Description of the Journey of Bible Christians from Cornwall To Quebec.

This Magazine is held by The Methodist archives at John RYLANDS University Library, Manchester. Copies of this magazine are also available for reading at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, River Street, Truro.

 A group of Bible Christians led by Paul ROBINS, a prominent member of the group who had travelled down from Shebbear in Cornwall. He articulated the events of the journey as a guide for future emigrants. It seems they did not need much encouragement, considering the numbers that made the journey. Also on board was Br HOOPER and wife, it could have been them that started the church in Wisconsin.


 Transcribed by members of Cornish-L Rootslist

(2500 Words approx)


CANADA WEST:-- Arrival of Missionaries.


OCTOBER, 1846.


See also Diary of Paul ROBINS (2800 Words approx)


The following interesting communication from Br. Paul ROBINS, detailing various particulars of the voyage made by himself, Colleagues, and families, we give entire, as we doubt not it will be read with pleasure by the friends of the Missionary Society.


After experiencing much kindness from the friends in the town and neighborhood of Padstow, on the 14th of April, early in the morning, we left its port on board the Voluna, burden 336 tons, Capt. LANGFORD, for Quebec.


The ship's company amounted to 14 persons; consisting of Commander, Mate, second Mate, Carpenter, Steward, Sail-maker, Cook, 3 Seamen, 3 Apprentices, and a Cabin boy. And leaving religion out of the question, they are as comfortable and obliging a crew as we could expect to meet with. The Captain has been exceedingly kind and accommodating and is very careful and attentive to his duties as Commander.-- The Cook rendered us great assistance the first few days when we were unable to help ourselves through sea-sickness; and all, indeed, seemed disposed to make themselves agreeable. But with respect to the most important matters, they appear, without exception, to be without hope, and without God in the world. One of the seamen we understand did once enjoy religion, but he has measured his steps back to the world again. The Captain attended two or three of our class-meetings on board, and was also with us at a Bible-class once or twice, and, with but one exception, attended all our public religious services. From the commencement of the voyage he has had the decks washed and all things set in order on Saturday afternoon, so as to have the Sunday free for religious services. Were he to be associated with truly pious persons, and brought under the influence of gospel truth, regularly and faithfully preached, there is some probability that he would yield to its saving influence; but, at present, with all his amiableness of disposition and other good qualities, he remains a stranger to experimental godliness.


In addition to the frequent and long absence of mariners from the religious privileges enjoyed on shore, if those with whom we have sailed may be taken as a sample, and we judge they may, there is such a dispostion in them to sport and trifle, and they are so destitute of all opportunities of being alone for serious reflection, both by night and by day, that the religious thoughts and pious feelings are dissipated almost as soon as begotten. If they had no souls, and there were no eternity, they might be viewed with a good degree of satisfaction, but to see a number of immortal, accountable beings, trifling away life, and posting to their eternal destination, without appearing to concern themselves about it, is heart-sickening to every reflective mind.


The passengers are as follows:-- In the Steerage,-- Wm. HAMBLY, associated in bed and board with John TAPPER and Thomas GRIGG, from Luxillian. Br. HAMBLY is returning to his family in London District, Canada West, after visiting his native land. He was a member with us at Luxillian, prior to his leaving England, and would be glad to be associated with us still, had we any place of worship sufficiently near his present residence.-- Betsy POWELL, an aged an pious member, who accompanied by her son Thomas, is going to join two other sons who had emigrated before. She is likely to be separated from our communion by being so much to the east.-- Wm. HAWS, a member of the Wesleyan Society, from St. Neot, with his wife and 6 small children.-- John LANYON, from London, who alas! has drank so deeply of the puddled waters of infidelity as to regard the Bible as a cunningly devised fable, rather than as a revelation from our great Creator. He is accompanied by his wife and 4 children, 2 of whom, I am happy to say, and the only two of sufficient age, have been instructed in a Sabbath-school.-- John ELLIOTT and wife, members from Kilkhampton Circuit, with 3 children.-- Wm. OLIVER and Andrew ELVINS, both members, the former from Padstow, and the latter a local preacher from Liskeard Circuit.-- Thomas BEST and Alfred PENPHRASE, single men:-- Honor HUSBAND and daughter, and Isabella WHITEHAIR, two single women going out to get married. The former was a member at St. Austell, and at first appeared interested in spiritual things, and came to our first class-meeting on board; but I regret to say she did not come afterwards.


In our apartment, which is partitioned off so as to have no connexion whatever with the other passengers, are on the Star-board side, myself and wife occupying the upper, and Br. HOOPER and wife the under berth; and, on the larboard side, Brs. EBBOTT and HEAL in the upper, and our two boys in the under berth.


The above 40 passengers, 17 of whom are children, with the ship's company we have on board: we are therefore very differently situated from those passengers who are crowded by hundreds into one ship. Of the 23 adult passengers there are at least 13 pious, 12 of whom are members of our own society: we are therefore highly privileged in this respect, and have had some blessed seasons at our class-meetings in our apartment. But our circumstances are so incommodious and variable, on board, that a voyage does not appear very favourable to religious improvement, unless indeed it is by showing us what grace we need to prepare us for all events, and stirring us up to seek it.


We have had but few public religious services on week-days. Arrangements were made to hold them twice a week, and for the first week after the arrangement, they were held; but afterwards the weather became colder; and as all the crew except the Captain, appeared so averse to it, we thought we had not better continue the practice. When able to hold our meetings regularly, we have had preaching on deck in the morning and afternoon on Sundays, and a Prayer-meeting in the evening. And immediately after the afternoon's service we held our class-meeting in our apartment. When the weather would not admit of our holding our meetings on deck, we have had, one Sunday excepted, an afternoon's preaching service in the steerage. In addition to this we have generally had family worship among ourselves, and sometimes have held a Prayer-meeting in our apartment, in which we have been joined by such religious friends as could make it convenient to unite with us. Some refreshing seasons have we had together, but through the rolling of the ship, the want of attention in some, and our being so destitute of the means of retirement, our meetings have not been so powerful and profitable as they otherwise would have been.


A person needs a good stock of grace, and then he must be very watchful to keep it, or he will make but a bad hand of religion on ship-board; and if so in such a company as we were associated with, what must it be where a ship is crowded in almost every corner with passengers, the greatest part of whom are altogether uninfluenced by God's fear.


For single unprotected females, it is certainly a very dangerous place. Such persons, if they have any regard to their character, should not peril themselves in such a situation without absolute necessity. With respect to some things which I apprehended would be very disagreeable, such as males and females being associated so much together in sleeping, &c,. we scarcely took any notice of it; for the men went on deck in the mornings for the females to get up, and the same in the evenings to allow them to go to bed. Being so accommodated with access to the captain's water-closet, and making a little allowance for where we were, there was nothing particularly offensive even to female delicacy.


It would have been laughable to many of our friends, as it was sometimes to ourselves could they have seen us at our meals, when the vessel was rolling, for sometimes the plates and victuals would run from side to side on our large provision chest, that we had much ado to catch them; and we ourselves had several knocks and falls both on deck and below, too. Some of our earthenware was wrecked, and many a bilge and wound did our slight tin ware receive also.


I do not mean to intimate that we had a rough and disagreeable passage; very far from it: for though we had a great deal of head wind, and at times it blew strongly, and, as is general, on some part of the banks of Newfoundland, we had thick fogs which obliged us to keep the horn blowing night and day to prevent collision with other vessels, yet we had, on the whole, a very agreeable passage. The vessel was remarkably free from vermin of every description, and she passed over the waves without shipping scarcely any water. Indeed to cross the Atlantic a half-dozen times as comfortably as we have crossed it now, allowing for the advantage of experience, would excite in me but little alarm.


For inexperienced sailors, we were pretty well provided for the voyage; but after all, there was room for improvement; and as many may read this communication who, at some future period, may take a like voyage, it may not be amiss to state what we provided, and wherein we might have done better.


We took no hard bread, as Capt. SEATON promised a supply from the ship, which we found very convenient; for after a short time we greatly preferred making light bread with our own flour. However, for passengers generally, it would be necessary for them to take a certain quantity of hard bread, especially where they have not the same advantage of baking as we had. Our sea-stock consisted of 3 Cornish bushels of flour, 140 lbs. each; 1 1/2 bush. of potatoes, 10s. worth of soft bread, 107 lbs. of ham, 13 lbs. of beef, 3 lbs. of beef suet, 433 eggs, 14 lbs. of butter, 10 lbs. of cheese, 10 lbs. of rice, 8 lbs. of treacle, 3 lbs. Cocoa, 3 lbs. candles, besides which we had a few turnips, carrots, parsnips, and onions, a bottle of pickle vinegar, ginger, pepper, carroway seeds, nutmeg, carbonate of soda, and tartaric acid, some herbs for tea, and soap for washing. As for sugar, raisins, currants, tea and coffee, we were promised a supply from the ship. Of sugar we had 1 lb. of loaf and 15 lbs. of brown, 12 lbs. raisins, 5 lbs. currants, and 12 ozs. of tea.


We found the above provisions quite ample for our company of 8 persons; but as before hinted, there might have been some improvement. We parted with 87 lbs. of flour to those whose provisions fell short, and we were glad to exchange some of our ham for beef and fish. Many of the eggs taken from Devon were broken in carrying, as the barrel in which they were packed, was put into the waggon on its side, instead of its bottom. We therefore found it necessary to separate the good from the bad, and re-pack them as soon as we got over our sea-sickness. Some of the eggs were packed in salt, and some in bran, but Capt. SEATON of Padstow informed me that lime was better than either. The cheese, though paid for, was left behind, which we much regretted, as we should have found it very agreeable. The treacle was upset on board, and a great deal of it lost. We found it convenient to part with about half of our peas; and it would have been to our advantage to have taken less ham, and to have furnished ourselves with some herrings and other fish instead.


Our provision chest, about 6 feet long by 2 feet 6 inches wide, would have answered our purpose better by being half so large, as it would then have contained what we wanted to keep in it, would have taken up so much less room in our contracted apartment, and would have been more manageable after our arrival at Quebec. The idea was that we should be able to sit around it to take our victuals, but that was altogether out of the question. Our laps served us for tables, and our boxes for seats.


We also blundered in reserving more things for use by the way, than we needed. Any old clothes that will keep the body warm, with a decent suit for occasional use, and to put on at Quebec, with 3 or 4 old changes of linen to be washed on board, would have been quite sufficient.


The advantage of following Capt. SEATON's advice, to take flour rather than bread, was of great advantage to us. A little hard bread at the commencement was very agreeable, but we soon got tired of it. We had frequent opportunities of baking, and after some practice, by mixing two tea-spoonfulls of Carbonate of soda, with and equal quantity of Tartaric acid, and then carefully mixing it with about 6lbs. of flour, wetting it with cold water, and kneading it well, we could get soft bread nearly if not quite equal in quality to bread made on shore in the usual way.


To make matters as agreeable as possible to all parties, and equalize our labour, Brs. HOOPER, HEAL, and Samuel, assisted Sr. HOOPER in cooking and cleaning one week, and myself, Br. EBBOTT, and SAMPSON, assisted my wife the other. But there were times when cooking was a very difficult task, in consequence of the rain and rolling of the ship. And sometimes we shut up our place, and lit our candle in high day, that we might have a little shelter in our cabin, from the cold and rain, and at times some of us sought a little warmth and freedom from qualmishness by turning into our berths.

Thanks to John Buckingham of Padstow & members of Cornish Roots-L