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the eastern boundary, all beyond that point to the southern extremity remains undefined, and the line of separation between the emancipated British territory and the enslaved soil of Dutch Guiana, may hereafter become a matter of international dispute.
The same may be said of its western boundary from the mouth of the Oronoco. The most natural territorial division here would be to follow the bank of the Oronoco itself, to the point at which the rivers Carony and Paragua flow into it, and thence following them to their source in the mountains. But if this be not conceded, and we extend our boundary from Point Bareema southward to the source of the river Cano Coyuni, still all beyond it would remain undetermined until we reach to Portuguese Guiana, which forms our southern boundary, extending inland, as is supposed, to the mountain range called the Cordilleras. But even this is involved in much uncertainty.
In a recent visit made to that quarter by the enterprizing church missionary, Mr. Yond, an important fact was discovered, which he communicated to Government, that the Indians who in those parts claim British protection, are being enslaved by the Portuguese in that vicinity. This will at once point out the great importance and necessity of those boundaries being properly defined by authority; and will, I trust, lead to that desirable result.
The whole of this territory, formerly belonging to the Dutch, has been in possession of the English since 1803, but was not finally ceded to Great Britain till the year 1814. Each of the colonies had its separate military commander, with its courts of criminal and civil justice until 1812, when Demerara and Essequibo, were united, and the judicial establishment of Essequibo discontinued. Stabroek, at that time the capital of Demerara, was, upon this occasion, classed with the several contiguous hamlets, under the general term Georgetown, in honour of George the Fourth, at that time Prince Regent. Berbice still retained its separate Government, until the year 1831, when the three colonies of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, being united under one governor, were designated British Guiana, and Georgetown, being the seat of Government, became the capital of the whole province.
Each of these three colonies now forms a district of Guiana, and derives its name from the principal river in its locality.*
Those rivers are of gigantic appearance, especially near the mouth: that of Berbice is reckoned about three miles wide, in the midst of which lies a small island, dividing it into two navi.
* The geographical division of each district is not carried into the interior beyond the sources of the different creeks by which their extent along the seacoast is defined. Thus from the mouth of the river Courantyn (the east boundary) along the coast, crossing the river Berbice, till you come to the mouth of the Albany creek, forms the district of Berbice; from thence, crossing the creeks and river Demerary, until you come to Boerasirie creek, is the district of Demerara ; and from thence crossing the Essequibo river, and every river and creek in your way till you come to Bareema Point, at the mouth of the Oronoco. is the district of Essequibo, but as the waters which form these divisions run but short distances inland, the boundaries of the whole interior of Guiana are undefined-a defect which ought not to be left to future generations to supply.
gable channels. The town of New Amsterdam is on its eastern bank, about four miles from the sea. The mouth of the Demerara river lies about sixty or sixty-five miles farther west, which also is about three miles in width, narrowing as you ascend, but said to be navigable by ships of burden, for about one hundred miles inland. At a distance of sixteen or eighteen miles from the sea there are four small islands. Georgetown is situated close at the river's mouth, commencing near Fort William Frederick, and extending, on the east bank, to about two miles upward.
The great river Essequibo, about ten or eleven miles further west, is reckoned to be from fifteen to twenty miles wide at its mouth, studded with numerous beautiful islands, the most easterly of which is called Leguan, nearly parallel with which, westward, is the island Wakenaam, both cultivated by numerous inhabitants, who occupy not fewer than forty-two sugar estates. Still farther west and south are a considerable number of islands and islets, though few are inhabited save Tiger Island and Hog Island, on both which are two or three sugar estates. Fort Island, once the capital and seat of government, is situated fifteen or twenty miles from the river's month. This estuary extends nearly fifty miles southward to the junction of the large river Cayuny with the Upper Essequibo; the former, about five miles from this confluence, receives the waters of another mighty river, called the Massawerry, stated to have its flowing streams divided into many different channels by an innumerable succession of islands for nearly a hundred miles from its junction with the Cayuny, which latter also continues its course thence, nearly in a south-westerly direction, towards the Oronoco.
The resources of this vast continental territory are as yet scarcely known. The information which the enterprising traveller, Mr. Schomberg, who has recently returned from an exploritory journey into the interior along the shores of these principal rivers of Guiana, may have to impart, will doubtless be regarded with peculiar interest. Hitherto, cultivation has scarcely been attempted, except along the sea coast, at an inconsiderable depth from the shore, and extending a few miles up the banks of the rivers. But in every direction, where labour has been bestowed, whether in the cultivation of cotton, or coffee, or sugar, the rich alluvial soil has afforded a noble return. It is impossible, however, to recur to the past without the most painful reflections on the blood-stained guilt and awful responsibilities incurred by the European settlers in their greedy pursuit after wealth.
Here more than a hundred thousand of the African race were enduring, under the curse of slavery, sufferings unmitigated even by the sound of gospel liberty; while, over these, and unnumbered thousands of Indian Aborigines, wandering amidst their almost boundless forests, the prince of darkness held undisturbed controul, until that Light was introduced which has since chased the gloom away; and that Word was proclaimed which has since bid the oppressed go free.
It is a remarkable fact, that the gospel of salvation was first introduced to the enslaved population of British Guiana, at the solicitations and by the liberal help of a Demerara planter. Mr. Post, a na
tive of Holland, had been privileged with early religious advantages. Having settled in Guiana when it was under the Dutch government, and acquired, by personal industry, large possessions in land and human beings, his conscience sought repose from its guilt by endeavouring to mitigate the ills of slavery, and by introducing religious instruction among his own people. For this end, application was made to the Directors of the London Missionary Society, who, in December, 1807, sent forth that honoured and devoted servant of Christ, the late venerable John Wray.
Early in 1808 he began his missionary labours on that gentleman's property called Plantation Le Resouvenir, situated on the east coast, distant about eight miles from the capital. To that estate were attached about 500 negro slaves, by whose devont attention, manifest improvement, and ardent thirst for knowledge, Mr. Wray was greatly encouraged to perseverance and success. Encountering many difficulties from planters and those in power, he continued his labours there (except during a short visit to England in 1811) until his removal to Berbice in 1814, at the earnest request of the Crown commissioners. At Le Resouvenir he was succeeded, in 1817, by that noble-minded missionary John Smith, whose earthly career was terminated in Georgetown jail, on the 12th of February, 1824, while under an unjust military sentence of death as a “ mover of sedition and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."*
The report of Mr. Wray's favourable reception and encouraging prospects induced the Directors to send forth another labourer into that promising field. The late Rev. John Davies arrived at Demerara on Lord's-day, the 9th of January, 1809. Georgetown, being every where surrounded by estates, was deemed an eligible and central situation for missionary labour; he fixed on that locality, much cheered with anticipations of extensive usefulness. At that
* The remains of this martyred missionary lie interred in the Werken Rust burial-ground at Georgetown, without a stone to point out the spot where. His wife having been prohibited from following him to his grave, he was buried during the night, unattended by any who lamented his death, except the christian negro Philip, a member of his church, who was employed to carry a lanthorn to the ground. The spot was pointed out to me by Philip, a short time before his death-nor am I certain that any individual now in Demerara is aware of its precise situation. The time, however, has surely arrived, when the friends and brethren of the martyred advocate of the negrues should wipe away the reproach which the sentence of death attaches to his memory; for though it was transmuted into banishment, yet he died as a felon, and had a felon's grave. So that even now, in the chronicled events of the colony, he stands recorded as a malefactor righteously condemned, and thus the oppressive authority is justified which ordered the workmen to desist who had begun to erect a tomb to his memory, and which might still justify any future prohibition of such an attempt.
Since the melancholy period of his death, no missionary has been allowed, till recently, to open his mouth on that estate. When the united colonies of Demerara and Essequibo were divided into parishes, his chapel, for convenience sake, was appropriated as one of the parish churches, but was afterwards allowed to fall into decay, until, upon application made to one of the sequestrators of the estate (George Rainey, Esq.) after the abolition of slavery in 1834, it was restored to the Society in its dilapidated condition, and removed to the neighbouring plantation, Montrose, under the superintendance of its present missionary, Mr. Watt. period, however, Georgetown, as at present existing, was unknown. Stabroek, at present a ward of Georgetown, was the chief place, consisting of a long-trenched dam, or Dutch street, extending from the river's brink to a distance of perhaps a mile and a half eastward; on either side of which were rows of dwelling-houses, and amongst them the governor's residence, with some of the government offices. Parallel with Stabroek were several hamlets, as Vlessengen, subdivided into Robstown and Lacey'stown; also North and South Cumingburg and Kingston, adjoining the military fort: while on the south of Stabroek, and parallel with it, were Werken Rust (in which lies the chief burial ground,) and Charlestown, all of which are now districts or wards of and comprise Georgetown; the inhabitants of which, independently of the estates in its immediate vicinity, probably number 20,000.
For some time after the arrival of Mr. Davies in the colony, he laboured in his own hired house, near the river's brink in Werken Rust district; but the multitudes that flocked to receive instruction rendered the immediate erection of a place of worship absolutely necessary.
Writing to the Directors, Mr. Davies says, “ You will be pleased to hear that crowds of negroes, some of whom come from the distance of fifty miles to hear of the Saviour, still cry in our ears,
the place is too strait, enlarge the place of thy tent,' &c. Not fewer than 5000 negroes learn the catechisms, and attend in rotation, nor do they learn or attend in vain.”
Some persons of respectability were disposed to look favourably on these efforts, and strengthened his hands. The premises now occupied by us in Charlestown district, were considered as best suited for his permanent residence and missionary labours. Part of these premises were liberally given for those objects by a Mr. Vincent, about the year 1810 or 11, to which the remaining part of our present site was afterwards added by purchase. About the same period another individual kindly contributed a hardwood frame, of dimensions sufficiently large to make a dwelling-house of the upper part, and of the lower, by the addition of wings (which are called galleries) to fit up for a place of worship. Towards the erection of the building many of the inhabitants gave willingly of their substance, so that during the first year of its progress they had contributed upwards of £600 sterling, besides £17 from the governor, and £60 sterling, arising from the small contributions of the enslaved population.
This encouraging commencement inspired hopes, relating to the negroes, which were not disappointed. In the Society's Report of 1814, among other evidences of their hopeful condition, is mentioned " the liberal contributions they have made towards building the chapel," 296 of their number having subscribed to that object. To aid the completion of the chapel, the Directors voted a supply of materials to the value of about £200 sterling. The chapel thus begun and completed was appropriately designated Providence Chapel.
Besides these, their contributions to the Auxiliary Missionary Fund, formed about this time, ought to be noticed, the first fruits of which yielded about £80 sterling, which was exceeded by suc. ceeding years, until the calamities of 1823-24 threatened to extinguish every missionary effort. At that period, as my late venerable brother Wray assured me, never had our missions been in a state of greater prosperity. Whether turning to Bethel Chapel, on the East Coast, under the charge of Mr. Smith; or to Ebenezer Chapel, on the West Coast, under the care of Mr. Elliott; or to Providence Chapel, in Georgetown, under Mr. Davies ; or to the stations in their immediate vicinities, or more remote places, to which they were wont to extend their labours; every thing around them seemed to smile and to promise great success. Thousands were reported as attending on the means of grace, and to have received Christ as the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners. But after that event, when Smith had entered into rest, and Elliott had left the Colony, and Wray was confined to the neighbouring settlement of Berbice, and Davies was left alone, four hundred is stated to have been the greatest average of the congregation in Georgetown, and the number in church fellowship did not exceed one hundred and thirty. My esteemed predecessor was, by these circumstances, much discouraged, and was almost ready to devote the remainder of his days to the native Indians of the forests; but, after a short illness, he departed this life on the 20th April, 1826. Thus was the Colony bereft of every missionary of our Society; and so gloomy and unpropitious did circumstances appear, that the Directors themselves, had nearly determined to abandon the stations as hopeless.
Left in this destitute condition, many of the congregation joined the Methodist body, whose society in Georgetown (and at Maharatta, about twenty miles from it,) seemed to flourish as ours fell into decay. It is due to the Wesleyan Minister, Mr. Fletcher, to state, that he showed great kindness to our people in the afflictive circumstances which the death of Mr. Davies occasioned. Many of the people, especially the negroes from Plantation Belair, a few miles distant from town, continued to attend the instructions of the missionary's widow, and to wait in the hope that God would turn again and cause his face to shine. In the same expectation, those of our number who were resident on Fort Island, up the Essequibo River, waited on God secretly and in fear, it having now become a crime to meet for worship, unless a licensed minister were present to conduct it. Occasionally Mr. Wray, from Berbice, paid a visit to Georgetown, at which time the chapel became crowded to excess with people hungry for the bread of life.
Such, however, was the dread of Demarara, which the sufferings and condemnation of the devoted Smith had diffused amongst the British churches, that the Directors appealed in vain to their pastors on behalf of the destitute negro. Upwards of a year elapsed, and nothing remained but to turn to the youth training in our mission college. Mr. David Honeyman, as a senior amongst us, was selected, appointed, and on the eve of embarkation, when disappointment was again suffered, by the discovery that the state of his constitution would not permit him to leave the country. Who shall go for us? again became the enquiry, and seeing none elder could be