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Sometimes they bowed down with their faces to the ground, and sometimes a great number were looking about, either not much attending to what was said, or but little impressed by it. The women sat separately from the men, and were much fewer in number. There was a great number of children, of various ages, standing about on the outside, and engaged in what they pleased, without attending to what was said, and several mothers with infants were among them. In the evening, the teacher, accompanied by the Alcaide, paid us a visit; the chief object of which, we were informed, was to receive a small present, of which we did not wish to disappoint them. “31st. Our third conference was held this day. It was not until this morning, that the subject of our return to England was brought on the minutebook. The conclusion to leave felt satisfactory to all. Several arrangements will require attention previous to our departure, in order that R. S. may have the requisite helpers for the management of the land, and the care of the house. “6th mo. 13th. This day a school was opened for boys and girls at the Cape. Twenty scholars entered with apparent interest and docility into the system of instruction provided for them, in Mandingo lessons. It felt grateful and pleasant thus to enter upon the instruction of these children, which I think I could gladly have continued, but for the fixed apprehension that duty calls me at present to England. The children of the Alcaide were sent. Some parents came, and seemed pleased to hear their own language from the printed lessons. At the close of the school-time, I told the children a little of what I apprehended to be the leading object of instruction, that they might learn to be good, and that I much wished to hear of their being attentive and obedient to their parents, and diligent and willing in doing any little work they might appoint to them.
Returns to England—Death of John Thompson on the Passage—Death of Richard Smith—Visits the Poor in St. Giles’s.
As a break of several months now occurs in the journal of our precious mother, perhaps it may be supplied by an extract from a letter, written soon after her return to England, dated 8th mo. 13th, 1824, in which she gives some particulars of the voyage and the affecting event of the death of her kind companion and friend John Thompson." “The subject of a part of our company returning this summer to England, having come under consideration, and some circumstances relative to the further prosecution of our concern, rendering it, in our apprehension, a measure almost unavoidable, it was finally concluded, as satisfactory to all, that J. and A. Thompson and myself should return, and R. Smith, not having any other view than that of remaining, we arranged our concerns for leaving R. S. at the house occupied at the Cape, and took places in a brig about to sail for England. When about to embark, our friend R. Smith having accompanied us from the Cape to Bathurst, we there held together our last conference. In this meeting a sense of the overshadowing power
* For some particulars of the character of John Thompson see an extract from another letter, APPENDIx A.
of Divine goodness rested on our spirits, and called forth I trust, in each of us, a grateful acknowledgment to Divine Providence for many favours received since our landing on these shores. I felt that I could now leave the coast in peace, although not with the apprehension that this would be a final farewell. “On the 24th we embarked apparently in good health. A. T. remarked that she had had better health in Africa than at home, and that she never saw her brother look better than at present. What were his thoughts at that moment I do not know, but the last passage in his journal, written a few days before he left Africa, expressed that although he was looking towards home, and to the enjoyment of meeting his family and friends, yet, considering the uncertainty of time, and the wide expanse of waters between, he could not but feel it uncertain whether he should meet them again. “On the first night after we had embarked, finding himself greatly affected by the heat in the cabin, he went upon deck about two in the morning, and slept there for several hours. He was struck with cold, and came down in the morning complaining of chill and pain in his limbs. During the day he exerted himself in settling several things about the cabin, which was much crowded, and in the evening appeared much better. In a few days, however, decided marks of fever appeared. We had not any medical officer on board, but our dear friend had the kind care and attention of the captain and some others, both as regards medical attention, and in other respects. The fever was evidently of the inflammatory kind, and the symptoms, though decided, were not compli
cated. The medicine taken appeared to answer for the time, but the fever returned from day to day, and was not subdued. Our dear friend appeared sensible of the critical nature of his disorder, and his mind was very susceptible and tender. He sometimes asked his sister or me to read the Scriptures to him, and would then inquire of me if I had anything on my mind to say to him. “My hopes of his future usefulness had been so excited, both in the time of health, and now even in his sickness, that it felt hard to relinquish the thought of his recovery. I could not doubt that it would be well with him if called away in this sickness, yet sometimes, when alone and contemplating the prospect of a separation while on the great deep, the view was to nature very awful and almost appalling. Still was my heart sensible that the Most High, who is infinite in wisdom, in knowledge, and in goodness, often carries forward his designs of mercy by means which we cannot fathom. In speaking to my dear friend J. T. on this subject, he assented with sweetness and feeling to the expression of a belief, that our deepest afflictions are often, through the direction of infinite goodness, made our greatest blessings. I did not inquire whether he looked for recovery or not, but had his sickness been such as to preclude any communication of his feelings, I could not have doubted, from the state of mind evinced before, and in his sickness, that Divine love was near him, and the refining influence of the Redeemer’s power, preparing him for a better habitation. “The support that was mercifully extended to his beloved sister and to myself in the awful moment of departure—the precious feeling of peace