from February to August, 1835.
by Archdeacon Edward Wix [1802-1866]
London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1836.
As the travelling over the snow in this island is less difficult in the month of March, than walking overland is at any other season of the year, I had long had an intention of commencing a visitation of the southern and western shores of Newfoundland, in the early part of that month; and, for this purpose, had made an appointment with a guide, who lives in Trinity Bay, that he should come across at that time to be my pilot through the country. His recommendation to me was the fact of his having lived, some time back, four years with the Micmac Indians,--a probation which must have given him, I conceived, some acquaintance with the mode of travelling in this untractable island. He came to St. John's, however, in February. The season was more than usually advanced; and a greater quantity of snow having fallen than had been remembered for twenty years, the travelling was more easy than it commonly is in the winter: he had no difficulty, therefore, in inducing me to start with him immediately. This I did on the afternoon of
Tuesday, 17.--being driven in a sulky sleigh as far as the new road to Topsail Beach, upon the commencement of which the Legislature have lately expended a small sum. I then proceeded with my knapsack, in which were 14 lbs. weight, (to which my guide had restricted me,) to the south shore of Conception Bay. For some distance we missed our way, but as we could ascertain the points of the compass by observing the inclination of the topmost branches of the juniper or larch-trees, we regained our path some time after dark; and by a slippery wood-path, on which we had many falls, we reached the south shore of Conception Bay, and the house of Miller, a respectable planter, by ten P. M, the men of the family had retired to bed, after the fatigue of their day's labour in the woods, before I reached the house: I assembled the females of the family, however, and read and explained a chapter of the Bible, and offered up prayers with them before I retired to bed; and the next morning,
Wednesday, 18,--The men, before their work, joined us in the same employment. After this, I started in the snow for Mr. W. Smith's, passing a building which is erecting, as a place of worship for the members of the Protestant episcopal communion on this shore. There I met the Rev. Thomas Martin Wood, who, in addition to his usual labours at Petty Harbour, pays monthly visits to the people of his old charge upon this south shore of Conception Bay, and again at Pouch Cove, near Cape Francis. After attending and assisting at a marriage which he was solemnizing, I crossed through the "slob ice," which was very thick in Conception Bay, to Port de Grave, four leagues, in three hours. This is the centre of the mission of the Reverend Charles Blackman. One of his circuit churches, that of St. Mark's Church, at Bare Need, requires enlarging. I had been more fortunate in my passage across the bay than three young men of St. John's, who undertook it on the same day with myself, in another boat: they were obliged to leave it at a by-place along the shore, after it had been fixed several hours in the ice. I was confined a day at Mr. Blackman's hospitable house, by a snow-storm, but, on the morning of
Friday, 20--We took a heavy mallet, with a long handle, which the people call an ice-pounder, and escaped some hours of very laborious walking, by crossing in a boat to Bay Roberts. I regretted to find that Mr. Joyce, an exceedingly kind friend to the church and clergy, whom I had found here on former visits, had paid the debt of nature. Mr. Blackman had been engaged to attend a funeral at Bay Roberts yesterday; but the storm had made all close prisoners to their houses. It may give some idea of the difficulty of communication in the winter, even in the neighbourhood of St. John's, if I state here that gentlemen at Port de Grave had not seen a St. John's newspaper for a month, when I arrived amongst them; and that in Trinity Bay, I found that the sum of forty shillings had been, on a late occasion, demanded, and twenty-five shillings actually paid, for the casual conveyance of a single letter, overland, by one of the cross-country guides. I found that Ridout, a respectable young man, who had been used to keep a congregation together upon the south shore of Conception Bay, had died last spring, from the exertion and exposure consequent on going round the head of the bay at that inclement season on foot; and Hodge, the packet-man of Killigrews, was just recovering from a most severe cold caught a few days before, from his having been washed overboard in a gale. The Reverend John Burt, the Protestant episcopal missionary at St. Paul's, Harbour Grace, was dangerously ill, and I wished much to go to see him; but as the Reverend William Nisbett, of St. Mary's Church, Heart's Content, Trinity Bay, was with him, assisting him in his duties, I did not delay my journey to visit him. Mr. Blackman kindly accompanied me to Spaniards' Bay Beech. Here my guide and I struck into the woods at eleven, A.M., and crossed the neck which divides Conception from Trinity Bay. I broke into the ice of one brook on my way, and by half-past seven, P.M. reached the house of Mr. Charles Nienhook, jun., of New Harbour, a late worthy parishioner of the Reverend William Bullock, at St. Paul's Church, Trinity, whose father is of French Huguenot extraction. The distance is not more than fifteen miles by my compass, but the necessarily circuitous course which we were obliged to take to avoid a steep hill in one direction, a running brook, or a thick wood, in another, made it at least twenty. The distance which persons, liable to serve on petty juries, may be obliged to travel that they may meet the circuit judges in this island, is, from these circumstances, not very easily defined. I have met with places in Fortune Bay, two or three miles only from each other, to visit which by land in winter, it might be necessary to make a circuit of fifteen miles, to get round the deep precipitous chasms or "gulshes" and ravines, which cross from the coast into the interior. "Why, it is but seven miles, my friend, as the crow flies," observed a judge to a remonstrant petty juryman, who pleaded the difficulty and the distance.--"That may be," replied he; "but as I cannot go as the crow goes, I make the distance fifteen or sixteen."
Saturday, 21.--This day was spent in visiting the people of New Harbour, and the adjoining settlement of Dildo Cove, with Charles Elford, the lay-reader, who has, for some years, been employed under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The church of St. George's, New Harbour, which was opened for divine service in 1815, is neat, and in a very picturesque situation. It had been decently painted last summer, through Mr. Bullock's exertions. I gave notice of my intention of administering the holy communion in it on
Sunday, 22. (Sexagegima Sunday.) There were fourteen communicants after morning service at church, and I also administered the same sacrament to an aged person, a man of seventy-seven, in his own house, who remembered the French being in Trinity Bay in 1766. I held two full services, baptized two children at church, and one in private. As there was no stove in the church which could be lighted, and the weather was exceedingly cold, we suffered much during the service. After the two services I walked to Dildo Cove, by a church-path made by the people, which is very creditable to the devotional feeling of the settlers. Here the weather detained one at the house of Samuel Pretty, a respectable old planter. It was delightful to bear this old churchman contrast, with gratitude, the spiritual condition of the people in this part of the island now, with what it was when he first came out from Chard, in Somersetshire, sixty years ago:--"It is bad enough, now, Sir; but then, twelve months and twelve months would pass without our hearing a word of a book, or any talk about a church. "New Harbour and Dildo Cove, are places which present fine scenery to the admirer of nature; yet I learned that, before Mr. Pretty came thither, they had been the scenes of some very savage murders, into which, such was the imperfect state of the magistracy of Newfoundland at that period, no inquiry whatever was made. Indeed, in some parts of the island which I have visited, infanticide, and violence terminating in death, would scarcely create inquiry now. While I was there, New Harbour was the scene of a sad drunken revel at a Roman Catholic funeral and wake. A wolf had been shot in this neighbourhood a short time before my visit. Also a large species of fish, called the horse-mackarel, resembling that fish in every particular, but ten feet in length, had been killed here last summer, by a girl with a "pew," or fork used for throwing fish from the boats on to the "stages." This horse-mackarel, I learned afterwards, is not uncommon in other parts of the island. Several old Bedlamer seals had been already killed here, which, with the sea-birds which were now very numerous, supplied the inhabitants with very acceptable provisions after the scarcity of a long unbroken winter.
Wednesday, 25.--Having read and prayed with the inhabitants, and visited the sick, and made my residence as useful as I could to the people during my detention, I was up on Wednesday at 2 A.M., and before 6 A.M., before the first dawn of light, made a more successful attempt than we made yesterday morning, to start from Andrew's cove. The snow-path was stained with the blood of Bedlamer seals, which had been hauled over it. We had plenty of work for the ice-pounder in this cove and in the bay, as it was full of a species of ice, significantly called by the people, "swish-ice", which, when struck with the oar, makes a sound similar to that of straw when thrashed with a stick. By 9 1/2 o'clock we reached Chapel Arm, where, and at Little Gut in its neighbourhood, were about seventy souls, chiefly from New Harbour, for winter's work. Assembled two dozen people, all who had not gone into the woods for their work before our arrival, for full service, at the tilt of William Pollett. As we passed a point in our boat, I got sight of a black fox close to the water's edge, and was informed by the people, that I might expect shortly to see an otter, which I soon did; and, on going to the spot, found several holes which the otter had made on the slob-ice when diving for fish, which the fox, at this period of scarcity of other provisions, would monopolize on his bringing it up, or shore with him. The otter and the fox, consequently, at this season, are generally to he found very near each other. I had a cliff pointed out to me at Norman's Cove, not far from hence, a part of which, from its losing the power of cohesion, (no uncommon event here after our long winter) had fallen down a few springs since, and had buried several men, friends of my present guides, in its fall. The "barber," a vapour so called from its cutting qualities, was distinctly visible upon the water this morning. It arises, I believe, from the airs being colder than the water I was glad, on the approach of day, to turn myself towards the sun, which rose most brilliantly this cold morning. No description can convey an idea of the beauty of the overfalling stalactites of ice, some white through, some transparent, which hung down from the rugged cliffs on the side of this fine arm of the sea, till they nearly touched the water.
The unremitting attention, and the not unfrequent visits of the Rev. William Bullock, of Trinity, and of his assistant upon the south shore of the bay, the Rev. William Nesbitt, left me no children, beyond mere infants, to baptize in this neighbourhood. Before one P.M. I was again upon my way, on foot, through the woods, leaving the remarkable hill, called the Chapel Tolt, behind, and the Long Hill Deer country, on my left; and by half-past five got over the crusted snow of Long Harbour, in Placentia Bay. The country at this time presented an appearance quite different from that presented by the vegetation when affected by a moistness of the atmosphere which is afterwards operated upon by sudden frosts, and is improperly denominated here, a silver thaw. The present appearance was much more beautiful, although that cannot but be much admired. The under current of air had been sufficiently cold to freeze rain upon its reaching the earth, or alighting upon any exposed vegetable object, although the upper media, through which it had passed, permitted it still to fall as rain. As soon as this transparent liquid had alighted upon a branch of evergreen, or on a blade of grass, which projected above the snow, it had congealed; giving, through its transparent covering, a brighter tint to every colour of the objects which it enveloped. As the rain had continued to fall very fast for several hours while the lower air was in this state, this bright incrustation had collected on every object, even on those which were most minute, and offered the least firm support to such a weighty girdle, to the depth of at least an inch. The splendour of the spectacle which was presented by woods, shrubs, and under-brush, thus brilliantly illuminated in a morning of unclouded sunshine, was greater than any effort of art could come near to imitate. It left all the spectacles of scenic illusion, or the imaginative creations of fairy descriptions, far, far behind the reality of the natural phenomenon, which, though it was calculated most surely to fix the gaze of admiring crowds, only called forth now the grateful admiration of one fond admirer of the gospel of nature. Yet this profusion of sparkling beauty was not lost:--"O ye frost and cold! O ye ice and snow! bless ye the Lord; praise him and magnify him for ever!"
Every hole and corner in the cabin which I first visited in Placentia Bay, that was not taken up by the human inmates, being occupied by pigs, ducks, fowls, sheep, or dogs, I was glad to find a more roomy and a cleaner retreat in another tilt; here, though the door did not close by at least a foot, to prevent the inconvenience of smoke, which is almost universal in these winter houses, I sat upon chest until dawn. The poor widower, who was my host, spoke of his deceased wife with deep affection: the anxiety, too, which he showed to bring up his children well by catechising them, and hearing them repeat their prayers before they retired to the single bed which served for the entire family of eight, was very creditable. Although these services, which I begged my presence might not be permitted to interrupt, were mixed with much which I deem error, yet I could not but wish that many a careless protestant could have seen this pious Romanist, and been led to imitate so praise worthy an attention to the religious interests of his children. The winter settlers at Long Harbour are chiefly of Irish extraction, from Ram islands, in Placentia Bay. I heard in the evening, that of three Englishmen who had been for years settled among them, one alone, a native of Greenwich, had not turned to the Romish faith. I went, therefore, to visit him on the morning of
Thursday, 26,--At his tilt, over a frozen pond or lake, about two miles from the harbour, When I reached his comfortless tilt, of which there was no part, except the excavated door-way, and the top of the chimney visible above the snow, I found he was from home. He had heard the preceding evening of the arrival in the settlement of a clergyman of his church, and attempted to cross the ice of the harbour after dark to have some conversation with me; had broken through the ice in the attempt, and had in consequence of his wet condition, slept at the tilt in the harbour, which I had passed at day-break. I returned thither, and found him at the house of J. D. of Arundel, one of the Englishmen who had turned Papist; he would not, however, permit me to go back again for some private conversation to poor J. G.'s tilt, until I had promised to accompany J.G. back to breakfast, when he gave me a very hospitable entertainment. On conversing with J. G. I found that he had been twenty-one years in the country, and was still pennyless, the poor servant of the other Englishman, H. M., from Redcliffe, who was scarcely less poor than himself. His fondness for ardent spirits, he informed me, had kept him thus poor, and he could trace to this source all his lapses, and all his misfortunes. He assured me in our conversation that he had foresworn the further use of spirits. I told him of a strength greater than his own; this I entreated him to implore. He was much affected by a prayer in which I proposed he should join me in his tilt: he kept a standing posture when I commenced, but the poor fellow soon sunk upon his knees, and, before the conclusion of my prayer on his behalf, be was weeping like a child. It will give some idea of the prevailing use of spirits in this island, and of the consequent discouragement which the minister is doomed to experience, if I mention that notwithstanding all which I had said against the use of this intoxicating stimulant, in all which he had heartily acquiesced, and bringing the test of his own melancholy experience, had declared voluntarily, that he had left it off, he yet offered to myself, on my rising from my knees, what is called "a morning", from, a little keg, which he drew from under his straw bed; and, on my reminding, him, when about to help himself; that he had engaged to break off this habit, he excused himself by saying he had made a reservation for the use of the remaining contents of that keg. I was reminded of Jeremiah xiii. 23. I promised the poor fellow a prayer-book, which he was most anxious to possess; a few other suitable books shall accompany it, and I pray, though almost against hope, that he may be assisted to keep his resolution. A cock crowing during the preceding, night, was said, by an old woman in the company, to portend rain: I found the next day, as I subsequently did on many other occasions during my present trip, that this augury was quite correct. We were put across Long Harbour arm, below the ice, in a punt, and walked from the quay, a point in the woods, through some thick brushwood, and over barrens to Ship Harbour Point, opposite to Little Placentia. Here a storm of snow and wind, followed by rain, which prevented my proceeding by land or by water, detained me till
Monday, March 2.--There is not so much "slob-ice" during the winter in Placentia and St. Mary's bays, as in the northern bays. At this time last year, however, (1834) persons might walk from this side of Placentia Bay direct to Burin, which is at least twenty-four leagues across the open bay on the firm ice. As I had sent my man by land to Placentia to give notice of my being so near, Mr. Tucker, of the firm of Penny and Neve, of Poole, took advantage of a lull in the wind, and kindly sent a boat for me, which landed me at his wharf in the afternoon. Here I was greatly indebted to Mrs. Tucker for much humane attention, and luxuriated in a comfortable bed for the first time since I had left New Harbour, Trinity Bay, on the 25th ult.
Tuesday, 3.--Went partly in a sleigle, and partly on foot, by the Martise Reach, nine miles, to Great Placeritia. While Newfoundland belonged to, the French, this place was the seat of government. Within the memory of several of the present inhabitants, Placentia was a garrison town of our own, and there are still the remains of bomb-proof batteries in tolerable repair, faced with Portland stone. l assembled nine persons, the small remnant of our communion, in the old church which, within the memory of many living used to be completely filled by the garrison and numerous protestant inhabitants, under the ministry of the Reverend Walter Harris, and Reverend John Evans, the successive protestant episcopal Missionaries. There is here a valuable service of communion plate, which bears an inscription, notifying, that it was given by his Royal Highness Prince William, Henry, in 1787. There are, also, a splendid folio prayer-book and bible, and a new version of the Psalms, which were presented to the church in 1790, by Thomas Saunders, Esq., the founder of the present mercantile house of O. F. Sweetman, Esq., a member of our Newfoundland house of assembly. He is a Roman catholic, but most hospitably invited me to his house, and entertained me, although he was very busily engaged in sending out his sealing vessels to the ice, and was, besides, an invalid; and so good a feeling towards the church exists generally in this part of Newfoundland, that an aged widow lady, a Roman catholic, to whom, in conversing respecting the communion plate, I expressed the wish that it could be used monthly, and the books each week, responded evidently from the heart, with the wish that it could be so. It should be observed, in justice to the Roman catholics of this bay, that they are of a character very different from that of the more recent Irish settlers in the vicinity of St. John's, who, being misled by a newly-imported priesthood, who have more of the character of political partizans than of religious or moral instructors, have by their licentious and cruel acts rendered our journals of, late years more like the annals of disturbed, districts in the sister kingdom, than of a loyal and orderly North American colony. The hospitality with which I was received by the settlers of that communion in this bay carried me pleasantly back, in recollection, to the description given by our Missionary Auspach, of his own reception in Conception Bay. "The clergyman of the established church not only could go in the greatest security through any part of the district, but his visits were received with evident marks of satisfaction; his call for refreshment at any house was acknowledged as an honour; and that dwelling was considered still more highly honoured where he condescended to fix himself for the night in the course of his clerical visitations. His comforts were attended to with the most cordial and anxious care, even by the wildest Irishman, or the most bigoted Roman catholics." (Anspach's Newfoundland, p. 240.) I have already stated the pleasure with which I had witnessed the anxiety of a Roman catholic parent to bring up his children in that which, according to his view, was the nurture and admonition of the Lord; I may, therefore, without being suspected of a wish to misrepresent the general conduct of the members of this body, express the concern which I felt, at seeing in this and some other districts, the playing of cards and games of chance upon the Lord's Day. In St. John's, their dancing-houses are full on the evening of the Lord's Day. The poor fellow did not know the meaning of the terms he was using;--but one of this communion made me smile, when, to recommend himself to me, as distinguished from a strict Romanist, he told me he was a "",--and then, as though he had not gone far enough, he corrected himself, and said, "I am a Latitudinarian, sir, I mean." He might have added, too, "a hard drinker;" but I feel too much indebted to him for his hearty kindness, to subject him to ecclesiastical censure for his volunteer deprecations of a too tight-laced orthodoxy, or for that other besetting foible. Placentia has been visited, since the removal of a regular Missionary from the station, by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, and by Reverend Messrs. Bullock, Burt, Robertson, Laugherne, and Pering;--yet so long has the church been shut up, that this was the first occasion on which the royal donor of the communion service had been prayed for here in public liturgy, as King. There is in the church-yard of this place a broken tomb-stone, with a French inscription, bearing the date 1690.
As there was a rapid tide down the S.E. and N.E. guts, and the wind was piercingly cold fron1 the N.E., our passage over these streams on our return was far from agreeable, and it was some time before we could by quick walking recover ourselves from our chill. Within a few days of my reaching Placentia, a messenger arrived who had crossed through the interior overland direct from St. John's, since I left it. A road, which is much needed, is projected from St. John's to this place. This messenger brought the distressing intelligence, that Mr. Hervey, an estimable young man, the junior partner in the house of Messrs Robinson, Brooking, Garland, and Co., at St. John's, had died within the last few days, after a very short illness. I had left him extremely ill from a cold caught in going to St. Bartholomew's Church, Portugal Cove, on the last Sunday but one on which I had officiated there before my departure: the weather, on that day (February 8), having varied eighteen degrees, as will be seen by the meteorological table annexed to this Journal, was most trying to the constitution of those exposed to it.
Wednesday, 4. (Ash- Wednesday)--Assembled a very attentive congregation of 21, in the net-menders' room on Mr. Tucker's wharf. I must record the pleasure with which I heard here, as I did, indeed, in many parts of Placentia Bay afterwards, most grateful mention made of the labours of Mr. William Walker, who had been, for some time, stationed at Little Placentia, in one of the schools of the Newfoundland and British North America School Society-a society which is doing much for the scriptural education of the youth of this island.
In the afternoon of March 4, Mr.Tucker manned a boat for me, in which I went to Bald Head, past St. Croix Bay. Thence I went, after walking a little distance in the snow, in a punt of Joseph Dick's, past Money's Cove and Corben's Head to Tilley Cove, six leagues, where the family of his respectable father, Christopher Dicks, amounting to twelve, formed an attentive congregation. Here, as I did at several other places during the season of Lent, I assumed a licence as my own ordinary, and used the Commination Service, afterwards explaining it to the hearers familiarly in the place of a sermon.
Thursday, 5.--Was up before day-light, and after full service, administered the holy communion to this respectable old planter, who had for many years been desiring such an opportunity. A snow-storm prevented my proceeding to-day to Harbour Beaufit, upon Long Island, where I was very anxious to visit a family whom I had known at Petty Harbour, near St. John's. I did not allow it, however, to prevent my walking by Red Cove and Back Cove to Famish Gut, which I reached by ten, A.M., and assembled nine adults, besides children, at the winter house of Thomas Upshore, where I held full service, and baptized two children. It was providential that a man, who lived some two miles from his summer house, in the interior, in a spot which it would have been most difficult, nay, quite impracticable, to have found, in the untracked snow, which was falling fast at the time, should have come out for some family supplies to his summer house, just as I reached the harbour. He was delighted at the encounter, and was rejoiced at the opportunity of introducing to the little settlement a minister of his church. By one, P.M., as the weather cleared up, I left this place, and took the ice upon a level lead of ponds, expecting to find my way to the adjoining settlement of Pinch Gut. There I learned were some persons who had recently settled from the west of England, and I wished much to visit them; but we missed our point, and were benighted, and as, through the gross negligence of my guide, we had proceeded without a hatchet, our situation was one of danger, the night being extremely cold. On coming out, however, after dark, to the salt water, I discovered upon the snow, by the land-wash, a gunner's track. This led us by nine, P.M., much fatigued, to a house, which we found, contrary to our expectations, to be at Big Chance Cove, in Trinity Bay. Here I heard, to my comfort, that one Kelly, a regular pilot, who had last winter walked round the head of Placentia Bay, the route on which I now was, and had received 18 l. for his journey, declared that he would not undertake such a trip again for 50 l. My dog howled, as I walked to-day, from fatigue; and, whenever I stopped to look about me, or set my compass, he would scratch about and make himself a bed for a few minutes repose in the soft snow.
Friday, 6.--Up by seven, A. M. Assembled twenty-four persons to full service. As not one in this settlement could read, I was requested to read a letter containing intelligence of the most interesting kind, of which the family had been in ignorance, although they had had it by them for weeks. In many similar settlements, I was engaged in writing letters for the people to relatives who had been settled, some ten, some twenty years, in other parts of the island, and with whom they had been unable to hold any communication since their original settlement in the country, or, at least, since their dispersion. At eight, A.M., started through the "young ice" in a new punt, which was stained with blood from a recent freight of fresh-killed seals; passed Bentham, Master's Head, and Ram's Head, to Stock Cove, which I reached at ten. After some refreshment, engaged at half-past two, P.M. in a very laborious walk over the country, by Stock Cove Deer-look-out, to Frenchman's Island, where I took the ice of Bay Bull's Arm. At the head of this arm, I found four families in winter tilts. I assembled fifteen persons for full service, by the light of a piece of ignited seal's fat, placed in a scollop shell, which served for the lamp of our humble sanctuary in the woods. I made acquaintance here, too, for the first time, with a decoction of the tops of the spruce branches, to which I afterwards became much accustomed, as a substitute for tea, and which, from experience, I can pronounce to be very salutary and bracing, though not so palatable, as the beverage supplied by the Honourable East India Company. A man (Sowards) whom I had met at Stock Cove in the morning, had last summer gone round in an open fishing punt, from Come-by-Chance, at the bottom of Placentia Bay, accompanied only by a small boy of fifteen, along-shore and outside of St. John's, to this place, a distance of 142 leagues by water, although the distance between the two places is only one league by land. He was changing his residence from one Bay to the other, and not finding a purchaser for his punt, he had gone round with it. From the top of Sainter's Hill, a conspicuous object in this neighbourhood, the seven bays of Despair, Fortune, St. Mary, Trinity, Bonavista, Conception, and Placentia, may be seen at one time. Here I slept in a tilt; and starting by half past six, next morning, in less than an hour had crossed the swamp and neck of land which at this part divided Placentia from Trinity Bay, having now crossed the dividing neck of land at three different places. On this path the "", or cross-beams, over which the French, when they held Placentia, were in the habit of drawing their boats from one bay to the other, are still to be seen; although, as they were at this time covered with snow, I had not a view of them. After an unexpected incursion of this kind, they had once burned, in the memory of an old person who related the fact to me, an English brig which was lying in Bay Bulls Arm; and it was this circumstance which gave its name to the point which is called Frenchman's Island, mentioned above:--After walking about a mile down Come-by-Chance River, we came to some winter tilts, in one of which I assembled seventeen for full service, baptized a child, and churched its mother, in our little congregation. On the Banks of this Come-by-Chance River, ruins of buildings, iron bolts, and nails, are found; relics of former structures and cannon-balls are also frequently picked up, as though there had been formerly some engagement, if not a fort, in this neighbourhood. The people are very laborious in this part of Placentia Bay, and live very hard from the time at which they begin to catch fish, which is generally in April, until near Christmas: they scarcely sleep a whole night together in bed, except on Sunday night. From their poverty, too, they are constrained to part with their fish to the supplying merchant in a state, by which, I was informed, that they are considerable losers, as three on an average are thus taken for one. I was much struck here with the homely, but touching remark of one R. W., in whose house I had officiated:--"Ah! sir; if any of us be sick or sore, there is no one near to visit us, or to care for our souls."
Started at half-past ten, A.M., and before twelve had reached Emberley's, having mounted a precipice which was somewhat alarming, Whittle's Cove Head. Twelve wolves had very lately been seen in one company in this neighbourhood. Here we mended up a leaky punt, and took advantage of a mild day, which reminded me of the Indian summer in Nova Scotia, to go to Sound Island. We started at half-past twelve, were unceasing in our exercise at baling out the water, and by ten minutes after three, reached in safety Betty's Hole, Sound Island, a most picturesque nook, within view of the fine hills which are known as Powder-horn Hill, at the bottom of Placentia Bay, and Sainter's Hill, at the head of that of Trinity.
Walked a short mile to Mr. Hollett's, a most respectable planter at New Town. Finding that many of the people were at Piper's Hole, nine miles up a river, at their winter's work, I determined to walk up to them upon the ice, and devote to them the morning of the following day, Sunday; appointing divine service at Sound Island in the afternoon, on my return. I reached the tilt of Giles, a worthy Somersetshire man, by nine, P.M., where I slept, after having had prayers with his little household.
Sunday, 8.--Walked to Salmon Hole, at the very top of Piper's Hole, (about a mile and a half,) at day-break, and held an early service in the house of John Hollett, jun., to eighteen persons. By twenty minutes to nine A.M., I was on my way back to Sound Island, where I found a congregation of thirty, at the elder Mr. Hollett's house, assembled to meet me at two, P.M. I baptized one child in full service. The style of singing here, as well as at Piper's Hole, gratified me much. I read the prayers from a fine 8vo. prayer-book, of the "Prayer Book and Homily Society," presented to old Mr. Hollett, by the Reverend Charles Norman, Manningtree, Essex, April, 1834. This generous individual, Hollett has never seen; but his name had been mentioned to Mr. Norman, by a servant, whose brother, a fisherman in Newfoundland, had been in the habit of attending Mr. Hollett's reading of the church service on the Lord's Day, in his house on Sound Island; and Mr. Hollett has, for some time, received from him a packet of books each year. These, he is humbly endeavouring to make instrumental to the spiritual improvement of his neighbourhood, and his efforts, I should say, judging from the demeanour of the congregation, which I was gratified to meet at his house,--and their response, and the manner in which they join in the psalmody, have been blessed by God's Holy Spirit. How would the missionary, and the intelligent member of the church, be strengthened in a foreign land, if the friends of evangelical truth at home would more generally exhibit such a spirit as this unknown benefactor,--and send us, in larger quantities, these requisite materials, with which we may enlighten the ignorant, and comfort the sorrowing, and train up the rising generation in the faith and fear of God! Here, as at very many other places, I was painfully oppressed by receiving applications of the most earnest kind for schools, where, before the applications, I could see they were most needed: yet, alas! I felt that I could hold out to the Christian parents, who were most anxious to secure Christian instruction for their dear children, no promise whatever,--no immediate hope of aid.
Finding that the night was likely to be stormy, I started at four over Sound Island, and across the Tickle, upon the ice, to the Andrews's, Woody Island, about six miles, which I reached in two hours, just before the threatened storm came on. Read a chapter of the bible, and had prayers before retiring to rest.
Monday, 9.--The two Andrews's, my hosts, took different routes round the settlement, to prepare the people for my holding prayers at ten, A.M. Thirteen families reside in this neighbourhood. I had a congregation of twenty, churched a mother, and baptized her child in full service. Just as I was starting in an open boat for Barren Island, a young woman, who had waded, with difficulty, through the deep snow, which had been falling all night, arrived, to request me to baptize her infant child, and to church herself. Here, as at many places which I have visited, a request was made me that I would consecrate a piece of ground, which, in most settlements, is enclosed and set apart for a place of interment. I told the people that this ceremony of our church is reserved for our bishops; but recommended their keeping it neatly enclosed; and assured them that, in the event of his ever visiting this bay, it would then give satisfaction to our excellent diocesan, Bishop Inglis, to comply with this, their very proper desire. For the first time since leaving Conception Bay, we were able to use a sail today, and were put up to Barren Island in two hours. Here the inhabitants are principally Romanists; but, as an Englishman, Robert Burt, who had died somewhat suddenly, was then lying unburied, I resolved to wait till tomorrow, that I might inter him.
Tuesday, 10.--A congregation of thirty-five met in a large store, one hundred feet long, belonging to Mr. John Cosens, which had been built by the late firm of Spurrier, and had been sold for a trifle. We had a fire similar to that on a ship's deck, in the centre of the store, to protect us from the weather, which was extremely cold, and, although there was no provision for the escape of the smoke, the building was so spacious, that we suffered little inconvenience. The bell which "'usually" rings to call the people together for their meals, or work, was tolled by my direction. The psalms and lessons of the morning were evidently felt by the people to be very appropriate to the melancholy service, and the sermon, which I had put together for the occasion from Psalm 1. 22, 2:3, seemed to effect the hearers,--may, I hope not without edification? While I was thus engaged, Mr. John Cosens, who had been absent, returned, and heard with much satisfaction, of the very hospitable reception which his "skipper" had given me on my arrival.
Wednesday, 11.--He kindly took me, at nine, A.M., of the next day, in a large western boat, by the island of Merasheen, to the Isle of Valen, where he has an establishment, and a very pleasant neighbour in Mr. Isaac Moore, another merchant. In my visits to the different cabins, I was much shocked at the poverty of the people, which was greater here, than any which I had ever witnessed in Newfoundland, Some married females in one house were literally almost in a state of nudity; their manifest want of cleanliness, however, made it seem probable,--as I was afterwards informed was the case,--that part of their poverty might be traced to mismanagement. It must be most distressing to any merchant, or other settler, who is himself raised above poverty, and is possessed of human feeling, to live in a place where the improvidence of the people makes them so wretchedly dependent, for a greater part of the year, as the people are in this settlement. While I am arranging these notes to send to England, I have heard of the decease of one of the wretched females mentioned above. I had service in Mr. Cosen's house and a congregation of thirty-five, baptized one child, and churched the mother; and the next day,
Thursday, l2.--Baptized three children at their home, the mothers being too plainly without sufficient clothing to permit their exposing themselves to the air at this inclement season; returned thanks, with the mothers, for their preservation in child-bed, and held another full service to forty. One tilt was visited by me in this island, the dimensions of which were only twelve feet by ten, and I found living in it a man and his wife,--the master and mistress of the house, two married daughters with their husbands and children, amounting, in all, to fifteen souls! I found a fine old widow lady here who has forty grandchildren living: her feelings had been severely tried at the death of her husband, to whom she had been many years allied, and was fondly attached. She had, in early youth, been a Romanist, but from conviction had renounced the errors of that faith, and attached herself to the church of her husband. On her making the anxious inquiry of her husband on his death-bed, "Whether he would like to turn?" he, affixing a very different meaning to her affectionate inquiry, than that which merely implied his being turned in his bed, begged that the poor woman would go out of his sight, and not disturb his last moments, adding, "that he had occasionally before doubted the sincerity of her professed conversion, but he had rather have cherished the delusion to the last, than have been thus cruelly undeceived at such a moment!"
Friday, 13.--Went off on a bitter cold morning, in a bait skiff; two hours' sail to Clatter's Harbour, at the back of the Isle of Valen. The slob and swish ice becoming thicker, prevented our getting up the arm; walked, in consequence, to the head of the north-east passage, by thickly wooded "gulshes," three miles or more; thence across a neck of land to Chandler's Harbour in Paradise Sound, about one mile; thence I went along the hills by the shore, towards the south-east bight, which I had hoped to reach by night. We got benighted, however; the moon became obscured, and as a drift came on, with a drizzling snow and rain, we made a night fire. For feeding this, we felled in the course of the night, a sufficient quantity of spruce and birch to have made a most shady retreat in a space equal to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and there we waited for the dawn. This is a more accurate account of such a night, than it would be to record that we had slept in the woods; for the traveller, lying on a few fir branches upon the snow, freezes on one side, while the blazing flame scorches him on the other. I did not, at this early period of my cruise, understand so well, as I afterwards did, the plan of making a fire in the woods; and in my hurry to greet the welcome sight of a cheerful fire, by which I might break the fast which I had kept since seven in the morning, I had neglected the necessary preliminary of digging out a hole in the eight feet of snow, which were on the ground. The immense fire which we kindled, for want of this precaution, continued to melt down the snow, lower and lower by degrees, till, before the dawn of morning, I was left to the action of the piercing winds, on the top of a Banks of snow, the fire being in a hole much below my level, and only benefiting me by its smoke, which threatened to blind, as well as to stifle me. I may mention, that the first tree, which I felled, nearly demolished my faithful dog which accompanied me, as it fell across the terrified creature's lions; the soft newly fallen snow, however, offered no resistance to his body, but sunk under his weight, so that he received no injury.
Saturday, 14.--In the morning started in the sleet and rain, and in a very wet condition from my last night's lair, to find the south east bight, and was more successful in my search, than the preceding evening. I was most humanely entertained by a Roman Catholic planter, Handlin and his wife, at whose house I dried and warmed myself, and after breakfast, was put over the bight in a punt, whilst it was blowing very heavily, and afterwards proceeded on foot to the winter-house of Mr. William Cooke, (of Biddestone, England) at Red Cove. As Mrs. Cooke, much to my regret, had, on the first intimation of my arrival, walked nearly three miles to their summer residence at Adam's Island, in Paradise Harbour, to receive me there, I accompanied her husband to this place, where he has been settled eighteen years, and has a fine establishment. Finding that Mrs. C., who is the mother of a very interesting family, (if not a native,) was formerly a resident of Liverpool, in Nova Scotia, to the inhabitants of which place I am warmly attached, it was delightful to me to have an opportunity of speaking of scenes and persons which will ever be dear to my memory.
Sunday, 15.--Rose with lassitude; read prayers and a sermon to Mr. Cooke's family, his neighbours being all Romanists.
Monday, 16.--Left Paradise Harbour at eight, A.M., in a punt. Passed Nonsuch Harbour and Petit Forte without stopping, and got to Pushthrough, between Little and Great Gallows Harbour by eleven. Was reminded by an Irish servant in the boat of the approaching festival of St. Patrick, as he was exulting in alluding to the quantity of spirits which would be drunk before breakfast the next day, in Newfoundland, in honour of the patron saint of the Emerald Island. As there were no Protestants residing where I left the boat, I pushed on, starting by the north-east brook, and walking till three P.M. I came out in the same little harbour, about ten yards from the place we had started four hours before. I persevered, made a second trial, and threading our path through the thick woods, without the vestige of a track, got at length to the ice on Bay de l'Eau, beyond Little Harbour; followed, upon the ice of the bay, nearly nine miles, and came to the winter-tilt of William Chick, of Oderin, by half-past eight, P.M. I had discovered this cabin by the "flankers," or bright sparks, which flew up his chimney to some height in the clear starlit sky, from his brisk birch fire. As I had fully expected to pass another night in the woods in my wearied and wet condition, I was most thankful to discover these welcome signs of our proximity to some human abode. None but those who have traversed unknown woods in the untracked snow, can conceive the joy with which the sight of the track of a human foot, or of a racket is welcomed, even though such tracks, being only of persons who have been "rummaging," or searching for firesticks of timber in the woods, may, again and again have raised deceptive hopes, respecting their leading immediately to some habitation or settlement. Even the sight of a "whiting" in the woods, that is, of a tree stripped of its bark for the uses of the fishery, which tells of the place's having been visited, though in the preceding summer, or a year or two before, by the foot of man;--the marks, even, of the axe, where timber has, in former years been cut and carried away, seem to remind the lone traveller of the link which binds him to the rest of his species.
I lost no time, on my arrival at Chick's, in assembling fourteen persons, from his and the adjoining tilts, to full service; and after some very seasonable refreshment slept soundly on a bed which my kind hostess had spread by the fire upon the floor for me. She begged me to send her some books observing "I am fond of church books; a neighbour of mine 'faults' the church-catechism in his talk sir; but to my belief though I am no scholar there is not like to be a better." The women in Placentia Bay are very industrious and neat in their work. They plait bonnets and hats of the shavings of birch cut very thin like what I have seen in England made of the cuttings of stiff paper. I was glad to procure a pair of "cuffs", or mittens made in this bay of a kind of thick woollen or swanskin: these with earcaps which they also made and ornament very neatly are most essential to the comfort of those who venture on any out-of-door exercise or employment in winter. I had undertaken to go the next morning
Tuesday, 18,--to the island of Oderin; but the wind being too wild I started by land, at half-past nine, over the country, steering nearly north-west by my chart and compass, for the south shore of Fortune Bay. I was the less anxious to visit Burin or Fortune, as I learned that there were very worthy Wesleyan Missionaries in these districts. I came out at Bay de l'Argent, by three P.M. down a rapid brook, which had a fall of water in it, and marks of a recent freshet in immense "clumpets" of ice, a yard and a half thick, which had been carried a hundred yards into the woods on each side, thirty feet above the usual channel of the brook, forcing down large trees, scraping the bark from the trunks of others, and bending the smaller stems to its current. I could never have imagined, had I not seen such evidence, that the force of a casual fresh-water current could be so great. I do not notice the numerous tracks of otter, beaver, foxes, deer, partridges, and hares, which I am passing everyday, but I may notice here that the son of William Chick and another youth lately killed fourteen deer, and that the families of Piper's Hole, had killed forty head of deer within a fortnight.
A man, Pitcher, formerly a servant at Bay de l'Argent, had, the preceding year, walked across to this place from Placentia Bay, and while the Fortune Bay people were in their winter tilts, at a distance from their summer residences, had robbed their summer-houses, which were situated upon the shore. On his way back, he had been arrested by a storm, and was providentially found by some deer-hunters, in a frost-burnt state, or he must have perished. Robert Swiers, of Hants Harbour, Trinity Bay, who had been imprisoned in Harbour Grace gaol, Conception Bay, for stealing a cow, met his fate in a similar way last winter (I learned while I was in Trinity Bay), in attempting, after his release from confinement, to get across the country from Conception Bay to his home in Trinity Bay.
I was fortunate enough to come out upon the shore in Fortune Bay, exactly where there were houses, and a very decent young man, B. L. and his wife, having only left their winter tilts that morning, had cleaned up their neat summer house, and lighted a good fire, as though for my reception. I sent round to his neighbours to give notice of my intention to hold divine service at this house the next morning, and was delighted to see the serious and intelligent manner in which the children were taught to say their grace before and after meat, and their morning and evening prayers. My eyes, which have been much tried by the glare of the sun upon the snow, and by the cutting winds abroad, are further tried within the houses by the quantity of smoke, or "cruel steam," as the people emphatically and correctly designate it, with which every tilt is filled. The structure of the winter tilt, the chimney of which is of upright studs, stuffed or "stogged" between with moss, is so rude, that in most of them in which I officiated the chimney has caught fire once, if not oftener, during the service. When a fire is kept up, which is not unusual all night long, it is necessary that somebody should sit up, with a bucket of water at hand, to stay the progress of these frequent fires; an old gun-barrel is often placed in the chimney corner, which is used as a syringe, or diminutive fire-engine, to arrest the progress of these flames; or masses of snow are placed on the top of the burning, studs, which, as they melt down, extinguish the dangerous element. The chimneys of the summer-houses in Fortune Bay, are better fortified against the danger, being lined within all the way up with a coating of tin, which is found to last for several years.
Wednesday, 18.--So much snow and drift during the night, and still falling, that the wall; of yesterday would have been quite impracticable to-day. A congregation of twelve adults assembled to full service; four baptisms. At twelve started for Bay d'Este, which would have been a distance of four miles in a punt; this conveyance, however, being unsafe, I was obliged to go by land, a distance of ten miles, by Little Barrisway, and Salmonier and Shagrock Pond, to which there is another path from the beach, beaten like a foot-road, and a beaver-house upon the pond. Some of our path was over most difficult crags, by the landwash; and in one place we had to crawl upon our hands and knees, through a hole in a hollow rock; in others we went under crags, from which heavy icicles were pendent, resembling some mimic Niagara, which had been caught and fixed by the frost at mid-fall. It snowed and drifted, and froze hard as at any time during the winter: my sealskin cap, and the crape gauze veil, which I wore for the protection of my eyes, were stiffened with the frost: my gloves and handkerchief became masses of ice; and, as it was impossible to get off my sealskin mockasins, which had worn out from walking over the icy crags, which cuts frozen leather or skin like a knife, and consequently I could not change them, though I was provided with a second pair; I was in more danger today than probably at any other period of my journey, of being frost-burnt. Here I met I. W., an old man from Sturminster, in Dorset, who reads the church prayers to his neighbours on the Lord's Day, and begged of me to send him a supply of plain sermons, or, as he expressed it, "not too high learnt." "I have often dropped tears on Sunday," said he, "to think of the church at home, which I thought too little of when I was there; and often I have felt that I would have given the heart out of my body, sir, to hear the church prayers on the Lord's Day."
Full service. I endeavoured to remove here, and in other places, an unfavourable impression which some of the ignorant had conceived, and some mischievous and interested traders had encouraged. respecting a supply of seed potatoes, which, during the last year, had been sent by the colonial government, for gratuitous distribution among the distressed inhabitants of this and the other bays of the island. The potatoes sent did not suffice for the supply of all who needed them, and those which respectable merchants imported for sale, or transported from St. John, and sold from their own stores, were alleged to be part of the gratuitous supply furnished by Government. I saw here again some remarkable signs of the powers of a late freshet from the thawed snow. At Long Harbour, however, a brook, thus swollen, forced a passage quite through Pyramid's Island, which was mid-stream, and on which was a house with eight men in it; and brought down stocks of trees, of forty and fifty feet in length, and of proportionate thickness. Clumpets of ice, three feet in thickness, swept over the house in which the men were, who were obliged, poor fellows! to sit astride upon the rafters, like fowls in a roost, to escape drowning till the fury of the freshet abated; this force of the river by which they were invaded, and of the two side-streams, denying them all chance of earlier escape from the island.
Thursday, 19.--Froze as hard as on any night during the winter. Baptized a child and churched the mother before leaving Bay d'Este for Shelter Point, where I proposed holding prayers, that an aged woman of eighty-six, a native of Placentia Bay, who had never seen any clergyman, might have the privilege of joining in common prayer, which she seemed to value much. Full service to eighteen, and one baptism. Started in a sailing punt, at one, P.M., passed Cape Mille on the south, and Grand le Pier on the north, by a very remarkable cliff, on the surface of which is a spot which exhibits a beautiful grass-green appearance,--to the settlement at the very bottom of Fortune Bay, (which resembles Tickle Harbour, in Trinity Bay,) twelve miles. Here, a mile and a half up the ice, I found James Miles, from Shaftesbury, Dorset, the father of the settlement. He had been fifty-six years in Newfoundland, and had never before seen a clergyman. He reads on Sundays to the surrounding families, which are chiefly from his own stock, although to his grief, some, having intermarried with Roman Catholics, have declined attendance on the service of our liturgy. I had full service here at eight P.M., and baptized two of his children. Here, for the first time, I witnessed the inconvenience and the pain which those suffer who labour under what is called "lindness;" his sons, who had been deer hunting, having come home affected with this painful visitation, which I was doomed shortly afterwards to experience myself.
The thrifty people in this bay endure, perhaps, greater hardships and privations, than any in this trying island. They continue catching fish till Christmas, when the fish generally failing for a season, they avail themselves of this respite, to do their winter's work in making boats, &c. They begin fishing again, at the latest, by Lady-day. It is exceedingly deep water in which they fish, by which the labour is much increased. The fishing lines freeze as they draw them out of the water; after the first fish is caught, they throw them into the water coiled, that they may thaw in the sea. I have myself seen the fish as soon as they have been taken out of the water, turn up from the cold and die immediately, stiff frozen, and could not but pity the poor men who were subject to such exposure in rough weather.
Friday, 20.--Two feet of fresh snow and a severe gale. Walked one mile and a half to James Miles, jun. and held full service, baptizing three children and churching the mothers of the two youngest. Good old Miles, in the freedom which the most devout will feel, during the performance of a religious service in a humble tilt, when I came to the charge which closes the office of baptism, respecting the bringing of the children at a proper age, and on their obtaining a proper proficiency, to be confirmed by the bishop, devoutly exclaimed aloud, "Ah! there's no possibility for that in these parts; the more's the pity! but, please God, we'll do our best." I could not but remind him, that our merciful God makes requirement only according to what we have, and not according to what we have not.
Sunday, 22.--Up by five, and went at eight in a boat to English Harbour. There was a great deal of thin slob ice, and the "barber" vapor was very cutting: reached the settlement at half-past ten, held full service, and baptized seven children. Started at a quarter-past three in a leaky punt, and reaching Femme by five, P.M. baptized five children for one Kippen, and passing New Harbour, and Little Bay de l'Eau, reached Le Conte, nine miles, where, a mile up the woods, I got, by seven, P.M., to the winter house of a large family. There I held full service and baptized eight children Here were sixteen souls in a tilt of sixteen feet by twelve feet ten.
Monday, 23.--Another deep fall of snow in the, night, sleet driving to-day, and walking quite impracticable. I got, with difficulty, over a very steep and slippery hill from the tilt to the Harbour Le Conte, when I took boat to go along the shore. As the equinoctial gale was very violent, we could not carry our foresail, and were obliged to go under a goose wing. Got by eleven, to Pinkey's Storehouse, at the east head of Mal Bay, which I was very happy to reach, as we had to steer with an oar, instead of a rudder, the boat which had been recently launched, having not yet been supplied with one; and we shipped many sprays, which, as they froze immediately after falling upon our clothes. would have chilled the ardour of the most warm admirer of English aquatics. Held full service here to Mr. Newman, and his menservants.
Tuesday, 24.--Wind westerly and high; but, as the people here are experienced and used to keep out in boats, through the winter, and were not afraid to go in the teeth of it a league to Rencontre, I did not object, and reached the family of Mr. B. C., by half-past ten, A.M. Full service, two children baptized; sorry to observe some levity here, as I had in some other places, among the elder children. A company of six men had gone, last month, into the country from this neighbourhood, in search of deer, when falling in with a herd of about one hundred and fifty, they had followed them till they were caught in a snow-storm, and very narrowly escaped with their lives, all six being more or less frost-burnt.
Wednesday, 26.--Wind off the shore; up at five, A.M. and off at six. It froze hard enough to stop the leaks in a very leaky boat in which I was conveyed by Rencontre Island, past Belle Harbour and East Bay, above two leagues to Noster Cove, Long Island. Here I landed my men, to give notice to the people at Corbin of my intention to hold divine service in the P.M., at Balorin, and I held full service here to twenty adults, and baptized twenty-two children; left at one P.M. for Balorin, a neat settlement, where are one hundred and fifty souls. I found. the settlement in much confusion upon my arrival, from the furious conduct of two drunken men; but order was restored, and I held full service to more than one hundred, and baptized eight, not closing service until eight, P.M. The settlements in this neighbourhood are very populous. There are, in this bay, at least three thousand persons, who are warmly attached to the church of England.
Thursday, 26.--Found that the wife of John Cluatt, my host, was an old correspondent, who had assisted her grandfather Beck, and her father Tulk, late readers under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in keeping school at St. Lawrence, in Placentia Bay. She told me with tears, that next to the death of her father, she had felt it the greatest calamity in her life, that, on her removing at marriage to her present place of residence, she had not been permitted, so great was the scarcity of books in her native settlement, to take with her prayer-book and some other works of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge with which I had supplied her some years before. The Reverend Messrs. Harris and Evans former Missionaries at Placentia, had within the memory of the most aged inhabitants visited Balorin; and since my own residence in Newfoundland our Missionary the Reverend James Robertson had visited the place and given me a very accurate description of it and of its interesting inhabitants. I held a full service again to-day
Friday, 27-And baptized four more children. I was sorry to omit visiting the adjoining settlement of St. Jacques but I did not think it prudent to lose what seemed a fine opportunity of going in a Banks boat twenty-one miles to Harbour Briton. We started at 11 A.M. and did not reach Harbour Briton till 2 A.M. of the next day
Saturday, 28--When the Swift our boat which had not shown any great quantity of water upon our passage nearly sunk at the wharf and was found on her being hauled up to have been stove in launching. A large hole in her bottom into which the hand might be thrust and which let in water in such quantity that the pump could not now keep her clear had been covered with a coating of ice through the extreme severity of the weather. This coating had providentially not melted or worn away during our beat against a head-wind in Fortune Bay the whole of the preceding day or we must have sunk before we could have reached the shore. Here I was confined two or three days with a diarrhea which I find is a very common disorder at this season among those whose diet is confined to the venison which abounds hereabouts.
Sunday, 29.--Two full services in the sail-room of Messrs. Newman and Hunt which had been fitted up with house-flags for the occasion. The agents of this firm, here and at Gualtois seemed to vie with each other as to which should carry the kind wishes of their principals most into effect, by paying me the most kind attention; and showed every disposition, by sending notices to the surrounding settlements of my intention of service, to make my visit most useful;--baptized one child publicly, and three at home. Preparations were made, and as much as 70l., I believe, collected for the erection of a church here, when the Reverend James Robertson visited this place, and a good site was fixed for the building.
Monday, 30.--Sailed at ten A.M., in the Paul Pry, a sloop of forty-seven tons, in which Mr. Creed, agent to Messrs. Newman, had kindly forwarded me to Gualtois. I was sorry that I was prevented visiting Jersey Harbour, an establishment in the neighbourhood, belonging to the Messrs. Nicol, of Jersey: called at Brunette Island, twelve miles, at half-past two, P. M., and after holding full service to eighteen persons, and baptizing five children, weighed anchor at six, P.M. Here we saw the wreck of the Royal Nigger, a fine vessel of the Messrs. Newman's, which had run ashore at this place on her way to St. John's, about Christmas last, and which, I regret to say, the people, instead of protecting as they might have done for its owners, had been unprincipled enough to plunder and break up. We bear against a head-wind through the night, and got to Hermitage Cove, Hermitage Bay, a place which I had visited five years ago.
Tuesday, 31.--I held full service there, baptized nine children in public, and one in private, and visited a sick man. Left Hermitage Cove for Gualtois, Long Island, the whaling establishment of Messrs. Newman, which I reached in a storm of rain, by half-past three. My visits to the settlements in this neighbourhood were much aided by the kindness of Mr. William Gallop, who was formerly a pupil of the free naval school attached to Greenwich Hospital, and now fills very ably the responsible station of agent to this respectable establishment.
April, Wednesday, 1.--It did not clear up till ten, A.M. when I started in the Paul Pry sloop, accompanied by Mr. Gallop, and Mr. Thomas Gaden, the sub-collector of His Majesty's Customs, who had come on with me from Harbour Briton. I passed Furby's Cove, sending the inhabitants notice of my intention to hold service there in the evening, upon my return; and I proceeded eight miles to Olave's Cove, which I reached before the sloop, in Mr. Gallop's light eight-oared gig, and had assembled the three resident families for service by the time of her arrival;--baptized five children in full service. I was glad to find here a few copies of "Bishop Blomfield's Prayers," and some other books of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. A clergyman in the neighbourhood of Sturminster, had sent them out to one of the planters, who had very profitably dispersed them among the settlers around him. How much, under God, do this and similar societies effect towards keeping up a knowledge of Christian doctrine, and Christian requirements in these spiritually destitute settlements! I left this place at four, and got to Furby's Cove by five, P.M. I held full service to sixty persons; baptizing fifteen children. The people of this neighbourhood are very warmly attached to the church of their fathers, and, when asked respecting their creed, say, they belong to "the good old English religion;" and I believe that, in the main, removed as they are from all social means of edification, some of them really adorn their good profession, although, the too general prevalence of spirit-drinking even among the females, is much to be lamented. When it is considered in England, that the original settlers of some of these places possessed, on coming out to this country, only the common modicum of attainments which fell to the lot of the inhabitants of English villages, before the institution of Sunday schools, it may be conceived, what the third and fourth generation in many such places is likely to be.
Returned to Gualtois in the eight-oared gig, as we had dismissed the sloop on night's coming on.
Thursday, 2.--Officiated to a very attentive congregation of twenty, in a loft which Mr. William Gallop had fitted up so neatly, that I regretted being obliged to leave the place before Sunday. Off at ten A.M., through the Passage, between Long Island, and the Main. In this passage there are two waterfalls: one so fine, that we rested upon our oars, for some minutes, to look at its unceasing flow of water, in an unbroken perpendicular fall of at least sixty feet. At one part of the tickle, where the hills were wooded, close to the margin of the water, we came to ice, at the edge of which persons were engaged in boats, fastened to the ice by keel-logs, catching codfish. We hauled our gig over the ice, and again proceeded, and with difficulty got round Bremner's Head and to Cape St. Mark, on the opposite shore of Bay Despair. Besides a drizzling rain, the salt spray was thrown over us, and deposited so much salt upon our faces and clothes, that we were whitened like millers. We passed Samelin Passage, which was filled with ice, Isle Richards, Conne Head, and Diamond Point to Rottie Point, twenty-three miles. There we met with so much ice, that we drew the boat up and left her, and walked ourselves upon the ice, this, from the rain which had fallen, was not quite trustworthy. We got safely, however, past the opening of Little River and Conne River to Messrs. Newman's winter crew, ten men, and a skipper. who were in a tilt twenty by fifteen, near the head of the south-east arm of Bay Despair, thirty-two miles from Gualtois, which I had left in the morning. After great difficulties we reached their tilt, by ten, P.M. They had all retired for rest; a fire was soon made, however, of wich-hazel sticks, two yards in length, and thick as our bodies, and by the fire's red glare, the men in their red or blue woolen shirts, as they came forward to welcome us, and could be discovered through the smoke, presented a very grotesque appearance.
My intention being to visit the southern and western shore of Newfoundland, far as the Bay of Islands, or at least, St. George's Bay, I had thought that it would economize time, if I went through the interior from the Bay Despair, a journey of eight or nine days overland, and so return by the settlements along the coast. By this arrangement, I should, after visiting the extreme point of my intended cruize, have been proceeding nearer to St. John's, by each day's journey along the shore, and should not have had to touch twice at any one place. For this purpose I hired, on the Bay Despair, Maurice Louis, a Micmac Indian, one of Mr. Cormack's suite, when he had been similarly engaged; Jean Bapitiste, Mr. Cormack's principal guide was, at this time, at the back of the land, as they term that part of the island which is about the river Exploits, in the north. The Indians also call the river Exploits the Spread, from the size of the stream. He returned within a few days, having been confined a week in the country from snow blindness. The guide whom I had now added to my other man, as my escort through the country, had once walked in the depth of the winter, from the Exploits across the island, to Gualtois in four days. Many have compared my own visitation to the excursion of Mr. Cormack, an enterprising individual whom I remember having seen at St. John's, when I visited Newfoundland in 1827. It has not, I should imagine, been very dissimilar; and it would indeed, be a matter of regret, if the zeal of a Missionary could not induce him to make as much exertion, and to endure as much privation, as others would brave in the pursuit of philosophical research, or the gratification of mere curiosity.
Friday, 3.--Full service to the winter crew at half past seven, A.M., before they went into the woods for their winter work. Here, and at other winter houses, I saw a rude calendar; it was a piece of board, on which was carved an initial letter for each day of the week, thus, S. M. T. W. T. F, S. Under these letters the date of the month was chalked afresh at the beginning of each week. The monotony of a Newfoundland planter's life is remarkable. I met, on my journey with pious person., who had occasionally, from want of such a calendar I have described above, so miscalculated the lapse of time, that they had scrupuloualy abstained from work on Saturday or Monday, supposing it to be Sunday. At two I started with my Indian pilot; but we got no further than the bottom of this arm. Here were the wig-wams of two Indian families of the Banokok tribe, or Six Nations, from Canada, and my guide requested that he might be allowed to stay the night, that he might repair his mockasins and make other preparations for his journey. Here I met with an interesting Indian, from Conne River, five miles hence; his ascetic acts, and acts of real humanity, had acquired for him a character of holiness, and a great influence over his tribe. He was, at this time, under a self imposed vow, not to break silence during the Fridays of Lent: accordingly, though the arrival of strangers was, of course, most exciting, and might have been expected to throw him of his guard, he exhibited a degree of impassiveness and of nervous control (as he lay smoking his short blackened pipe, with his feet towards the central fire,) which were quite wonderful. I really imagined that the man was dumb. His imperturbability was the more surprising as he had it in his power, I found afterwards, by merely opening his mouth, to have exposed an act of rascality which had been practiced upon him by a person present, who, had he left, as he was expected to have done, before dawn the next day, might have escaped detection. The spruce boughs in these wigwame were spread, like feathers, around the fire, which was is the centre. Towards this our feet were directed; the softest and cleanest deer skin was most courteously offered to me, and I passed the night very comfortably. I learned from Maurice Louis, that Zeul prestoul, in their language signified "God save you!" and a la zeud mat, "let us praise God!" but that they had no word for prayer. This instance of the poverty of their language, if indeed, we understood each other rightly, is the most extraordinary, since they certainly are no strangers to prayer. My Irish pilot, whom I shall so call, to distinguish him from Maurice Louis, my Indian guide, informed me that, while he was four years with Brazil, an Indian chief, this Micmac never allowed his family to commence their day's hunting, or to lie down upon their green boughs at night, without prayer; and: I found, while I was myself among them, that the Indians were very regular in their evening and morning devotions and attention to their rosaries, and that, as they are Romanists, they were very particular in carrying their children over to the Romish priest at the French island of St. Peter's for baptism. The females particularly had a soft melodious hum in which they chanted with much seeming devotion, every night before they gave themselves to rest
Saturday, 4.--I started at half-past six into the interior. Two Indian squaws accompanied us, and two other Indians, as twenty deer, some of which they wanted to carry out, were buried in the snow, one day's journey directly upon our track. It is a singular fact, which the Indians related to me, that bears and wolves have so great a dislike to the branches of the juniper, that if a few of them are stuck in the snow where the venison is deposited, they effectually preserve it from the depredations of these animals.
The Indian squaws pleased me much by their natural courtesy. Though walking above a hundred miles in Indian rackets or snow-shoes has made me now somewhat expert in the use of them, it may be imagined that I was at first, indeed I must be still, very awkward in them, by the side of an Indian. Being thirty-three inches in length, and eighteen inches broad, and weighing each of them twenty ounces, even before they are saturated with wet, they occasioned me many falls and disasters. This was especially the case in descending very steep hills, or going upon the thin ice of Long Pond, which broke in under our weight. The water which had collected to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half on the top of ice of some of the large lakes, had its own coat of ice, and although the safety of the traveller is not endangered by the weakness of this upper ice, his expedition is very much impeded. Though noisy in their mirth at their own disasters, these Indians were courteous as French people could have been, in rendering me every assistance in my difficulties. We pitched for the night near the Bay of East-brook. A description of the process of making our temporary place of rest for this night may suffice for the description of our similar arrangements during the week. The snow being at lest ten feet deep, a crude shovel is first cut out of the side of some standing tree, which is split down with a wedge made for the purpose. Snow does not adhere to wood as it does to an iron shovel, consequently a wooden shovel is preferable for the purpose of shoveling out the snow. The snow is then turned out for the space of eight or ten feet square, according to the number of the company which requires accommodation. When the snow is cleared away, quite to the ground, the wood is laid on the ground for the fire. About a foot of loose snow is left in the cavern round the fire. On this the spruce or fir branches, which break off very easily when bent hastily back downwards, are laid all one way, featherwise, with the lower part of the bough upwards. Thus the bed is made. Some of these boughs are also stuck upright on the snow against the wall of snow by the side of the cavern, and a door or opening is left in the wall of snow for the bringing in during the night the birch-wood for burning, which is piled up in heaps close by for the night's supply, that any who may be awake during the night may bring it in as it is required. Here the traveller lies with no covering from the weather, or other shelter than the walls of snow on each side of his icy cavern and surrounding trees may supply. Of course as the laborious exercise during the day is sufficiently heating, and he is unwilling unnecessarily to increase his burden, he has no great coat or cloak for wrapping up at night. A yellow fungus which grows on the wich-hazel supplies tinder to the Indian, who is never without flint and steel, and he is remarkably expert in vibrating moss and dry leaves and birch bark rapidly through the air in his hands, which, soon after the application of a spark, ignite and make a cheerful blaze. One who posses a night in the woods in the winter must halt by four P.M., for by the time the hole in the snow is dug, and a sufficient number of trees are felled, and cut up to serve for the supply of fuel for the night, it will have become dark. One of these resting-places, in which the snow was deeper than usual, reminded me of a remarkable sight which I had witnessed at Bermuda. There a sand, which was driven by the wind from a neighbouring Banks or shoal, was making such rapid encroachments on the cedar groves, upon a certain part of the main, that several cedars were covered nearly to their tops by the sand which was gradually accumulating about them, clogging their branches, and threatening eventually to cover them. Here, as the fire melted our cave away, and enlarged our chamber of ice, branches of verdant spruce, fresh as when, first covered in October and November, came forth to view several feet below the surface of the snow, as the cedar branches were observed to do from the sand in Bermuda. There was no other point of similitude, however, between this scene and that which it recalled to my memory; and grateful as a view of the green landscapes of Bermuda might have been to the eye, a few hours of its Favonian breezes would have placed me in no very agreeable condition.
The correct and modest deportment of the squaws who were in our company here and in the wigwams, was highly creditable to them. I had met with dormitory arrangements in our own planter's houses, of so promiscuous a description, that my Irish guide, who had lived four years with Indians, expressed his surprise at a want of delicacy which he had never seen among the Micmacs; but I could not have imagined had I not myself witnessed it, that this people could have shown so much delicacy and propriety of conduct as I observed among them, wherever I met with them. I have the squaws chiefly in view in this remark; but I have never seen any of the men otherwise than well behaved, except when they have been under the influence of liquor. To the immoderate use of this they are too generally strongly addicted. There are gratifying exceptions, however. I had been supplied, by the kindness of Mr. Gallop, with some port wine, some of which I offered to my Indian guide, but I found that his notions of fasting were so correct, that they extended to all indulgences, and during Lent he declined tasting even wine: some of them during that season forego smoking. The Indians dress their venison on skewers of wood, which they stick in the ground around the fire. They plaited for me a basket-like mat, of small spruce boughs, to serve as a plate. In this they served me the deer's heart as the most delicate part of the animal. The intense cold made the trees crack, with a report, in the silence of the night, as though struck with an axe; my watch also, under the same influence, became of little use, a most serious inconvenience when traversing the country in a season when the days are so short, and a little miscalculation may occasion the traveller's being benighted before he is prepared.
Sunday, 6.--At half-past six, A.M., I took leave of the two Indians and the young squaws, who were now returning, and as I parted from them, I felt that I should miss those musical prattlers; for their soft language, though I could not understand a word of it, had fallen very gratefully upon the ear in the stillness of a night in the forest. I had been induced, too, on the preceding night to creep out a little distance from the fire, that I might enjoy the picturesque effect of our little group, as the stars were twinkling in the broad arch of heaven, and the smoke was curling through the evergreen branches which were enlivened by the ruddy glare of our brisk fire; and, as I heard the light laugh, and caught the good-humoured faces of my companions, I had felt that when they left us, I should retain all the privations and lose all which probably might have given some charm to such a tour. We saw tracks of deer every twenty yards as we passed through the country; so numerous were they at last, that we ceased to take any notice of them; herds of deer became themselves objects of very frequent occurrence. They offered a very interesting sight. The whole interior, with little exception of the tops of some of the hills, from which the snow had melted, was then white with snow. These bare spots upon the hills are called "naps;" though they are brown, and not green, they resemble island meadows in an ocean of snow. On these the deer were grazing leisurely like cattle. They were travelling in quest of food, from one of these naps to another. The partridge, or ptarmigan were also very numerous upon these hills, searching for a species of cranberry, which is called here, the partridgeberry. In places near water, which, after long frost, becomes exceedingly scarce in the interior, the tracks of the deer were as thick, as of cattle in the snow in a well stocked farm-yard. I was obliged, in going through the country, to fasten my terrier, which accompanied me, to my belt, as he would follow upon scent of the deer, and be lost to me for two and three hours at a time; and though I had no fear but that he would come up with us again, he would, if let loose, have effectually prevented our coming within shot of any deer or ptarmigan. For three days we were favoured with very brilliant weather, and made so much progress upon the hard snow, that I believe, we were one-third of our way across to Bay St. George, having got within sight of the Catt Aeau Hills. A field of white paper, varied only by an occasional blot of the pen, with the full glare of the bright sun upon it all day, and the red glare of the fire all night, to say nothing of the effect of the wind by day and of the wood smoke, or "cruel steam" by night, may give some idea of the constant trial to which our eyes were subjected.
Monday, 6.--By night we felt our eyes very weak.
Tuesday, 7.--The whole three of us were affected with a gritty, gravelly sensation in the eye, and were, at length, completely deprived of the power of sight. Our provisions too, over which the Indian who was cook, had, with the usual improvidence of his race, not been sufficiently economical, were just out in a country which abounds with game, and in which it is so difficult to travel even without any burden, none think of carrying provisions for more than a day or two into the interior with them; but neither the pilots nor I could now see sufficiently to use a gun, or bear indeed to look upwards. The Indian did try, but he came back without success, although he met with many fresh tracks of deer, and heard many partridges, and in the course of the night, deer had evidently passed within twenty yards of our retreat. It became so thick, moreover, that, had we been ever so little affected with snow-blindness, we could not have seen more than a few yards, and could not consequently have made any way in an unknown country. Our Indian guide, while he was in search of deer, nearly lost all track of us, when, our allowance of food being exceedingly scanty, our situation seemed likely to be very deplorable. All Tuesday we rested in our icy chamber. What an oratory was it for the prayers of two or three, who were surely agreed touching what they should ask of their Father in heaven. The ejaculations "Give us this day our daily bread," and "lighten our darkness," commanded a ready response. Such place might be a Bethel, and there may be seasons in the lives of those who travel, and scenes such as these, of which they may afterwards say, that the LORD was by them in the wilderness, and that it has been good for them to have been there. Some natural tears may have mingled with the water which the acrid vapour from the smoke of the damp wood (for it now rained) forced from my eyes, as I thought of the probable anxiety of my dear wife, and of the likelihood that all my dreams of future useful labours in the church might be thus fatally dissipated. It was at length hinted by the Indian, that my dog might make a meal; and it is as much that they may serve in such a season of extremity, as for any fondness which they have for the animal, or use they generally make of them, that Indians are usually attended by dogs of a mongrel breed. Had my Indian pilot known the coast, we might have got to some Indian wigwams in White Bear Bay, but he did not like to attempt reaching that bay. The straggling locations of these Indians along our coast, reminded me much of the separation between Abraham and Lot. The reasons, in the case of Indians, who separate son from father, and brother from brother, that they may have uninterrupted space for their hunting and furring excursions, are similar to those which led the patriarchs to live apart, that they might have ample space for their pastoral pursuits. A large lake, inside of the Bay East, which I passed, gave me the idea, with its precipitous wooded cliffs, of an inland sea: the size of some of the lakes or ponds of Newfoundland is immense; a lake within the Bay of Islands, in which are numerous seals the whole summer, has an island of forty miles extent in the midst of it.
Wednesday, 8.--This morning, on finding the weather still thick, I divided the bread-dust and crumbs, all which now remained of our provisions, not amounting altogether to more than two biscuits, into three parts, and gave a part to each of my guides, reserving a like share for myself; and, as I had not the patent apparatus with me for extracting bread from saw-dust, though I saw the danger which must attend our moving in such thick weather, and blind as we all were, I perceived that we must either make an effort to return, or must starve where we were. I proposed, therefore, to the Indian pilot, that we should try to return to the spot where we had left so much venison buried. At first he hesitated; but, at length he agreed that we should attempt it. A black gauze veil, which I had kept over my eyes when the sun was at its height, and the resolution to which I had adhered of not rubbing my eyes, had preserved me, perhaps, from suffering so much from sun-blindness as my companions. Maurice Louis, the Indian, would open his eyes now and then to look at my compass;--we could not see for fog more than 100 yards; he would fix on some object as far as the eye could reach, and then shut his eyes again, when I would lead him up to it. On reaching it he would open his eyes again, and we would, in the same manner, take a fresh departure. It was literally a case in which the blind was leader to the blind. The fog made our travelling dangerous; it did indeed occasion our going astray; but it was providentially favourable to us upon the whole; for, had the sky been clear, and the sun bright as when we set out, we must have been incapacitated by our sun-blindedness from moving for a week at least, and must have suffered much, if not fatally, from want of food. By forced marches,--the snow now being soft, and nearly the entire distance to be travelled in rackets, in consequence of which we could not make the same expedition which we did as we came along,--we were providentially enabled to reach by seven or eight, P.M., the same places at which we had halted at four each day on our outward march. Thus, a degree of labour, that of digging and clearing, to which we were now quite unequal, was spared us on our way back. The small quantity of biscuit to which we were now reduced, led me to advise my companions not to eat any quantity at a time, but to take a piece of the size of a nutmeg when hunger was most craving. We did, indeed, gather each day on our return, about as many partridge berries as would fill a wine glass apiece. These we found very refreshing and nutritive. Having been ripened in the fall of last year, and been sheltered under the snow all the winter, they were, now that the snow melted away from them, like preserved fruit in flavour, and resembled a rich clarety grape. At night, the want of water is a great privation in this winter travelling. At this season, if a lake or rivulet chance to be near your resting place, it is, in all probability, protected from invasion by so thick a coat of ice that it would require some hours labour with a hatchet to get at it. A draught of water, obtained at such a price of labour, to guides already over-wearied with carrying his burden and hewing his wood, a humane man would relish as little as Sir Philip Sydney would have relished a selfish draught at Tutphen, or David from the well of Bethlehem. (2 Sam. xxiii. 15-17.) I contented myself, therefore, with water supplied by snow, melted by the smoky fire. This water, together with the wind, had the effect of parching and cracking my swollen lips to such a degree, that, when on getting out of the country on the 10th, I again saw my face, after an interval of eight days, in a piece of broken glass, I had some difficulty in recognizing my own features. The most scorching heat in summer does not tan and swell the face more than does the travelling in the snow at this season. Under the combined influence of the wind and sun, the skin peeled off: from my nose and ears, and the exposed parts of the neck, as in summer.
Thursday, 9--still dismally thick weather;--but we proceeded on our way in the same manner as yesterday. The noise of the woodpeckers upon the bark of the trees truly portended rain, of which we were much afraid; we saw quantities of deer and ptarmigan, but, though the fog favoured our weak sight much, we could neither of us take a sight with the lifted gun. At one place, we came upon the recent tracks of wolves; they had consumed or dragged away all remains of a deer, except a little hair from the skin, and some blood, by which the snow was stained. By night, through God's most merciful protection, we reached the place where the Indians had left so much venison buried since Christmas. Much snow having fallen to-day, our feet were chafed with the rackets on which we had to walk the whole day, heavy as they were from being clogged with the newly fallen snow. My late trip into the interior has strengthened the conviction, which, from former journeys of the same kind, I had formed that the Beothic, or Red Indians, the aborigines of the island, must be extinct. I have met with several of the Micmac Indians, who are constantly traversing the interior; none of them have seen any of these aborigines of late years; and, from the nature of the interior, which does not abound with wood, it is impossible that, if they existed in the island, they could so long have escaped observation. In the interior of the island, the wood is so scarce, that I was more than once obliged, when the time of putting up for the night arrived, to look around for a sufficient quantity of wood to give a shelter for the night. Large expanses of country may be commanded at one view, and the fire of a company of Beothics would betray itself to the watchful Micmac by its smoke, at the distance of several miles. It may give some idea of the extent of view which is commanded in certain situations, if I mention, that from Webber's Hill, near Little River, no fewer than 180 lakes may be seen with the naked eye at one time.
Friday, 10.--Rackets again necessary to-day. On coming out to the south-east brook of Bay Despair, we found that the last few days of soft weather had broken up the ice on which we had walked at the end of last week, and made it treacherous. It was now difficult and dangerous to get to the place where the wigwams of the Banokok Indians had been left. I persevered, however, and, on reaching them, walked on to the winter crew's tilt, mentioned on the 3d. There throwing myself into a dark linny, or "lean-to," I sought some repose for my eyes, and availed myself of opodeldoc for my excoriated face,--a salutary, but very painful application, which happened to be the only one which was accessible. So heavy a rain now came on, that I was truly thankful I was not in one of those miserable unroofed snow-caves, which had, of late, been my only places of retreat during all weathers at night.
Saturday, 11.--Kept my bed all day. When we had gone into the interior, an old Indian had told us that the wild geese might be expected with the first southerly wind. A southerly wind had since come, and with it thousands of these birds. They had been attracted to this arm by the quantity of goose-grass, and made a noise which resembled the harsh sound of a saw under the file, reminding me of Homer's description of the sound of an army of cranes.
As when the inclement winters vex the plain,
With piercing frosts, or thick descending rain,
To warmer seas the Cranes embodied fly,
With noise and other through the midway sky. [Iliad, B iii]
I found that these birds of passage are led hither by an unfailing instinct at this season each year, till, the snow being melted from the marshes, they seek the interior, where they stay, till they emigrate again in the fall of the year, late or early, according as the season may be mild, or otherwise: last year they staid till December 6.
Sunday, 12.--Morning prayers to the winter crew before their breakfast this morning, and full service twice in the day. At the P.M. service, two men attended from Swanger's Cove, on the opposite side of the same arm, where the house of Nicol, of Jersey Harbour, has a similar winter's crew at work in the woods.
Jean Michael, the ascetic Indian mentioned above, this day assembled the Indians for their worship, of which singing formed a very considerable part. He and the rest were collecting wild geese for an Indian feast on Easter Sunday, to which they congregate from all parts, and it was with difficulty that I could purchase one, on the morning of
Monday, 13,--To take on with me to my hospitable friend, Mr. Gallop, of Gualtois. Started over the rotten ice, which let me through once, as I leaped from pen to pen. Went to Conne Head, across Conne River, where the water was nearly knee-deep, upon the ice to Jean Michael's wigwam, and waited there for low tide that we might walk on the beach. At Brand's Point, we crossed the nick through the woods, and over barrens to Little River, which we had to ford, high as our waists, and reached the winter house of a man who in the summer lived at Grand Jervis. There I slept.
Tuesday, 14.--Up at three, A.M. I had a very bad walk of ten miles down Little River, partly hopping from one pen of ice to another, and partly wading through the deep water round the points. To escape one or two of these points, I rafted myself upon pieces of floating ice down the stream. At length, on reaching a place where the river was clear from ice, we found a flat which belonged to the Indians. In this, I was conveyed through "The passage," (mentioned April 2,) to Gualtois. A vessel had recently arrived here from Torquay, in nineteen days, but, to my disappointment the captain, being no politician, had brought no papers, or accounts by which I might be informed of the movements in the political world at home.
Wednesday, 15.--Snowed all this and the next day, so I resolved to stay here to hold service on Good Friday and Easter Sunday; I could, at this central point, collect larger congregations than in any of the neighbouring settlements. Went to look at a neatly enclosed burial ground, for the consecration of which the people expressed a laudable anxiety. The Rev. James Robertson, having visited this place at a season of great mortality, had interred three persons in it at one time. I looked to day over the whaling establishment of Messrs. Hunt and Newman. The machine with which the fat of the whale is cut into small pieces for the boiler, reminded me of a similar machine which I have seen used by sausage-makers in England. The refuse pieces of the whale, which are left in the boiler, after the oil is extracted, furnish, I am informed, all the fuel which is required for heating the coppers. This recalls to my recollection the fact, that the early settlers on this island used to make fires with piles of the carcases of fat penguins, a bird which used then to be very common, but is now extinct, or has left the island. They were most cruelly treated while they abounded in the island, being often plucked for their feathers and then turned loose to perish, or burnt in piles as above described. The whalers were just commencing their work for the season.
Good Friday, 17.--A good congregation of one hundred and fifty persons.
Saturday, 18.--Snowed all day.
Sunday, 19.--Easter Sunday. Two fine congregations of one hundred and fifty. Seven children baptized.
Monday, 20.--Still snowing, and wind foul for me, but started in Mr. Gallop's gig, and passed Picar to Round Harbour, where I held a full service to eighteen, and baptized a child, and wrote three family letters for my host.
Sunday, 21. Returned by foul wind. On seeking to make acquaintance, as in such cases of detention I am accustomed to do, with the libraries of the people, was happy to find here many books of an higher intellectual stamp than I should have expected in such a place. Among others, I was gratified to see the excellent "New Manual of Devotions," which is published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. I found, too, more habits of reading in this house than in any other, perhaps, without exception, which I had visited. I held a second service here.
Wednesday, 22.--Off at 5, A.M., in a very heavy swell; the wind contrary and bitterly piercing. I reached W. Strickland's, however, at Long Island Harbour, by half-past seven, A.M. There was much "swish ice" in the harbour which we left, and we found much of the same here also. The people, being upon their fishing-ground outside, had seen us go into their harbour, So they returned, on so unusual an event as the entrance of a strange boat to their harbour, and assembled for full service. I had one baptism, and was much pleased with their simple manner of singing. Sir Thomas J. Cochrane, the late excellent governor of Newfoundland, having put into Deer Island, White Bear Bay, while this Strickland and his brother John lived there, found them engaged, as is their custom, in reading prayers to their own and the neighbours' families on the Lord's day; and his Excellency presented him with a one octavo prayer book, with the stamp of the Prayer Book and Homily Society. Strickland is very proud of this treasure. When he showed it to me, he begged with much humility, that I would point out to him those parts of the public service which a lay reader might use in a congregation. "We never saw a church," said he, "or were where a church was, or got any schooling, for reading is hard to be got in these parts; but we taught ourselves, and go through the prayers alternate," (he and his brother, he meant) "morning and evening, each Sunday." I promised to comply with a request which he, and scores similarly situated, made of me, that I would, soon after my return, send round some suitable sermons for his public reading, and I reminded him of the gracious promise of our LORD, that where two or three are gathered together in his name, there HE will be, in the midst of them. The younger branches of the families of these good men could all read. A reference to the report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, for the year 1830, will introduce the reader to a patriarch of the same name. I found him employed in the same useful way at the Burgeo Islands. His seed, it will be seen, from this present description of two of the younger branches of the same stock, are likely to be blessed. At Little Bay, close to this place, so plentiful is the fish all the year round, that the women and children cut holes in the salt-water ice, and catch great quantities of cod-fish all through the winter. Left Long Island after service. Three hours cold rowing against nearly a head wind, attended with snow squalls, brought me to Pushthrough, Grand Jervis, upon the main. There I assembled a large congregation in the house of Charles King and his wife, whom I had visited in 1830. Nothing could exceed the joy with which this good pair welcomed this my second appearance among them. The increase of the population in settlements of this description, is most rapid. I baptized twenty-two children here, all of whom had been born since my last visit, and there were some young children besides, who, from the absence of their parents or sponsors, or other reasons, were not now presented for this sacrament. How needful are scriptural schools in these rapidly increasing settlements! A "New Manual," which, with some other good books, was in possession of my venerable hostess, was much and deservedly prized by the old lady. There had not been a single instance of mortality in this settlement since my last visit. Engaged a young man of superior education, whom I found here lately, from Jersey, to read to the people on Sundays, and promised to supply him with proper books for the purpose.
Thursday, 23.--Although I could not retire to bed until one, A.M. I was up by half-past fire, A.M., and off by eight, for Bonne Bay, four miles, which I reached by ten. My host here had been thirty-three years in Newfoundland, and had never in that time seen any minister of religion. Full service in the evening, and eighteen baptisms. There was, I regret to state, a case in this settlement of habitual intemperance in a female.
Friday, 24.--Off at six, A.M. in a very "crank" punt, for Mosquito, about two miles, round the head. Most of the men were out on the fishing-ground: I suffered a little from disturbed bile, and from being exposed in open boats to cold winds and heavy swells. Full service, and ten children baptized. Having tried in vain to get to Muddy Hole in the teeth of the wind, we put back. I then held a second service, when two young married women and another adult, who expressed a wish to be baptized, and two more children, were christened. One of the married women was very much affected at her own baptism. I made acquaintance here with a volume, much soiled and mutilated, which contained many very excellent prayers and pious meditations: the title of the book was gone, but it seemed, from a subsequent page, to have been entitled, "The New Year's Gift," and exhibited evident signs of having been much used in the family of the parents of my respectable hostess.
Saturday, 25.--The wind still detained me. I assembled the people at Beaufit's house, for another full service.
Sunday, 26,--The wind having abated in the night, J. Beaufit and his neighbours were up at four, A.M., and rowed me through "the young ice," which, from the frost at night, was, in some places, very thick, to Fachieu Harbour, Fachieu Bay. Here lives a respectable widower, with a little family of children, whom he is endeavouring to bring up religiously. Another man, with his wife and family, are also living here in idleness, and disregard of all religious duties. He declared, at once, a disinclination on the part of himself and family to profit by my services; the widower, therefore, engaged to follow me to Muddy Hole, the next settlement in my line of visits, considerately suggesting that I might make more expedition, and fulfil my objects better by availing myself of the present mild day, than by staying to hold service in his single family. On this we proceeded to Muddy Hole, three miles. A few hundred yards from the mouth of the harbour, we met J. W. the principal planter. He was on his way to Fachieu Bay for "stuff," or wood, with three daughters and a son, in a punt. He was informed of the arrival of a clergyman of his own church; but I grieve to say, that though he was the father of ten unbaptized children, he declined giving up the secular work by which he was profaning the Lord's day, and did not even make the offer of his house for prayers during his absence.
On reaching Muddy Hole, which is a singular little gut behind a rock, and makes no show from the sea, we tried to get admittance for service in the house of another professed member of the church, J. F. He, however, though the sun was now high, was still in bed, and the other inmates of his house were only dressing themselves. This heathenish man, on being told the object of my visit, refused to get up; he "did not think prayers of any use!" Thus repulsed, I proceeded. On arriving at Richard's Harbour, about a league farther on, I found that one of those scourges of this coast, a floating grog-shop, under the name of a "trading-vessel," had been sojourning in Muddy Hole, last week, and had kept "all hands", during the time of its stay, in a state of intoxication: and it was likely, now that they had not a stick to burn, or a fish for the kettle; and, as this floating nuisance had only left the place the day before, it was not unlikely that the fumes of the intoxicating poisons thus supplied, had not yet evaporated. Having spent the whole preceding week in idleness, and dissipation, and excess, they grudged the Almighty this His own day of rest. The singular indifference of these sad people was now explained. If God should ever give them the privilege of another visit from a missionary, I pray they may be better disposed to hear meekly God's word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. This instance of heathenism stands almost alone in my experience. I cannot say, quite alone; for I record with pain, that in another part of Fortune Bay, on the other side of Harbour Briton, a youth, whose uncle was urging him to kneel, during the public prayers, almost disturbed the service by the loud strain in which he gave utterance to the rude and godless remark, that he was not disposed to wear out his knees by praying! Surely, the next generation is likely to suffer much deterioration in settlements such as these, unless the missionary shall shortly be supplied to them, who may go among them with affectionate anxiety, and warn them of the peril of their present carelessness.
How different were the manners of the people of Richard's Harbour, at which we now arrived, and where we obtained some refreshment, of which my kind crew, after their long row, were much in need. John Hardy, a former parishioner of Rev. Jolliffe, of Poole, had lived forty years in Newfoundland, during the greater part of which time, be had been regularly employed himself, on Sunday, in reading prayers and a sermon to the families around him. For this occupation he was preparing at the moment of my arrival. He gladly ceded his office to the commissioned minister, and we had two full services, and eight baptisms. Among many other good books in this house, were "Bishop Wilson's introduction to the Lord's Supper", and "Stanhope's Meditations for the Sick," with the stamp of the Christian Knowledge Society. Among the children baptized were three belonging to a widow who would soon become the mother of a fourth. I had observed that some reflections in my morning discourse on the occasional suddenness of death, seriously affected her and I found that her husband had only in February last died in a manner awfully afflicting. On his return from deer hunting, he had fallen down one of the cliffs which were then within sight of our window; these are stupendously high upon this part of the coast: he had fallen 900 feet at least without any break to his fall and had breathed his last within a few hours. One family only at Richards Harbour was missing from the services; and I found on inquiry that J. A. the careless man of Fachieu above mentioned had come up in a punt with his wife to spend the day in visiting (a Sunday practice too common in Newfoundland!) and although they arrived before the commencement of the morning prayers and did not depart until after the evening service was over they did not seek to hear the message of the minister of God. And the false delicacy of the family which they were visiting,--I wish that such false delicacy were never found in less simple classes, in better informed persons!-the family, thus visited, suffered a false feeling of delicacy to deter them from the performance of their own known duty, and to deprive them too, of a most rare privilege which may never again be afforded them. Should these remarks ever meet the eye of any of the unhappy parties to whom allusion is made, I would beg them to believe, that this partial publication of the events of that day, which made me sorry, is not made in a temper of anger, or a spirit of rebuking, or in any unseemly uncharitableness, which rejoices in the recollection of ill; it is made in a spirit of meekness, and charity, and love; my prayer and heart's desire for those who have thus caused me grief is, that if I go again among them, I may not have heaviness and sorrow for them of whom I should wish to rejoice.
In the evening, John Hardy made me up a crew. They took me first under a most steep coast, in which are two not inconsiderable overfalls of water. We passed Hare Bay, and reached the Eastern Cul de Sac. This place reminded me somewhat of Petty Harbour, near St. John's, the present interesting station of the Rev. Thomas Martin Wood, whom I hope, with the concurrence of the Bishop and of the Society, to locate in Fortune Bay, where a Missionary is so much required. The father of the settlement here, was a French Protestant. In his house I assembled the neighbours for full service, and baptized twenty-three in all, some mothers,--interesting sight!-offering themselves, at the same time with their infants in their arms, for this sacrament. The places hereabouts retain their old French names; but the people corrupt them sadly. My chart only gives the English names: but, had it given the French, I might have been as much at fault to recognize Bay de Lievre, in Bay Deliver; Bay le Diable, or Devil's Bay, in Jabbouls; Bay de Vieux, or Old Man's Bay in Bay the View; Bay d'Aviron or Oar Bay, in Aberoon, &c.
Monday, 27.--Up at four A.,M. Snowing and bitterly cold. Went in a punt five miles by the straight high steeps of Devil's Bay and Little Bay and the perpendicular cliffs of Iron's Cove, and St. Alban's to, Rencontre. There the father of the settlement was a respectable Jersey-man; I wrote a letter for him to a married daughter whom I was likely to meet with in my visitation further along the shore. I held full service in his house and had twenty-nine baptisms. His wife delighted me by the piety of her discourse and her example seemed to have been blessed to her numerous children.
Tuesday, 28.--Walked at six A.M., accompanied by my hostess and another person from Rencontre, upon the hard snow by some very mountainous hills, to Bay Chaleur, four miles. The French islands of St. Peter's, and Miquelon could be seen from the hills. At Bay Chaleur was the residence of Reuben and Sarah Samms, a poor but worthy couple. The barque "William Ashton", of Newcastle, had struck on the rocks at Lance Cove, on her way from Dublin to Quebec, with sixty-three souls on board, at two, A.M., of August 9, 1830. Reuben and Sarah entertained fifteen of the crew and passengers in their present little dwelling, and each day supplied the remaining forty-eight persons with provisions in the tilt, which they built for shelter at Lance Cove, the scene of the wreck, three miles from Bay Chaleur. A captain John Stoyte, of the 24th Regiment, with his wife and her child and nurse were among those who were inmates of Reuben's house; and, from letters since received, they retain, it is clear, a most lively sense of gratitude to their humble honest entertainers. They supplied the unfortunate lady with such necessaries of clothing as they could afford, she having landed from the wreck barefoot upon the pointed rocks. This wreck, like too many of those which are common, on this shore, is said to have been occasioned by intemperance. Among the articles saved from the wreck, were some excellent tracts and religious works, which belonged to Captain Stoyte. These, he kindly presented to the people when he left their hospitable home for the Messrs. Newman's hospitable establishment at Harbour Briton, whence he soon proceeded to join his regiment in Quebec. Some of these books, which were printed in Dublin, particularly some remarks suitable to excite serious reflections before joining in the service of the church, were new to me, and seemed likely to do good, if they could be more extensively known and copies of then, multiplied, that I begged I might be allowed to take them away with me, with an intention, which I have since fulfilled, of presenting, them to the notice of the Protestant Episcopal Press, in the United States of America; to be reprinted by them, if the trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, or the conductors of any of their church periodicals, think them likely to be of service to the members of their communion. I found the contents of this box of books scattered about, but most carefully preserved, in the planters' houses in many of the surrounding settlements; they are most highly prized by them, and they are likely, under God's blessing, to do so much service to a people, who are in a sad state of spiritual destitution, that, hereafter, I doubt not, if not now, the benevolent donors will be abundantly reconciled to the inconvenience and the losses attending their disaster, when they shall behold the rich fruits which shall have arisen from the, good seed, which the accident then opened to them the opportunity of sowing. Some, indeed, of the poor people into whose hands the books have fallen, are unable themselves to read, but then they bring out the precious bundle of highly valued tracts from the sanctuary of their house chest, and, unrolling the piece of cotton or cloth in which they are carefully wrapped, they beg any temporary sojourner, or travelling bird of passage, who is a scholar, to read them to their assembled household. They availed themselves thus of my services between the hours of our public devotions; and, as I have frequently been on other occasions, I was pleased to see that they had much feeling. At Chaleur Bay, I had an audience, who gathered their chairs nearer to me, and nearer, as their interest in a beautiful religious narrative, which I was reading, heightened, until one and another lifted the hand, and the corner of the rough apron in silence, to wipe the tear from their sunburnt cheeks; and one woman, at the close of the tale, took up the chord for the rest, and remarked with a striking simplicity;--"It is very feeling, Sir!" The conduct of Reuben Samms, contrasts well with the less creditable conduct of many upon this shore, as regards wrecks. Before the wreck of the "William Ashton", he had been instrumental with his brother, in saving persons at different times from five other wrecks. On one occasion, he had observed signs of a wreck and discovered footmarks upon the rugged shore, and tracked them several miles into the interior, where he found seven men from the "Mary", which belonged to Mr. Broom, the present senior magistrate of St. John's. The poor fellows had been three days and nights without food, and, but for his exertions in pursuing their tracks, must have perished. The simple description which he gave me of the joy which was depicted upon the haggard countenances of these starving and lost seamen, when they first caught sight of him in the interior, was most affecting, and reminded me of the experience of the lost sinner, when he first makes discovery of a Saviour! When I had performed full service at Bay Chaleur, and baptized his four children, his wife humbly offered herself also for baptism, as did also his mother-in-law, who was sixty-two years of age, but had never before had an opportunity, though well read and instructed, and of pious conversation--of thus solemnly dedicating herself in this scriptural method to the service of CHRIST. The greater part of these two families returned with me to Rencontre. We somewhat shortened the distance which we had to walk, by going in a boat to Snook's Cove. But in stepping out of the boat, I did not make sufficient allowance for the run, or rise of the water, in which there was a very heavy swell, and slipped in up to my waist. On my return had a full service again, and two more baptisms.
Wednesday, 29.--Much wind, and very cold. Yet the elder Mrs. Samms, and Mrs. G. Ball, and several of the family volunteered at the risk, nay, the certainty of getting very wet with the seas and sprays, to accompany me with a boat's crew to New Harbour, which I reached by nine, A.M. Here I held full service twice, and baptized thirteen. Along these was a serious woman of fifty-two, the relict of two husbands. She came forward, in the face of the congregation, and requested that she might be permitted to avail herself of this, the first opportunity which had occurred, for her baptism, although she had often anxiously hoped for such. Here I met with a young man, a native of the village of Aylesford, in Nova Scotia, in which the bishop of the diocese has his country seat. He was engaged in a mercantile tour along this shore, and, as he was proceeding, hence in the same direction in which I was going, he kindly offered me accommodation in his hired boat, of which I very gladly availed myself. I may mention here a pious fraud which I detected in this neighbourhood. There is, among the poor, in many parts of this island, a superstitious respect paid to a piece of printed paper, which is called the "Letter of Jesus Christ." This, in addition to Lentulus's well-known epistle to the Senate of Rome, contains many absurd superstitions, such as the promise of safe delivery in child-bed, and freedom from bodily hurt to those who may possess a copy of it. A humble person on this shore, who had long, possessed one of these papers, wished to supply some of her relatives and neighbours with copies, and sent home a commission for several. Instead of the lying imposition which she had sent for, several hand-bill placards, or sheets came out to her, in which admirable texts were appended to the above-named letter of Lentulus, and a promise of eternal life was held out to those who, possessing,--not that paper! but a copy of the sacred scriptures, should read and: believe them, and live according to them. The woman had felt disappointed, and detailed her disappointment to me. On examining the case, of course I could not sympathize with her, and endeavoured, I trust successfully, to explain the unscriptural character of the first papers, and to recommend that, in all future importations, she should take care to order those which came from the same press; Davis, of Paternoster Row.
"You think, then, they will have as much goodness in them as the old ones, sir?"
"As much, certainly; and I should imagine more, my good woman, if you would only be guided by the good advice which is given in that paper."
Went twelve miles to Cape La Hune Harbour; where was a perpendicular cliff, with deep water so close along-side of it, that it resembled a stone dock, or wharf. Found some of the people here very uncouth and rude in their manners, and some of the females particularly course in their language. Held full service, and baptized twelve. I was glad to find that the children were accustomed to put up a short thanks-giving before and after meat, and to observe morning and evening prayers, although, from the manner in which some of the poor creatures went through the several services, and the blunders which they made, it seemed they had little of understanding in their devotion. I remember that, in a family which I visited, the eldest daughter was the domestic chaplain; I was not willing to interfere with her functions, when she was called forth by her mother with a sort of pride to officiate, before the family meal. But the poor girl made and repeated the mistake, when alluding to God's bounty by saying "bounteous liberty" instead of "bounteous liberality" which, the sense obviously required and which the original grace which had been handed down by tradition, in the family must evidently have contained. On this I was emboldened to lead the family in the use of a form which was better calculated to express their simple gratitude. I know that a certain pride in the religious attainments of their children is a weakness frequently to be deplored in religious parents. They pride themselves on the manner in which their dear little ones lisp their prayers and infant praises, and they encourage vanity in the dear little innocents who should bring to such exercises no desire to display no feeling but of humble child-like dependence on the God whom they are addressing or describing. I shall not, I hope be suspected, in what I feel it my duty to say, of smiling at the peculiarities of the poor or of levity in the remark as it applies to any parents; for I have often lamented, as I have seen much of the same objectionable vanity in the drawing-rooms and nurseries of those of the higher classes, who are endeavouring to bring up their children religiously; nay, I may confess that I have, in former years, felt a degree of the same vanity myself:--what parent has not?--but I think I have learned a lesson, from the exhibition of this general disposition of the human mind in many a fisherman's cabin, which will go far towards putting me upon the guard against this error in myself, and I shall truly rejoice if my remarks may be the means of calling the attention of other parents to the same. It will be seen that it was strictly within my province to make certain inquiries respecting the domestic habits of the families which I visited. The attention paid to the daily reading of the scriptures, was a subject of inquiry,--the observance of morning and of evening prayer,--the employment of the Lord's day,--it will be seen, were questions calculated to draw forth the love of the display of the religious acquirements of their children, in persons of vain minds. Accordingly, the observation was made, behind my back, to one and another who might accompany me, for some distance, on my trip,--"Surely, the archdeacon must think us heathens, to ask such questions as these; we must show him that we learn our children their prayers;--mind, my dears, that you do not be content with the parson's prayers to-night, but let him hear you all saying your prayers, after you get to bed." Accordingly, it has more than once occurred, that, through the thin partition which separated my sleeping cabin from that of a nest of children, I have heard, for an hour or two after I have retired to bed, the little voices of the younger branches of the family, strained to an unnatural pitch, repeating the ten commandments, the duty to God and our neighbour, the belief, and other portions of the catechism, and perhaps a hymn or two of Dr. Watts, (all, in fact, which could be brought from their scantily stored memory,) all as prayers. This the performance of what should be a solemn, serious, and secret transaction between the humbled worshipper and his God, has given occasion to the fostering of an unheavenly temper, and even in these quiet retreat the seeds have been known of that religious display, that "talking religion," as I have heard it designated by a pious quaker lady, which; I doing so much harm, and bringing so much discredit upon the cause of real piety and godliness, in the larger family of man, of which each humble fishing station, each village and rural cottage, is an epitome or miniature. But to return to my journal.
May, Friday 1.--After a night of snow, the weather was yet unsettled. I was put across La Hune Bay in a boat, and walked about two miles, across some mountainous ridges, in the "gulshes," between which the hardened snow was still thirty or forty feet high, to Western Cul de Sac. Here I held full service, and, having baptized two children, and one of the mothers, I walked back, to hold full service again in the evening, at La Hune Harbour.
Saturday, 2.--Off before seven, A. M., and, to my great regret, passed the Burgeo Islands, with the respectable inhabitants of which place I had kept up a correspondence, and supplied them with books, since my visit to them in 1830. We anchored at eight, P.M. at Duck Island, Cutteau Bay, fourteen leagues. There, by the blaze of a cheerful fire, made from the wreck wood, so common on this coast, I held full service in a neat planter's cabin, and baptized six children.
Sunday, 3. Off at half-past five, A.M. struck, for an instant, upon a rock in working out with our deck-boat. Got, by one P.M. to Burnt Islands. We passed La Poile. This part of the shore is so fatal to European vessels which are outward bound to Quebec in the spring, that it is much, to be regretted, that the legislatures, or Chambers of Commerce of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canadas, do not unite with the government and merchants of Newfoundland, for the erection of light-houses here and at Port-aux-Basque, and at Cape Ray. Many vessels and many lives might, each year, be saved from destruction by such a measure. Mr. Anthonie, indeed, a humane Jersey merchant, resident at La Poile, has erected, upon a rock off La Poile Bay, a small observatory. This is of some service to a few who know its situation; but the shore in this neighbourhood is so very low, and the ledges of rock extend so far out to sea, that a vessel may be in danger before the little beacon is discovered. At the cabin in which I staid at Burnt Islands, the play-things of the children were bunches of small patent desk and cabinet keys, which had been picked up from wrecks. Beautifu1 old China plates and pieces of a more modern elegant breakfast set of dragon china, which had been washed ashore in the same way, were ranged upon the shelves alongside of the most common ware; and a fine huckabac towel, neatly marked with the initial letters, L. C. D., was handed me on my expressing a desire to wash, my hands. This had been supllied from the wreck of a vessel in which were several ladies. To some hearts those letters, doubtless, Would renew a sad period of anxiety, which preceded the intelligence of the melancholy certainty of a sad bereavement. I could not look at this relic of a toilet, now no more required, without emotions of' deep interest, although I had no clue by which I could attach recollections of brilliant prospects early blighted, or pious faith exemplified in death to these three letters. Indeed, the scenes and circumstances, the very people by whom I was surrounded, roused within me a train of deeply melancholy sensations. My host may have been a humane man; his conduct to me was that of genuine hospitality; but it had been his frequent employment at intervals, from his youth till now, to bury wrecked corpses, in all stages of decomposition. There had been washed on shore here, as many a three hundred, and an hundred and fifty on two occasions, and numerous in others. This sad employment appeared to have somewhat blunted his feelings. I would not do him injustice--the bare recital of such revolting narratives, "quorum pars magna fuit", unvarnished as such tales would naturally be, in the simpler expression of a fisherman, might give an appearance of want of a feeling, Which nature may have not denied to him, and of which the scenes and occupation of his life may not have wholly divested him. I remember well my expressing my reluctance to allow him to disinter a delicate female foot, the last human relic, which the waves, or the wild cats, or the fox, or his own domestic dog, had deposited in the neighbourbood of his cabin. He had recently picked it up close to his door, and had buried it in his garden, and was very anxious to be allowed to shovel away the lingering snow, that he might indulge me with a sight of it. I suppose my countenance may have betrayed some feeling of abhorrence, when he said, "Dear me, Sir, do let me; it would not give me any concern at all: I have had so much to do with dead bodies, that I think no more of handling them, than I do of handling, so many codfish!" I have said, that I believe him humane; yet wrecks must form his chief inducement to settle in a place so barren and bleak, and to live through the winter out upon the shore as he does, contrary to the usual habit of the people, which is to retire into the woods until late in the spring But humanity might prompt a men to live where his services may occasionally be exerted usefully for the preservation of human life. Yet, did I wrong him in the judgment of charity, when I saw his quick eye kindle with the gale, as he watched the stormy horizon? Was I wrong when, as he went in the early dawn and dusk each evening, while I was there, to a hill a little higher than the rest, with his spyglass, I thought his feelings and my own,--on discerning that a vessel had, during the night, struck some of the numerous rocks which abound hereabouts, or was on her way to do so,--might be of a very different character? This man is only a sample of many whom I saw on this part of the coast.
Monday, 4. A very severe gale, and I could not stir from my quarters. I have already remarked upon the superstition of the people upon this part of the coast. A man had died in this neighbourhood lately, (I believe by a watery grave.) I found that a otory of the appearance of his spirit, which was circulated by an illiterate drunken scoundrel, with the obviously interested motive, clumsily concealed, of influencing the distribution of the poor fellow's little effects, was very generally believed. More incredulity was expressed at my assurance that the distribution of a south-wester, a fox-trap, or a pair of mockasins, was not a "dignus Deo vindice nodus," a matter for Divine interference, than had been excited by the whole story itself. On seeing a young woman hereabouts deliberately making a cross upon her shoe with spittle, I inquired what this meant, when I found that this was to drive away the cramp, or a sleepiness which she had felt in that part of her foot. A young woman who had, a few years before, practiced with her father upon the ignorance and credulity of her neighbours and strangers at Gualtois, by affecting to receive divine communications, and to prophecy, was now living in lewd adultery in this neighbonrhood with the husband of another woman.
Tuesday, 5.--Went up three miles to Seal's Cove, Dead Islands. There I held full service, and baptized two children; the elder children of the same family I had baptized when here in 1830. Then, it will be remembered, that I had (as related in Report of Society for Propagating the Gospel for 1836), the pleasure of presenting to the daughter of George Harvie, my present host, a gold medal, which his Majesty's Government had given him for his own and his daughter's humane exertions in saving 180 passengers from the brig "Dispatch", which was wrecked on this shore, on her passage from Londonderry to Quebec, in 1828. He had, also, received for the same benevolent exertions, 100l. from the subscribers at Lloyd's. The best effects may be anticipated from these generous rewards being given to persons who properly exert themselves in saving life or property upon this dangerous shore. I could much wish that some such acknowledgment could be given to Reuben Samms, whom I have mentioned (April 28), and to a worthy man, Miessau, whom I shall mention at May 7, whose laudable exertions in the cause of humanity richly entitle them to some reward, while their circumstances are such as would render any gratuity acceptable.
Such acknowledgments attach the dwellers upon this desolate coast to their mother-country; they are of service, as they rouse in them a degree of pride that they belong to a country which is liberal in its rewards, and parental in its oversight over its most distant colonists; and they stimulate to the exercise of humane exertion, when a selfish apathy might secure a prize in the cargo of some vessel exposed to danger. In my way, this morning, I saw the topmast of a large vessel of 300 tons, which had been wrecked here last fall; and, on going in the afternoon to another of the Dead Islands, a mile and a half, I saw a new vessel of seventy or eighty tons, which some Basque people, from the French island of St. Peter's, had, contrary to treaty, built last winter on Codroy River. She had gone on shore here the very night after she was launched, and was, with difficulty, made tight to proceed to St. Peter's. Held full service, and baptized six children, and proceeded to Port au Basque, or the Channel, in the same evening. Had I been here on the Sunday previous, I might have had a congregation of 200,--there were so many boats and vessels belonging to Fortune Bay, which were bound to the western fishery at anchor here. I assembled fifty persons, and baptized ten children. Death had been at work here as well as at Isle a Mort, since my last visit. Michael Guillam and Thomas Harvie having both lost their wives.
Wednesday, 6.--Went three miles to Gale's Harbour, where were two families, and two children to baptize. The parents having friends at Cape Ray, or Cape South, as the people term it, fell in with my suggestion, that they should take the children on with me, nine miles, to that settlement for sponsors. When there, I held full service, and baptized fifteen children.
Thursday, 7.--The gale so strong that I could not proceed; held full service and baptized four more children. I staid here at the house of a French Canadian, who's simple recital of the efficacy of his prayers, is a certain season of imminent peril at sea, and intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures, which he knew just sufficient of English to read in our tongue, pleased me very much. Within a few days of my leaving his house, the courage and humanity of this man of faith were called into exercise by the appearance in his neighbourhood, of a boat with a portion of the exhausted crews from a wrecked vessel in her. The breakers made it impossible that the people in the boat should effect a landing; he leaped into the sea at the peril of his life, to give them a rope: a favourite dog, which I had admired while there, was with him; and on the boat's swamping, when Miessau swam with one man in his protection, his faithful dog seized another to draw him to the shore. The south-wester cap, however, which the drowning seaman wore, on which the dog had seized his hold, came off in the water, and the dog not observing the diminution in the weight of his burden was proceeding to the shore with the cap alone, when the sailor seized the tail of the dog, and so was towed to shore. The master of the wrecked vessel, who was one of the boat's crew, was taken in a state of insensibility into Miessau's house, and some hours elapsed before he became conscious of any thing which was passing around him. This late instance, which I have quoted above, of the sagacity of the dog of Newfoundland, may be classed with many of the same kind, which I have heard well authenticated, and indeed have witnessed many since my residence in the island. An old dog is now living at Jersey Harbour, near Harbour Briton, in Fortune Bay, which has exhibited, in many instances, a degree of sagacity which will hardly be credited. He has been known to assist in carrying on shore some light spars, which the captain of a vessel in the harbour desired him to carry to the land-wash, that a boat's crew might be spared the trouble of carrying them. Another dog belonging to the same wharf has, as a volunteer, or upon invitation, assisted him in this work for a time; but has left his work in the middle of his second turn, swimming to shore without his spar; when the first dog has quietly swam to shore with his own turn, and then sought the runaway dog, and given him a sound threshing, and used to him other arguments of a character so significant and convincing, that the runaway has returned to his work, and quietly persevered in it, till the spars which had been thrown over-board, were rafted to the shore by the sagacious animals.
Friday, 8.--Full service again, heard of some mothers of families in this neighbourhood, who were deplorably ignorant, not being acquainted with the Lord's Prayer. The interests of their children led them now, though late, to seek instruction in matters about which they had hitherto cared too little themselves.
Saturday, 9.--Wind still so high, that boating was impracticable; started to walk nine miles to Little Codroy River. A difficult walk; the shore, all along, was strewed with wreck-wood, and balk or timber from cast-away vessels, or from vessels which, in time of danger, had been eased of their deck loads. Held full service, baptized fourteen children, and churched a woman.
From Cape Ray the French have a concurrent right given them to fish along our shores, far as Cape John, upon the northern shore of the island. I say a concurrent right, for although I found that the French claim an exclusive right, and occasionally interfere with our fishermen, I can never imagine that the English government can have been impolitic enough to have intended to convey more to the French than a concurrent right of fishery; and indeed, as I read the treatise, no more was ever conveyed to them. None would dispute the right of the English nation to grant to any other nation the same right of fishery along these shores tomorrow, which we have granted to the French; and it is extremely absurd to imagine, that while we may grant to this or that nation a privilege of fishing along our shore, the English fisherman--the English planter should be excluded! The English government, even allowing the supposition of its having merely granted a concurrent right to the French, has gone to an impolitic length It has thus given to a rival nation, as it has in the case of the Americans, also, the means which the want of colonies has denied to the one, and a want of sufficient extent of coast, has denied the other, of rearing an effective mercantile marine. The importance of such a marine to any nation may be estimated, when it is considered what it has helped to make of the little island of Great Britain,--and when it is remembered that it was the means of the late resuscitation of Greece and of her emancipation from the Turkish yoke. With the policy of this measure, in a political point of view, the Missionary has no concern; but it is impossible for him to travel in Placentia and Fortune Bays, or on the Western coast, without his observing much sad inconvenience, which may be traced to this impolitic indulgence on the part of the parent government. Perpetual collision between the people of the rival nations, who are thus brought into competition upon the same field of labour, is promoted, and this is detrimental to that peace which he would wish to see existing between persons of various nations, who are engaged in common commercial enterprises. But this is not all. The illicit dealings which, on such a coast as this, it is impossible to prevent between our people and these foreigners whom we have encouraged around us, particularly with the French, resident in the islands of Miquelon and St. Peter's--confound the moral sense of the people. The temptation of the bounty which is given by the French government, for fish taken hence by the French to the West India market, induces many of the French to cheat their own government, and to tempt our poor fishermen by secretly giving the English, among whom they are promiscuously fishing in open boats at sea, a good price for their fish,--while the merchant who has supplied the English fisherman with his provisions for the winter, and his necessary outfit for the fishery, is defrauded. All dealing with the French is an injury to the colonial revenue. It may be expensive, but it is a most necessary act of policy, under existing circumstances, to station subcollectors of his Majesty's customs, who might prevent illicit dealing, at least as far as Port aux Basque, if not as far as the important settlement of St. George's Bay. It must give a Missionary pain to observe in every house which he enters for leagues along the coast, evidences in the provisions which are set before him, in the dress of the inhabitants, and in the decoration of the houses, that illicit dealing is carried on to an extent which must injure materially, if it do not ruin and drive from the shore every English mercantile speculator, while it accustoms the people to an illegal traffic, and is so far detrimental to their moral principle. The bad example too, of the profanation of the Lord's day by the French, in, and off our harbours, exercises a sad influence upon the morals of our people; it may be imagined, that it is a trying sight for a poor fisherman who has been toiling a whole week, and has caught nothing, to see the bait on which his whole catch of fish--his harvest--depends, caught in seine nets, and the batteaux put over the sides of the French schooner, and the fish caught and split before his face upon the Sunday!
Sunday, 10.--Snow. Went up six miles to Great Codroy River; full service, and baptized eight children. A cold row to Codroy Island. Here I regretted to find one of the principal inhabitants too much intoxicated to derive any advantage from my visit, although he intruded himself into the house in which we held prayers, and exposed himself sadly, at the close of my sermon, by proposing to me a very senseless and indelicate question in the face of the whole congregation. He was in the same senseless state of intoxication the next day, although we then succeeded in keeping him in ignorance of our service, and so proceeded without any interruption.
On my reaching the place, the beach exhibited the appearance of a common working-day. There were several fires on the shore, by which the French were brimming or caulking their boats, and their crew were fishing in the offing, as upon a week-day.
Monday, 11.--Full service again, and baptized fourteen. From Cape Ray to this place, the soil is so much improved, that it is quite capable of being brought into cultivation; cattle are very numerous here already. Between Cape Ray, indeed, and the Bay of Islands, there is decidedly more land capable of being brought, with very little trouble, into cultivation, than in all the parts of Newfoundland with which several pretty extensive tours had made me previously acquainted. There is another advantage too, peculiar to this part of the coast; there is so little fog and dampness of atmosphere, that fish may be laid out to dry here with much less risk than elsewhere, of its becoming tainted.
I was fortunate enough to meet here with Leandre Philippo, an inhabitant of St. Peter's who, with the usual courtesy of the French, politely favoured me with a passage in his fishing schooner, far as Port-au-Port, beyond St. George's Bay, whither he was going for bait On looking at the chart, it will be seen, that the walk from the Middle Point, which separates West Bay and East Bay in this Port-au-Port, to the Isthmus, or "Gravel," as it is termed, which is at the bottom of St. George's Bay, is no great distance. It is a most laborious walk, however, and in some parts actually perilous. I was put down at Middle Point, at nine, A.M., of
Wednesday, 13--And proceeded down the eastern shore. In several places I was up to my arms in the salt water in getting round points of rock, which it was impossible to climb. In some places I had to leap from rock to rock, over such chasms as alarmed my dog, from my frequent falls,--now upon the icy crag, and, at another time upon the slimy beach rock, on which my seal-skin boots, saturated with wet, gave me a most insecure tread. I was for several days afterwards unable to rest my elbow upon a table, and was, in other respects, very stiff, and, what was a greater inconvenience than all, as it only admits of reparation in England, I ruined my watch from getting it wet in the salt water, which immediately rusted it. I had kept it, too, in a side pocket of my coat above my waist. The snow was so deep in the wood, and the tangled brush of the forest so harassing, where I did succeed in climbing the cliffs, to avoid the deep water round any of the projecting points of rock, that I was frequently near fainting from fatigue. At length, however, I thank God, I reached a house at the isthmus. I was quite as glad to see it, I am convinced, as the crew of a vessel wrecked last year, near Red Island, to the westward, of the mouth of St. George's Bay, could have been when they reached it. It was a walk indeed, in which it would have been a tempting of God to have engaged knowingly. The humane attentions of a worthy Englishman, Charles Vincent, and his excellent wife, a native, soon restored me. I bad a fine view of a patch fox in my walk, saw several seals, and some of those very beautiful birds, called by the people of Newfoundland "lords and ladies." Since my last visit to St. George's Bay, it had been visited by the celebrated ornithologist, Audubon, with some young American gentlemen, pupils, who were fortunate enough to have the advantage of prosecuting his delightful researches with this man of taste, and to have seen, as some here did, the original draughts of the valuable work, the leaves of which I have had so much pleasure in turning over. I fear Mr. Audubon met with little in Newfoundland to reward his exertions. I believe he visited the Magdalen Islands, when he left St. George's Bay. I was aware, at the time of his visiting the Labradore, that it was his intention to have touched in at some parts of this island, and I should have esteemed it a high privilege to have met him. Those who have seen the birds of the country, as I have had frequent opportunities of seeing them, in their own spheres--the eagle perched upon his crag,--"the towering seat, for ages, of his empire,"--or upon some rugged trunk of a tree which overhangs the rock, whence he has looked down with impassive unconcern from his giddy height, upon those who have vainly discharged at him their rifles,--can enter into the feelings of one who is an enthusiast in such a pursuit, and they kindle with sympathy as they read the notes of one who, like themselves, has been led by observation of the instincts and habits of the feathered tribe, while he marvels at their beautiful varieties, to acknowledge that God is the maker, the preserver, the inspirer of them, all!
Friday, 6.--Went five leagues in a punt to Sandy Point, St. George's Harbour. There I found the population much increased since my last visit, though two respectable elderly persons whom I remembered, had, with many others of the inhabitants, paid the debt of nature in the interval. I visited before Sunday all the inhabitants. One person presented me with a piece of thick birch tree, which had been cut through by the beaver near a beaver house, which was in the neighbourhood. The long teeth of these animals are sharp as chisels, and somewhat curved at the end: through this formation they are enabled to scoop the wood away at each incision, and trees, thick as the body of a stout man, are cut down by them in an incredibly short period, if they are in the way of their beaver path. They have the instinct too, so to cut them, as that they may fall in any direction they wish, and not lie across their path. The tree, of which this is a part, having fallen inconveniently, had been cut through a second time. It is a good specimen, therefore, of their ingenuity, as it shows the marks of their labour at each end. Near the same beaver house, from which this was taken, a tree which the beaver had cut through, had so fallen that it rested against a neighbouring tree. On visiting the beaver house a few days after the first falling of the tree, my informant found that the supporting tree had, in the meantime, paid dearly for the protection it had afforded the condemned one. It had been itself cut through, so that it offered now no obstacle to their plans of improvement.
Sunday, 17.--Held three full services, at which, and in two other houses besides, baptized fifteen. The lady of whom I made mention (see Report of S. P. G. F. P. 1830) when I last visited this place, as having kindly engaged to keep a Sunday school, had charitably taught some children daily; the effects of these kind exertions, and of this sacrifice of personal comfort in Mrs. Forrest, were very discernible in the manner in which the children made their responses in the church service. To this they had been regularly assembled by her husband, while he lived, and by her son since married a Canadian of Kamaraska, to one of the inhabitants of St. George's Bay.
Wednesday, 20.--The "Hope," a brig belonging to Messrs. Bird, of Sturminster, having put in to Harbour Briton, on her outward passage from England, brought me a packet of letters from my dear wife, which had been forwarded to Harbour Briton from St. John's, for the chance of falling into my hands. This welcome packet was the first I had received from her since my departure in February! Several parcels of letters which had been forwarded in search of me, reached my hands after my return home, having been sent back to St. John's, after they had been kept some time for me in different out-harbour settlements. I sailed in her for the Bay of Islands, a little to the south of Cape St. Gregorie, which I did not reach through adverse winds, until
Saturday, 23.--I found that this bay had been visited by the Reverend William Bullock, in company with his Excellency, Sir Thomas Cochrane, in 1829. He was the first clergyman, in the memory of the oldest inhabitant, who had visited the place. The river Humber, which discharges itself here, like the river Exploits, in the north of the island, is an immense body of fresh water. From the great quantity of snow which was now melting fast in the interior and swelling the current, it was not easy to stem it within Guernsey and Governor's islands. There are some other islands near the mouth of the Bay; from these the Bay obtains its name.
Sunday, 24.--Held two full services, and baptized fourteen children. I was frequently, during my journey, struck with surprise, but no where more than here, at the very marked difference which might be observed between the inhabitants of places only separated by a few leagues from each other. One who shall take the tour which I hare recently taken, might say, on reviewing the manners and customs of the people, through whose settlements he had passed, that he had seen no one people--
Mores multorum hominum vidit, et artes.
The difference of extraction has occasioned, as may be supposed, a marked dissimilarity between the descendants of Jersey-men, Frenchmen, Irish, Scotch and English people. The people, too, with whom the first settlers and their immediate descendants may have had contact, or intercourse, have attributed much to the formation of the dialect, character, and habits of the present settlers. The inhabitants of Conception Bay, although a neck of land of only a few miles extent separates them from Trinity Bay, differ from the inhabitants of the latter, as much as if they were of a distant nation; the same may be said of the difference between those who live in Placentia and those who live in Fortune Bay. But a single league may often carry the traveller upon the same shore, from a people whose habits are extremely coarse and revolting, to a population which has suffered nothing--perhaps has gained-from its being far removed from the seat of advanced civilization and refinement. Much of the character of a settlement must, of course, depend, for several generations, on the character of its original settlers. The descendants of some profane, run-away man-of-war's man, or of some other character as regardless or ignorant of decorum and delicacy, are likely to show to a third and fourth generation a general licentiousness of conversation and conduct, which betray the foul origin of their stock. Between the people of the Bay of Islands, and those of Bay St. George, there was a difference as wide, as between the untutored Indian and the more favoured child of refinement. There were acts of profligacy practised, indeed, in this bay, at which the Micmac Indians expressed to me their horror and disgust. The arrival of a trading schooner among the people, affords an invariable occasion for all parties (with only one or two exceptions, and those, I regret to say, not among the females!) to get into a helpless state of intoxication. Women, and among them positively girls of fourteen, may be seen, under the plea of its helping them in their work, habitually taking their "morning" of raw spirits before breakfast. I have seen this dram repeated a second time before a seven o'clock breakfast. The same, the girls among the rest, are also smoking tobacco in short pipes, blackened with constant use, like what the Irish here call "dudees," all day long. The instant they drop into a neighbour's house and are seated by the fire, there is a shuffling of the clothes, and the pipe, already partly filled, is drawn from the side pocket, and applied to the ashes for lighting.
One woman was pointed out to me here, who, in her haste to attack a quantity of rum, which she had brought on shore with her from a trading vessel, and under the influence, at the same time, of a certain quantity which she till the body of it was discovered the next morning, drowned by the returning tide! The father, immediately after the discovery of the awful disaster, went on board, un-warned, and apparently unaffected, for another gallon of the poison for the wake, or wicked drinking revel, which the custom of the island has too commonly made an appendage to a funeral. The same person, for I can scarcely call the monster Woman, had overlaid another child of two years old, when she had retired to bed once in 1822, in a state of intoxication. She is now shamelesely cohabiting with her own nephew; and there are other instances in this bay of adulterous and incestuous connections with which I am unwilling to pollute my journal--"for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them"--unblushingly--it can scarcely be said--"in secret."
The habitual conversation of the people is of the most disgusting character; profanity is the dialect, decency and delicacy are the rare exceptions; children swear at their parents, and frequently strike them * * * * * *
There is not a probability, but, unless missionaries and schools be multiplied in the island, the state of the next generation must be worse, if possible, in places of this description than it even now is. I may be asked why I give even a partial publicity to such disgusting details of crime. I have been silent as regards much which came to my knowledge; the interests of morality may not, indeed, I know, be directly served by the exposure of any of these details of immorality; but may not the attention of the humane legislature- of the true patriot, of the Christian philanthropist be roused by the knowledge of the existence of such horrible enormities, to devise some plan for the emancipation of our rapidly increasing population from their present godless ignorance,--from a slavery worse than that of the body?--and may not the next generation, if not the present settlers, he benefited by the glare of strong light which is thus thrown upon deeds of darkness, which, else, could never be suspected or conceived?--If the contrast between the state of some of these populous settlements and that of the inhabitants of the most thinly populated village in England, where the poor have the gospel preached to them, lead any to see, and to acknowledge, the value of an established religion which supplies a church, and a spiritual pastor, and a spiritual provision to the poorest, without money and without price,--I shall not have raised a blush for depraved human nature, by exposing these her natural fruits, in vain! I met with more feminine delicacy, however, I must own, in the wigwams of the Micmac and Canokok Indians than in the tilts of many of our own people. Except some sympathy be excited for the improvement of our people in this and like places, they may fast merge into a state similar to that in which the first missionaries found the inhabitants of the islands in the South Seas; unless, indeed, which seems not improbable, nature vindicates herself, and the vices and excesses, by which their natural vigor and constitutional energies do seem already impaired, shall, in a generation or two, exterminate them as completely as drunkenness has some of the tribes of Indians.
Wednesday, 27.--I was happy in being able to stay On board the brig while she remained here. My object, of course, was the improvement of the people; but none, who have not been similarly situated, can imagine the difficulty of awakening, or of fixing, the thoughts of persons thus utterly unused to any sacred appeals or sanctions. Schools, in such places must, at least, accompany, if they do not precede, the missionary; unless, indeed, which in the case with some of the Protestant Episcopal missionaries, in the service of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the same person be fitted to undertake the joint duties of the schoolmaster, and of the authorized ordained spiritual guide. But, in this case, he could only be a fixed pastor, which the means of no existing society could afford wherever such was needed; for, it is obvious, that in proportion as he was zealous in itinerating as a missionary, all schemes for the improvement of the young, by a school in the centre of his station, must suffer frequent suspension and interruption. When the brig left, I did not proceed in her to Forteau, in the Straits of Belle Isle. The settlement's were so thinly scattered, and so thinly peopled beyond this point, that I did not think that any proportionate degree of good could be effected to repay me for the consumption of time, which would be occasioned by my passing through the Straits, and returning to St. John's, by the northern side of the island; thus making my visit a complete tour of circumnavigation. I had not leisure either, to go to the Labradore again, and to remove my former disappointment, when I was obliged to return without reaching either of the interesting Moravian Missionary stations.
I was glad, therefore, to return to St. George's Bay, trusting that some opportunity might unexpectedly occur for my getting out of that bay towards St. John's, if not directly to it. As no more eligible opportunity offered of leaving Bay of Islands, I started at six A.M., in a drenching rain in an open boat, with Michael James, a temporary resident in this bay, who was kind enough to assist in rowing me in an American marblehead whaling boat. He took me twenty-four miles to Little Harbour, where, as well as at Batteau Cove, I was very kindly treated by the French, who were fishing, there. Here they had six French brigs moored, one a vessel of 350 tons. The masters of these French schooners and brigs have many of them been lieutenants in the French navy; and all their masters of merchant vessels are obliged to serve a certain time in men-of-war,--they are men, therefore, of a far superior class to the generality of the English, who are employed in the same way. I slept on the floor at Little Harbour, at the house of a sister of Michael James, and proceeded at five, A.M., of
Thursday, 28.--The hills white with snow, by which the rain had been followed. The cliffs here are exceedingly high. One was pointed out to me from which a Frenchman, who had killed his brother, was condemned to leap into the sea, a height of more than 300 feet, quite perpendicular! It was overed to him to choose this alternative, or to be shot. Such was the decision of the captain, who, (as was wont to be the case with the English, in our early settlement of Newfoundland, having arrived the first in the spring at the neighbouring harbour, administered summary justice for the season of the fishing, under the name of the "fishing admiral."
By eleven, P.M., after calling in for an hour's rest at Coal River, where I was kindly treated by some of the French, and picked up a specimen of gold "marcasit,"--we reached an empty salmon-house in Port-au-Port. Of this we took possession for the night, and slept very soundly upon the floor.
Friday, 29.--The next morning early I parted with my worthy friend, M. J., who was obliged to return, as he was in hourly expectation of the arrival of a brig in the Bay of Islands, direct from Jersey, in which the owners, who were his employers, wished him to proceed to the Labradore fishery. The superior demeanour of this person, compared with that of the people by whom he is surrounded, and his superior religious intelligence, were most gratifying. It may stimulate the exertions of those engaged in Sunday schools, to know, that he attributes it himself to the attention which he received when a cabin-boy, from a worthy clergyman in England. He was a native of Newfoundland, and received as fair an education as his highly respectable parents could themselves give him in a little out-harbour. He went home, however, when young, and while waiting for the sailing of his vessel, he was seen at church regularly on Sundays, and weekly prayer days, in his sailor's clothes in the pew of some English relatives in the port; the clergyman on observing this, noticed him, and took pains to give him instruction in his Sunday-school, and on other occasions. He is now able to assemble a congregation, or to read by a sick bed, and he taught several of his nephews and nieces, and other neighbours to read, and he has told me, that he knew he could never forget the kindness of that clergyman,--he trusted he never should forget the advice which he had given him.
How many grateful testimonies of this nature has it been my happiness to have had mentioned to me at different times in the last nine years, by the settlers in these distant colonies! The parish boy, or the giddy girl, the impression, or improvement of whose heart, the village pastor has thought hopeless, as he presented the case in his private addresses to the throne of grace, has returned in a foreign land some portion of the obligation under which the kindness of the pastor of their youth has laid them to the church, by entertaining and introducing into their neighbourhood one of that missionary church's missionary clergy; and, as after the dismissal of the settlement from his more public ministrations, confidence has been encouraged, and reserve has been removed; tales have been told of the village school and of the catechizing in the aisle of the church, and of the pastor's affectionate stroke upon the head of my host,--rugged and weather-beaten now,--but then a sleek; curly-headed youth, and the reward-book with the pastor's valued autograph, has been brought forth, and the clasped bible and the torn prayer-book, which he would not by any means part with, but would wish for another,--till--O! the missionary and the man of rugged features, have both become children! and on the thought of home, and of the church-yard stile, and the village spire, and the intervening sea! and the present sad, sad wilderness in which they are wandering, or wearing away life far from the privileges of which such fondly recollected scenes remind them, they are both in tears, and both upon their knees praying for a blessing upon the dear church of their fathers, that God would keep it with His perpetual mercy, cleanse it and defend it with His continual pity, and, because it cannot continue in safety without His succour, preserve it ever evermore by his help and goodness through Jesus CHRIST, our Lord!
The thought that each scholar in the Sunday school may be the parent of a family, has stimulated to exertion; but how much greater is the motive to such exertion, when it is considered that in the changes and chances of life, some of the scholars present may become emigrant settlers upon this barren coast,--or in our cleared lands in the adjoining provinces and islands; that they may be the means of keeping up a knowledge of CHRIST, in the new world, where they may become founders of settlements, and set the mould of the manners of generations to come. M. J. mentioned with gratitude a present which a neighbour had received of 150 American tracts, from a clergyman of Boston. They bad been dispersed along this shore of Newfoundland, and some of them despatched quite across through the interior to the settlers upon the northern shore, where, it is hoped, they may be fulfilling the benevolent intentions of their excellent donor. We call people here who live seventy or eighty miles apart, along the same coast, neighbours, and such they do indeed seem. Some however are not very social. A case has been known on the American continent of a man's moving farther back into the uncleared land, because he found himself getting crowded when a family settled near enough to him for his next neighbour to come to his house and return on the same day. I have often felt surprised at contrasting the feeling with which a person, accustomed to travel in England, goes over thirty, forty, or fifty miles in that country of continued interest and variety, and that with which he travels the same distance through the woods of North America. It might be imagined that the variety of the views, the scattered farms, the numerous churches of which he would get a view as he passed along, and the neat cottages, and the substantial yeoman's residences, and the occasional seats, would so interest the sight, that the distance would appear as nothing, and the transportation on those easy roads, comparatively a light work, as it were of a moment. I have felt, however, that this is not the case. No one can enter more fully than myself into the beauty of the English landscape. No one can enjoy, analysing its various attractions, and admiring them each in detail, more than I do; and the whole ride would seem to me a delicious saunter through a paradise; yet is a ride of ten or twenty miles in a young country (if a horse can be got along), or a walk, when the road forbids the luxury of such an escort, less of a journey, expect in the matter of fatigue, than one of the same distance is in England, or any other thickly peopled country. The slight variety of object or of incident, in the journey here, seems not to affect the eye with any tedium, but rather to have the effect of annihilating the idea of distance. Even the interminable forest, however, has its varieties, and for some eyes its beauties; and perhaps, were my theory to he fairly tested, it should be tried upon some dead level or English flat (if such could be found!) The barest part of Salisbury plain, the rudest district of Cornwall, the heaths of Cambridgeshire. no place in England which I have ever seen, could be such, however, in my estimation, which presented no object of interest whatever for the eye; but then, these ever green forests, and these rugged crags, from which the birch and other trees spring, as they do from the rocks in the neighbourhood of Tonbridge Wells,--these have an interest in my eye, which would make me prefer my ride or walk of ten miles here, to a ride or walk of the same distance there, in a district, could it be found, such as I have been supposing
I cannot account for it perhaps correctly, but such is certainly the fact, that I have difficulty in imagining my ride of ten miles, which I take when at St. John's every Sunday to Portugal Cove, is a greater distance than from Oxford to Woodstock, or as great as from Inworth, my first curacy in England, to Colchester, or from Lowestoft to Yarmouth, or to Becles, two other rides of ten miles or under, which will often occur to my recollections.--When M. J. left me, I walked down the western shore of Port-au-Port to "the Isthmus," or "the Gravel." The walk was somewhat better than that upon the other shore of Port-au-Port, which is recorded at May 13. It was not unattended, however, with much difficulty and danger. My nerves had become so shattered by my late excertions, that on the sight of dizzy precipices in my way, I would sometimes burst into most involuntary tears, and experience all the premonitory symptoms of fainting. On one of these occasions, when hanging by my fingers and knees on the edge of a steep cliff, from which a fall, which seemed inevitable, must have been fatal, these sensations came on, and I felt as though I was just fainting! I closed my eyes to the danger, and in the kneeling posture in which of necessity I was at the time, I put up an ejaculatory prayer, and I felt the blood revisit my heart; my nerves were instantly revigorated, and, supported by an invisible arm, I was enabled to reach the bottom in safety. Before night I reached my kind friends the Vincents, little less fatigued than when dropped in upon them before.
Friday, 29.--Storm in the morning, but was able in the afternoon to get to Sandy Point, St. George's Harbour, and administered consolation this day and the next to an elderly inhabitant who had been taken seriously ill in my absence.
Sunday, 31.--Three full services and two baptisms; was struck by a verse in one of the American hymns, sung by Mrs. Forrest and the congregation. It seemed peculiarly appropriate to religious services, like those in which I was engaged, which, of necessity, are celebrated in private houses.
Thou wilt not, gracious God! despise
The humble dwelling where we meet;
Accept our grateful sacrifice,
And make our meditation sweet.
June, Monday, 1.--Started at three, A.M. in a fishing schooner for the Barrisways, three settlements about twenty-three miles from this harbour, and half-way down the bay. A violent gale of wind prevented our getting in until
Tuesday, 2--seven in the morning of the next day. At the third Barrisway, or Crabs, I found three families, who, like those of the other settlements, were most industrious, moral, cleanly people. They are of Jersey extraction, principally mixed with emigrants from agricultural districts in the west of England. They would not suffer in comparison with any settlers on the island, and it is much to be lamented that so fine a nest of settlements should not be acknowleged and recognised by the government. They have some of the best land in the island, along the shore and in their rear; yet, through the discouragement which the English government gives to settlers to the west of Cape Ray, and an over-delicate dread of encouraging any extensive settlements which might dissatisfy the French,--this, which is certainly the best portion of the island, is entirely lost to us, as regards revenue. The people are most anxious themselves, to be taken under the paternal care of the English government, and would gladly furnish their proportion to the revenue in return for security in possession of the land which they clear, and which here, as can be said of it in no other part of Newfoundland, and cannot be said of some parts of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which I have seen, would amply reward the labour and expense of culture. They live here, indeed, entirely on the produce of the soil, and of the cattle which they keep, and they live well. They are so far independent of the merchant, that they never apply to him for butter, pork, or beef. Indeed, if they could only find a market for their produce, they could rear more cattle and vegetables, and could cure more meat than their families require. There is no other part of Newfoundland like it. All the people of this bay prosecute the salmon fishery; this is generally very lucrative, as collecting furs also is in the winter. The number of the French who catch fish upon the coast, and within the bay, prevents their looking for more codfish than they require for immediate family use; and although they do now prosecute, in some degree, the herring fishery, which struck in while I was at Sandy Point, the French injure this branch of the fishery so much by the use of their seines, that it is not unlikely that the herring catch will be soon abandoned by our people. I held full service this evening, and baptized ten.
Wednesday, 3,--There is a flower here resembling the English auricula, but smaller; it is the precureor of the salmon, and is, inconsequence, called the salmon flower: it was observed to be just coming into bloom. Accordingly, in the course of my visit to this place, the salmon struck in, not, however, so abundantly as usual. Full service in the P.M., and five adults baptized, after an explanation to them of the nature of their baptismal obligation. The extent of the religious intelligence of the people here surprised me: the first settlers, both those from Jersey, and those from Devon and Dorset, were of a superior class, and their descendants do not degenerate. I met here with a man in humble life, who pleased me. He had been brought up at the free school of Lady Caroline Damer, at Abbey Milton, near Blandford, Dorset, and seemed to have profited much by this training, in his early years. It has enabled him to instruct those less favoured among whom he is settled. He shewed me with grateful pride a prayer-book, in which her ladyship had put her autograph inscription, when she presented him the treasure upon his leaving her school.
Thursday, 4.--Proceeded to the Middle Barrisway, where was a most respectable man, with a family of eleven children. The people gathered together from each of the other Barrisways for service, at which we had thirty present; three children baptized.
Friday, 5.--Full service, and baptized four more children. James Huelen and his brother John Huelen of Crabs, once came suddenly, when hunting, upon two bears and three wolves, which were devouring the carcase of a deer. When they reached within thirty yards of them, they fired one of their guns, and brought down a bear, taking care, for the chance of an attack from the exasperated or alarmed animals, to keep the other gun loaded, till they could reload the one discharged. They then fired and killed the other bear; the wolves still kept their ground, and the men, in this way, brought down two of the wolves. The remaining wolf then walked away, but so leisurely was his retreat, that they might, if they had been disposed to complete the slaughter, have followed and shot him too. The same man has, also, come suddenly upon a bear, which has been in the upper branches of a dog-berry or mountain ash, deliberately bending and breaking the boughs, that he might eat the berries. I purchased here the skin of a very fine bear, which had been shot in the winter within sight of the house; be had attempted to force the door of one of the outhouses, and, a watch being placed for him on the following night, he was caught. I got here, also, the tusk of a walroos, or morse. These marine animals used to be very common on the coast of Newfoundland, but they are now supposed to be extinct here. Here, too, I picked some specimens of a coarse coal from the cliff close to the sea. There is, however, a little distance up the river a bed of coal, the vein of which may be seen in the Banks, and under the bed of the river in clear shallow water. The inhabitants have recourse to it when they require a fierce fire for hardening their axes and iron tools, and they occasionally take small portions of it into the country with them for their fires, when they sleep in the interior, on their deer-hunting expeditions. I collected specimens of gypsum, also, in this bay, and of a white friable stone resembling talc or Labradore spar, in the manner in which it breaks off into plates; but peculiar, as the laminae are not so elastic as those of the blue talc, and the whole stone is of a transparent whiteness. I, also, tasted here a strong chalybeate water, and there is in the neighbourhood a salt spring also.
Saturday, 6.--Walked to the First Barrisway, where three families live, and the widow, Anne Huelen, a native, the mother of the settlements. The recollection of this cheerful old lady is unimpaired, and carries her back to the history of the island for the greater part of a century, and this a most interesting portion of the history of Newfoundland,--as it takes in the troubled periods in which the French and American privateers inflicted such incalculable hard-ships on the simple inhabitants of this coast. In 1814, soon after the loss of her husband, she was proceeding with one of her daughters, and her catch of cured salmon, to St. John's, for the arrangement of her affairs, when she was captured by an American privateer, and carried to New York. Her cargo was sold there by a writ of "venditioni exponas." She showed me her pass-papers, which were signed by James Monroe, then secretary to the President of the United States. She speaks with lively gratitude of the very humane attentions which were uniformly paid her while she was detained in New York, especially by a Mrs. Sophia Doty, after whom and Mr. Doty, she had two of her grandchildren, Sophia and Elihu, named after her return to Newfoundland. She was allowed, too, very kindly, to buy in her own schooner at the nominal price of one dollar, which a benevolent American put into the poor creature's hand at the moment, for the purpose of effecting the formal purchase.
The want of Bibles in this and similar places, is much felt by the people, who attach great value to the rare possession. A seaman, who was wrecked in the barque Fanny, on her homeward-bound passage from Quebec to Greenock, was most hospitably entertained here during the winter of 1833-4, from October, 1833, to June, 1834. He had a Bible which he prized much, and read in it daily aloud as well as by himself. It bore this inscription:--
"To George Green, from a very sincere friend, who, with all his heart, beseeches George to take this book as his chart and compass; and, as sure as GOD has said it, he will reach at last, the shores of HEAVEN.--October, 1833."
It now bears the following additional inscription:--
"George Green, having been wrecked in October, l833, off Red Island, near Port-au-Port, Newfoundland, on his passage from Quebec to Greenock, in the barque Fanny, was hospitably entertained by the inhabitants of the First Barrisway, St. George's Bay. During the winter, this Bible was daily used by him, and frequently read aloud to the other inhabitants, who had no Bibles. When he left, in June, 1834, after much persuasion, he was induced to present this highly prized volume to Clemence Morris. May God bless this book to him, and the other inhabitants of the settlement, that so it may abundantly fulfil the pious purposes of its donor!--June, 1835."
I had full service to-day, and baptized five children.
Sunday 7, (Whitsunday).--Full service three times, and baptized nine persons. I met at Sandy Point, and afterwards at this settlement, a Halifax trader, G. B. He was an old parishioner, of my deceased friend, the Reverend Mather Byles Desbrisay, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He had been indebted to Mr. D. for indefatigable attention to him, when he was supposed to be upon a dying bed, and was unceasingly visited by him, although he resided at an out-harbour, several miles from his pastor's residence: but it had pleased God to raise him, and suddenly to cut down the exemplary pastor in the midst of his career of usefu1ness. G. B. had been much attached to the ministry of my departed friend. He had been dead more than a twelve month, yet the poor fellow could not speak of his late beloved pastor without tears; and the memory of my sainted brother in the ministry, with whom I had so often joined in missionary excursions, and taken sweet counsel in Nova Scotia, was so dear to myself, that I mingled my own tears with those of this rough trader. It was gratifying to see such a tribute of veneration paid to the memory of this departed servant of the Lord, and it was no less so to hear the high testimony which he gave to the worth of the Reverend Addington Davenport Parker, his successor, in the Dartmouth mission, whose acquaintance, with many others which I value much, I had also the opportunity of making, while I resided in the capital of Nova Scotia, or travelled in the capacity of chaplain with the excellent bishop. Obituary notices, in which attempts were made to do justice to the character of Mr. Desbrisay, appeared, at the time of his decease, in the various Halifax prints. I regret that they are not now accessible to me, but,--"Quis desiderio sit pudor!"--there is one which I may here introduce, as it appeared in the London "Christian Remembrancer", for May, 1834.
"The diocese of Nova Scotia has recently sustained a very serious loss, in the sudden decease of the Rev. MATHER BYLES DESBRISAY, M. A. of the King's College, Nova Scotia, and Missionary in the service of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for the district of Dartmouth, in the harbour of Halifax. Like the right-minded, and zealous Bishop HOBART, of New York, this sound churchman, and exemplary Christian, was descended from an ancestry, (the MATHERS of Boston, New England,) who would have looked forward with a degree of superstitious horror to the chance that any of their posterity might admit what they would have termed the abomination of episcopacy, and embrace the unevangelical doctrines of the Protestant episcopal communion. His second name of BYLES, he derived from the Protestant episcopal missionaries of that name in North America, a record of whose labours, in the early state of the Protestant episcopal church of North America, may be found in the reports and correspondence of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Being the son of an officer in the British army, he was brought up in his earlier years under the discipline of the College of Cadets, in England, and was destined by his family for that service. A decided preference, however, for the pastoral office, led him, in maturer years, to seek a degree in the university of Windsor; an institution which has been eminently useful in furnishing the colonial church in North America with many most exemplary missionaries; the support of which, however, has been so deplorably curtailed, through the late withdrawal of the Parliamentary grant to the S.P.G.F.P. that it is feared it may no longer be a nursery, as it has been wont to be, for the education of the children, and for the training of the future ministers of the church.
"The amiable manners of Mather Byles Desbrisay, his scrupulous morality, his diligent attention to every collegiate, above all, to every religious obligation, while he was in statu pupillari, commanded the esteem and regard of all, of every age, connected with the college: and his sound evangelical piety, and love for the apostolic church, gave early promise of the great exertions which he afterwards put forth, and of the success, and uniform acceptance which would attend his future ministry.
"The estimation which he has left behind him of his labours and his character, is indeed delightful: his admiring flock, and his brother clergy, feel, alike, that they have lost an example, which it was a privilege to have before them. An extensive round of churches, and a circle of congregations more numerous than the churches, under his charge, among some of whom he had first planted the standard, and, with persuasive eloquence, proclaimed periodically among them all the doctrines of the church, will long feel their bereavement of this zealous missionary. That he might do all in the power of man, aye, and he has been known to exert himself even beyond that power, although of extreme delicacy of constitution, that, in a country so inadequately provided with pastors, he might do all he could for the edification of the scattered members of the church. He has been, for several years, in the habit of holding service on week-days, in different and distant parts of his extensive mission, besides the performance of three services on each Lord's day; when he took, together with the centre church of Dartmouth, the churches at the eastern passage, at Lawrence Town, and at Porter's Lake, in rotation; seldom retiring to his bed, on Sunday night, without having travelled from twenty to five-and-twenty miles, often considerably more. He met his death at the early age of thirty-one or thirty-two, as nearly as the writer can ascertain; and it was occasioned by a brain-fever, the effect of a fall from his horse, which occurred, it is believed, while he was in the execution of some one or other of his arduous duties. The writer has frequently heard him express, with gratitude, (and, more than once, when, in moments of fatigue, he has drawn from his waistcoat pocket a portable folding cup, for drinking of the pure stream of the forest, in his missionary wanderings,) that he was much indebted to his early discipline for the military life, for the buoyancy with which he could now go through his missionary toils, with no other refreshment than the pure brook, and the biscuit which he carried with him, would afford. A memoir of this indefatigable and pious missionary, would, in the opinion of those who know him, be read with deep interest and profit, and would not suffer from comparison with the recent memoirs of Pastors Oberlin and Neff. He died early in February, and was buried, where he had often expressed the wish that his remains should lie, beneath the altar of the church at Dartmouth, from the pulpit over which altar he had so often affectionately called on his flock to watch, 'for they knew not the hour when the Son of Man would come;' and had dealt so frequently from its rails the blessed sacrament of Christ's body and blood, for the comfort and refreshing of their souls. May GOD, (as, in the course of conversation, while in perfect health, a few days previous to his sudden decease, he was heard to remark, he doubted not, God could, and would, in the event of his being called away from his scene of duty,) raise up a faithful successor, and many, many such labourers, in the room of him who has now gone to rest, and his reward!"
Such,--nine years' acquaintance with the diocese of Nova Scotia, enables me to say,--might be the record of the ordinary labours of nine out of ten of the missionaries of the diocese. In seeking, for the journal of six months of my own late visitation, a degree of publicity greater than could be given to a letter to the secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which might be appended to that society's report, I must disclaim any wish to establish a character for zeal or activity, beyond that which belongs to the rest of my colonial brethren in the ministry. There are, I solemnly believe; few of my missionary brethren whose journals for the same period might not supply records of equal, and superior exertions in the cause of our Heavenly Master. If my late excursion has been of a greater extent than others have undertaken, I would have it attributed to the absence of any immediately pressing parochial calls at the place of my residence, which must have constrained any of my brethren, though most unwillingly, to have broken off any such projected visitation in the midst, and to have hastened back to the constantly recurring calls of the centre of his mission station; which, necessary as it is at times to leave it, can never, we all know and most anxiously must feel, be left for any length of time together, without serious detriment to our communion; and, if it seem to any that I have alluded too much (for if I know myself I have not dwelt upon them) to the privations, and difficulties and escapes of my voyage, I would say, that gratitude to GOD, my preserver, would not permit me to pass over, without a mention, mercies which must ever dwell in a grateful memory, and particularly the blessing of a constitutional energy and an elasticity of spirit for which I could take no merit to myself, but desire to dedicate them to the service of CHRIST'S church, and so to sanctify them while they are mercifully preserved to me.
And here, I would remark, in reference to a report which has been most undeservedly circulated respecting the Protestant Episcopal clergy in Newfoundland, that "they are idle, and worldly, and unevangelical." I would remark, or rather simply insert in this place, a circular from the Bishop of Nova Scotia to his clergy, the appearance of which drew forth the tribute to the zeal of the colonial clergy, which I also annex, and which I copy from an excellent religious periodical, published in New York, and entitled The Churchman.
CIRCULAR OF THE BISHOP OF NOVA SCOTIA
Halifax, March 6, 1834.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR.--You will learn with equal surprise and regret, that, while the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel are endeavouring to procure all possible assistance for the support of the Church in there colonies, at this time of its distress, they are impeded in their good work by malevolent reports, industriously circulated against their missionaries, representing them an inefficient, worldly, idle, and unevangelical--(epithets which are unsparingly applied, in these days of rebuke, both to the English and the Colonial Clergy)--and, also, stating them to be fully, if not over paid for all their services.
Undeserving as we may feel of such misrepresentation, I trust we are all ready to regard it as a call to the exercise of our humility and patience and charity, and as a stimulus to increased zeal and fervour in our labours and prayers, with full faith and confidence in the protection of the MOST HIGH.
But it does not appear inconsistent with the most lowly opinion we can entertain of our best exertions, as they must appear in the sight of a holy and perfect God, to use all proper means for protecting our character and our labours from the unjust aspersions of misguided men.
The Society would not be without means for disproving any specific charge, if such were made, and would be quite ready to employ these means, but such general and vague calumnies as I have mentioned, can only be triumphantly repelled by plain and particular statements of all that is done, and doing, in their missions.
Being anxious to supply such statements as speedily as possible, I naturally turn to my brethren in the ministry for their assistance. In affording their help, I assure myself they will feel the importance of being scrupulously correct in their detail. Whenever there shall be any doubt in their mind, from want of memoranda, or clear recollection, they will require no caution from me to guard them from any thing like over-statement, and they will be desirous of being much within the truth, in preference to the least risk of exceeding these limits. I, therefore, beg to be early favoured with explicit answers to the following questions:--
1. How many Sundays were you present in your mission during the year 1833?
2. How many services did you perform in the same year, and how often did you preach?
3. How many miles did you travel in the same period, in every way, by land and by water, in the performance of your missionary duties?
4. How many missionary visits did you make to separate settlements, and how many- pastoral visits to individual families?
5. To how many sick, or afflicted persons did you administer the consolation. of religion?
6. Have any remarkable occurrences in your mission in the last year required your special attention?--If any, detail them.
7. Have any remarkable cases required your spiritual care and consolation?-If any, state their circumstances, your treatment of them, and whether you had reason to hope, in all Christian humility, that your ministry in these cases has been blessed to the patients, or to those around them.
8. How many Sunday schools have been established under your direction? How many persons of all ages attend them, and how much of your time is devoted to them?
9. What is the whole amount, or value, of the income you have derived, in the last year, from glebe, surplice-fees, contributions from your congregation, pew rents, or from any and every source, within your mission, and what are the average prices of the chief necessaries of life?
10. What are the nature and extent of the inconvenience and hardship and distress which have already overtaken, or must speedily fall upon yourself, your family and dependents, in consequence of the 1ate unhappy reduction of your salary?-State the number of your family, and any circumstances which may elucidate and support the facts you detail.
I shall hope to receive the information now require without any loss of time; and, as similar reports will be necessary every year, I must beg you to forward them to me, hereafter, in the first week of every January. That you may furnish them with complete accuracy, I particularly recommend your immediate commencement of a regular pastoral and parochial journal. You will be so good as to add your regular notitia of baptisms, marriages, burials, the whole number of communicants within your mission, population, and the number of schools and scholars.
Earnestly recommending yourself and your flock to the continual care and guidance of the heavenly Shepherd, under every prosperous and every adverse circumstance,
Reverend and Dear Sir,
Your affectionate brother,
In another column is inserted the circular of the Bishop of Nova Scotia to his clergy, propounding certain questions designed to draw from them a statement of the duties performed by them as missionaries. The occasion of the circular being issued is the alleged prevalence of reports prejudicial to the character and interests of the clergy, the refutation of which, it is thought, will be most effectually accomplished by the statistica1 documents that will be given in answer to the queries which the circular contains. We doubt not that the. measure will be productive of good results, and will eventually raise the reputation of the missionaries by furnishing the Society, and through it the public at large, with the data for forming a just estimate of their labours. But we cannot restrain the expression of surprise and grief that the measure should have been rendered necessary: that a body of men, such as the missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, should be compelled to appear before the public in the attitude of defendants--not to specific charges which might be met and repelled-but to vague rumours, which as nobody will particularize, so nobody can refute. Such reports are among the sorest evils with which the clergy have to contend. They harmonize with men's natural disinclination for pure religion--a disinclination which in the minds of many is harboured until it ripens into positive malevolence,--and are thus sure to obtain an easy credence and extensive propagation. But if we had been asked to specify a band of clergy who more than any other might expect an exemption from such calumnies, we should have pointed to the missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.
Such an event, if we mistake not, is a novel occurrence in the history of the Society. We, in this country, know something of the Society, and have good reason to cherish, as we do, the memory of its missionaries. We wish to say nothing to the disparagement of the clergy of the Church of England: but let their character for cheerful and manly piety, for effective but unostentatious usefulness be rated as highly as the warmest friends of the Church are disposed to rate it, we will say it forms too low a standard by which to estimate the worth of the Society's missionaries. Many causes combined to give distinctiveness to their character. In the very threshold of the entrance into the ministry was an obstacle, the encountering of which was a test of their earnestness and pledge of their future fidelity. And after their return from a perilous voyage, the difficulties to which they were exposed were such as to keep their weapons in order for constant use. They had to grapple with sectaries of every kind, and of very different mettle from any that were to be met with in Britain, and who had only left the old country because they excelled the main body of the Dissenters in the courageous temper of their minds, and uncompromising opposition to the Church. Thus the Society's missionaries were obliged to move, armed cap-a-pie, in the panoply of polemical warfare; nor is it surprising that we are enabled--as we justly are- to extend to many of them the tribute which, in a late British Critic, was paid to one of their number, that their learning was "worthy" (what nobler eulogy could be pronounced?) "of the best days of English theology." But their piety and self-denial were better disciplined than their learning. Their labours were of the most arduous kind. Large districts were assigned to them, severally at a time, when the country was little better than a wilderness. Many among us remember their privation and laboure, and many more experience their fruits in the blessings of the knowledge of CHRIST and his Church, which they have been the means of transmitting to us. The patient, self-denying laboure which they were compelled to encounter, infused an energy into their piety, which approximated it more nearly than any milder discipline could have done to the true standard of a missionary of JESUS CHRIST. To this discipline, in its most important feature., the missionaries in the Canada's and Nova Scotia have been, and still continue to he, subjected, as well are those who were in our country; while the Society itself is guided in the appointment of its agents on the same principles, and we might therefore expect to find in both the same common traits of character. But we are not left to conjecture. We judge of them not by what we should think that they would be, but from what we have heard that they are. And much have we been deceived if an equal number of clergy can be found of more stirling piety and more effective usefulness, than the missionaries of the venerable Society in the British colonies. We have not long since published in our columns an account of the labours of one among the colonial clergy, which would have shone in the annals of the primitive Church. It is therefore not without surprise, as well as indignation, that we learn that the voice of calumny has assailed them, and cheerfully adopt the words of the editor of the St. John's Times, as expressive of our own sense of the injustice and futility of the charge.
The best, and most triumphant refutation of such calumnies will, indeed, be found, as is hinted by their diocesan, in the simple transcription from their different note-books, of their diaries and journals and it is confidently hoped that the Society which employs them, will do them the justice of printing their replies entire. Such a representation of the exertions of these men during any one year, would furnish, we feel convinced, the most complete specimens of a Missionary Annual which could be produced by al1 equal number of devoted servants of the cross;--it would gain to the Society, which is now in so great need of support from the Christian public, a host of new contributors; and it would stand forth, to posterity, a most imperishable monument of the zeal of the colonial clergy of the present generation, and of the acrimony, falsehood, and malevolence which could assail a body of men who, in the main, reserve, as, indeed, they, in the main, receive, the admiration and respect of all of every creed who are within the circle of their exertions.
Sunday, 14, (Trinity Sunday.)--Full service three times, three baptisms.
Sunday, 21.--Had returned to Sandy Point. Renewed a notice which I had previously given of my intention shortly to administer the Holy Communion, and invited inquirers to come to me for information and instruction. Preached familiarly upon the subject at each of my three services, and gave notice of a full service on Wednesday, 24,--St. John Baptist's Day.
Sunday, 28.--Three full services. Baptized three children in public service, and another at home, and churched a woman who had become a mother while I was there; administered the Lord's Supper. I find that by a strange omission I have neglected to record the number of communicants in my short notes. I can remember distinctly, however, the names and persons of five seemingly devout well-informed communicants.
Monday, 29.--St. Peter's Day, gave me an opportunity of holding a full service on the next day.
Sunday, 5, July.--Three full services at Sandy Point, so well attended, that I regret exceedingly there should be no missionary stationed amongst this very teachable quiet people. This harbour and the Barrisways, with an occasional visit to the Bay of Islands, and the settlements at Codroy Rivers and Island, would constitute a pleasant and no idle charge; and a school, as I found on an enumeration of the children with one of the inhabitants, might, in Sandy Point alone, congregate seventy children, if it could be opened tomorrow.
Monday 6,.--Went, this week, to visit the salmon fisheries, which are upon the main gut. Three or four families reside there. One night; as some of the people and an Indian boy were going out just at the rise of high tide, five canoes in all, to spear trout and eels, I joined them in the excursion. It employed us till an hour or two after midnight. The scene was an animating one. A brilliant moon hung over the hills, which were finely wooded, to the very cliffs and sand at the edge of the water. Bunches of birch bark were packed together, a dozen in each packet; these were stuck one at a time, as required, into a stick which was cleft at the top to let in this rude flambeau, to which a light was applied. The stick with the ignited birch bark was then put upright at the bow of the canoe; there, also, the man stood up, most insecurely balanced, as would seem, with his nighok, or eel-spear, a pole cleft at the bottom with a spike inserted. This, on his striking a fish of any size, would open and admit it till the spike perforated it, and then closing upon it, would press it and prevent its escape. The sandy or stony bottom of the river in the shallows,--for in deeper water this sport cannot be pursued,--was seen as clearly as in the day, and every fish in it. The fish seemed at least bewildered, if not attracted by the light; and the quickness of eye, and adroitness of the man who used the nighok, impelling, as he did, the canoe with the thick end, and every now and then reversing it to strike, were surprising. He struck successfully at eight out of ten of each of the fish at which he aimed, and shook them off into the boat with a sudden turn of his arm, which left him at liberty to strike at two fish within a second or two. He kept his balance, also, with great niceness, when he seemed to have poised himself so far over the side of the light canoe, that he must, it seemed to me, have gone over-board, or capsized our crank bark. The light of the flambeau in the other canoes, as they came round the projecting points of leafy green; and the shade, as we again lost view of them behind the trees or rocks in the distance, was most imposing. Four hundred trout were thus speared in the canoe in which I was; some of them, were of such a size, that they would have been taken, as they frequently are, in the salmon nets. In the five canoes, above 1000 were taken in little more than two hours. I had the curiosity to weigh six of them, which together weighed twenty-two pounds, and had a barrel of this night's catch salted that I might take them with me to St. John's.
Sunday, 12.--Three full services at Sandy Point; but, hearing that old Mrs. Huelen of the Barrisways was dangerously ill, I walked up thither in the following week to see her. A son at the farther Barrisway, who was also an invalid, was gratified by my visiting him in his sick-room.
Sunday, 19.--Three full services at the Barrisways.
Friday, 24.--A new schooner belonging to my kind friends, Mr. Horatio Forrest, and Joseph Pennall, for the launching of which I had been anxiously waiting, being now rigged and loaded and ready for sea, I took leave of the worthy inhabitants of St. George's Harbour, (of whose kindness I shall ever entertain an affectionate recollection,) in an evening service which was very crowded, and
Saturday, 25.--Sailed from Sandy Point at five A.M.
Sunday, 26.--Put into Port aux Basque, and held full service at the house of Michael Guillam, where I slept. I baptized a grandchild which had been added to his family since I passed and officiated here in May. Near this place, I saw on Shagrock the hull of the ship James. She had been wrecked here since I passed, and had been sold for twenty shillings. The hull of the "Nathanael Graham," which had been wrecked within an hour of her, was also visible Forty passengers had lost their lives. It was on this occasion that Joseph Miessau distinguished himself as mentioned under the date of May 7. While I was in St. George's Bay many articles, such as beds, blankets and tools, which had been washed from these wrecks, had been driven ashore there, and, among other things a trunk with female apparel, and some letters directed to persons in Canada and the United States. These I enclosed and forwarded, with an account of the sad fate, which it was too likely had arrested the person to whose charge they had been confided.
Monday, 27.--A difficulty which prevented our getting up our anchor for some hours this morning, I lamented at the time, but was afterwards thankful for it. Through the delay thus occasioned, I met, off La Poile Bay, a cutter, which, I should else have missed, that my dear wife and friends in St. John's had hired and fitted up, and dispatched for me at the beginning of July. They had been much alarmed for my safety, as no accounts of me whatever had reached them for three months, when a letter reached them, which I had sent from St. George's Bay via Sydney, Cape Breton Island, and another via Quebec. As we have in sight, she hoisted a flag, which I have had made for occasions of this kind, bearing the arms of the see of Nova Scotia. I did not expect any thing of the kind, however, and did not consequently recognize it, taking it for some merchants private signal. We only spoke to them, for the chance of her having come from St. John's, and having letters on board for me, or papers, for which, it may be imagined, I was most anxious, as I had only heard once from my wife during my long absence. I soon recognized the person, of my friend Mr. James Stokes on her deck, who had kindly engaged to assist in the search for me. He had touched at several places upon his way, and, although he had occasionally collected some slight information of my movements during the winter, the intelligence which he could collect was, on the whole, so little satisfactory that he had positively given me up. I now shifted my quarters at sea, which many would not have been sorry to do, as the new schooner had a considerable leak, which could not be discovered, and made very frequent pumping absolutely necessary. I would readily, now that I had the disposal of a nice cutter and crew, have called on the interesting inhabitants of the Borgeo Islands whom I had been so sorry to pass as I went along on the 2nd of May. I directed that we should bear away for them immediately on getting on board; it was night, however, when we got abreast of them: the coast was a dangerous one for our attempting to keep standing off and on for the night; the wind, moreover, was fair, so we filled the sheet, and by the morning were near St. Peter's Off this island we were becalmed, and the weather became very thick. We went to the roads, therefore, and called in at St. Peter's where I had pleasure in renewing my acquaintance with the French commandant, Captain Brue, and partook of kind hospitalties of several of his people during the two days of our detention. I had had many opportunities of hearing, and, indeed, of witnessing instances of the slight estimation in which the French, who were fishing on this coast from St. Maloes and Granville, hold their clergy. When the cutter had put in, on its way, at St. Peter's, among other places, to make inquiry for me, considerable surprise was excited among the French people at the fact of any anxiety's being shown in St. John's for the safety of a padre, and they declared that if a whole ship's load of their padres were to go to the bottom, they would none of them break their slumbers on that score! It is to be feared that the levity of this remark may have not far exceeded the bounds of truth; and that the melancholy view which it gives of the slight esteem in which the French hold their ministers of religion, is too faithfully descriptive of the people. When the wind allowed of our departure we weighed anchor, and,--except that we were mercifully preserved from running ashore on Goose Island, near Caplin Bay, when the wind was on shore, and the weather so thick that we could see no land, nor the very breakers which discovered the land to us more than the cutter's length a-head of us! there was nothing in the remainder of my passage worthy of record.
Tuesday, August 4.--After a vain attempt to get into the Narrow of St. John's Harbour, the cutter put back, at my suggestion, into Petty Harbour. Thence I walked to town after dark with Mr. James Stokes, by the new line of road through the woods to St. John's, on which the road commissioners have lately expended 691 l. was exceedingly grieved, on my return to St. John's, to find that a factious party under the influence to which allusion is made at the date of March 3 had, in my absence occasioned much apprehension to the more orderly inhabitants of St. John s and the island at large They had openly declared from the altar that the sword of the church was unsheathed. Mr. Henry Winton the editor of one of the public newspapers who had rendered himself obnoxious to the Right Reverend Bishop Fleming and his seditious political colleagues in the priesthood, by his simple remonstrance against their interference with the political rights of the people; who never moreover had written a syllable in the way of reflection except respectfully, upon their religion had (besides other attacks on his person ) been savagely assaulted in open day, and his ears mutilated, to the danger of his life; those who subscribed to his paper, or dealt with him and other protestants who were named, were denounced from the altar and if Romanist were excommunicated; under which sentence I found some of the most respectable of that communion on my return, and know that the same sentence is on them at the moment of my writing. Persons had been directed from the altar of the Romish chapel in this town, which is a temple of sedition, to affix their names to a petition which the same factious party had got up against the Honourable Henry John Boulton, our excellent chief justice, whose only crime is an unflinching, impartial administration of law, which that priesthood are constantly affirming from the altar, is unnecessary in Newfoundland, as they have a power far superior to that of the law in this island. The sense of his Majesty's government on this petition has reached us, while I am writing, and it is a matter of sincere rejoicing to all who love good order here, that the good Chief Justice has been supported by his Majesty's government, in the entire legality of all the acts on which the factious promoters and writers of this petition had founded their vindictive and false allegations, and that he will return to preside over our legal tribunals.
Sundays, 9, 16, and 23.--I was happy to renew my connection with the interesting congregation of St. Bartholomew'.s church, Portugal Cove, to which place, through the exertions of the late excellent governor, Sir Thomas John Cochrane, there is a very good road from St. John's, far different from that by which I travelled on my first visit to this island in 1827. Here I held two full services on each Sunday, baptized six children, and administered the Lord's Supper to twenty-two, the usual number of communicants at that settlement.
Sunday, 30.--Appointed two sermons at the church of St. John's, for a collection in aid of the district committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, with a special view to the supply of bibles, prayer books, and tracts, to the settlements on the southern and western shores which I had lately visited. I took the pulpit on one part of the day myself, and the cause was ably advocated on the other part of the day, by the Rev. Thomas Martin Wood. Our appeals were responded to very liberally by the people, and above 30l., were collected for the object, which is a greater sum than any two sermons ever procured at St. John's in one day before; but liberal as the aid thus afforded me was, shall I be thought unreasonable if I exclaim, "What were they among so many?" Books to the whole amount have been forwarded, or are packed up, waiting opportunities of being forwarded, from the merchants' houses, to the anxious expectants, many of whom will, I fear, have already been tempted,--in their impatience for the sacred volume which I promised them, and which, above all, has been prized,--to exclaim, "Ah! the Deacon,"--for in this manner they designate the archdeacon,--"has forgotten his promise!" But I have not forgotten my promise; and one grand object of my submitting these pages of my journal to other eyes than to those of the Committee of the Society whose servant in the church I am, is, that the sympathy of a christian public may be enlisted in the behalf of the people of Newfoundland. And, Christian reader! I am convinced, that I have not over-rated your generous sympathy, when I have promised myself, that in this matter it would give you pleasure to help the societies, which have so often helped myself and my brother missionaries. The wants which I have discovered--of books alone--have, I grieve to say, been very, very far beyond what my means--far beyond what the means our district committee could place at my disposal, would enable me to supply. I sincerely hope that my narrative may stimulate the charitable at home to a more liberal aid of the societies; that the missionary may never lack the Bible and other good books, to send into some lone district, where they may supply to the people, in some degree, the hallowed associations which their sacred structures supply to the inhabitants of Great Britain, and what their zealous and justly beloved spiritual pastors are to them. [The Editor would take this opportunity, as the Archdeacon may have no other public means of thanking the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Bible Society, the Prayer Book and Homily Society, the Religious Tract Society, and the Sunday School Society, for their liberal grants of books for the Island of Newfoundland, in 1835.]
Shall I be thought tedious, if, before I close this journal, I subjoin a letter which bears reference to an appeal which I am now making to the British public for funds for the erection of a second church in the town of St. John's, the capital of this island,--a convenience which was pronounced to be most requisite both by my predecessor in this archdeaconry, the venerable George Coster, and by the late governor, Sir Thomas John Cochrane, and which was so strongly recommended to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, that, before my arrival in the island, its committee thus expressed itself in the Society's Report for 1827. "The population of St. John's has far outgrown the accommodation which the present church affords for public worship, and strong representations have been made to government for the erection of a second church, and the appointment of the archdeacon as the officiating minister. It would be a gratifying circumstance to record the commencement of such a laudable undertaking, but as yet the impediments have been found insuperable," p. 38.
Again, the Committee of the above Society, in its Report for 1830, the year in which I commenced residence in St. John's, observes, at p. 33: "The archdeacon, in conformity with the wishes of the Society, has removed from Bonavista to St. John's, a station affording a more ready communication with the clergy,--and better adapted for the performance of his own duties. At St. John's, the archdeacon officiates at a third service in the church, which, insufficient as it is for the accommodation of the increased population, still remains the only building appropriated to the members of the Church of England, in a place where the Protestants amount to more than 5000."
This inconvenience arising from want of church-room, which had been lamented previous to 1827, has, it may be imagined, increased since: it was so much felt by a very worthy lay-member of the Protestant Episcopal Communion in 1833, that he addressed me upon the subject as follows:--
"St. John's, Newfoundland, Sept. 22, 1833.
"To the Venerable ARCHDEACON WIX.
"MY DEAR SIR,
"As late as ten o'clock last evening, I was made acquainted with the fact that the Roman Catholic Bishop, Dr. Flemming, when in Ireland, had raised a very large subscription for the purpose of erecting a new chapel in this town, which, I am informed, is to be one of the finest buildings in any of the provinces, Having so frequently heard you lament the want of church-room in the present church, for the professors of the Protestant Episcopal creed, as well as their inability, from various causes, to raise sufficient funds for a suitable building to be dedicated to the worship of God, where the poor Protestant Episcopalian may be allowed to partake of the same blessing of hearing the Gospel preached to him, that is now almost exclusively enjoyed by his richer neighbours, and, being strongly impressed with a belief,--indeed, I may say, thoroughly convinced that your labours would be attended with success, I cannot resist the strong impulse which I feel of calling on you to proceed to England, and there advocate that cause to which you have already dedicated your best energies here.
"Neither, have you any reason to be discouraged. With the example of Mr. Codner's success, in establishing throughout our island those schools, which will ever rank among its greatest blessings, with the example of an humble individual conferring a benefit on a colony to such an extent that, but to have predicted at the commencement of his labours, would have rendered the prophecy a cause of ridicule, even to the most credulous, and excited the incredulity of the most sanguine. Having, also, the success of a Roman Catholic Bishop, in so poor a country as Ireland, what reason can there be for doubting the liberality, the charity, or the Christian spirit of her more wealthy neighbour, or for supposing that her exertions in the cause of religion would be less than we have already proved them to be in that of education?
"What country than England has done more for the cause of CHRIST, and to what part of the habitable world has she not extended His Gospel? Shall that country that cares for the salvation of the Hottentot, the Esquimaux, and the poor degraded Sudra,--shall she suffer her own children to lack the means of grace in one of her oldest and nearest colonies, where poverty at home has compelled them to seek the means of subsistence? Will her aristocracy, whose land has been, in a great measure, relieved by us of the burden of maintaining a superabundant population at home, withhold from us its band in assisting us to provide the means of worshipping our God after the manner of our fathers?
Will her merchants and manufacturers, into whose coffers the largest part of the profits of our joint laboure imperceptibly flows, refuse to contribute their portion to a purpose where their offering will be thrice blessed; blessed in the giving, blessed in the receiving, and once again blessed here-after? Will even her poor withhold from us their mite for the purpose of extending to their distressed brethren that privilege of worshipping their maker which they themselves so abundantly enjoy at home?
"Once more, then, I call on you (and let the occasion be my apology,) to plead the wants of the poor, to advocate the cause of our REDEEMER. You, to whom the pulpits of our church will at all times be open; who, from your rank among her clergy, possess advantages which no lay-man can obtain, appear, under GOD, to be likely to procure the means of enabling her to keep pace with her powerful competitors in this island. We have, already, two dissenting chapels, while the Roman Catholic establishment is about to be doubled; with but one place of worship, and that too small to contain those of her creed who can afford to pay for accommodation, what choice have the poor among the Episcopalians between apostacy and infidelity?
"May I entertain the hope that, at no very distant period, I shall see you embark on this hallowed pilgrimage, and have the pleasure of saying, 'God speed you!'
Very faithfully yours,"
Although the writer of this letter did but represent the wishes of several most estimable members of the church here, who were equally interested with himself in the measure proposed, I did not feel at liberty to desert my charge on such a mission. Ill health, however, made it absolutely necessary, at the close of that year, that I should seek the rest of a sea voyage, and temporary repose in England. On my arrival in England, I fondly entertained the hope that I might be permitted to devote such strength as I possessed to pleading the cause of the church in Newfoundland; and many clergy, to whom I offer my thanks in the name of the poor protestant Episcopalians of the town of St. John's, most kindly offered me their churches that I might make appeals to their several congregations on behalf of the Newfoundland, emigrant churchmen. The committee of the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," to which this island is altogether indebted for its church institutions, its clergy and till recently has been indebted also for all its schools, discountenanced my making any appeal to the public at that period, however, on the supposition that any appeal to the public for a particular specific object might operate prejudicially against the success of some grand appeal which that Society at that time meditated making for its general objects. Of course it was my duty to comply with this decision of a committee of the Society in the service of which I am engaged, and, after I had, through God's blessing on my native air, sufficiently recruited my strength, I returned with a very heavy heart to the scene of spiritual destitution, without having been able to accomplish any thing for its improvement. The evil which I had hoped to remedy had increased, and is still increasing, to such a degree, that some effort must immediately be made, if our communion is to be protected from serious loss.
Under these circumstances, I have felt it to be my imperative duty to set about the erection of a second protestant episcopal church in St. John's. The good wishes which were every where expressed towards this measure, while I was in England, and the many offers of aid which my correspondents in the parent country have kindly made me, in the event of any public appeal being yet made for the object in England, embolden me to hope that I shall not now be left alone in this very serious undertaking. Two thousand pounds are needed for the accomplishment of the object which is at present contemplated, viz., the building by contract of a church sixty-two feet by thirty-six, with galleries, capable of holding seven hundred persons, at least, one half of whom will, in the event of the measure being properly aided, be accommodated with free sittings, and the remainder with seats, at a much lower rate of payment than is now required for such accommodation. The publishers of this journal are authorized to receive subscriptions for this object; and most anxiously will the writer look for the next arrivals from Europe, which may announce to him the degree of success which has attended his present appeal.
His primary object is, indeed, that of exciting the liberality of those who have the means of helping him in his attempt to afford this necessary church accommodation to the members of the protestant episcopal communion in St. John's. But he would wish, also, to excite a feeling of Christian sympathy for the entire population of the island, which is upwards of seventy thousand. He has recently visited several portions of it which had never before been visited by any minister of any name. The same cannot be said of several other portions which he lately visited, Only because, five years since, he had himself paid them, before, the first visit which they had ever received.--Those who desire the spread of the Redeemer's kingdom, and are anxious to hear the state of their less favoured brethren abroad, will, doubtless, have been interested in the report which he has submitted to their notice, of the religious state of a portion of the Christian family with which they were not previously acquainted, or but imperfectly acquainted.
The analogy between the case of Christian missionaries, and that of the spies who were sent into Canaan, (Numbers xiii.) will not hold in one particular. They went out from the wilderness; and they went into Canaan, the land of promise, to the very name of which we are accustomed to attach ideas of joy and peace, and tranquil rest, and calm delight in God's presence and favour. But, ah! your missionaries go forth out of more favoured districts into those less privileged! We leave the seats, in which are the comforts of religious society, and the treasures of religious privilege, and the parts which we traverse are the desert and the wilderness. Do not expect, then, favoured members of the church I that, if we be faithful in our testimony, we can bring you, like Caleb and Joshua, a thoroughly favourable report of the goodness of the land into which we are sent. With Caleb and Joshua, we would say to the Christian, who is properly zealous for the spread of CHRIST'S kingdom; "Go up, and possess it. The LORD will give it into your hand." But we are compelled to say also, with the greater number of those who had viewed the land of Canaan, that there are formidable obstacles against your extending in it immediately the triumphs of the cross; "The children of Anak," giants in wickedness, may occasionally be found.
And who can be surprised that such should be the fact? Readers! which of you, who know the first principles of our faith, can wonder that man, left to nature, should break out into acts of wickedness? You have been religiously and virtuously brought up,--you have lived beneath the light of christian privileges,--you have had opportunities of improvement by religious intercourse,--your sabbaths have been past within sound of the bell which has called you regularly to the house of prayer: but have you, with all these rich advantages, been able to root out all propensity to evil? Are you living to the Spirit? Can you be surprised, then, that men, removed from the restraints which a christian society imposes upon you,--removed from all opportunities of obtaining religious information from their cradle to their grave, should, some of them, live without GOD in the world? and that the more serious of them, who have had some little education, should bring to the inquiry, "what shall we do to be saved!" an ignorance of a sadly fearful character?
The word of GOD might teach us, before experience, what would be the state of persons so situated; an acquaintance with their actual condition strengthens our belief in the testimony of the sacred volume. Could you see it, you would be led by the sad contrast to value the more highly the religious privileges which you enjoy your-selves; you would be led to inquire of yourselves "What are we doing for the increase of religious knowledge among persons thus circumstanced? And when an opportunity such as this is afforded of pouring some rays of light upon the path of those who are wandering in darkness and error, you would be led in your love for souls, and your desire to promote GOD'S honour, to ask not how little-but "how much can I give unto the LORD?"
Place yourselves in the lonely cabins some of which I have endeavored to describe to you. In the absence of all other teaching, will you deny them the word of God, which may be their guide in life--their comfort in death? I need not tell you who believe, that the salvation--the eternal salvation of those for whom I plead may hang upon this thread. When a drunkard has been rebuked will you not enable your missionary to follow his warning by the gift of a silent preacher which five hundred miles from where I now am writing,--above two thousand from where you are reading may remind him, of the sin and danger of his habit? When parents have shewn a desire to lead forward their little ones to godliness and prayer will you deny your missionary the means to supply them with, the book of instruction which may help them in their christian efforts? When any who have shown a desire to learn the way to heaven are ignorant of the first principles of our faith shall not your missionary be enabled to supply them the instruction which may direct them to CHRIST and teach them the need of the Holy Spirit? Follow the donation of books which your bounty has supplied to the missionary; follow it with your prayers; but follow it too in imagination. I speak not of the delight with which he is himself penetrated when he receives the welcome testimony of your sympathy in his labours and puts his confidence for a blessing on their use in that GOD, whose blessing he believes you have invoked on them before you sent them forth; but follow them, I beg you--follow them in imagination upon their further voyage, when they are sent forth by your missionary to gladden the eye of many a christian mother, to encourage the emulation of many a lisping, child, to bring, tears of penitence to the cheek of man or woman, who is living, in iniquity, to soothe the bed of sickness, and to smooth the bed of death.
It may increase your desire to send to these destitute people of Newfoundland the means of spiritual improvement, if I relate to you the constant temptations to which, even the most remote settlements are exposed through the introduction among them in trading vessels, of the means of intoxication at a very cheap rate. The effect of the visits of these vessels in many places, as I have already remarked, has been to make the visits of the missionary perfectly useless in situations, where no christian member has ever been before, and where none may, during the lives of some of the present inhabitants, he ever seen again, and I have found in places where the inhabitants were most addicted to the use of these liquors, such enormous depravity practised as I cannot name; such as would have roused execration in the most licentious days of heathen Rome.
Again, shall I mention in vain that I have seen in a settlement where the simple people were desirous of seeking GOD,--where seventy children might be collected in any school which might be opened, so anxious are their parents for their religious instruction. There an infidel, of better education than those around him, has been settled (since my first visit to the place in 1830) from the states of the American Union. For the last four years, I found that it had been his delight to ridicule what he esteems the prejudices of the Christian believer! To spread among such of his neighbours as can read, the licentious tracts of the free-thinker, and to encourage in the young, an early assertion of their independence upon the parents under whose roof they were thanklessly lodging, and whose bread they were idly eating? If I could only send into each settlement of the island, printed Gospel Truth, in the same quantity which this pestilent American settler had ready to disseminate of publications of a contrary character, I should be happy.
Christian reader! Can you read with indifference that, in a place where scriptural knowledge is necessarily very low, publications should be propagated of so mischievously and offensively infidel a character, that their editors have been prosecuted, and sentenced, for their blasphemy, even in the American state of Boston, where infidel opinions must be irreligious indeed, to provoke a successful prosecution? Can you learn with unconcern, that I saw several hundred copies of another publication, the aim of which was the overthrow of man's belief in an eternal punishment for sin, and which conveyed notions the most confined, and confused, and unsatisfactory, respecting our divine atonement? And, lastly, can yon learn, without horror, that I saw many copies of works which were written for the express purpose of persuading men to look to their own worth and their own works for salvation, and to think of Jesus only as a mere man like ourselves? Language, moreover, was, in one of these publications,--a Boston weekly periodical, which, I regret to write, has its 2000 subscribers and an agent in Halifax, the capital of the diocese of Nova Scotia, and another at Quebec,--language was, in this, used respecting that JESUS, at whose name we bow, of such awfully blasphemous character, that the most profane about the wharfs of this very profane place in which I am now writing, would, I trust shudder at its repetition!
These books were in the hands, too, of one who travels much about the island; who has opportunities of visiting distant settlements, conversing with the people, and influencing their minds, which the missionary might envy. And these books are his companions! These frightful tenets are the topics of his conversation! These are his sentiments on revealed religion, and these he takes delight in spreading. But, Christian reader of this appeal! shall these books and these opinions,--shall any unscriptural tracts, by whomsoever propagated, be permitted to poison the minds of the growing generation, and will you not be ready to help to draw out the poison? Will you not lift up your hands in prayer, as you look upon the country, from your own holy mountain; while you send forth the weapons of the Spirit, pointed from the armoury of God, to fight such foes? What, though the children of Anak be mighty? In such a trial they must faint, and fail, and fall! Their defence will depart from them. We may be assured, that the Lord will be with us, and we need not fear them! I have been grieved to see such works in such a quarter;--I have grieved as I have viewed the mournful destitution of the members of our church along, these rugged shores. I am deeply, deeply grieved, when I think of the thousands in this town alone, who are now as sheep having no shepherd. Yet I trust that the fact of the existence of these evils may be over-ruled by a kind God for good! It will be so,--if you, who read this, will only give me the means of sending through the island the pure word of God, and proclaiming here, and propagating elsewhere, the plain exposition of the doctrines of man's salvation by grace, and his need of spiritual holiness. The youngest child may then supply his slings from the fountain of God's word, and the giant must fall. The truth must prevail! the land must be ours for the Lord CHRIST.
I have dwelt, it will be thought, long enough on the more sad portions of the report which may be made of those parts of the island which I have lately visited. I think I hear my readers ask, What! are there none of the pomegranates and figs which were found in Canaan? none of the clusters of the first ripe grapes? Has our missionary found there no milk and honey, no fruits to tell him of what the land might produce under spiritual culture and nourishment? O, yes! blessed be God! he has met much to comfort, much to encourage him! It has not been all cloud; there have been rays of cheering light in the wilderness through which he has been led! Some of the fields are even now ripe for the harvest. He has, indeed, met with some sad, very sad testimonies to the ungodliness of the natural man. Yet too, he has met, in so many instances, with proofs of the blessing of the Holy Spirit on very small advantages of religious information, that he does not distrust the pleasing assurance that the land may yet be ours. He places great hope on the divine blessing upon the effort which you will make in answer to this earnest appeal, and upon the alms which you are already eager to throw into this treasury of the LORD.
Before the general introduction of Sunday schools into England, our humble fishermen, I have already reminded you, brought with them, it may be imagined, a very scanty degree of spiritual knowledge to this country of their adoption. Yet many who thus came out as boys, have, through the blessing of GOD upon the use of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer, kept up a religious feeling in their settlements; and their children and their children's children are now inheriting the blessing. But these very rays of encouragement should affect you as strongly as the darker shades of the picture; they should interest you as deeply in behalf of the people; they should stimulate your liberality as much. You will not be sending the missionary, the school, the Bible, the treasures which you value so much yourselves, to people who do not know their value; they may have no silver or gold to offer for them, but they esteem them not the less. You will not be casting pearls before swine.
I have informed you of the worthy man who lamented to me with deep feeling, that, when he and his neighbours were sick and sore there was none to visit them none who cared for their souls!
Will you not enable me to supply him and the many who feel like him with the volume which may teach him to sanctify any suffering and to look out of this wilderness into the bounds of the land of promise? I have informed you of another (and may there not be many such?) who often drops a tear on the Lord s day when he thinks how different it is where you are and where he once was where the sweet Sabbath bell may be heard throughout the day; did I think too well of you when I thought you would enable me to keep my promise to him that he should have a volume of good sermons, such as he had heard in the church of his youth which he might make useful to his neighbours by reading them aloud? And when another has said to me and not without tears at the time of uttering it that it often made him weep, in the wild place of his present abode to think of the fine opportunities he had wasted while a boy declaring that he should think more, were he again at home, of church-going now than he did then, shall I not be enabled by you to send him what may lead him, even at the eleventh hour, to redeem the time? And was I wrong when that young housekeeper told me with an air of artlessness which forbade the suspicion that she was exaggerating, that next to the death of her dear parent, she had never felt a calamity greater than leaving behind her, on her marriage, some books which I gave her, five years ago, and which were so prized in her native settlement, that the surviving parent and her friends would not permit them to be removed? Was I wrong in thinking that you would have pleasure in joining with me to prepare for her the grateful surprise of receiving a like present?
"Give me a Bible; for years I have been craving for a bible. My eyes are getting bad, and my bible is broken, and dark from smoke, and, were it not for that Testament, the print of which is larger, I could not read at all; but what I have read, has taught me to pray, and, in several instances I have had prayers answered in a most remarkable way," said another to me. He had been often in perils, and most signally preserved. Between the time of my seeing him, and the present, he has fearlessly exposed his own life in his endeavour to save some fellow-creatures who were almost in an exhausted state, from one of the sad wrecks which are so common on this coast; eight or nine of which came under my knowledge this spring. "I'd sooner perish myself, than see a fellow-creature drowning!" was his noble cry; and, relying on his GOD, he dashed into the surf, and happily succeeded in drawing them through the breakers! Shall I not be enabled to send this child of prayer, this intrepid child of storms, a copy of the Scriptures, by which his own faith in CHRIST may be confirmed, and he may be led to see farther the duty which is upon him to strengthen his brethren?
Christian readers! you are yourselves looking forward with the humble confidence of one day being admitted to the glories of an Heavenly Canaan, through the merits of your divine Redeemer JESUS CHRIST. You have received, I trust, first fruits of the Spirit, some earnest of the rich inheritance of the saints in light. From these pledges you know, as well as from GOD'S word, that Emanuel's land is an exceeding good land, a land which flows with milk and honey. You do not doubt of reaching this land; though there are obstacles and trials in your way, you rely on One who is mightier than any one who can be against you; who has promised to be with you even in your passage over the separating sea of death. In common with the rest of your fellow-creatures, you are called to endure trials. Do the hopes which you entertain of reaching this good land, give you comfort to support you under them? Would you barter away this hope for any of the treasures, any of the pleasures of this world? No, NEVER!!
Then help me to extend the knowledge of this land to those here who are in ignorance of its excellence and beauty. Shall any perish in this wilderness, whom you, reader! might furnish the means to direct in the path which leads to a better country, and a happy, Heavenly home? Oh! I feel convinced that you will aid me by your alms to instruct the babes of the fold of CHRIST who are looking to you to be fed! to enlighten the ignorant who are seeking to be informed in the way of Salvation! to comfort the sick who have no pastor to breathe by their beds the prayer of assurance in their dying hour! You will, at least, contribute your mite towards the erection of a second church in the capital of this island, where, taking, his stand upon the world to come, the Christian missionary may effect a moral spiritual movement, in the mass of ignorance, superstition, idolatry, and various wickedness by which he is surrounded. You will,--you will entitle yourselves to the thanks, the prayers, and the blessings of those who are fainting and ready to perish; who, through your means, shall drink of the fountain of living water, and be refreshed and satisfied, and saved through JESUS CHRIST!