considerable extent by subscriptions from European residents:--Two widows and their children have been protected and supported by means of the Society. A Scripture-reader has been maintained and paid, whose office is not only to read the Scriptures, but to go to houses and instruct candidates for baptism. School-fittings have been purchased for some of our Indian schools; and large parcels of books, Prayer-books, Pilgrim's Progress, &c. from India, have been paid for by the committee, and, sold among the members; while some of the larger books necessary for catechists were given to them.
It was to commemorate the anniversary of this Society that we met. I occupied the chair; Mr. Bichard and Mr. Vaudin were the only other Europeans there. The weather was too rough for Mr. Hobbs to be present. It was a very pleasant sight. More than fifty adults and more than thirty young persons and children attended. A hymn in Tamil was sung to a familiar tune; then one in Bengalee; next the Report was read, in Tamil by Mr. Taylor, then in Bengalee by Charles Kooshalee. Mr. Joachim, a highly respectable young man from the Immigration Office, who has always helped the work, made a speech in Tamil; after him Isaac, the well-educated native from Bombay, whom we rescued from coolie labour, addressed the Bengalees in Hindoostanee, I believe; Anandappcn, an able schoolmaster, with spectacles, then in Tamil; C. Kooshalee in Bengalee. Then I spoke, and Mr. Taylor interpreted in Tamil; after which I ventured on speaking in Creole to the Bengalees, most of whom could understand what I had to say. Mr. Joachim's brother said a few words in Tamil, and James (the catechist who came to me for baptism after his troubles at Black River, his Indian name being Peersaib). The proceedings were terminated by another hymn in each language, and by the Blessing, interpreted as I delivered it, and responded to by a fervent "Amen." I felt a deep and thankful interest in this my first meeting with the representatives of the Indian Church here. Oh, that we may be enabled to be faithful, affectionate, and single-minded, in the endeavour to build up a Church for Christ among these strangers in the land! "God has done great things for us already, whereof we rejoice;" but how much remains to be done! It is delightful to know that an Indian work is connected with each of our settled districts. Mahébourg has its clergyman and its catechist. Plaines Wilhems has a devoted and experienced missionary, and a schoolmaster-catechist near him. Vacoas has a schoolmaster-catechist and his wife, the latter a pupil of Mr. Sandys of Calcutta. Bambou has an Indian school, and so has Grand River. "What we need is a mighty influence from above, to make our work a work of the Spirit: and how soon might it grow, expand, and prevail all over the island!
March 20th, 1857.--Last Friday week I had the satisfaction of placing Mr. Leatherdale at Moka; then proceeding with Mr. Wiehe to Vacoas, where everything was indeed in a most gratifying position; and in returning home by Petite Rivière visited a school, where there were eighty-three children present that day. In one apartment was a Creole school; in another was a Madras teacher, with his little Tamuhans; and across the yard, in another place, were children receiving instruction from Bengalee teachers. The children in an English school would wonder at the sights in these schools, and at the sounds; one class singing the alphabet; another spelling syllables at the pitch of their voices; others writing letters, which look more like a drawing of a house than a part of the alphabet. After school, the children (Indians, I mean) are taken by their teachers to the different plantations. On referring to the map, the following line of schools may be seen:--
1. Port Louis: Boys near the Cathedral; girls and little boys in Black Town, at the southern end of it.
2. Grand River: Indian school.
3. Petite Rivière, about three miles on: a Creole school (i. e. French and English); Tamil and Bengalee.
4. Bambou: Creole and Indian schools.
5. Petite Rivière Noire: Creole school; French only as yet.
6. Coteau Raffin, before the peninsula of the Morne.
7. Chainarel, at the top of the mountain.
8. Morne: French and English school; chiefly French. On Friday morning, April 24th, I went with Captain
Gordon to visit the schools in the Morne district. Near the Chamarel mountain a striking and sad contrast was presented--one of the pupils of our school, a bright, well-behaved, intelligent little fellow, answered, though not accurately, yet very intelligently, to our questions. But near the waterfall a poor woman and her two boys gave the impression of gross ignorance and darkness, which was painfully confirmed by our conversation with her. "Vos garcons vont a l'école?" "N'a pas connais." Then followed other questions to explain what I meant, but she knew nothing about it. "Vous faire prière?" "N'a pas connais." "Qui faire tout ça?" pointing to the mountains, the sky, &c. "N'a pas connais, nous comme la bête même." I then repeated the first sentences of the Belief, "Je crois en Dieu," &c. "N'a pas connais." "Notre Père qui es aux cieux." "N'a pas connais." Then came a thrilling voice from a negro who had come up with us, and was out of sight behind a tree. "Personne n'a pas montre." How strong her excuse! and how heavy the blame falling on others! What chains could well be worse than those which are left to press on the souls of those whose bodies have been freed!
June 17th.--The events of the past week have been of a very chequered nature. Causes for sorrow and for joy have been busily at work. I have felt much grief from several circumstances attendant on the celebration of the Fete Dieu. Last year the military baud did not play, because the celebration was on a Sunday. This year the band went to the Thursday celebration, and also to the procession on Sunday. This has a very bad effect, and the crowds of people who attended, many of whom I met in returning after the French service, and from visiting Mr. Bichard and a sick child, showed how attractive such sights are. The scornful derision with which many speak of the whole ceremony is probably little known by those who conduct it: Indians calling it the "Yamsey blanc;" another describing it as very pretty, "tout badiner, badiner, badiner;" another person thinking the display could only do good to the cause of Protestantism; and many expressions of that kind give a strange idea of the state of the crowd who were present. Mr. Bichard's serious illness, the dangerous state of one of our most promising Sunday scholars, and Mr. De Joux's serious accident, which has kept him in bed now ten days, all contributed to make me feel how little we can look to things around for comfort. But the consciousness that we are doing God's work, the remembrance of the "much people" in the city of Corinth, and of the festivals which grieved such men as preached the Gospel in Smyrna and Antioch of old; and the thought of many who pray for us and help us, were elements of comfort seasonable and strong. And yesterday was a gratifying day. It was the day on which the Governor and General Hay were to be present at the distribution of prizes to our Vacoas children. This was a pleasing ceremony, although very heavy rains during the night, and dark masses of clouds in the morning, seemed at first to preclude the hope of a large gathering. We started early. Mr. Kelly, an officer from the "Megsera," and I, went on the bridge, where Mr. Rivington, another officer of the "Megsera," and Mr. A. Wiehe, met us in a carriage. The carriage returned for Mrs. Ryan and Alfred, and we walked on up the hill. Leaving Alfred with Mrs. De Joux, we went on to the Tamarind Falls, about three miles or more farther. The road was very bad in some parts, and I walked more than the distance, as I went back to look for the carriage. Jean Sarradie's house and school, and the other school, with all the locality, were thus brought under my direct observation. We met people walking in from a long distance, because they had heard there was to be service. Every survey of the country tends to impress on me more the value of Mr. De Joux's unwearied labours, and the power which accompanies them under God's blessing. Having arrived at the house of Mr. Moon, we were guided to the Tamarind Falls by one of his men. The view was magnificent. We stood at the edge of a ravine covered with fine timber-trees, at the foot of which the Tamarind River wound along--I should think, at least 900 feet below us. In front, rather to the left, the falls came leaping and foaming, seven in number, out of what seemed a primeval forest, which looked grey and venerable under the heavy clouds which intercepted the light of the sun. The view of the foliage of many kinds of trees in the hollow, and all up the sides, is very fine indeed. Such sights are like a condensation of many books.
At Mr. Moon's we looked over the exquisite drawings of island-flowers made by Mrs. Moon, which are the admiration of all who see them. Our hopes for the Indians and other inhabitants of these parts gave a cheerful impression to my mind, which enabled me more fully to enter into the feelings with which the whole party enjoyed these beautiful scenes.
On returning to Vacoas, we found Mr. De Joux in bed for the tenth day. On the previous Sunday week, after going to Bambou in the morning for the service there, and holding a service at Vacoas in the afternoon, he was on his way to visit a sick person, when his horse fell on its side, and Mr. De Joux was severely hurt, his leg being bruised from the thigh-bone to the ancle. Finding that there were adults gathered as well as children, we proceeded to the chapel, and held a service. I addressed them on Eph. vi., endeavouring particularly to impress on them the duty of praying for their devoted pastor. The Governor and Lady Higginson, and Miss Louisa H., came at the close of the service, and the children repeated Scripture and the Catechism. Their clear, deliberate, earnest manner, was very pleasing to witness, and Miss De Joux's class acquitted themselves admirably in finding the references to the Catechism, and reading them simultaneously. We went back to the Vicarage and palisadoed schools for the examination and distribution of prizes. We found the girls' school taken possession of by a troop of Indian children; altogether there were between 150 and 160 present. The Indians were in small numbers, from its being the day of one of their heathen festivities. However, a little scholar, a proficient in music, was brought forward, and went through various chants, beating time in a way which excited the eager interest of all present. To see the wonder of the less energetic Creoles, men, women, and children, at the strenuous singing in measured cadence of this little ragged boy, about seven or eight years old, was not only amusing, but encouraging too. The infusion of the Indian element will, I believe, stir up the whole of the other part of the population. The Creoles, again, sang very sweetly the hymns which they have been taught. The girls' sewing, and the boys' arithmetic and writing, were much commended. All of them have improved in reading, and their attachment to the school and to their teachers is evidently very strong. I missed one of the best boys--quite a young man in fact, and found he was so anxious for a Prayer-book that I sent him one. He was kept at home by a large abscess in the knee. Sewing implements for the girls who could use them, and picture handkerchiefs for the others, Indians and all, completed our list of prizes. I trust the handkerchiefs will prove a strong attraction for the Indians. Compulsion is about to be used by the Government--unavoidably, I believe; but if we can gather them in other ways it will be far better.
June 30th.--I have just returned from the Black River Road, part of Mr. De Joux's district, Mrs. Ryan and A. having accompanied me. We started at nine, to give prizes sent by our English friends. In the school at Grand River Camp there were thirty-six Indian children, evidently improving steadily, especially in writing and arithmetic. Sad complaints, however, against the master from some of the neighbours, with a petition from himself, stating that his conversion to Christianity is the cause of it, obliged me to summon him to town for Friday, while I praised the progress of the children. Driving on to the tenth mile westward from town, we came to the Bambou School-house, belonging to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. There were sixty-two children. The girls' sewing, &c. was examined. The notes to "God save the Queen" were well sung by a large class of boys and girls, and I gave them all the Manchester handkerchiefs with that tune. Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Taylor looked over the books of the Creole boys, and examined the Indians. Several of the members were assembled, and after a few Collects, I read the opening verses of Psalm lxxviii., with remarks. We called on a French Protestant family living near, and then on the Superintendent of the Police Station, and then proceeded to Petite Rivière on our way back. Here, there were twenty-eight Creoles and thirty Indians in the school, and three outside promised by their mother for the school. The teacher of English and music for that school and Bambou, five miles apart, is one of our not very hopeful normal pupils of last year. Now, he is bright, energetic, and successful--teaching us not to give any one up too soon.
I have thus, within a fortnight, seen 320 children actually gathered in these two groups of schools. Oh, that I could see every other part of the island even thus supplied!
Aug. 11th.--Four aged ex-slaves, who have not received the relief which they should have done, came to me by agreement yesterday to receive their first monthly allowance of a dollar. One of them was at least seventy-three years of age, and another was so infirm that he did not arrive till long after the other three were gone. I had the three in to prayers, and their outstretched necks and eager answers, when I questioned them on the passage, John xiv., showed how accustomed they were to such teaching. This class is rapidly dying off, and there is something peculiarly touching in the thought of the light of the Gospel cheering the evening hours of days which began with so much oppression and sorrow.
Aug. 12th.--This morning, another old man came with a paper, respecting a friend of his who cannot walk, so that six are now on our list for the monthly pittance of a dollar. As far as their strength goes, they still cultivate a little maize. A sick man has recently sent for me, who is dying in one of the Negro cazes; so that gradually my acquaintance with that part of the population in town and country is becoming extensive. May it be really beneficial!
Aug. 13th.--This morning, old Prosper brought his wife up to see "Madame." They are still strong and able to work, and seem very happy. The joyous laugh with which they both greeted an attempt at pleasantry on his part, reminds me of this remarkable feature in Negro conversation. Mrs. Stowe often describes it: but I do not think any one who has not witnessed and heard the "Ho! ho! ho!" can have any adequate idea of it. With some it came a propos to almost anything. The old man became very fidgetty after a few minutes, because they had left the caze "litout seul;" and "di monde capable venir voleur moi." The propensity to steal is a very sad evidence of the degradation in which they have been left.
On Sunday morning, Sept. 30, I started with Mrs. Ryan for Vacoas, to hold a Confirmation there. The little church was very much crowded, and the necessity for a new one was made very plain. I trust this object will be accomplished next year. There were sixty candidates, just thirty of each sex; and many respectable Romanists looking on, and joining in the other parts of the service, with their Prayer-hooks. It was very touching to see Miss De Joux, who is blind, led up to the rails by two of those whom she has guided in spiritual things; and I think it is not often that a young person coming to be confirmed has the privilege of bringing so many of her own pupils in religious knowledge to be confirmed with her. Another very touching incident was the appearance of three Chinese, one of them especially retaining all the appearance of his countrymen: but there was a bright joyousness about his look which was very delightful to see. I felt much moved as I placed my hand on his head, and prayed for his continuance in the right way unto the heavenly kingdom.
There was a goodly number of communicants afterwards, and it would be difficult to collect a more interesting assembly within the precincts of a Christian church. England, Ireland, Switzerland, Africa, Madagascar, India, China, and Mauritius, were represented, either at the Confirmation or at the Communion afterwards. I felt truly thankful on behalf of the friends who have so kindly helped us, and felt a refreshing impression on my own mind that all the anxiety of the work was far more than repaid by such a sight as that. I can scarcely ever refrain, in addressing them, from quoting the account of the innumerable multitude from "every nation" hereafter.
An interesting sight of another kind was the new school-room, which has been built for the Central School at Vacoas, of large dimensions, open to the west and at both ends, covered on the top, and to the east. Black boards are inserted between pillars made of crooked branches of trees; benches fixed in much the same way; and the whole apparatus put up, room and all, at an expense of a few dollars, by that most excellent catechist, Jean Sarradie. He seems remarkably filled with the wisdom which is from above. He has long wanted a larger place for a church, and when he heard there was to be one, he at once claimed the old one for a hospital. His reasoning was this--(it is very instructive as to the state of things),--"Sir, when a man is very ill in one of those cazes, and you send me to mind him ('pour entretenir li') for two or three days I can't look after others; but when there is a hospital, we shall have all such together under good care." His description of one case which Mr. Do Joux had despaired of was most graphic and animated. After mentioning the heat of the fever, the blackness of the tongue, &c., he said, in his expressive Creole, "Jamais, Monsieur, etc mis dans sa tête que cet enfant jamais échappé," and yet, through God's mercy, he got better. Sarradie, as I have mentioned before, was once in the army of the Queen of Madagascar. His idea about food and sleep, &c., is well worth putting down. I wish I had his own words, but the thought was this,--that God calls him now to serve Him in the body; and that if he does not take proper care of that, he will not be able to do the service: consequently, he does take care so long as God wants him. As for the black population around, he considers that he has done enough among them, and now he wishes to deal with some of the whites. He says that they express much surprise, and he himself feels it, at the fact that such an unlearned man, unable to read French (he gives them a French Bible, and then the text he wishes them to read from the Malegache Testament), should be able to answer and convince them. They infer that God must be with him, and he hopes and believes the same.
Jan. 4th, 1858.--"We had a striking instance this morning of the power of simple faith in old Prosper, who has been ill. His wife came to Mrs. Ryan for medicines, and this morning he was at the house to have a prayer of thanks to God, and thank Madame for her care. As I read Psalm ciii. in French, in a catechetical way, his remarks (there were three other Negroes present) were very touching and beautiful. On New-year's day we had sixteen at family prayers. They came with little presents, and received handkerchiefs, some of them with the Queen's picture on them. Their intense gratitude to the Queen, as their deliverer from slavery, makes them prize these handkerchiefs immensely. The Scripture reading is in the form of question and answer, and Prosper is a very expressive commentator. His description of a good man sleeping; and the angels above him talking to each other about him as a servant of God; and the discomposure of Satan at such a scene, was most rich and touching. Also, the knocking at the door when it was too late, and the test applied to false profession. All the others listen like children.
On Saturday, Jan. 16th, there was every appearance of a hurricane. Mr. Mason accompanied me to the Harbour-master's office, and Captain Wales kindly promised to sec to Mr. Bichard, who was exposed to some danger in the Floating Church. We returned in the wind and rain, and were taken up by Mr. Antelme, who had a solid carriage, drawn by two powerful mules. Every part of the house was closed up, and the wind and rain blew and beat against it very fiercely for some time. In the morning there was a lull. Heavy masses of clouds were hanging over the mountains, the river was sweeping by with a full red tide, and I went to the shore to see how the ships had fared. Four only were left at the Bell buoy, the rest had gone to sea. In the evening, just as I was going to begin the service, a message came that an Inspector of Police was dying at Cassis. In a very drenching rain I went to the place after service, and, leaving the carriage in the road, followed a policeman, who took one of the lamps, along the by-road leading to the house. I was very thankful that the weather held up just at that moment, for the first step I took from the high road was into coral and water, and many a similar step I was compelled to take on the way there and back before I rejoined the carriage. The different temperature of water here and in England prevented the bad results which might have followed this after the heat of preaching. On arriving at the house, a sad spectacle presented itself. In the verandah and front rooms were several Malabars, men, women, and children, looking wild and frightened: from the inner room, where the sick man was lying, came sounds of prayer in French, from an aged Creole, while two or three other men of colour were standing round, and I heard the voice of the dying man, calling loudly in English, "Mercy, mercy!" His poor wife was in a state of distraction; her son, a lad of thirteen, trying to appease her; and an old woman of strange appearance was giving trouble to all by her incoherent sounds and actions. I went into the inner room, spoke for some time to the sick man, and then prayed with him, all around kneeling down. He seemed very much soothed, spoke very rationally, and I left him with his hands closed in the attitude of prayer. The next morning when I called he was alive, but had not spoken since I had left, and the poor wife spoke of my unexpected appearance among them the night before as if it had been an angel from heaven. It was one of those occasions in which the privilege of doing much good at small cost is given by our Heavenly Father. The comfort to the sick man, the impression on the Creoles and Malabars from seeing one of his own people coming to him, the check given to that strangely-excited old woman, and the arrangement of one or two other matters, prepared them for the visit of a brother-officer of the police, to whom I sent a message on my return homewards, and who came with his wife, and provided for every comfortable attention to the sick man till his death at half-past three on the Monday afternoon.
After a while the rain began again, and it can only be imagined by those who have seen tropical rains when hurricanes are near. As soon as the news could reach us from Bourbon we found that they had felt the centre of the storm, and suffered far more than ourselves. Three large buildings and a Leproserie are reported to he laid flat on the ground; of seven bridges in one part, four were utterly demolished, and three much injured; 30 bodies washed on shore; 40 persons killed by the falling of cazes or by the floods in another part; a large new ship dismasted of its three masts, and out of thirty-two vessels driven to sea, only eighteen had been heard of a week after: such are some of the facts which show how fearful the weather must have been with them.
We moved into our new house on Saturday, Jan. 23rd. I was up at half-past four on Sunday to be quite ready for the military service, and on returning at night was very tired, having taken part in four services and preached three sermons. The heat had been most oppressive, and the fannings of all parties, ladies and gentlemen, during the sermon in the morning, more universal than I ever remarked before. After two or three vain attempts to sleep, I was just dozing, when the impression of being in a large stone building, somewhere in England, and feeling it crashing and tumbling about me, seized me, all at once, so strongly that I was expecting to be crushed; when the noise awoke me, and I heard a truly awful peal of thunder. I had distinctly seen the lightning. L. rushed in from her room, exclaiming, "What a dreadful clap of thunder!" V. awoke and screamed with fright while A. alone slept through it; and I thought of the words, "calm as a child's repose," as I saw him sleeping so peacefully amid the flashes of lightning and the roar of the thunder; for the storm continued some time, though nothing equalled the first peal. The next day I found that at Pamplemousses, at Grand River, at Fort George, and in the harbour, and in many points included by these, the same sensation was felt which we experienced--that of immediate nearness, which shows how tremendous the electric discharge must have been. Old residents in the tropics afterwards said they had never before heard such a crash. "It is the glorious God that maketh the thunder!"
April 27th.--Yesterday a special call took me to the Hospital, which I have not generally visited on a Monday, and I saw much to awaken feeling there. One ward had many patients afflicted with scurvy, who reminded me powerfully of the descriptions of the early discoverers. In one of the ships, only three men out of seventeen were available for work when they got here; another week would probably have seen them drifting at the mercy of the winds and waves. As I was leaving that ward, an Indian came from another to speak to me, and a well-known friend, formerly master of a school at Grand River; and I found another convert very near the last hour, with many poor, old, and debilitated ex-slaves. From thence I went to the women's ward, where an aged English woman is in great prostration of body, and exceedingly deaf, but evidently deriving light and comfort from her Bible and good books, with which she is well supplied. Near her was a poor creature whose language no one understands, brought here by a ship driven away from some of the South Sea Islands by stress of weather, and left here sick. She has recovered of the sickness, but is now pining away from grief. I hope I have found a way of tracing out her history, and the island she comes from. This may, with God's blessing, save her life.
Before I left home this morning I showed Prosper the pictures of "Grande Terre," as they call Africa, in Dr. Livingstone's book. He entered with great zest into the subject, and seemed thoroughly to appreciate the love of the Missionary in leaving his home to go through all those journeys and hardships for the good of others. June 4th.--In returning to Port Louis from the Morne, I found there had been much excitement among the Indians about the idolatrous Fête Dieu procession. "Why do you tell us we are wrong?" they triumphantly asked our catechist; "see, they are doing just the same." "Promener le bon Dieu," is the dreadful expression by which they designate the ceremony. How terrible the thought, that what is called a branch of the Christian Church should hold up such a stumbling-block before the Mohammedans and Hindoos! It is a great relief, however, that this year the band was not permitted to play, so that the apparent encouragement of the Government was not shown.
At the Civil Hospital a most touching incident took place. The poor woman from Byron's Island is sinking fast. I went and stood by the mattrass on which she was lying, and touched her forehead. She seemed to struggle to recover consciousness; then seized my hand, and afterwards my feet, and pointed upwards, speaking in the most earnest and pitiful accents. But I could not understand one word. All I could do was to clasp my hands as in prayer, and look upwards. Oh! how solemn is the duty which rests upon the Christian Church to pray that labourers may be sent into every part of the harvest, that God may give the word, and that great may be the company of the preachers. [An investigation of this case brought out the painful fact, that about sixty natives had been kidnapped in Byron's Island, and taken to Réunion, to work in the plantations. The poor creature mentioned above died of grief. Her last request, made to me through a sailor who knew her language, was, that after her death her head might be sent to her father!]
August 16th.--Last week Captain Hanner arrived, and brought a parcel, with several sets of Bibles and Testaments, and some bags, pinafores, &c., for our schools, from the classes at Edge Hill, and one from St. Stephen's. I always receive these with peculiar pleasure; they look so like fruit of Christian instruction; besides conveying the assurance of affectionate remembrance of our work. I was led to frame many wishes for the time when such help may be sent from children in Mauritius to those of Madagascar or East Africa, or some of the many islands connected with us. God grant that it may indeed be so!
Prosper is now on our ground. Such a remarkable character! There was an interesting scene this morning at family prayer. Fifteen Negroes were assembled in our verandah, listening with the most profound and calm attention to descriptions of the New Jerusalem, from Rev. xxi. xxii., and to the invitation for all to come; and afterwards Prosper, who is greatly respected by them all, was heard conversing most earnestly with them about Mr. Vaudin, in whose ministrations they expressed their great delight; and from a little distance I could hear him telling them that they must "prier Dieu," "prier sans cesse," that He might send His Holy Spirit to make it all effectual.
Yesterday the Sabbath tranquillity was disturbed: first, by the firing of guns at the Romish Cathedral for the Assumption of the Virgin; secondly, by the firing of a royal salute for Louis Napoleon's birthday; thirdly, by the frightful procession of the Yamsey, which met me on my return home from my work. Torches, men disguised as tigers, and in other ways; beating and fencing with long sticks; and shouts mixed with the beating of tom-toms, made us feel we were not in a Christian land. The value of the Romish Christianity of the poor Creoles of the lower classes may be seen from the fact of their beating the tom-toms for the poor heathens and Mohammedans at the Yamsey; which in this island seems to be a mixture of heathen and Mohammedan absurdities. In going through the Epistle to the Hebrews, I had arrived yesterday morning at chap. xi. 8-16; and the leading thought of those verses, "strangers and pilgrims on the earth," was well impressed on me in more ways than one.
Sept. 25th.--Prosper is going on very steadily. The other day, after expounding the passage about the widow of Nain, at family prayers, I said to Prosper, just outside the house, "That was a beautiful story, Prosper."--"Yes; He felt great pity for her." I thought it a very beautiful reflection of his, and it was unexpected; for when I was reading, he seemed quite to raise himself up at the words, "I say unto thee, Arise;" and yet the Saviour's compassion had struck him more than His power. How often the need arises in this world of sorrow for imitating that sympathy, and what blessing attends the exercise of it! If those who are immersed in the temptations of luxury and grandeur, could only be made to see what misery there is in the world to alleviate, and what opportunities for doing good, what a change would be produced!
March 23rd, 1859.--This morning three aged Negroes were seated near the kitchen, two of them old friends, who had been separated in early youth, and re-united here. They spoke to me long ago of a brother; and last night they walked from Petite Rivière to a place above where we are living, to "dormir" near their brother; and this morning they brought him to me to be taught the Lord's Prayer, and the Belief, and the Commandments, and to be baptized. The poor grey-headed man, as much a pagan in every sense as if he had remained near the African lake all his days! Prosper was very eager about him, and began at once teaching him the Lord's Prayer. Prosper's ideas of toleration are as sound as most of his other views. When the brothers spoke of having brought him to be made a Christian, Prosper objected strongly to anything like compulsion. "N'a pas force li. Demandez li si li voulait. Bon Dieu content si coeur donne." I asked the old man this morning how he had recognised his younger brother. He said that his mistress used to send him to the Bazaar, and that one day a boy called, "La mon frère." But he added, "Moi été fin oublié li;" then, "li cause semble moi, nom maman, nom mon père, et moi connais." There were two others at our prayers this morning from an entirely opposite part of the island, Pointe aux Piments, not yet Christians even by profession.