Toward the very end of this section is a description of the terrible hurricane which hit Port-au-Prince in 1816
This concern having been duly laid before the Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings of which he was a member, he received their certificates of unity, and embarked on the 25th of Sixth month, 1816, for Les Cayes, Hayti.
The time of S.G.'s visit to Hayti was an interesting period in its history. In the fearful struggles which broke the chain of slavery, and ultimately secured the political independence of the island, Toussaint L'Ouverture, that noble-hearted
negro-patriot, had been wickedly betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and carried away, with his family, to France, where, under the cruel despotism of Napoleon, he had been suffered to "pine away and die in the dark, damp, cold prison" of the Fort of Joux.* The French, nevertheless, totally driven away from St. Domingo, had left the government wholly in the hands of the freed sons of Africa. Dessalines, himself once a slave, having assumed and greatly abused the supreme power, under the title of Emperor, had been dethroned and slain. Christophe, the negro chief, having accepted the reins of government, had been opposed by Petion, the mulatto general, and years of conflict between the two competitors had ended in the former establishing his power in the north under the title of King Henri I., and the latter retaining a firm position as President of the new Republic in the south. The horrors of war had been succeeded by the blessings of peace. Christophe was pursuing a course of gradual improvement in his northern dominions; while Petion, relieved from the cares of military operations, successfully applied all his powers to the amelioration of the condition of those whom he governed. Accessible and courteous to all, and laboring indefatigably to secure the due cultivation of the land, to administer justice, to promote order, and to lay the foundation for the intellectual and moral
* Beard's Life of Toussaint L'Ouverture.
improvement of the inhabitants, he had gained the general good-will, and was beloved by his fellow-citizens, when Stephen Grellet and his companion landed on the southern shore of the island of Hayti.
We insert some brief extracts from his journal of this Gospel mission. At Acquin he says
"I felt it my religious concern to have the inhabitants called together. A meeting was appointed at four, P.M. The notice spread so quickly in the country, that, with the people in the town, a large number collected. The meeting was held out of doors. Through Divine aid, the Gospel was largely declared unto them. Though some of them have pious minds, yet the greater part were very ignorant of the things pertaining to truth and godliness. At first they appeared not to like to have their sins set before them, and what must follow if they die in then; but after awhile, the power of truth came so forcibly over them, that they trembled under it, and many tears were shed by them. I was forcibly reminded of what our ancient Friends sometimes said of their meetings, `there was a general convincement among them.' O that conversion may follow!
"At Gonaives the people came down the mountains from a considerable distance to attend the meeting, which was held out of doors to accommodate them. They stood very quiet and attentive, and some of them appeared much affected under the testimony that the Lord gave me to deliver. Here as has been the case in some other places, many of them have said, `O if you could come among us once a year only, or let one of your friends come, we should not want to
hear any one else, and should have done entirely with the priests.' After I left the place I heard that the priest was so chagrined at seeing the people flock in such numbers to the meeting, that he got into a fit of passion that brought a heavy fever upon him; yet, poor man, he leads a very immoral life.
"I frequently marvel in beholding how among these descendants of Africa, who have had so few advantages compared to many of the Europeans, the Gospel stream does flow; and the word preached appears to have an entrance; they receive it in the simplicity of their hearts, and in the love of it. I may also bear testimony to their general good conduct and honesty. One may travel among them with the greatest security. I have heard that very frequently large sums of money are sent over these mountains from one seaport to another, and no attempt at robbery has been known. Very lately a man had six horses loaded with sacks of dollars, and one of the sacks had become so worn, that when the driver discovered it, it was nearly empty. On his going back he found the dollars scattered on the road for some miles, and the people collecting them. They immediately gave him what they had picked up, and assisted in finding more. When the driver sat down to, count, he found that only about ten were missing; and then these men went further on in search, and at length brought him back every single dollar! We might in vain look for so much honesty among many of our white people."
At Port-au-Prince S. G. was seized with a severe attack of illness. On his partial recovery, about a fortnight after, he makes the following record in reference to it:
"The disease made such rapid progress that, in a few days, I was reduced to the greatest weakness; neither the physician nor those about me thought my recovery possible; my limbs were already cold. I was very sensible of my situation, and that my life did now hang on a very slender thread, and that it was proper I should stand prepared for the moment of my departure, should the Lord order it to be so near at hand as it appeared to be. Accordingly I gave directions for my funeral, and circumstances attending my demise. My mind, through my dear Redeemer's love and mercy, was preserved in much calmness, and, in peaceful acquiescence with his Sovereign will, prostrated before him. I marvelled if, in his Divine mercy and compassion, he would now indeed cut short my work in righteousness, and release me from the great weight of service which I have repeatedly felt for many of the European nations particularly. At the time when I was the lowest, my concern in Gospel love for these nations came upon me with force,and the language was proclaimed in my ear, ' Thou shalt indeed visit those nations; the days of thy earthly race are not yet accomplished.' My soul bowed reverently before the Lord, and I said, 'Do with me, O Lord! according to thy Divine will.'
"The night of the 18th was a terrible one on this part of the island; there was a great hurricane with an earthquake; the total destruction of the place was threatened; many houses were blown away to splinters; those more substantially built were thrown down, and the roofs carried away with their contents. Few in Port-au-Prince escaped being more or less injured; that of Archibald Kane, in which I am, is among
those that suffered the least ; yet nearly all the roof covered with slates has been carried away. As it rained heavily, I was greatly exposed. I had at the time a high fever, and the rain fell upon me in torrents; my beloved companion, John Hancock, a most kind and faithful attendant on me by night and by day, removed me, (for I was too feeble to help myself,) to a corner of the house that remained a little sheltered from the weather; but considerations about myself were absorbed in feelings for the mass of the inhabitants, whose distress was great. All the vessels in the port were sunk, thrown on their beamends, or cast high up on the shore. The water ran through the streets in torrents, and brought down from the mountains, houses, horses, cattle, &c; men and women, children in their cradles, were rescued a short distance only before they reached the sea. The devastation by the hurricane has extended to a considerable distance. Leogane is nearly destroyed; very few houses are left at Jacmel, and the shipping is gone; but the destruction throughout the country is not less than in the towns, and many lives have been lost. When Petion was told of the overthrow of a great part of his buildings, his first inquiry was, `Is the library safe? Being told it was, he said, `Blessed be the Lord for this merciful preservation!' He had lately placed in it a considerable number of valuable books, that he wished should supersede the many deistical and immoral ones they had before."
A week later, S. G. continues
"4th of Tenth month. My strength returns slowly. I am now able to sit up a part of the day, though the fever is yet high, and perspiration is very profuse:
I have, nevertheless, concluded to leave this island for New York, and have taken my passage accordingly. I am of the mind that the sea air is the most likely means to restore me from the feeble state in which I am. I have sought the Lord's counsel in this movement, not wishing to do anything rashly, and I believe that in this I have his gracious approbation, not to say guidance. I had a precious and solemn religious parting opportunity with a select company of pious persons, chiefly females, who, during my illness, have paid me every kind attention. Many a time I have been refreshed in my spirit when they have been sitting silently by my bedside. Sometimes, when lying with my face towards the other side of the bed, on my turning about I discovered half-a-dozen or more of them, who had come very softly into the chamber, sitting down silently, their eyes bedewed with tears. Near relations could not have been more attentive in ministering to me in my sickness, than many of these dear people were. May the Lord further the work of his Divine Grace that he has begun in them !
"I am entirely released from the apprehension I had that I might be required to go to the other side of the island; my beloved Master does not require what my feeble state of body could not accomplish at present. This afternoon I have taken a solemn leave of the people here, the President among others. They accompanied me on board the ship La Franchise, Captain Nuisan. She is a fine vessel, and belongs to the President. There are fourteen passengers on board, besides my companion and myself."
He arrived in New York on the 26th of Tenth month, 1816.
|EARLY HAITI||MAIN HAITI PAGE|
|Art, Music, & Dance||Book Reviews||Film||History||Library||Literature|
|Mailing List||Miscellaneous Topics||Notes on Books||People to People||Voodoo|
HOMEBob Corbett firstname.lastname@example.org