Church Missionary Society
Mission and People
A Descriptive Letter
Rev. Charles Harrison;
Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square, E.C.
Seeley Jackson & Halliday, Essex Street, Strand, W.C.
Mission and People
A Descriptive Letter
Rev. Charles Harrison;
Church Missionary House, Salisbury Square, E.C.
Seeley Jackson & Halliday, Essex Street, Strand, W.C.
|A View of Massett Village, Haida Gwaii, 1884|
The Hydah Mission, QCI.
Queen Charlotte's Islands are the group in the North Pacific, named after George the Third's Queen, and on them dwell the finest and fiercest of the coast tribes, the Hydahs. These are a manly, tall, handsome people, and comparatively fair in their complexion; but they are a cruel and vindictive race, and were long the terror of the North Pacific coast. They even attempted to attack English ships, and in 1854 they plundered an American vessel, detaining the captain and crew in captivity until they were ransomed by the Hudson's Bay Company. No tribe, moreover, has been more fearfully demoralised by the proximity of the white man's "civilisation." Drunkenness and the grossest vices have spread disease and death among them.
In 1876, the Society's missionary, the Rev. W. H. Collison, began a Mission among them at Massett, the principal trading post on the northern coast of the northern island, Graham Island. Here Mr. and Mrs. Collison, with their two little children, landed on November 1st, 1876. Patiently and prayerfully, for the next two years and a half, did Mr. Collison labour among the Hydahs. Very quickly he gained a remarkable influence over them, and though the medicine men were, of course, bitterly hostile, the tokens of the working of the Holy Ghost were manifested sooner than even an ardent faith might have anticipated. Mr. Collison thus describes a remarkable peculiarity of the Hydah villages (see the picture on page 6):
In approaching a Hydah village from a distance one is reminded of a harbour with a number of ships at anchor, owing to the great number of poles of all sizes erected in front of every house. These are carved very well, with all kinds of figures, many of them unintelligible to visitors or strangers, but fraught with meaning to the people themselves. In fact, they have a legend in connection with almost every figure. It is in the erection of these that so much property is given away. They value them very highly, as was instanced lately on the occasion of the Governor-General's visit. He was most anxious to purchase one, but they would not consent to it at any price.
The first Hydah to come out distinctly as a Christian was a chief named Cowhoe, concerning whom an interesting incident is related. One day he brought a book to Mr. Collison, saying it had been given him years before by the captain of an English man-of-war, and asking what it was. It proved to be a Testament, with this inscription on the fly-leaf:— "From Captain Prevost, H.M.S. 'Satellite' trusting that the bread thus cast upon the waters may be found after many days." More than twenty years had passed away, and now that prayer was answered.
At Christmas (1878), when the Indians from other villages came in canoes to Massett, the usual festive custom of "dancing with painted faces, and naked slaves with their bodies blackened," was dispensed with, and in lieu of it the visitors were received by a choir of a hundred Hydahs, children and adults, chanting the anthem, "How beautiful upon the mountains." "The unanimous opinion of all was that the new and Christian welcome was far superior to the old heathen one."
Mr. Collison afterwards removed to Metlakahtla, and his place at Massett was taken by Mr. G.
Sneath, a young missionary artizan, who twice went to East Africa to join the Victoria Nyanza Mission, and twice was ordered home by the consular surgeon at Zanzibar, and who essayed missionary service in a colder climate. But he has since died, and in 1882 the present missionary, the Rev. C. Harrison, and his wife, were appointed to the Mission, where they have since laboured most zealously and successfully.
With this short history of the Mission, the following account of his work, by Mr. Harrison, will be read with greater interest:
Massett, September 3rd, 1884.
It is with great thankfulness to our Heavenly Father that I am enabled to send you my second annual letter of our work at Massett and the outlying villages.
On September 2nd, 1883, I had the privilege of baptising George Cowhoe, with his wife and five children, and I believe they were truly prepared and ready for the important and solemn occasion.
All the Indians assembled here at the end of November, and began their usual Christmas festivities. The Hydah soldiers were very busy drilling, and making themselves look soldier-like for their performances during the two weeks of Christmas and New Year, at which season the festivities are at their height.
They asked me to teach them all I knew about soldiers' drills, &c., and I accordingly did so, and they were greatly pleased.
The recreation and enjoyment which young and old derive from the above orders are very beneficial, and have a tendency to abolish their old heathen customs entirely from their minds. During December and January the people are full of fun and happiness, which they derive in a great measure by imitating what they have seen of English soldier, sailors, and firemen at Victoria and elsewhere. Of course, if white people were to witness their performances, they, perhaps, would be templed to ridicule the poor Indians; but we deem it advisable to encourage them, as they seem innocent pastimes, and great sources of amusement for every one in the village.
|Hydah Village, 1884|
A very bad custom among the Indians is this : Suppose I had quarrelled with one of my friends, to avoid fighting I would announce my intention to distribute or tear to shreds twenty blankets on a certain night, in the presence of all my countrymen ; and if my adversary refused to do the same, the people would esteem me a higher chief than my adversary, and would consequently taunt and provoke my enemy ; so much so, that in time he would give forty blankets away; and then the taunt would come to me, and if I did not potlach, as they call it, fifty blankets, my adversary would be counted as a powerful and mighty chief, and would, at feasts and elsewhere in public, always have his seat placed higher than mine. A little before Christmas a distribution of blankets on the same principle took place by one of two contending parties; but Mr. Mackenzie, J.P., and I persuaded the other party to desist, and see what the Indian authorities would do in such a case. Thus the distribution of blankets in return was avoided, and the wretched man who gave away his blankets would, at the present moment, like to regain them, because he sees that the man who has plenty of blankets, and very many goods, etc., is one whom we term a chief; but he who gives away all his goods, and is in a state of poverty, we call a poor man. The action of the above man who distributed his blankets simply to have revenge on his adversary, and to make him distribute more, is a return to the old Indian custom of settling disputes ; and such a case has never occurred since Mr. Collison came amongst them, until the case mentioned above.
On December 12th the people buried two chiefs, according to their old heathen ideas.
These were indeed grievous sights to witness, and sufficient to stir up the sympathy of all Christians for the Massett portion of the Hydah nation ; and I earnestly pray to God our Father that such scenes may never again be witnessed by old and young at Massett. The fault rests with some of the old people here, who take no interest in things relating to their welfare, and, when one of the old chiefs dies, they like to have their own custom of burying him carried out. This custom has a pernicious effect upon the minds of the rising generation, and, therefore, ought to be stopped. When the second chief was buried, one of his relations, the wife of the old devil-doctor, gave away all her goods, so as to make herself appear a greater chieftess in the eyes of the people, and also to verify the opinion that the deceased man was a mighty and most powerful chief. I saw plainly that it it was no good to interfere with what they had intended to do, so I let them finish what they had begun although you must know they tried every conceivable plan to keep the funerals secret; yet, when they saw me at the cemetery, and amongst them, they must have realised that all attempts were futile. I stood by Paul Stilthta, and a few others who have declared themselves to be followers of Christ, and who refused to receive the gifts when offered to them; also, when the doctor's wife made the distribution of her property, we had singing, prayers, and reading of God's Word in our house, and all who took an interest in their soul's welfare discountenanced the potlach and came to our house, and so we passed a very pleasant evening.
When all the performances relative to the deceased chiefs were ended, I began to tell them my opinion of all they had done, and sent down word that I wanted every Indian at Massett to meet me at Chief Stilthta's house, as I had something very Important to say to them. Every chief came, and likewise all their people, and the old Indian house was well filled. When all were assembled, I told them how grieved I was, three days ago, to witness their foolish actions, and that instead of trying to serve God, they were trying to become better servants under the devil, the chief of all wicked men; also that, if the English people had seen them, they would at once conclude that the Massett Hydahs had gone crazy, and consequently would refuse to help people to do right and walk in the good way, who would not help themselves. All the chiefs replied, and said they were very sorry they had been so foolish, but declared they would never do so again. They were proud, they said, that I was not afraid to say what I thought, and that my words were very strong and like fire against all those who had been so wicked. For several weeks after my meeting with them, they did nothing but discuss my strong language, or "gushoua kladska." All the old people here call us their papa and mamma; so you see we have our hands full of children, some of whom are three times older than ourselves. May God give us grace to lead them and teach them concerning Christ and His Word, that they may gain the city of eternal bliss when they depart from this sinful world! This brings me to my first Christmas and New Year's Day amongst the Hydahs, which I will now describe. Mrs. Harrison, during her singing-class time, taught the young people the following well-known Christmas hymns: "Hark ! the herald angels," "O come, all ye faithful," "Christians, awake !" "While shepherds watched their flocks by night," and the anthem, "How beautiful upon the mountains !" On Christmas Eve, at twelve, thirty of the singers came and gave us the full benefit of our tuition. We pretended we had gone to bed, and so kept the front part of the house in darkness. When, however, they had finished, we opened the door and invited them in, and gave them coffee, turnovers, and cake, which greatly surprised them. When the feast was over, I asked them to sing the hymn again, which they were delighted to do.
On Christmas Day I held service in the church, which we had tastefully decorated on the Monday preceding Christmas. Trees of evergreens were placed near the windows, and their branches were arranged so as to form arches above the windows. Then Mrs. Harrison cut out of calico the words, "Glory to God in the highest," and fixed the letters on turkey-red cotton. We placed this long text above the communion-table, so that it could be plainly seen by all who entered the church. Christmas cards we also had, and large texts of Scripture arranged between the windows (surrounded by evergreens), which were suitable for the occasion. The soldiers, sailors, and firemen attended, dressed in their best uniforms, and also looking very clean. When the men had taken their seats, the women, dressed as neatly as possible, came and took theirs also. I preached from the text, " Glory to God in the highest." I am sure friends in England would have been very pleased had they seen us all on Christmas and New Year's days. To Mrs. Harrison and myself they were days which we shall ever remember, and they seemed so calm and holy after the turmoil and trouble which we had lately passed through, and we were greatly encouraged in our work thereby.
|Hydah Chief's House, Massett, Haida Gwaii, 1884|
On New Year's Eve I held a midnight service, which was well attended, and truly it was a very solemn time. I preached from the text, " Lord, teach us to remember our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." We then sung, "A few more years shall roll," which we had taught them for the occasion. At five minutes before twelve I asked all to stand up and pray to God to forgive their sins, and also to ask Him for grace to lead a new life, and for power to grow in holiness. Every one, old and young, stood up, and to all outward appearance engaged in silent prayer. When the clock had struck twelve, I wished them all a " Happy New Year," and gave them a short prayer to repeat every day during the coming year: the words are, "Oh, God, wash my soul white, and make me good; forgive all my sins, and help me daily to walk in Thy good way; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." We then rang the bell, fired the cannon, and retired. New Year's afternoon  we gave all the children a treat in the schoolroom. Ninety sat down to tea, tarts, and cakes, and enjoyed themselves.
You will be surprised to know that the Hydahs have turned me into an Eagle, and Mrs. Harrison into a Bear. You doubtless know that every Hydah designates himself under a certain crest, and that the chief's crest is generally an Eagle or a Bear. Thus publicly at one of their great feasts they agreed that I should be an Eagle, and therefore the chief of the Eagle race, and that Mrs. Harrison should be a Bear and the chief of the Bear tribe. When an Eagle man gives a feast he does not invite members of his own crest, but those of the Bear, Frog, Raven, etc.; also the other crests act in a similar manner when they give a feast. But suppose I were an Eagle, my wife would be a Bear, or Frog, etc., and when my people make a feast I am not permitted to go, but my wife, the Bear, attends, and after the feasting is over she brings a quantity of biscuits back for me; and I do the same for her when any of the Bear people make a feast. The biscuits given away after the feasts are distributed according to the rank of the people present; a great chief getting perhaps fifty and an ordinary man perhaps ten. Also at the graves of the two deceased chiefs, they being an Eagle and a Bear respectively, the blankets and prints were distributed to members of the opposite crests. Since my meeting with them, they have never allowed a feast to take place if I were not present. We generally sing the well-known graces before and after meals: " Be present at our table, Lord," " We thank Thee, Lord," etc. When the feasting is over I give them a short address.
I have held the following meetings during the year: Sunday morning, church from half-past ten to twelve. Sunday afternoon, church from three to half-past four. Sunday evening, church from half-past six to eight. Every alternate Sunday evening, after the church service, we have a short prayer-meeting, when we sing one hymn; then I read a Psalm, give a short address, and ask two persons to engage in prayer ; then we sing another hymn, and I ask two more to pray ; then comes another hymn, and two more engage in prayer, and I close with the Benediction.
Monday evenings during November and December, 1883, and January, 1884, were set apart for private interviews with those whom I selected for baptism out of the many who desired it. I told them what baptism really is, and what is required of all who are baptized. The result of my baptismal class is, that on March 30th and April 27th I baptized fifteen persons, young and old, including two chiefs.
Tuesday nights I have held an " Old Tilikums Church," i.e., a service for only the very old people; and many of the oldest natives put in an appearance, with rings in their ears, rings in their noses, small pieces of silver stuck in their chins, bracelets on their wrists, and beads on their ankles.
May God bring those hard-hearted and long-continued sinners to His footstool in deep penitence ! Also, I have instructed Paul Stilthta, and Paul's wife, concerning confirmation, and hope they will be the first of the Hydah nation to receive that rite.
Wednesday nights, during the months of November, December, and January, I held what I called "testimony meetings." We sang a hymn, then I delivered a short address ; afterwards I called upon one to pray. After prayers I called upon those who said they believed in God to stand up and tell their brethren what God had done for their souls, and the reason of their avowing themselves on the Lord's side. Very many stood up and declared they would try with God's help to live good lives, and also to attend church regularly. There are thirty- two who I think are in real earnest after their soul's eternal welfare, and accordingly I have formed them into a catechumens' class. I have given each member a ticket, stating him to be a member of St. John's catechumens' class. We gave the name of St. John to our church at Christmas, 1883, and the people are very pleased.
From October to the end of May I have preached every Thursday night in the church, and have had large and attentive audiences. The one great drawback amongst the Hydahs is this. They say : "We are not very wicked, and our lives are better than So-and-so's "; and thus it is very difficult to make them fully understand the necessity of a change of heart and a baptism of the Holy Spirit, before they can really call themselves the children of God.
On Friday evenings, from October lO May, Mrs. Harrison has had her singing-class. Besides teaching the young people the Christmas hymns referred to, she has taught them "When our hearts are bowed with woe," For Good Friday; and "Jesus Christ is risen to-day," for Easter Sunday; also the Te Deum in Hydah, and many of Moody and Sankey's hymns.
Saturday I have to myself, and prepare my Sunday addresses. We have had daily school in the mornings from 10 to 12, and in the afternoons from 2 to 4. Progress all round very satisfactory.
The Indians have been almost daily for medicine, and thus we have been kept very busy during the winter season. I must not forget to mention that Mrs. Harrison takes the school in the afternoons, and I in the mornings. Mrs. Harrison has a good class of mothers, whom she instructs in the Bible, &c., and all who possibly can attend her meetings.
The first week in February I left Mrs. Harrison in charge of the Mission, and went forty miles south to visit the Hydahs, who had gone to make their canoes. I visited six camps, and preached morning and evening at each place, and administered medicine to the sick. They were all pleased to see me, and all attended the hut in which I held my services. It was very cold at the time, and the only houses the Indians had were made of the bark of cedar—bark walls, bark roof, and sack doors, under which you had almost to crawl before you could get inside, where a very large fire was blazing. Some of them live in this style of house for three or four months every winter season, when they are making their canoes. It was very interesting to see them sound the big cedar trees, cut them down, hollow them out, and make them into canoe shape. When this is done, they bring them to their proper homes at Massett, work at them for another month, chipping, and making them exact to shape ; then to finish, they put the canoe on a large fire, with water inside, and by this process they stretch them to their utmost, and then they gum up all the cracks, and the canoe is ready for sale. I doubt not, but if the Hydahs knew the route to England, it would not be very long before you would see some of them there, as they are the best Indians on the coast to manage canoes. They think very little of going to Victoria, or New Westminster, which is a distance of 600 miles.
In the early part of the year I had a severe attack of inflammation of the lungs, pleurisy, and bronchitis, as the result of a severe cold I got when visiting the Indians at their canoe-camps. I am thankful to say that I feel strong again. Last February I was ill, and so we determined to close the Sunday-school, and have only the three preaching services on Sunday. This being the case, every Tuesday afternoon during March and April we have held service for the children in the schoolroom. The Hydahs are very desirous of singing, and so the young people have a singing-class every Wednesday afternoon.
On Ash Wednesday I held service in the church at ten a.m., and a great number attended. As they had never known anything about Ash Wednesday before that morning, I tried to make them understand the reason why we attend church on such a day, and also what transpired during the next forty days in the life of our Saviour on earth.
On Good Friday I held service, and preached from the text, "There they crucified Him" (Luke xxiii. 33). I had a fairly good attendance, considering that many of the Hydahs were away at North Island, hunting for seal. We sang the beautiful and solemn hymn, "When our heads are bowed with woe." When Easter morn arrived, there was another surprise awaiting them, as they had not the least idea of Easter Sunday, and why the English people think so much of it. I preached from the text, "He is risen," and made them understand what Easter really means, and how, 1850 years ago, angels said to the sorrowful Maries, "He is risen, even as He said." Three times that day we sang, " Jesus Christ is risen to-day, Alleluia!" Also on Easter Sunday we chanted the Te Deum in their own language at the usual place in the morning service, much to the satisfaction of all present. Since New Year's week Mrs. Harrison has had the younger people in training, and the singing was fairly good, at all events, to my poor musical ear. When at Islington College, Mr. May, our dear old music professor, told me I had not the least idea of singing; however, whether I have improved or not, if I do not sing in church the men will not; and if Mrs. Harrison stops singing, the women do likewise; and therefore we are both kept going.
Weha, the head chief of Massett, referred to in my last letter, died on the 6th October, 1883. He caught a severe cold at Cape Horn, and his friends did not hurry back to Massett when they saw he was sick, as they hoped he would soon recover. However, instead of getting better, he grew worse, and then they brought him here ; ten days after he was seized with rheumatic fever. I was alone at that time of the year, as Mr. Mackenzie (the only other white man here) was at Victoria. I did my utmost for the poor chief, but from the very first I never once thought that he would recover, as he was quite helpless and very weak when I first saw him. I do not believe there is any sympathy in many of the Hydahs. On Friday night, October 6th, at nine o'clock, word came that Weha was dying, and the people wanted me to go and see him. I accordingly hurried down, and as soon as I got there I asked three women to go up and sit with Mrs. Harrison, as she was alone in the house, very weak after her confinement seven days previously. All refused, and so I did not trouble further, but did my duty to the sick man, and left Mrs. Harrison in God's care. I took great care of Weha during his sickness, and yet not one of the women would assist me by sitting for one hour with my wife. I prayed by the bedside of the dying chief, and then asked him if he were sure he was going to heaven, and at once his countenance brightened up, and seemed to answer in the affirmative, although his tongue had for ever ceased in this world. I made him as comfortable as I could, and repeated many precious texts in his ear, such as " Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life!" "He that believeth shall be saved !" and then returned at ten o'clock to our house.
|Hydah Women, QCI - Haida Gwaii, 1884|
When I got back I found our infant daughter very sick, and fifteen minutes after she died with convulsions. This was very trying for Mrs. Harrison and myself, but we were led to look to the great Source of all strength and consolation, and were enabled from our hearts to say, " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the name of the Lord." Five days afterwards we committed the body of our infant daughter to the grave, and there it rests until the day when all, from the least to the greatest, shall rise and stand before Christ, the Judge ; and without doubt a welcome to dwell with Him in glory awaits her. She is the first white person ever buried at Massett. Five hours after our baby's death, on October 6th, 1883, Weha died, and thus a young infant and an aged man in the same night bade farewell to this mortal life ; and a welcome to glory after the judgment doubtless awaits both.
This chief was the first Hydah to receive baptism, and was the man who set the good example of ignoring potlaches by saying that he now believed in Christ, and was striving to work for Him and to make His salvation known to his fellow-countrymen.
On January 8th, 1883, I married a chief and chieftess in the presence of very many Hydahs, and there was great interest evinced in the service, and the happy couple gave a grand feast to every one at Massett. Mrs. Harrison and I were seated at least twelve feet higher than the others who were present, and received three good cheers when we entered.
There is ample scope for the antiquarian in the rich carvings on the columns, or gehang's, which abound in this and the adjoining villages, and the quaint old legends in connection therewith; also the legendary lore of the old people, as they describe the things supposed to have been done in the olden times, fill one with wonder, and at the same time with a feeling of pity for their condition. On the north coast of Graham's Island, about thirty miles from Massett, stands Tou (food or grease), a strange-looking hill rising sheer up on the north and west,. and almost so on the east, to the height of 250 feet, and is conspicuous from every direction, and is a landmark for vessels crossing to Massett. The Indians declare that formerly this mountain stood beside another, seventy miles south of the present position, and because the chief of the waters, where it was located previously, refused to give it dog-fish, it got disgusted with its position, and one brilliant moonlight night it was seen to take its march down to where it now stands, and there it has plenty of dog-fish for its consumption, for the Hydahs make a quan.
ftity of dog-fish oil there every summer. When I visited the Indians at Jewskatle, last February, the Indians in the canoe pointed the place out to me where Tou formerly stood, and related the above story, which every Hydah at Massett is acquainted with.
The story concerning the man in the moon is also known amongst the Hydahs. The version of it is this : A long time ago there was a very naughty boy, who was sent out one night to gather sticks. He complained to his parents and said it was dark, and therefore he could not go. His father said, "No, the moon shines to-night, and soon it will be almost as light as day." The boy was thus compelled to go; but he thought he would insult the moon and have his revenge on it; so he made grimaces at it, and also placed his fingers to the end of his nose. And the moon was vexed with him, and sent a powerful chief down after this boy, and the man took him and his wood up to the moon, and there he is to be seen with his sticks on his back every moonlight night. The moral drawn from the above story is, that all boys and girls should at once obey their parents, and never complain when they are told to do anything; also, that it is very wicked for boys and girls to ridicule the sun, moon, and stars, for they are sent to give us light, and are placed there by the same great Chief who made us all.
[In the course of an account of a voyage to other parts of the islands, Mr. Harrison writes :—]
We attempted to ran across to Edenshaw's Village, and from thence to Sisk, which faces the open ocean. At this point eight canoes were encamped; as the wind being strong, and the sea rough, prevented their going out to shoot sea-otters. I thought if we could get to this place I should have a suitable opportunity to preach about Christ's love to about forty strong and stalwart men. However, it seems that we are to meet with misfortunes whenever we go to sea, and this time our attempt to gain Edenshaw's Village was frustrated, for when we had got halfway across several puffs of wind came, and one struck the jib and mainsail, and ran the vessel a short distance port side under water as far as the hatchway. How the schooner again righted itself is a wonder to us ail. All the goods and articles on deck went overboard, including the ship's lead; and the plates and dishes, etc., in our small cabin went rolling about in all directions. Mrs. Harrison was standing on the cabin steps, and of course nearest the water. The foresail struck me on the head, and sent my cap flying into the water, and the long oar, by some unaccountable means, got fixed to the foresail rigging, and, turning round with the sail, struck me a heavy blow on the back, and sent me reeling full lengthen the top of the cabin. By degrees the vessel righted, and we put back to Tattens, not much the worse for our little sea experience. Had the foresail been up we should most certainly have capsized, and found a watery grave.
Paul Kinaskilas and James Stilthla are two baptized chiefs, and wherever they go they always hold service among their friends, and when they are at home I ask them to preach every alternate Thursday evening. When I first came here I made it a point to always have something for the baptized to do, and now it is a recognised fact, that wherever Paul and James are, there they must preach, and accordingly their friends come to hear them. This coming winter I hope to get some more of the baptized started to preach to their friends at the distant camps, when they are away hunting fur-seal and sea-otter, and therefore I must call them native voluntary helpers.
In conclusion, if we look at the deserted villages, which are numerous on the islands, we are reminded that time was when the Hydahs could be reckoned almost at the rate of a thousand to the present hundred. Look at the ruined houses at Keyung-Yen, Virago Sound, Edenshaw's Village, North Island, and Cloak Bay — study the works now crumbling to ruin, left behind by their ancient inhabitants —look at the tall columns, or gehangs, of ancient data —yea, look at them pointing heavenwards, with their mystical hieroglyphics from bottom to top, and then inquire, Where are the descendants of these people? and the answer will come, "They are gone." Yes, dear friends, you can see the remains of many large villages, but where are the people? Where are the people whom Marchand a century ago describes as very powerful and fierce? Where are they or their descendants? Stand in the midst of an old deserted village, and call for the inhabitants thereof, and Echo, through the ruins, in wailing tones, replies, "They are gone." Look at the obituary gehangs on every side, and inquire of them, and the answer is still the same, "They are not." Where are they? Turn your eyes, and gaze on the boxes placed on two large posts amongst the green bushes, and which are now decaying and fast disappearing, and you will find the mummified remains of all that 's now left of the ancient Hydahs, fierce and skilful. The question comes. Why have they so decreased? The answer is twofold : years ago the small-pox epidemic raged wildly and unchecked amongst them, and many rushed into the open ocean to cool their fever-stricken brows, and so they quickly died. Yes, whole families died, and yet there was no one to care for them, or to direct them to the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Whole families were thus swept away with one fell stroke, and even now, when the old inhabitants relate how their friends were carried out of their sight by that dreadful disease, a shudder is perceivable, as caused by the fearful remembrance of that unhappy time. Another cause why they are so quickly decreasing is the inducement held out to them at Victoria, New Westminster, and elsewhere, of high wages and good work. These two things are the great attractions for the Indians, and consequently they leave their native homes, either to die in a few short years by the miserable life they lead, and by the evils which surround them by the spirit traffic; or they return to their homes sick, and under the curse of the foul habits contracted when away from home. Thanks to the Indian Department, this evil is decreasing, for they have, to some extent, put a check to the practices referred to.
This being the case, and there is no use denying it, we see that it rests upon us, who have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, to be up and doing, and to exert ourselves to the uttermost for the salvation of the declining Hydah nation. I need hardly ask you to remember us and the Hydahs in your prayers at the throne of grace, and I hope the time may soon come when we shall be able to reckon the Hydahs as a Christian nation. [-]