Chapter IV. The Bishop on Visitation--General Retrospect of His Missionary Tours in the Out-islands
"In some far-off bright Azore,
From Bahama and the dashing
Surges of Sun Salvador,"--Longfellow.
Lone as a solitary cloud,--
A single cloud upon a sunny day,--
When all the rest of heaven is clear."--Byron.
It was not indeed in the capital, where the supply of the means of grace might always be counted upon, but in the surrounding islands, that the effects of the disendowment measure of 1869 would be felt with greatest severity. How was the Missionary work of the diocese to be carried on? While politicians had been angrily attacking the Church at the seat of government, the Bishop was thinking of the vast and numerous parishes in his outlying islands, the scattered mission stations and distant settlements, where the poor black islanders, only half-reclaimed from savagery, were calling for more light. The population, almost wholly negro, of an affectionate and impulsive disposition, and giving proof in many instances of a well-founded [33/34] Christianity, yet needed very careful watching to prevent here and there a startling falling away into sin, or a relapse into the wild, nondescript religion of the African Creole,--half-Obeah, half-Anabaptist.
Besides, the poverty of the Bahamas is extreme. The staple produce of the colony--salt and fruit--finds next to no market, and destitution and emigration prevail.
"We have but one centre of very inconsiderable wealth," writes the Bishop, "with an enormous surrounding of poverty, in the shape of the out islands, an area of 120,000 square miles; and do what we may, the time is, I fear, far distant when we shall be able to do without assistance from England. Old, decayed churches like the West Indies, of which the Bahamas form the poorest part, have not the resources that young and undeveloped colonies such as Canada and Australia possess. As it is, with the assistance received from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the clergy can barely live on their incomes. To two of them I have been obliged to render further aid out of my own pocket, but how, when that assistance is withdrawn, the local efforts of an effete colony will be able to make up the deficiency, is to me a matter of sad foreboding. I should be much grieved at having to give up any existing mission, and to leave the people to the care of ignorant, and sometimes immoral, native Baptist preachers."
In Demerara, at the Conclave of Bishops a few years later, he spoke of himself as Bishop of the "poorest diocese in the world," nor was the claim disputed, and [34/35] Bishop Venables went on to substantiate his statement by a reference to the households of his clergy--one of whom had very frequently nothing to set before his children but rice and plantains; and another "told me when that, by good fortune, he got a piece of beef, it disagreed with him, because he was so unused to it."
Writing to Miss Mackenzie on the subject of various needs, and amongst others, of clothes for the families of his clergy, he says--"I remember getting several gifts of clothing by mentioning once at a public meeting, that one of my clergy was in the habit of boiling his coat in logwood dye every now and then to give it a fresher look, as he could not afford a new suit: and perhaps the repetition of the fact may produce a similarly charitable response."
Added to the poverty of his diocese, the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Nassau is of a very extensive character. The diocese from north, to south covers nearly 600 miles in length, while the number of clergy available for this wide area is miserably disproportionate. Leaving the Capital out of account, the remainder of the diocese, comprising fourteen parishes and seventy mission-stations, is officered by less than a dozen priests! And a single clergyman is commonly put in charge of a district equal in area to one of our English dioceses, and made up of groups of islands, separated from each other by 50 or 100 miles of sea, which the missionary has to cross as chance offers, and not seldom in nothing [35/36] better than an open boat. Were it not for a large and devoted band of Catechists who aid the missionary clergy by their gratuitous services, the evangelising of these outlying settlements could not be carried on.
The size of the districts entrusted to a single Bahama missionary may be gauged by the fact, that in his visitation tour of 1867, the Bishop was five weeks alone getting round the charge of the Rev. Henry Philpot, which embraces the two out-island parishes of St. Stephen and St. Peter, in the northern division of the diocese. And of another part of the colony he writes--"As an instance of the want of communication between the different settlements and islands, the missionary at Long Island cannot communicate with and hear from the extreme part of his district under five months, and he has had recently on two occasions to ride forty-five and sixty miles over a terrible road to visit dying persons--journeys which took him a night, and a day and a night respectively, and which, after all, were taken to no purpose, as in both cases the sick person was dead before he reached the house.
"It is distance that beats us: the extent of the diocese, the distances the people live from one another, and the infrequent communications between the different settlements, make the supply of the ministrations of religion a matter of great difficulty and expense. Two of the out-island parishes are of such large dimensions that only a limited part of each can be said to enjoy the ministrations of their pastor. They ought, if we had [36/37] the means, to be divided at once--one into three and the other into two parishes. Indeed, there are many places which the clergyman never reaches at all.
"And it is the same here with the machinery of all kinds, civil no less than ecclesiastical. Not only is it impossible for the clergyman to reach the scattered sheep of his flock, but there are settlements where the law cannot be administered, and which are too far off to derive any benefit from the few schools which Government here and there is able to maintain."
It may be supposed that the episcopal visitation of so extensive and difficult a field was no light task, nor indeed was it. The Bishop, however, penetrated into every nook and corner of the scattered islands, and few were the congregations that did not receive regular and constant visits. The cruises were often long and tedious enough. A fair run might be made to some point, and
"Then followed calms, and then winds variable,
Then baffling, a long course of them-----"
A long weary time of inaction, a burning sun, and little or no progress made. This exposure to the climate, together with the want of proper food and water, and above all, the absence of all kindred converse and companionship on such occasions, beyond that of his own sailors, told seriously upon the Bishop's naturally feeble health, and rendered these voyages a matter of painful effort. He embarked upon them sometimes with a [37/38] feeling of relief and change, but the sensation was only short-lived. The sense of isolation became extreme.
"I am to start next Sunday," he writes in 1872, "for a 'windward' cruise, which will extend over six weeks. I dread these long trips, as they weary me a good deal, not so much physically as mentally."
Besides, the Bishop was not, in the common phrase, a "good sailor." He never entirely got over sea-sickness, and at the end of a visitation tour would come into Nassau just able to get on shore and creep up to his house.
As a rule, which was seldom relaxed, the whole diocese, and almost every station, saw its chief pastor in the course of the year. [In 1865 he writes, "My visitations have occupied about three months, and I have visited almost every settlement. Most of the places had never seen a bishop before." In 1870 the visitations occupied nearly four mouths of the year; in 1872 the Bishop completed the visitation of the diocese in twelve months in a series of six trips, keeping him out 111 days, with a log of 2365 miles run.] This entailed very great exertions, and with the exception of the season when hurricanes are apprehended and sailing is dangerous, the Bishop was off and on visiting the outlying islands under his command. Thus he completed the whole cycle of visits in 1867, and writes in December--
"I am just off to our leeward islands, and on my return shall have been enabled to accomplish the visitation of the whole diocese in twelve months. I think that the people are becoming more favourably disposed towards the Church. Whenever work is done it bears fruit, and if only the agency at our command were more [38/39] extensive a good deal more might be done. On my visit to a settlement in the south-east of Eleuthera, a man came to me from a Baptist village about ten miles off, to say that he had collected forty children and formed a Sunday-school, and also that there were fifty persons waiting for baptism. I sent over the clergyman who baptized ninety persons, but how the work is to be carried on which offers such enormous prospects, I cannot tell, for we have not funds to employ another catechist, and there is not a layman in the settlement who can read well enough to conduct a service on Sundays."
In fact, this scarceness of lay agents at first starting (they were very largely increased afterwards), to say nothing of the more than limited services of the missionaries themselves, induced the Bishop eventually to place the irregular bodies of the uninformed out-island population--the lost sheep of the Church--on a new footing of relation to himself; which, without appreciably disturbing their religious peculiarities, still preserved them within the pale of the Church and in unity with the Bishop, thereby immeasurably enlarging his scope of missionary operation, and enabling him to reach and to retain congregations of ignorant black religionists who otherwise would have slipped through his hands, if indeed they had ever been so far approached. The Bishop says of his plan--
"I have made up my mind to adopt a more elastic system with the uneducated poor of the out-islands. Hitherto the Church has established itself only where [39/40] the people were sufficiently intelligent to take some part in the Church service, and where a person could be found sufficiently educated to conduct it. Consequently the majority of our out-islanders fall into the hands of the Baptists, not because they have any preference for Baptist principles, but because our mode of conducting divine worship is not adapted to them in their present state of ignorance. I propose, therefore, to recognise all as members of the Church, who will accept the Sacraments at the hands of the clergyman whenever he may visit them; but to leave them at other times to carry on their worship in their own way, restraining them as far as possible from extravagancies in worship, and instructing them in the performance thereof, but not fettering them with the Prayer-book. If our agency becomes even more limited than it is at present, in consequence of the withdrawal of endowments, it will be absolutely necessary to introduce some such system."
Later on the Uniformity Amendment Act of 1871, providing for shorter and separated services, contributed also to a more authoritative modification of divine worship to suit the ever-varying circumstances of the Church; but though heartily recommending the Act to his Synod, the Bishop did not feel that it fully answered their own peculiar requirements. The shortening of service in itself was no doubt an advantage in the tropics, especially in the great heats, with a vertical sun and the: thermometer at 90°" in the shade, but the difficulty lay in producing under these conditions a form of worship [40/41] which should be sufficiently short, without at the same time depriving the chief service of the day of either its accustomed Morning Prayer or Litany. The Bishop's criticisms of the Act in question, as far as it failed to meet the individual case of his diocese, occur in his charge--
"1. I should like to see a greater variety of Canticles permitted, of which, beside those in use, several very beautiful are to be found in Holy Scripture. I am sure that the inappropriateness of 'Venite' on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is felt by many.
"2. We in this diocese need for use amongst our less instructed congregations a service of a very simple and elastic kind, even admitting in certain cases extempore prayers. This is in no way supplied by the Act lately passed in England.
"3. Then how would the liberty to separate services affect us? It would no doubt be a great boon to have, e.g., the Litany as a separate service. It will probably be used by many as an afternoon service for Sundays and at children's services. It could also be used with good effect at a week-day evening service.
"I confess, however, that I feel no little sympathy with those who object to the relegation of the Litany to the afternoon of Sunday, by which arrangement it would seldom be heard by the great bulk of our congregations, who generally prefer the Morning and Evening Service to the afternoon. And what is wanted is not merely a proper separation of services, but a [41/42] proper union of them. The Litany cannot be united under our present arrangement either with Morning or Evening Prayer without several repetitions, and without protracting the service to an inconvenient length. I would far rather see permission given to the clergyman, whenever he uses the Litany in the morning or evening, to preface it with a short service distinct in itself and separated from the Litany, as Morning Prayer is at present by a hymn. Leaving out the Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, the service might begin with the Lord's Prayer and end with the 'Dominus Vobiscum,' and if necessary one or more of the Psalms might be omitted. A service of this kind would, together with hymns and the Litany, not very much exceed half an hour, and would supply the elements of worship, praise, reading of God's Word and Confession of Faith, which are wanting in the Litany itself."
The Biminis were also revisited this year (1867), and the Bishop found the islanders in a more hopeful condition, under their new catechist.
"He has," says the Bishop, "during the past year married nine couples who were previously living in sin. The system of wrecking, too, has very much given place to the less gambling occupation of 'sponging,' and the people profess to confine themselves to legitimate wrecking only. However, while I was there rumours got about of an 'expected' wreck, and every vessel cleared out of the harbour, including a little schooner that I had chartered for myself, so that had not the rumour proved [42/43] false I might have been detained an unwilling prisoner for several days."
These trips were at first made in some island vessel, as above described, or when opportunity offered in a man-of-war, until in 1868 all such precarious modes of voyaging were superseded by the purchase of a mission vessel, the "Message of Peace." The little schooner, of some twenty tons, proved a capital sea-boat in many a stiff gale, and made a fast sailer. The Bishop was deservedly proud of her, and used to compare her qualities with those of bigger crafts, not always to the advantage of the latter.
"On Wednesday (he writes in May 1872) I sailed from Nassau in H.M.S. 'Minstrel' for Eleuthera; but I suppose that, like Sir Walter's Minstrel, she must be 'infirm and old,' for we did not reach Governor's Harbour before Friday. Shortly after our arrival my own schooner came in, having left Nassau only that morning!"
The first trip in the newly-purchased mission schooner was made to the neighbouring island of Andros. We had a head wind and a nasty choppy sea as soon as we left skirting the north side of New Providence and stood out for Andros, but the little schooner behaved admirably, and a quick run of an hour or so across the sound found us just outside the long barrier of reef and shoal that locks the Andros coast, and gazing at Fresh Creek and that never-wearying beautiful sight of the many-tinted "white" waters of the shore dancing in the sunlight, where a little cock-boat, with Mr. Sweeting the catechist on board, was tumbling about, waiting to [43/44] pilot us in by a somewhat perilous channel, amid sunken rocks and shoal water, to our moorings in the Fresh Water River, which gives its name to the settlement. We had just finished dining on board, when an amusing accident happened. "Jim," the cabin-boy, was passing along the side of the vessel, carrying a pile of pewter plates to wash, when he was jostled by one of the sailors in the gangway, and two of the plates went overboard into the river. There they were, to be sure, on the river bottom; the depth was nothing very great, and we could see the great "horse-eye" fish and a host of smaller fry gathered round in curious wonder at the shining discs of metal below.
"Jim," cried the Bishop, "this will never do; those plates cost a dollar apiece!"
"Coodn't help it, massa; somebody push me."
"Well, I can't have them lost. You must go after them."
Which Jim accordingly did, and went down among the fishes, returning the next moment with a plate in either: hand, which he flourished in triumph over his head.
It was a very happy circumstance that a remarkable instance of religious earnestness among the black islanders should have awaited the first missionary cruise of the "Message of Peace." The Bishop's account of it is as follows:--
"I have just got my little schooner from Halifax, and made my first voyage in her the other day to Andrps Island. It is impossible to speak too highly [44/45] of the labours of Mr. Sweeting, our black catechist, the morality of his people bearing a striking contrast to that of other out-island settlements. I was much impressed by the earnestness shown by a young woman, one of his candidates for confirmation, in the efforts made, under very unusual circumstances, to present herself for that ordinance. The settlement in which she lives, Bower's Sound, I had not visited before, and on hearing of my arrival in the island, she had immediately left home for Fresh Creek, the headquarters of the district, and my stopping-place. The distance is fourteen miles, with a most rugged road to travel along, and two creeks to be forded. On reaching Fresh Creek, however, she found that I had actually started for her own village, and accordingly she hastened to get back before I should have left the place. But the poor girl was doomed to be again disappointed. I had paid my visit to Bower's Sound, her own abode, and had gone back again to my headquarters before she could arrive. Yet, nothing daunted, she started a second time for Fresh Creek, and arrived there on Sunday afternoon, but after the confirmation service was over. I held, however, a special confirmation for her in the afternoon; and it gladdened my heart to mark her behaviour during the service, and to see the tears roll down her cheeks as I addressed her; and I was the more interested in her apparent earnestness from knowing that at one time she had been living in Nassau, and leading a very evil life there. Thus this poor girl's confirmation cost [45/46] her a journey of fifty-six miles, forty-two accomplished on foot: and backwards and forwards, over her wild road, across rocks, and through water, she carefully carried the dress she was to wear at her confirmation--clean muslin gown, veil, and her boots."
The tried excellence of such a man as the black catechist of Andros--himself since then admitted to the diaconate, and subsequently to the priesthood--naturally helped forward the idea, always present to the Bishop's mind, of supplementing the scanty ranks of his clergy by the ordination of tried and proved black catechists. When Disendowment had been a fait accompli of six years' standing, he wrote: "The most hopeful thing in the future is the prospect we have of being able to employ more extensively a native ministry, which will be far more economical than that of clergymen brought from England. We have two excellent young black men now in training, and I have two catechists whom I hope before long to promote to the Diaconate. I feel that we must aim at the raising up of a native ministry, not only on the ground of economy, but also because of the necessity of supplementing the work of the parish clergyman with local agents in holy orders. The flying visit of a clergyman, perhaps only once a year, is of comparatively little use to a congregation which is left for the rest of the year without sacraments, and dependent on the ministrations of a lay catechist."
In connection with this promise of native ministrations [46/47] may be mentioned a missionary effort of an interesting nature amongst a remote and neglected portion of the island diocese, due as it was to the Christian charity and energies of a body of Bahama churchmen towards a population of their less enlightened brethren. The settlement in question which called forth this work of active love was in a distant part of the island of Eleuthera, into which the Bishop had penetrated in 1867, and there found a large and almost unknown population, and in so desolate and ignorant a condition, that, on returning to the capital, he represented the forlorn state of these islanders to his friends, with such success, that the Missionary Association of St. Mary's parish undertook the very practical work of establishing a mission in the hitherto neglected settlement. A member of the congregation of St. Mary's soon commenced his duties amongst these people as their catechist, and the kindness of a lady presented the mission with a site on which to erect a school, church, and catechist's house under the same roof. The work was retarded for some time by the distrust felt towards the movement by the inhabitants, to whom the Church was almost unknown, and by the difficulty of collecting sufficient funds for the purchase of timber and building materials. After a season, however, of this inertness, the people all at once set themselves with the utmost goodwill to the work of the building, and the men for several months gave up the whole of every Thursday to that purpose. In a very short time this most praiseworthy effort bore [47/48] unmistakeable fruit. In less than twelve months after the catechist's arrival, the Rev. C. C. Wakefield, the Incumbent of the Nassau parish, from which the missionary enterprise had emanated, visited the mission. The school he found attended by 118 children, clean and well clad, and the average attendance was over 100; so strong being the desire for instruction that the wettest weather told but little upon their numbers; and although a year before no single child could read, yet Mr. Wakefield heard a large class read with tolerable fluency; some progress had also been made in writing and arithmetic, and the singing was excellent. But the smallness of space in which both school and Sunday services were being temporarily held during the erection of the church buildings, necessarily reduced the attendance. Yet something over thirty Sunday scholars presented themselves, five communicants were already on the mission roll, and many more were awaiting the Bishop's visit for confirmation.
The Bishop, soon after his return from England in 1870, visited this hopeful mission, and had the satisfaction of handing over the entire district of Eleuthera, then already disendowed, to the Rev. W. Hildyard, his newly-arrived colleague from England. From thence he passed once more in the same spring to the northern parts of his charge--Abaco, Bahama, and the Biminis islands.
Things seemed, on the whole, more hopeful in these parts. "On account of the scattered way in which these people live, we propose at once to erect three [48/49] additional chapels, which will be served, I hope, by local volunteers. The services which I held in Bahama were attended by persons who had to walk a great distance to be present. At one place, as I was getting into my boat after service, I found myself violently pulled back. I turned, and found it was done by a woman who was in tears. She had come a long journey hoping to be in time for the service, but arrived only soon enough to see me leave. The Berry Islands and Andros, which also form part of one man's charge--the Rev. H. Philpot--I did not visit this time; but as my cruise round his other islands was one of 400 miles, you may suppose that his parish is a pretty extensive one."
Mr. Philpot himself, who accompanied the Bishop on this trip, contributes a somewhat graphic account of his adventures on the occasion, which brings to light some of the Missionary-Bishop's capabilities on an emergency, other than those of the physician of the soul. Mr. Philpot, after an evening's preaching at one of the Stations en route, took a chill as he was returning to the Bishop's yacht, and, before morning, had developed a violent inflammation of the lungs. Mr. Philpot tells the rest of the story himself. "At the next stopping place I had to go to bed. Here was a pretty predicament! The parson of the parish hors de combat, of no use to himself or to any of the party! But matters might have been worse. The Bishop is a bit of a doctor himself, whether alopath or homoeopath I am not certain; I think he is both by turns. [49/50] Anyhow he is very good and kind; but his theory seems to be that any complaint ought to leave the patient in a day (or two) at furthest; and if not, it must be made to do so. In accordance with this impression, when 'pigeon-pea' tea failed, castor-oil was tried; after that a scalding in a tub of hot water nearly at boiling point, the Bishop assisting vigorously at each progressive stage of the peculiar treatment. Next chlorodyne was administered to me in large doses, with a beneficial effect, at least to my chamber companions, as it silenced my growls and allowed them to get a little sleep. Not being, however, I grieve to say, much better, blisters were applied, and I was carried on board, all sail being set for Bimini. Nothing, however, allayed the impatience of my Physician, and the blisters not drawing sufficiently, when we neared the "Great Isaac's" light, down anchor, and the Bishop was off in a boat to ransack the lighthouse medicine-chest, for mustard to make a plaster for my poor sides. Like Lucy in 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' 'I cars de mark ob dat ar plaister yet.' In the end I recovered: whether I should have done so without this special treatment is a question; but I must add that the Bishop's gentleness all the time is in an inverse ratio to his remedies, and he gives one all sorts of good things to assist nature in regaining her pristine vigour."
On revisiting the Biminis in the same trip, the Bishop's mission was to a great extent defeated by the counter attraction of a wreck ashore.
"I was disappointed of many candidates for [50/51] Confirmation, and completely deserted by the male members of my congregation. A wreck took place under my very eyes on the day after my arrival, and consequently every man and boy quitted the place, and I was left to minister to the women."
Indeed it seemed as if the poor Bishop could hardly visit this rendezvous of the wreckers without encountering a similar disappointment. In his visitation of the islands in 1865, on the present occasion, and again in 1872, the rumours of a wreck in the neighbourhood depopulated the settlement in no time; neither the more stringent measure of Government, nor the active cooperation of the Trinity House authorities, having any apparent power to quench the absolute passion of these people for their favourite and nefarious pursuit.
The Biminis, in company with the islands of Andros and Abaco, were the chief sufferers in the hurricane of 1871, which passed over the more southerly portion of the colony with comparative innocuousness. But in the north and north-westerly groups the loss of life and destruction of crops was most severe. At one of the settlements in Andros Island (Man of War Sound) thirty-eight dwelling-houses were carried away in the pitchy darkness of night, and the people fled inland to escape the wave which came in upon them--a wall of water, fourteen feet in height, washing away everything. Piteous tales were told of fathers and mothers having to throw down their children one by one in order to save themselves from the rapidly advancing tide. [51/52] The fatality became appalling. One group of people, in their endeavour to escape, fell in the darkness into a deep cavity of a rock, and the sea came in and smothered them all. At Biminis, the chief island was literally rent in twain by the tempest, and a channel of water driven through the land.
But in this hurricane, which sent down vessel after vessel, and crowded the entrance to the Nassau harbour with an entanglement of merchantmen, gunboats, and men-of-war, the Church schooner mercifully escaped. They had managed to make fast the hawser round the foremast, when one of the chain cables parted, and had she not had the hawser to swing by, the other cable would have gone, and the yacht would have been carried out to sea, and probably have never been heard of again. The news of this fresh disaster reached the Bishop in the United States, where he was enabled, by the help of American friends, to collect sufficient funds for repairing the fallen churches.
In the course of his visitation cruises, and especially as time went on, the anticipated ill effects of disendowment on the religious provision for the out-islanders became only too apparent, and the embarrassments of the colony itself, rendered even the payment of salary to existing clergy a matter of precarious contingency. "I found," writes the Bishop in 1874, "Mr. Astwood still ministering to his old flock. He receives from the Government a pension of £100 a year. This, however, on account of the difficulties of the colony, is not paid until it is months [52/53] in arrear, and, consequently, having to pay everything by orders on Government instead of in cash, he is charged at a higher rate than he would be otherwise. The people have promised to make up his £100 to £160 or £170, but their payments are made in salt, and in the present depressed state of the salt trade, that article is not easily converted into money. However, Mr. Astwood promises to remain with his people as long as he can keep clear of debt. The church committee I encouraged to fresh exertions, but it is heartless work impressing liberality upon people who can hardly find shoes for their feet or food for their children. The church fabric has been left by the Government in a most dilapidated state; it leaks so badly that had it rained the Sunday I spent at Salt Cay, some of the congregation would have had to keep their umbrellas up; and it is useless at present to talk of repairs."
Yet spite of visitations by the hand of God or of man--tornados levelling churches, and Acts of Parliament disendowing them--spite also of the yearly increasing decay and poverty of the colony generally, the spiritual growth of his people made steady progress, and the missionary work carried on at such disadvantages in the out-islands bore tangible fruit, cheering the Bishop's soul.
Of Long Island (an enormous district) and its missionary, the Rev. J. Crowther, the Bishop says in 1870: "He has won over in twelve months the whole of the population in his immediate neighbourhood to the [53/54] Church, and the people in the south of the island, amongst whom we have hitherto had no mission, are now anxious for the ministrations of the Church, and we are making arrangements to erect a building to serve for church and Sunday school.
It is not often that one comes across cases of conversion of a marked and enduring character, though one hopes that one's ministrations are in an unseen way blessed to the people. A case, however, came under my notice at a settlement in Long Island, for which I cannot be too thankful to Almighty God. Two years ago I had visited the settlement, and was holding a Confirmation, when a man came forward who was not of the number of the candidates. I should not have received him had I known that he was living at the time in open sin, but supposing him to have been accepted by the clergyman, I confirmed him. A sudden inspiration, we may trust, of God's grace led him to present himself, and in God's holy ordinance more grace, we may also believe, was given, for on the Sunday following the man's banns were put up. He was married; and not only is he now, two years after, a consistently living Christian, but he is the clergyman's most trusted helper, having successfully withstood the ridicule to which his change of life exposed him."
And now, to wind up the subject of the Bishop's out-islands, and to learn what the Bahama missionary has been able, under God, to effect, it is fair to let the pastor of Long Island speak for himself. After [54/55] enumerating the completion or commencement of four additional churches within his district in a twelvemonth, he goes on to say: "There are now six churches on the island, and three of them, begun and finished within the last three years, have been built by the people, with no further assistance than a grant of timber and nails from the Bishop. The south end of the island has a scattered population of 300 persons. Five years ago it had no school, no church service was held then, Sunday was not observed, and very many of the people had never seen the face of a missionary, and were indeed in heathen darkness. There were then but five communicants in the district, there are now fifty-nine; and the little Church of St. Michael, only opened and consecrated this year, is already too small for the congregation. Many of the people walk five, eight, and even ten miles to church, and among them old men, women, and children, who cheerfully and punctually wade to service, along roads converted into water-courses by a heavy rainfall, rather than forsake the assembling of themselves together.
At my headquarters, Clarence Town, the daily service of Morning and Evening Prayer never fails of an attendance, and labourers and artizans leave their tools and baskets outside, while they come in to join in prayer before work. And when the day is over, many a weary man and woman come to evensong, to lay their burdens down, and to find peace.
More and more do I find that the Holy Sacraments are beginning to be valued; the grace of Confirmation [55/56] is eagerly sought. People now believe in it. Here is an instance. An aged African, who was brought into this colony as a boy, at the time of the American Revolution, and who, up to three years ago, had been a Baptist, lives seven miles from the parish church. Since his reception into the Church he has frequently attended service, taking a day for the journey. When the Bishop last came here, however, to administer Confirmation, the old man was unwell, and could not travel so far, and great was his distress at the thought that he could not receive The Gift; but greater still his thankfulness when he found that the Bishop, on his way to another settlement, would pass within two miles of his house. Old George walked the two miles, and in a hut by the wayside awaited the Bishop, and received the Holy Ordinance."