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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

The Nandy Mission

The Nandy Mission.

My last communication addressed to you was forwarded to the colonies last August; since which period many events of importance to us have transpired.

When the "Wesley" visited our Station to land our stores, I was confined to bed by an alarming attack of spasms in the bowels. The treatment of our esteemed but now absent Chairman, Dr. Lyth, with the Divine blessing, gave relief from pain and arrested disease; but for some weeks subsequently I was very weak.

Since this, Mrs. Waterhouse has had another attack of dysentery; but, through the goodness of the Missionaries' God, it yielded to treatment. The climate, however, is still the cause of much suffering to her.

My respected colleague, Rev. J. S. Fordham, with Mrs. Fordham, are, I am glad to say, enjoying as good health as can be anticipated by those who are not climatized. The hot season is now advancing, and they begin to feel more of its enervating influence. About two months ago their first-born son was given to them; and we are thankful that both mother and babe are doing well. It was, however, a time of prayerful anxiety, as no medical assistance or experienced person was available.

Our neighbourhood is still at war, and it is with peculiar feeling that we adopt the prayer, "Give peace in our time, O Lord."

Upon our return from the District-Meeting, we found that eight of our members had, through fear, gone to assist a Heathen Chief, in a hostile attack. Although the majority of them had done no more than aid by their presence, we deemed it our duty, however painful, to expel them from the Society; and this act of discipline will, I trust, be a saving benefit to some of their number. The zest with which these people engage in war may be gathered from a remark made to me by a Christian native who was condemning the conduct of these men. "They ought," he said, "to have endured, and not to have gone. It is true we all love fighting, and each of us would wlsh to go; but we have to endure," (the word used implies unwelcome endurance,) "as war is bad and sinful"

The majority of our people refused to engage in this war, and thereby aroused the anger of the Heathen, who were un- page 27 successful in their attack upon the enemy's town.

They sent us very threatening messages, and prepared to attack us. Our people acted nobly and consistently, following my advice as their Pastor in every respect. On two successive nights we retired to rest, with the fear that the first sound the morning's dawn would bring, would be the war-shouts of hosts of enemies. Guards were appointed to watch during the night, and in those hours of the holy Sabbath when we were assembled for Divine worship. For two nights I slept with my loaded gun by my bedside, as the number of the Heathen far exceeded that of the Christians; and in the event of the Christians being discomfited and fleeing, we should be left to the tender mercies of the Heathen, who would covet our property, and who neither regard God nor man, when their evil passions are aroused. Not that the Heathen have any personal enmity towards us; so far from that, they ever treat us with kindness when we visit them; but cupidity is one of their ruling passions; they often murder for the sake of realizing a small amount of property; and it is a generally-received truth in Feejee, "When once the club is in motion, none can tell where it will fall, or when it will stop."

A feeling of concern for my beloved partner, which must be experienced to be known, at first took possession of my mind; but whilst cheering the trembling Christians, by reminding them of the ever-gracious providence, and the un-failing promises, of God, I felt that we were

"As far from danger as from fear,
Whilst Love, Almighty Love, is near."

O how inexpressible is the consolation we experience in such circumstances, if we can realize that "the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge!"

The Heathen, however, did not venture to attack us; and soon were, to use an illustration of their own, "filled with fear." Subsequently they sent our people a peace-offering, with expressions of their good-will. There is in my mind a deep impression that this is the result of the moving of an unseen but almighty Power, in answer to prayer. My own heart found sweet solace in prayer, and I cannot but thus recognise the goodness of Him "who heareth prayer."

There remains, however, a strong party, along the coast, who cannot forgive our people for refusing to aid them in war, and whom I cannot visit, as I should thus endanger the lives of my boat's crew. Our people have been warned that in several towns "the club is hanging up with which they are to be killed." You will from this be able to judge of some of the trials to which we are exposed, and how desirable it is that we should be remembered at the mercy-seat.

We have been cheered by seeing a few instances of religious awakening, and several Heathen have bowed the knee to the one living and true God. Much patience and long-continued and oft-repeated instruction is necessary to the removal of the prejudice and darkness of the Heathen mind, before Heathenism is renounced; and that event appears generally brought about by some arrangement of Providence, after this course of enlightenment.

Since I last wrote, four women in our neighbourhood have been saved from strangling, directly by our influence, or that of our people. But, whenever I speak of this, my heart prompts me to recognise the succour and assistance of the ever-blessed God, and to give unto him the glory which is so eminently his due.

Allow me to add an extract from my journal, which will present you with an illustration of the nature of our work, and an evidence of the deep depravity of those among whom we labour. It also, to my mind, exhibits the fear existing in the Heathen mind, of the influence of Christianity, when brought to bear upon the fiend-worthy practice of strangling widows; as in this case, the coming of that influence was anticipated.

"Sept. 30th.—Across the beautiful bay, by the side of which the Mission-premises are situated, is a small Heathen village. It is not more than a mile distant; and, looking across the blue waters, the eye can distinguish the houses. Be page 28 ing so near, I have often visited and urged the Chief and people to lotu. This morning, tidings were brought that the Chief of this town was ill; that yesterday his wife was strangled by her brother In Anticipation of the Husband's Death; and that now preparations were being made for suffocating the man himself Without a moment's delay, I despatched a party of influential natives by land, whilst I proceeded with others in the boat. The lads pulled with their utmost vigour, as they did not know but that life or death might be suspended upon the promptitude of our arrival. After landing, we had to walk about a quarter of a mile, part of the way being a steep ascent, and soon reached the town. I found the man alive, and far stronger than I expected. He was sitting up and conversing with his friends, whilst the grave in which he and his wife were to be laid was being dug. The Chief who had come to suffocate him was sitting by his side. I presented him with a whale's tooth, and urged him to desist from his intention. I reminded him of that God who hears the cry of blood; told him that the man might recover; and begged him to allow me to take the sick man with me and attend to him. I said, if he remained he would die, and if I removed him, he could no more than die; and that was the point they were aiming at. The Chief at once consented, and we constructed a litter upon which to carry him to the boat. Whilst the people were doing this, I went into the house in which the corpse was lying. The woman was not above twenty-eight years of age; her face was blackened, but there was no distortion of features. She seemed as if asleep, being in perfect health when the fatal cord was tied. There was none of that peculiar stiffness or chilly clammy feel with which death is associated in a colder clime. By her side were seated her three young but now orphanless children, and at a little distance was seated the brother who had imbrued his hands with his sister's innocent blood. Yes! there he sat with a smile of complacency and heartfelt satisfaction! Exultation was written on his countenance! I spoke very faithfully to him; but his mind was so dark and ignorant, that he was at first unconcerned. But, as I presented to his attention the solemn and awful truths of God's word, his indifference abated, and his countenance changed. The women with which the house was filled listened with deep attention. They spoke with gratitude of our labours to save their fellows; and I reminded them that it was only by embracing Christianity that they could hope for deliverance from the same awful and cruel fate.

"When the litter was prepared, the sick man was brought out, and was suddenly seized with faintness, which I feared was the harbinger of death. After a while he recovered. He was very desirous of life; very anxious to accompany us. Four natives then carried him on the litter to the beach. We had to pass in front of the house in which lay his strangled wife, and also the open grave waiting for its prey. In descending the hill, the natives had a very difficult task; but they endured nobly. Unencumbered as I was, I could hardly preserve my balance. On reaching the water's brink, we lay the man down to rest a little. The boat was brought in, and we were preparing to lift him in, when he complained of faintness, stretched himself out, gave one long gasp, and died!

"His wife was thus prematurely strangled, in order that no opportunity might be given of our proceeding to her rescue. She was strangled secretly by her brother! Some of the Heathen Chiefs expressed their displeasure at her early death, which was an infraction of their customs; and they begin, I hope, to see the sinfulness and unprofitableness of strangling widows."