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William and Louisa Anderson
Part II - Jamaica Period, 1839-1848 - Chapter 5


In charge at Canon Hill, 1843-44—License and Call to Rose Hill, 1844

Till: principal events of the year 1843 were the visit of the Rev. John Robson, A.M., Wellington Street Church, Glasgow, to Carron Hall, and the departure of the Rev. John Cowan, with his wife and part of his family, to Scotland on sick leave.

In the course of a speech at the Annual Meeting of the Scottish Missionary Society, held in Edinburgh on April 16th, 1844, Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Robson gave an account of his visit to the stations of the Society. His visit to Carron Hall was paid in the beginning of April 1843. He said:—

On Thursday I left (Port Maria) for Carron Hall, where the Rev. J. Cowan is stationed. Here a new church was in process of erection. The walls were finished, and the workmen were engaged with the roof. When finished, it will be a substantial and commodious building. The old place of meeting, although it had been enlarged once and again, was far too small, and very inconvenient in man)- respects. The schoolhouse is a large edifice, well adapted for the purpose to which it is applied. The pupils attending it are about 200, and are under the able superintendence of Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. I was frequently in it while the process of instruction was going on, and the whole state and management of the seminary reflect the highest credit on both teachers and taught. On the Friday evening there was a numerously attended meeting in the schoolhouse for the practice of sacred music. In this the negroes take great delight, and at the various mission stations have made very considerable proficiency. On Saturday I accompanied Mr. Cowan to one of his out-stations named Rose Hill. It is, I believe, about six miles distant. A large audience assembled in the wooden church erected there. Messrs. Beardslie and Preston of the American Mission were also present, and took part in the religious services in which we engaged. It was a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. On Sabbath the classes met in the morning as at all your other stations, and the public services of the day were conducted in the usual form. The place of meeting was crowded. On Monday afternoon I had a long and interesting meeting with the elders, and conversed with them on a variety of subjects, such as their ancient superstitions—the changes that had taken place in the island—its present religious state—and the need for more missionaries. They displayed great intelligence and Christian simplicity, and appeared to be very anxious to do what they could to help onward the cause of God. In the evening we held a large missionary meeting. I addressed them at some length, urging them to devotedness and liberality—telling them what the Christians at home had done, and what they expected them to do— showing them the propriety of getting their new church finished as speedily as possible, and then trying what they could do for others who were yet sitting in darkness. Various speeches were made by the people. I give the following as a specimen, premising that, although I am not sure about the correctness of the negro-English, I am quite sure that they were the precise sentiments of the speaker. He was one of the elders :—

We much pleasure, massa, in hearing what de minister from de far country say. We quite glad that he come to tell we dese tings. He give we great privilege. He write dese tings on our eyes and on our hearts. We must go on and read de lesson—we must read it. He come over de great ocean. We not know what it is, but our fathers and mothers know it when dey come in de slave-ship, and de ministers know it; and since minister come so much far to speak to we, we must take care to read de lesson which minister hab written. We must go on building God's house—no, not for God, for God need no house on earth to dwell in—but de house for we to worship God in, and that our souls may get good in it. Let us all put our hands together to de work. Like de horses or de cattle in de waggon, we must all draw together, and den we soon get our load to de place, and den we throw it off, and come back empty, and quite fresh to begin again.

We must go on. One man plant provision, — if hungry man come past, you must give him provision. Well, we got knowledge, then wc must give knowledge. Our brothers and sisters in de far country, whom we do not know, deliver we from our ignorances. Before we know de gospel we do many tings wrong. On Sabbat we work our grounds, burn de grass, go village ; and when candles lighted like this, busha him come and flog two or three of we. Now we no do dese tings. Well, if we stand stock still in de same place and not go on, den brothers and sisters in de far country say, "All our labour in vain," and dey be sad. Just as if a child on de mother's breast, trained up, and him become worse and worse, de mother sad and say, "All my labour in vain." But how blessed—how glad she when de child grow up in de grace of God. So with we. We must not stand still—we must go on—we must support our minister —and we must try and support other ministers, and thus remove the ignorance of others.

The word we have been hearing is not like de rain that fall and come again, when de clouds return after de rain. It must abide. The minister dat speak de word, him go away to de far country. We see his face no more. Him speak to we no more. Therefore we must keep de good rain which he has caused to fall on our hearts, that it ma)- make we grow. [Annual Report of the Scottish Missionary Society for 1844, pp. 37—38.]

This address gives a good idea of Mr. Anderson's fellow-elders and of the people among whom he and Mr. Cowan were labouring at Carron Hall.

There are no letters in existence from or to Mr. Anderson during this time. After the departure of Mr. Cowan for Scotland his time seems to have been very fully occupied. An interesting account of his and Mrs. Anderson's labours at this period is, however, supplied in a letter of reminiscences from Miss Mary Stuart, now of South Haven, Mich., U.S.A., who was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. She writes:—

My acquaintance with Mr. and Mrs. Anderson began in July 1843. My father went to Carron Hall to do carpenter work on the new church, and took his family with him for the advantages of church and school. Mr. and Mrs. Cowan had gone to Scotland to take their two eldest children to school, and also for the benefit of Mr. Cowan's health, which had given way under his manifold labours, and needed recruiting. Mr. Anderson was left in charge of the church at Carron Hall in addition to the school, also the church at Rose Hill. He did not supply the pulpit at Carron Hall, but, with the exception of the preaching service on Sunday and marriages and baptisms, he attended to all the other work of the station in Mr. Cowan's absence—no light task, I assure you. As Mr. Anderson had to preach at Rose Hill every Sabbath, the other ministers took turns in preaching at Carron Hall.

The school was large at that time, and both Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were engaged in teaching every school-day. I wish I could take you back with me into that school for one day, and show you the eager, happy faces of the children, and the loving, cheerful, hope-inspiring faces of the teachers.

We were all in our places at 9 A.M. The school commenced with singing a hymn or psalm and with prayer. Then came our Bible lesson—to me always the best lesson of the day, though I loved the others also. The whole class stood up while we read, verse about, the lesson which we had studied beforehand. Then our Bibles were closed, and we had to answer questions on the lesson, and Mr. Anderson explained it to us. While this lesson was in progress, the rest of the scholars kept very quiet, either getting up their lessons or listening to our lesson. After this lesson we had recess for a few minutes. Then Mrs. Anderson came in, and both she and Mr. Anderson went on teaching the other classes, while we of the Bible class went on with our sums in arithmetic. And so the teaching went on till noon, every child in school receiving due attention, and every one knowing that they were loved and cared for. In the afternoon we had geography and grammar, writing, spelling, etc., also reading in our school text-books. Friday was our day for letter-writing and other compositions.

Mrs. Anderson also taught the girls to sew and make their own clothes. We had an hour for sewing every afternoon, and very often Mrs. A. had the girls bring their work and finish it at her house on Saturday afternoon, while she showed them how. It has always been a mystery to me how Mrs. A. and a good many other ladies in the Mission could do so much work and teaching at the same time.

Besides his teaching at Carron Hall and preaching at Rose Hill, Mr. A. had to attend to all the week-day meetings at Carron Hall — the prayer meeting, the two catechumen classes—one for old and the other for young-people; and also to visit the sick and the dying, who were never neglected. He had charge also of seeing to the collecting the subscriptions for the various funds for church matters. Of course there were elders, etc., to help, but he had to see that everything was done in time and in order.

The people agreed to keep the pastures clean from bushes, which grew very fast and needed cutting very often. He had to see that that was done. I remember a little incident in connection with pasture cleaning. It was getting near the time when "Minister" and Mrs. Cowan were expected home, and the people had been rather backward in paying up their subscriptions. Mr. Anderson had tried hard to have them do their duty, and at the same time had endeavoured to excuse them to Mr. Cowan as best he could; but the pastures were nearly all grown over with guava bushes and other brush. Now, the wood of the guava is very hard and tough, and I suppose they dreaded the job, so kept putting it off. But one day Mr. Anderson called a meeting and asked what he should write to their minister about it. He said: "I have made all the excuses about the money I can. I wrote 'Minister' that the times were hard and the prices for yams and plantains very small, so you had not much money to give. But what shall I say about clearing the pasture? Shall I write that your cutlasses are all lost, or that your right arms are all broken?" Next day there was a big turnout of men, women, and some children, all ready to work, some at cutting bush, others at bringing water from the spring to the thirsty workers. About 3 P.M. they had one pasture cleared—that is, the bushes were all cut and on the ground; but there was still another pasture (about ten or twelve acres) covered very thickly with large guava bushes. The men were hot and tired, for it is hard work "billing bush," and they concluded that they would not begin on that pasture till some other day, when, to their surprise, they saw the bushes begin to tumble over as of their own accord. On looking nearer, they saw all the women (who had also been working all day), led by a little girl, [Was this little girl Miss Mary Stuart herself?] hacking away with their cutlasses with all their might, and bringing down the guava bushes at a great rate. In less than five minutes every man of them had forgotten his tiredness and was in line with the women. Before six o'clock every bush in that pasture was down except a few old guava trees left for the fruit. Next day they gathered the bushes in heaps to be burnt. Then they had their names written in the book kept for that purpose. Mr. Anderson praised the work very much, and congratulated them on having finished it so quickly. When Mr. Cowan came soon after, they were very happy to see that he was well pleased with them and their work.

When Mr. and Mrs. Cowan went home, they took three of their children with them, namely, the two eldest and the baby, and they left three at Carron Hall with their faithful nurse and friend, Miss Walker, who had taken care of all the children, and loved them very much. She was very good and kind to the children, and they loved her also. No one was like "Nana" (that was their pet name for nurse). While nurse had charge of the children, she knew full well that Mr. and Mrs. Anderson were ever ready to help her when she needed it. It was arranged before Mr. and Mrs. C. left that the two families were to unite in family worship both night and morning. Mr. Anderson and household always went to Mr. Cowan's house and had evening worship with the family, and the nurse and the children went over to Mr. A.'s house in the morning. It was very beautiful to see the three little girls go up to Mr. Anderson with such loving confidence to repeat their verse or say their Catechism in the morning. They always went up first, and always knew their lessons. Their nurse saw to that. How she did love those dear children! and so did Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. Their parents found them well and happy when they returned.

On the 3rd of September 1843 my father died, leaving my mother a widow among strangers (for we had been there only two months), with five fatherless little girls. It was in our time of deep affliction that my dear father Anderson came to our rescue. Father was sick only one short week, and we never thought of his leaving us so soon. Mr. Anderson was very kind to us. He visited my father as often as he could, praying with him, and comforting mother and us as best he could. The last night father was alive he stayed with us till near midnight, expecting every moment to be the last. Then he went home to get some rest, and came again in the morning. Father went home in the morning, leaving us, as he said himself with his last breath, to a good God. We will always remember the tender kindness of Mrs. and Mr. A. at that time. He took charge of everything, and helped mother in many ways. After father's death we joined the morning and evening devotions in Mr. Anderson's house, and derived very much comfort as well as instruction from them.

1844.—In Feb. 1844, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Goldie were licensed to preach by the Jamaica Missionary Presbytery, having completed their theological studies under the Rev. Wm. Jameson of Goshen. Mr. Goldie gives the following account of their "Hall" studies. He says:—

Mr. Jameson was well qualified for superintending their studies, as he had himself enjoyed the opportunity of receiving a thorough education, and had evidently well improved it. At the time of the vacation of our schools we went up for a month to Goshen, and were domiciled with him. While he and we did our best to improve our short session, the studies to which we chiefly gave our attention were New Testament Greek, Hebrew, and Divinity. In this last he did not prepare any lectures, so as to give a system of his own, but adopted Dr. Dick's work as a textbook, and taught by examination. I do not recollect that there were ever more than six in the class, so that he was .. able to give all necessary attention to each of his students ; and he and we had full opportunity of becoming acquainted with each other, and with the subjects to which our attention was directed. Some of the parts of Home's Introduction were also regularly brought under review; and short essays and discourses were prepared on topics and texts named by Mr. Jameson. He was in the custom also of giving to each of us a somewhat extensive subject, on which an essay was to be prepared and brought up next year.

Mr. Anderson describes how a day during the Hall season was passed:—

We meet at 6 A.M. to read Greek, and dismiss at half-past 8. Then we have worship and breakfast. We meet again at 10, read Hebrew, are examined on a portion of Dick's Lectures, and one of us reads an essay. This occupies till 3 p.m. We then dismiss for dinner, and have the afternoon for study. At both meetings we receive a great deal of instruction from Mr. Jameson. [Jamesons Memoir, pp. 157-158.]

That Messrs. Goldie and Anderson profited from their studies under that able, devoted, and saintly missionary, their subsequent careers amply testified.

On 5th April 1844, Mr. Anderson was unanimously "called" by the Rose Hill congregation to be their minister. In a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Clohan, of date Saturday, 6th April, he announces the fact:—

Mr. Simpson and Mr. Jameson were both there. Mr. Simpson preached from Ps. ii. 6, and moderated the call. I was unanimously chosen. The meeting was a fine, very fine one. In the evening the Presbyterial Committee appointed me subjects of trial for ordination. I will not deliver these trials till the beginning of the year (1845). My dear friends, I am not proud of having got a call. I am rather ready to shrink from the responsibilities and obligations of the sacred office of the ministry in a land like this.

In a letter to the Rev. And. Elliot, of date 20th August,

1844, Mr. Anderson refers to his call and his attachment to Rose Hill in these terms:—

You will have already heard of my being licensed as a preacher, and of my subsequent call to Rose Hill. From the connection which has so long existed between Rose Hill and me, nothing but the strongest conviction of duty could lead me to go anywhere else. I do feel, however, that there are more necessitous districts in Jamaica, and places where a much larger congregation could be gathered in a short time, so that I resolve in this matter what I resolved many years ago, just to follow where Providence leads..

When I began to go to Rose Hill, in Feb. 1840, my congregation numbered, I think, from 70 to 90. Of these, however, a number were connected with other churches, and came merely for a week or two to hear the new teacher. I formed my first class of catechumens in May 1840. Twelve individuals joined on that day. Just now there are 70 communicants and nearly 60 catechumens, and the congregation generally numbers, I think, about 180. We (Presbyterians) have a name among the people for being very strict, and this prevents many from casting in their lot with us. I do not suppose that we are stricter than the Bible warrants. Purity of communion is surely enforced in its sacred pages. But many people—and not those in Jamaica alone—seem to be determined to get to heaven as easily as possible. The inquiry seems to be— not, "How shall I get safely to glory?" but, "How shall I most easily attain it?"

In an earlier portion of the same letter Mr. Anderson says:—

During last year and what part of this year is gone, I have examined upwards of 100 candidates for the Lord's table. Whenever I meet with a timid young man or woman, I am reminded of my own timidity eleven years ago. The people have an opinion that we Presbyterians are too strict. That is my character in Rose Hill quarter. It frightens many away; but I can't help that. Strict I am determined to be. I do not so much wish for a numerous church as a holy church. For this I labour in visiting, catechising, teaching, praying, study, and preaching. May I have grace given me to be faithful!

He mentions the subjects of his "Trials" for ordination, which it may be interesting to note:—

My Ordination Trials (to be delivered in Feb. 1845) are: 1. Latin—Caesar and Virgil; 2. Greek—New Testament, ad aper. lib.; 3. Hebrew—Genesis; 4. Crit. Exercise— —Heb. vi. 4-6; 5. Lecture—Heb. iv. ir-13; 6. Sermon — 1 John v. 4, last clause; 7. Church History — From Reformation till the present time; 8. Theology in all its departments.

These, in addition to his absorbing and exhausting work as teacher and preacher, were sufficiently manifold "trials" to undergo for ordination in a mission field like Jamaica. "Theology in all its branches" seems rather formidable in its present-day aspect; but the term as used by Mr. Anderson must be understood in the sense of Professor Dick's four volumes of Lectures on Theology, which, however, deserve to be spoken of with respect as representing the best theological thought in Scotland at the time of their publication in 1834. In this connection it may be worthy of note that Dr. Dick, in a sermon on the qualifications and the call of missionaries, preached in 1801 before the Edinburgh Missionary Society, animadverted upon some existing faults, and maintained various positions respecting church order, with a view to check whatever tendency might exist to the error of committing the office of the holy ministry to unqualified aspirants, and the exercise of its duties by persons not clothed with the office. [Memoir prefixed to vol. i. of Dick's Lectures, p. xxiv.] It cannot be said that the Jamaica Missionary Presbytery leaned to laxity in this matter, but, on the other hand, endeavoured to give the best theological and classical training to the teachers and catechists who aspired to the ministry in the mission field, and who by their character and labours proved themselves worthy of being advanced to the higher office.

In the letter of 6th April to the Clohans there is reference to the death of his aunt, Mrs. Potts, and also of a daughter of the Clohans, who had been named after Mrs. Anderson. I le writes :—

My ever dear Brother and Sister,—On Monday morning I received a letter from Mr. Chisholm, Dalkeith, announcing the death of good old auntie. The news filled me with deep sorrow. Yesterday morning (Good Friday—an idle day with us, and we frequently improve it by holding public meetings, etc.) when I reached Rose Hill Church your letter was awaiting me. It had been delayed by being mis-sent to a neighbouring post-office, else I would have got it on Monday, and would have sent a letter by the packet which sails to-day. When I saw your letter, with its black seal, I thought that it must be a bearer of the same melancholy tidings which I had already received. But lo! it was like one of Job's messengers—its intelligence was heavier than that of its predecessor. I hardly believed my eyes when I read of your little Louisa being no more. My Louisa was with me. I handed your note to her, and again her heart also was filled with sorrow. We have frequently expressed a hope that we might see you and all your little ones even in this world, and, in this case, we intended to lay claim to your Louisa on account of the name she bore. But ah ! her lock of lovely hair—a thousand thanks to you for sending it—is all that we shall ever see of her in this world. He who had a higher claim to her than we had— who had a higher claim to her than you yourselves had—He has seen it right to take her away, and what can we say? —what can you say in regard to the dispensation save this: "Good is the will of the Lord. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be His name"?

But my heart bleeds for you, my brother, and especially for you, my sister—my sister! At thought of you, dear sister, my mind goes back to Ford—back to Gorebridge to our beloved father's dwelling. We were children together around one parent knee. He has long gone. Our good aunt—for on looking back on our connection with her, I daresay you as well as I see that she was good to us, nothing but good—she too has entered her rest. You must have felt her death to be a heavy trial, coming, as the stroke did, unexpectedly, and while you were watching with a mother's anxiety by the couch of your dying child. God has made "breach upon breach." In (nearly) one day have we been deprived of two of our very few relations. But He had a full right to take them, and He has a full right to take us when it pleases Him.

I employed the former part of this day in preparing a funeral sermon for aunt and Louisa, on 1 Cor. xv. 26, the correct reading of which seems to be, "Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed."

Six weeks to-morrow since our aunt died. At the very time she was dying I was preaching here from Mark xv. 31: "He saved others, Himself He cannot save." . . .

I trust and pray that God will sanctify to you the afflictive dispensations of His providence. Parents' hearts are in danger of being too much set on their children. You perhaps remember, sister, of our aunt telling us once what our father said when our little sister Elizabeth died : he said that he saw that God would allow no idols to remain in his house. And thus God often deals with His people—He takes away their idols that they may love Him with their whole heart. Oh yes, brother and sister, give God your whole heart, and let no idol usurp His throne. While you mourn, as parents, endure as Christians; show to the world around you that you have meat to eat of which it knows nothing, that you have consolations of which it is ignorant. I think you ought both to regard it as a high honour that you have a child in heaven. . . .

In his letter to Mr. Elliot of 20th August, Mr. Anderson refers to his aunt's death, and thanks Mr. Elliot for having taken his place at the funeral:—

I felt gratified indeed to hear that you laid her head in its last resting-place. It almost reconciles one to the thought of death, and of dying too, to reflect that we are going home to many of our kindred and to many of our early friends. When I came to Jamaica I never expected to live five years, but lo! here I am still, while Scottish friends have passed away.


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