Psalm ii. v. 8.
THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL;
AND SOLD BY THE
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,
GREAT QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS;
RIVINGTONS, BELL, HATCHARDS, AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
HOUSE OF GOVERNOR GLASS, TRISTAN D'ACUNHA CONTENTS.
Chapter I. Description of the Islands--First Attempts at a Settlement.
Chapter II. Happy Times--Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties--Fathers of the Settlement.
Chapter III. Wreck of the "Blenden Hall"
Chapter IV. Ambitious Scheme--The Schooner "Jane"--Visitors, Agreeable and Disagreeable.
Chapter V. Perils of the Sea--More Settlers.
Chapter VI. Way of Getting Wives--Trade with Whalers--The Schoolmaster--Marrying, and Giving in Marriage--Deaths--Another Wreck--Large Increase.
Chapter VII. The "Possession" Claimed--Events which Led to the Founding of a Mission--Landing of the Missionary, and First Days upon the Island.
Chapter VIII. School-keeping--Building--Easter on Tristan--Sudden Death
Chapter IX. News from Home--The Steamer--The new Church-house--Death of the First Father of Tristan.
Chapter X. Present Condition of the Settlement, and Future Prospects.
IT has been often said that "truth is strange--stranger than fiction." And perhaps this brief history may be allowed to stand as one more proof of the truth of the old saying. It is the history of a little spot of earth, not yet fifty years inhabited by man. And yet events have happened on it, strange and startling enough, some of them, to find a place in a novel or romance. Alas that their record should be, like the whole of this world's history, chiefly a sad tale of sorrow and of sin!
Yet may it teach some useful lessons. The picture is far from being all a dark and gloomy one. It has bright spots in it,--some, very bright. And even the gloomiest portion may be good to study. One lesson may be learned from the whole of it--that man, left to himself, is ever apt to fall back into ignorance and vice; and that it is the blessed Gospel of Salvation which alone can save him from that wretched state, and lead him to a life of happiness and peace. It is because I think the history of so singular a little spot may not only interest and amuse, but also yield some [1/2] such profitable lessons to the reader, that I shall now attempt to give this short account of it.
The little settlement on Tristan d'Acunha is for certain the one most remote from every other inhabited place to be found in the whole world. You will perceive this best by looking on a globe, or a map on Mercator's projection. You will find it lying almost in the centre of the South Atlantic, but nearer Africa than South America. Yet the Cape, the nearest point of Africa, is full 1,500 miles from it; and St. Helena, the only inhabited spot that lies nearer, is 1,200 north of it. Two very small islands, called Trinidad and Gough's, are the only land to be found within that distance from the Tristan group.
The islands of Tristan themselves are three in number--one much larger than the other two. They lie in a triangle about thirty miles apart from each other. Of the two smaller islands, one is rightly named Inaccessible. It is nothing more than a huge rock, rising abruptly out of the ocean, to a height of about 2,000 feet. It is really inaccessible, save at one or two points, and there only in smooth weather.
The other island is called Nightingale, after a noted Dutch navigator of that name certainly not from any resemblance to the sweet warbling of the nightingale in the cries of the countless flocks of sea-birds that inhabit it. It is very similar to Inaccessible, but a little smaller. Both are almost bare of vegetation; and frequented by large flocks of sea-birds of various kinds, who have on them a home of which they have doubtless retained undisturbed possession from the very [2/3] first days of creation. It would seem almost impossible for human beings to exist on either; though it will be seen that very many were once compelled to exist for some time on one. But so exposed and sterile are they, as to be utterly unfit for human beings to inhabit.
Tristan itself is considerably larger than the other two. Its size has been variously estimated; but it may be described, with sufficient accuracy, as being in shape nearly a square, each side about five miles in length. Like Inaccessible it is literally a vast rock, rising almost perpendicularly some 3,000 feet out of the sea; with the addition of a lofty cone upon its summit, ascending more than another 5,000 feet; making the total height 8000 feet above the level of the sea.
The top of this vast rock, though it forms a large plain, sloping gradually upwards towards the lofty cone in its centre, is yet so high, and difficult of access as to be utterly uninhabitable for man. It is left, therefore, in possession of a few wild goats, huge albatrosses (called here by the less stately name of gonies), and various other sea-birds, large and small. The only habitable spots are one or two little narrow strips of land, lying scattered here and there, around the base of the great rock, between it and the sea. The largest of these lies at the north-west corner. It is a narrow slip of land, nowhere more than a mile in breadth, running a length of about five miles, from a point on the north, round the north-west corner and along part of the west side, till it is stopped by another high point [3/4] or bluff, running out into the sea. It is on this little narrow strip, bounded on one side by an almost perpendicular rock, like a huge wall, thousands of feet in height,--and. on the other by the vast level plain of the ocean,--that the little settlement has been formed, of which I am now to give the history.
Formerly, before it was inhabited by man, almost the whole of this narrow plain, and even the sides of the rock, up to its very summit, were thickly covered with a low, stunted, but bright-looking evergreen. The island must then have presented a pleasant, cheerful appearance, very different from its present cold, barren one; for, by the ravages of a little insect, every tree either has been quite destroyed, or is fast dying away, A beautiful verse by a living American poet, would, with one slight alteration, have admirably described its state at that time--
"Five thousand years this world is old,
And twice four hundred more;
And that green spot had forest been,
From the eldest days of yore
And there had the sea-bird built its nest,
On its rugged cliffs and bare,
But never, since this old earth was young,
Was it hallow'd with Christian prayer."
[The Rev. A. C. Coxe, in his Christian Ballads; "St. Silvan's Bell."]
It could not be said, as in those two lines of the original, which I have, therefore, taken the liberty of altering and adapting, that--
"There had the red man made his hut,
And the savage beast his lair"--
for, during more than five thousand years, no foot of man or beast had ever trod its virgin soil. Not till when, only three hundred years ago, the brave navigator first began to venture out boldly into the vast unexplored depths of the ocean, could any human eye have even looked upon this little green speck on its bosom.
The first man who attempted so wild a scheme as a settlement on such a little lonely spot, was one Jonathan Lambert, an American. He was told about the place at Rio, the capital of Brazil, and, being animated by that lust for dominion which has ever distinguished the Anglo-Saxon race, he determined to set up for himself a kingdom here--though it must of necessity be a very small one. Accordingly he started from Rio with two companions, who were to acknowledge him as their chief; bringing with him a goodly supply of sugar-canes, coffee, tobacco, and other tropical plants, which he was encouraged to hope, from the warm latitude in which the island lies, would flourish here. He did not take into account how greatly exposed such a place must be to every stormy wind that blows from the Southern pole; a circumstance which renders it difficult, almost impossible, to grow even much hardier things than coffee and tobacco here.
He arrived here in February, 1811; and immediately published, through the Cape newspapers, a manifesto to the whole world, which would have done honour to the founder of some vast settlement on his native continent. He claimed the island as his own, invited ships of all nations to trade with him, stated the terms [5/6] on which they might do so, and appealed to their sense of justice to preserve him uninjured in possession of his limited but entirely independent sovereignty. Alas! his reign was but a very short one. How it was brought to so speedy a termination authentic history has not revealed; but tradition whispers fearful things concerning its unhappy end.
In the year 1816, while Napoleon was at St. Helena, a no less singular settlement was attempted to be made here, by the British Government at the Cape. For some unknown reason, it was determined to send a military detachment to effect it. That it was at first intended to be a somewhat permanent one, is evident; for the soldiers, about a hundred in number, including a company of Artillery, were all picked men, skilful in various trades. They were accompanied by seventeen women; and were well provided with a good supply of horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, &c.
On their arrival, Nov. 28th, 1816, they found one man here, the only remnant of Lambert's party, an Italian, named Thomas Corrie, and a Spanish boy, his only companion, who had run away from some ship that had called here. The coffee and sugar plantations do not seem to have prospered, nor the trade with ships to have been very great; for old Thomas (as the soldiers soon learnt to call him) was living in a miserable hut, on the only piece of ground that had been cleared, a very small one, on which grew nothing but potatoes, and a few other hardy vegetables. The only domestic animals were a few wild pigs. No signs of coffee or tobacco plants were to be seen. Yet it is a striking [6/7] proof of the vitality of seeds, that a few years ago, on some long unused ground being dug over, a thick crop of tobacco plants sprang up, which must have been buried in the ground nearly forty years.
Old Thomas' story was, that Lambert and the rest were drowned while crossing to one of the other islands in search of seal-skins, oil, &c. But, besides the improbability of their venturing with so few hands so great a distance in an open boat, just after their arrival, there was much about old Thomas to excite suspicion. He was fond of drink; and in his drunken fits he was wont to show signs of terror at the mention of Lambert, and to drop mysterious hints concerning him. He boasted, too, that he had great treasures hid somewhere, and promised to give them at his death to whichever of the soldiers behaved best towards him. In consequence, he lived on very good terms with them, but died suddenly, a few months after their arrival, without revealing where his treasures were hid; and though much search was naturally made for them, none were ever discovered. Such was the mysterious end of Jonathan Lambert's attempt at founding a new kingdom.
Our story has, indeed, but a sad beginning; for, as the first settlement was pretty certainly signalized by a cruel murder, so was the second by a fearful suicide. When a party was sent to survey the place, preparatory to the soldiers coming, some spirits being sent ashore for their use, a sailor secretly got to them, and never ceased drinking till he had drunk himself to death.
But to return to our new settlement. The soldiers continued here about a year. They threw up batteries, [7/8] built houses, cleared some land, and were just about to sow it, when suddenly an order came for them to return immediately to the Cape. It is supposed that the discovery of the facts that there was no safe anchorage for ships, and that the climate was very disagreeable, was the cause of the settlement being so soon abandoned.
But a sad loss attended their removal. It was the total wreck of the Julia, sloop of war. She was lying at anchor in a little bay, called Falmouth Bay, on the north side of the island, close by the settlement, waiting to receive some stores. It was a fine, calm evening but there was a light northerly wind, which often sets a heavy swell in upon the shore, when scarcely a breath of wind is to be felt; and so it happened on this night. Suddenly, towards midnight, heavy rollers came in from the north, parted the ship from her anchors, and, almost before they could attempt to beat out, drove her on shore. She struck upon a rock, within a few yards of the beach; but owing to the darkness, and the heavy surf, more than sixty souls perished: the rest got safe to land. The captain and a boat's crew had passed the night on shore, and so escaped. They were utterly unaware of the fate of their companions, till, towards morning, some of those who had escaped ran up from the beach to tell them. Thus, as one sad event signalized the first beginning of the new settlement, another, and a far more extensive disaster, attended the breaking up of it.
Yet, when all were preparing to depart, William Glass, a corporal of Artillery, the principal non-commissioned officer of the company, have been [8/9] persuaded that he might make a great deal of money by a short stay here to collect sea-elephant oil and seal-skins, of which there was then great abundance to be found on all the beaches, asked, and obtained, permission to remain behind. He was also permitted to retain the cattle, seeds, &c., for his own use; and various other things that might be of service to him, or could not be conveniently removed, were left in his charge. This was done by the officer in command; subject, of course, to the approval of the Commander-in-Chief at the Cape--at that time Lord Somerset. He took no notice of the matter; and so Glass continued here undisturbed, in charge of the place, for nearly forty years, until his death. This sort of half-commission constituted his only clam to the title of Governor, afterwards commonly given to him.
Two other men, John Nankivel, and Samuel Burnell, both of them Englishmen, and natives of Plymouth, were induced by Glass to remain with him and form a kind of partnership, in which Glass was to be the principal. One of the officers drew up a form of agreement between them, which they signed; and when all was thus arranged, the soldiers took their departure, Nov. 1817, just a year from the date of their arrival. So ended the second attempt at forming a settlement here.
Thus were these three men--Glass, Nankivel, and Burnell--with Glass's wife, a Cape Creole, and her two young children--six souls in all, left all alone upon this little speck in the midst of the wide ocean, at least 1200 miles from any other human beings, with no possible means of holding any communication with the world around them, save through the mere accident of some passing vessel touching here. How rarely that happened at that time, is evident from the fact, that, for the first four years, not more than two or three stopped in a year, and one whole year not one! During that year they had, perforce, to retain an uninvited visitor, a native of Sweden, who had run away from one ship that called here, and had to wait that time before he could escape again in another. The whole of those four years, Mrs. Glass never once saw another female face, save that of her infant daughter.
It may be asked, how did they manage to exist? By all accounts very happily. It seems to have been one the brightest and most pleasant periods in our history. Mrs. Glass still speaks of it as having been [10/11] a very happy time, even to her. Of course, she had enough to do, attending to her house, her children, and her dairy. And each of the others had his appointed work. Though Glass was nominally the head, yet all were in reality equal; and thus, as nearly as possible, perfect order was preserved, along with perfect freedom. They had enough to do, abundant food, and good shelter, and were content to get their other wants supplied as best they could. And so they all lived happily together; but the chief cause which secured their doing so was, that they all lived in the fear of God.
Glass was a Scotchman, born at Kelso, in Roxburghshire, and, like most Scotchmen, he had been religiously brought up. Born among Presbyterians, he had, however, lived chiefly among members of the English Church, to which he continued ever firmly attached. He had been a servant in a family of some note at Alnwick, in Northumberland, but enlisted early in life in the Royal Artillery, and was sent to the Cape in 1806, soon after the English took possession of it. There he was soon promoted to be a corporal, and gained a high character from his superior officers, by one of whom especially, on whom he constantly attended, he was very highly esteemed. He wrote him a letter on his death-bed, speaking highly of his character, and even expressed an intention of leaving him considerable property; but this intention was defeated by a young wife, whom he married shortly before his death, which took place previous to Glass's being sent here.
The other two young men were well-disposed; they [11/12] had little temptation here to evil, and did their best to follow that which is good. No wonder, therefore, they were almost always happy; for their happiness was secured upon the only sure foundation. Every day brought its accustomed toil, but every night found them assembled in Glass's humble home, most commonly around a cheerful, blazing fire, to enjoy that pleasant rest which the very toil that made it needful made also all the more delightful. They had a few good books, which helped them to pass the time profitably; and, best of all, they began and ended every day with united prayers to God; and every Sunday joined, as far as by themselves they might, in the Holy Services of the Church. And thus, though more than a thousand miles away from every other Christian band, they linked themselves together with Christ's Church throughout the world, and felt that they were not alone. They knew that, according to his own sure promise, the blessed Saviour of us all was ever present in the midst of them, few though they were; for He has promised to be present everywhere, wherever two or three are gathered together in his name.
And this good custom of celebrating the public worship of God on every Sunday, as far as of himself he could, Glass continued faithfully to observe, inviting all who would to join with him, until that day when a duly appointed Minister of Christ's Church arrived among them. And to this strict and fit observance by him of the duties of the hallowed day, it ought mainly to be ascribed, that even any knowledge or observance of God's laws was maintained here in more evil times; so [12/13] essential is public worship and the observance of God's Holy Day to the preservation of the very knowledge of the one true God among mankind.
One other thing which reflects much credit upon Glass, was the pains he took to procure his children good education--no easy thing in such a place. The history of the wanderings of his two eldest children over the wide world in pursuit of knowledge will give some idea of the difficulties he had to encounter. They almost rival those of Jason in search of the Golden Fleece. They certainly far surpass his, if not in interest, at least in extent, and in the value of the object pursued.
In 1820, about three years after he had settled down here, Glass was persuaded by one Captain Todridge, another Plymouth man, who had touched here in a sealing-vessel, to entrust the children to his care; and though they were very young--the boy a little more than five, the girl not four years old--he did so. The captain took them home with him to England, and seems to have taken good care of them, and some pains to have them taught; but suddenly, when they had been there about a year, he failed; he and his family became much straitened in their circumstances, and he was compelled to send the children back again to Glass. He did so in a vessel which first went sealing to South Georgia, near Cape Horn, and afterwards brought them safely here.
Some four years after, in 1826, Captain Amm (of whom we shall have more to tell hereafter) persuaded Glass to send them away again--this time to the Cape--[13/14] with him. They remained there six years, and acquired a pretty fair amount of learning for those days; but not being used very well, Glass then procured them to be sent back again. Thus, during a period of about twelve years, these two children travelled at least 20,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean in the pursuit of knowledge, certainly under no ordinary difficulties.
But to return to the history of our little settlement. They did not long continue quite so solitary. The first addition to their number was Richard Riley, a Deptford fisherman; one who had been well tossed about in the world before he came to try to find rest here. He had been much neglected in his childhood. His mother, a poor but decent woman, had married a second husband, and not a good one. Riley was apprenticed early to a fisherman, but, it being war-time, he was pressed before he had ended his apprenticeship, and served three years in a gun-brig. Being discharged at the end of the war, he went a voyage, sealing in the Southern Ocean; but, at Buenos Ayres, he and some others ran away, and were eagerly seized by the Republicans there, who were then at war With Portugal, and made to serve in their army (if it could be called one), under General Artigas. This was in 1818. And many a tale can old Riley tell of their wild life--literally a troop of horse marines, half-clothed, half-fed; himself a very little man; mounted on the wild horses of the Pampas, themselves almost as wild--at least in outward appearance.
At length he contrived to escape, and got back safe to England; but soon he started again on another [14/15] sealing-voyage, in a small sloop--the Sarah. The voyage was a most unsuccessful one, and they ended it by letting the vessel go ashore here, saving themselves, five in number, in a boat, but nothing else, except their clothing and a little food.
The captain and mate went away at once in a ship which was cruising about here after oil at the time; but Riley, and the two other men, Fotheringham and Trumbull, resolved to settle down upon the island. Riley has remained here ever since, and is now that noted individual whose memory is so often appealed to--"the oldest inhabitant." And admirably is he adapted for his position, having a memory of most extensive power. The date of his arrival is Dec. 1820, just after Glass had seat away his children the first time.
But previous to this, one of their number had already left them, and trouble had begun to visit them. Burnell had been entrusted by his two companions, Glass and Nankivel, to go to the Cape in a small vessel which touched here, with a quantity of oil, seal-skins, and potatoes, which they had put on board, and which he was to dispose of there, and, with the proceeds, to purchase various articles much needed on the island, and then to return with them. He went, sold all he took, but met with bad companions; spent all the money he got in drink; and then, being ashamed to return to the island, made his way back to England, and they saw no more of him. This was but the first of a series of dishonest actions by which these poor men have been from time to time robbed of their hard earnings.
The next to swell their increasing number was [15/16] Alexander Cotton, commonly called by his nom de guerre--John Taylor, a thorough old man-of-war's man. He had been in much active service during the war (the old war, as, unhappily, it must now be called)--had seen some fighting, and, of course, bad learnt to worship Nelson, of whom he is still a devout admirer. He, and a shipmate, John Mooney, had visited the island in a tender sent to aid the troops in removing, and were so charmed with the spot, that, on returning to England, they asked permission from the Admiralty to be sent here to settle, offering to give up all claim to a pension if they were. Their petition was granted, and they were sent out in the Satellite, a brig-of-war, bound to India. They landed here, June 21st, 1821, and managed to smuggle ashore yet one more increase to their number, in the person of Kenith M'Intosh, a sailor on board the Satellite, who was so charmed by their description of the place, that he contrived to escape from the ship and join them. Cotton, like Riley, has remained here ever since, and is now the next oldest inhabitant.
The men were now ten in number--Riley and his two shipmates; Cotton and his two; the two original settlers, Glass and Nankivel; and two men who had joined them from the King George, the ship that took away Riley's captain. Besides these, there was Mrs. Glass with her rapidly increasing family. It could not be expected that all should now go on quite as happily as when they were so few in number; yet they still seem to have lived very pleasantly together.
THE year 1821 was remarkable for a great event in our history; one that in so retired a spot furnished matter for many a long tale in after times. This was no less than the wreck of a large East Indiaman, the Blenden Hall, upon the neighbouring island of Inaccessible, and the subsequent escape of the passengers and crew to this one. She was wrecked through approaching too near the land in thick, calm weather. All lives were saved except two, the ship striking very near the shore; but they obtained scarcely any food from the wreck, and suffered great distress, the barren island affording nothing for their sustenance but sea-birds and their eggs. Yet there they had to exist, some forty in number, for more than three months, before they could succeed in getting away. And, as if striving to increase each other's misery, they made themselves still more wretched by perpetual quarrels among themselves. There were on board four ladies (as least they were called such by courtesy), besides one female servant. Two were wives of officers in the E.I. Company's Service, [17/18] going out to India with their husbands. The third was a native Indian, who had acquired a little wealth, but very little fair fame in her native land, and was now returning from a visit to England, to rejoin her second or third husband, a captain in the Indian Navy. The fourth was her niece. Between the Indian and one of the wives a fierce, jealous strife had begun, from the day they left England--not always carried on according to the rules of polite warfare. Even their misfortune could not procure a cessation of hostilities the strife of tongues was as loud, as vulgar, and as bitter on Inaccessible, as in the cabin of the Blenden Hall. But theirs was not the only warfare. The passengers and the crew were equally at constant strife with one another; and the captain, a good but very quiet man, had no command over either.
Thus their life was in every way wretched in the extreme; yet for three months they had to endure it. No ship passed near them. They could see Tristan d'Acunha in the distance, but had no idea that any one lived on it; and if they had known, they had no boat to cross to it. The only boat that was saved from the wreck they had sent to try to reach and explore it; but it had never returned, and they concluded it was lost. The people here had no idea of what had happened; though they had picked up once or twice upon the beach what looked like fragments of a wreck. But at last, seeing that this island looked larger and more sheltered, a few of the poor shipwrecked folk attempted to form a boat to convey them across to it. How they at last succeeded in so doing is described in the [18/19] following account, written by one of themselves, and published in the papers at that time:--
"Having sailed from England in the Blenden Hall, Captain Alex. Greig, for Bombay, May 9, 1821, on the 23d of July following we were wrecked on the desolate island called Inaccessible; and there we should in all probability have remained for years, in the utmost distress and anxiety, subject to as much privation as ever fell to the lot of any people who have experienced a similar misfortune, were it not for the ship's carpenter and boatswain, who formed a boat out of the wreck--the ship's boats having been lost when the ship struck--in which themselves, and a few more of the crew, crossed over to the neighbouring island of Tristan d'Acunha, on the 8th of November, 1821. Six others of the crew had previously made the attempt, but never returned to us. [They failed in reaching the island, owing to contrary winds; but were picked up at some distance from it by an English whale-ship, which, strange to say, and not much to its captain's credit, never went to the island to look after the rest.]
"The carpenter, boatswain, &c., having reached the island safely, had the good fortune to find there a man named W. Glass, formerly a corporal in the Royal Artillery, who had been on the island since the year 1817. This man, with a laudable zeal which must ever reflect the utmost credit on himself, and the few people that are with him on the island, immediately proceeded to Inaccessible, taking with him all manner [19/20] of refreshments for the relief of the unhappy sufferers, part of whom he took back with him the next day to Tristan, where all experienced such marked attention from himself, his wife, and people, as soon made us appear new beings altogether. They not only gave up their houses and beds for our accommodation, but likewise gave us all manner of wearing apparel that they possessed, though putting themselves to the greatest inconvenience to do so; particularly Mrs. Glass--she being far advanced in pregnancy. Such kind treatment has made a deep impression on our minds, such as neither distance nor time can obliterate; especially being strengthened by the thought of their having hazarded their lives for us so often--three times crossing a dangerous and uncertain sea, a distance of twenty-five miles, in an open boat, to get off all hands from the scene of our misfortune.
"The number of souls on board the ship when she struck was fifty-two, of whom two were drowned in attempting to swim to shore, and six left us in the first laudable but unsuccessful attempt to reach the other island, leaving forty-four taken off by Mr. Glass and his people."
This event naturally caused much excitement in our little settlement. Mrs. Glass's little daughter was the first who saw the carpenter's boat approaching. At first her mother would not believe her tale, there being no ship in sight; but great was the wondering when they looked and saw that one was really approaching. Wonder was soon turned to pity, and pity made them [20/21] hasten to give relief, as the account we have transcribed relates. The appearance of the poor shipwrecked people presented a most strange mixture of gaudy finery and dirty wretchedness. The ship had on board large quantities of white muslin, and bright red and blue cloth for the use of the Indian Army. Much of this had been washed ashore, and formed their principal store of clothing.
They continued here about two months--from November to January of the following year, of course making fearful inroads upon what slender stock of provisions the little settlement contained; and, worst of all, causing perpetual annoyance through the rivalry still kept up between the two ladies, and the disputes continually arising between the passengers and crew. So that poor Glass was heartily glad when at last the captain of a passing ship, the barque Susanna, bound from Buenos Ayres to the Cape, consented to take the greater part of them, and the rest followed soon after in another vessel.
Mrs. Glass was by no means sorry to part with the female portion (who had a quarrel on the very day of leaving), although they were the first of her own sex that she had seen since first left upon the island. And the less cause for regret had she, since they left behind the best, although the lowliest--the servant-maid a young man named White, one of the crew, having contrived, even in the midst of their disasters, to fall in love, and resolved to marry and settle down here with her for a while. He seems to have been a quiet, steady man, and she became a pleasant companion to Glass's [21/22] wife. And so, for nearly six years, they continued to live together, except once for a few months--the only women in the place.
Soon after the departure of the people from the Blenden Hall, Nankivel, not agreeing well with some of his new companions, quitted the island, leaving Glass alone, of the first three settlers, upon it.
AND now out little colony, some ten in number, attempted a very ambitious scheme; one which, like many another, seemed to promise them much profit, but only ended in a heavy loss. It was to set up a vessel of their own, to trade with other places in. What first started it was this. Some of the people from the Blenden Hall, when they arrived at the Cape, reported what large quantities of sea-elephant oil were to be got here. For though, owing to the wastefully indiscriminate attacks made on them by sealers, scarcely one is ever to be seen now, the whole beach was at that time thickly lined with huge sea-elephants at those seasons when they conic up on land--which they do every year to calve--and at certain other times. And as Glass and his companions spent much of their time in killing them, and drawing out their oil, they had then a large stock of oil on hand, ready for any opportunity to sell it off.
Moved by this report, the captain of a small schooner at the Cape, the Jane, came here to see if he could procure a cargo. Fotheringham, Riley's shipmate, was still here. He was a good navigator, though by no [23/24] means a steady or trustworthy character. However, he and the rest persuaded Glass that it would be a fine thing--quite the making of them all--if they could make a bargain with the owners for the schooner, put Fotheringham on board as captain, take some of the rest for crew, and so trade in her on their own account to the Cape and St. Helena. Accordingly Glass went back in her to the Cape, to try what he could do.
This was the only time in his life that Glass was actually out of sight of the island from the day he first landed here, though he has sometimes been detained for days on board of ships by sudden change of weather. Once in that way, on board a whale-ship, he was driven off by a gale of wind, and, to the no small anxiety of Mrs. Glass, was kept three weeks at sea, before he could return.
When they arrived at the Cape, he soon succeeded in making n bargain for the schooner with her owners. The price was to be 700l., which was to be paid for by the first cargoes sent to the Cape in her. She was then to be their own.
She came back accordingly for another cargo, bringing Glass, and two new settlers, Murray and Derrick besides Murray's wife, and a doctor, a middle-aged man, clever enough in his profession, but who had ruined himself by excessive drinking. His friends. therefore, thought tins would be a good place to send him to, to put him out of the way of temptation.
As soon as the schooner reached here they loaded her with oil, seal-skins, &c., put some of their own hands on board, with Fotheringham as captain, and [24/25] sent her at once back to the Cape. She soon returned, took in another similar cargo, sad, with a full crew, leaving only seven men upon the island, set sail once more fur the Cape, February 13, 1823. That was the last that was seen here of the Jane. She went to the Cape, landed her cargo, went a short cruise along the coast of Africa, and on her return to the Cape was lost, apparently through carelessness, in Table Bay. All hands got safely ashore, but none ever returned to Tristan. Thus again did these misfortunate men lose all that they had by the hard toil of years collected, through the unfaithful conduct of companions whom they too readily confided in. All that they had sent in the schooner was detained by her original owners in part payment for her. But as the accounts were never settled, it was never known whether they were losers or gainers in the matter. However, they never sent to the island to apply for any balance of their account.
Fotheringham's was a sad and fearful end. He went back afterwards to England; but, giving way to habits of drunkenness, found it difficult to get employment. At last, through the interest of some friends, he was entrusted with the charge of a small vessel, to go another sealing voyage, but madly drank himself to death upon his way out.
The loss of the schooner was a sad disappointment to Glass and his companions on the island; one from the effect of which upon their character and energies they never thoroughly recovered. Yet for a time all went on happily enough. Within the year, Murray, Derrick, and the doctor grew tired of their new home, [25/26] and found means to get away: not, however, before Murray's wife had given birth to a child, having no arms, whose manual labour, therefore, would have been of little avail to the community had his parents remained with him here.
Thus, once more were they reduced to very few in number. There were now again only four men--Glass, his two old companions, Riley and Cotton, and the young man White, from the Blenden Hall, besides the wives of the two men Glass and White, and plenty of young children--blessings of which Tristan has ever been most prolific. And now again they seem to have led a very pleasant life--much as at their first beginning. The fewer their number the more happily they seem to have lived together. The four men got on peaceably and pleasantly. The two women could not help but do so, for, having no dear friends to whom to carry their grievances, it was vain to pick quarrels with each other. Nor, to do them justice, do they seem to have been much inclined by nature to doing so. They could not, therefore, but live on good terms together. And childhood, blessed childhood, can make itself happy anywhere.
Part of this time they were much annoyed by a gang of runaways, a class who have continually given much trouble, but none of whom have ever prospered here. One of them, a youth about seventeen, named Thomas Brown, came to a sad end. He would persist, with one or two companions, in going on the mountain on a Sunday to hunt goats, much against the wish of Glass and the others. One Sunday, while they were thus [26/27] engaged, the weather became very thick and bad. Brown hastened down alone, before the rest, but must have missed the path, and so went over a steep precipice close by it. The others got down safely. Next day they found his body at the bottom of the precipice. The proper use that they made of his fate, as a warning to themselves, speaks well for their right feeling and goad sense. They placed a board above his grave, on which was inscribed an account of how he came by his death; and never after would they suffer any one belonging to the place to go upon the mountains on God's Holy Day.
The runaways continued to give them trouble for some time. At one time, indeed, they became so violent, that Glass had some fear for his life. But, happily, soon after, a ship called here, and they succeeded in getting them all off in her; and were once more left in their old quiet solitude.
But very soon their solitude was relieved, pleasantly for them, but rather painful for him, by the arrival of a visitor, whose stay, intended to be very short, was singularly enforced to be a very long one. This was a Mr. Earle, an artist and a naturalist, one who had travelled over a great part of the world, following the various pursuits of his profession. He had now embarked at Rio, for the Cape, in a small sloop, the Duke of Gloucester. Her master, Captain Amm (the same who afterwards took Glass's children to the Cape), touched here for water and potatoes. Mr. Earle came ashore to look about him while they were being got on board, and stayed on shore that night. The next morning, just as the island boat was preparing to go on [27/28] board with the last load of potatoes, the sloop tacked, and stood out to sea, The wind was already blowing hard, and soon increased to a heavy gale; and the sloop went off before it, leaving Mr. Earle, and another young man belonging to her, standing deserted on the shore, with nothing belonging to them but the clothes they each had on, and Mr. Earle with his sketch-book in his hand. And here for exactly eight months they were compelled to remain, for not one ship touched at the island during that time.
Mr. Earle published a short but very amusing account of his detention, at the end of a work upon New Zealand. He speaks highly of the kindness and attention they all showed to him, and of the healthy temperate life he lived among them their only drink, water and milk; their standing dish, potatoes, and fish when they could catch any, even bread being at that time scarcely known and such creature-comforts as tea, coffee, or spirits--things never seen, save when now and then a little might be got from some ship passing by. Yet all, both old and young, enjoyed such perfect health as far more than made up to them for the denial of such things. He describes them as all living very merrily together, passing long wintry nights around a blazing fire in "Government House," cracking rough jokes, or telling stories of old times. He gives a very life-like description how Cotton, the old man-of-war's-man, would, with most supreme contempt, silence the little fisherman whenever he presumed to offer an opinion on nautical affairs; but how, he, in his turn, was entirely put to silence whenever "old Dick" [28/29] began relating his experience of dragoon life in La Plata.
The two at that time lived together, in a separate establishment of their own, which they dignified with the name of "Bachelor's Hall," but which does not appear to have been always that abode of peace and happiness which many imagine it to be, and which, from personal experience, I can affirm it sometimes is. But perhaps this is accounted for by the old saying, "Two of a trade can never agree." One bachelor alone might lead a blissful life, but two in one house must be too many. And when to this it is added that they belonged to the two most opposite extremes of the same profession--the man-of-war and the fishing-smack--it is no wonder if there existed much the same feelings between the two as may exist between a shark and a mackerel; so that it was best for the one's safety not to come too closely in the other's way. There would be no truth in old sayings if it were not so.
Mr. Earle acted both as Minister and Schoolmaster during his stay, saying the Divine Service and reading a sermon regularly every Sunday, and instructing Glass's little ones occasionally during the week. And thus, though it could not but be a sore disappointment to him to be so long detained here, and in such a helpless state, yet the time passed more pleasantly to himself than could have been expected, and not without some profit to the little strange community he was so unexpectedly thrown among. At length, on the 29th November, 1824--exactly eight months from the day he vas deserted and left here--a ship approached [29/30] the island. They succeeded in boarding her; the captain, directly his sad tale was told, gladly offered him a passage to Van Diemen's Land, to which place he was bound. Mr. Earle as gladly accepted it; and with a joyful heart--yet not without a grateful and regretful remembrance of the kind-hearted friends who had so hospitably received him--he bade adieu to Tristan for ever.
A SHORT time after Mr. Earle's departure, another ship was cast away upon the island, and, like that of Riley, added another to the number of the few inhabitants upon it. This was the Nassau, English brig, bound homeward from Australia. An interesting account of their misfortunes, written by the chief mate, is still preserved upon the island; and as it gives a lively picture of the perils of an ocean-life, and the mere thread on which it often hangs, it will not be out of place to transcribe it here:--
"Having sailed from New South Wales in the brig Nassau, Captain G. Carss, for England, on the 9th of June, 1825, we had proceeded as far as lat. 36 S., and long. 2 E., when we sprung a leak. The carpenter was instantly set to work to discover it, but without effect. By that time the water was gaining fast on us, although the pumps were kept going without intermission. It was then considered desirable to discharge part of the cargo. The hatches were opened, and with much difficulty about six tons of seal-skin were [31/32] discharged. I can scarcely describe our sensation at this time. Before we could get at the cargo the chain-cables had to be removed, and all the while the sea was washing over our decks in a frightful manner. Owing to our continually shipping seas, we were compelled to close the hatches; but, wishing to lighten the ship still more, about four tons of oil were next stove in, and pumped out with the water. Our condition was now truly alarming. The nearest place which we could make was Tristan d'Acunha, and that was twelve degrees from us. We were but thirteen hands in all, the captain and myself included. However, the best that could be done was done. We were divided into two watches, relieving each other every two hours, and thus kept the pumps continually going. But after six days and nights' hard pumping, the water continually gaining on us, our bodily strength began to fall, in spite of our being continually supplied with grog, &c.; and despair was taking possession of us all, especially as, owing to continual squalls and misty weather, we could not get sight of the sun for two days, and were obliged to depend upon dead reckoning as to where we were.
"However, on the sixth evening, when we had almost given up every hope, our exhausted spirits were suddenly cheered by the sight of high mountainous land. We hove-to all night in order to reconnoitre the shore by daylight. Being on the east side, where the beach is very steep, and nothing but stones and rocks, we were very anxious, if possible, to reach the north side, which we had heard was inhabited. But in the morning, the [32/33] wind blowing off shore, we found it was vain to try, and some of the men threatening to strike work, it was resolved at once to run the ship ashore. In about half-an-hour she struck close to the beach. The boat was then sent ashore to make fast a hawser, that we might get some provisions and other necessaries on shore. This was with difficulty accomplished, owing to the immense surf.
"On the return of the boat, we were preparing to get up some things from below; but while so doing a heavy sea came with such violence as to tear the boat away from the ship's side, though fastened there by two stout ropes, and to throw it with such force upon the shore that she was completely stove in, and two men in her with difficulty saved themselves from a watery grave. Having no other boat, another of the men got ashore on the hawser, with another rope to slide the things down by; by which means, with much fatigue, we got ashore a few provisions, and some of our own goods. It was evening before the whole of us got to land, which we did by being fastened to the hawser, and so sliding down. The ship's hull held together for two days, and then went to pieces. We found a small hut on shore, which we at first thought had been erected by some unfortunate sufferers like ourselves; but found afterwards that it belonged to the people of the island, who sometimes come round here for oil. We were very glad to take temporary possession of it.
"After recruiting our exhausted strength for four days, the second mate and two of the crew went in [33/34] search of the inhabited part of the island. [A work of no small difficulty, they having to climb up to, and cross, the top of the rock, which forms the mass of the island; a labour rendered still more difficult, and to a stranger almost impracticable, by its being, on that side especially, perpetually intersected by deep gullies or ravines. There is a passage all round the island, at the foot of the rock; but that is only practicable in very calm weather, as at other times the sea dashes high up against the sides of the rock, wherever there is not low land.] The third day after their departure a boat was seen making towards our habitation--a sight of joy to us. It contained Governor Glass and four of his companions. On landing they informed us that our party had been two days getting across the mountain to their settlement,--a distance which they themselves had come in two hours by water. They offered to render us any assistance in their power in getting to their side of the island; but we not being able to proceed till our own boat could be repaired, and theirs being too small to contain us all, Glass returned home, promising to come back to us in a day or two, weather permitting. But, owing to contrary winds, twelve days elapsed before they could revisit us. By that time the carpenter having repaired the long-boat, we all set off on the 2lst of September, and in two hours landed on the north side of the island, where we were all most kindly received."
They remained here about two months, when they were taken off by a ship bound to the East Indies--all except one, who preferred to remain upon the island. His name was Peter Peterson, a Dane. He seems to have [34/35] been a very quiet, inoffensive character. He remained here several years, until his death.
So much cannot be said in favour of the next, and perhaps the worst, addition to their number--one George Pert. He made his escape from a ship going to New Zealand, with some of the first emigrants to that colony. He did so, as was found afterwards, to save himself from being put on trial at the end of the voyage, for an offence committed on board. But the men not knowing this at the time, and being short-handed; admitted him among their number, much to their after regret.
About two years after Mr. Earle's departure, Captain Amm, who had left him here, as related, returned to pay another visit to the island, and to trade with its inhabitants. His excuse for deserting Mr. Earle was that the gale had driven him too much to leeward of the island to allow of his returning--a rather poor one. He brought with him some fresh settlers from the Cape--two men, named Swain and Taylor; Glass having told him, when he was here with Mr. Earle, that, as they were so few in number, they would be glad to get two or three more to join them.
Taylor did not stay here very long. Swain is still here, and is the oldest person on the island, being now more than eighty years of age; yet still able to get about, and even do light work. His previous life had been a strange adventurous, tempest-tossed one. Born in 1774, he began life at the early age of thirteen, in the Fox cutter, which, during the war with France, served as a tender to Nelson, while he was captain of the Agamemnon, and afterwards when Commodore in the [35/36] Captain. After that, Swain served for a time in the Theseus, under him; but at Lisbon ran away, after having been eighteen years in the service. He was taken prisoner by the French; and, to his sad disgrace as a British sailor, was induced by threats and promises to serve with them against his native country. He continued three years in the French service; and then, by a righteous retribution, was retaken by the English; and was compelled to remain nine years a French prisoner in his native laud, not daring for his life to own the truth. Being set at liberty on the conclusion of the war, he went in a merchant-ship to the Cape; and there commenced somewhat less cruel hostilities against the inhabitants of the air, being employed collecting sea-birds' eggs along the coast. In this employment he continued for ten years; and it was while so engaged that he was found by Captain Amm, and induced by him to try to better himself by joining the little colony on Tristan d'Acunha.
A short time after his arrival, White grew tired both of the place and his companions; and with his wife and children went away.
CAPTAIN AMM obtained a cargo here, went with it to the Cape, from thence sailed to St. Helena, and then came here again. On this, his third visit, by his advice and assistance, the settlers attempted a new scheme, which, like the first, seemed to promise an increase to their happiness and comfort; yet, from the way in which it was carried out, it was certainly very far from being in every way an advantage to them. This new scheme was to provide themselves with wives. Glass had a wife when he came; but all the rest, with the exception of White, were compelled to lead a single life; there being no helps-meet for them to be found here then. There were five single men on the island--Riley, Cotton, Peterson, Pert, and Swain. They made a hasty bargain with Amm that he should return to St. Helena, and try to induce five women of that island to accompany him back here in search of husbands.
Amm returned here on the 12th of April, 1827; bringing five women, and a single man named Isaacs, who did not stay here long. As the men had made the [37/38] bargain, they felt bound to keep to it, though not well satisfied with the way in which it was carried out. Each man took one of the women as a partner for life; but without asking any blessing from God upon their union; and therefore with little hope of that blessing resting on it. And so they continued to live together--as was to be expected--not very happily. To the credit of one or two of the women, they proved better than could have been hoped for; but none were such as would be wished. All were very ignorant, and some were viciously enough disposed.
Just after this, too, the island began to be much frequented by whale-ships. This led to still further evil. Drunkenness, and other vices, began to prevail more among them, and consequently the highest duties of life could not fail to be so much the more neglected. The children that sprang from their union were badly cared for, and grew up mostly very ignorant. And ignorance is ever the fruitful mother of vice: though in their case, in some respects, it proved less so than might perhaps have been expected. Some little observance of religious duties was indeed always kept up among them. Glass still held public worship on Sundays, but commonly very few attended it. He also, of a winter's evening, did his best to instruct any of the children that were willing to learn; but very few came to him to be taught. And, altogether, things were changing sadly for the worse.
It was just at this time that, as I have said, a great many American whale-ships began to frequent the [38/39] island for refreshment, drawn hitherward by the vast number of whales then to be found in the neigbourhood. English whalers had often visited it previously to this time; but they chiefly resorted here after the sea-elephant: whales do not seem to have been then so abundant.
The first American whaler who called here was Captain Sampson, of New Bedford, Mass. That was in 1828. He was not aware that any one resided on the island; and was, therefore, much surprised and pleased, on approaching it, to see a boat put off to him, loaded with potatoes, butter, eggs, &c. He was a very kind and pleasant man, as well as an excellent whaler, and continued a constant visitor, and a steady friend to the island, for more than twenty years, until he died in 1849.
This was the first beginning of that trade which has now become the sole dependence (and a very precarious one) of the place,--the supplying potatoes, and other refreshments, to such whale-ships as may chance to call here during their long voyages. Within a few years after Captain Sampson's first visit, that trade had become a rather extensive one; as many as sixty or seventy ships being sometimes to be seen at one time whaling off the island. This was, or rather ought to have been, a great pecuniary advantage to them. But any one acquainted with what whale-ships were in those days (happily in most of the American ships of late years, owing to the progress of education, and especially to the great temperance movement, there has been [39/40] a great change for the better), will own that it could not have been to their advantage in any other way. And even in that respect, no real gain did they derive. All the money that they got was either wasted in buying unnecessary things, for which they were often made to pay the most extravagant prices, or spent on what they were far better without. Not one man was in the end five pounds the richer for the large sums that they often made. The trade is now much reduced; very few ships, in comparison, call here. Yet it is on them that the islanders rely entirely for their supply of clothing, and whatever other necessaries they require. The amount of trade done with the ships, almost entirely by barter, is now not more than enough to supply them with necessaries, and a few little comforts, such as coffee and molasses; some years it barely suffices for that.
About the year 1830, a young man named Benjamin Parker, a strange character, visited Tristan. His father, an Englishman, was port-master in one of the West Indian Islands. He himself had been his mother's spoilt child; had led a very irregular life; and, being in great disgrace with his father, was induced by the captain of an American whale-ship to come here to try to lead a better one. Glass received him kindly; and, as he was well-educated, employed him to teach his children; a work for which, if severity is the highest qualification, as was once thought, he must have been most admirably qualified; for no poor child durst lift an eye from off his book, even for a moment, in his presence. But, happily for children, the amount of [40/41] progress made by his pupils does not recommend the system.
His manners were extraordinary. He wore long, tangled, dirty hair, which he never would have cut during his stay. He kept aloof from all the rest, seldom conversing with any of them. But of a night he would often pace up and down his room alone for hours, in a distracted manner, and altogether acted very much the part of a madman. He stayed here nearly two years; and then went back to the West Indies to attempt a reconciliation with his parents. Failing in that he returned to the island, within a year; stayed a few months longer on it; and then, like Cain, a restless wanderer on the face of the earth, he left here in a whale-ship bound for the Pacific; and what became of him after that was never known.
The year 1833 was distinguished by the first wedding on Tristan; Glass's eldest daughter (the same who had travelled so many thousand miles in pursuit of knowledge) found a husband in a young man on board a whale-ship, homeward bound, whose name was Samuel Johnson. He saw the young lady on coming ashore, and fell in love with her; and, as the ship was going home, easily obtained the captain's consent to his leaving it. He did so, married her, and settled in Tristan d'Acunha. There being no priest upon the island, nor any other legal authority, Glass himself officiated, using the service of our Church. This being the first wedding on the island, was kept with much festivity. All the inhabitants were present at the [41/42] wedding-feast; and it has continued the custom ever since, both at weddings and burials, for every one upon the island to attend.
Johnson was a generally well-conducted man, although he does not seem to have always agreed with his neighbours. Just before he came Peterson died, from an internal injury received while hunting on the hill: the only one of the grown inhabitants that died here during Glass's life of nearly forty years upon the island. Thus, again, one was taken away, and one added to their number, just at the same time.
But soon an event occurred--another shipwreck--which terminated in adding at once three more families to the six already on the island. This was the loss of the Emily schooner. She had sailed from New York in September, 1835, on a voyage to the islands of the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, after seal and sea-elephant oil. She called here in the November following, then went into the Indian Ocean, returning the next season to Gough's Island, about two degrees south of this, where they left a boat and six men, with provisions for six mouths, to take seals; and then came here, and anchored on the south side of the island, September 4th, 1836. The next day the wind blew fresh from the north-east, and though they let go a second anchor, it was of no avail. She dragged on to a reef, near the shore, and soon went to pieces. No lives were lost; but the men saved nothing except their clothes, some provisions, and a few seal-skins. A few days after they made their way round to the inhabited [42/43] side of the island, "where," their account says, "we were kindly received and entertained by Mr. Glass and his worthy family, notwithstanding that that family was at the time very large, and much crowded, owing to the same gale of wind having just blown down the house of his son-in-law."
That house was a new one which Johnson had just built for himself; but it was not substantially erected, and the violent gale had so shaken it that it was unsafe to live in till rebuilt, though it had not been absolutely blown down. Glass himself had had two successive dwellings, each stronger than the former, thus rendered uninhabitable. But no house has been literally blown down; owing entirely to the fact that none of them have been built lofty and slim enough to provoke such a fate. And still less likely are they now; for the Americans who have settled here have introduced great improvements; and the substantial houses they now erect are likely to resist, for many a year, even a Tristan gale. Built of hewn stone, one story high, the side walls not more than eight feet high, and not less than two feet thick--the gable ends thicker in proportion,--they may be considered pretty solid edifices, but not more so than required.
So "kindly" were the crew of the Emily "received and entertained," that no less than three of their number thought it better to settle down here on this quiet spot, where a special Providence seemed to have east them, than again to venture on the stormy world beyond The three were of three different nations--Daley, an [44/45] American; Miller, a Dane; and Green, a Dutchman. The American chose for a wife a daughter of Governor Glass; the other two chose daughters whom two of the women from St. Helena had brought with them.
There were now nine families upon the island; the five old hands--Glass, Riley, Cotton, Swain, and Pert; and the four new-comers--Johnson, Daley, Green, and Miller. And that number has continued unaltered till the present time; though there have been several changes in the individuals composing it. A few months after the wreck of the Emily, another of Glass's daughters was married to another American whaler, a man named Rogers. But soon after his arrival, Pert and his wife went away. Rogers continued here nearly two years; but, upon a ship coming here with a very sick man on board--whom they brought ashore, as it was feared, to die--he went off in his place, professing that he should merely go the voyage and return. But he never did return; and it was afterwards found that he never intended to do so, and that he had already served several women, at various other places, in the same way. The sick man, Charles Taylor, did, however, recover, fell in love with another of Glass's daughters, married her, and settled down to fill up the other's vacant place.
His arrival seems to have been followed by stagnation in the eventful affairs of the little community; for, during the next tea years--from the time he landed, October, 1835, till the same month ten years after, [44/45] October, 1848--there occurred scarcely one event of any interest to be recorded. During that time the only change that took place in their number, besides a rapid increase in the number of children (from thirty in 1838, to eighty in 1848), was, that in 1847, Johnson went back with his family to America. But, as if to keep up the number nine, another American, named Hagan, the captain of a whale-ship, came, in 1849, to supply his place. And these nine families are the same that are at present here.
As Hagan's story has something romantic in it, I ought to give a slight sketch of it. He was sent, in command of a vessel, to South Georgia, near Cape Horn. But owing, not to his fault, but his misfortune,--for he was sent expressly to that place to whale, but no whales could he find there--owing to that, he had a long and unsuccessful voyage. Disappointed in one pursuit, it seems he was determined not to be in another. He had come as far as here, once or twice during his cruise, to obtain recruits; and thus he had seen and admired one of Glass's daughters. He determined to take her, at any rate, for better, for worse; and, accordingly, sending the ship home in charge of his mate, he married her, and settled down here in Johnson's place.
His was a more happy fate than that of a poor fellow here some years before, under somewhat similar circumstances. His name was Smith. He had had charge of a small sloop, to take sea-elephants, but being very unsuccessful, his misfortune preyed so much upon his mind [45/46] that he lost his reason, and coming to this island, abandoned his vessel, and hid himself away till she was gone. He then came occasionally to the houses in search of food, but would immediately set out again, wandering about alone. This was just before Mr. Earle was left here. A few days after Mr. Earle's arrival, he was found lying among the bushes, quite dead; his death evidently caused by over-excitement and despair.
Glass has had altogether sixteen children, fifteen of whom are, at the present time, alive. They were equally divided--eight boys and eight girls. Five of his daughters have married; all, as I have related, to American whale-men. Four of them are still residing on the island, and one unmarried sister: Johnson's wife, and her two remaining sisters, are now in the United States. Five of the boys have loft here, whaling; one died in infancy, the other two are still residing here with their mother.
Before Johnson left, his eldest child, a girl of thirteen years, died of a very severe attack of scrofula. Her body was one mass of abscesses. Yet her death was a most happy one. She seems to have gained a wonderful knowledge in divine things, considering the place in which she was reared. Her death was therefore one of joyful hope, never to be forgotten by many on the island. She is the only female in any way, and the only child above the age of infancy, that has died a natural death upon the island.
One other man resided here a long time; though [46/47] never admitted into fellowship by the rest. His story was another sad one. He ran away from a whale-ship, soon after the sick man Taylor had been left here. From the time that whalers first began to call here, it has been a law upon the island, and a most needful one, in every way to be observed, that no runaway should ever be received as a settler. But in spite of this, in opposition to the known wishes of the rest, one of the men persuaded him to remain here, and to tithe as a wife another daughter brought by one of the women from St. Helena. He did so; and a sad, wretched life be led. He was, of course, regarded by the rest as an unlawful intruder; not allowed to trade with ships along with them; but obliged to pick up a living the best way he could, and finding little happiness at home. However, he continued here eleven years, and had several children. But, on Good-Friday morning, 1850, he was missing; and, after a long search, some fragments of his body were found lying upon the beach. He had gone out in the middle of the night, and, perhaps, in a fit of despair, had thrown himself into the sea, where his body was almost entirely devoured by sharks, till some fragments were cast up upon the beach. His worthless partner soon after went away with her children in a whale-ship bound to Hobart Town.
These were the only events of any note during those ten or twelve years. Whale-ships still continued to call here every year for potatoes, but their number gradually decreased; as whales, from constant chasing, became [47/48] more and more shy and scarce. Now and then some other ship would call upon its outward passage; occasionally, with some notable personage on board. Among the most noted was B. Boyd, Esq., in his yacht, the Wanderer, bound on a voyage round the world, which he brought to a fatal termination at the Fejee Islands; being there seized and killed, as is supposed, by the natives. His visit was long remembered and talked of on the island, especially after his sad fate was known.
AND now we are come to the time when, in the all-wise dispensation of God, it was appointed that, even to these "utmost parts of the earth," his ambassadors should be sent, to claim them also as part of the universal "possession" of his own dear Son; and so to admit them to the full enjoyment of all those blessed privileges which belong to such as are included among "the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ:" an inestimable blessing, doubtless, and one that was just as greatly needed here as elsewhere. True it is that, even from the very first, the worship of the One true God, and the knowledge of the way of salvation through Christ Jesus, had been, in some degree, preserved among them;--yet there was one thing they still needed;--they needed some one to instruct and guide them into the full knowledge of that great love of God to sinners, revealed to us in Jesus Christ; and to impart to them those blessed Sacraments which Christ has Himself appointed to be effectual signs of grace. And it proves forcibly the great need all men have of a spiritual guide and teacher, and of those blessings which, without such agency, God does not commonly [49/50] impart to man; that, for want thereof, all sense of that duty which men owe to God, and even the very knowledge of Him, was already plainly beginning to vanish from the minds of many here. It cannot, therefore, be uninteresting or unprofitable to dwell somewhat fully on the means by which, in God's good providence, this happy end was brought about. But as I cannot do this without speaking often of myself, as the humble instrument appointed for the work, let me here, once for all, ascribe to God alone the glory of it, by whose almighty power alone it comes to pass, that blessings great and glorious attend on such feeble and unworthy efforts as fallen man can make in his service.
In October, 1848, just tan years after Taylor's arrival, the ship Augusta Jessie, bound to Ceylon, touched here on her way, having on board the Rev. John Wise, going out as chaplain to Newara Ellia, in that island. They were much in want of water; and, the weather not being favorable, they were detained there some days obtaining it, Mr. Wise came on shore several times, preached to the people (the only ordained minister who had ever done so), and baptized forty-one children.
The only other clergyman who had ever visited the island was the Rev. Thomas Hill Applegate, a Missionary going out to India, who had then baptized all the children at that time alive upon the island--twenty-nine in number. That was in October, 1835--exactly thirteen years before.
Mr. Wise had a good opportunity of observing somewhat of the condition of the island during his rather [50/51] prolonged stay; and after his departure he wrote home a very interesting account of it to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, speaking very approvingly of Glass's endeavours to instruct the little community; lamenting especially their want of educational books, of which he entreated a small grant from the Society; and at the same time hinting that a Teacher also would be a great blessing.
The application for books the Society immediately answered by a liberal grant. The appeal for a Teacher it was not their province to respond to, but they did all they could towards supplying that need also, by publishing Mr. Wise's letter in one of their monthly papers--so making the case generally known. This met the eye of one in England, who, like St. Barnabas, has both the means and the will to do good works for others, and he resolved to send to them one who should instruct them not only in temporal, but also in spiritual things. He placed the matter in the hands of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, requesting them to procure a fitting person, engaging himself to provide a sufficient stipend for him; only stipulating that his own name should be concealed, that men might thank God, the Giver, and not himself, the dispenser, for the blessing.
I was at that time residing with a clergyman in England, preparing for Missionary labours. I had seen Mr. Wise's account, and having somewhat of Robinson Crusoe's disposition, I felt much inclined to venture to Tristan, to try what good, by God's help, I could do in so retired a place. Finding that a [51/52] Missionary was to be sent, I applied for the appointment, and, being on examination counted not unfit for the work, was ordained, and sent forth to it.
Accordingly, on the 23d of November, 1850, I sailed from England, having first bid a long farewell to all who were most dear to me there, without a hope of seeing, perhaps even hearing from, any of them for some years to come; yet finding a never-failing consolation in the blessed hope that being made one in Christ our Saviour, through that spiritual union which we had just sealed by a last act of mutual communion with Him in his Holy Sacrament, no space, however great, of time or place, could ever truly separate us.
After a long and rather tedious passage, by God's good providence I succeeded, on the 9th of February of the following year, in safely reaching and landing on the island. By God's good providence, I have special cause to say--for certainly the circumstances connected with my landing, rendered it an evident instance of that controlling providence in the common events of daily life, in which the guiding hand of God may constantly be seen by faithful eyes, however much the worldly-wise may scorn the idea.
The captain of the vessel in which I sailed would not engage unconditionally to land me, but only "wind and weather permitting." If not, I was to go on with him to the Cape, from whence I then ignorantly anticipated I could easily get a passage to the island, though afterwards I found it would have been impossible, and I could only have reached Tristan by a long and tedious route; first back to St. Helena, and then [52/53] from thence here by some uncertain chance, that might or might not soon occur, of obtaining a passage in a whale-ship.
Of course it is not always the easiest thing for a ship, without much delay, to make so small a speck as Tristan upon the ocean, especially as it is subject to thick and stormy weather. The weather, several days before we neared the island, had been very thick, so that the captain could take no observations, and the wind had been unfavourable. However, by Friday night we calculated we must be within some fifty miles due north of it. Saturday was a beautiful, clear day, though a little hazy near the horizon. We steered the whole day, as was thought, directly for the island. The captain got good observations, and calculated we were just upon it. Yet nothing could be seen, although the mountain, being so lofty, may sometimes be discerned at a distance of sixty or eighty miles. All day we kept on moving gently, before a light breeze, towards where we felt sure it ought to be. Every eye was strained to catch sight of it, for the captain and his passengers all longed to see it, and the crew were promised a reward to whoever should first point it out. Every cloud on the horizon was magnified--rather, solidified--into a mountain; hut in vain; they all moved, and mountains do not. At length, towards evening, the captain felt compelled to give up the search in despair. He had already done more than he had promised. For the whole week he had been more or less delayed, trying, against unfavourable winds, to make towards the island. And now, when we were, [53/54] according to his reckoning, exactly where it ought to be, it was nowhere to be seen. So the ship was put about, and her bows were once more pointed towards the Cape, and all hope of seeing Tristan for the present seemed gone. But at sunset, while we were all casting a last regretful look towards where we knew Tristan ought to be; just as the sun was about to sink behind the clouds, right in his very path I observed one little jagged point, scarcely visible, thrusting itself out above them. At first some would not believe that it was not part of the mass of clouds. But in a few moments, as the sun sank behind it, it stood out plain enough to convince all. It was but a mere point indeed--the whole of the vast rock being hid behind a mass of clouds--but that was quite enough. The captain gladly turned the ship's bows back again towards it, but, it being too late to land that night, we hove-to till morning. We afterwards found that the island was erroneously laid down on the ship's chart--some twenty miles more to the eastward than it really is. This, and the fact of a northerly wind drifting whatever clouds were in the sky direct upon it, hindered us from discovering it, though very near, on a clear day.
The night was calm and bright, and I spent it with a joyful heart, collecting my various goods together, and writing hasty letters, to send home by the captain, announcing my good success. But all danger was not yet past. With day-break the next morning--Sunday morning--a strong fresh breeze sprang up, and as we drew near to the shore we saw that a heavy sea was breaking on the beach. We hoisted signals, but at [54/55] first no boat put off, and we began to fear none could. The captain was just about to launch his own boat to pull in and see if it was possible to land, when we perceived a whale-boat coming from the shore, well manned, and very soon she was at our ship's side.
Old Governor Glass was the first to mount on beard and greet us, though he was almost too astonished to find words on hearing who was come to dwell with them. He said that a heavy sea was making fast, but I could land if I made haste. I took as many of my goods with me as Glass could find room for in the capacious whale-boat; and leaving the rest to the chance of his being able to return for them, I hastened off, and very soon we were safe ashore. Great was the surprise of all, and not little the joy of many, to find who was thus unexpectedly come among them. But the children's greatest wonder was, how so little a person as myself could be at once parson, schoolmaster, and doctor, as they were grandiloquently assured by the captain that I was.
The first appearance of every thing on shore was very pleasing, despite the barren, desolate appearance of the land itself. A crowd of healthy little ones were gathered on the beach to meet us, and it being Sunday, and a ship in sight, all were dressed in as neat, clean clothing as the children of a well-ordered English village are upon the Holy Day. The elder folks all crowded round to give me a hearty welcome. Their houses all looked clean, and tidy, though of course very barely furnished. In one--Charles Taylor's--I found a little girl who had been burnt in a frightful way, but afterwards [55/56] had happily recovered. This was the second of Taylor's children who bad been severely burnt; the other, a fine little boy, died from the injury.
It was noon when we landed, and the men had to return directly for the rest of my goods--a good boat load, including a large seraphine--all which they brought safe ashore, although by that time the surf was far too heavy for them to land safely on this side of the island, and they had to make for a little calm nook on the west side. I was myself exhausted with the excitement of the day, and with the past night's watching, so that it was vain to attempt performing any of the proper duties of the day. So having bid good bye to the captain, who, much rejoiced, came to see me safe ashore; and having watched his fast-receding ship till sunset, I took a hasty meal--my first since daybreak, as well as my first on Tristan--and quickly sought the still better refreshment of a sound night's sleep. Thus passed my first Sunday on Tristan--very differently from subsequent ones.
The remainder of that week was employed in taking a survey of the island, and arranging plans for future proceedings. I found, as I have said, nine families upon the island--those of Glass, Riley, Cotton, Swain, Daley, Green, Miller, Taylor, and Hagan, with a total of sixty-four children, all under age--an average of more than seven to each family; making, with Glass's married but deserted daughter, and an Irishman, left sick upon the island, eighty-four souls in all; the elders gathered from England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, the United States, St. Helena, and the Cape.
 My first great difficulty was to find a dwelling-place, as well as one large enough to hold public worship and to teach in. Owing to their having to be built of stone, the houses are all rather small, no more being built than are required: and a new one could not be built in a day. However, Governor Glass very kindly lent me the use of his principal room, one of the largest on the island, until a more capacious one could be provided. And on the following Sunday, in that little room, just sixteen feet by twelve, the whole of the eighty souls upon the island met to unite for the first time with an ordained Minister of Christ, in celebrating the holy Services of his Church. My seraphine at one end of the room served me for a reading-desk; a few planks stretched across the room sufficed for seats, on which all sat in very attentive silence, while I and Governor Glass alone proceeded with the Service as far as to the end of the Venite. This was not much like "Common Prayer." I knew that several could read, and had Prayer-books, for I had distributed among them, the day before, a few which I had brought with me, and had tried to teach them how to use them. So, pausing a few moments, I called those who had books to me, showed them the Psalms, and requested them to join with me in saying them. They gladly did so, and the rest then all stood up, and knelt together, as they did. And from that happy beginning it has followed, as a blessed result, that all now join heartily, with body and voice at least--and doubtless often with their whole soul too--in every holy Service of the Church--the few who cannot read now knowing much by heart. That [57/58] day was a day to be much observed in Tristan. It was a happy, cheering beginning of a blessed work. And its good fruits have since been manifestly seen. From that day forth scarce ever has any one (never without something like good cause) been absent, morning or evening of each Sunday, from the public worship of Almighty God,--at first, for a long time, crowded together in that little room, but now, happily, in a much more spacious one.
THE next day, Monday, I began to keep school. I found that about half-a-dozen of the young people could read fairly--one or two very well; and that almost all had made some little progress towards so doing. But of writing and arithmetic all, even the eldest, were entirely ignorant. As, therefore, no time was to be lost, I at once commenced with a day-school for the younger children, and an evening school for the elder having every young person upon the island, some forty altogether, upon my list of scholars.
My first great difficulty was the want of proper books. Of slates and pencils I had happily brought a good supply, and they served, if no better purpose at first, at least to amuse the children, and keep them out of mischief. But fitting books to teach them, I had none. For as I was aware that the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had sent them, long before, an abundant supply of educational works, I relied entirely on the certainty, as I thought, that they would reach here before me; they having been despatched more than a year before I left England, and, therefore, I [59/60] came totally unprovided with any. On my arrival I found that they had not reached here, and so I had to do the best I could without them. The only useful A B C book I could find was Simpson's "S. S. Primer," two copies of which had by some chance been put among my books. With these, and a couple of the Dublin Reading Books, which I afterwards found among Glass's collection, I had to commence teaching some forty young persons, of ages varying from five to twenty, the elements of reading. And by those alone I had to continue to teach them for nearly four months, till, by another good providence of God, the books from the Society came safe to hand.
They were sent by the Society to St. Helena, to the American consul there, with a request that they might be forwarded by some whale-ship--Mr. Wise having stated that that would be the most likely way to ensure their soon reaching here. But though Mr. Carrol, the consul, kindly desirous of doing so, watched carefully for any chance that might occur, they had lain there twelve months, and not one opportunity for sending them had offered. But the very day after my arrival, the captain of a whale-ship, which called here bound to St. Helena, feeling interested in my undertaking, promised to bring the box to me, as he intended soon to return in this direction--a promise which be very faithfully fulfilled. Just four months after, about the middle of June, he returned with it; and one of the most pleasant sights I can remember was to be witnessed at the opening of it.
The box was large and very heavy, and so, to avoid [60/61] the labour of dragging it up the steep bank from the shore, we determined to open it upon the bench. It was a lovely evening, and every boy upon the island was at hand to help to carry the books up to my house--a distance of more than half a mile. Their loudly manifested delight, as heap after heap of books, little and big, came forth--more than any of them had ever seen before--more than some, perhaps, had thought could be in all the world,--and all looking so new, and bright, and pleasant to the eye; the eagerness with which each one hasted up with a load, and back again for more; the pleasure with which the elder ones looked on;--all formed a scene not soon to be forgotten. I had now books enough.
But to go back a little. The first great work attempted by the people, after my arrival, was to erect for me a little dwelling-place, which I might have to myself to be alone in,--for Governor Glass's room, besides being my bed--room, sitting-room, school--room, and Church, was also the exchange, town-hall, &c., of the settlement. It was needful, therefore, that some other building should be soon erected, to relieve it from at least some part of its manifold, and rather incongruous, employments. At first, too confident, they boasted that they could soon build both a little room for me, and also a much larger one to serve for Church and school; and I, not knowing any better, let them follow their own plans--a thing I afterwards regretted. Accordingly, all hands went to work, and in just a month they had finished for me a convenient little room adjoining the house of Governor Glass, who, with his [61/62] family, had kindly undertaken to attend to my bodily wants. My abode was thus literally, like Elisha's resting-place--a little chamber against the wall, furnished, like it, with a bed, a table, stool, and lamp; and what more ought a messenger of God to wish for than to fare as did those great servants of the Lord of old? And yet I had one unfailing store of good things which they could not have then--such a stock of good and useful books as they could never even have beheld.
My little room was just roofed in in time for me to take possession of it on Easter-eve. But, having spent a month on my room alone, the people found their own work was thrown so far behind that they could not proceed with the larger building that year; and thus it was not till I had been here nearly two years that I succeeded in procuring one. During all that time the little room of "Government House" had still to serve for Church and school, and Glass kindly and patiently submitted to the inconvenience of being almost totally deprived of his best room for his own use.
Easter-day--our first Easter-day on Tristan--was another day to be long remembered here. I had now been two months on the island, and was beginning to get things a little into order. My own little room being finished, I next endeavoured to shape the other one into somewhat of a church-like appearance. A few forms were first made, and set in order along the room; and a holy table, provided with a decent covering of red damask stuff, was placed at the east end; my seraphine [62/63] on one side still serving for a reading-desk, though a rather cumbrous one; while a little stand upon the north side, raised a step above the floor, served to preach from.
By aid of the seraphine, we had also made some progress in singing; an art of which at first I found them utterly ignorant.
But, better far than this, I had found, by inquiry, no less than seven on the island who were willing and desirous--and whom I did my best, during the solemn time of Lent, to prepare and make ready--to draw nigh to their Saviour in the Holy Sacrament of the Communion of his Body and his Blood. Thus, all was well prepared outwardly and I trust, inwardly also, for keeping Easter joyfully.
On the Saturday, when we had put everything, as described, into something like decent, reverent order, such as was never witnessed by any of my flock, save two or three, we joined together in the solemn Services appointed for Easter-eve.
On Easter-morning, at sunrise, my little choir assembled to employ their newly-discovered vocal powers in singing the praises of their risen Lord and Saviour, a practice which we have ever since kept up, both on Easter and Christmas mornings. And then, at 10 o'clock, all on the island came together to the Morning Service. And heartily, if not in perfect harmony did they all join for the first time in singing the Church's glorious Easter hymns and the appointed anthems.
At noon all came again to listen to the sermon; and, [63/64] after it was ended, eight of us remained behind, when the rest had gone back to their homes, to join together in celebrating our Saviour's heavenly feast--all, but myself and one other, to partake of it for the first time. It was to me a solemn, awful hour, as I stood in that poor room, surrounded by a little lowly band, alone with them in the midst of the vast ocean, to celebrate for the first time here the mysteries of our Redeemer's love I could not but give God hearty thanks that I was thus permitted to claim even this truly the utmost part of the earth for his possession, by offering ourselves, the first fruits, as it were, of the inheritance, to Him as his--bringing them thus into communion with Him as their Lord and Saviour.
At the Evening Service the day was fitly ended by the baptism of an adult, one of the Americans, who, not having been baptized in infancy, now earnestly desired to be thus received into the ark of Christ's Church; and, having owned his faith in Christ, and vowed obedience to Him, was, in the presence of the whole congregation of his people, so admitted.
The evening came in with a heavy gale, which was far from being agreeable to us who were sitting in my little room, without door or windows; but, by the help of a good fire, we braved it out as best we could, rather than intrude upon the other larger room, which had been left arranged in order for the next day's holy Services.
That week we began to observe the daily public worship of Almighty God, a duty which had hitherto been impracticable in one little room devoted to so [64/65] many different purposes. At first, for a while, attracted by the novelty, very many attended; but afterwards, as was naturally to be expected, many fell off. Yet I have ever found some glad to avail themselves of the blessed privilege. As is commonly the case, females have been the most constant in attendance; but, from time to time, one or two of the men and boys drop in; and, doubtless, such stray visits are not without their hollowing influence on their souls, while none can fully estimate the mighty, silent, unseen influence which the daily solemn public worship of Almighty God exercises on all. It compels men to feel at least that there is a God to be day by day adored and served, whether they do so worship Him or no.
Another great advantage was now gained by having one of the young women on the island--one well fitted for the work--to assist in teaching the younger children. She was a daughter of the Deptford fisherman; could read very well; and, what was far more important, had that real liking for the work which no amount of knowledge or ability can adequately supply the want of. And, doubtless, many of the rising generation of Tristan will have to attribute much of whatever true happiness and prosperity they may enjoy in after-life to the first good lessons implanted in them by Mary Riley.
Thus, in the public services of the Church, and in the daily instruction of my little flock, I found the winter months--the summer months in England--glide swiftly and pleasantly away; though, to one used almost his whole life to the noise and bustle of the largest city [65/66] in the world, it was no small change to come to the loneliness of Tristan, where, for the first seven months after my arrival, scarcely once was another face to be seen save those immediately around me, and one day was spent as like other days as could be. Yet, though I could not fail to feel sometimes a little dull, there wan much in the clear, bracing air, and a life of active employment, to make such an existence far from unenjoyable. My greatest personal regret was, that I could gain no tidings from home, and, as yet, could see no prospect of gaining any.
The 4th of August of that year, however, was remarkably signalized by two striking events, one of them full of solemn warning to us all. On that same day befel the first wedding and the first death that occurred here after my arrival; the one a strange, the other a solemnly sudden, one. The wedding was that of the eldest man upon the island, then nearly eighty, who was the first to express a wish to be properly united according to God's holy ordinance to the woman with whom he bad long lived unmarried; an example which the rest were happily soon after persuaded to follow. Accordingly, I had appointed that day for the purpose, and, after Morning Service, joined them as man and wife together.
It was a Monday morning; and though the weather was threatening, most of the young people had ventured up upon the mountain after young albatrosses (gonies, as they call them), which form a great part of their winter's food.
Towards noon it began to blow a strong, cold, bitter [66/67] gale from the east, with heavy rain. One gust of wind came in with such force at the opened door of the room in which I was teaching, that it lifted up the heavy boards above our heads, with which the room was ceiled, and forced its way out through the thatch.
The parents then began to be anxious about their children, who had not yet come down from the mountain; for they went up early in the morning before the gale began, because they had to go a long distance. All the afternoon their return was looked for in vain.
At length, just as the Evening Service was ended, a child came running home to tell us they were coming, bringing with them little Charles Cotton--dead! We hastened out to meet them, and found it was indeed true. There was the child lying quite lifeless in the arms of one of the young men; and though every effort was made to restore animation, it was all in vain. The cold wind had numbed and chilled him, wet through as he was, with nothing but thin cotton clothes about him; when he could no longer walk, the bigger boys took him up and carried him, and in their arms his life passed silently away. Happily there was still left to us the bright hope that, for the sake of that Saviour into whose fold he had been baptized, and whom he was just beginning to lean to know and love, his soul would be received into a far brighter, happier world than this. He seems, from some words be uttered on Sunday--the day before--to have had some strange warning thoughts about his coming end.
 The next day he was buried in our little graveyard, dose to the sea-shore. It was a beautiful, calm day after the storm, and every soul upon the island followed the little corpse, borne by four of his young companions, to its last resting-place. It was a solemn hour to all, for death had come among them very, very seldom; and now it had come so suddenly to one so young--he was but eleven years old. The scene, too, was a grand and solemn one, sufficient of itself to awaken solemn thoughts; the lofty mountain on the one side, on the other the wide ocean, with its solemn music falling unceasingly upon the ear. Our thoughts were carried on to meditate upon the coming joys and terrors of that last great awful day, when even those deeply-rooted mountains must be removed from before the face of the Great Judge, and both earth and sea must give up their dead to appear before Him.
It made the visitation more remarkable, that poor old Cotton had lost another boy, his eldest, in a like sudden way some years before. While he was out at work one day, having his boy, who was about seven years old, with him, a heavy storm came on. They tried to hasten home, but found that a deep gulch, which ran down from the mountain to the sea, and must be crossed ere they could reach home, was filled with water, rushing down from the mountain side. Cotton thought that on the beach the water would spread out, and become more shallow, so he went down to it with his boy, to try if he could there pass safely; but in attempting, with the boy upon his back, [68/69] to ford the torrent, a sudden gush of water carried him off his feet; the child fell from his back, and was swept out into the sea. Cotton himself fetched up against a rock, though it was not without difficulty that he was able to get back safe upon dry land; but the child was never seen again.
BUT to go on to more cheerful scenes. Christmastide soon drew nigh--that blessed, joyful time to all in every Christian land. It was always kept here as a merry time--by the young especially: coming, as it does here, in the height of summer, it was eagerly looked forward to every year as their one great holiday. But this year it was welcomed with a new, a deeper, and holier joy, from their now more fully understanding what an abundant cause there is to fallen man for such deep, overflowing gladness, in that most blessed truth which it commemorates; and heartily they did rejoice in it.
It was always Glass's custom to bring all who were of his family upon the island to dine together with him on Christmas-day. That year the party included himself; his wife, two sons, five daughters, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law expectant (since married to two of his sons), nineteen grandchildren, and myself; thirty-four souls in all. The scene was truly a patriarchal one.
 Nothing of importance occurred during the greater part of the next year. The winter passed away much as the last had done, but with the spring there came a great joy for me. The morning of November the 9th rose dull and hazy, as became a Lord Mayor's day. Nevertheless, a ship was seen at daybreak near in-shore, with British colours flying; and as I wanted to send letters home, and also longed to hear a little of home news, I hastened of in cur boat to board her. As soon as we came alongside, I saw a pleasant face which I had seen once before, and heard a welcome cry--"All's well at home." In another moment I was on the deck of the ship Syria, just out from London, shaking hands with Captain Burrell; and in another, his kind wife was putting into my hands a goodly packet of letters fresh from home. No one can tell the joy of such a moment but those who have suffered a similar deprivation. I had now been two years from home, and Captain Burrell's were the first words of tidings I heard concerning any of the loved ones I had left behind.
Captain Burrell, who was then, and had been for many years, a regular yearly trader to Melbourne, touched here the previous year, and kindly commiserating my state of anxious suspense, promised to communicate with my family on his return, and, if possible, to call here with news from them on this his next voyage out; a promise which he was thus providentially enabled to fulfil. And I may safely affirm, as it is due to them to do, that the kind-hearted joy, both of himself and Mrs. Burrell, was scarcely less than [71/72] my own, at having thus been able to bring me such a glad relief, although I had previously been an utter stranger to them.
Unhappily for me, this was to be their last voyage, as the captain had arranged to leave the ship, on their arrival at Melbourne, and settle down there as a merchant. But, to compensate for it, the next year brought me the good tidings that Mr. H. P. Haven, a whaling agent in New London, United States, to whom I had applied, would kindly undertake to forward letters to me every year, by whale-ships intending to call here for recruits; and thus, through his kindness and attention to a stranger, one of another though a sister nation, 6,000 miles removed from him, I am enabled yearly to receive communications from home; rendered all the more precious for their coming only once a year.
Through Captain Burrell I also obtained a box of clothing I had sent for, and of which I began to be in need. It arrived most opportunely to enable me to make a becoming appearance on a grand holiday, one of the most famous ever known upon the island, which occurred just a week after. This was occasioned by the arrival of the first steamer that had ever been seen here, or by any of the settlers, save two or three.
It was on Tuesday, the 16th of November, just seven days after Captain Burrell's visit, that she appeared. On the Friday previous, H. M. S. Herald, bound on an exploring voyage to the South Pacific, called at the island. Her commander, Captain Denham, spent the day ashore, taking observations to ascertain the exact longitude, which he determined to be [72/73] 12° 18' 39" W. This caused some little excitement, but none to be compared with that created by his announcement that H. M. Steamer Torch, acting as tender to Ms ship, was on her way, and would most likely touch here. All began eagerly to look forward to her coming; for all had heard descriptions of that mighty monster steam, but only one or two had seen it in actual operation.
However, on the Monday following, the steamer not appearing, and the day being very calm, the men determined to row round the island; and as I had never seen the other side, I determined to accompany them. We started late, having decided to spend the night in a large cave on the south side of the island, and return the next morning. It was a splendid day, and the excursion was delightful; but as it was my first experience of such a mode of life, I found that my bed of rushes in the cave did not much tempt me, tired though I was, to slumber.
With the first dawn of morning we were all moving, busily preparing to get some breakfast, and then start for home, when, suddenly, "Sail ho!" was shouted out; and a few moments after, "It's the steamer!" as a long column of black smoke was seen arising from the distant vessel. All were now eager to reach home before her; the idea of breakfast was at once abandoned, and, without delay, we started off'. At first she seemed to be making towards us, and the men were inclined to make for her, and go on board--a proposal which I had no desire myself to see them act upon; for I was attired in my worst clothes, in expectation of [73/74] a ducking at some of our landing-places; and after passing the night in a smoky cave, with no fresh water at hand in the morning to wash away the traces left on me, I feared I might be taken for a "gentleman in black" of a character inappropriate to a clergyman. But, happily for me, the steamer was soon seen to be steering in an opposite direction, towards this other islands; and we had then nothing to do but to hasten home, in hope that she would afterwards come round to us--a hope which was not disappointed.
We had just time to reach home, wash, dress, and finish a hearty breakfast, when she was seen gliding round the east point of the island. Our people were soon on hoard of her. Her commander, Lieutenant Chimmo, received them kindly, and presently came himself on shore. He then gave every one a free permission to go on board to see the wonder; and every man and boy upon the island gladly availed themselves of it. I returned with him, and was much amused at the wonder-stricken faces with which the boys beheld the ponderous masses of the engine-works first beginning to move. One or two were ready to rush out of the engine-room in affright, but in a few moments they gained confidence, and were much delighted. Some of the oldest men upon the island had never seen such a thing, and were as much delighted--Glass especially--as any of the boys. Lieutenant Chimmo, too, seemed quite as pleased to exhibit the wonders of his vessel to such utter novices. Having dined with him on board, towards evening we bade him farewell, and returned on shore, grateful to him for a most pleasant day's enjoyment; and very soon we saw the departure of the first and only steamer that as yet has visited Tristan.
But all this time the attempt to erect a larger building in which all might meet to worship God made but slow progress. Nothing had, as yet, been done beyond getting a few stones out from the sides of the mountain for the purpose; when, happily, towards the close of this year, we were enabled to obtain a fitting building ready finished for our use. Daley, the American, had expressed himself willing to part with his house, one of the best, if not the best, upon the island, for a small consideration. It was very awkwardly situated for him, having no good ground near it fit for gardening, or anything of that kind; but that rendered it none the less suitable for our purpose. His intention then was to build another in a more convenient spot, in doing which the rest were to render him some assistance; but having a large family of daughters, he soon after determined on emigrating to some other place instead, hoping to be able to provide better for them elsewhere, than he could possibly do here. The men soon came to terms with him, and to my great relief (for in the warm summer weather the heat and closeness of our little crowded room was often most oppressive), we were soon put in possession of the building. The former owner meanwhile took temporary refuge in one of the other houses, where he still remains waiting a favourable opportunity to remove to some more promising situation.
When cleared of all partitions, and other [75/76] incumbrances, the interior of our new house formed a neat, square, open room, well lighted, above thirty feet long, and thirteen wide. At the end, a slightly elevated floor, some six feet wide, ascended by two steps, served as a sacrarium, within which were placed the communion table, my seraphine, &c., in much the same order as in the smaller room, but having more ample space. The remainder of the room, fitted with forms, was just sufficiently large to hold all the people conveniently. We set to work immediately to cleanse and put in order the whole place, as well as could be done with our limited means; and on Christmas-eve we celebrated Divine Service in it for the first time.
Remarkably enough, that very day one of Glass's sons, who had been long absent whaling, reached here in a whale-ship, and came ashore just before Evening Service. He came to fulfil an old engagement to my young school-mistress, Mary Riley. So that the first great event that was celebrated in our new Church was a genuine Tristan wedding--both parties being natives of the island; and it was a very hopeful one. As it was the height of summer, we were able to strip the only Tristan garden of its roses, and various other flowers, which were strewn before the bride by some of her little scholars; while earnest prayers went up from others, that by the hand of our heavenly Father many a bright, sweet flower might be scattered over her path through life. All on the island were present at the wedding and the wedding feast; and very pleasantly the day was spent.
They were married two days after Christmas; and on [76/77] the last day of the year, the new-made husband had to leave his wife--for two long years at least--to continue his whaling voyage. Such is the life of estrangement from the dearest earthly ties which those men lead. Many who are married, and have children, spend now and then perhaps not a month at home, and then part from their family--never for less than two years, more often for three, sometimes even for four, or more--with scarcely a chance of even hearing from them all the time. James Glass's intention was to return at the completion of his voyage, and take his wife with him to the United States; a purpose which he is now here waiting to fulfil, having no wish to settle on the island. Thus, for a short time longer, his wife has been enabled to continue her good offices to the young children. But now they will have to find another teacher.
The new year came and passed away much as the others had, except that now I was more accustomed to, and could therefore better enjoy, our quiet lonely life. It left me no event to record, save one, the last I have to tell of, and which will form a fit conclusion to this history of our little settlement, namely, the death of its founder, Glass; the first man who successfully attempted to cultivate this lonely spot, and who, for nearly forty years, firmly adhered to it. Before this year passed away, he, too, had passed away for ever from this world of sin and sorrow.
His death was caused by a cancer. When I arrived here it was but a small speck upon his lip, much like a little wart. At first we thought it was one; but [77/78] by and by it began to spread, though at first but slowly. A doctor on board of Captain Burrell's ship, on his second visit, told me for certain what it was. Soon afterwards it began rapidly to increase, being sometimes excruciatingly painful, till at length it entirely ate away one side of his face, and laid the whole neck bare, from the windpipe to the ear. It was then a frightful sight; though the pain was somewhat reduced. But it was now impossible for him to swallow any solid food; and at last not even liquids could pass down. Yet such was his strong, powerful frame, that for nearly three days he continued to exist without a particle of nourishment, apparently free from pain, but the whole of the last night of his life lying utterly insensible, till, on the morning of the 24th of November, he expired without a struggle. His last hours of consciousness were full of the bright, blessed Christian hope, which all his life had been his firm support--that for the sake of the Saviour, in whom alone was all his trust, his sins might be forgiven, and his soul received for ever into the glorious, happy courts of the heavenly New Jerusalem. The touching words of an old familiar hymn were often on his lips, and soothed him during many an hour of bitter pain,--
"Jerusalem! my happy home!
My soul still pants for thee;
Then shall my sorrows have an end,
When I thy joys shall see."
He was buried the day after in our little graveyard. Two of my small flock now lie there--the old man and the child; both, as I firmly trust, resting in joyful hope. [78/79] His sons in America, on hearing of his death, procured and, brought here, to mark his grave, agreeably to a wish he had expressed, a plain, white marble stone, with the following words engraved upon it:--
IN MEMORY OF
BORN AT KELSO, SCOTLAND;
THE FOUNDER OF THIS SETTLEMENT OF
IN WHICH HE RESIDED 37 YEARS,
AND FELL ASLEEP IN JESUS,
NOVEMBER 24TH, 1853, AGED 67 YEARS.
Asleep in Jesus far from thee
Thy kindred and their graves may be;
But thine is still a blessed sleep,
From which none ever wakes to weep.
The verse, so expressly appropriate to his situation, was chosen by himself. He found it in a magazine, and was much delighted with it. In his life and death, without any attempt at show or profession, he gave good tokens that he was a truly sincere, humble-minded Christian. Amid many hard trials and temptations, he always endeavoured to hold firmly to his duty to God, and faith in Christ; and to do good, as far as in him lay, to his fellow-men. Doubtless he had his faults and failings, like every other child of Adam; but there was much in him to merit that his memory should be long cherished, as doubtless it will be, by those with whom he had so long dwelt, as a father to them all. He was generally called by all of them by the familiar name of "Grandfather."
 And now, having traced the history of our little settlement from its first foundation down to the present time, I shall conclude, reserving yet a chapter, in which to give some brief description of its present state and prospects, for those who may feel interested in them. The last two years have afforded nothing of interest to relate, save a joyful hope that the good fruits of the ministry of Christ's Gospel are gradually revealing themselves more and more among my little flock. Of course, all evil cannot be entirely rooted out at once; but yet I have reason to trust that many a vice and evil passion is gradually becoming more and more subdued, while the good seed of righteousness and holiness is taking deeper and deeper root in many a heart, promising to bring forth fruit unto life eternal.
On every Sunday, and also on the other great holy-days of the Church, all on the island regularly assemble in God's house, as one united family, to worship Him. The daily public worship of Almighty God still finds some who rejoice to join in it. The number of communicants has now increased from seven to twenty; who constantly draw nigh to their Saviour at his holy table every month at least, and occasionally oftener. The children, from six yen's old and upwards, can all now read God's Word, though some of them but imperfectly, owing to the great prevalent evil of irregular attendance at school. And, notwithstanding many hindrances, they are gradually improving in knowledge, both human and divine.
And undoubtedly good results from all this are to be seen, though more abundant ones may still be desired. [80/81] They are to be seen in a greater degree of earthly happiness and comfort, which is spreading with silent but sure growth among them; they are to be observed, in a more blessed way, in the deeper earnestness with which some are beginning to think about their souls' salvation. Oh that such fruits may daily more and more abound And in order that they may, let all who read these pages pray at least one prayer for us--that Almighty God may still continue to "prosper the works of our hands upon us;" and that, so long as it is dwelt upon by man, this, "the utmost part of the earth," may continue to be Christ's "possession."
AND now, to complete my task, it remains to give, as I have promised, some little account of the island as it is at present; and, perhaps, to add a word or two as to its future prospects.
The settlement itself has been already sufficiently described an a long, low, narrow plain, at the foot of a lofty wall of rock, entirely bare of everything in the shape of trees or shrubs, covered everywhere with moss and stunted grass, except where, here and there, a few small patches of cultivated ground are to be seen; on the northern side a cluster of small but substantially built stone houses, nine in number, lying pretty close together, two or three of them with bright, white-washed faces looking down upon the sea; the one highest above the rest, conspicuous by its white front, and a small bell near its eastern gable, being that which, from its mixed character, is appropriately termed here the Church-house; add here and there a few sheep and cattle, sprinkled about both on the plain and on the mountain's side, wherever they can find a foot-hold, and you have a pretty exact picture of Tristan before you.
The exact number of its population at the present date, October, 1855, is ninety-five--comprised in twelve families;--those nine who were on the island when [82/83] I arrived, my schoolmistress and her husband (now with three children--the last twins), and two other young couples who have married since. Ninety-six, divided into twelve families, would give an average of six children to each. But this would give a very inadequate idea of the universal prevalence of large families on Tristan; for four of the married couples have as yet, of course, scarcely any children, and of their elders, some of the children have left the island. Glass, as I have related, had no less than sixteen children, all now living except one. Of the other old men, one has had twelve, another eleven, of whom three died; three have now ten a-piece, all living, and are likely to have more; the same may be said of another, who has only eight as yet.
The total number of births upon the island, from its first settlement to the present date, has been one hundred and fifteen; of which fifty-eight have been males, and fifty-seven females. There are now forty-five males and fifty females on the island.
The only deaths have been eighteen; not including the sixty who perished in the wreck of the Julia. Of these, but twelve were inhabitants of the island; the other six being the sailor who drank himself to death when the island was first surveyed; the mass Smith, whose strange death I have recorded; and four men left here sick from whale-ships. Of the twelve inhabitants, six have come to a violent end--Lambert, the first settler; Brown, who fell down a precipice; Anderson, who drowned himself; Cotton's two boys, who perished--one in the sea, the other on the [83/84] mountain; and one of Taylor's little boys, who was burnt to death; thus leaving only six souls--three young children, and the three old men--Old Thomas, Peterson, and Glass--who have died a natural death. A very small mortality for a period of nearly fifty years, in a population which, during the last twenty years, has varied from forty to nearly a hundred souls; and a sufficient proof of the healthiness of the climate, and of their mode of life. Johnson's little daughter is, as I have said, the only female who has died upon the island.
The common working dress of the men consists of a shirt and trowsers of twilled blue cotton, beneath which they wear a stout under shirt and drawers of wool, spun and knitted for them by the females on the island, with woollen stockings, and Indian mocassins made from the rough hides of their cattle. Coats and shoes are worn commonly on Sundays.
The females dress just like those of their class in England--in cotton print, made always according to the latest fashion, obtained from the last ship that may have called here having females on board, from whom they seldom fail to get a dress or two. Fashion has its sway here, just as elsewhere. But the European fashion of wearing hats and bonnets, they have been as yet unable to follow. A stranger coming ashore with a hat on, is a source of much private amusement among the boys. And if any unprejudiced judge would but observe the females of my little flock assembling for Church on Sundays, each with a kerchief (a silk one if she has it) folded neatly over her plainly-braided hair, I think he would confess that a far more becoming [84/85] covering for the head might easily be invented, than those which have so long been used in the more civilised portions of the world.
The women find full employment, when not engaged in household duties, in spinning and knitting, occasionally assisting in the lighter labours of the field. The men are mostly employed in field work; first, in cleaning and preparing their ground, and then planting, weeding, and gathering in their crops. Those consist almost entirely of potatoes, which are planted in July and August, and ripen between December and February. A little wheat is grown, but not much, the return not being very plentiful, owing partly to the want of good seed.
About November and December whale-ships begin to arrive to trade for potatoes, and continue coming during the next two or three months. After that there is very seldom one to be seen, till another summer brings them round again. A few years ago their number had greatly decreased; but the last year or two, owing to whales having been seen in large numbers near the island, there has been a fresh increase. Some thirty called last season.
During the long winter, from March to October, a ship is a rare sight. A merchant-ship may now and then be seen passing; but very few indeed now call. Often for three or four months not a ship touches at the island. Then a ship standing fair in for the island is a welcome sight, and the cry, "Sail ho!" rings joyfully upon the ear. But too often it ends in disappointment: either the weather is unfavourable, or the [85/86] ship suddenly alters her course, and steers on towards the eastward, leaving us still to our unbroken solitude. But if it approaches near enough, and weather permits, the boat puts off, and generally returns with some few of the comforts of life, or at least some little news concerning the great world beyond us, to enliven our lonely winter evenings.
The diet of the islanders consists mainly of potatoes, without salt, of which, except what is contained in salt meat, very little is eaten here. Now and then they are able to kill a bullock or a pig, part of which they salt. The sheep mostly belong to Glass; none of the others having a large flock as yet. Latterly, Glass had sufficient to be able to kill commonly one a week. But they are, the greater part of them, very small indeed compared with those brought to a London market. What flour we have is obtained mostly from whale-ships, in exchange for potatoes.
Towards the end of the year the people commonly get very short of food, as their potatoes then begin to wither and spoil. But then come to their aid the sea-birds, of whose eggs, especially the penguin's, they can always obtain large quantities.
A penguin rookery, as it is called, is a very amusing sight. The birds make their neat among the high tussic grass near the sea-shore, close one to another's. It is simply a little mound of earth, hollowed in the middle to receive the eggs, of which they commonly lay two. The penguins stand upright like sentinels, by twos together; one on, the other beside, the nest. If you desire to possess yourself of their eggs, you must [86/87] proceed boldly into the midst of them, nothing daunted by their frightful cries and menacing appearance. You must administer a kick to the nearest bird, which, if dexterously applied, will lay her flat upon the ground, with little hurt to her well-larded sides, then seize quickly the coveted treasure, at the same time guarding carefully against a nip, by no means a gentle one, upon your leg, or hand, from her companion or next neighbour. Even if you have on thick trowsers, it will be rather sharper than is agreeable. In this way the people here gather many thousand eggs every year. They are not unpleasant eating. Cooked as an omelet, they are very light, but contain little nourishment. The white never hardens when cooked, but appears always like clear jelly. The penguins begin to lay about the first week in September, and continue laying, if robbed, for several weeks. Their cry is exactly like the words, "Cover up," repeated in a very harsh voice; they seem to warn each other to hide their treasures from the approaching robbers.
Another great employment here is the obtaining oil from the sea-elephant, which is used for burning, and in the manufacture of soap, of which they make sufficient for their own use, though of a coarse quality. For the purpose of finding the elephants, they have now to go to the south side of the island; that being, as I have said, the only part where sea-elephants are now found, though formerly they lay thick on all the beaches. Two or three times in the year, the men go round in their boat, and if they are fortunate enough to find any lying there, quickly despatch the creatures with lances, [87/888] or a gun, and then strip off the blubber with which their sides are thickly coated, leaving the carcase to rot upon the beach. Two or three good-sized elephants will afford sufficient blubber to fill a large whale-boat. The men then return home with it, and then follows the not very agreeable process of "trying out;" that is, of extracting the oil from the blubber by boiling it in a large caldron. The oil produced, if well tried out, is very clear, of a beautiful, bright, straw colour, burns very well, is entirely free from offensive smell, and does not easily grow rancid. A full-sized bull-elephant is considerably larger than an ox. They have no legs, but four short flippers, like hands, by which they move on land. The young ones bark like a dog.
Such is the primitive mode of life at present in our little settlement. But the future prospects of its inhabitants are by no means very bright. The total disappearance of trees from the island is in itself a heavy loss, involving, as it does, the prospect of a great scarcity of fuel, which is daily becoming more difficult to procure. But that is only a small portion of the evil; for the land being left thus bare, there is no shelter anywhere, for either animals or vegetables, against the heavy gales which from time to time blow at all seasons of the year.
Nothing but potatoes have ever succeeded, or are likely to succeed here. Nevertheless, so long as there is a ready market at hand, in the whale-ships, a few men can get a living here. But then the visits of whale-ships are very uncertain. A few years ago very few called here. The last two years whales have been [88/89] found in great abundance around the island, and the number of whale-ships that have visited us has considerably increased. But in another year or two, the whales will probably have been harassed off to some other quarter, and the ships will, of course, follow them. Such a risk is but a frail thing to depend on.
Another evil is incident to the population. The families flow here consist almost entirely of females. The boys are continually enticed away, by their natural desire of seeing the world, which they can easily gratify, the whalers being always glad to obtain lads who are well used to boating. The girls have no such opportunity of escape. There are now more than a dozen adult females here, with no prospect of a comfortable provision for life.
The small quantity of available land upon the island would alone prevent a numerous population from ever existing here. Its distance from all other places precludes the possibility of their finding a profitable market elsewhere for what little surplus produce so few could raise. Already their number, though not quite a hundred, is as great as can well find support in the present state of things. I can see no other prospect, than for those who have large families to provide for, to seek some wider and more promising sphere in which to do so. Many are resolved to do this, the first opportunity that offers; but such opportunities are not very frequent nor certain. Already, however, two of the old families, including quarter of the present population, have obtained a chance, and are preparing to avail themselves of it, to proceed to the United States, [89/90] where they have relations already dwelling and prospering. And before long, I hope and trust that many more will be able to follow their example. I think it will be a happy day when this little lonely spot is once more left to those who probably always were, and now, in its present barren condition, certainly are, its only fit inhabitants--the wild birds of the ocean. But while so many Christian souls remain upon it, I shall endeavour--and I trust with God's blessing, shall be enabled--to abide here, and strive to keep up that good work which has been begun among them.
Brethren, pray for us.
POSTSCRIPT--Since the foregoing narrative was sent to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel by Mr. Taylor, a letter has been received from the Bishop of Capetown, giving an account of a visit which his Lordship paid to Tristan d'Acunha, in February, 1856. The Bishop confirmed thirty persons and found that the people were almost unanimous in desiring to quit the island. The Bishop writes from Capetown, April 5th:--"Nothing could be more satisfactory than Mr. Taylor's whole work. I hope that in a few days a large ship will be sent to bring them all away. I have offered him employment." The Bishop's official letter will be published almost at the same time with the foregoing narrative.