Samuel Abraham Walker.

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

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this place the cha^e of about 180 liberated negroes. " The spot,^
says During, describing his situation, "is beautiful. It is encompassed
on every side by small rivulets. The aspect of the surrounding moun-
tain is romantic. The people are o£ five difierent tribes, and demand
sometimes my utmost exertion. At present they have a st^nish heart
and disposition, and will retain the same until it is taken from them
by divine power."

From the same oommunicatioD, dated Feb. 5, 1817, we derive the
following account of his proceedings and encouragements at that early
atageof his work.

" I have many already who are eager fi>r instruction $ and I pray
that the Lord may be with me, to enable me to do good to my fellow-
creatures. In about a fortnight my house will be finished, when I
shall immediately b^n an evening adult school. My day-school is at
present but small t I expect more children every day. Were there
more here now. I could not do justice to them, for I am at present to
my people sometimes father, sometimes judge, and sometimes master*
Yet the Lord my Grod has not forsaken me, and I trust he will never
leave me. The thought that these poor creatures, though at present
in the grossest state of ignorance, may one day become the disciples of
Jesus, has always supported me under the greatest trials ; indeed we

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20 CHURCH MISSION IN SIBBIA LEONB.

Imve eridence already that the gospel light has hegon to dawn on manjr
souls."

In a subseqaost letter of March 15th, he famishes a more detailed
aoconnt of his arrangements and progress.

** Sunday service with my negroes we observe as follows : We first
ung a hymn, of which they are very fond. Then I read a part of the
Liturgy with them, which those who understand a little English veiy
much delight in. Between the two lessons we sing a verse or two, and
again after I have done reading prayers. Then I take either the gospel
or epistle appointed for the day, explain it to them, and make a few
remarks suitable to their capacity ; then we sing again, and I pray
with them, and so dismiss them. In the afternoon we meet again,
from three to four o'clock : I read a chapter out of the New Testament,
pray with them, and talk to them, sometimes asking them questions,
which some of them answer very well. By these means I hope they
soon wiU be enabled to form an idea of that Saviour whom I have found
precious to my own soul. From one to two, and from four to five
o'clock, I catechise the children according to the Church Catechism ;
in the evening we meet for worship again, and so close the day. I keep
school according to the British National system, and observe the same
rules as those in the Christian Institution. My wife has the care of
sixty-seven girls, who read in the forenoon, and sew in the afternoon.
I have at present only twenty boys, who read in the morning, and work
in the afternoon. They either cultivate the ground or learn some
useful trade; such as are promising attend also the evening schooL
This evening school is established from seven to eight o'clock for adults.
The number of scholars is at present about twenty. There are plenty
more who are desirous to become ' bookmen,' as they call it, but for
want of accommodation I cannot yet admit more. I hope, through the
assistance of the Lord, I shall be able, when the rough branches are
cut away from those whom I have at present, to open an adult school
on a large scale. His excellency the governor is highly pleased vnth
our plans, and will gladly forward them, in order to promote the designs
of government and of our society."

WILBERFORCE TOWN.

Three small towns described by Mr. Bickersteth, Congo, Cosso, and
Bassa, were united to form this station, vdiich was committed, as we
have beforo mentioned, to the care of Mr. Cates, schoolmaster, who
arrived at the colony with Brennant, who was fixed at Kissey Town, on
the 25th February, 1817. Cates was designed for Yongro, as Brennant



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WILBBRFORCB TOWN. 21

had been for Gambier. A desire 'to cany out the governor's views,
however, led to both being detained in the colony.

Gates's first efforts were much interrupted by sickness. The spirit.
however, with which he entered on his work was of the right kind,
and his arrangements were consequently excellent. "As soon," he
writes, *' as I was stationed, I established the same plan of assembling
the people morning and evening for prayer, as is observed at the other
towns ; which affords a firequent opportunity of pointing them to Jesus,
as * the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.' "

** Among our people/' he proceeds, *' we have a class who have
renounced their superstitions, and have learned to pray to one God in
' white man's fashion,' as they term it : and on tliis account they seem
to entertain so high an opinion of themselves, as to think they can now
claim heaven in their own right. To such men the humbling way of
salvation, through faith in the atoning blood and meritorious righteous-
ness of a Saviour, cannot of course be acceptable. Another class still
retain their country fashion; trusting to greegrees and other lying
vanities : they seldom attend worship, and are averse to any sort of
instruction, particularly of a rehgious nature.

'* Thus both classes, though much opposed to each other, agree in
thinkiag lightly of the only way of escape from the wrath to come.
May the Eternal Spirit condescend to own and bless the means made
use of for their good, that many may be brought from darkness to light,
and from the power of Satan unto God !

*' On Good Friday afternoon I endeavoured to explain the importance
and advantage of being able to read the scriptures ; and proposed that
those who wished ix^ learn should come to evening school after they
had done work. About thirty men and . women came forward as
scholars. I put their names down; and on an average twenty-five
attended as long as I was there."

On the 6th of January, 1818, an examination of the children in the
Institution was held before the governor ; in reference to which the
Sierra Leone Gazette made the following observations : —

*' The Christian Institution — the only one of the kind in Africa —
will ever remain an undeniable evidence of the anxiety of the Society to
promote to the utmost of its power the civilization of Africa. It must
and ever will command the gratitude of every well-wisher to the African
race.

*' The boys (two hundred) and girls (fifty) went through their dif-
ferent exercises in a manner creditable to themselves and their teachers.
The examination took place in the church erected by the Society on
Leicester Mountain. The site commands a most extensive view of th0



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33 CHURCH mSSTON IN SIEIBA LEONE.

town, harbour, and sea. It will stand as a landmark of Cheistianitt.
The saOor, on seeing its spire from afiur, will retom praise to his God,
and bless his ooontry for having thus afforded an asylum to the
oppressed African. The view of a church on British ground in Africa^
proclaims the liberty of the subject. Where true Chrisdanitj Teigns,
slaverj is banished."

After the removal of Butscher from the scene of his earthlj labo«irs,
Mr. and Mrs. Gamon paid the greatest attention to the children thus
so severely bereaTed. In this kind office they were joined by Mr. and
Mrs. ColUer, who arriTed at Sierra Leone on the 24th of January ; the
former having been appointed by the home government, at the solici-
tation of the committee, assistant^haplain to the colony. Such assbt-
ance became the more necessary after the departure of Mr. and Mrs.
Horton, who had been appointed to assist Butscher, but who had dis-
connected themselves from the Society in the March of this year.

Together with the Bev. John Ck)llier and his wife» there arrived from
England, in the service of this mission, the Rev. Henry Charles Decker,
Mrs. Becker, and John Maxwell, an African youth. The accession
of these labourers to the rapidly increasing work in the colony, gave the
greatest satisfaction to Mr. Gamon and the other tried friends of the
cause.

This year Regents Town continued to take the lead in spiritual im-
provement. The church there, which was at first calculated for 500
persons, being crowded every Sunday, a gallery was added by the
governor for 200 more. This was immediately filled, and a fbrther
enlargement was found indispensable.

An examination of the schools was held before the governor and
other gentlemen on the 31st of December 1817. An account of this
interesting event appeared in the Sierra Leone Gaxette on the 18th of
Januaiy 1818, to the follovring effect :

'' The appearance of the whole of the scholars, male and female, was
equally creditable to their teachers and to themselves. The sight of a
well-regulated school has ever been interesting to a feeling heart. We
own that to us this was most peculiarly so. We had seen but a short,
veiy short period before, those beings now so cleanly dad and so decent
in their appearance, brought to this colony naked, without any idea of
the true God, yoked together as the brute beasts, employed by man for
the labour of tiie field, — ^and we thanked God for the change.

** In reading, the adults have made considerable progress since the last
examination ; the boys and girls hare kept pace with them. The ex-
amination was very properly concluded by singing — the boys and girls
in chorus — of hymns in praise to our Redeemer. The singing



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rbgent's town. 23

executed with taste and good voices. Well might they, and well may
we amg praise to the Lord ! Hallelujah ! Here might we expatiate
with delight on such a scene, and in such a place. Three years are
scarcely elapsed uid a wilderness b changed into a Christian and ro-
maBlic spot, inhabited by upwards of thirteen hundred loyal British
subjects. The company were hospitably entertained by his Excellency
at the parsonage-house,— erected within the last year, — and nearly
finiahed. It is the residence of the Rev. William Johnson, the present
worthy chaplain and superintendant That house, the church, and the
public buildings, and indeed the private houses (now building by sub-
scription among themselves) were, and are raised, by those veiy beings
whom the traffickers in human blood have so long calumniated and
oppressed. The whole of those buildings iire in a most elegant style ;
and we have been assured, as before stated, built by captured negroes,
a few soldiers of the Royal African Corps, and an European artificer
attached to the engineer department. The day was ended as begun.
and will undoubtedly be long remembered by those present. The Bri-
tish flag was flying on the tower of St. Charles* church, — ^the first stone
church erected on the west coast of Africa in 1816. His excellency is
now enlai^ing it, and when completed, which will be in the course of
CHie or two months, it will accommodate thirteen or fourteen hundred
persons."

A few samples of the good work here extracted from the journals of
the missionaries wUl not be out of place.

" One of the negro women was asked, * Do you thank God who sent
white massa to teach you.' She replied in broken English, with an earn-
estness not to be described : ' Me tank God too much,' that is, very
much, ' dot time massa no come me do plenty bad tings, and bring, me
plenty trouble.'

" The progress of some of the adults in reading is very rapid. In less
than a twelvemonth from the time of their liberation they read well in
the New Testament, and delight to study it every leisure hour. One
said to Mr. Johnson, '' Massa, me see myself in dis book," and opened
at the seventh chapter to the Romans, pointing to the passage from the
nineteenth to the twenty-fourth verses : ^* For the good that I would I
do not : but the evil which I would not, that I do," &c. Not a few of
them have been indeed thus led to a knowledge of themselves. They
will tell us with the greatest simplicity that they have two hearts within
them — a good heart and a bad heart ; nor can we convince them to the
contrary. They will also tell us that these two hearts have a '< long
palaver " with each other, and how much bad heart strives to hurt
good heart.



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24 CHURCH MISSION IN SIBRRA LEONE.

'' I was speaking," says Mr. Johnson, '' to my people a few Sundays
ago, of my being sent hither to preach to them about Jesus Christ, and
was telling them how good God was to send ministers to Africa* and to
bring them to this place ; and that if God had not been so good, they
would have perished in their sins. I had an object in yiew, which was
to form among them a little society for the relief of their sick members
by subscriptions of a halfyenny a week each. After service, one of
them stood up and said to the rest, ' Dat be very good ting, broders ;
suppose one be sick, all be sick ; suppose one be weU, all be well!'
liVliat a simple but practical comment on those words, * Whether one
member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be
honoured, all the members rejoice with it,' — ^and indeed on the whole
passage, 1 Cor. xii. 1 2 — 27.

*' One who had lately been reclaimed from the depths of sin, when
asked, ' Well, how is your heart now ?' replied, ' Massa, my heart no
Uyc here now ; my heart live there,' pointing to the skies."

Mr. Gamon wrote concerning Regent's Town — '' I have been spend-
ing a week at Mr. Johnson's. How would you enjoy to visit many of
the black people, and hear their nmple but sincere expressions of love to
Christ! They manifest great humility, distrust of themseWes, and
ardent longings after holiness. I attended their Saturday evening meet-
ing. One young Ebo woman with tears said, ' Massa, my heart trouble
me too much this time ; me have no peace ; me pray ; Jesus no hear
me pray. Me tink he no like save me.' From excessive grief she fell
suddenly into a kind of fit (for I can describe it as no other), and shook
on her knees in the most violent and distressing manner. Thb appears
to be the manner in which these people are commonly affected under
their first religious impressions. It may arise from the dread with
which they are struck at their awful condition, and from the entire
newness of divine things to them.

*' The next day was sacrament Sunday, when I united with those
beloved black sisters and brothers at the sacred table. Oh that I may
be permitted to sit down with them in the heavenly Jerusalem ! One
night we were just returned from the church where family prayer is
performed, when one poor man came in and said, ' Massa, me heart
bum ; it like fire. Me glad too much.' This was expressive of his
enjoyment at the time in the service of Grod. There is great sweetness
and humility among some of the recaptured who are brought to accept
Christ as their Saviour."

Meanwhile others of the missionaries had their encouragements : for
example, Mr. and Mrs. Garnon had reason to feel that their exertions
at Leicester Mountain were not in vain. '' I love these black people,"



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LBICB8TEE MOUNTAIN. 25

Airs. Garaon wrote» " for I always find them friendly and thankful ;
and was particnlarlj pleased with the affection of our Krooman. He is
cooky fetches water and wood, and does all the hard work. Mr. Gamon
was ill at Leicester mountain. The man had heen twice down and up
to and from Freetown, which is three miles of steep road. As he was
obliged to go down to the town again with the surgeon for some medi-
cine, I said, ' Ben, you had better send John with the medicine, and do
yon come np at gun-fire in the morning and make fowl roast for massa.'
He instantly said with earnestness, ' Mammy,' which is my usual ap-
pellation from them, ' my massa sick ! Suppose me no come, me no
sleep ; my heart no good.' This almost overcame me. I said, * Very
well, Ben, yon may come.' He did so all in the dark, and over a m^ed
road ; and as soon as it was at all light in the morning, he was at our
room door to know * How massa do.' The children also sent me word,
* Me want go see massa ;' and so overjoyed were they all, that when
they came and saw him, their eyes quite sparkled with delight."

Of the children, Mr. Gamon wrote :

" I shall devote my time more to the Leicester Mountain children.
I wish you could see them at family prayer, you would weep for joy to
see so many black faces, and to hear so many little voices.

" The country all around us is beautiful. The road to Regent's
Town is truly grand.

" I had some of the children who are called after benefactors, in my
room by myself. I read to them, and endeavoured to make myself
understood ; but from their little knowledge of English and of religion,
it is very difficult. Poor little dears ! they looked at me so earnestly :
and when I questioned them, said, they ' no sabby,' — could not under-
stand me. The tract called " The Negro Servant,' fixed their atten-
tion. A short prayer has been made for the children which they all
use before we rise at night from family prayer. Mr. Gamon repeats it,
and they all follow him — ' Thank God for having taken care of me thb
day, and for my food and clothes ! Bless me, O God, this night ! for-
give me all my sins, and keep me from all evil, for Christ's sake.' "

The Rev. John Godfrey Wilhehn, who had presided so faithfully
over the now abandoned settlement at Canoffee, was intended to have
charge of the newly-formed settlement of Bathurst, on the island of
St. Mary, at the mouth of the Gambia river ; but it was found expe-
dient on the removal of Mr. and Mrs. Horton from the Institution, that
he should occupy that important station, of which Mr. Gates, located at
Wellington, took temporary charge until the arrival of Wilhehn, at the
end of April, who immediately entered on the duties of superintendant,



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26 CHURCH MISSION IN SIBRRA LBONB.

and was subsequenUj j<Hiied by Mr. Cates» when the BeT. H. C. Dtdur
entered upon his work as minister of Wellington.

At the period when these changes took place there were in the Insti-
tution about 170 boys and young men, and 50 girls. Many of the
elder youths had b^;un to manifest an unoontrdlable* turbulent dis-
position, owing to the frequent relaxation of those habitual restraints* so
necessary for young persons under their peculiar circumstances^ In the
school, which ccmtained about 100 boys, Mr. Gates, ably assisted by the
native usher John Maxwell, exerted himself to restore ihe vigour of the
National system, which had been allowed to decline, and Mr. Collier bore
testimony to the success of his labours exhibited in the minds and man-
ners of lus pupils.

It appeared, however, desirable for many reasons, ihat a change
should be made in the plan of the Institution. The necessity of it was
suggested to the intelligent mind of governor McCarthy, whose en-
lightened views on the subject were subsequently adopted by the com-
mittee. The following extract from a letter addressed by him to the
secretary, dated August 28, 1818, explains his proposed arrangement:

*' Since the death of the Rev. Leopold Butscher, the establkhment
on Leicester Mountain has been losing ground ; and under all the cir-
cumstances of the case, and considering the difficulty of procuring
Europeans (men and women) qualified to superintend such an extensive
concern, I am inclined to concur in the opinion of the whole of the
members of your Society who have spoken to me on the subject, that it
ipight perhaps forward more effectually the cauae which we all have so
9iuch at heart, if the establishment was converted into a college on the
same footing as that at Windsor, in Nova Scotia, so far as the rehtive
circumstances might permit. The females might be given up to the
care of the wives of those missionaries who act as superintendants of
parishes, and the Society might be relieved from the maintenance of
such boys, as after one or two years' schooling might be found better
calculated for handicrafts and labourers than for scholars. A certain
number of the children of the colony might be admitted as scholars in
order to their receiving a superior education. The parents of these
children would of course defray their expenses, and the Society would
only have to support such natives of Africa, either from the captured
negro class, or children of chiefs as they might deem advisable, A
considerable proportion of the money now expended in the support of
the children might be appropriated to the maintenance of teachers of
the classics, Arabic and other languages. Such a plan, I conceive,
would equally, if not in a higher degree, receive the support of the
liberal friends of Africa. The Society would not be considered as de-



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ILLNB88 OF MB. WBNZEL. ' 27

parting from its original Tiews, bnt merely giving a greater extension to
exertions in a canse which mnst commaDd the feelings of men."

In consequence of the concurrence of the committee, after mature
deHberation in his excellency's plan, a selection took place of such boys
as it appeared from thdr conduct and abilities, desirable to retain in
tlie Institution. The others, to the number of 130 boys and 40 girls
'Were dispersed among the different villages of the colony, according to
their own choice. Henceforth while their maintenance would be de-
frayed by Government, their instruction would still devolve on the
Society.

We must here interrupt our relation of the improvement contemplated
in the working (^ the mission, to allude to the fearful devastations which
death was making in the ranks of its faithful conductors. It pleased the
all-vrise Ruler of the universe, that the periodical rains .of the western
eoast of Africa should prove this year peculiarly unhealthy, and conse-
quently more than ordinarily fatal to European constitutions. The illness
of poor Wenzel, whose health had long been declining, was the first stroke
of the heayenly rod, and the harbinger of the disasters which were to
follow. Wenzel had laboured in this vineyard since August, 1809, and
almost constant suffering from ill health gave indication of an early ter-
mination to his life and labours. On his removal from Canoffee he
was appointed to take charge of Kissey Town, where he was assisted by
David Brennant as school-master, who, however, vras called away, after
a few months' labour, in June, 1817, as has been stated in the preceding
Tolume.* At Kissey, poor Wenzel found himself called upon for more
exertion, owing to the number of people committed to his care, than in
his weak condition he was able to encounter ; the charge of the boys'
school consequently devolved entirely on the usher, while the girls'
school was ably conducted by Mrs. Wenzel. A short time previous to
his illness, Wenzel had sent his son by his first marriage, a very sickly
youth, to England, for the restoration of his health, but he died on the
passage home. The melancholy events to which we have referred are
so fully and piously recorded in a letter from Mr. Gates to the Secre-
taries of the Society, that we cannot do better than insert his communi-
cation at length.

** Freetown, Augast 10, 1818.

** Rbv. and deab Sibs. — Had I to send the pain^ information
which these sheets will contain, to those who know not that all events
are in the hands of the Lord, I should be at a loss how to commence,
lest their hearts should sink beneath such doleful tidings. But to
those who know Him and have embraced the promises through Him,

♦ Page 498.



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28 CHURCH MISSION IN SIERRA LEONE.

nothing can give just caoae for despair. The Lord reigneth! and
though the dispensation of his providence may pass the utmost stretdi
of human penetration, yet the time is not far distant when all his re-
deemed, disencumbered from their load of day, shall see that though
clouds and darkness have been round about Him, yet mercy and truth
have ever been the habitation of His throne. Faith teaches us now to
rejoice in the stedfast belief of this, of which faith I trust the Socie^
at large, as well as the relatives of those dear friends whose departure
I am going to record, will enjoy a large portion.

*' About the middle of July, Mr. Wenzel was suddenly taken very ill,
and sent in the night for Mr. Garnon, who went immediately. In
going he got wet, and more so in returning, which brought on a fever
supposed to be of the inflammatory kind. Mr. Collier was at the same
time in a very weak state from repeated attacks of fever, and both Mrs.



Online LibrarySamuel Abraham WalkerThe Church of England mission in Sierra Leone: including an introductory ... → online text (page 8 of 73)