OUTLYING MISSIONS—II. QUEEN CHARLOTTE ISLANDS.
On the group of islands named after George the Third's Queen, dwell the finest and the fiercest of the coast tribes. The Hydahs are a manly, tall, handsome people, and comparatively fair in their complexion; but they are a cruel and vindictive race, and were long the terror of the North Pacific coast. They even ventured to attack English ships, and in 1854 they plundered an American vessel, detaining the captain and crew in captivity until they were ransomed by the Hudson's Bay Company. No tribe, moreover, has been more fearfully demoralised by the proximity of the white man's "civilization." Drunkenness and the grossest vices have spread disease and death among them.
But the Hydahs have not failed to recognise the advantages that Christianity has conferred upon their neighbours on the mainland. Trading expeditions up the coast took them occasionally to Metlakahtla, and the peace and prosperity they saw there deeply impressed their minds. A striking instance of the moral influence of the Christian settlement occured in 1873. Many years before, a young Tsimshean woman had been captured by a party of Hydahs, and carried as a slave to Queen Charlotte Islands, where, after a while, a son was born to her. Five and twenty years passed away, and then she was restored by her owner, for a consideration, to her relatives at Fort Simpson. The Hydahs seem to have thought this a good opportunity to make friends with their old enemies, and they sent a deputation to Metlakahtla with her son, now a grown man, to give him up as a voluntary peace-offering. "We had," wrote Mr. Duncan, "a solemn peace-making at the Mission-house. Several excellent speeches were made, and a document was drawn up and signed by the relatives of the young man, expressive of their reconciliation with their ancient foes."
The principal trading post, Massett, is on the northern coast of the northern island, Graham Island. Here Mr. and Mrs. Collison, with their two little children, landed on November 1st, 1876—
"On our arrival I had intended to have wintered in one of the Indian houses, as the winter season was too far advanced for building, but Mr. Offut, the officer in charge of the H. B. Co.'s post on the island, kindly offered us a small house, in which goods had been stored, and as it was within 100 yards of the Indian encampment, I gladly accepted the offer. This I immediately put under repair, covering it with barks outside, and putting up a stove inside. The house was very small, measuring eighteen feet by twelve, and, in order to secure a little privacy, I partitioned off eight feet, leaving for all purposes an apartment ten feet by twelve. This has usually been well filled with Indians, sitting almost on each other, and as we were both to entertain such numbers at meals, we have often had to remain without food all day. Of course this, with many other difficulties, will be overcome by a command of their language, but any attempt to carry out order without a fair knowledge of their tongue might only insult and estrange them."
To the privations thus endured were soon added those attendant on sickness First, their eldest child was attacked by fever, and for some weeks his life was despaired of, and then Mr. Collison himself was struck down and brought nigh unto death Both, we need not say, were tenderly nursed by the wife and mother, and both, by the mercy of God, were raised up again.
In the same letter Mr. Collison describes a remarkable peculiarity of the Hydah villages—
"In approaching a Hydah village from a distance one is reminded of a harbour with a number of ships at anchor, owing to the great number of poles of all sizes erected in front of every house. These are carved very well, with all kinds of figures, many of them unintelligible to visitors or strangers, but fraught with meaning to the people themselves. In fact, they have a legend in connection with almost every figure. It is in the erection of these that so much property is given away. They value them very highly, as was instanced lately on the occasion of the Governor-General's visit. He was most anxious to purchase one, but they would not consent to it at any price."
Patiently and prayerfully for the next two years and a half, with one or two intervals for visits to Metlakahtla, did Mr. Collison labour among the Hydahs, on the same lines as Mr. Duncan had done originally among the Tsimsheans; first, diligently trying to pick up their language, and making himself known as their friend; then opening a school; then seeking to win them from some of their most degrading customs. Very quickly he gained a remarkable influence over them, and though the medicine-men were, of course, bitterly hostile, greater was He who was with the Missionary than those that were with his opponents; and the tokens of the working of the Holy Ghost were manifested sooner than even an ardent faith might have anticipated.
During the winter of 1877-8, school was conducted daily, women and children attending in the morning, and men in the evening, and the Sunday services were generally attended by three hundred and fifty Indians. Gambling, heathen dances, and the manufacture of "fire-water" from molasses, began gradually to diminish; and Mr. Collison's growing influence was well tested on the occasion of the death of a principal chief:—
"I visited him during his illness, and held service in his house weekly for the five weeks preceding his death. On the morning of the day on which be died I visited him, and found him surrounded by the men of his tribe and the principal medicine-man, who kept up his incantations and charms to the last. He was sitting up, and appeared glad to see me, and, in answer to my inquiries, he informed me that he was very low indeed and his heart weak. I directed him to withdraw his mind from everything, and look only to Jesus, who alone could help him. He thanked me again and again whilst I instructed him, and when I asked him if he would like me to pray with him he replied that he would very much. I then called upon all to kneel, and, with bowed head, he followed my petitions earnestly. He informed me that, had he been spared, he would have been one of the first in the way of God, but I endeavoured to show him that even then he might be so by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Afterwards I sent Mrs. Collison to prepare some food for him, and make him comfortable, and about mid day he sent for me again, but why he sent for me, or what he wanted to say to me, I never learned, as before I reached his house he expired.
"His death was announced by the firing of several cannon which they have in the village. On my entering the house, the scene which presented itself was indescribable—shrieking, dancing, tearing and burning their hair in the fire, whilst the father of the deceased, who had just been pulled out of the fire, rushed to it again and threw himself upon it. He was with difficulty removed, and I directed two men to hold him whilst I endeavoured to calm the tumult.
"I was very much shocked to find that a young man—a slave—had been accused by the medicine-men as having bewitched the chief and induced his sickness. In consequence of this he had been stripped, and bound hands and feet in an old outhouse, and thus kept for some days without food. I only learned this about one hour before the death of the chief, and it was well I heard it even then, as I learned that they had determined to shoot him, and a man had been told off who had his gun ready for the purpose. I lost no time in calling the chiefs and the friends of the deceased together, and showed them the wickedness and sinfulness of such proceedings, and how, by their thus acting, they had probably kept up a feeling of revenge in the mind of their friend who had just expired. They accepted my advice, and had him unbound, and he came to the Mission house to have his wounds dressed. His wrists were swollen to an immense size, and his back, from hip to shoulder, lacerated and burned to the bone by torches of pitch pine. He was deeply grateful to me for having saved him.
"The dead chief was laid out, and all those of his crest came from the opposite village, bringing a large quantity of swan's down, which they scattered over and around the corpse. At my suggestion, they departed from the usual custom of dressing and painting the dead, and, instead of placing the corpse in a sitting posture, they consented to place it on the back. The remains were decently interred, and I gave an address and prayed; thus their custom of placing the dead in hollowed poles, carved and erected near the houses, has been broken through, and since this occurred many of the remains which were thus placed have been buried."
The first Hydah to come out distinctly as a Christian was a chief named Cowhoe, concerning whom an interesting incident is related. One day he brought a book to Mr. Collison, saying it had been given him many years before by the captain of an English man-of-war, and asking what it was. It proved to be a Testament, with this inscription on the fly-leaf—"From Capt. Prevost, H. M. S. 'Satellite,' trusting that the bread thus cast upon the waters may be found after many days." More than twenty years had passed away, and now that prayer was answered, though not by the instrumentality of the gift that bore the record of it. Cowhoe became a regular attendant at Mr. Collison's services and school, and we are told that at a meeting held on the Day of Intercession for Missions, Nov. 30th, 1877, he "prayed very earnestly for the spread of the truth amongst his brethren." When Admiral Prevost visited the coast in the summer of 1878, Cowhoe and his father went to Metlakahtla in a canoe on purpose to see the benefactor of their race. Of this visit the Admiral gives the following account:—
"Edensaw, the chief of the Hydah nation, arrived with his son, Cowhoe, and Mr. Collison. They had heard of my visit, and were anxious, to see me "face to face." I knew him in 1853, when I first visited the Queen Charlotte Islands in command of H.M.S. Virago. An American schooner had been plundered and destroyed by the Islanders; my object was to punish the offenders, but, after a searching enquiry, I was not able to fix the guilt upon any particular tribe. Some portion of the property was restored, and no lives being lost, I was obliged to be satisfied by assembling together all the chiefs, and reminding them of the power I held to punish the guilty. In my own mind, I believe Edensaw was the guilty person. From that time up to this hour, he has "been halting between two opinions"—a proud man—he could not give up his power, his wealth and standing over the heathens, to follow the Lord God; still he knew the Missionary had brought something better than he had ever possessed in all his glory, and it was expedient for him to be friends with the white men. When Duncan first arrived at Fort Simpson, in 1857, he frequently entreated him to come over and teach the Hydahs, and when I met him again on board the Satellite in 1859, he made a similar request to me. I may here remark that anxious as we were to establish a Mission amongst that fine race of Indians, it was not until October, 1876, the Committee of the C. M. S., were able to comply with their request. During that time hundreds, principally females, had passed into eternity through vice and disease contracted at Victoria.
"I may add, when I visited Massett last October (1879) with Bishop Ridley, he left Cowhoe with Sneath to assist him during the winter, the first native teacher from the Hydahs. I trust the good seed has taken root in many hearts. "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform!" It was to show me this book, and to shake me by the hand, that the father and son came this long journey."
In the autumn of 1878, some touching evidences of the Spirit's work gladdened the missionary's heart. On October 26th he wrote:—
"Not a few are enquiring earnestly for the way of life. At a little social meeting which I had a few days past, the principal chief said: 'I was careless and unconcerned about the message which the white chief brought us, but I can be so no longer. Even at night, when I lie awake on my bed, I cry to God to pardon my many sins and save me. I know now it is true—all true, and I want to be safe in the Ark, even in Jesus the Saviour'; and he continued at some length exhorting the others to receive the Word.
"Another chief also spoke with intense earnestness and feeling. He said, 'A short time since I was blind, and knew nothing of these great things. But Jesus has opened my eyes, and now I see. Jesus is the way, and I am in that way now. I am happy, very happy; but one thing keeps me back, and when that is over, I will seek to be baptized, and live only for God.'
"This one thing referred to is a giving away of property on account of a deceased brother whose effects he took charge of, and promised to give away property, and put up a carved pole to his memory. As he has already promised, and given notice to the tribe, he does not wish to draw back.
"Another—a young man—is already obeying the injunction, 'Let him that heareth say, Come'; and at the salmon fishing and elsewhere has endeavoured to gather his friends together for prayer and praise."
And on March 20th, 1879, reviewing the winter's work, Mr. Collison again wrote:—
"In October last, having mastered the difficulties of the language, I was induced to commence a weekly prayer-meeting. At this meeting we opened with a hymn, after which I prayed, and then delivered a short Gospel address, at the close of which I invited those of them who understood the solemnity and responsibility of prayer, and to whom God had given hearts to pray, to lead briefly and successively in audible prayer.
"This mode of conducting the prayer-meeting was attended with good results, as it united those who were in earnest, and who had received the truth into their hearts, more closely together, and led several of those who were halting between heathenism and the truth to decide for the latter.
"Thus a band was formed (amongst whom were several of the chiefs and principal men) which confronted the heathen customs on the one hand, and drunkenness and gambling on the other, and, having come out boldly on the side of the truth, their influence was soon perceptible.
"I dare not attempt to convey to you in words the intense earnestness and fervour of the petitions which they offered up on behalf of themselves, their families, and the surrounding villages; whilst, at the same time, there was nothing like excitement, but rather a calm solemnity and quiet earnestness prevailed amongst all.
"And surely our united petitions were graciously answered, and a great change was soon apparent.
"The Lord's Day was observed by the majority, and the services of the day attended by almost all encamped, as well as by a number from the opposite village, which is about three miles off.
"The flag which I received from the Missionary Leaves Association, to hoist on Sundays, in order to acquaint them of the weekly return of the day of rest, now no longer hangs alone; but nine of the principal men now follow the example shown by the Mission, and have set up their banners also."
"Dancing has been abandoned and the medicine work is almost overthrown, and, in passing along the village after dark, my ear is now often greeted with the Christian hymn or the song of praise where formerly the noise of the heathen dance, or the frantic orgies of the medicine man drowned all other sounds. Thus a change has been effected during the past three years, in the contemplation of which I can only exclaim, 'What hath God wrought!'"
Even the chief medicine man himself abandoned his sorceries, and came forward as an inquirer—
"The charms and rattles of the leading medicine man are now in our possession, he having given them up, and he is now an earnest inquirer after the truth and is always present at the services. He was first brought into contact with the truth shortly before Christmas last in the following manner.
"A young man was brought home very sick, and I went to see him and found him suffering from a severe attack of 'brain fever', brought on by his swimming for some time in the cold salt water, in order to cure a severe headache which he had.
"I did all I could to alleviate his sufferings, and instructed his relatives as to how they should nurse him. This resulted in his resting more easily and in his obtaining some sleep, to which he had been a stranger for several nights.
"Not satisfied, however, with this, they sent off for the medicine-man, who was encamped up the inlet. He arrived at midnight, and at once commenced his whooping and rattling. This he continued at intervals, until the following day, when I paid him a visit.
"The house was full, and the patient evidently much worse. The medicine man, or 'Scahaga,' as he is called in their own tongue, had just finished another performance, and sat down exhausted as I entered.
"All appeared surprised at my intrusion, but I knelt down beside the sick man, and took his hand to feel his pulse. I shook my head, and then informed them that he was much worse. The medicine-man then answered in his own defence, and commenced by informing me that he had found out the cause of his sickness. A man from the other village had caused it by snatching the cap from the head of the sick man when up the inlet together, which had led to his being smitten or bewitched by a land otter. To this statement several agreed, as they stated the nervous twitches and convulsive movements of the sick man were exactly similar to the movements of the above-mentioned animal.
"I then addressed them all on the power of God and His dealings with man, and how that He alone bringeth down and raiseth up. I then called upon all to join with me in prayer for themselves and also on behalf of the sick man. The medicine-man was evidently humbled and discomfited, though ashamed to acknowledge it before so many. Shortly afterwards the young man died, and I attended his funeral, and gave an address and prayed, according to portions of the Burial Service. The medicine-man was present, and most attentive.
"From that time he appears to have lost faith in his profession, though he informed me that the 'Scahnawah,' or spirit, appeared to him, and advised him to continue his medicine work, which would be a source of great gain to him; but that he had replied, saying God's Word had come, and he was determined to give up his practice, and seek the salvation of his own soul. His long hair, which has never been cut, and which folded up serves him for a pillow at night, he speaks of having cut off as soon as he can do so with safety to his health. When I see him sitting at our services, clothed and in his right mind, I am reminded that the Gospel is now as ever 'the power of God unto salvation.'"
At Christmas (1878), when the Indians from other villages came in canoes to Massett, the usual festive custom of "dancing with painted faces, and naked slaves with their bodies blackened," was dispensed with, and in lieu of it the visitors were received by a choir of a hundred Hydahs, children and adults, chanting the anthem, "How beautiful upon the mountains." "The unanimous opinion of all was that the new and Christian welcome was far superior to the old heathen one."
In the same letter Mr. Collison mentions his translations, in which he had succeeded beyond his expectations. Portions of Scripture, a simple catechism, the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the General Confession and Thanksgiving, several collects, ten hymns, and a series of "Short Addresses on Great Subjects," had been produced by him in the Hydah language.
Mr. Collison had visited several tribes at a distance, both on the islands more to the south, and on the coast of Alaska to the north. At Skidegate Inlet, which divides the two principal of the Queen Charlotte Islands, he had a particularly warm reception.
In a letter, dated March 21st, 1879, he wrote that he had thirty names on the list of catechumens, most of them heads of families.
Mr. Collison has since removed to Metlakahtla, to undertake the pastoral and school-work there. His place at Massett has been taken by Mr. G. Sneath, a zealous young missionary artizan, who twice went to East Africa to join the Victoria Nyanza Mission, and twice was ordered home by the consular surgeon at Zanzibar, and who has now essayed missionary service in a colder climate.
OUTLYING MISSIONS. III.—FORT RUPERT.
Fort Rupert is a trading post at the northern end of Vancouver's Island, some three hundred miles south of Metlakahtla. In that neighbourhood are found the Quoquolt Indians, and among them a Mission has lately been begun. This is, however, but a tardy response to their repeated entreaties for a teacher. It has always been a problem beyond their power to solve, why, when Mr. Duncan first arrived on the coast, he actually sailed past them on his voyage from Victoria, and went first to the Tsimsheans, who were so much further off; and on one occasion they stoutly remonstrated with the captain of a man-of-war, sent to punish them for marauding on the territory of another tribe, that they were left without a teacher, and were only visited when they had done wrong.
In due time teachers did appear, in the shape of a party of Roman Catholic priests; and Mr. Duncan, stopping at the Fort when on a voyage to Victoria in 1860, found that two of them had been there and had taught some of the Indians "a hymn to the Virgin Mary in the trading jargon." "I told them," he adds, "of Jesus the true and only Saviour, which the priests had neglected to do." These Romish Missionaries held their ground for eleven years, and then abandoned the Quoquolts as hopeless. As will be seen however, their hopes revived when at length a Protestant Missionary was found to be gaining an influence over the tribe.
In October, 1875, the head chief at Fort Rupert took the three hundred miles journey to visit Metlakahtla, and once more preferred his request. He addressed the Christians of the settlement, and said that "a rope had been thrown out from Metlakahtla, which was encircling and drawing together all the Indian tribes into one common brotherhood." Mr. Duncan planned to go and begin a Quoquolt mission himself; but it proved quite impossible for him to leave his multifarious work at the settlement, and ultimately the Rev. A. J. Hall, who was sent out in 1877, volunteered to go.
It was on March 12th, 1878, that Mr. Hall landed at Fort Rupert, and was kindly received by the Hudson's Bay Company's officer in charge. A large Indian house was purchased for the price of sixty blankets, and a school at once opened. On June 11th, Mr. Hall wrote:—
"I have taught them one English hymn, 'Jesus loves me, this I know,' and three simple chants in their own language; also three prayers—one the Lord's Prayer, four texts which they read from the black board, and a catechism, arranged and taught by Mr. Duncan at Fort Simpson. All this instruction has been given in their own tongue, translated to me by Mr. Hunt's son, who acts also as my interpreter at the Sunday services.
"I have been able to hold two services every Sunday since I first came, and sometimes I have had perhaps eighty attend. Many are away from the village now, trading and visiting other tribes, so that my congregation is reduced. I have felt it a great privilege to stand up before this dusky assembly and open up to them the Word of Life. They are all clothed in blankets, some of them highly ornamented with needle -work and pearl buttons. When they enter the building, the men take off the bandannah handkerchiefs which are tied round their heads, and squat all around me. The men sit on one side, and the women on the other, as a rule. This fact is in consequence of the inferior position of the women, and because they are not allowed to attend the meetings which the men constantly hold to talk over the affairs of the camp. At first my congregations came with painted faces, and were little inclined to stand when we sang. They are now, however, more clean in their appearance, and, with few exceptions, rise when I play the tune on my English concertina.
"I have almost exclusively spoken to them from the Book of Genesis, and have brought in the work of our Lord from these lessons, e.g., when speaking on sacrifices, the offering of Isaac, and the life of Joseph. These narratives in Genesis have attracted them very much, and they listened very attentively to my interpreter. All my addresses are written before I enter my church, and read to the interpreter, and therefore, I believe, they are already acquainted with many truths from God's Word, which do strike against the immorality in which they are living. Sometimes, when I speak in the church, they talk among themselves, either approving what is said, but more often because the truth spoken is a rebuke to some of them."
In a later letter, dated March 1st, 1879, Mr. Hall further describes his interesting congregation;—
"The Indians did not rush to my services at first, and then drop off. No! a few came at first, and they have gradually increased, and on the Sunday before they all went to Alert Bay there were probably eighty at my first service, the majority being men—men who have frequently committed murder, and who have bitten each other from their youth upwards in the winter dances. Medicine-men were present who have often eaten the bodies of dead men, exhumed from their graves, and who to this day are dreaded by all the people, because there is not an Indian in the camp but that superstitiously believes these doctors can kill them by their sorcery. I cannot tell you yet that these wicked men who come to my services are earnestly seeking a better way. I cannot tell you yet that I can see any change in them. I know that some of them hate me and my message, and speak against it; but they come and hear the truth; and who can say but that God will give them His Holy Spirit, and that they may be turned from darkness to serve the living and true God?
"My congregation will not sit upon the forms I have had made; they prefer to draw their dirty blankets tightly round them, and to squat on the floor. When I am speaking, they generally rest their heads upon their bent knees, and fix their eyes upon the floor. Not a muscle seems to move, and they appear to drink in every word that is spoken to them, as if they thirsted for the truth. In teaching these people I treat them as children, but I know they have nothing of the gentleness and simplicity of children; they are cunning, 'deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.'"
The Roman Catholics having left a memorial of their abandoned mission in the shape of a good school-house, which was standing idle, Mr. Hall wrote to them at Victoria for leave to use it. The request was refused, "because," they wrote, "our missionaries may require it again." And a few months afterwards, when Mr. Hall was beginning to feel his way among the people, a priest appeared at Nu-wit-ty, the northern point of Vancouver's Island, thirty miles from Fort Rupert, just when Mr. Hall was visiting the tribe residing there. He (the priest) called a meeting of the Indians, concerning which Mr. Hall writes, on March 10th, 1879:—
"The Indians went to the meeting, and I went as well; probably one hundred were present. He told them to kneel down; they did so, and then he told them to look at him, and cross themselves as be did, and the poor Indians followed him. He then told them about the Fall, and it was very good what he said; but soon he spoke of a way that went to heaven, and one that went to hell, and he told them that if they followed him he would lead them to heaven, and that if they followed me they all would go to hell, and I should go with them. He said he wanted to baptize them, and then they would be as white as snow. When he spoke against me, many Indians interrupted him, and one went up to where he was standing and blew a lamp out. They then called out my name, and wished me to address them. I did so, and told them all to kneel down, and put my hands together, telling them to do the same. We repeated the Lord's Prayer, which is very beautiful in the Indian language; they call it 'good words.' When the priest spoke I took my hat off and listened, but when I spoke the priest kept his hat on, and smoked all the time.
"My address had been written some time before; it was about 'Lying, stealing, pride, and drunkenness.' Perhaps I did wrong, but I did not refer to what the priest had said against me. George Hunt, who was present, was indignant at the way the priest spoke, and, directly the priest finished, he made an earnest speech in my favour. In coming away from Hu-wit-ty, the head chief begged me to come and live among them, and I promised I would do something for them."
The work at Fort Rupert is much interfered with by the migratory habits of the Indians there. From June to November, 1879, for instance, they were almost all away on a visit to Nu-wit-ty River; and at our last date, March, 1880, they were gone for a month to Alert Bay. Mr. Hall, however, has not been content to be left behind sitting still. He has made canoe voyages to other parts of Vancouver's Island, and sought to gain access to other tribes; but he describes the vice and degradation as most painful, especially amongst the women. In September, 1879, in company with Admiral Prevost, who was paying him a visit, he walked across the island to the west coast, where the Koshema (or Quatseno, or Quatsinough) Indians are found, a tribe hitherto quite untouched. The Admiral addressed a large number who gathered together, and said, "Thirty years ago I came among you with my man-of-war, but to-day I come with a message of peace from the King of heaven." "It was," writes Mr. Hall, "an act worthy of an Admiral to struggle, for ten hours, across the most difficult trail I have ever met."
It is possible that the Mission may be moved from Fort Rupert to some other place more convenient for reaching a large number of Indians. That God has a people among the Quoquolts and Quatsenos, as well as among the Tsimsheans and Hydahs, we cannot doubt, and in His own time, and by His own grace, they too shall be gathered out.
LORD DUFFERIN AT METLAKAHTLA
Four great events have signalised the last four years at Metlakahtla. These events were the visits of four important personages. First, Lord Dufferin, then Governor-General of the Dominion of Canada, in August, 1876. Secondly, Bishop Bompas, of Athabasca, in the winter of 1877-78. Thirdly, Admiral Prevost, the founder of the Mission, in June, 1878. Fourthly, the new Bishop of Caledonia, Dr. Ridley, in October, 1879. The following very interesting account of Lord Dufferin's visit is all the more valuable as coming from an independent source:—
(From the Toronto Mail, September 19, 1876)
"On board Steamer 'Sir James Douglas,' August 29th, 1876
"About half-past six in the evening the 'Douglas' and the 'Amethyst' dropped anchor in a bay at a place called Metlakahtla. This is an Indian village started here about fourteen years ago by Mr. William Duncan, under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society in England. It has now a resident population of about eight hundred souls belonging to what is called the Tsimshean nation. Mr. Duncan, who seems to be possessed of an immense amount of activity, combined with deep interest in the work in which he is engaged, still remains in charge of the station, but has during the past two years had the assistance of an English clergyman and his wife, named Collison, [Footnote: Mr. Collison was not ordained at the time] who came out from England for the purpose of working in the mission field among the Indians. Mr. Collison is studying the language of the Tsimshean Natives, when proficient in it, which he soon will be, judging from the progress he has already made, he will labour among the Indians of Queen Charlotte's Islands.
"Under Mr. Duncan's instructions the Indians of Metlakahtla have already made great strides in the direction of civilization and Christianity. He has laid the village out regularly, and given to each head of a family a large-sized lot of land. The houses, which have been erected under his direction, are much more comfortable and convenient than Indian domiciles generally, though somewhat accommodated in their plans to the peculiar habits and mode of living of the race. The houses which Indians build for themselves are without floors. Those of Metlakahtla are floored with plank, and in the centre of the principal room there is a level stone fireplace, from which the smoke, instead of being left to find its way out of the house through a hole in the roof, as in the dwellings built in the primitive Indian fashion, rises into a sort of square inverted hopper which hangs over the fire, and from it passes out of the house by way of a chimney. Under Mr. Duncan's supervision the Indians have built a church in the village large enough to accommodate the whole population. It is clapboarded on the outside, and with its steeple, buttresses, and broad flight of steps ascending to the front entrance, presents an imposing appearance. The wood (of the interior at least) is cedar, the odour from which greets one's nostrils on entering the building.
"Mr. Duncan is a member of the Church of England, and conducts his services in accordance with the Anglican form of worship, but it is understood declines ordination, although qualified for it. He is an autocrat among his people, but his rule, though despotic, is benign, and leaves them as full freedom as the members of any white community enjoy, except that the use of intoxicants is prohibited, as is also their introduction into the place, and the villagers are consequently teetotalers "willy nilly." He is a Justice of the Peace under commission from the Provincial Government, with a jurisdiction including within it Queen Charlotte's Islands. He has a number of Indian policemen to assist him in preserving order, and a gaol in Metlakahtla, in which he incarcerates malefactors. There is at present undergoing a two months' imprisonment in this bastile a white man who was caught distilling in Queen Charlotte's Island. In extenuation of his offence the prisoner asserts that it was from the Indians he acquired a knowledge of the art, which resulted in himself being jugged instead of the spirits he was making. In a very neat building, specially erected for the purpose, Mr. Duncan conducts a school, in which he gives instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as in the doctrines of Christianity, to a large number of the young of the village. Both boys and girls attend this school, but when the former arrive at about the age of fourteen they are taken from it and sent to an industrial school, which is also carried on at the place; girls are allowed to remain at the other school beyond that age. To his already multifarious occupations Mr. Duncan has just added that of running a saw-mill—he was cutting up the first log in it this evening when the 'Amethyst' signalled her arrival by firing a gun. Mr. Duncan is a bachelor, a circumstance which, to many, will make the energy he throws into his work and the success of it all the more remarkable.
"The Indians of Metlakahtla gain their livelihood by fishing and hunting. Away up here, above the fifty-fourth parallel of latitude, the climate is such as would not admit of agriculture being extensively engaged in. Wheat cannot be brought to maturity. Potatoes and other root crops seem to grow pretty well.
"Formerly the Indians of the Tsimshean nation offered human sacrifices, and it is said that they also indulged cannibalistic proclivities. It would seem, however, that they confined their eating of human flesh to their 'medicine' festivals, and even then no one, as far as I can ascertain, ever saw them do more than, while engaged in the demoniacal rites which were customary on these occasions, merely bite it. The victims at these celebrations were members of other tribes whom they had enslaved. Not only are the teaching and influence of Mr. Duncan having the effect of making the Indians fall away from such inhuman and heathenish practices, but they are also removing much of the deadly hostility which formerly existed among different tribes. More Indians are gradually coming in from the country round about and making Metlakahtla their home.
"In the administration of the affairs of the village the Indian institution of the council is retained, and Mr. Duncan consults with them in regard to all matters appertaining to the general weal. Some of the Indians when baptized are given English names, while others prefer to keep their Indian appellation, and are permitted to do so."
"The Governor-General and party proceeded on shore at Metlakahtla this morning at half past nine o'clock. The day was a beautiful sunshiny clear one, the first without fog and rain that we have had since leaving Nanaimo. Although Mr. Duncan had learned that his Excellency was in British Columbia, his visit to Metlakahtla was quite unexpected. A large proportion of the inhabitants of the village were consequently away working at fisheries some miles off, who, had they known of the Governor General's visit, would have been present to join in receiving him. It was understood that their absence from the village on so auspicious an occasion would be a bitter regret to them. However, there was about a couple of hundred of the villagers at home, including several members of the council—the rest were chiefly young lads, young women, and children, with a few old people. They assisted their energetic white chief in getting up a demonstration which, under the circumstances, was quite creditable to them. Several Union Jacks were hoisted throughout the village, and a red cloth, with 'God save the Queen' worked on it, was stretched across between two houses near the landing. As the vice regal party went ashore a small cannon was fired off several times from the gaol, a small hexagonal structure with a balcony round the top. The next thing was the singing of the National Anthem to an accompaniment supplied by some of the members of a brass band which exists among the young men of the community. The latter were gorgeous in cast-off uniforms of United States soldiers, purchased at a sale of condemned military clothing recently held in Alaska. Half-a-dozen Indian maidens then came forward and presented Lady Dufferin with a bouquet, after which the distinguished visitors were taken to see the church, the school house, and one of the Indian residences. Subsequently all the people were assembled in the open air, and the younger portion of them sang, under the direction of Mr. Duncan and Mr. Collison, a number of songs and hymns, both in their native tongue and in English. They pronounced the words of the pieces that were in the latter language with a remarkably good accent, although every effort to induce any of them to converse in it was futile. Lord Dufferin endeavoured to get some of them to talk with him about their studies, but was not successful in extracting from any of them, including a young Indian woman whom Mr. Duncan has placed in the position of an assistant teacher in the school, any more definitely English expression than a simper. Mr. Duncan stated that many of his pupils understood English very well, but were somehow averse to speaking it. The voices of the singers sounded very well, when allowance is made for their bashfulness. Some of their pieces were of a fugue character and the time which was kept in singing them was remarkably good, considering that there was no accompaniment to them.
"After some time had been spent in singing, a young man advanced and read the following address in excellent style:—
"To His Excellency the Earl of Dufferin, Governor-General of the Dominion of Canada.
"MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY,—We, the inhabitants of Metlakahtla, of the Tsimshean nation of Indians desire to express our joy in welcoming your Excellency and Lady Dufferin to our village. Under the teaching of the Gospel we have learned the Divine command, 'Fear God, honour the King, and thus as loyal subjects of her Majesty Queen Victoria we rejoice in seeing you visit our shores.
"We have learned to respect and obey the laws of the Queen, and we will continue to uphold and defend the same in our community and nation.
"We are still a weak and poor people, only lately emancipated from the thraldom of heathenism and savage customs, but we are struggling to rise and advance to a Christian life and civilization.
"Trusting that we may enjoy a share of your Excellency's kind and fostering care, and under your administration continue to advance in peace and prosperity.
"We have the honour to subscribe ourselves your Excellency's humble and obedient servants.
"For the Indians of Metlakahtla,
"Secretary to the Native Council."
"The members of the Council all came forward in turn and signed the document by making their marks."
The Governor-General replied as follows—
"I have come a long distance in order to assure you, in the name of your Great Mother, the Queen of England, with what pleasure she has learnt of your well being, and of the progress you have made in the arts of peace and the knowledge of the Christian religion, under the auspices of your kind friend, Mr. Duncan. You must understand that I have not come for my own pleasure, but that the journey has been long and laborious and that I am here from a sense of duty, in order to make you feel by my actual presence with what solicitude the Queen and Her Majesty's Government in Canada watch over your welfare, and how anxious they are that you should persevere in that virtuous and industrious mode of life in which I find you engaged. I have viewed with astonishment the church which you have built entirely by your own industry and intelligence. That church is in itself a monument of the way in which you have profited by the teachings you have received. It does you the greatest credit, and we have every right to hope, that, while in its outward aspect it bears testimony to your conformity to the laws of the Gospel, beneath its sacred roof your sincere and faithful prayers will be rewarded by those blessings which are promised to all those who approach the Throne of God in humility and faith. I hope you will understand that your White Mother and the Government of Canada are fully prepared to protect you in the exercise of your religion, and to extend to you those laws which know no difference of race, or of colour, but under which justice is impartially administered between the humblest and the greatest of the land. The Government of Canada is proud to think that there are upwards of 30,000 Indians in the territory of British Columbia alone. She recognizes them as the ancient inhabitants of the country. The white men have not come amongst you as conquerors, but as friends. We regard you as our fellow -subjects, and as equal to us in the eye of the law as you are in the eye of God, and equally entitled with the rest of the community to the benefits of good government, and the opportunity of earning an honest livelihood. I have had very great pleasure in inspecting your school, and I am quite certain that there are many among the younger portion of those I am now addressing who have already begun to feel how much they are indebted to that institution for the expansion of their mental faculties, for the knowledge of what is passing in the outer world, as well as for the insight it affords them into the laws of nature and into the arts of civilized life, and we have the further satisfaction of remembering that as year after year flows by, and your population increases, all those beneficial influences will acquire additional strength and momentum. I hope you are duly grateful to him to whom, under Providence, you are indebted for all these benefits, and that when you contrast your own condition, the peace in which you live, the comforts that surround you, the decency of your habitation, when you see your wives, your sisters, and your daughters contributing so materially by the brightness of their appearance, the softness, of their manners, their housewifely qualities, to the pleasantness and cheerfulness of your domestic lives, contrasting as all these do so strikingly with your former surroundings, you will remember that it is to Mr. Duncan you owe this blessed initiation into your new life. By a faithful adherence to his principles and example you will become useful citizens and faithful subjects, an honour to those under whose auspices you will thus have shown to what the Indian race can attain, at the same time that you will leave to your children an ever-widening prospect of increasing happiness and progressive improvement. Before I conclude I cannot help expressing to Mr. Duncan, and those associated with him in his good work, not only in my own name, not only in the name of the Government of Canada, but also in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, and in the name of the people of England, who take so deep an interest in the well-being of all the native races throughout the Queen's dominions, our deep gratitude to him for thus having devoted the flower of his life, in spite of innumerable difficulties, dangers, and discouragements, of which we, who only see the result of his labours, can form only a very inadequate idea, to a work which has resulted in the beautiful scene we have witnessed this morning. I only wish to add that I am very much obliged to you for the satisfactory and loyal address with which you have greeted me. The very fact of your being in a position to express yourselves with so much propriety is in itself extremely creditable to you, and although it has been my good fortune to receive many addresses during my stay in Canada from various communities of your fellow subjects, not one of them will be surrounded by so many hopeful and pleasant reminiscences, as those which I shall carry away with me from this spot."
Before he left British Columbia Lord Dufferin delivered an address at Government House, Victoria, in which, referring to this visit, he said:—
"I have traversed the entire coast of British Columbia, from its southern extremity to Alaska. I have penetrated to the head of Bute Inlet, I have examined the Seymour Narrows, and the other channels which intervene between the head of Bute Inlet and Vancouver Island. I have looked into the mouth of Dean's Canal, and passed across the entrance to Gardener's Channel. I have visited Mr. Duncan's wonderful settlement at Metlakahtla, and the interesting Methodist Mission at Fort Simpson, and have thus been enabled to realise what scenes of primitive peace and innocence, of idyllic beauty and material comfort, can be presented by the stalwart men and comely maidens of an Indian community, under the wise administration of a judicious and devoted Christian Missionary. I have seen the Indians in all phases of their existence, from the half-naked savage, perched, like a bird of prey, in a red blanket upon a rock, trying to catch his miserable dinner of fish, to the neat maiden in Mr. Duncan's school at Metlakhatla, as modest and as well dressed as any clergyman's daughter in an English parish.
"What you want are not resources, but human beings to develope them and consume them. Raise your 80,000 Indians to the level Mr. Duncan has taught us they can be brought, and consider what an enormous amount of vital power you will have added to your present strength."
ADMIRAL PREVOST AT METLAKAHTLA.
Of the four visits mentioned at the beginning of the last chapter, with which the last four years must ever be associated at Metlakahtla, a very peculiar interest attaches to the third in order of time. To the Christian Indians it was naturally the most joyous and memorable event in the history of the settlement. It was not a small thing to receive a Governor-General, a Missionary Bishop, or the chief pastor of their own newly-formed diocese. But since the foundation of the settlement, there has been no day like the 18th of June, 1878, when Metlakahtla had the joy of welcoming, for the first time, the beloved and revered originator of the Mission, Admiral Prevost.
He had never been in that part of the world since the migration from Fort Simpson in 1862, and had never seen the wonderful issue of his own plan. That he should see it now was a privilege rarely enjoyed. To few men is it given in the Providence of God to initiate such an agency of blessing, and to still fewer is it granted to behold such far reaching results.
Of this happy visit, the Admiral himself has kindly supplied for these pages the following deeply interesting account:—
Admiral Prevost's Narrative.
Three a.m., Tuesday, 18th June, 1878. Arrived at Fort Simpson in the U. S. Mail Steamer California, from Sitka. Was met by William Duncan, with sixteen Indians, nearly all Elders. Our greeting was most hearty, and the meeting with Duncan was a cause of real thankfulness to God, in sight, too, of the very spot (nay, on it) where God had put into my heart the first desire of sending the Gospel to the poor heathens around me. Twenty-five years previously H.M.S. "Virago" had been repaired on that very beach. What a change had been effected during those passing years! Of the crew before me nine of the sixteen were, to my knowledge, formerly medicine men, or cannibals. In humble faith, we could only exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" It is all His doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
It did not take long to transfer ourselves and our baggage to the canoe, and at 4.30 a.m. we started against wind and tide, rain, too, at intervals; but having much to talk about of past events and future plans, the twenty miles of distance soon disappeared, and about noon we crossed the bar and entered the "inlet of Kahtla." On the north side of the inlet stands, on an eminence, "the Church of God;" on either side of it, spreads out the village of Metlakahtla, skirting two bays whose beaches are at once a landing-place for its inhabitants and shelter for the canoes. As we approached the landing-place two guns were fired and flags displayed from house to house—conspicuous by a string of them reaching the Mission House verandah, inscribed, "A REAL WELCOME TO METLAKAHTLA." Near to this were assembled all the village—men, women, and children—gaily dressed.
The choice of this harbour of refuge is one of God's many providential dealings with this Mission. It is defended from the storms and heavy rolling swell of the Pacific Ocean by large and lofty islands, forming a breakwater across its entrance, extending as far out to sea as twenty miles, inside of which smaller islands, numbering nearly a hundred, form channels leading up to the foot of the snow-capped mountains, 15 or 18 miles distant, on many of which are the village gardens where potatoes and other vegetables are grown.
The rise and fall of the tide is very great, often 25ft. It was low water when we arrived, and difficult to land, but this had been anticipated. We found a small canoe covered over with pretty mats (Indian manufacture from the cedar bark). Into this we were transferred, and when comfortably seated, we were lifted quietly on the shoulders of the young men, and carried up to a platform close to the entrance of the Mission House. We were surrounded by kind hearts who had been long expecting us, and the flowers and garlands had withered; but joy was depicted in their countenances. The body of constables, dressed in a uniform given by the Government, presented arms; the small band played; and then all the voices, about 250 in number (the larger portion of the population being at the fisheries), joined in that beautiful hymn—
"What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear, What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer."
Then came the shaking of hands, and let me remind you a Metlakahtla Indian can give a hearty shake of the hand!
Rain obliged us to seek shelter indoors. We all met again in the church in the evening, changing the weekly service to Tuesday. It was my privilege to address more than two hundred from Romans viii. 31—"If God be for us, who can be against us?" It was an evening never to be forgotten. After 25 years' absence, God had brought me back again, amidst all the sundry and manifold changes of the world, face to face with those tribes amongst whom I had witnessed only bloodshed, cannibalism, and heathen devilry in its grossest form. Now they were sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in their right mind. The very churchwarden, dear old Peter Simpson, who opened the church-door for me, was the chief of one of the cannibal tribes.
Words cannot describe the happy month I spent in this happy Christian circle. I can only copy from my rough notes, written on the spot, some of the events which occurred to me.
In the Mission House, I found the Rev. W. H. Collison, and his wife and two children (whom I had known previous to their leaving England), and Mr. and Mrs. Schutt and children. There was plenty of room for all, and in addition to our party there were five girls, boarders in the house, living in a dormitory upstairs with a cheerful look-out. These are industrial pupils training for their future position as wives and mothers. Each girl has her own recess. As many as fourteen boarders have been in the house at one time, and God has greatly blessed the instruction they have received, the Christian young men preferring a wife who has passed through the Mission training to all others.
It rained so incessantly the first three days, that nothing could be done outside. The meetings for Morning and Evening Prayers, in which the boarders joined, were very precious. Sankey's hymns, a portion of God's Word, explained by Duncan in Tsimshean, and united prayer, began and closed the day.
On 21st June, I met by appointment in Duncan's room eight of the twelve elders of the village (four absent at the fisheries) to consult about the programme during my stay. It was no formal assembly, but a council of wise heads met together, all taking a deep interest in the affairs of the village, and all speaking out boldly.
June 22nd.—Still rain, but all the men and some of the women assembled in the school-room, to hear an address from me and to give me their welcome in reply. We met at 5 p.m., and did not separate until 8 o'clock. Let me give one or two of the speeches addressed to me:—
GEORGE USHER (Indian name, Comtsool) said—"I also want to speak, though I occupy not the seat of a chief, but only that of a common man who sits at the door. Your seat is the seat of honour at the upper end of the house. Yet I will address you.
"It is wonderful to us to see what changes have come amongst us since your last visit, and it is wonderful to us to see how much good some people are capable of doing for others. We think of your good work and are amazed. If it shall so be that you leave this world before us to see God, remember we are trying to follow you, to be with you before long. We shall see you again in heaven."
JAMES LEEQUNEESH (chief) said—"Shimoigit, what we once were is known to you, for you saw our state. I was a young man when you first saw us. We profited by your visit, but you suffered by us. Which of us is not now ashamed when we see your face again, and remember the injuries we did to you? But we were then in darkness. We were like the wild animals. We were living in mud and darkness. You got a hoe. You got seed. You designed a garden, though on a very unfavourable site. It was God who touched your heart. Then the workmen came. Your work was among thorns, and you suffered, but so did Jesus the Son of God work among thorns and suffer. So you then got a spade and turned over the ground and put in the seed. God was with you, and now you have come back to see what God has done. You are pleased to see that the plants have come up a little. Yes, the good seed has grown, and this, sir, is the result of your work. God put all this into your heart, and our own hearts are deeply affected and aroused within us by your coming again to see us."
ADAM GORDON (Kshimkeaiks) said—"Sir, though I have not prepared a speech, I cannot help saying my heart is thankful to tell you how happy we all are. It is while we are still in the fight you have come to see us. Like as children rejoice to see a father, so we rejoice to see you. We are fighting every day with sin, but we shall cease fighting; by-and -by, and be happy when we get to the other shore. Then when we reach over there we shall be truly happy."
PETER SIMPSON (Thrakshakaun).—"I remember when you put your ship on shore at Fort Simpson. I remember how nearly we were fighting, and the guns were prepared. You had a rope put out to keep us off, and we heard it said that you would fire at us from your ship when you got afloat. We knew not what you had rather planned to do. You planned to bring us the Gospel, and that has opened our eyes to heavenly things, and oh! how beautiful, very beautiful indeed! Metlakahtla is like a ship just launched. You are here to give us advice where to put the mast in, and how to steer. I address you thus, though you are great and I am poor. But Jesus despises not the poor. The Tsimsheans were very low, yet Jesus raised us, and we are now anxious for all our brethren, the tribes around us, to be made alive. We see them now willing to hear, and we are trying to help them. We know God put it into your heart to come here, and brought you here; God bless you for coming."
Sunday, 23rd.—To me, all days at Metlakahtla are solemnly sacred, but Sunday, of all others, especially so. Canoes are all drawn up on the beach above high water mark. Not a sound is heard. The children are assembled before morning service to receive special instruction from Mr. Duncan. The church bell rings, and the whole population pour out from their houses—men, women, and children—to worship God in His own house, built by their own hands. As it has been remarked, "No need to lock doors, for no one is there to enter the empty houses." Two policemen are on duty in uniform, to keep order during service time. The service begins with a chant in Tsimshean, "I wilt arise and go to my Father," etc., Mr. Schutt leading with the harmonium; the Litany Prayers in Tsimshean follow, closing with the Lord's Prayer. The address lasts nearly an hour. Such is the deep attention of many present, that having once known their former lives, I know that the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost can alone have produced so marvellous a change.
First, there was a very old woman, staff in hand, stepping with such solemn earnestness; after her came one who had been a very notorious gambler; though now almost crippled with disease, yet he seemed to be forgetting infirmity, and literally to be leaping along. Next followed a dissipated youth, now reclaimed; and after him a chief, who had dared a few years ago proudly to lift up his hand to stop the work of God, now with humble mien, wending his way to worship. Then came a once still more haughty man of rank; and after him a mother carrying her infant child, and a father leading his infant son; a grandmother, with more than a mother's care, watching the steps of her little grandson. Then followed a widow; then a young woman, who had been snatched from the jaws of infamy; after them came a once roving spirit, now meek and settled; then, a once notorious chief; and the last I reflected upon was a man walking with solemn gait, yet hope fixed in his look. When a heathen he was a murderer: he had murdered his own wife and burnt her to ashes. What are all these now, I thought, and the crowds that accompany them! Whither are they going? and what to do? Blessed sight for angels! Oh, the preciousness of a Saviour's blood! If there is joy in heaven ever one sinner that repenteth, with what delight must angels gaze on such a sight as this! I felt such a glow of gratitude to God come over me, my heart was stirred within me, for who could have joined such a congregation as this in worship and have been cold, and who could have preached the Gospel to such a people and not have felt he was standing where God was working?
After morning service, a class of female adults remain in the church, and receive further instruction from the native teachers. At the same time the male adults meet Mr. Duncan in his own room. At three, the church bell again assembles all the village to worship; and again at seven, when they generally meet in the schoolroom, the address being given by one of the native teachers.
June 26th.—Evening Service in schoolroom, about 90 in attendance, most of the village absent at the fisheries. Some strange Indians arrived today from a distance. A large building has been erected on the shore, close to the general landing-place, for the accommodation of such visitors; here they deposit their property (brought for trade), and take up their abode, finding firewood ready for use. As soon as they are comfortably housed and mashed (the latter a positive injunction), they come to Duncan's room, where he receives them, generally having something new and amusing to show them. To-day I was present at their interview, when Duncan showed them a mechanical picture, in which a "ship at sea," a "wind-mill," and a "water-mill," worked by machinery, are moved at the same time. A galvanic battery is also a source of wonder and astonishment. After some time he explains to his audience the cause and effects, exposing, too, the tricks formerly played upon their ignorant minds by their own medicine men. The visit is returned, and in that market-house the good seed of the Word of God has been frequently sown by this faithful man of God to casual visitors, and through them to the surrounding tribes.
A deputation also arrived from the Fort Simpson Indians to consult with the Metlakahtla Indians how to meet the pending difficulties with the White men as regards the Indian rights as to the salmon-fisheries. The bugle sounded to call together the Council. Both parties assembled together in the school-house, and consulted together for several hours; and when they had finished, they sent for Duncan to tell him the result. I mention this circumstance as one of the blessed results of their new life in Christ Jesus. In their heathen days this difficulty with white men would have been met with murder and destruction. In 1859, I was present at an assemblage of chiefs, when gold was first discovered in British Columbia, and when more than twenty thousand white men rushed into that country, bringing with them vice and disease. The question was asked by the head chief, "How shall we treat these strangers? Shall we cut their throats?"—going through the motion of doing so in an unmistakable manner. In God's providence, the man in authority had great influence over the Indian mind and action. A proper answer was returned, and the lives of hundreds, nay, thousands were saved.
27th.—Visited the village saw-mill, conveniently situated at the head of a sheltered inlet about a mile and a quarter from the village. It is managed entirely by natives, the head Indian receiving 8 dols., or L1 12s., the second, 6 dols., or L1 4s., the third, 5 dols., or L1 per week. Lumber of all sizes is supplied to the village for building purposes at moderate prices. Thus the Indians are kept independent of the white man's help. Duncan told me a curious story of an old Indian who came to him, when the mill was being erected, and asked him, "Are you going to make water saw wood?" He got his answer, and exclaimed, "When I see it I die, to go and tell it to my chief."
I visited the widow of Samuel Marsden (Shooquanahts), the first fruits of this Mission. He was baptized, 21st July, 1861, and died May 8th, 1878, a Native elder, a ripe Christian, a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus; and the clear testimony he bore on his death-bed to the blessedness of the Christian hope and the presence of the Saviour was very cheering. Duncan adds, "His parting words to myself and the elders were very affecting; his end indeed was peace, and such a funeral the Indians never saw." Catherine, his widow, is left with two children, and lives in the same house with Catherine Ryan, whose husband died about the same time as Samuel, leaving her with four children. I did indeed wish for some of the friends of the Mission to have witnessed the touching simple faith of these two brands plucked out of the fire, as I read to them a few words from John xi., "Jesus wept." after which we joined in prayer.
Shortly after my return to the Mission House, Samuel Marsden's father called to see me. He was present at my first visit to Fort Simpson in 1853. Poor fellow! he looked quite cast down; he said his heart was sad, he wanted to speak to me. "I have felt," he said, "that I must see you. It has been on my heart to see you. I saw your ship long ago when you first came to Fort Simpson. I saw you then also. I was a young man then. I had a son, an only son, he was then very young. You did not forget us. When Mr. Duncan came, I sent my son to learn. I was anxious to walk in God's way myself; but I was very wicked. But I was anxious that my son should learn; he learned quickly and had but one heart. When Mr. Duncan came to Metlakahtla, Samuel was one of the first to accompany him, and afterwards, when Mr. Duncan had to punish any of the Indians of the villages around who were guilty of crime, Samuel was always ready to go and assist in bringing them to justice. I was not afraid, because I knew he was doing right, and God would defend him and save him. Well, he continued to grow stronger in God's way, and was anxious to work for Him, wherever he went telling the people about the Son of God, the Saviour; but he became sick and was very weak for some time. However, he almost recovered, and when the news came last autumn that you were coming, no one was so glad as Samuel. He was rejoiced to think that he would see you again; but it was not to be so now. God was pleased to call him to Himself before you came. He is in heaven now. Chief! this is why I was not present at the meeting to welcome you. My strength was gone, my only son, I thought he would strengthen my heart now that I am an old man; but God knows it is best. I felt that I could not speak with the rest, as my heart was so weak. But there was a burden on my heart. I felt so much that if Samuel were alive, he would have much to tell you, and I felt that I could not rest until I told you all this, as Samuel would have me do were he alive. I thank you much for your sympathy and encouragement to us. My heart is very full. I am very grateful to you, chief. When you pray, will you ask God to make my heart strong? I want to be faithful too, I want to meet my son and all of you above. I ask your prayers to help me. My heart is strong and glad now, because I have seen you and told you my heart."
One afternoon the girls in the Mission House, five in number, were given a half-holiday, to pick berries on the opposite islands. We availed ourselves of the fine weather and this picnic to see the village gardens. We started in a large canoe (every Indian from his earliest childhood can handle a paddle), towards the head of the estuary, which leads through a labyrinth of islands, to the pine-clad shores of the snowy mountains, nearly twenty miles distance. We landed at some of the islands, most of which have some cultivated land. Every man and woman had a certain portion of ground measured out by Duncan, when the village was first settled, and set apart by him for their sole use. As the children advance in years, an addition is made. At present only potatoes are planted, and these are not properly attended to, for just at the time when labour is required for weeding, hoeing, etc., all hands are absent at the fishing stations. Duncan hopes, in course of time, to make better arrangements. How we all enjoyed ourselves in that holiday trip!—all of us like children escaped from school. Berries were plentiful, and we returned by moonlight, paddling and singing hymns alternately, till the sparkling wood fire in the Mission-room welcomed us to our home.
One evening I was invited by Matthews (one of the elders, and a good carpenter), to hear him perform on a parlour organ, which he had bought at Victoria for 80 dollars (L16). It was a wondrous sight—the Indian and his wife at his side playing and singing many of the well-known Sankey's hymns! Had I accepted an invitation to visit an Indian hut in years gone by, I should have seen all kinds of devilry, witchcraft, and cannibalism, often followed by murder. How strikingly were the words of Holy Scripture brought before me, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
Much of the missionaries' time is taken up in visiting and recovering the sick. Collison and I went together one morning to visit a young woman, a Kitsalass (the people of the Rapids on Skeena river), dying of consumption; her husband, an affectionate nurse for four months, and most patient, seldom leaving her. I read Ps. xxv. 18, "Look upon my affliction and my pain, and forgive me all my sins;" then a short prayer, all around her kneeling. From my note-book I copy the conversation which followed, noted down at the time. "Do you remember what I said to you from God's Word?" She felt she was going to leave the world; she was always thinking of Jesus and crying unto Him. "Have you any fear of death?" "No! because I love Jesus." We replied, "He first loved us!" The husband then spoke. He had been praying three times a day. They did not know anything of their sinfulness before this affliction. "I was greatly troubled at the thought of my wife leaving me, but my heart is satisfied now, my heart is strong now, because the Saviour has had mercy on us. He has shown us the way, and though it is very hard, yet I know it will be for her gain."
Previous to this interview, her great desire had been to return to her own people, but now she asked to be buried with the Christians at Metlakahtla. She hesitated before this to ask to be baptized; she had it on her heart to ask, but now she felt her time was short, and she wished to be numbered amongst the people of God. Baptism was then administered to her, in the simple words of our Lord, "Go ye, therefore, and make Christians of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." As a proof of her humility, she asked to be baptized in her heathen name ("Lukaloosh"), not being worthy of a white woman's name, which is always given.
After two days I visited her again, and found her much weaker, breathing with difficulty. During a sleepless night she exclaimed, "I know where I am going, it is no longer darkness; Jesus is with me." These last words were frequently repeated. In the morning her husband came to say, "she was fast departing, her heart beating faintly." He was comforted by repeating his wife's last words, "Jesus is with me."
Fine weather having now set in, I invited all the village to a feast. Two guns were fixed to recall the absentees, who were at their daily work. Tables were soon spread on the green in front of the Church, each guest bringing cups and spoons. Coffee and biscuit was provided in abundance. Before they were seated, all assembled on the steps of the Church, and were photographed by Duncan, [Footnote: A picture drawn from this photograph appeared in the Church Gleaner of July, 1879.] to the amusement of all present. A blessing was then asked, and the feast commenced. Games followed, singing, and cheering, the latter very hearty. At nine o'clock all separated to go to their homes.
1st July.—In the early morning paddled over to the island set apart as the burial ground of Metlakahtla. All the graves are surrounded with a neat wooden fence, and several marble headstones are erected. I copied the three nearest to the landing-place:—
IN MEMORY OF
Who was drowned in the Skeena. River, Aug. 15th, 1870,
AGED 30 YEARS.
"Be ye therefore ready also."—LUKE xii. 40.
* * * * *
IN MEMORY OF
Who died May 2nd, 1877,
AGED 32 YEARS.
* * * * *
IN MEMORY OP
(Head Chief of the Tsimshean Indians),
Who died May 6th, 1869,
AGED 55 YEARS.
"Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"
* * * * *
On 2nd July I left Metlakahtla in a large canoe, paddled by five Kincolith Indians, to visit the C. M. S. Mission at Kincolith, "place of the scalps," Naas River, established by the Rev. R. Doolan, in July, 1864. Since then the Mission has been removed lower down the river, at the entrance of the Portland Canal, beautifully situated, hedged in by high mountain peaks, 3,807 and 3,385 feet in height. Inland there is good farming land, and many native villages, with souls thirsting for the Gospel news. The following day we sighted the church; soon the houses were visible. Flags were run up, and as we approached the landing-place, a gun was fired, and we could see the inhabitants hastening to welcome us, dressed in their best, some in very bright colours.
Being high water we landed easily. Many were the kind words of welcome floating in the bright sunshine. "WELCOME TO KINCOLITH," in large letters of the fern leaves; "COME TO NAAS RIVER"; "TIS DAY (sic), WE ARE ALL VERY HAPPY TO SEE YOU, SIR"—their own composition and spelling. As we landed guns were fired. We were welcomed at the Mission House by Mrs. Tomlinson and her five children. Soon after, we all met again in the schoolroom, where I gave a short address.
July 4th.—Visited the sawmill, which is romantically situated near the river, from whence there is a fine view of the valley. Its high cliffs, and their snow-capped tops, betoken a severe winter residence, though on our return we crossed a meadow where cows and calves were grazing. In the meanwhile my invitation to a feast had been accepted, all were busily employed, and soon all were seated enjoying the coffee and biscuits as at Metlakahtla. During the feast, a canoe was seen passing down the river, and the universal wish was expressed by all the leading men that the strangers should be invited to join them. Oh, how the blessedness of the Gospel is daily brought before one among these Christian Indians—"peace, good-will towards all men"! In former years a watchman would have told of the approach of an enemy, and all would have taken to arms to defend their lives. "Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"
July 5th.—This was our last day at Kincolith. At 8 p.m., we embarked in our canoe to return to Metlakahtla, taking leave of the Mission greatly encouraged, and thankful for the bright prospects before them, acknowledging with deep gratitude the Lord's hand in the work, and earnestly praying that the young converts may be preserved from the many trials and temptations which are brought nearer and nearer to them year by year.
July 10th.—Before my departure from Metlakahtla, I assembled the few who were left at the village, to tell them I was anxious to leave behind some token both of my visit to them after so long an absence, and also that I still bore them on my heart. What should it be? After hours of consultation, they decided they would leave the choice to me, and when I told them (what I had beforehand determined upon) that my present would be a set of street lamps to light up their village by night, their joy was unbounded. Their first thought had a spiritual meaning. By day, God's house was a memorable object, visible both by vessels passing and repassing, and by all canoes as strange Indians travelled about; but by night all was darkness—now no longer so—as the bright light of the glorious Gospel, had through God's mercy and love shined in their dark hearts, so would all be reminded, by night as well as by day, of the marvellous light shining in the hearts of many at Metlakahtla. When Duncan first settled at Metlakahtla, even the Indians who came with him were in such fear from the neighbouring tribes, that they begged him not to have a fire burning at night or show a light in his house. The system of murder was then so general, that whenever an enemy saw a light he sneaked up to it, and the death of the unsuspecting Indian was generally the result. Thus my selection was a happy one, and I thanked God for it.
I fear the story of my visit to this interesting Mission will try the patience of many of the readers. I would, therefore, affectionately ask them to consider it from my point of view, viz., God's providential dealings with me from my first acquaintance with the Indians in 1853 to the present time. I claim no honour to myself nor to the C. M. S., but for Christ—"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory." Words cannot express my gratitude to God for permitting me to see what I have see of the power of the Gospel of the Grace of God. He who healed the deaf and dumb when upon earth still lives. When brought to Christ, the same power still heals the spiritually deaf and dumb; witness the great chief Legaic—He made him to delight in listening to the same Gospel which once he so opposed, ridiculed, and despised, to love the man whose life he so often attempted, and to join with him in prayer and praise; and finally, at the time of his departure, to hear a glorious testimony, that the sting of death had been removed, and he was safe in the arms of Jesus.
THE DIOCESE OF CALEDONIA.
As we have already mentioned, when Mr. Duncan went out in 1856 there was but one clergyman of the Church of England on the whole western coast of British America, viz., the Rev. E. Cridge, chaplain at Victoria. The colony of British Columbia, however, grew apace; and in 1859 it was formed into a Diocese, Dr. Hills being appointed the first Bishop. The visits of Bishop Hills and of more than one of his colonial clergy to Metlakahtla have been noticed in the foregoing pages. By them a large number of the Christian Indians were baptized. The C. M. S. Committee have always desired to provide an ordained missionary for the settlement; but for some years their effort seemed fruitless. It has been before mentioned that the Rev. L. Tugwell, who went out in 1860, and was privileged to baptize the first group of converts, was compelled by failure of health to return home in the following year. In 1864, the Rev. R. R. A. Doolan, B.A., of Caius College, Cambridge, offered himself for the work. He laboured zealously for three years, and began the Mission on Nass River, as already related; and then in 1867 he, too, had to return to England. Both he and Mr. Tugwell found important spheres of missionary labour in connection with the Spanish Church Mission. In 1865, the Rev. F. Gribbell was sent out; but the climate of Metlakahtla seriously affected his wife's health, and he accepted colonial work offered him at Victoria by the Bishop of Columbia. In 1867 the Rev. R. Tomlinson, B.A., was appointed to the Mission, and he has providentially been permitted to continue in its service ever since. He, however, took over the work on Nass River, begun by Mr. Doolan, so that Metlakahtla still remained without an ordained missionary. But the grace of God is not tied to a regular ministry, and the settlement grew and prospered, spiritually as well as materially, under the loving care of its lay founder. In 1873, Mr. W. H. Collison joined the Mission as a schoolmaster, and in 1878 Mr. H. Schutt went out in the same capacity, to leave Mr. Collison free to begin new work in Queen Charlotte's Islands. In 1877 the Rev. A. J. Hall, a young clergyman in full orders, was appointed to Metlakahtla; but he, too, under the advice of his brethren, removed soon after his arrival to Fort Rupert, to break up fresh ground. At length Mr. Collison, having been ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Bompas, of Athabasca, during the latter's visit to the coast in the winter of 1877 -8, and having been released from the work at Queen Charlotte's Islands by the arrival of Mr. G. Sneath in 1879, again took up his abode at Metlakahtla as pastor of the settlement.
In the meanwhile, certain unhappy disputes in Victoria, arising from the extreme doctrinal views which found an entrance into the Church in the Colony, as they have into the Church at home, had resulted in a secession to the American "Reformed Church" under the leadership of the Rev. E. Cridge. Mr. Cridge was greatly beloved by the Christians of Metlakahtla, having given much godly counsel and help to the Mission; and they not unnaturally felt much sympathy for him in the painful step he had felt it his duty to take. In this state of things, the Bishop of Columbia, anxious not to rouse feelings which it might be hard to allay, with much wisdom and generosity refrained from visiting Metlakahtla, and wrote to Bishop Bompas, of Athabasca, who is a devoted missionary of the C. M. S., asking him to come over and visit the coast, and to perform episcopal functions in the C. M. S. Mission. Accordingly, in November, 1877, Bishop Bompas, reached Metlakahtla after a long and difficult journey across the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, and the wilderness of lakes and rivers stretching between those chains. He remained three months on the coast, visited the outlying stations, confirmed 124 of the Christian Indians, ordained Mr. Collison deacon and priest, and assisted Mr. Duncan and the other missionaries in maturing plans for the extension of the Mission. [Footnote: Bishop Bompas' account of the Christmas he spent in Metlakahtla is given at page 75. A narrative of his journey across the Rocky Mountains appeared in the C. M. Intelligencer of August, 1878.]
In 1879, Bishop Hills, being on a visit to England, arranged with the Church Missionary Society a plan for providing its Missions with episcopal oversight. He had come, charged by his Diocesan Synod to take steps for dividing his vast diocese into three—Columbia, New Westminster, and Caledonia—which would form an ecclesiastical province on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, just as, on the east side, the four dioceses of Rupert's Land, Moosonee, Athabasca, and Saskatchewan, form the province of Rupert's Land. The northernmost of these three divisions, Caledonia, would comprise the field of the C. M. S. Missions; and the Society therefore undertook to guarantee the income of the Bishop for this division, provided that the Committee were satisfied with the appointment made. The scheme was happily consummated by the choice of the Rev. Wm. Ridley, vicar of St. Paul's, Huddersfield, who had been a C. M. S. missionary in India, but whose health had been unequal to the trying climate of the Peshawar Valley. Mr. Ridley was consecrated on St. James's Day, July 25th, 1879, at St. Paul's Cathedral, at the same time as Dr. Walsham How to the Suffragan -Bishopric of Bedford (for East London), Dr. Barclay to the Anglican See of Jerusalem, and Dr. Speechly to the new diocese of Travancore and Cochin.
The Diocese of Caledonia comprises the territory lying between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, with the adjacent islands, and is bounded on the south by a line drawn westward from Cape St. James, at the south end of Queen Charlotte's Islands, and on the north by the 60th parallel of latitude. It comprises, therefore, the mining districts on the upper waters of the Fraser and Skeena and Stachine rivers, with their rough white population, and many thousands of Indians of the Tsimshean and Hydah nations on the coast, as well as others in the interior.
Bishop Ridley sailed from Liverpool on September 13th for New York, crossed the States by the Pacific Railway, took a steamer again at San Francisco, and reached Victoria on October 14th. There he met Mr. Duncan, and also Admiral Prevost, who had again gone out a few months before, partly to prepare the way for the new Bishop; and a few days after they sailed together for Metlakahtla. On November 1st he wrote as follows:—
"Metlakahtla has not disappointed me. The situation is excellent. There is no spot to compare with it this side of Victoria. During this week the weather has been charming. Frosty nights, but the days mild, as in Cornwall at this season. Numbers of the worn-out old folk have been basking in the sun for hours daily. Squatting in the long grass, they looked the very pictures of contentment. They all gazed on the sea. No wonder if they loved it. Besides being the store-house from which they took their food, it is the chief feature in one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. We are at the entrance of an estuary that winds about, labyrinth-like, until it leads up to a stream more than twenty miles distant inland. Outside are large islands, their lofty heads pine-clad, and the same garment reaching to the very waves on all sides. These are God's breakwaters. Inside, wherever the channel widens, there are smaller islands, so disposed as to make it impossible to say what is island and what continent. These are gems in a setting that perfectly reflects the grass and pines fringing the sea's glossy surface, as well as the background of snow-patched mountain.
"Yesterday the stillness was reverential, and quite in keeping with Sunday rest. Scores of graceful canoes were drawn above the tide. Not a paddle broke the silence. As Admiral Prevost and I stood in the Mission garden we heard, in the distance, the howls of a pack of wolves. A flight of crows or rooks claimed a moment's attention. Besides this, nothing disturbed the calm sea, or the stillness, but the wing of some wild fowl splashing the sea as it rose. Before we returned to the house we were ravished with the splendour of the sunset. The giant that had run its day's course transformed the scene. He touched everything, till sea and sky vied with each other in glorious effects. The snowy peaks to eastward blushed.
"But, after all, the Sun of Righteousness has produced a far more beautiful transformation in the character of the Indian, and this change is not fleeting. The church bell rings, and, from both wings of the village, well-dressed men, their wives and children, pour out from the cottages, and the two currents meet at the steps of the noble sanctuary their own hands have made, to the honour of God our Saviour. On Saturday I had made a sketch of the village. Mr. Duncan remarked, as the people streamed along, 'Put that stream into your picture.' 'That would never do,' I said, 'nobody would believe it.' Inwardly I exclaimed, 'What hath God wrought!' It would be wrong to suppose that the love of God alone impelled them all. All, without reasonable cause to the contrary, are expected to attend the public services. A couple of policemen, as a matter of routine, are in uniform, and this is an indication that loitering during service hours is against proper civil order. This wholesome restraint is possible during these early stages of the corporate life of the community. At present one strong will is supreme. To resist it, every Indian feels would be as impossible as to stop the tides. This righteous autocracy is as much feared by the ungodly around as it is respected and admired by the faithful. Thus are law and Gospel combined with good results."
Before leaving England, Dr. Ridley had earnestly appealed for funds to provide him with a small steamer—an absolute necessity if his episcopal duties were to be performed safely and regularly. Without it the long voyages up and down the coast, and among the islands, would have to be made in native canoes. The perilous nature of such travelling had been sadly illustrated only two years before, by the loss of a boat which was conveying an excellent Hudson's Bay officer from Queen Charlotte's Islands to the mainland. He and his crew of Tsimshean Christians were all drowned except one Indian, who was in the water four days and nights, lashed to a piece of the canoe, and was drifted on to the Alaska coast. This Indian related how, when they were all clinging to the capsized boat, Mr. Williams, the officer, seeing death imminent, called on them to pray, and as their strength failed they sank praying and singing hymns. The Bishop himself, in one of his first voyages, within a fortnight of his arrival, was overtaken by a gale in a canoe which two men could lift, and in which ten were huddled together, and "as nearly lost as a saved man could be." "How I longed for my steamer!" he wrote; "unless I get one, a new Bishop will soon be wanted, for the risk in these frail crafts is tremendous, and a short career the probable consequence."
The money required, we are glad to say, has been raised, and, the steamer will (D.V.) soon be speeding up and down the coast on its errands of love—preserved and prospered, we doubt not, by His goodness who rules the winds and the waves.
* * * * *
It only remains to add the latest news from Metlakahtla, as communicated in the annual letters of Mr. Duncan and Mr. Collison for 1879. Mr. Duncan writes, on March 8th. 1880:—
"In regard to secular matters, the year past has been one of marked progress—the greatest year for building the Indians have ever known. We have now eighty-eight new houses up, or in course of erection; and when all the houses are erected, roads completed, and gardens, drains, and fences finished, we shall have certainly a very attractive home. But there remains a good deal to do yet. Our American neighbours are being aroused to their duty for the poor Indians of Alaska,— encouraged, they tell us, by what has been accomplished at Metlakahtla. During the past year I have had several letters from, and interviews with, American gentlemen (among whom were three generals of the army in active service), who were anxious to learn from me my plans and modes of dealing with the Indians. I am afraid they are attributing our success too much to secular matters, and too little to the preaching of the Gospel. I have strongly warned them not to commence at the wrong end.
"I have already opened up and discussed with the Indians the desirability of their endeavouring to take into their own hands all the secular work I have begun. If my hopes are realised, it will be a grand termination of all my secular work. The Indians are delighted with the idea, and will struggle hard to reach the goal.