Samuel Abraham Walker.

The Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... online

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sire to teach his countrymen.

*' I feel thankful that we are enabled to supply the Society with
native teachers, for which we cannot obtain Europeans.

** W. Tamba, I am happy to say, conducts himself with great pro-
priety ; the people under his care at Bathurst do certainly improve.
The schools are in good order. I am on the other hand sorry that we
cannot visit the Sherbro country. Oh that the Lord would lend us
more help ! "

We cannot better conclude this chapter than by a brief reference to
the temporal prosperity of the Colony, together with a few remarks on
the subject, from a local observer.

The official returns published in the Sierra Leone Gazette, shew
that in this year (1821,) thirty-four merchant vessels of from 57
to 355 tons had entered the port of Freetown ; of these 27 were from
London, two from Liverpool, and from Hull, Exeter, Barbadoes,
Nova Scotia, and St. John, one each.

The returned value of the imports in this year was ^105,060 : 15 : 10. ;
being an increase of ^38,335 i 6 i 6. over that of 1820, which was
^66,725 : 19 : 1.

In the export trade twenty-six vessels were employed, containing
6805 tons.

These statistical details are accompanied in the journal in which they
appear, with the following encouraging observations : —

" The success of the system pursued for some years past, in the
internal management of this Colony, has done away with prejudices
the most inveterate ; and, what is perhaps of more importance, its
benignant influence rapidly extends over the barbarous nations adjoin-
ing our possessions on the coast. Even the stem and unbending spirit
of Islamism, seems to relax and modify itself at the approach of

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Christian ciyiliutioii. The great Mahomedan powers of Foulah and of
Massina, eagerly court oar countenance and connection ; their traders
and messengers experience, in this Colony, a probity and good faith
hitherto unknown to them in transactions with white men. Nor does a
single native return from hence into the interior, without being, in
some measure, divested of his prejudices ; and without having imbibed
a feeling in favour of ova manners and institutions. In consequence
of this intercourse with the most distant tribes of the interior, a know-
ledge of this Colony is acquired by them, which surprised our late tra-
vellers ; the adventurous Dockard having heard, with astonishment,
the name of MacCarthy pronounced with respect on the remote banks
of the Niger.

** It is, however, by a glance at the present actual state of the
Colony itself, and on contrasting it with what we were a few years
back, that the results of the measures now pursued may be duly

" We have not resided a long time on this coast ourselves, yet we
can remember when the inhabitants of Freetown comprised the whole
population of the Colony, and when the hUls surrounding us seemed
to be its boundaries ; when a journey to the Hogbrook, where Regent
now stands, was deemed a task of considerable difficulty, and was
never attempted unless in large parties. At a more recent date, the
erection of a stone house, such as we now see on almost every lot,
was only attempted by the government; the great majority of the
inhabitants residing in miserable hovels, their manners and customs
apparently as rude as their habitations.

'* Such was the picture then afforded to the newly-arrived stranger.
His feelings would, of course, be commensurate to the scene
before him.

''What different sensations must now pervade the breast of an indiri-
dual coming among us !

'' On our wharfs, the busy stir of commerce meets his ear ; and in
every branch of society, he finds persons whose manners and intellec-
tual acquirements will bear comparison with the relative ranks, in any
part of the world.

" But it is in our liberated African towns, that the richest enjoyment
awaits the arrival of the philanthropist. There he may contemplate,
vrith delight, the happy fruits of that system, the primary feature of
which is Religious Instruction ; and with, and proceeding from that
instniction, the inculcation of moral and industrious habits, the
superiority of the mountain roads, the cleanness and respectable
appearance of the villages; but above all, the immense forests
cleared away, and the soil covered with the various productions of the
climate, fully attest the unremitting industry of these interesting

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people ; — ^wbile the buildings erected in the respective villages, solely
by the negroes themselves, mark their capability and improvement as
artificers. Our population gradually increases by the influx of natives
from the neighbouring tribes ; and since the last census, the number
of victima rescued by the Squadron from slavery has been considerable.
Savage and uncultivated as these new Colonists really are on their
arrival, it appears surprising with what facility they acquire our Ian*
goage ; and how toon they abandon their native customs. In no in-
stance, perhaps, is the superiority of the plan adoped in the manage-
ment of this interesting portion of the community more apparent,
than in observing their comparative moral and intellectual improve-
ment, even a few months subsequent to their landing in the Colony."

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We ooncladed our last chapter with the observations of a local writer,
on the growing prosperity of the Colony, in a temporal point of view.
We think we cannot better commence tlds, than with a communication
from Chief Justice Fitzgerald, the sincere friend of eyeiy Christian
undertaking, on the subject of the pubHc obsenranoe of religion in
Freetown, the capital of the Colony, written in May 1821 : —

*' The population of Freetown and suburbs comprehends, according
to the latest returns, 5,000 persons.*

'' The congr^ation which attends the church, consists of the greater
portion of the resident Europeans, and their servants, of independent
coloured people, soldiers of the garrison, liberated Africans, apprenticed
to the king's works, those boys and girls of the colonial schools whose
parents attend the church, and some other persons who do not belong
to any of these classes. The church is, in general, reasonably full ;
and at times, as much so as is consistent with conyenienoe. It may
therefore be inferred, that a more numerous attendance would take
place if the accommodation was more ample ; and this inference is
strengthened by what is occasionally seen in the instances of indiyidoala,
who if they find a difficulty in obtaining a place on the benches usually
frequented by persons of their class, will not immediately present

* ** According to a retain of the popalation of Sierra Leone, dated August 1, 1822, there
iraie 16, 671 inhabitants ; of these more than 15, 000 were natiyes of Africa, the reit
being chiefly Eniopeans, and Maroon, and Nova Scotia Settlers. Of those bom in
Africa, upwards of eleren thousand appear to hare been liberated from the holds of the
vessels which were carrying them into interminable bondage.^— Church Missionary So-
ciety, 28rd Report.

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tliemadTes ; ttuus modesty however, is not frequently prevalent, neither
is it neeeaaary ; for there is not any absolute appropriation of seats,
and oohwired people by no means of the first claas, place themselves, with-
out any eeremony, on the same bendiea with the principal Europeans.
There is a kind of ante-chamber to the churefa, which is occupied by
liberated Africans ; and a small apartment at the head of the stair-
case, with a door opening into the church, admits the prisoners of the
gaol to an imperfect participation of the service.

** The congregation is, throughout all classes, orderly, attentive, and
decorous in behaviour. It may not be amiss to mention here^ a wish
expressed by the late Rev. Jolun Collier, when he was second Colonial
Chaplain, that the town should be divided, so that eadi Chaplain
ahaaJd have a distinct chaige. One great difficulty, however, stood
in the way of the execution of this plan — ^the want of a second building
which ooold, with propriety, be employed as a place of worship under
the ministry of one of the C<donial Chaplains. The Colonial school-house
is the only one sufficiently laige ; and this is so insecure that fears
are entertained lest it should fall down under the weight of the pr^ent

'* The propriety of a parochial division, may, however, be made a sub-
ject of serious ocmsideration, as soon as a second place suitable for the
reeeption of a congregatbn, shall be erected. The place now used,
bendes its limited extent, has the disadvantage of being too remote
from the eastern part of the town, inasmuch as it is sitoated quite at
the western extremity. A Chureh in the eaatem division, or, as it is
oommoaly called. Settler town, would certainly bring about a great in-
cnase of worshippers.

** Hitherto, the Chaplains have endeavoured to counterbalance the
defects of the inconvenient situation and limited accommodation of the
Church, by carrying their labours collaterally into those places, where
they seem most wanted, and likely to do ^e greatest service. The
soldiera of the garrison receive instruction in their barracks, and the
discharged soldiers of the late Fourth West-India raiment, are taught
in the huts appropriated for their residence. No part of the popula-
tion of the colony stands more in need of improvement, than the
serving and discharged soldiers — ^none so frequently implicated in
crimes of violence, or in those dqiredations upon property with which
Freetown is so grievously infested.

*' The congregation of the Methodist Chapel, consists of some
Europeans, a very large majority bf the independent and respectable
coloured householders, and their families, including the greaternumber of
the sdiool-chQdren — with some liberated Africans, placed in the families
as apprentices or as domestic servants. Service is given at the Wesleyan
Chapel twice every day throughout the year. There are besides select

L 2

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prayer-meetings, and a variety of devotional exercises in lamiUes ; these
lead the members of the Society to a more intimate connection with one
tmbther and with their minister.

*' A good understanding ought by all possible means, to be cultiTated
between your Missionaries and those of the Methodists. The Method-
ists are, more than any others, your natural and legitimate co-operators
in the enterprise of converting the heathen Africans to Christianitj.

" The Wesleyan Chapel hitherto used, is a wooden building. One
of larger dimensions (60 feet by 40) is now in progress outside the
old one, which will not be taken down, until the new one shall have
been roofed in over it. This new chapel i& of stone. A liberal sub-
scription has been raised in the Colony in aid of it ; but the greater
part of the charge must, in all probibility, be defrayed by the funds
of the Society in England.

** A new chapel is also building at the west end of Freetown, for
the use of the Wesleyans of the Maroon class, and principally by
means of supplies furnished by them ; although aided by a large
general subscription among the Colonists, to which the principal £n«
ropeans liberally contributed. This chapel is of stone — ^the extent
60 feet by 24, it is now ready to receive the roof> and will probably be
opened for service about January next. In addition, to the Urge con-
gregation at their principal chapel, the Methodist Missionaries have
formed two regular subordinate meetings.

'^One of these is at Congo town ; a laige village established by the
people of the Congo nation, upon an inlet of the bay of Sierra Leone,
about a mile west from Freetown. At this place, a neat stone chapel
has been built. The inhabitants are in an advanced state of instruction ;
and the care bestowed, collaterally, upon the direction of their industry
and on their general improvement, has produced effects highly credits*
bie to their teachers.

*' At Portuguese Town, where the second subordinate meeting is
organized, the progress is not yet so striking ; but it is sufficient to
afford good promise ; and to cherish exertion, as well by the appear-
ance of present fruit, as by the prospect of an ample approaching
harvest. A Sunday-school was established at this place in 1819 : and
the instruction is now extended to some other days. The Missionaries
give service as often as their occupations will permit, in a chapel
which the converts have contributed to erect. The other chief members
of the Society in Freetown take charge of the instructions, when the •
Missionaries are called in other directions. It is said that the people
of this Tillage were of very bad character, some few years since; but
now they are among the most orderly and industrious about Freetown.
Complaints are, from time to time made, of vexations sustained by
them from the malignant bigotry of a few Mahomedans settled in the

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yiHage ; who, not content with the perfect toleration of their own re?
iigioas exercises, abuse the protection so liberally afforded to them, by
disturbing the Christian worship, more especially on the Lord's day>
when they studiously endeaTour by every noisy occupation to interruj^
the service, and to shew their contempt of the institution of the Sabbath.
Patience, forbearance, and temperate remonstrance, have hitherto been
the only means employed to counteract this offensiye conduct. It is
hoped that these exalted characteristics of Christianity will, in the end,
have the effect of correcting the obduracy of these unfeeling followers
of Mahomed ; and of converting them to that true faith, the divine
spirit and authority of which they so forcibly prove and exemplify.
Harsh measures, however provoked, and even the moderate legal coiv
rectiTes apparently required, as well as warranted, in circumstances
such as those here described, ought as little as possible to be employed
in the correction of the errors of Africans, in matters touching religion.
The free operation of reason will, in the course of time, convince them
of the superiority of the doctrine and of the example of the followers
of Christ, to those of the false prophet, as well as to the gross, supersti*
tions of native Paganism.

" Several independent chapels are established in Freetown. One of
these is administered by a coloured man, named Domingo Jordan.
This man is parish-clerk of Freetown ; he may, of course, be sup-
posed to preach doctrine congenial to that Church. His chapel is
"well attended. He is a man of integrity and industry in several occu-
pations of ordinaiy business, one of which b that of a shingle-manu-
factaier: and although he may derive some emolument from his
chapel, it cannot be sufficient to warrant the slightest imputation of
his zeal in the cause of religion to interested motives. Not a day
passes, without his morning and evening service. He is much res-
pected in his station; and a subscription, recently instituted for
hnilding a new chapel for him on a larger scale, has received liberal
oohtiributions, under names which may be understood to convey the
best testimonies to his character that the Colony can afford. The pre-
sent chapel is of wood, with a thatched roof. The new one is also to be
of wood, placed on a foundation of stone, with a shingled roof; the size,
40 feet by 24. The frequenters of the chapel are to contribute
to the work in money, materials, and labour ; it is already in progress.
** There is also a numerous Baptist congregation, under the direction of
a coloured man, named Hector Peters, an honest, laborious, and per-
severing individual ; whose fortune has not been much advanced in
any of the various pursuits to which his industry has been devoted —
burthenedy moreover, with a family. His chapel is not more pro-
ductive of revenue than that of his co-operator, Jordan ; although,
like him, he has prayers eVery day, with unabated zeal before sun-

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rise, and after the hours of labour in the eTemng. Although
men cannot be supposed to be altogether qualified to expound
sacred writings^ they are persons of superior intelligenee in their <
and the rectitude of their general principles, as well as the example of
their fives, coming in aid of their instmeCions, their labours haTe an
erident beneficial influence. This humble co-operation cannot, theve-
fi>re, with justiee and propriety, be overlooked or undervalued, in
notice, however summaiy, of what is done in this ooknoij for the i
of religion.

** There are other officiators, and other chapek. These are, however,
entitled to very little consideration, having but few followen, and en-
gaging but a small portion of the regard of the community.

'' Those who are acquainted with the history and composition of the
people of the colony, may not unnaturally look for smne diviaioii in
religious inclinations and punuits, connected with the distinction into
the two great dasses of Maroons and Settien ; but it has been happSy
ordered by providence, that this division has not passed into rdigiooa
concerns. The principal part of both these classes, in number and
importance, is with the Methodists ; some of both have followed the
Church ; some are with Jordan ; but Peten, and the others of inferior
note to him, have in their train all the lowest of the Nova-Scotians ;
probably through a principle of attachment to kindred and to country,
which t^e Maroons and other classes could not associate with their
religion, having, until very lately, no teachen of thdr own community.
The observances which have been noticed, will probably be thought
sufficient to create a &vomrable impression of the state of religious
feeling and demeanor of the settlement of Freetown. The Lord's day
is more decorously kept than it is in most other places, the shops are
all shut : there is no sudi thing as buying and selling. The christian
part of the people attend worship at tiie places which they have i
pectively chosen ; and aU the congr^^ons are alike remarkable for \
flinn and respectful attention. Throughout the streets, oorresponding
propriety is noticed : intoxication, in the gross and disgusting form in
which it is so commonly seen on the Lord's Day in England, is of very
rare occurrence here ; with the painfbl exception of European seamen,
whose conduct and language in their frequent inebriations, on that day
especially, are of the most depraving example. It is not to be under-
stood that the day passes in perfect sobriety, among the inhabitants
in general ; it is the decency, and not the abstinence, that makes the
distinction. Excesses are committed, and are generally brought under
the animadversion of the Magistrates on the Monday, in consequence
of the quarrels occasioned by them ; but these quarrels are almost uni-
versally of a trifling nature. There is not anything in the eircnm-
stances collectively, to detract firom the credit that has been taken.

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'* I have now nearly gone through the different d^ees of the state
and condition of chrisUan worship and instructiony in Freetown and the
adjacent hamlets*

'* There is still one hamlet left, which requires particular nodoe. It
is called Bambara Town, and is situated about half-a-nule to the east-
ward of Freetown. The inhabitants of this place an a mixed oolleo-
tion of libented Afrinana, diieAj of the aalaQiis in the interior : a few
of thieoiliaveTeDeivedasinallportbaof Qiristaaninstrnctbn^ a greater
number are MahmnedaaSy hut the majority of all are Pagans. They
live by their own exertionsy independent of any support from GoTem-
ment ; and, consequently, independent of its oontroul ; they are, in
truth, under no superintendance whatsoever ; and what has been al-
ready observed of the inhabitants of Soldier Town, may, in a stronger
manner, be applied to them. Fugitives and occasional absentees from
the towns in the interior of the colony, occasional and permanent
settlera from the neighbouring nations, native artisans, labourers,
and traders, or mere idle visitors, swell the irregular population of
Bambara Town; and render it, in truth, an African hamlet in the
«:entre of a British colony. The associations of country-men and
oonntry-women, which have peculiar influence on the minds of Africans,
mate greatly instrumental to the accumulation of this multitude. The
small portion to which a little christian information has been commu-
nicated, stands indebted for that great benefit, originally to the labours
of some Methodist teachers a considerable number of years since, and
recently to the ftdlity of access to the chapel in which the disbanded
aoldiera of the fourth West-India Regiment are instructed by the Rev.
Samuel Flood. The huta, called 'the Camp,' of the fourth West-
India Regiment, are close to Bambara Town ; and, to the opportunity
thus afidwded to the people of Bambara To¥m» it is to be attributed,
-that the impressions originally made there long since, are not suffered
to die away. 3ut the general mass is infected with every vice.
Gaming and liceniionsness prevail without restraint ; and the depreda*
tions so generally committed upon the property of merchants and
principal house-holders in Freetown are found, when discovery sup-
plies any means of tracing them, to have originated, or to have deposited
their fruits in Bambara or in Soldier Town. Bambara Town ia^
however, entitled to the credit of having made public discovery of some
depdta of stolen goods : a credit to which Soldier Town is yet without
a claim, having preferred the inviolability of that criminal attachment
which but too generally induces Africans to do any thing rather than
make discovery one of another.

'' The importance of instituting a settled system of religious instruc-
tion among these assemblages of crude perverted Africans, is obvious
and crying. It is favourable to the hopes and prospects of ample

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success in commensurate efforts for this object, that the people atsuod
unmixed with others : they are not blended with the general populatioii
— communicating the corruption of their own barbarism ; and reoeivii^
corrupt notions of Christianity, which might not afterward be easily
eradicated, to make room for more correct notions.

" The deduction of the inhabitants of these tillages^ will aeooaol
for the deficiency of the general attendance at worship, in oomparisoo
with the number of inhabitants given in the last census for Freetown.
Notwithstanding the length to which these observations have already
extended, there is still a particular matter which cannot be kft

*' It is generally supposed that a deadly and irreconciliable amm<i8ity
subsbts between the Nova Scotians and the Maroons, and almost erery
year, on the i^proach of Christmas, rumours of massacres mutually
intended by these classes, are in common circulation ; with some alarm,
at times, to the timid, but without any attention from the reflecting
and well-informed ; some trifling riots committed by very youi^ men,
principally of the Settlers, present the whole amount of actual mischief.
But the object of this particular notice is, to mark, in a more special
manner, the gradual and rapid extinction of that hostility aeoom-
pKshed principally by the influence of religion. The resort of the
superior persons of both classes, to the church and to the Methodist
chapel, has already been mentioned, as well as the happy effect of that
concurrence. It appears expedient to mention, also, the direct co-
operation of the administrative justice of «the colony toward the extinc-
tion of this feud. Admonitions, having this tendency addressed to
offenders in particular instances, have produced evident and general
effect. A more important change was made in a recent instance^ res-
pecting the composition of juries in the Civil Courts. A prsctioe had

Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 22 of 73)