Sayfadaki görseller

told him my intention of holding a meeting on board his ship the following morning ; and when I went, I found him at the gangway ready to receive me. Our subject was Peter's fall and recovery. Many contrite tears were shed; and if ever a full heart gave vent to grateful feelings, his did when, after the service, he said with much emotion, " Thank God for sending you here to-day.” It was most touching to see the captain burst into tears, and seeming to recognize his mate as if a new relationship had commenced between them. I held two meetings there subsequently, and each was a time of refreshing.

The previous Sabbath I had to encounter a different reception on board the S—T-, of G-, the master refusing the flag in a most peremptory manner, and saying, at the same time, that it was always his practice to refuse it when in Bristol, where he traded to. It was boastful language ; but, thought I, will this afford consolation in the time of danger, and in nature's last extremity? I left him, praying and hoping that a better mind might be given him, and my flag was soon flying at another mast-head. A few days ago, I was accosted by a poor shipwrecked sailor, who left this port a short time since, bound for Petersburgh; it gladdened my heart to hear him say that in the time of danger he had been enabled to look to the true refuge, and that the Bethel worship, whilst in Milford, had been greatly instrumental in comforting and supporting their minds in the hour of danger. "Ah, sir," he said, “ how little did we think we should have been so soon called to prove the truth of your warnings, to be prepared for the trying hour. Eight days after we left this, our vessel was a total wreck, but we found the “ covert from the tempest and were all saved.” May their spared lives be devoted to the glory of God.

I have held ten Bethel meetings afloat ; visited 125 vessels ; paid 15 visits to lodging-houses ; 27 to seamen's families; 30 to the sick ; have sold 8 English Bibles ; 6 Testaments ; 18 Welsh Bibles; 5 Testaments; distributed 247 English tracts; 364 Welsh.



In giving a short account of my labours for the last two months, I have still pleasing things to report, in reference to the cause of seamen in this port.

The congregations of the Bethel Chapel, Eastfield, continue to increase, so that we have not had a sufficient number of forms to accommodate the people, but ten more have been lent to us, and now the chapel is comfortably furnished with seats, and on Sabbath afternoons and evenings they are well filled with attentive hearers. The week-night services are better attended than they were ; from ten to twelve sailors have been often with us, and many of them have engaged in prayer, and united in singing the praises of Him who, holding the waters in the hollow of His hand, has conducted them in safety across the seas, and, above all, given them a knowledge of their sins forgiven, through faith in the blood of the Lamb. The year, which is nearly closed, has been a year of spiritual prosperity. Many attend the services held in the Bethel Chapel, who, prior to that time, very seldom attended any place of worship: Others have become the subjects of serious impressions, and are inquiring ihe way to Zion; and others have received the Gospel, which is able to save their souls, and to enable them to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. This great and glorious work which is going on amongst our sailors is a source of joy to angels-"For there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth."

The number of vessels visited during the past year, from January to December are 195; copies of the Scripture circulated, 20 ; tracts distributed, 800 ; families visited, 156 ; sailors attended preaching at the Bethel, 687 ; gangs of rivermen visited, 65; the number of their attendance, 78; services on shore, 195; visits to the sick, 20; and 72 books lent from the library.



Again, by the grace of God, I am enabled to report my labours with some degree of satisfaction to my own mind; for, not withstanding my absence, whilst removing my family from Greenhithe to Yarmouth, I have been enabled to hold 17 services on shore, and 4 afloat, at which 400 sailors have been present. I have visited 520 vessels ; sold 50 English Bibles, 1 Dutch and i Swedish Bible ; 76 English, and i German Testaments ; distributed 226 tracts; and made 48 visits to families ; 3 to sick sailors; and 4 to the beachmen.

Meetings on board the fishing vessels have been held on deck without a covering, with one exception, though the weather has been both wet and cold; and yet we have had from 50 to 150 present, excepting in that one instance, when, being forced below, we could accommodate but twenty-two, although the men stowed themselves away, two or three in a berth, to make room for others.

Had the weather been fair, during the herring season, our meetings would have been numerously attended by fishermen, who attend no place of worship at all. As it was, however, the presence of so many, and the attention which marked the audience, and held them to the spot amidst both wind and rain, showed the interest they felt, and lead me to hope that this part of my labour will not be in vain in the Lord. I have had much pleasure too in discoursing with the sailors on Scriptural subjects, on various occasions, in explaining and answering their questions ; though sometimes they were unreasonable, yet generally honest in their inquiries and replies. One day, whilst thus engaged on board a government vessel, I sold 6 Bibles and 7 Testaments, and was requested to come again, which I did, the first evening I had to spare, and spent two hours in explaining portions of Scripture, and urging its truths on their consciences and hearts. When two young men wished to pay me for tracts which I had given them, saying, “This is a good cause,” I assured them the tracts were theirs, not mine ; but that Christians, who felt anxious for the salvation of sailors had entrusted me with them, in the hope that I might, by these, and other means, awaken thought and reflection in the sailor's breast, and lead him to Christ, and eventually to Heaven. On hearing this, one of them placed his hand on hisbosom, with tears trickling down his cheeks, and in broken accents sobbed out, " I feel it's all wrong here.

I have bad spiritual conversation with two men who were taken from a wreck on the Barnard, on the 4th of December, in an unconscious state, after being exposed six hours, and seeing the master, mate, and boy, all washed away. The master continued praying till the foaming surge forced him from the wreck, and hastened his spirit into the presence of the God who gave it. They had spent careless lives, but were as anxious to obtain forgiveness, and to devote their future lives to God.


" Seamen need better accon


ACCOMMODATIONS! there are none ! There is a place, and it has a name, and most appropriately are seamen said to turn in ” and “ turn out” again. One would think that little else but turning could be done there, and that turning out would be the most agreeable motion that could be thought of in so uninviting a place. “Forecastle."

" We have read of many castles, and the nearest resemblance we can find to the one just mentioned is Bunyan's castle of “Giant Despair.”—Indeed it is much smaller than the pilgrim's prison, and perhaps darker. At all events, the old tyrant has shut up many an unfortunate pilgrim there. Indeed, it hardly admits of a conjecture, but that the grisly “ giant,” disappointed in that instance of his victims, went to sea, like many a despairing man before and since his day. And who can doubt wbere he took up his abode? No one who has had the curiosity to look down the bows of a ship, or the courage to venture within that gloomy “castle." Few landsmen, I presume, have made out to get down there and get back again, but have blessed their better lot on shore, however humble, and pitied those who from preference or necessity embodied there a roving, a disappointed, an indignant or a contented spirit. Sympathy goes out unbidden for the deceived sailor, who to his chagrin finds himself in such unwholesome and degrading quarters -while we pity the man whose ungovernable restlessness, or insatiable love of gain, or ambition of advance to favour and office, makes him at home, and contented, even for one voyage, in the forecastle of an ordinary whale-ship. And we should despair of elevating a man who could so servilely put his neck to the degradation as to feel no indignation at the insult, or feel happy there. His berth, and in most cases the discipline, to which he is subjected, and often the gross deception practised upon him at the outset—all together, and even separately, makes us wonder that a foremast hand ever ventures a second time to sea. In all these respects, and especially in those of government and accommodations, there is too little regard paid to the sailor as a human being. And perhaps the two are wisely and inseparably connected together. The sufferance of one without the other would, perhaps, make its endurance less tolerable, or the banishment of the one would speedily draw after it its associate evil. Certain it is, they have a common origin. They should share a common fate.

The fault of the evil we now deprecate lies far back. Much as masters and officers have to answer for, we will, for the most part, exonerate them here. We will take the discomforts, the injured bodies, the hardened hearts, and the numerous curses occasioned or fostered by the unfitness of their abode, and cast the burden upon the conscience of the guilty, Let owners and ship-builders bear it. Let them acknow.



ledge the deformed and sickly and depraved offspring of their avarice and littleness, and be ashamed of the unworthy progeny. Let them henceforth remember, that men are to live and lodge before the mast, that officers are not all who have feeling, and whose comfort is to be consulted. Sometimes they have their own superiors in the cheerless house of the sailor- men who would be above the meanness of subject. ing even them to such degradation. Let them respect these, if the common principles of humanity will not move them to regard the common sailor; and, for the sake of a worthy class, study more the comfort, the health, and the morals of all. Make henceforth forecastles more suitable to the beings who are to tenant them. It is hardly possible, and still more improbable, that the occupants of such a place will feel or act with as much manliness and propriety as if better housed and better lodged. If their magnanimity do not resent it, their degradations will degrade them. But we are told They get used to it!" Yes; and that is the worst of it. There would be more hope of this class of men, if they yielded less readily to their circumstances. There would then be less fear that their abuses would be perpetuated. It is among the worst of all effects of any wrong, that it habituates and reconciles the injured to that wrong. Still more hopeless is the pcor victim who is brought down to contentedness, and actual preference of wrong to right. “ Used to it !”—and so a man might get used to slavery, till he preferred bondage to freedom. Habit makes even excruciating pain more and more tolerable. Oft-repeated scourging scarifies the sufferer to a toughness proof against ordinary stripes. Long confinement will make a man's cell his home, even preferable to the freedom and fair fields of his boyislı sports. Who does not feel that these effects are the clearest exhibition of the dreadfal nature of their several causes? And who would plead, that men get used to slavery, to scourging, to pain, and to imprisonment, as an extenuation of the injury, or as a shield from deserved reproach ? Again, the little, whining voice of self-interest tells us, “No more room can be afforded for sailors !" True, while avarice occupies so large a place in the hearts of ship-owners. True, while the cupidity of man swallows up every better feeling of his beart, and an undue ivaste to be rich blinds his mind and sears his conscience alike to the claims of humanity and the demands of justice. Even then, if policy prompts it, there can be more room for masters and officers. And if prospects of gain were more flattering. there could be “more room” for bone and oil, and less, if possible, for the sailor. It is more profitable to owners to receive the rich avails of a full cargo, than to enlarge, at the expense of a little oil room, the contracted lodgings of the crowded men. Bone and oil will sell ; but the bone and muscle that grappled the monster and barrelled up his wealth, must be paid. That is the difference;-and, as if grudging the poor sailor his well-earned pittance, they make him pay his own wages ! The space which should have been made into his cabin for his comfort, is left in the hold for him to fill with oil! This is twofold robbery. But “It is just as well : they only go there to sleep.No wonder ! Who would wish to do anything else there? And it would be hard enough for you or me to do that! But would they not go there for other purposes, were there the least attraction or comfort there in anything else? What does it argue for a man's home that be repairs thither only for sleep? And what does it say for the wisdom or goodness of that parent or guardian, or master, who, with ability to the contrary, provides a home for his dependents whose sole attraction, or hard necessity, is the time passed there in unconsciousness of their unworthy shelter ? What wonder there is so little taste for reading—such a taste cannot with comfort be indulged. And where it exists, there seems a necessity that it be for trash-there is no retirement, no suitable place for reflection or deep thought. Reading that requires but little reflection, or that is of an astounding or exciting character, is all that the accommodations of foremast hands will ordinarily admit of. Hence, too, may ordinarily be traced the careless and lounging habits so characteristic of sailors. Did they enjoy a light and roomy cabin, they might often be tempted below to inform their minds. But storms and cold and fatigue alone drive them there. It is too dark to read at mid-day, and if at night, a smoky lamp scarce flickers its doubtful light upon their cheerless berths. The impossibility creates indifference, the prolific source of mental poverty and imbecility. But “We 'turned in? once, it is their turn now !And did you like it? Is it not rather a recollection of past imprisonment that moves a retali. ating spirit within you, and, by a singular misdirection, avenges itself upon your successors ? An unenviable disposition, surely, that can wish for others the misfortunes or abuses that fell to your own lot: the best proof of the dreadful effects of such degradation upon the intellect and heart. The plea is worse than childish; its weakness and inconsistency proving the author but the wreck of a man, possessed only of a shattered judgment and a perverse heart. He is probably the contempt and dread of his crew, discovering the fact, that the forecastle may be the worst of all schools for training up officers and masters. Some, having felt the yoke, may righteously determine to lighten, if not altogether remove the burden; some, and perhaps most, have borne it only to know how to impose its weight upon others. Such have profited ill by past trials. Severer tests may separate their dross; there is more reason to fear they would consume both good and bad together.

But “It will do them good; it will inure them to hardships !" Thank you! you have yielded the point! You could not have meant thus to own yourself a hard master. And you are so benevolent in the exercise of your severity! Really, you are doing them a kindness to crowd and degrade them. It is for their good, and the more you contract their quarters, and the further into the dark you compel them to give themselves up to indolence or rest, the more useful and humane

« ÖncekiDevam »