« AnteriorContinuar »
Just at the end of hailing-distance I shouted, 'Goodbye, Dave,' — up went the sails, away they sped, a noble-looking sight. We kept our handkerchiefs going as long as we could see them, not knowing how long they might distinguish us with their marine glass, but as we were going against a strong wind, it was pretty cold, and so we held our handkerchiefs between our teeth and buried our hands in our pockets. So we stayed till half-past two, when she was obscured by the horizon."
So the ship sailed away; the crowd that watched it and sent up prayers for its safe passage separated; the two families who had been bereft in the sailing of the ship turned homeward, the father of the young missionary to record in his brief diary
66 Thus have we parted with our beloved son and his wife, after contemplating it for many years; he is followed by the prayers and good wishes of numerous friends, and we trust the sacrifice we make in thus parting with him is well-pleasing to Jesus Christ, the great Head of the Church, our Saviour and Friend."
THE VOYAGE AND THE LANDING.
[11 MARCH-26 JUNE, 1861.]
The company on the “ National Eagle,” Captain George Matthews, consisted, besides my brother and his wife, of the captain's wife and young son; Rev. Edward Webb, Mrs Webb, child, and infant, returning to the Madura Mission; Rev. John Scudder and wife, on their way to join the Arcot Mission ; Mr. Gould, an invalid gentleman of Boston, in quest of health ; and the wife of an Indian civil officer, returning to her husband, whom she had been compelled to leave in the revolt of 1857. There was scarcely a drawback to the pleasure of the voyage ; sometimes it was tediously slow, and it was remarked that where they expected trade-winds they had calms, and steady winds where they did not look for them. The passage was a little longer than the
average, one hundred and seven days from Devens's Wharf to Madras, but it was a welcome interval, bringing rest from continued labor and preparation for coming scenes. How the days were passed will be learned from the following letter :
[TO REV. J. M. STURTEVANT, JR.]
One day here is like another. Let me give you a specimen brick. At 5.30, I am awaked by the slushing of water upon the deck overhead, which is washed every day; descend from my shelf, don my
garments, rush out and souse into the big salt water tub. At 6, gaze at the gorgeous sunrise, equalled even your way, — and read till prayers at 8.30. Prayers in the cabin, when all passengers attend, conducted by us three in turn. Breakfast, always ending with the hominy or mush, and always. accompanied by the onion-hash. 9-10, Tamil, when ladies appear and study; I go into Comparative Grammar. 12,
12, men have dinner; in hot weather cool ice-water is drawn from the tank and we refresh ourselves. 12–2, I write, and the ladies recite to Mr. Webb. At two we dine, recite from three to four, and I read aloud to H. till half-past five.. Till six, bean-bags, exercise and sunset Supper and prayers, then moonrise and chat on deck, and to bed.
Sunday alone is different. At half-past ten the ensign is wrapped about a low ventilator on the poopdeck, which serves for a pulpit, seats are brought, and the watch above ordered aft for service. The crew is divided into two watches of four hours each, day and night, and at ten and a half the watch from four o'clock to eight has turned in. One of us preaches, taking turns, and I tell you it is not an unpleasing sight to see a company sitting thus under a clear sky about you, singing praises, listening to God's word, and
praying to Him. The crew are quite attentive: they are mostly foreigners, Swedes, Danes, Dutch, Prussians, Italian, German, English, and Nova-Scotian. I brought with me enough Bibles for all, and all are eager to learn English. A few Sundays out, when over sea-sickness, I made my first attempt at reaching them. I saw a number reading and went forward; found them reading the Bible, and talked with them about their country, &c., helped them read, and finally proposed that after dinner we should have a Bible-class. They said yes, and so with some trepidation, when dinner was over, I visited the forecastle. Soon after entering, one man remarked that he came from hell last; true, doubtless, but I told him it was a better place to come from than to go to, and as the others did not countenance him he kept still. We read in John about an hour. The next Sunday I attempted the same, but found only one there and sat down with two or three outside, and read. So I have done every Sunday since, thinking it hardly worth the while to attempt a formal class where so few could understand me. I enjoy reading with them and have better chances for talk. .... John Scudder has a Bible-class with the boys and two mates, who bunk separately forward. One of these I had a long chat with one night on the lookout. But it seems almost impossible to get into these foreigners, so wrapped up are they in the educational trammels of a State religion.
“ Yesterday,” he writes in his journal, “I read a couple of hours, one with the carpenter, a Swede, who seems to have taken a liking to me, and calls me Master David, just like Mr. Bookland of old. I like him for his simplicity and earnestness, and good shelves too, he has just put me up a shelf over the foot of my
berth. The other hour I read with Hans Peter Andersen, or Peter as he is known. He is a sail-maker, and a quite superior fellow, a Dane. Both of these I had Testaments for. I spend pretty much all of Sunday among the men forward, and like it; they are a clever
Later in the voyage he adds, “One thing presses upon me as we go on: two weeks may close our voyage, and for aught I know, no one on board is the better for our presence, certainly none has yet changed the purpose of his heart. This ought not to be, it seems to me, and I chide myself. Last night I had a pleasant conversation with -, and my first upon personal religion. My feeling afterward was - why did I not begin earlier ? Is this to be the way through life, a neglect of duty until the startling view of the next world wakes me up to effort for ту
fellow-men now? I am too much inclined to preface direct Christian work by a host of preliminaries, instead of marching straight to the mark and doing at once that which I am called to do."
So even a life admits of little excitement beyond the speaking of a ship or the sight of a whale, but the company was large enough to admit of variety in society, and the days went by evenly and full of simple enjoyment. There was a deal of pleasurable occupation also in watching the varied moods of the sea. David made friends with all, frolicked with the captain's boy, and kept the interest of the crew throughout, and often too he turned away from the present company to the home friends whom he had left, journalizing for their benefit, hoarding up the scanty bits of ship news and holding more familiar intercourse with separate friends. His father had begun his correspondence already with a long and minute account of his life, written for David's entertainment and intended as a pleasant surprise. “How much we enjoyed father's long letter,” he writes.
But it is too good a joke not to tell, how well he was