Catechist and Teacher at Carron
Hall and Evangelist at Rose Hill — Engagement to Miss Louisa Peterswald
We have now seen Mr. Anderson initiated into his
duties at Carron Hall and at Rose Hill. The frequent references to his
predecessor in the school at Carron Hall will have prepared the reader for the
announcement of their engagement. It appears to have been a case of love almost
at first sight on Mr. Anderson's part. Of the growth of Miss Peterswald's regard
for Mr. Anderson there is no record, though Mrs. Cowan was doubtless her
confidante, and her interest in the welfare and happiness of both was very deep.
Her presence at Unity in July 1840 probably smoothed the way for frequent
meetings. The engagement took place on the 18th of July.
In a letter dated Unity, July 1st, 1840, from
Mrs. Cowan to Mrs. Elliot of Ford, returning thanks for the box of children's
clothes went with Mr. Anderson, we get an interesting account of the young
Scottish catechist and the young Jamaica lady teacher, each in their respective
spheres of labour, and just on the eve of their becoming engaged to each other:—
Your friend Mr. Anderson is well. He has enjoyed
excellent health, except two severe touches of toothache. Mr. Cowan finds him a
most useful assistant in all his work, both among old and young. We all esteem
him as a most valuable friend. His whole heart is in his work, and he has gained
the affections of all the children. We thought the school was in good order when
he came, but it has improved greatly under him.
Our former teacher is now teaching a school at
Unity, about six miles from Carron Hall, and is getting on most successfully.
She has a happy art of interesting the children in Scripture narrative, and
storing their minds with the Bible. I have brought down the children to stay
with her a few weeks while Mr. Cowan is at the Presbytery, that I may assist her
in the school, as her health is not very good. There are about sixty children
daily at the school, and every evening a few adults come to learn to read. They
have never had sermons on the Sabbath, but it would make a most interesting
missionary station. Last Sabbath we had a Sabbath school among them for the
first time; 60children attended and about 100 adults, who sat with all the
docility of children to learn the Catechism, hymns, etc. When we see how eager
they are to profit by the smallest means of instruction, we long for more
teachers and missionaries.
On the 14th of July, Mr. Anderson had a narrow
escape in school. It is described in his Journal :—
Had just stepped down from the platform when a
gust of wind blew in a heavy dead light which fills up a circular opening in the
gable wall of the school. It went crash through the table over which my head was
bending about half a minute before it fell. I feel grateful for preservation.
The date of his engagement, July 18th, is
recorded along with the dates of other outstanding events in his and his wife's
life, in a copy of Daily Bible Readings, by the Rev. Jas. Smith, presented by
him to his wife at a much later date. In his Journal, although the fact is not
mentioned, there is a significant sentence:—
Had a pleasant walk round by Carron Hall negro
houses, the rivulet, the cottage, Newlands, and Petersfield. May remember this
day in after years—Lord, lift upon us the light of Thy countenance and bless us!
In a letter "To the Young Persons now and lately
attending the Sabbath School, Ford," dated 25th July, Mr. Anderson writes about
Would you like to come into Carron Hall school
some day and see me busily employed among 130 or 140 blacks? I have about 200
scholars altogether, but there are always a great many absent. One reason of
this is that a great number of them have to work a week in the month or so, that
they may procure food and raiment and be able to pay their school fees. They are
kept at school, not by their parents as you are, but by themselves. With few
exceptions they are diligent and anxious to get on with their learning. Some of
them were in the piccaninny gang. I must explain this. Piccaninny signifies
anything that is young. Thus a boy came running to inform me one day that "two
piccaninny birds fall from nest." A man came to me the other day to ask my leave
to "pick up" one of the piccaninny cats that were running about. Whenever
children were able to do anything in the field, or rather before they could work
in the field, they were brought in companies to the buckra's (white man's)
cattle-yard to begin their course of slavery by feeding rabbits and hogs. These
little creatures were in many places very badly used; and these companies of
infant slaves were called "piccaninny gangs." But, blessed be God, the clays of
slavery are over; and when I look around among my scholars and see them all
clothed, and the smile of joy beaming upon their countenances, and reflect on
what some of them were, and on what all of them might have been, and would have
been, had it not been for freedom—that instead of being the happy children of
Carron Hall school, they would have been the naked, ignorant, oppressed,
broken-hearted children of the piccaninny gang, my heart is filled with
gratitude to Jehovah for His kindness to the sable sons and daughters of Africa;
I feel happy that I came to Jamaica, and more and more willing to spend and be
spent in the service of Jesus amongst its inhabitants. Pray for me that I may
have grace given to me to be faithful.
My scholars have no friends to instruct them in
the way that they should go; their parents cannot do it— indeed, in almost every
case the children are better able to instruct the parents than the parents the
children. This makes the duties of a teacher more arduous than at home. And how
overwhelming his responsibility! Again I solicit your prayers and the prayers of
all who may hear this letter read.
On Thursday last I gave the school the vacation
for the August holidays. We have two vacations in the year in this country—one
at the 1st of August, and one at Christmas. You know that the 1st of August is
held as the Anniversary of Freedom. . . .
I do not know how the Sabbath school is
conducted, for I have seen it only once. There is no male teacher in it. I
believe about two hundred children attend it. It meets about ten o'clock, and
dismisses about eleven. It is held in the church. Mr. Cowan or whoever supplies
his place holds a meeting in the school at the same hour with the
catechumens—that is, those who wish to become members of the Church. The
Sabbath-school teachers meet with me on Friday evenings, when we go over the
Scripture lesson for the Sabbath.
When I first came here I thought that all the
faces were alike, as they were all black ; but I now perceive that although
there be less difference of complexion amongst them than amongst you, yet there
is the same diversity of features. I have one little jet black creature with
cheeks so plump and forehead so intellectual and eyes so expressive. . . . The
girl's name is Penelope Wibley.
In a letter to Rev. A. Elliot enclosing the above
letter, Mr. Anderson says:—
We are all busy here preparing for the
celebration of the 1st of August. I am looking forward to it with feelings of
deep interest. I should like to have spent it with the friends at Carron Hall ;
but duty calls me to Rose Mill. The Governor's proclamation is that "all
churches, chapels, and other places of divine worship are to be open on that
day." We are to have our first soiree on Friday evening, August 7th.
Both in his Journal and in a letter which
appeared in the Scottish Missionary Chronicle for Jan. 1841, Mr. Anderson gives
a graphic account of the Commemoration of the 1st of August, and of the meetings
on the two days following:—
I had for some time been looking forward to the
celebration of the 1st of August with deep interest, and it was with emotions of
no ordinal')' kind that I awoke on the morning of the memorable clay to the
pealing of the church bell, while, as yet, the only indications of the approach
of the great luminary of heaven were a few faint streaks of brightness in the
eastern sky. The people in the neighbourhood had been invited to attend a prayer
meeting, which was to be held in the school at sunrise. When Mr. Cowan and I
entered, a few minutes before the time appointed, there were about two hundred
people assembled. At Mr. C.'s request, I began the exercises of the day with
praise and prayer. It was not without considerable effort that I maintained
command of my feelings. We sang the following hymn, prepared for the occasion :—
"We hail the blissful dawn
Of Freedom's sacred day,
And call to mind the joyful morn
When Slavery pass'd away.
Praise to our God we sing,
And bless His holy name;
We glory give unto our King,
From whom deliverance came.
Long, long had Slavery's night
Hung darkly o'er our Isle;
But we beheld, with sweet delight,
The Sun of Freedom smile.
Husband and wife are free!
Our children, too, can roam,
In all the sweets of liberty,
Around their happy home.
To-day we gladly sing
New songs of joy and praise,
Our hills and valleys echoing
The heartfelt, thankful lays.
Ye breezes—waft our song
Up to the throne of God;
Angels—the sacred notes prolong
Within your bless'd abode.
Jehovah broke our thrall,
And set the bondmen free;
Our liberty—our life—our all,
O God, we owe to Thee.
To Thee, O Lord, alone,
Our hymn of thanks we raise;
Seated upon Thy glorious throne,
Accept our humble praise."
[This hymn was written by Mr. Anderson for the
While we were singing, the first beams of the
morning sun darted through the eastern windows. After prayer, Mr. Cowan read in
a very impressive manner the fifty-first chapter of Isaiah, making a few
appropriate observations as he went along. Several of the negroes were then
called upon to pray. Their prayers were short and simple, but full of feeling
and fervour. Mr. Cowan then prayed, and our morning service was concluded by
"Hark! the song of newborn
Rolls along the western sea," etc.
The day was observed as a Sabbath. At the usual
hour of public worship both church and school were filled. Mr. C. preached in
the church, and Mrs. C. and Miss P. were engaged in the school. I was at Rose
Hill. Our chapel there was crowded. I addressed the people from Ex. xii. 40-42,
and Ileb. ii. 3. From the former passage, I spoke of the great temporal
deliverance which had been wrought by God for the negroes of Jamaica; and from
the latter, of a more important deliverance than that, even the "GREAT
SALVATION." All seemed much interested—all seemed deeply devout. The universal
gladness, the delightful excitement, and many a hearty shake of the hand,
reminded me somewhat of the customary congratulations at home on New Year's Day,
with this pleasant exception, that there was nothing that in the remotest degree
approximated to boisterous merriment. Joy beamed in every countenance, but it
was joy chastened and softened by a thousand interesting associations and
recollections,—it was a feeling of the soul which found expression better in the
deep-drawn sigh and the silent tear than in words. When evening drew her mantle
around us, I felt deeply grateful to God that I had been privileged to see at
least one 1st of August in Jamaica.
Sabbath, Aug. 2.—Another delightfully interesting
day. Mr. C. went to Rose Hill, where he had an overflowing audience. I remained
at Carron Hall. Both church and school were again crowded. From 1000 to 1100
must have been present. I delivered the same addresses or discourses which I
delivered at Rose Hill yesterday.
On Monday the 3rd I went to a place called Cedar
Valley, to hold a meeting with the people there. While at breakfast, Mr. and
Mrs. C. raised my expectations very high in regard to the scenery through which
1 was to pass; and I was not disappointed. Some places of the road reminded me
of the plains of East Lothian and the banks of the Gala and the Tweed. One dark
but beautiful spot is worthy of notice. But it would require a poet or a painter
to convey any adequate idea of it— at least, to the minds of many of my friends
who have received their loftiest impressions of nature's grandeur and loveliness
at Roslin Castle or Habbie's How. On the right lies a large mountain, whose
majestic ribs of rock frown over the pathway. At one point it is surpassingly
grand. An immense ledge of rock projects over the whole breadth of the road,
forming a semi-arch over the traveller's head. Half-a-dozen of men on horseback
could shun a shower below it. I believe it is often used for that purpose. The
arch is almost completed by the pendent branches of the trees which luxuriate on
its surface. A few yards to the left, a sweet little rivulet meanders along the
base of one of the most picturesque hills I ever beheld. It stretches away,
almost perpendicularly, to the clouds, apparently about three times the height
of Arthur's Seat, but clothed to the very summit with trees of every form and of
every size, arrayed in rich verdure of every shade. Nature appears to conduct
all her operations on a much more magnificent scale within the tropics than in
the temperate zones.
Cedar Valley is, in some respects, much more
beautiful than either Carron Hall or Rose Hill; but it is much hotter than
either of them. It is, however, a necessitous place. It is eight miles from
this, and in the midst of a great and rapidly increasing population. I met a
number of the people below a large tree, beneath which Mr. Cowan has often
preached. I addressed them from John iii. 16. The people are hungering for the
bread of life. O ye youthful soldiers of the cross in Caledonia, think of the
perishing thousands of Jamaica, and "come over and help us"! Several of our
fellow-labourers have lost their health, and have been obliged to leave the
field; oh, do come and recruit our shattered ranks ! The proprietor, a Brown man
of the name of M'Gregor, is willing to give an acre of land, and as much timber
as may be required, for the erection of a school or chapel, without charge. Is
not this a loud call to your Society to go up and take possession of the land?
But while I write, the question forces itself upon me, "Where is the missionary,
or the catechist, who is to occupy it, although we had a chapel built
to-morrow?" Surely some others have come to you before this time and said, "Here
are we, send us." I could not leave the people without engaging that either Mr.
C. or myself would be with them on the last Sabbath of the month. They seemed
very thankful when I made that engagement. Some, however, looked sad, and said,
"It is too long."
Jamaica is far from being satisfied with what she
has already received. Her cry still is, "Give, give, give!" And this will be her
cry for some time to come. Our daily prayer is that the Lord of the harvest
would send forth more labourers into this portion of His vineyard. Such, too, I
doubt not, is the prayer of thousands at home. But it is to be feared that many
use the prayer who ought to be otherwise engaged; that there are many who are
saying with Moses, "Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of whom Thou wilt
send," who ought to be saying with Isaiah, "Here am I, send me."
Meanwhile Mr. Anderson was not forgotten by his
friends in Scotland, as a letter from the Rev. A. Elliot of Ford, of date nth
Aug. 1840, testifies. In acknowledging Mr. Anderson's letter announcing his
arrival in Jamaica, Mr. Elliot says:—
. . . The young folks laughed loud and long at
the idea of your being so soon transformed into a minister and preaching so
frequently, and the negroes young and old turning up their black faces, and
opening wide their eyes, listening with eager and rapt attention to your
discourses. Nor could I remain unmoved by the pictures thus presented to my
mind, though I sat in grave contemplation, and, instead of laughing, was rather
disposed to ask whether you were not doing too much—whether you were not working
yourself beyond your strength, and whether you were not running too fast to run
long. And I still have my doubts about this, though I am glad to learn from the
subsequent letters which I have seen, that you are keeping your health
excellently. I would not counsel indolence or lukewarmness, or too much care
about yourself; but I would say, "Do thyself no harm." Fastina lenta. Remember
you are in Jamaica; and while you strive to do good and to promote the good
cause to the utmost of your powers, take care that you do not, by over-exertion,
lay yourself aside, and incapacitate your self for your Master's work. Your
strength, your health, your life, your all are His, and are to be devoted to
Him; but you must study so to use them that He may have His own with most
usury—most may be done for His glory and the good of those among whom you
This caution was not unneeded, especially in the
case of a strong, eager, zealous young man like Mr. Anderson. It is the
temptation to which all young missionaries, male and female, whose hearts are in
their work, are subjected on arrival in the mission field. They see so much to
be done, and there are so few to do the work, that necessity seems laid upon
them to do exactly as they would do at home, in defiance of, though partly owing
to inexperience regarding, the changed climatic conditions amid which they
That Mr. Elliot's counsels were not untimely may
be judged from the fact that the Jamaica Missionary Presbytery, at its ninth
sederunt, on the 7th of July, had come to a resolution to restrict the hours of
labour of the catechists. The experience of men who have long been on the
mission field is, in matters of this sort, of great weight and worth attending
to, in these days when increasing attention is being given to the health of
mission agents. I therefore give the resolution in full:—
As the health of several catechists is endangered
by their teaching too many hours (one of them, Mr. Moir, being about to return
to Scotland with his health impaired), and as this zeal, though in itself highly
commendable, is calculated to abridge their usefulness and produce unfavourable
impressions as to the healthiness of the climate, thus preventing many young men
from coining to the island, the Presbytery resolved, through the District
Committee, to call the serious attention of the teachers and catechists to this
subject. They consider that in this country no school should be taught longer
than five hours, and that regularity of diet should be studied, and exposure to
the night air avoided. [Secession Missionary Record, No. xiii., Jan. 1841, p.
As we shall see later on, Mr. Anderson himself,
after larger experience of the country and its climate, was able to give his own
testimony to health conditions in the tropics, a subject to which he paid a good
deal of attention both in Jamaica and in Calabar.
The closing portion of Mr. Elliot's letter
contained intelligence of substantial remembrance on the part of the people of
Ford, which must have been encouraging to the young missionary. Mr. Elliot
We had our Missionary Anniversary here as usual
on the evening of our Fast Day, and in distributing our funds we recollected
Jamaica and you, and assigned £5 to assist in building the new church at Carron
Hall. I also took occasion to mention the hint you had given of presenting a new
Bible and Psalm-book to the Carron I fall congregation. The suggestion took; the
call was cheerfully and warmly responded to, and I learn that the necessary
funds arc already nearly provided. We shall have the books ready by the time Mr.
Simpson returns to Port Maria, who, as you will have heard, is reponed by the
Committee, and who speaks of sailing for Jamaica in October or November. He will
take charge of our present, and convey it to its destination.
Friends here are all well—and all speak of you
with warm affection, and sincerely desire and pray for your success. None,
however, feels a deeper interest in you than your aunt, nor is more rejoiced
when a letter comes from you, to whomsoever addressed. She has enjoyed good
health ever since you left—that is, comparatively good—ill with her breath at
times, but not so ill as I have often seen her. She bids me say that she has no
particular word to send you, except that she is in her ordinary, and is always
best when she hears from you. A letter from you is her best medicine.
As Mr. Anderson's MS. Journal ends abruptly with
the entry of the date, Tuesday, Aug. 4th, private letters and letters and
reports in the Scottish Missionary Society's publications are the only sources
of information regarding the rest of his career in Jamaica. But in the extracts
from his Journal and his letters, given up to that date, a sufficiently detailed
account has been given of his manner of life and work as catechist, teacher, and
preacher. The extracts from letters which follow will give glimpses of his
private and public life, while his annual reports will show the progress of the
work in which he was engaged.
The first letter which takes up the thread of his
life-story is one dated Carron Hall, 3rd Nov. 1840, addressed to the Rev. Andrew
Elliot, Ford, in reply to his of 11th August. It contains a veiled reference to
his engagement, and refers Mr. Elliot to Mr. James Tod for information.
Unfortunately, the letter to Mr. Tod, which presumably told the story of his
engagement to Miss Peterswald, and explained why he was suspended surely not a
very happily chosen word, as literal suspension in the ecclesiastical sense is
not intended; from the exercise of sacerdotal or catechetical duties at Unity,
has not come into my possession, and is probably no longer in existence.
Letter to Rev. A. Elliot, Ford.
You kindly assure me that I must think nothing
too little or too trifling to write about. Well, here I sit almost in solitude
on the summit of a lofty mountain, far far away from the home and the friends of
my youth. Mr. and Mrs. Cowan went to Unity yesterday, so that, with the
exception of a white girl who boards here, my attendants are all of the sable
race. What did I say? A noise from another apartment reminds me that there are
no fewer than five little Creoles—all white—whose proximity I had almost
overlooked. Catherine Jameson is laughing heartily in that apartment, while the
little twins are fretting for their supper. Mary2 and Jane Cowan have just been
singing a Freedom Hymn along with their black playmates. We have just had
coffee, and in writing home I can hardly divest myself of a feeling of
loneliness. No winter fireside companionships and pleasures here.
We had some very warm days, or rather hours, last
month; but the weather is somewhat altered. Indeed, I have heard some people
complaining of cold to-day. I have not felt Jamaica heat to be at all
oppressive, and I doubt not I shall stand its cold exceedingly well. I had two
days of very slight sickness last week. Carron Hall is a very salubrious place.
We sometimes call it the missionary hospital. The teacher at Unity and the
teacher at Goshen have been here for the last fortnight recruiting their
You and your congregation were much on my mind on
Sabbath. I presume it would be your Sacrament day, as it was ours. We had a very
interesting and happy day at Carron Hall. Mr. Cowan preached an excellent sermon
from John xv. 19: "As the Father hath loved Me, even so have I loved you:
continue ye in My love." No other minister was present to assist. I officiated
as precentor, and delivered the concluding address in the evening. In the
morning I had the catechumens and most of the members for about an hour in the
school. I made them repeat the 84th metrical Psalm, made a few explanatory
remarks, and catechised upon it.
Nov. 7.—The rainy seasons have set in, so that I
have not so many scholars as I had formerly. I have still upwards of a hundred,
and I find that that number is sufficient for the exercise of all my energies. I
expect to have a communication ere long from my young friends at Ford to my
young friends here. My youthful charge here were quite delighted by Mr. Jas.
Tod's message to them. They look always quite happy and expectant when I get any
packet letters. They love well to receive and send messages.
I still conduct the services of the Sabbath at
Rose Hill. I and the people there are getting acquainted and attached. I am
ready to resign my charge there, however, whenever a missionary or catechist
arrives to take charge of the station; but I must confess I would feel more
willing and more gratified to resign into the hands of one of my friends from
Ford or Dalkeith than to any stranger. May the Great Shepherd of the sheep soon
send one who shall be of more benefit to the interesting people there than I
have been, or can be, considering that I have my school duties to attend to
here. There has been a change of teacher there. The present teacher is much
superior in every respect (if we except what the former teacher was so proud
of—whiteness of skin) to her predecessor. The change has added much to the
prosperity of the station.
The school which I had the pleasure of opening at
Unity on Feb. 29th has flourished very much under the superintendence of my
predecessor at Carron Hall. It is expected that her labours there will terminate
at Christmas, as it is the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Cowan to send her for six
months to a boarding-school at Kingston, preparatory to an anticipated change in
her residence and circumstances. Mr. Cowan holds a meeting with the people at
Unity on Tuesday evenings. On my coming to the country I had frequently the
pleasure of holding that meeting, but since the school was set on foot I have
been seldom there, and latterly I have been entirely suspended from the exercise
of sacerdotal or catechetical duties there. Jas. Tod can tell you why— to him I
refer you for information.
The letter to Mr. Elliot was enclosed in one to
Mrs. Elliot, in which Mr. Anderson says:—
Thinking that Mr. Elliot may be in Ireland when
this reaches Ford, I shall take the liberty of putting your name on the back of
the letter, so that it may be in your power to read what I have written to Mr.
Elliot without breaking the seal of anyone's letter but your own, for I must
profess or confess ignorance of the laws, customs, or etiquette observed by
husbands and wives regarding each other's letters. Please cut off the above
scrap for my aunt. . . .
Your Bible and Psalm-books shall be much valued
at Carron Hall. I shall feel much gratified when called to officiate from them
in either desk or pulpit by the reflection that the}' were sent from Ford. I
almost wish they had been hanselled by a day's service at Ford. It would have
made them even more dear to me. I feel much obliged by your kind wishes for my
welfare. I sometimes think that I owe much of my present happiness to the
prayers of my friends at home. I often think of Ford Manse and the happy seasons
I have enjoyed there, and, in spirit, I am often in the midst of your family
circle. I feel very happy here, however.
The following letter to his brother-in-law and
his sister, Mr. and Mrs. Clohan, of date Nov. 24th, 1840, conveys to them the
announcement of his engagement, which he had already made to his aunt in the
'"scrap" attached to his letter to Mrs. I^lliot. But when he writes to them he
is in doubts whether his letters to the Elliots and to Mr. Jas. Tod will ever
reach their destination. His old bashfullness seems to overcome him in broaching
his love affair, and he beats about the bush till he comes to the point in the
second page of his sheet.
Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Clohan.
My very dear Brother and Sister,—I wish you "gude
New Year, and many returns of the season." I had no intention of writing to you
at present till within half an hour ago. Mr. and Mrs. Cowan are both from home,
and I am left somewhat lonely, so I thought that I could not do better than sit
down and hold a little conversation with you about family affairs. It is very
customary to begin a letter with "I have nothing of importance to communicate,"
or some kindred expression; but I cannot begin this epistle in that manner, for
I have at present something of great importance to communicate.
I may set out by stating that I still continue,
by the blessing of God, to enjoy excellent health. I still feel happy that I
came here. I continue to love the country and to love my work. I have not so
many scholars as I had during the summer, but I have just as many as I can
manage properly alone. My congregation at Rose Hill continues to increase. I
frequently supply Mr. Cowan's pulpit on the Sabbath when he is in other parts of
the island. Sometimes he and I exchange places. We did so last Lord's Day. The
Carron Hall congregation averages about 800. I have supplied Mr. Jameson's
pulpit at Goshen several Sabbaths. I have been one Sabbath at Port Maria, one
Sabbath at Middlesex, and one at Cedar Valley. I have heard only about four
sermons since my arrival in Jamaica—except I dignify my own exhortations with
the title of sermons. Altogether I have a very busy and a very happy life—oh
that I could add with any degree of confidence—a useful one!
Mr. and Mrs. Cowan are just like brother and
sister to me. They are exceedingly kind. I would suggest that you remember them
kindly in your letters to me, for I am sure that any kindness which any show to
me must be regarded by you as done to yourselves. Remember me very kindly to my
dear little relatives, Mary, William, and Agnes. Poor little things, I cannot
tell you how strongly I feel oftentimes for them. May they be early brought into
the fold of Jesus! May they be amongst the lambs which He gathers in His arms
and carries in His bosom ! Kiss them for me.
I sent a note to my aunt about a fortnight ago.
If she has received it (it was enclosed in a letter to Mrs. Elliot) you will
have heard of my intended union to my very excellent and much-esteemed
predecessor, Miss Louisa Peterswald. When I wrote to Mrs. Elliot I also wrote to
Mr. Jas. Tod, but from a message which I received from both Pear Tree Grove and
Kingston post-offices, I fear that both letters must have been miscarried. Now,
I earnestly wish you to ascertain whether this be the case or not. . . .
I trust, my dear friends, that you will write me
immediately when you receive this, and that you will tell me what you think
about my matrimonial intentions. Send kind regards to your intended relative.
She is a very superior lady-—much my superior every way. She has several times
expressed a fear lest my relations should be displeased at me for marrying a
stranger. A kind message from you and my aunt will remove that impression. She
is no stranger or alien from the covenant of promise. You may recognise her as a
sister in Christ Jesus, and you may be proud to acknowledge her as your friend
and relative. I showed her the salt dishes I got from Mary before I left home.
She seemed much pleased. She is not a beauty, but she is beautiful and handsome.
She is twenty-two years of age.
I receive the newspapers regularly, for which
accept best thanks, and convey them also to Mr. Rutherford. If you have no time
to write when you receive this, you can give me a hint on a newspaper the old
way. From the long address you still put on the papers I perceive that you have
not received my letter by Mr. Moir.
My Louisa has gone to a boarding-school to study
French, drawing, and music, so I shall not see her from this time till May.
Distance between us seventy miles, but the roads are such that a journey will be
impracticable. It would take a week to go and come, and I have no time to spare.
But you may be sure we write frequently.
I am busy at present studying' Greek and Church
History. 1 am half inclined to offer myself as a candidate for the ministry. I
think, if all be well, our marriage will be in July, but you shall hear from me
before that takes place. May the blessing of God rest upon you !—I am, dear
brother and sister, ever yours,
In a letter to the Secretary of the Scottish
Missionary Society, dated Carron Hall, Dec. 16th, 1840, he renders some account
of his stewardship since his arrival in Jamaica:—
Report for 1840.
[Scottish Missionary Chronicle, May 1841, pp. 13-16.]
My engagements may be comprehended under the
following divisions :—
I. Carron Hall School.—There have been at school
this year 252 children in all. The average attendance in good weather has been
140. Besides reading and writing, a few of the advanced boys are in proportion,
simple and compound; of the more advanced girls, a few are in compound
subtraction ; the others are only in the simple rules. The children are very
fond of geography, and are now familiar with the names and positions of the
countries, capitals, mountains, seas, gulfs, and rivers of Europe; the tribes of
Palestine under the Old Testament, and its provinces under the New; and the
countries of America. At first a great number of the children used to come
without wages on the day appointed for paying them. For some time I contented
myself with telling them not to forget them—an exhortation which was but seldom
regarded. Feeling it needful to take higher ground, I intimated, previous to the
August holidays, that in future there would be no admission without wages. I
gave effect to this regulation at our first day's school in August, by turning
out about thirty who had come without them. The most of them came back next day
with wages. If the measure has had any effect in diminishing the attendance, it
is only to a trifling extent. To anticipate and obviate any charge of
oppressiveness connected with this measure, I may state that those children who
have no parents, or whose parents are very poor, are supplied with wages on
application to Mr. Cowan.
Out-Stations.—I continue to conduct the Sabbath services at Rose Hill. From
eleven to about one is spent in devotional exercises, and reading and explaining
a portion of the Word of God. Deeming it important to encourage (what is by no
means fashionable here) attendance on the afternoon's service, I then generally
deliver a short address on some particular point of Christian doctrine or duty.
Scarcely any go away in the interval now. A class of catechumens was formed in
May. It consisted at first of twelve persons ; but at present it contains
fifty-three. These are all, so far as can be ascertained, of good moral
character, and are looking forward to admission as members of the Church of
Christ. A number of them, who previously lived in sin, have been married during
the year. After the more public services are over, the catechumens remain for
catechetical exercises. Of many of them I cherish the fond hope that they will
yet prove intelligent and consistent members of the Church. One of them came to
me one Sabbath lately for advice as to the disposal of a mule which had got its
leg broken some months before. He said that it was only punishing it to keep it
alive, and he wished to know if it would be a sin to shoot it. I need hardly say
that I told him it would be none. I was much pleased to see such tenderness of
conscience. In some respects the Rose Hill people carry matters perhaps too far.
Mr. Cowan had told them to use the bell for assembling the workmen engaged in
building the new schoolhouse. It was so used several times; but they soon
discovered that their bell would be desecrated if applied to a secular purpose,
and I understand that the first thing now done on Monday morning is to remove it
from the tree on which it hangs and take it to some place of safety, where it
may remain in silence till the hallowed morning requires its vibrations as a
summons to the worship of God. The new school-house is not yet erected; the old
one has been re-seated— accommodates about 130, and is packed every Sabbath. We
have had to meet sometimes beneath two large mango trees.
I have been at Cedar Valley only once since I
wrote you in August. I had a large audience below a tree. The people there are
exceedingly anxious for the means of instruction. One negro is ready to give £4.
to assist in building a church there. "Come over and help us! No man careth for
our souls!" such is the message which almost every week brings from Cedar Valley
to Carron Hall. The state of the weather prevents our assembling below the tree
at present. The people are either erecting, or are about to erect, a temporary
place of worship, with a roof, which will render us more independent of the
weather, and consequently able to have meetings more frequently at this place
than heretofore. Are you not about to send us a reinforcement from home? How
much it is needed!
III. Visiting- the Sick.—I have had but little to
do in this department, but enough to testify, in a striking manner, the
depravity of the human heart; the deplorable ignorance which prevails amongst
the negroes; and, at the same time, the power of the Redeemer's grace. I was
sent for, one week-day evening, to visit an old man in the neighbourhood of Rose
Hill, who was very sick. He was unable to speak much. Indeed, the only words I
could hear were, "Parson, how d'ye?" He died just as I left the house;
and—melancholy thought! the neighbours imagined that his soul would be safe
because I was with him and prayed with him in his dying hour. I was requested to
visit an old African at Rose Hill one Sabbath evening. I found him in a very
miserable state both of body and of mind. His mind seemed to be enveloped in
worse than Egyptian darkness. He knew nothing about God, or heaven, or hell, or
the soul, or sin, or a Saviour. I tried to convince him that he was a sinner,
and that he needed salvation ; but in vain. He assured me that he was no sinner,
for he had never harmed a dog or a cat, or any person. He seemed somewhat
annoyed when I pressed matters upon him, and said, "Too sick; not able to speak
buckra; tongue too heavy"; and after that I could get him to say nothing but
African. If I remember rightly, he was a native of Congo. An old woman who had
some knowledge of the gospel interpreted a few sentences, and to her care I had
to leave him. Very different were the circumstances of a woman, one of the Rose
Hill congregation, whom I was called on to visit a few Sabbaths afterwards. I
found her very low in body; but her mind was calm and happy, reposing upon Jesus
for salvation. Among other things, I asked her if she loved the Saviour. Her
eyes filled with tears, and she said, "Oh, massa, why me no love the Saviour,
who has clone so much for we?" Ere another Sabbath came round, she was, I had no
reason to doubt, with Him whom her soul loved—and in whom, when
I saw her, she was rejoicing with joy unspeakable. I
felt it to be animating and comforting to see a deathbed like hers. One of the
last sick-persons whom I visited was a woman who was drawing nigh to the gates
of death. On asking her where she thought her soul would go if she were now to
die, her reply was, "To hell." I endeavoured to point her to that blood which
cleanseth from all sin; but I have no means of knowing with what effect. She
died a day or two afterwards.
Evening Meetings.—The Carron Mall and Peters-field people meet in the school on
Sabbath and Friday evenings. They are chiefly taught reading and Scripture
history. I, of course, assist Mr. Cowan at these meetings. I meet with the
Sabbath-school teachers on Friday evening, before the general meeting is held,
and go over the Bible lesson for the Sabbath. We have two meetings in the month,
during the moonlight, for the practice of sacred music. These meetings have been
exceedingly well attended. The people are very fond of music.
On the retrospect, the closing year appears to me
to have been the busiest, the happiest, and the fleetest I have ever spent. I
well remember the tremor and the strong sensation of awe with which I was filled
on the 9th of January, as we approached the shores of Jamaica, and beheld its
serrated mountains, like so many gigantic graves, its houses, and its trees,
becoming more and more visible. A thousand interesting but painful recollections
of what I had heard at home of the horrors of slavery rushed upon my mind, and
for a time I could contemplate the island only as a theatre which had been the
scene of many fearful exhibitions of African wrong, European guilt, and Heaven's
vengeful retribution. When the farewell gun was fired from the Christian, I felt
as if the last tie that bound me to the land of my nativity had been demolished
with the explosion. It was with feelings, to say the least, akin to melancholy
that I reflected that I was not only far, far from my country and my kindred,
but that I was in the land which has been designated "the grave of Europeans,"
and inhaling its (supposed) tainted and pestilential atmosphere.
I find myself still alive, however, and, I
suppose, as living like as ever I was. I never enjoyed better health at home
than I have enjoyed, as yet, in this country. Twice or thrice, I think, after
more than usual exertion, I have had a slight sickness; but a little medicine
and a day's rest have fully restored me. I enjoy the climate exceedingly. I have
hardly ever found the heat to be oppressive. The people are warm-hearted and
kind. My saddle and bridle were stolen some months ago. The people here were
both indignant and ashamed that such a thing should have been done among them.
They set a subscription on foot among themselves for the reparation of my loss ;
and the other Saturday (how simply things are done here ! no pompous
deputation—no speech-making), a boy came into school bearing an excellent new
saddle,— "Here's a saddle, sir." "What are you going to do with it?" "It be to
you, sir." "Where is it from?" "Me can't tell, sir." "Well." So that was all
that passed at the presentation of the saddle, and I suppose I shall hear no
more about it. You may be sure that I value it very highly.