Publisher Brethren's Society for the Furtherance of the Gospel
Place of Publication London (England)
AT so important an epoch in the history of the Surinam Mission as the present, recent intelligence will be looked for wdth deep and sympathizing interest. And this, we are happy to state, is of such a character as to afford ground for joy and thankfulness. It could not be expected, that so great a social change as that of emancipation should take place without some difficulties. These, however, are bei gradually overcome, a process which is materially aided by the general good conduct of the emancipated labourers. May the Lord direct matters in such a manner as shall be not only for the encouragement of the friends of humanity, but likewise for the welfare of the whole community, the good of His cause, and the glory of His name!
An account of some peculiarly interesting occurrences in connection with a body of maroons, or runaway negroes, must necessarily be postponed until the next number.
(From the Missions-Blatt.)
BR. VAN CALKER, the superintendent of the Mission in Surinam, has been commissioned by the Mission Conference to address a pastoral letter to the congregations, setting forth the necessity of pecuniary aid for the carrying on of our extensive missionary work, in accordance with the example of Christian Churches at all times and in all countries. It further announces the introduction of regular school-fees, insists on a Christian domestic life, civil and ecclesiastical marriage, the dwelling of man and wife in the same house, the duty of the husband to provide for his family, the proper training of the children, their attendance at school, &c.
Br. Van Calker writes : " Paramaribo, July 17th, 1863 :—The 1st of this month was observed at the outposts in the same way as in town. The negroes came in crowds from the estates to the churches. Even at Beersheba, on the Para, in which district the people are the least advanced, while the plantations are situated far apart from each other in the forest,—large numbers assembled on the evening of the previous day.
"On estates which no Missionary could reach, the people themselves held service with reading of the scriptures and prayer. At but very few places was there dancing, it seeming as though the people had lost all inclination for such amusements. Beyond a doubt, in the case of many, joy in the Lord overcame rejoicing in worldly pleasures ; while in other places a wholesome fear prevailed deterring the people from giving offence by frivolity and sin to that merciful God, who had bestowed on them so signal a blessing. Hence they generally gave Him the
glory, and of their own accord hallowed the first day of freedom to His service. There was a greater display of Christian feeling than ever we had anticipated.
"But will this feeling continue to prevail ? Who will be right:— we, with the conviction that all will be well, if only the negroes are treated in some degree with justice and common sense,—or those who compare the orderly conduct of the newly-emancipated people with the threatening calm which heralds a thunder-storm, and who persist in the conviction that they will not work ?
"The few days immediately following the 1st of July were passed in quiet rest; but subsequently, I understand the labourers have everywhere sought employment. The town almost presented the appearance borne by some country places in Europe, at the season of the year when farm-servants change their situations. It was but natural that greater difficulties should arise on the estates. The planters mostly dislike the emancipation, and do all in their power to secure the first three months for their own benefit*. There are some estates, the continued cultivation of which is uncertain. In all these circumstances there was cause enough to make the labourers distrustful and discontented, and to excite them to unlawful conduct.
"And yet, what is actually the case ? Everywhere the negroes behave with admirable quietness and order. They willingly take advice from us and the District-Commissioners, and claim to enter into contracts as soon as possible, but are in too many cases purposely prevented from so doing. Only on two estates have serious disturbances appeared likely. The District-Commissioner felt it his duty to act energetically, and sent for a vessel of war and a detachment of military. At one of these places, the people were so excited, that they would not even listen to their minister. But when the Governor himself went and spoke to them, they yielded, and commenced their work.
"The newspapers report numerous misunderstandings between the employers and the labourers ; but I have heard, from good authority, that the Governor expressed himself much pleased with the conduct of the negroes in the course of the negotiations which took place in his presence.
"An official in another district, when asked by us how matters were going on there ? said ' 0, if there were only the negroes to do with, there would be no difficulties!'
"It is generally declared, that the negroes have behaved better
* The terms of the Decree of Emancipation were the following:—-Three Months from the 1st of July were granted for the making of contracts, during which the Negroes were to labour four days in a week, and to receive two-thirds of a legally fixed amount, together with a rent-free dwelling. The labourers to work for whom they pleased. The contracts are for three years, each year to comprise three hundred working days of eight hours each. Idleness will be punished. The labourers are to have, besides their wages, a dwelling and plot of land. The State will care for poor and infirm persons, each labourer paying out of his wages a fixed tax for this purpose. For ten years the emancipated people are to be under the supervision of the State, lie compensation paid to the former owners of slaves averages 300 guilders (about £30) per head. The introduction of free labourers from foreign parts, particularly of Coolies from India, will be encouraged in every possible way.
than was expected. Regular work is performed by them, and the predicted storm does not come.
"August 3rd, 1863.— We have already provided four stations with teachers, who possess the requisite qualifications, and are acquainted with the Dutch language. At the other stations, the Missionaries get on as well as they can, with the aid of monitors.
"All is quiet on the estates. There is not any want of labourers willing to work, but of employers ready to give it."
Br. Jansa writes : " Annaszorg, July 31st, 1863 :— The whole day (July 1st) the station was crowded. Probably more than 1000 were present: but there was not the least disorder, no quarreling, and no noise. All seemed united in heart and soul to praise and give thanks to God. I wish that the king and all the kind promoters of emancipation could have witnessed this joy.
" In the evening, the church was illuminated with 106 candles, for the purchase of which the negroes had made a collection among themselves.
" After a short discourse by me, and the singing of some verses of praise, the three helpers, Nathanael, Joseph, and Theodore addressed the congregation with an earnestness and emotion which I cannot describe. They held before their hearers blessing and cursing, and were often interrupted by half-repressed murmurs of 'That is true', 'So be it,' &c. Their prayers were most touching, and it was evident that the Holy Spirit spoke by them. I could not restrain my feelings and the whole assembly were in tears, for they had never heard anything like that before.
" This meeting sealed the day's rich blessings, and all our hearts were full of praise and thankfulness to our gracious God and Saviour. " The very next day 300 children came to school. Thus far I have not seen a single drunken negro, and have witnessed nothing of a disquieting character."