Peter Samuel.

The Wesleyan-Methodist missions in Jamaica and Honduras delineated; containing a description of the principle stations, together with a consecutive account of the rise and progress of the work of God at each online

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Online LibraryPeter SamuelThe Wesleyan-Methodist missions in Jamaica and Honduras delineated; containing a description of the principle stations, together with a consecutive account of the rise and progress of the work of God at each → online text (page 38 of 39)
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or keys, which are covered with verdure. So like are many of
these to each other, that the most experienced seamen often get be-
wildered among them ; so that to approach the coast without a pilot
is deemed dangerous, and the risk, on leaving it, is, if possible, more
so. These keys used to be the favourite retreat of the Buccaneers,
who felt secure from pursuit, while they could conveniently sally
forth to carry on their work of plunder and blood, both on sea and
land. The key of St. George, about three leagues distant from
Belize to the N.E., is a most agreeable and beautiful spot, and has
many good houses upon it, to which the inhabitants resort for retire-
ment during the hot months. The sick and convalesent are greatly
benefited by the purity of the air, and other conveniences to be had
at this little island. For many years, this was the chief place of
trade in this part of the world. Here the merchants principally re-
sided, and the ships delivered and took in their cargoes, till a transfer
was made to Belize, as a more convenient situation, though less


healthy. " Receding from the coast, the land rises into a bold and
lofty country, interspersed with gigantic forests, rivers, and lagoons.
The island frontier is formed by an immense chain of mountains,
covered with luxuriant forests and underwood. Through this un-
penetrable barrier, there is but one pass, which leads to Peton, and as
it is only a foot-path, a few men might keep back an army. The
lagoons, falls, and rapids of the rivers constitute the most sublime
features of the scenery of this country. The river and lagoon of
Manatee, ten leagues south of Belize, is considered to be very grand.
About a mile from the mouth of the river is the lagoon a vast sheet
of water stretching for several leagues in a northerly direction. In
many places lofty mountains ascend from its margin, overtopping ex-
tensive woody valleys, where the tiger, armadillo, opposum, antelope,
racoon, quash, and several species of deer abound, with a variety of
the feathered tribe, who range securely in their shady retreat. Eight
or ten miles from the lakes, the rapids begin, and the high rocky
banks of the river assume a romantic and beautiful appearance. Far-
ther on, there is a cataract of about a quarter of a mile in length, and
of considerable acclivity. A cluster of beautiful caves, through which
the river winds its way, and beneath which the traveller must pass,
is next reached. These magnificent natural excavations of the moun-
tains are semicircular at the entrance, and about five yards in diame-
ter. Within the cave, the arch rises to the height of a hundred feet,
and leads to another low arch, which being passed a second cavern
of large size opens, beyond which is a third, with a circular orifice,
through which the river enters. During the floods, the mouths of
these caverns are filled with water, which boils up with prodigious
fury, and thus detains travellers many days, before they can pass
through the caves or tunnels. In the rainy season, as the water in-
creases on the upper or inland sides of the mountains, the river forces
its passage through the interstices and openings in its sides with tre-
mendous noise, forming an indescribably grand cascade of from forty
to fifty feet high, issuing from fifty to an hundred orifices." All
the fruits and vegetables to be found in Jamaica, are to be found in
Honduras, with abundance of mahogany and logwood, which are the
staple of trade. These latter attracted some adventurers from Ja-
maica, who fixed their first settlement at Cape Catoch ; and as their
numbers increased, they extended their settlements as far south as
the river Belize, and westward to the neighbourhood of Campeachy.
These aggressions on then: territory were resisted by the Spaniards,
but without success. The hardy wood-cutters, aided by the seamen,
whose ships they freighted, repulsed them, and, in 1659 and 1678,
so effectually, that the town of Campeachy itself fell into their hands.
After a succession of expeditions sent by Spain against the settlers
the last was made in 1798 when 3000 Spaniards, led by Field-
Marshal Don O'Neil, were forced to retire from St. George's Key.
The thanks of his Majesty were tendered to Lieutenant- Colonel Bar-


row, and Captain Moss of the Martin sloop, along with the troops
and seamen under their command, and to the settlers, for their
bravery on this occasion. From that time no renewal of hostilities
has taken place.

Belize, the capital of the settlement, is situated at the mouth of
the river from which it takes its name. ' ' The part of the town which
is situated upon the south or right bank of the river, along the
eastern edge of a point of land, is completely insulated by a canal on
its western side, which runs across from a small arm of the sea, and
bounds the town on its south side. The houses are above 500 in
number. Many of these, particularly such as are owned by opulent
merchants, are spacious, commodious, and well- furnished. They are
entirely built of wood, and generally raised eight or ten feet from the
ground, on pillars of mahogany. The stores and offices are uniformly
on the lower storey, the dining and sleeping apartments on the up-
per. Every habitation has its upper and lower piazzas. The two
parts of the town are connected by a bridge, which was built in 1818.
It is twenty feet in width, and its span 220 feet. It is entirely con-
structed of wood, and is well secured by ballustrades on each side.
The streets are regular, running north and south, intersected by
others. The main one runs in a north-easterly direction to the
bridge, from the government house, which is situated on the south-
east point or angle of the island, on the right bank of the river, and
bounded on the south and east by the sea. Behind the government
house is the church, on the east side of the main street. The whole
town is embowered in groves and avenues of cocoa-nut and tamarind
trees." Fort-George is situated on a small low island, about half a
mile from the river.

The population is of a very miscellaneous character, consisting of
Europeans, Indians, Mosquito men, and a mixture of others. Some of
the Honduras blacks are said to be little inferior to the whites in ori-
ginality and vigour of intellect, though, as a body, they are very low.
The coloured people are a medium between these and the whites.
The Mosquito men are remarkable for a fine muscular form, but des-
titute of intelligence. Their whole fortune is a canoe, a paddle, and
a harpoon. These meet the cravings of nature, and no more is sought
by this class of the people.

The Indians are a timid inoffensive set of creatures ; but the moral
state of the whole, until the influence of the Gospel began to be felt,
was very low.

Towards the end of 1825, Mr. Wilkinson arrived at Belize, where
he was kindly received by several gentlemen, who gave him much
encouragement to establish a mission. After spending eleven weeks
in the town, preaching on the Lord's Day and on Wednesday even-
ing, holding a prayer-meeting on Friday evening, and catechising on
Tuesday evening, he proceeded into the country, taking the course of
the river for about a hundred and fifty miles. During this tour he

2 a


witnessed the lamentable state of religious destitution of the logwood
and mahogany cutters, employed in these isolated parts. After this
journey he remarked " From what I have already witnessed of the
disposition of the few people, who have come under my notice at
Belize, and in this country, I am fully persuaded (notwithstanding
the wickedness which long has reigned, and still reigns in various
forms,) if faithful labourers were placed in this field, their labours
would be rendered successful. The population of Honduras is prin-
cipally of the slave condition, who are employed up the different
rivers during the day, cutting mahogany and logwood. After having
cut a large quantity, they convey it into the rivers, and follow it
down the rivers with the floods. At present, the British possess a
line of sea coast of about 250 miles, extending from the River Belize,
under the ultimate boundary of the Mexican Republic, to the River
Sarstoon, on the commencement of the State of Guatimala. A few
gentlemen in this town (Belize), who have no connection with us,
have offered to contribute towards the erection of a chapel. I in-
tend to receive their subscriptions shortly, and then calculate what
expenses will attend the building of a chapel, and the purchase of a
lot of land."

In conducting the prayer-meetings, he was assisted by Messrs.
Jeckeland Rees; while John Armstrong, Esq., shewed him very great
kindness, and gave him every possible aid in his work. Towards
the end of March, 1826, he expressed the encouragement he received
from a class of catechumens, which he had formed previously to taking
his journey into the country ; there were about thirty of them, two of
whom entered into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, and who
could adopt the language of the Apostle, "Therefore being justified
by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The object of the Missionary Committee in appointing Mr. Wil-
kinson to Honduras, was to visit and instruct those persons located
on the banks of Belize River. But the earnest entreaties of the in-
habitants of Belize, and the promising field of usefulness it presented,
led him to entreat the Committee to allow him to take the town,
rather than the river banks, as a promising station ; after which he
might extend his attention to the country settlements. Having
yielded to the wishes of the people in the town, premises were pur-
chased, and subscriptions liberally given towards the erection of a
chapel and a dwelling-house. In the midst of his efforts and schemes
of usefulness, Mr. Wilkinson was seized with a violent fever, which
cut him off on the 20th of August, 1827, in the thirty-second year of
his age, and fifth of his ministry. He was a missionary of no ordi-
nary promise, deeply pious, and of an amiable temper, and very
zealous for the salvation of souls.

Mr. Wilkinson's place was supplied by Mr. Thomas Johnston, who
arrived in the early part of 1828 ; but, alas! scarcely had he com-
menced his work, when he was called to receive his reward. The


following account of his labours and death was furnished by J.
Armstrong, Esq., in a letter dated July 3d, 1838 " I have now the
painful duty to communicate to you (the Committee) the mournful
information of the death of our dear friend, Mr. Thomas Johnston,
who departed this life on the 14th of June last, at a quarter after
three in the afternoon. Mr. Johnston's ministry was eminently suc-
cessful. He never preached without the chapel being crowded.
Characters that seldom or never before had entered a place of wor-
ship, were seen in our chapel, and behaving with the greatest rever-
ence ; even the officers of the garrison and the magistrates were some-
times present. How mysterious are the dispensations of Almighty
God ! A zealous and faithful servant of God cut short in a career
of usefulness, whilst proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation, through
the merits of a crucified Saviour. The little flock are again left ;
but we will pray the Great Shepherd to protect us, and watch over
us, until another under- Shepherd comes to guide us the way of life.
He complained of indisposition a month before he was laid up ; but
he would not lose a day. Even the Rev. Mr. N., the clergyman,
endeavoured to persuade him to rest a little, and recruit himself by
medicine, but to no purpose. He said he had a duty to perform a
great field to work in ; and he could not get time to rest himself.
On Sunday, June 1st, I heard him preach thrice. His last text was,
' What think ye of Christ ?' Monday morning, according to an
arrangement previously made, he was called out of bed to go
and preach at Freetown, a place about thirty miles up the river. The
heat of the sun was very great that day. On Wednesday the 4th,
about seven o'clock in the morning, he came down, being quite un-
well, and had lain in the bottom of the dorey (i.e. the boat) on the way
down, which was during a part of the night. From this time, the
sickness commenced, from which he never recovered. We pray you
may send us another as soon as possible. Mr. Wilkinson and my-
self used to say, that when we could see the chapel filled with people,
we would be satisfied. Yet, if Mr. Johnston had lived, I was about
to raise another subscription, in order to enlarge it. It is about sixty
feet by forty ; but would not hold the hearers. I can assure you, I
am much weighed down. I hope, however, that the little church will
be kept together pure. There never was anything like Mr. John-
ston's ministry in this country before. He seemed to cause a general
desire for religion to prevail through every description of persons in
our community."

On the death of Mr. Johnston, Mr. Wedlock was appointed to take
his place. However, he did not arrive at Belize till March, 1829,
when he found that the little flock had been called to endure some
persecution, which, with other things, reduced their number to six-

Mr. W. devoted himself with energy to his work ; the congrega-
tions soon revived ; and the Sabbath school was brought into a


state of order, and increased efficiency. The miserable circum-
stances of the Indians on the Mosquito shore having been frequently
and earnestly urged upon the attention of the Missionary Committee,
in order that a missionary might be appointed to labour among them,
their case was taken into consideration, and Mr. Pilley appointed.
Along with Mrs. Pilley he left England on the 9th of October,
and reached Belize on the 6th of December, after a rather unpleasant
passage, which, however, was mitigated considerably by their having
J. Armstrong, Esq., for a fellow-passenger. After being detained
three months, until a vessel could be found to carry them to Mos-
quito shore, Mr. and Mrs. P. sailed to Cape Gracias a Dios, where, after
suffering many privations, encountering great difficulties, and suffer-
ing much in health, without being able to effect any improvement in
the spiritual or moral state of the objects of their mission, they sailed
to Jamaica, where they were so far restored to their wonted health
and strength, that they returned to Mosquito shore with renewed de-
termination to prosecute their missionary work among the Indians.
However, fresh discouragements and trials awaited them, along with
much personal affliction. Their expectations were disappointed ; so
that, with shattered health, they were compelled to return to Eng-
land, without seeing any fruit of their labours and prayers in behalf
of this unhappy people.

The labours of Mr. Wedlock continued to be crowned with success
at Belize, which rendered a new chapel absolutely necessary. The
original premises were often crowded almost to suffocation, which en-
dangered the health of both the missionary and his hearers. Some
opposition was encountered ; still the mission advanced. A new
chapel was erected, a Lithograph view of which is prefixed to this
sketch of the mission. On Christmas-day, 1830, it was opened for
public worship, on which occasion Mr. Wedlock preached in the morn-
ing, from Gen. xxviii. 17 ; and, in the evening, from Luke ii. 10-11.
It is a neat, commodious, substantial, and West Indian looking place
of worship. From its being the first Wesleyan chapel erected in
this part of the world, it excited considerable interest among the in-
habitants. It is built principally of cedar and mahogany, and cost
about 900 Jamaica currency, 700 of which was raised in Hon-
duras. Many of the respectable inhabitants contributed handsomely,
and the members of the society, some of whom were poor slaves,
gave to the utmost of their ability. J. Armstrong, Esq., the kind,
consistent, and liberal supporter of the mission, gave great assistance
in this effort, as did Captain John Weller of London, for whose ad-
vice and contributions, Mr. W. felt himself much indebted, in carry-
ing out his plans. After labouring, with great zeal, usefulness, and
acceptance, for above three years, Mr. W. left Belize for the island of
Jamaica, in April, 1832, when he was succeeded by Mr. Edney from
Jamaica. The departure of Mr. W. was much regretted by the
people and inhabitants generally, who had profited by his ministry.
At this time the members amounted to fifty-three.


Mr. Edney began his mission under very favourable circumstances,
and continued to prosecute it with growing prosperity. In a letter
dated January, 1833, he wrote "With unfeigned pleasure I inform
you of the continued prosperity with which we are favoured. The
Lord is still very gracious unto us. We realize his presence in our
assemblies. The ordinances are becoming more profitable, and many
are turning from their sins unto God. The members of society, in
general, are endeavouring to ' walk even as he walked,' and they
have ' a good report of them that are without.' In the first quarter,
twenty-two have been admitted on trial ; and, during the last nine
months, the society has increased twofold. Our late congregations
have been so overflowing that the new commodious chapel is already
become too strait, so that we have been necessitated to erect a gal-
lery sufficiently large to seat an hundred persons. It is now nearly
completed. The whole expense of its erection will be about 120
currency, which amount the kind friends at Belize will enable us to
meet, without making any application to the Committee for help ; and
it will afford you pleasure to know, that every pew in the gallery, as
well as in the body of the chapel, is engaged, and several of them by
the most respectable families in the settlement."

Mr. E., anxious to extend his mission to the settlers along the
coast, was favoured with the loan of a boat, which enabled him to
visit Mullin's River, which lies about twenty miles south of Belize,
where he found the people anxious to listen to the Gospel. On re-
presenting this design, the Committee granted Mr. E. a boat, to
enable him to carry it out. He also earnestly besought the Commit-
tee to send another missionary, in order that the country parts might
be visited, where the people were left entirely without religious
means. He observed " The settlement of Honduras presents a large
field, which is already white unto the harvest ; but what is one
missionary in such a sphere of usefulness. I am willing to employ
all my powers in this vineyard, and to die in this work ; but after all I
can do, comparatively little is done. With only one missionary in
this important station, we shall never be able to visit the slave popu-
lation. The Belize congregations are composed mostly of white and
free persons. The slaves (with the exception of a few house servants)
are all employed at the mahogany works, at a considerable distance
from town ; so that they are in a morally wretched condition, with-
out any knowledge of God or of salvation. As they are not in town
above three weeks in the whole yearj they are entirely destitute of
the means of grace. I believe there is no slave-owner that would
prevent our visiting his works and preaching to his people, in any
part of Honduras. Surely did the friends of slaves at home know
the awful state in which they are living, and that to the present mo-
ment nothing has been done for them, they would, without delay,
put the means in your (the Committee's) power of sending a second
missionary. The expense of a single man here, as he would reside


with the mission family, would not be very considerable. I am not
rich ; but I will give 10 sterling, towards sending out an additional
missionary. Could you send us a second, one would always be at
liberty to attend to the various establishments and settlements out of
town ; and thus means of instruction would be afforded to several
thousands, who are now in the regions of death."

While Mr. E. was thus pleading for a fellow-labourer, he was la-
bouring with self-denying zeal to enlighten the Charibs at Stern
Creek ; and although he was compelled to avail himself of the aid of
an interpreter, his success was such that, by the middle of 1 834, the
natives voluntarily erected a chapel in which to meet, in order to hear
the Gospel, and a day-school, with about sixty adults and children,
was in operation. The opening of this, the first place of Christian
worship for the Charib nation, was thus noticed by Mr. Edney
" March llth, 1843. His Excellency Colonel Cockbourne having
kindly lent the government schooner, in company with Commissary
Lindsay, and some other respectable friends, we sailed for Stern
Creek, for the purpose of opening the place which the Charibs had
built for Divine worship, where we arrived about four o'clock, P.M.,
when nearly all the inhabitants of the town appeared at the sea-side,
to welcome us on shore." On the following day he observed
" With the Charibs this was a great day of general rejoicing, and
completely devoted to the opening of the house of God, which they
had so willingly put up, without any expense to the Committee. Male
and female, old and young, were all cleanly dressed, and well-be-
haved. Early in the morning, the British colours were hoisted, and
drums beaten through the whole town, to warn the people to prepare
for Divine service. At half ten o'clock, A.M., the shell was blown
as a signal for assembling. In a short time after, the place was so
crowded, that I had some difficulty in forcing my way to the pulpit.
There were many also at the windows, who could not press within
the doors. I preached from Haggai, ii. 19 ' This day will I bless
you.' After the service, we took down the names of the children
who are to be taught in the school. In the same manner was the
place crowded at the evening service. The subject was Luke xix.
9, 10. Deep attention was paid ; joy was visible on the countenance
of every Charib ; and, at the conclusion, some of them resorted to
the house in which our Belize friends stayed, and begged that they
might be taught to pray."

Next day, school operations were commenced, and Mr. Edney re-
turning to Belize, Mrs. Edney was left behind, in order to carry on
the instruction of those who came as scholars. Mr. E. continued to
visit this station and the one at Mullin's River, with much diligence,
and frequently at great personal risk, from the winds and currents.
He found on inquiry, that within half a mile of the chapel, there were
about eight hundred souls needing instruction. The difficulty of sup-
plying the Charibs, without another missionary, led him to express


his fear that his attempts must cease, as his own health, and the cause
of God at Belize, were likely to suffer.

This opening appeared to be too visibly providential, and import-
ant to be neglected ; therefore the Committee resolved to send another
missionary, with the special view of supplying the Charibs at Stern
Creek with the ordinances of the Gospel. At this period, Mr. E., in
addition to Belize, had a station at Free Town, where the people gave
deep attention to the Word of God, and where a small class was
formed one at Mullin's River, besides the one at Charib Town.
The members throughout the circuit amounted to 1 1 4, fifteen only of
whom were slaves.

In 1835, Messrs. Greenwood and Jefferies were appointed to Hon-
duras. As the different stations could now be better supplied, there
was a gradual improvement of the mission, and an increase in the
number of members. Mr. Jefferies made honourable mention of the
kindness of Colonel Macdonald, who did everything in his power to
forward the interests of the mission. As the hire of a boat to go to
Charib Town cost about 4 currency each trip, the Colonel saved the
society a considerable sum, by placing the government schooner at
the service of the missionaries, whenever she was at liberty. A new
station was taken up at Boom, on Belize River. In July, 1838, Mr.
Jefferies gave the following account of the state of the mission :
" During the last dry season, (i. e. from February to June) our cha-
pel at Belize has been much better attended than during any previous
year since my appointment to this station. We speak of that parti-
cular season when, through domestic migration, our congregations
have ever been seriously afflicted. But, thank God, we see now a
change for the better. We require more room to accommodate those

Online LibraryPeter SamuelThe Wesleyan-Methodist missions in Jamaica and Honduras delineated; containing a description of the principle stations, together with a consecutive account of the rise and progress of the work of God at each → online text (page 38 of 39)