UNTIL such time as the Rev. Thomas Bridges could arrive--he had gone to England for ordination, and was ordained by the Bishop of London on Trinity Sunday, in 1869--Mr. Stirling, on reaching the Falklands, arranged that Mr. Bartlett, the mission farm bailiff at Keppel, should proceed to Ushuaia to help the natives with their gardens, and that Mr. Resyek, who had shortly before joined the mission, should take charge of Keppel.
During his brief stay in this country, Mr. Bridges, at the Committee's request, selected two catechists, one, of whom, Mr. James Lewis, was a skilled carpenter, and the other, Mr. John Lawrence, possessed a good knowledge of agriculture. Immediately thereafter he hastened back with his newly-married wife to his field of labour, without waiting for the agents referred to. The Bishop of London, when presiding at the annual meeting of the Society, called attention to the fact that Mr. Bridges had, previous to coming home, spent eleven years of his life among the Fuégians, and stated that "it was scarcely possible to imagine a man more fitted in every way for the singularly difficult and peculiar work allotted to him."
After an absence of six weeks, three of which were spent at Ushuaia, Mr. Bartlett returned to Keppel. While at Ushuaia he had worked hard himself, and given the natives efficient help in digging, planting, and enclosing their gardens, and when writing to Mr. Stirling he spoke most favourably of their good behaviour. When the entire mission party met at Keppel in December, it was arranged that Messrs. Bridges and Lewis, with their wives, and Mr. Resyek, should proceed to Ushuaia, while Messrs. Lawrence and Bartlett, with their wives, should be responsible for the work at Keppel.
As the work continued to advance not only at Keppel and Tierra del Fuégo, but also throughout the South American Continent generally, by the appointment of chaplains and missionaries, as will be specially noticed in a succeeding chapter, the want of episcopal superintendence, it is said, was pressingly felt. Hence the recall of Mr. Stirling. He was consecrated
THE FIRST BISHOP OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS
in Westminster Abbey on December 21, 1869, by the Bishop of London, assisted by the Bishops of Ely, St. David's, and Worcester. The event was a memorable one, marking as it did the close of the first period of the mission, and inaugurating another which was destined to prove one of enlargement and of blessing to many thousands in the neglected Continent.
After Mr. Bridges' return to the Falklands, he paid his first visit to Ushuaia in the beginning of 1870. It was a great satisfaction to him to find everything in good condition, showing that the instruction imparted by Mr. Stirling and Mr. Bartlett had not been thrown away. The work continued to be diligently prosecuted on the same lines. And five months after the arrival of the mission party on that island they were cheered by a visit from the newly-appointed Bishop. He described the appearance of the infant settlement as "very promising." An iron house, sent from London by his request, which had been dedicated to the service of the mission by prayer and the reading of the Word of God, and which had been named "Stirling House," occupied a fine position; while in front and rear the gardens of the residents were admirably laid out. Five-and-a-half acres, well fenced, belonged to six native families. Scattered up and down among the various buildings were wigwams of a superior sort.
Bishop Stirling had much more of a pleasing nature to report, in connection especially with the baptisms. It can be best told in his own words:--
It is not, we must allow, a slight change which has taken place in the character of the natives of these parts, when we contrast the peaceful development of our plans now in their very midst with the fitful, hesitative, timid efforts we were compelled by their former savage habits to put forth.
But it is delightful now to feel we are working among a softened, respectful, and receptive population for the most part, and to be able to report a native Christian nucleus formed in the centre of Tierra del Fuégo.
I joined with Mr. Bridges in baptizing thirty-six of the Indians, adults and children, and in joining in Christian marriage seven couples. The service took place in the open air, in the presence of, I suppose, a total of 150 persons, including ourselves. The responses by the candidates were firmly and intelligently made, and I trust, with God's grace, they will be kept.
That this was no vain trust, was shown by the fact, as mentioned by the Bishop, that the baptized had spontaneously organized evening worship, and were meeting in each other's houses for prayer and praise. He adds:--
One evening I was present, and a more touching, encouraging assembly for prayer I never was at. The prayers were beautifully uttered, deeply reverent in tone, eloquent in expression, and full of pathos.
And these were Fuégians, who a few years before were among the most degraded specimens of humanity on the face of the earth--"the miserable lords of a miserable land!" Nothing but the grace of God could have accomplished such a marvellous change. To Him be the glory. No one was more astonished and gratified on being informed of the change that had been wrought on them than Charles Darwin--"the one man," in the words of the late Richard Holt Hutton, "whom European science would, with one voice, probably agree to consider as the most eminent scientific writer and thinker of the present century." Darwin's subscription to the Society's funds, continued for many years until his lamented death, was, according to the Spectator, "about as emphatic an answer to the detractors of missions as can well be imagined." [Spectator, April 26, 1884.]
Reference has been made to Okokko and Lucca. What about the other two surviving Fuégians who had been in England? Sisoy, after having been delivered safely over to his father in May, 1867, was for some time lost sight of. About seven months afterwards, on an attempt being made to establish a pioneer settlement on Navarin Island, he heard of it, and came there, still wearing the remains of his English clothes. He was then found with Mr. Stirling when at Ushuaia in 1869, after which he again went to live with his father, to whom he was strongly attached. Lucca's account of him was most gratifying. He referred especially to his resisting the temptations of his evil surroundings, and to his purity of character and sweetness of temper. His father having died in the following year, he at once went over to Ushuaia, and there he was found by Mr. Bridges in July, 1870. Many interesting details of Sisoy's helpful efforts to further the kingdom of Christ might be given, but the limited available space precludes their introduction.
As regards the fourth youth, known as "Jack," he was much employed on board the Allen Gardiner, acting for some time as cook. He seems to have moved about a good deal, living at times among his own people, far removed from all direct missionary influence. From the Falklands in 1872 he wrote a letter of thanks to the friends of the mission in England. After adverting to their former life of wickedness and ignorance, and to what their teachers had taught them, he added, "I very much want to be a good Christian. I ask God every day to help me to love Him, and to do all things to please Him. . . . We hope God will send us more teachers, and help me to teach my people, that they may all know about Jesus Christ our Saviour." Jack was baptized on his deathbed, at his own request, in 1874.
Steadily the work advanced, so that before the close of 1882 Ushuaia was a regular, well-conducted Christian village, with cottages instead of wigwams, a church, a schoolhouse, and an orphanage. It had been visited on several occasions by the Bishop, when the school was examined, and adults were confirmed and admitted to the Communion. Mr. Bridges had compiled a grammar and an extensive vocabulary and dictionary. He had also completed for the Press the translation into the Yahgan language of the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John and the Acts of the Apostles, the selling price of these Gospels (which were printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society) being fixed at one shilling each. It was the first time the natives had seen their language in print. In the work of translation valued assistance had been rendered by Sisoy.
The remarks that follow are taken from the Narrative of the Origin and Progress of the Mission, by the late Rev. John W. Marsh, M.A.:--
It is interesting to know that the men who are under Christian instruction are (under Mr. Bridges' guidance) developing habits of industry in planting and fencing gardens, felling trees, sawing them into planks, building cottages, and making roads. Cattle and goats have been introduced. An orphanage has been erected, of which all the planking and fittings were prepared on the spot, and twenty-five children are here clothed, fed, and educated at the expense of friends in England.
After thirty years' residence in these parts, Mr. Bridges, in 1886, ceased to have any official connection with the Society, having obtained from the Argentine Government an extensive grant of land in Onaland, along the shores of Beagle Channel, about forty miles to the cast of Ushuaia, with the view of working it as an industrial farm. He named it Harberton. The design was to employ chiefly Indian labour; and it need hardly be said that, although as one result of this step he became a naturalized citizen of the Argentine Republic, the operations of the farm were conducted in full sympathy with the mission.
In accepting the resignation of Mr. Bridges, which they did with unfeigned regret, the Committee gratefully acknowledged the valuable services he had rendered to the mission, noting at the same time the advance during the period referred to from heathenism to Christian civilization among the natives of Fireland. On his retirement, Mr. Lawrence was appointed local superintendent.
The work among the Ona people has always been carried on under great difficulties. Yet it is noteworthy how God, in his providence opened doors for the entrance of the Gospel among them. Thus Mr. J. Robins, who was formerly in the Allen Gardiner, and for a time also in Paraguay and Keppel, having been appointed resident manager of two farms in Onaland, was doing excellent work of a kind which the Society could not hopefully attempt. The families of Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Bridges also have grown up among the natives, and are exercising a healthful influence over them.
Notwithstanding, reference is made somewhat sorrowfully by Bishop Stirling to the extent to which the natives of the Fuégian Archipelago have dwindled down of late years. It is not the Yahgans only, he states, but the race generally, that has suffered this decline. For some time there was a marked improvement, physically and morally, of the Indians who came under the influence of the mission at Ushuaia. There was an uplifting process gradually going on. This was seen, as already stated, in improved dwellings, etc. But when all seemed full of promise, there came an invasion of so-called civilization. Formerly, the whole of Tierra del Fuégo was practically Indian territory. It continued to be so until Argentina and Chili put in their respective claims to the land, the award, by mutual agreement, being eventually made by the President of the United States, who divided it between the two claimants. What followed is thus stated by the Bishop:--
It was necessary for them to take possession of their respective portions, and in doing so Argentina determined to make Ushuaia the chief seat of Government in our new territory. In the wake of Government came soldiers and sailors and traders and gold searchers. The natives were astonished and embarrassed. The new forces threatened to overwhelm them, and rapid adjustments were difficult. Some violence and many temptations were offered to them. Cajoleries and cruel kindness did their work. Resistance was found to be quickly penal, and always apparently unprofitable. It is not surprising that a people in the very childhood of a new life should be gradually overcome. The leaven of a Divine law had but imperfectly permeated the rude lump. As a consequence many were led astray. But things were not unhopeful until an attack of measles took place after a distribution of clothes by the Argentines. The cause and effect seemed clear. But this disease, so mild when treated with care, spread like wildfire among the Yahgans, burning up the very best material of the Mission. The settled natives within a radius of thirty miles of Ushuaia nearly all died, and naturally the residue were terrified and scattered. The Indians, given to hunting and fishing in independent parties, more or less escaped. The civilized almost all perished. This great blow struck at the roots of the mission work, and to begin again with all the added difficulties of the present time to contend with, and among a people scattered and parted, seems hopeless. . . .
In 1884 the Argentine Government Commission proclaimed the authority of that Republic in its acquired territory, of which Ushuaia forms a part. The change was viewed with some apprehension, but Colonel Lassarre was most friendly, showed the missionaries all possible honour and regard, and assured them, on the part of the Argentine Government, not only of protection, but even of co-operation on account of the humane and civilizing character of the mission. The fact is noteworthy, when it is borne in mind that all the officers and men in the Argentine Commission were members of the Romish Church, and that they represented a Government which had not previously done much for the protection and welfare of the Indian races. The missionaries were full of gratitude to God for the favour thus shown them; and the Rev. Thomas Bridges wrote that his wishes had been incorporated with the regulations, and the security of the natives secured. But alas! his hopes were not destined to be realized. The social and civil influence of the Argentine Prefecture established in the immediate neighbourhood of the mission turned out to be unfavourable, as has already been fully explained in the Bishop's letter.
Three Ona girls were brought to the Orphanage, as the Governor did not know what to do with them, and expressed a desire that the mission should undertake to train and support them. They belonged to a tribe that had been much driven about from place to place, for whom previously little or nothing had been done. As illustrating their habits, when the porridge was placed on the table and spoons given to the poor girls, they thrust their hands into the middle of the dish, having never handled a spoon before.
Mrs. Hemmings taught the girls to spin and knit. She mentioned that one day the Governor, with his family, was there, and that he was so pleased and amused to see the women outside their houses spinning and knitting, that he begged to have a pair of stockings made to send to the Minister for exhibition to show what native women were capable of doing.
Mr. Bridges visited Ushuaia from time to time, and as he spoke English, Spanish, and Yahgan with equal fluency, he was able to preach to the several classes resident there or in the neighbourhood in their own language.
Writing in April, 1892, Mr. Lawrence reported an improvement in the conduct of some of the natives, especially in the matter of temptations to drink, which he stated were recently introduced into the country. Liquor is kept at the stores, all of which are drinking shops, at which drink is freely sold. The Spaniards are for the most part responsible for the reprehensible practice. Sad to say, the liquor traffic is greatly on the increase throughout the whole of these regions, and this causes the missionaries much anxiety. The store-keepers and settlers on the north shore have been urged not to give or sell drink to the natives. The temptations arising from this cause were increased by the presence of a considerable body of miners, most of whom, after a time, happily left the country, as they could not find sufficient gold to pay their expenses. Their departure was a welcome riddance to the mission, as also to the natives generally.
Some recent information regarding the Onas is contained in a letter from Mr. Lucas Bridges, son of the Rev. Thomas Bridges, dated February 11, 1899. He wrote:--
Suppose we draw a line from the mouth of Rio Grande due west, south of this line I can speak positively of the Ona. Their number is not 250 all told, 50 of these are men. There is a lake in the interior of this island, having its eastern end north from our home at Harbcrton. Its western end is north of Yendagia, and from it there rushes a river into the head of Admiralty Sound. This makes a mission to the Onas from Yendagia out of the question, as your missionaries would have to double the east end of this lake, after a tramp of some seventy miles over very rough mountains. . . . We have had over 140 of the natives here this last year at the same time, and at present have 90. They would not leave their children in an orphanage, and if they would, I should not advise it after our experience at Ushuaia and Tekenika.
. . . There are few Onas over thirty years of age who have not killed one of their own people in revenge. . . . They are passionate, revengeful, and lazy. On the other hand, they are kind and generous to a friend, enduring and determined in hunting, and they put up with no end of hardship without a murmur. They paint themselves from head to foot with red clay, mixed to the thickness of dough with oil. Their appearance, though red, is not dirty, and they never dwell long in the same place.
Notwithstanding these and other untoward influences, the work advanced steadily and encouragingly. Some four hundred Fuégians have been admitted to Church membership by baptism; and in a recent report reference is made to "hallowed little spots in Tierra del Fuégo--just a family at each place where the true God is worshipped, honoured, loved, and served."
The Queen's Jubilee was duly held at Ushuaia, much enthusiasm being shown on the occasion. The room was appropriately decorated with Argentine and English flags, with the mottoes, "Viva la Republica" and "God Save the Queen" worked in leaves of the winter's bark tree. A very happy evening was spent, and before the proceedings, which consisted of prayers, hymns and addresses, were brought to a close, "God Save the Queen" was heartily sung, three cheers were given by the mission, and three vivas by the Spaniards.
Among those who have rendered important services in the mission, few, if any, have a worthier record than the late Mr. L. H. Burleigh. He arrived at Keppel in 1877, and for eleven years laboured indefatigably to promote the moral and spiritual welfare of the natives brought there in the Allen Gardiner for instruction and industrial training. He acquired at the same time a knowledge of the Yahgan language and an insight into Fuégian character, which proved invaluable.
Much however, as Mr. Burleigh loved his work at Keppel, he longed to do something for the miserable natives in the vicinity of
Accordingly, when it was proposed to extend the mission by opening a station in this part of Chilian territory, Mr. and Mrs. Burleigh at once volunteered and removed, in 1888, to Bayly Island, naming the station Wollaston. Life there, it is said, was one continual struggle against adverse circumstances. The natives were sunken beyond description in savage ignorance and wickedness. Yet were the labours of the two devoted missionaries attended with marked success. Let a single case suffice. It is vouched for by Mrs. Burleigh, who spoke as follows at an annual meeting of the Society:--
The case of a dear old man is in my mind now. He was one of the oldest men at Cape Horn, and one of the most degraded. Our first service was held on the Sunday after we arrived there, and this man was one who came. We had no service room, and so were assembled under the trees. I am sure if you could have seen him you would have thought the same as Darwin did, and asked the question, as I did on three occasions, "Arc these people really human? ' But this man listened attentively to every word. This was the first token that God was with us. At the close of the service the man came up and said to my dear husband, "You have been speaking a great deal this afternoon about things we never heard. You have been telling us about a man called Jesus. He seems to be a very kind sort of man; we should like to see Him very much. Is He coming to Wollaston?" We took him home that day. My husband stayed with him for two hours and when he rose to go the old man said, "Do not leave me; sit longer, and tell me more of this good news." So he stayed as long as he could, and with the promise Sat he would come again, he invited the old man to come to our daily prayer meet-land that disciple of Jesus was always the first to be there. Not long after this he was taken ill, but still he wanted to come, and on one occasion he did come when he ought to have been at home. ...
From him we learned a great deal that was most helpful to us in after times. He told us his past history, and we thanked God for having given him life. He died rejoicing in Christ, and it was the first Christian burial that we had at Wollaston Island. . .
The frightful storms and general inclemency of the weather necessitated the removal of the mission to a more favourable locality. That there was good ground for the transference will be readily acknowledged from the fact that not only was the region desolate in the extreme, but that "the weather chronicle for one year was, 300 days' rain continuously, twenty-five storms, other days neither fine nor wet." That Mr. and Mrs. Burleigh should have remained there for three years, enduring all the discomforts and hardships which such a residence involved, proved beyond a doubt that they were in no ordinary degree devoted to their work.
The Bishop being satisfied that a change was indispensable, he and Burleigh went in search of a more suitable field, which they discovered in Tekenika Sound, on the south coast of Hoste Island, distant from Wollaston about fifty miles. It occupies the unique position of being the most southerly settlement of human beings in the world. The removal thither was shortly afterwards effected, the entire body of the natives at Wollaston accompanying the Burleighs. They were joined also by a large party from New Year's Sound. Indeed, all the natives living within a radius of fifty miles, excepting those at Ushuaia, were gathered there, insomuch that the place was quite alive with people. Mr. Burleigh, writing in November, 1893, spoke of the growth of peace and order among the people such as he had not ventured to hope for a few months previous.
The Burleighs entered hopefully on the work in this new field, having the prospect of a more successful issue than would have been possible at the former station. Alas! when all looked so favourable, the entire mission were called to mourn the loss of Mr. Burleigh, who from some unexplained cause was drowned when out in the bay in his boat, on December 23, 1893, "to the unspeakable grief of his widow and children, as well as of his Indian flock, who were so lovingly attached to him."
It deserves to be recorded to the credit of the native women that, instantly on observing from the beach what had happened, they threw off their garments and swam to their canoes, in order to render such aid as might be in their power. Unfortunately, a high tide was running, and their utmost efforts to save the precious life proved unavailing. But the heroic action on their part was a splendid testimony to the influence which the lamented missionary had acquired over them.
The presence of the Bishop shortly after the occurrence of this sad calamity was warmly welcomed, and his sympathy and wise counsel were a source of much comfort to Mrs. Burleigh and the bereaved congregation. In touching terms he alludes to her great sorrow, and testifies that:--
In incessant and loving attention, and ministries to the children under her charge, and to the sick and troubled who came to her, she finds relief for that great grief which at first she thought would rob her of her senses. And no wonder; for under her wise and motherly care, under her judicious treatment, the children have all the beauty of health and the attractions of an ever-developing intelligence. It was delightful to see them either at their daily tasks or at their play. The services on Sundays were bright and joyous, under the influence of their well-trained voices; even anthems they sing creditably.
The amount of labour and patience bestowed upon these children must have been immense. . . . When I see how much good has been done, I am appalled to think that Mrs. Burleigh is almost immediately to be withdrawn from the charge of these children. ...
Miss Lawrence has consented for a time to go to Tekenika Bay, a thing I consider most important on Mrs. Hemming's account. The latter is crippled seriously by rheumatism, and is more fit to be looked after than to look after a Girl's Home. Her courage in staying at Tekenika, and her readiness to fill the gap made by the retirement of Mrs. Burleigh, deserve the highest praise. The climate and soil seem full of rheumatism, so wringing wet are they, yet Mrs. H. bravely encounters their evil tendencies, and gives another proof of womanly devotion to the needs of the mission.
Shortly previous to the sad event just narrated, Mr. P. Pringle had arrived as a skilled artizan, of missionary spirit, and was at once engaged in extending the Orphanage, in erecting a workshop, a school-room, and also a church as soon as the other buildings were completed. The several erections are on piles, owing to the great dampness of the soil.
Referring to Mr. Burleigh's death, the Bishop wrote that:--
The fact of Mr. Pringle being resident there proves a tower of strength in this hour of weakness and distress. For he is, so far as I can judge, a very capable and suitable person to take charge of the mission in Tekenika. And he proved himself a wise, and manly, and most kind friend to Mrs. Burleigh when sudden bereavement came upon her.
This station is now the headquarters of the mission in Tierra del Fuégo, and is under the charge of Rev. John and Mrs. Williams.
The devoted labourers at Tekenika were not left without tokens of encouragement, as will be seen from the following letter written in April, 1896, by Mrs. Knowles, since resigned:--
One of the saddest, and yet the brightest, episodes of our life here transpired this morning. The brightness indeed outweighs the sadness. Our merriest girl was called home to be with Jesus after nearly five months of suffering. From the time we arrived until laid aside by sickness, her duties were in our own rooms, and most conscientiously was her work done--performed, I am sure, from the highest motives--to please the loving Saviour whom she early learnt to serve. She spoke but little (except to the girls when alone with them) during her illness; but last evening she said in her own quaint way to Miss Fletcher, "Me die to-night," and gave such a happy testimony of her trust in Jesus. Early this morning Miss Fletcher called me, and together we watched beside her until her spirit winged its flight to the Saviour's presence.
To this account Mrs. Burleigh adds the following particulars:--
At one time about seventy natives from the Sound came over to us for protection from the traders, and amongst the number was a woman in a dying state. Some of the number had carried her all those miles across the mountains, etc. When they laid her down on the ground at Tekenika, she said to one of our women, "Where is Mrs. Burleigh? Will you take my two children up to her and ask her to take care of them and love them for me, for I am dying?" The woman brought them up, two wretched-looking objects; it took twelve days before we could get them clean; but very dear and intelligent children we found them. When they first saw us, and found that we were white people, they simply flew from us, and hid under the bed in the hut. We went down to tell the poor mother that we would love and take care of them, but she had passed away. The little girl Atumersurwyer-keeper (the girl referred to by Mrs. Knowles), I believe, has been a Christian for a long time.
The condition of Tekenika at that time gave the committee much concern. Their views in regard to it will be gathered from the following sentences taken from the report for 1898:--
The vicissitudes of the Southern Mission of late years have been various. The paucity of the population, the adverse influence of evil immigrants, the proximity of a Government Prefecture, the change from former well-known localities, the influx of disease, have all tended to reduce the work, and to diminish the interest in this, which is the oldest mission of the Society, and one around which many of the happiest and most fragrant memories of the past still linger. It was at one time suggested that the Mission at Tekenika should be abandoned on account of the fewness of the remaining Yahgans, and the great difficulty of gathering them together; but the committee could not bear the thought of deserting "the remnant that was left" while there was any probability of work being carried on among them. They remembered the yearnings after this very race which filled the heart of the Society's founder, the pains and the care that had been bestowed upon them, the bright examples of true faith raised up from among them, and the portions of Scripture already translated into their language, and they determined to make another effort for the evangelization of the remnant.
In this resolve the committee were doubtless in no small measure influenced by the noble spirit manifested by Mr. Pringle in the peculiarly trying nature of the work that fell to his lot. Writing a year or so before, he said:--
What may be the committee's ultimate disposal of myself and work is a small matter beside my hearty desire to be used by Him as a channel of grace to my fellow-men. I have promised Bishop Stirling that if he desires it I will stay alone in Tekenika for the sake of the remnant that the Lord has here; but I can see, with many others, that our work among the Yahgans is drawing to a close. My heart is bound up with the poor folks, and I shall never forget the days I have spent with them; but they have had many advantages over their poor fellow-country-men, the Una and Alaculoof Indians.
When Mr. Pringle was leaving for England, Mr. and Mrs. Whaits were transferred temporarily from Keppel Island to Tekenika. Miss Fletcher, from Ushuaia, joined them about the same time. The party-entered on their work in very encouraging and hopeful circumstances. Some Yahgans from Ushuaia, unfortunately, brought influenza with them, and both Mr. and Mrs. Whaits were attacked with it. To the deep regret of all, the latter succumbed to the disease on September 18, 1898, after twenty-four years of faithful service in connection with the missions in Tierra del Fuégo, at Keppel, and latterly at Tekenika. She is spoken of as a mother in Israel.
In May, 1899, there was received from Mr. Pringle a photo representing forty-three Yaghans at Tekenika, transformed from naked, filthy savages, into steady, clean, honest men, women, and children, all "clothed, and in their right mind," knowing some of the arts of civilized life, trained in farming, building, fencing, and spinning. Other group photographs have since been received.
In June, 1899, Mr. Pringle was having a talk with the lads in the Orphanage about the moon, etc. He thus refers to it:--
Towards the end, after a short prayer for a blessing on our talk, two lads, one after the other, stood up and confessed Christ in words and manner unmistakable. I did not urge one of them to speak in public. I knew that if the change came to the heart the tongue would be loosed. . . . We had a splendid time It was very cold, but our hearts were warm for very joy. . . . Two other lads are in like mind, and God's Holy Spirit is in our midst.
Writing in September, 1899, Mr. Pringle says:--
We are rejoicing in an increased manifestation of God's favour and blessing. The Lord has added to our little church souls saved by grace; fifty-six gathered in church, to-day. Some are erecting houses, and evidently mean to sojourn.
It may not be out of place to again make a brief reference to the missionary settlement on Keppel Island.
Dean Brandon, His Honour Judge Routledge, and Robert E. Nichol, Esq., camp manager for the Falkland Islands Company, paid a brief visit in 1892. They inspected the farm buildings, etc.; saw the boys put through their drill; heard them sing hymns and songs with much spirit'; gave them some suitable counsels; and expressed themselves as being much satisfied with all they had heard and seen.
The school had been under the care of Mr. J. W. Lewis since 1892. He also conducted the religious services in the absence of the superintendent, assisted by George Lywya--as native Catechist, and by Thomas Washuen, as native schoolmaster. The industrial farm, which is very productive, continues to be efficiently managed, by Mr. Whaits, as missionary bailiff, assisted by Mrs. Whaits (formerly Miss Fletcher). The Rev. Canon E. C. Aspinall, at that time working in the Falklands, visited the island periodically, as of course did also the Bishop. The station has an excellent record, extending over a period of forty years. George Lywya died at Ushuaia in 1899, in his 30th year. His mother, who was still living at Ushuaia in 1900, was one of the first of the Yahgans,--and the only one still living,--whom Mr. Lawrence saw at Keppel when he first landed there thirty years ago. George was the last of a family of ten children; he left a widow, but no child.
RESCUE OF SHIPWRECKED CREWS.
The indirect blessings resulting from the Missions in Tierra del Fuégo must not be overlooked in this review. It has already been stated that while shipwrecked crews had often been picked up and cared for on the Falklands, as well as on Staten Island, they had never been known to meet with similar treatment on the Islands of Tierra del Fuégo. Such was the state of things previous to the opening of mission stations at Ushuaia and Tekenika. It is otherwise now. A few extracts from the Narrative by the Rev. John W. Marsh may here be given:--
An American ship, the Dreadnought, bound for San Francisco, was lost off Cape Penas to the north-east of Tierra del Fuégo. The crew, consisting of twenty-two men, besides a boy and the stewardess of the ship, were thus cast away on a shore where, through the well-known cruelty of the natives, to be cast away was death. Yet, to their surprise and great joy, the Indians treated them well, not offering them the slightest violence. At the end of seventeen days they were rescued by a Norwegian barque. . . . The point to be ascertained is whether the novel fact of the kind treatment by the Fuégians of a shipwrecked crew may in this instance reasonably be traced to restraining influence from the mission station. A comparison of dates will throw some light upon, this question. The Dreadnought was lost on July 4, 1869. Mr. Stirling had been living among the natives at Ushuaia, in the first seven months of 1869, as a Christian teacher when this calamity occurred. The natives, who are not in any large numbers a settled community, were all the time coming and going to and from Ushuaia, as the great point of attraction. There is, therefore, presumptive evidence that one of the results of good work at Ushuaia had extended to Cape Penas, and was shown in the preservation of a crew from a miserable death.
In the next extract it will be seen that the Allen Gardiner had the satisfaction of rendering a similar service:--
An exploring expedition had been sent out by the Argentine Government, on occasion of the boundary question between Chili and the Argentine Republic.
In the course of their voyage in the schooner San José, they visited the Christian village at Ushuaia; and on their going thence, with intent to survey the south coast of the large island of Tierra del Fuégo, Mr. Bridges and his two sons accompanied them, hoping to become acquainted with some of the Ona tribe--men of a different race from the southern Fuégians, and more like the southern Patagonians. On the fourth day they arrived at Sloggett Bay, having passed the Allen Gardiner at Picton Island.
It was while they were at anchor in Sloggett Bay, May 30, 1882, that the sea rolled in angrily from the east, driven by a furious wind. They were in great danger of shipwreck, and the boats could not live in such a sea. To save life, therefore, the order was given to run the ship on shore, at a spot where landing would be possible by daylight. The whole party, twenty-two in number, were thus saved. They made the best of such shelter as they could obtain, with deep snow on the ground, and the gale still blowing violently upon them. On June 5, they were able to launch their whale boat, and dispatched a crew of five men under the mate, accompanied by Mr. Bridges' eldest son, to Ushuaia, to summon the Allen Gardiner to their rescue. The distance was 65 miles, and they arrived at ten at night on the third day. Two days more brought Captain Willis, with the Allen Gardiner, within sight of Sloggett Bay, but he was not able to get to the anchorage until the fourth day from leaving Ushuaia. During the eleven days that the shipwrecked men were on shore they were visited by a party of no less than fifty persons of the Ona tribe. Mr. Bridges soon made friends with them, making the most of his opportunity. . . . I encouraged the Ona (wrote Mr. Bridges) to pay us a visit at Ushuaia, and promised them a warm welcome and assistance to come and go. We visited their camp, and their whole company visited ours, and we had no trouble with them.
We arrived (Mr. Bridges continued), at 10 p.m., June 14, at Ushuaia from Sloggett Bay, and found all going on as usual. The Allen Gardiner will start as early as possible for Sandy Point, to take these seventeen persons of the shipwrecked party. Lieut. Bove and his attendant, Mr. Reverdito, will remain with us, in order to take passage to Stanley on the return of the Allen Gardiner.
At the annual meeting of the Society in 1883, Captain Bové, of the Italian Royal Navy, and Commander of the Antarctic Expedition (in the enforced absence of the Italian Ambassador), presented to the Society, on behalf of the king of Italy, a Royal letter, together with a gold medal specially struck to commemorate the rescue of the expedition when wrecked in Sloggett Bay, and in the course of his remarks stated that "a monument for saving human life was far superior to a monument of territorial conquest." The following is a translation of the King of Italy's letter:--
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of His Majesty the King of Italy, wishing to testify the gratitude of the Italian Government for the generous action performed by the English Missionaries in saving from irreparable disaster the Lieutenant of the Royal Navy, James Bovc, and his companions, wrecked last year in the channels of Tierra del Fuégo; according to the order of His Majesty the King, it is determined that a gold medal be presented to the English Society of the South American Mission, bearing on its face the august effigy of His Majesty, Humbert I., King of Italy, and on the obverse the motto, "Demersis aequore nautis attulit Religio salutem," "Religion has brought safety to the mariners rescued from a watery grave."
Other similar instances of preservation from shipwreck and cruel death, through the influence of the South American Mission, might be cited; but the foregoing, it is hoped, will suffice to show the beneficent character of the Society's work. The Admiralty charts for Magellan and Fuégia bear the following note:--"A great change has been effected in the character of the natives generally, and the Yahgan natives from Cape San Diego to Cape Horn and thence round to Brecknock Peninsula can be trusted."
The committee had to lament the death of the Rev. Thomas Bridges, whose abundant and fruitful service laid the Society under a deep debt of gratitude. For some years he had suffered much from ill-health. When on a visit to Buenos Ayres, in July, 1898, he was struck down by an unusually severe attack of his old complaint and expired there in great agony. Shortly before, he was introduced to General Roca, who had expressed a desire to see him.
The General, writes the Buenos Ayres Standard, had always entertained a feeling of sincere admiration for the plucky and energetic missionary, and during the interview told him that as soon as he became President he would visit Tierra del Fuégo. He asked Mr. Bridges whether he was an Argentine, to which the missionary replied in the affirmative, he being a naturalized Argentine; whereupon the General said: "You would be just the man to govern Tierra del Fuégo." The conversation drifted towards Biblical matters, and Mr. Bridges was astounded by the General's deep knowledge of the Scriptures. We mention this incident to show the high esteem in which Mr. Bridges was held by the most prominent Argentine of the day.