2.1 Reverend Watson's Letters
i. 28 February 1832
Through the tender mercy of our gracious God we have arrived at the Cape of Good Hope in the enjoyment of perfect health. Capt & Mrs C. joined us at Deal on Octr 18th/31 & the wind being fair, anchor was immediately wd & we set sail, in the midst of wickedness extreme, for I never was so surrounded with sinners of the grossest class before. The Capt intended to go direct to Plymouth where we were to take in more passengers but on the 22nd having had contrary wind for 2 or 3 days & the weather getting worse, he changed his course & ran into Cowes, Isle of Wight, where we remained till the 6th Nov. While here we had almost daily some new & extraordinary manifestations of the Lords special protection & preservation. The night on which we entered Cowes, a Brig slipp’d her anchor & ran foul of us, becoming entangled in our rigging two of our seamen were thrown overboard, but they were immediately taken up without having sustained an injury nor was any damage done to our vessel save a little to the yards & other tackling. Scarcely a day past over us on which some ship did not come in with the loss of one mast or more or stove or otherwise injured. The day after we put into the above place the Yarmouth Steamer could not come out on account of the very tempestuous weather; indeed Capt. C. & other Seamen said it was impossible for her to live in such a storm. One night the Steamer ran down a Brig (a short distance from us) which immediately sank & the crew had scarcely time to escape by the boat, which they could not prevent from being driven out to sea, & they were taken up by a Pilot boat the following day. But how cold & indifferent is the human soul to the innumerable mercies of a gracious providence, men see death & danger surrounding them, & when preserved they forget the hand that delivd them. Nor are the children of God free from this ingratitude. I think of an observation of my venerable and dr Principal Pearson on this subject. "When we are delivd from imminent danger or bless’d with peculiar favour, how ready are we to say I am thankful for such an interposition when in fact we are not truly grateful, we are only pleas’d & gratified." O that the Holy Spirit may make us to see & tell our entire unworthiness before God then shall we more duly appreciate his free grace & unmerited Kindness. On the 22nd after a very stormy night, how appropriate & graciously applicable, to our circumstances & to our hearts did we feel the language of the 107th Psalm in the morning service. On another occasion when my heart was deeply afflicted on account of the moral wretchedness I daily witnessed & experiencing very rough weather, how suitable & how seasonable did I find the language of the Redeemer to his disciples in the 12 Luke to my lips, which occur’d in my order of reading the Greek Testament. We left Cowes on the 6th Nov. but the wind failing almost immediately we cd proceed no farther than Yarmouth Roods, where we had very squally weather till the 9th when we again set sail, but meeting with contrary winds we did not reach Plymouth till the 12th. On the 16 we left that place & there bid adieu to our native country dear to our hearts for innumerable reasons, expecting perhaps never more to see its shores; & presenting a fervent prayer to the Father of all mercies still to preserve, and bless its inhabitants with the light of his countenance & the joys of his salvation. On the 17th in the night we had a severe gale of wind, which brought some on their knees to supplicate the mercy of that God whose name they had prophaned & whose service they had despisd in brighter scenes. Happy wd it have been for them in aftertimes, if they had remembered
their prayers & vows & laboured to obtain a personal & experimental interest in the covenenant of mercy; but alas! Ephraim like, their goodness & repentance were like the morning cloud & early dew; for the storm & their prayers & anxious fears departed together. O that men were wise, that they wd consider their latter end. During the gale of the 17th Mrs Hough a passenger was delivd of a fine boy which I have since Baptiz’d by the name of Wm Wallace (after the ship). We had very slack winds with occasional rough weather till we got into the Trades when we frequently sail’d 210 miles in 24 hours. We cross’d the line on the 2d Jany in the Even. & on the following day we were visited by Neptune & his associates; when the usual circumstances of shaving &c were gone thru & I am happy to say there was neither any drunkenness or swearing or ill will resulting from or connected with the whole proceedings. We of course, as all the Cabin passengers redeem’d ourselves, & therefore had only to witness the scene. While here I was led to remember an anecdote which I have some where heard or read of a pious gentleman crossing the line & reflecting within himself to the following effect “I am now in the centre of the globle on one hand as far as I can conceive is the East, & on the other hand as far as I can conceive is the West, & David says as far as the East is from the West, so far hath God removed our transgressions from us.” & indeed it seems natural that a pious mind shd be led to reflections of this nature, the East & the West can never meet, & therefore as God has made to meet on Jesus Christ the iniquity of his people, they are those whom the same Psalmist describes when he says Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven; whose transgressions are cord Blessed are they to whom the Lord imputeth not sin. The weather was not so hot as we had anticipated in the Tropics nor did we experience any calms here which is generally the case; but after we got out of the Trades we had frequently baffling or contrary winds with some rough weather. We were very much toss’d about for 3 or 4 days before we came in sight of the Cape; but on Monday morning the 13th inst. (Feby) Table Mountain was discovd the weather clear’d up became exceedingly fine & at 5 in the evening we came to anchor in Table Bay under circumstances which deeply affected our minds. The goodness of our heavenly Father in having preserv’d us during the dangers of so great a part of the voyage & having brought us in health & peace & safety to this place, was a circumstance on which we cd not but reflect with sensations of gratitude & aspirations of praise. The rough & dull weather which we had experienced during Friday Saturday & Sunday, made the delightful tranquility of Monday connected with the beautiful scenery of Cape Town lying at the feet of such majestic mountains, & the passing of a ship in full sail just leaving Port for England highly pleasing & deeply affecting. But that which gave us the greatest joy was the calmness, the tranquility & peacefulness on board our ship. When anchor was wd at Deal it was under circumstances the most appalling to a Xtn ’s mind; oaths curses & profanation of the sacred name of the Deity almost petrified our souls but now, during the whole business of furling the sails letting down the anchor &c
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only one improper expression was heard; though there were circumstances then & there occurring which one of the officers the most respectable on the ship has since told me were enough to make a saint swear. What has God wrought in this respect! Surely you will not be surpris’d when I say Mrs Watson was deeply affected even to tears, while witnessing the scene before her & reflecting these circumstances. Mrs W. suffered for 5 or 6 weeks severely from sea sickness. I am happy to say thro’ the Divine goodness I have not experienced the least inconvenience or indisposition though I have sat very close in my cabin which (I assure you with the warmest thanks for the change) is so convenient commodious & comfortable. We have nearly 80 souls on board & as far as Evidences go, taking Scripture for our guide only one pious person (a female) on board - except ourselves. In the cuddy we have 3 Rom. Catholics (of which Mrs C the Captains wife is one) & 2 children who are being educated in the errors of that idolatrous church; the Doctor who calls himself a Puritan who is a devoted enemy to the Church of England, & who cannot find a society of christians on earth whose principles are not erroneous & whose church government is not contrary to scripture. He hints that Divine revelations have been made to him & that however strange his notions may appear the time will soon come when they will be universal. We have as Cabin passengers, a Mr and Mrs Boughton who are returning (from a visit to their friends) to their estate (of 2000 acres) nr Lake Mac Quarrie. They are intimately acquainted with Mr Threlkeld, & have had frequent & almost constant intercourse with many of the natives. They say the natives cannot understand the words Threlkeld has published when they are read to them; & also that the various tribes speak different dialects. Mr B advised me not to attempt any thing at the language before I arrived in the colony; however I though it better to know it & not be able to turn it to account than stand in need of it & not have it, therefore I have nearly made myself master of it. We have also on board nr 40 pensioners with families who for swearing, drunkenness, fighting & dissatisfaction (especially during the first month we were on board) are the most profligate I ever knew. I hold Divine Service at 1/2 past [hole in page] on Sunday morning & at 4 in the afternoons, & generally on Wednesday & Friday evenings, besides which appointed seasons of public worship I have frequent conversations with the Pensioners on the subject of religion, and I thank God for his condescending grace that notwithstanding all the opposition that has been manifested (on board) to spiritual religion, I have not altogether labd in vain. There are some in whom the incorruptible seed of Divine truth sees to have taken root. O may they be brought to bear fruit unto life eternal. Of 4 ships (having pensioners) that have arrived here from England all have disgraced themselves on shore by drunkenness &c except our own, which affords me another ground to hope that the means of grace have been bless’d by the God of grace to the benefit of some who have attended on them. There has been a great deal of unpleasantness on board all these ships (not excepting our own.) The Science (one of them) had no less that 5 mutinies on board between England & the cape though there were on board 2 of the Society of Friends who had chosen that vessel in hopes of being useful to the pensioners. I have distributed Bibles & Prayer Books among the Seamen & Pensioners, but had not a sufficient number to supply all of them with a copy, & at the Cape, the Depot of the Society for promotin [sic] Xn Knowledge was nearly without any copies suitable, however the Revd Dr Burrows the Secty was kind enough to oblige me with the small number they possessed. You will be sure that I find work enough here, & a constant need for the exercise of Missy zeal, affection, patience & perseverance, & I cannot but think my appointment to this ship under all existing circumstances is design’d by the great Head of the Church to prepare us in some measure for the state of privation & separation from Xtn communion which if spared will be our future experience. I must acknowledge that it wd be most delightful to have a few fellow labourers or Xtn friends on board with whom we could hold converse in the things of God & I have often been led to think of the happiness of those thus situated & sometimes to think what a pity but there was one ship or more than one employed entirely by Missy Societies for the conveying Ministers & Missionaries to their respective destinations.
But this arises from too limited & contracted a view of things. By the Missy being case in the midst of Sinner he may be the means of gathering some of them into the fold of X. I am sure that the circumstances of their being so many sinners on board [helps] to make me feel the voyage less tedious. I am sorry to say the Tracts provided for me were both small in number & very little variety. You will be sure that this circumstance wd be very deeply felt by me. It was very well I had a few of my own. They day after we arrived here we went on shore intending to return in the evening to make daily visits so long as we saw it wd be beneficial either to our health or our souls. I thought it my duty as a Xtn Missionary to call & pay my respects to the Revd Dr Philip who kindly & pressingly invited us to make his house our home so long as the ship should remain. We thankfully accepted his invitation & I bless God that we did for his house was to us an earthly Paradise. His prayers, his judicious, & truly missionary conversation was made of very great advantage to us, it is impossible for me to con in words the sensible benefit I have derived from his sober & well digested remarks. Had we been his own children he & his excellent partner Mrs P. could not have taken a more lively interest in our welfare or paid us the more attention & regarded such true Xtn Philanthropy could not but make a deep impression on our hearts & we felt & do feel & I trust ever shall feel our hearts closely interwoven with theirs. This was one of the happiest & I hope most useful seasons I ever experienced or enjoy’d. Mrs Philip very kindly supplied me with more than two hundred Tracts & small books of an interesting nature for the use of the Pensioners &c. I waited on the Revd Mr Hough Colonial Chaplain, Rev Dr Wakes (from who I recd a letter of Introduction to a person of high respectability in Sydney) Revd Dr Burrows & was very kindly & affectionately recd by them all as well as by Revd Dr Adamson of the Scotch Church,  Revd Mr Beck of Dutch Mission Church  etc - The day on which we went on shore was the anniversary of the Infant School & the meeting was then assembled under the Presidency of his Excellency the Governor. The scene which here presented itself to our notice was interesting. A congregation of persons chiefly English & most of them ladies assembled to behold nearly 150 Black infants go through the various departments of Spelling reading singing praying &c which they perform’d in an excellent manner. The pleasure we experienced can be better conceiv’d than described.
During our Stay in Cape Town we visited the Infant Schools & the School of Industry & was much pleased with their order & with the piety of their respective Teachers. On Sunday evening I assisted in the formation of a visiting society on the plan of Islington district visiting society & I was much gratified with the addresses delivered on that occasion. I was sorry to learn the most awful intelligence of the death of Bishop Turner, a person having a letter from His Lordship written a few days previous to his death in which he says he is quite exhausted & broken down without having any disease or complaint on him. I was also sorry to hear of the sudden death of Brother Ridsdale. In the removal of these excellent men from the Vineyard in the midst of us by illness I hear a voice saying work which it is day for the night cometh when no man can work. What ever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all they might &c. O may the Lord of the Vineyard supply the places of these his servants with such as shall promote his glory & bring home multitudes of those who have wandered from God.
Dr Philip desires me to present his Xn regards To Revd Mr Woodroofe & to Revd Mr Wilson of Walthamstow  as we also desire.
Our visit to the Cape has been a very seasonable & refreshing one we have enjoyed the anniversary of Saints on earth & prov’d it profitable - On the Sabbath we had a very high day the Lord made us to feast on the fastness of his house & gave us to drink of the river of his pleasure & I hoped we shall return to our ship under mingled sensations of pain & pleasure having by our visit awaken’d the interest of many sincere Xns in our Mission & [illegible] in which we all labour & I have no doubt their prayers will be presented in our behalf Desiring to present our humble Xn regards to those dr brethren & Fathers who took so active a part when we recd our charge as well as to my Dr Venerable Principal, & earnestly praying that the God of all grace may bless, guide, & prosper the Society its Committee & every individual labourer in every department,
the Society’s Servt
& Yours faithfully in Xn bond
loss of main & mizzenmasts. But thank God we have experienced no severer weather than we calculated on when we commenced our voyage. The Lord has been very gracious to us & continues to be very gracious filling our souls with joy & gladness thro’ the redemption that there is in J. I dare not wait till we are ready to said lest I should miss an opportunity of sending this as I missed one at Plymouth.
Feby 28th/32 Onboard Sir William Wallace Table Bay Cape of Good Hope
Table Bay, Feb. 28/32
P. S. We have been here a fortnight & during the last week it has blown almost a constant gale, we have 2 anchors out & a considerable length of cable & it is sometimes apprehended we shall be driven from them both. A ship was driven from her anchor on Saturday & another came in …
[Addressed to] Mr D. Coates Esqr, Church Missy House, Salisbury House, Fleet Street, London, England
[Stamped] G 5 My 5 1832
[Stamped in red] INDIA LETTER PORTSMOUTH
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