Passengers I

I must not forget to make mention of the passengers we landed here. If you are still in possession of my first voyage to Mexico you will there find that we carried out to Kingston a person of the name of Barlow. I think I then gave you some particulars of his history. The person we have now landed is the same. I knew him at once when I saw him at Falmouth. He had at that time been only a few months in England from Jamaica, and was now proceeding with his family to the same destination. From sundry conversations I had with him, I gathered that he had been remarkably fortunate in procuring a situation very soon after we had left him last – that he had during almost the whole period of his stay in the Island, with one medical practitioner to whom he acted as an assistant. His place was no sinecure – indeed he bore the greatest share of the fag & trouble, but being a strong healthy man, & happy in being so well off, he lightly regarded the fatigue which he was compelled to undergo.

Not being informed to the contrary, I thought he was on the present occasion, on his way to fill the same or a better situation, and that he intended to make ‘Jamaica’ his permanent abode, since he had brought his wife and family with him. Under this impression I frequently conversed with him respecting his views – and in none of our confabulations did he undeceive me in what I found afterwards to be an erroneous opinion, altho’ he must have seen my mistake. The first thing after he had left us, which told me his true character was a notice in one of the Kingston papers of our arrivals with the Reverend M.r Barlow & family on board. Another paper said M.r Barlow Baptist Missionary. I was surprised and could, for my own mind, hardly exempt the Medico-reverend gentleman from a species of indirect duplicity. My curiosity was excited, and in order to gratify it I enquired more particularly when it came out that M.r Barlow, however eminent he might be in a medical capacity, was considered to be endowed with still greater abilities to be useful in the Baptist Church Mission. How his qualifications were first discovered and appreciated I know not – but the fact is undeniable that they were – and the consequence was that M.r B. prudently thought, that to abandon the cure of the body and look after the salvation of souls would not be a bad exchange in a worldly point of view. At least such is the interpretation put upon his conduct by those of us in Jamaica, who know that at the Baptist Mission in Amatto Bay he will gain more than as the fag of a medical practitioner or even the principal himself.

It is also said that he suffered imprisonment with the well known Burchell during the late insurrection – but this is mere report and he never admitted such a thing to me. One thing however I know, which during the voyage puzzled me much to account for, altho’ it is now clear as day – and that is, that on every occasion when we talked of slaves and slavery, he took up in toto the part of the negroes, and censured the whites. When I alluded to the enactments and the regulations for the amelioration of the slaves, he admitted that they existed de facto as written laws, but contended that in almost [every] case they were evaded or openly violated – and that he was acquainted with numerous instances; substantiating what he had advanced. We never disputed the point – I thought him a warm hearted enthusiast, and actuated by prejudice – and therefore allowed the matter to rest as I found it.

I have often thought since I found out what M.r B. really is, that many things which I have said, must have greatly annoyed him, tho’ you may believe from my ignorance of his character, the annoyance was perfectly unintentional on my part. One day I happened to introduce the topic of missionary instruction – Among other things I observed that it was exceedingly to be regretted that men should be sent out in that most important character, who had not received a regular education for the sacred office. I remarked also, that it very wrong to despise mere learning and to suppose that an ignorant or even moderately educated man, with a large portion of religious feeling and enthusiasm, could prove a more powerful engine in the conversion of the heathen, than another who was deeply imbued with all the learning the age, and moreover inflamed with love and zeal for his Saviour’s cause. In short I said it was my opinion that all who should act as Missionary should receive an appropriate education in order to be able to explain difficulty & give a reason for the faith that is in them – and that the Holy religion of Christ should not be left to the interpretation of misguided fanatics or interested worldlings, who would thus continue thereby to make again of religion.

Now I can see plainly just how sore and galling my observations (frequently repeated) must have be[en] to the earthly mind of the Rev.d M.r B. – and I am the rather inclined to give him credit for the exercise of great Christian meekness and charity, because, notwithstanding the offence I could not but have given, he did not grow sour & morose towards me, but continued the same as ever. After all my tirades against improper missionaries, he was silent neither admitting nor controverting the truth of what I advanced. After all I wish him success in his Missionary labours, and I think him better qualified than many others. He is no ultra-enthusiast – he is possessed of good common sense – considerable determination of character – & great command of temper. His views of religion (on which subject we very frequently conversed) were sound and practical – & his whole conduct in words & actions were never for a moment at variance with his concealed official Character. I liked and respected M.r Barlow – and I believe I had more of his company and conversation than any one else, & therefore am better able to judge of him.

I have already said that M.r Barlow brought with him his wife and family. The former was a young woman, rather pretty and remarkably quiet and silent in her demeanour. Of her mental attainments therefore I can say nothing – not having heard her speak a hundred words or so during the whole voyage.

The Children were four in number and very young, the eldest not yet 11 – two of them were girls (& they were the eldest) viz. Katherine, and Elizabeth, and two boys James and William. Owing to their having been so long from under their father’s control, they were rather spoilt. If their mother had not indulged them, she did not seem to have been strict in overlooking them – and besides from what I learned they had been petted by two aunts & Grandpapa. Before their Father they were quiet and kept good order. Out of his sight they quarrelled – fought and cried twenty times a day. The spirit of Catherine was imperious expecting all others to yield to her, and if not she had recourse to a fit of crying – Betsy was of a mild & more amiable temper – but still inclined to be pettish – seldom passionate – Master James was the least beloved of the whole – and justly so – for his character was marked by ill nature & a tyrannical tendency which he exhibited overall. But Bill Barlow, or Button as we called him was the general pet or favourite. His age was about 5 years. He amused us much by his conceits & remarks – & not one of us but was ready to pleasure him – and to give him what he liked fruit & sweetmeats.

Altogether M.r Barlow & his family by their presence lightened to me the pressure of many an hour, which would otherwise have been dull – and oftentimes, from my partiality to children, I became the [merest ?] Child among them in telling stories & making this and that for them. I shall always be glad  hear of their welfare – if possible, if we stay a week or ten days in Jamaica, at a future period, I may pay them a visit in the country, as they live only 30 miles from Kingston.

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