The New Zealand Evangelist
In this settlement we are happy to record the quiet and steady growth of all things which tend to make the prosperity of a Colony permanent. There is but little excitement, little to vary the proceedings of the settlers; but all appear to be happy, contented, and well-doing.
The Total Abstinence cause progresses. Most of its members and advocates are connected with Christian Churches, and are active in the propagation of true religion, as well as abstinence from all intoxicating drinks. There are some of this society who have been reclaimed from the lowest degrees of drunkenness, and their conduct gives evidence not only of an outward reformation from that degrading sin, but of that inward, vital change without which we “cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” A pleasing circumstance in connection with the society deserves record. Conscious that, without the blessing of God, all their efforts to reclaim the drunkard will be fruitless, the Committee have established a Monthly Prayer Meeting, and they have many indications of God's approval of their motives anendeavours.
In the Education of their youth, the settlers of Nelson rank deservedly high. There are not only good and efficient Day and Sabbath Schools in connexion with the Episcopalian and Wesleyan congregations, but a number of excellent private Schools, formed on the broad basis of the British and Foreign School Society, in the town, and in most of the country villages of the-settlement. They owe their existence page 355 and efficiency mainly to the exemplary diligence and self-denial of Mr. Campbell, whose name is worthy of all honour. No one but himself knows the sacrifice of time, labour, and money, that he has made in their establishment and support.
The day after Christmas day is one of great pleasurable excitement in the District. It is the Annual gathering of all the Schools in town and country. The writer will not soon forget his happy emotions on the last occasion of the kind. About 10 a. m., he saw about a dozen bullock-drays coming in from the country, one at the heels of another, all adorned with garlands and festoons of flowers:—the drays were literally crammed with a living freight of teachers and scholars, all arrayed in their best apparel, with joyous, happy faces singing as they came; some inviting the bystanders to
“Come to that happy land,
Far, far away,
others again were lustily joining in the chorus
“Canaan, bright Canaan,”
As soon as could be managed, all the scholars were ranged in a semicircle on the green, to the number of 500 or 600, where several pieces were sung, concluding with the National Anthem. They were then marshalled in procession order, each school headed by its officers, and were marched along the principal streets of the town up to a large booth erected for the occasion, near Mr. Campbell's School, Bridge street, where they were liberally provided with refreshments, and, nothing loth, all, old and young did ample justice to the good cheer.
The coup d'œil at this period was magnificent. Various flags and banners, and festoons of flowers and shrubs were tastefully arrayed around the booth, and over head, shading the guests from the powerful rays of the bright sun, while a pleasant breeze, playing around and among them, kept the place delightfully cool. Perhaps, the principal attraction to the observer was the appropriate passage “Suffer little children to come unto me,” done in large letters; page 356 the letters formed of ripe cherries pinned upon a white ground, stretched from side to side across the booth.
The children sung several pieces delightfully — some people said like little angels—and recitations, catechisms, examinations in scripture, reading, &c., passed off with credit to all concerned.
Several New Churches have been erected during the year, of the opening of which notices have already appeared in the Evangelist. At present the Episcopalians are busily engaged in getting up a Churck for their accommodation in the town. Up to this time they have worshipped in one of the original Emigration houses, which was not very suitable for the purpose, nor was it at all ornamental to the town. May God prosper them in their undertakings.