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places, out of which they would suddenly spring upon the farmer and his cattle, spreading devastation and ruin in their path. In the former war, one of our little chapels, called “ Ebenezer,” singularly escaped the firebrand of the barbarian. By the advice of an excellent and devoted man, named John Usher, who often reminded me of “the Village Blacksmith,” the pulpit-Bible was left in the chapel ; and on the Kaffirs entering and observing the book, they said, “We must not burn this place : it is God's house." All the dwellings in the neighbourhood, having been forsaken by their inhabitants, were consumed; but “ Ebenezer” was left standing. In the late war, however, it was destroyed, there being perhaps no Bible left in it, or, what is more probable, no such regard paid to it by the barbarous foe. It would be difficult to form an estimate of the value of the property consumed during the recent conflict, in this part of the country alone; and the lives of several valuable persons were also sacrificed : wives were rendered widows, and children fatherless.
I have already referred to the efforts made by a spirited individual to open the Cowie mouth, for the introduction of small coasting-vessels. The project is a most desirable one, and, should it ultimately succeed, will be of essential service to Lower Albany and Graham's-Town, as it will be the means of furnishing a port within thirty miles of the latter, in the stead of Port-Elizabeth, which is distant one hundred miles. But the undertaking was too large for any private individual, and will probably be prosecuted at the expense of the Government. I frequently visited the spot, and on one occasion witnessed the entrance of a small schooner into the estuary. A measure of success has already crowned the enterprise; but several vessels, having struck on the bar, have been wrecked. The grand desiderata in South Africa are navigable rivers. One, similar to those of the American continent, would change the entire aspect of the country, and increase its value a hundred-fold.
In company with a friend, who was acquainted with the path, I one day rode through the dense recesses of the Cowie forest. What a scene presented itself! No description can give the reader an adequate conception of the extent and variety of the vegetation through which we passed. We had to wind our way through a track made by elephants, with which the jungle formerly abounded, and were obliged frequently to dismount, and lead our horses, the branches of the trees being so thick and overspreading as to forbid our progress in any other way. I was astonished at the richness of nature's productions, and that she should have chosen these unpeopled solitudes in which to put forth such rich beauties. Plants of every form, and flowers of every hue, presented themselves before us, whilst trees of majestic growth towered above our heads, and sheltered us completely from the rays of the sun. The spekboom, the cactus, the euphorbia, and the strelitzia, were most exuberant, together with various species of the geranium, the aloe, the jasmine, and a vast number of parasitical plants and creepers, peculiar to exotic climes. The very tope of the trees were covered with a beautiful pea-green moss, which hung from their branches almost to the ground in rich festoons. Animal life was likewise abundant. Of the insect tribe the varieties were infinite. Of birds, the lory, the turtledove, and the loxia, beautiful, but songless, were exceedingly numerous. Many of the smaller kinds of monkeys also inhabit the bush, as well as the baboon;
and a curious creature is here met with, called the ratel, (Ratelus melivorus,) something like the badger, having long claws, with which it digs into the earth for food. Though the lion and the elephant have not been recently seen or heard in these localities, the straand wolf, or hyæna, which is very injurious to the farmer's flocks, is still an occupant of them; and the wild dog also, which is most destructive to sheep, finds a dwelling here. We were not molested by any of these animals ; for in the day-time they seldom make their appearance. I thought the bush would prove interminable ; but, after pursuing our course for a distance of several miles, we at length emerged on the opposite side, our horses immediately bounding over the open plain, as though rejoicing on their escape to light and freedom.
“Nature seems to have destined Africa for her mysterious workshop : there peculiar races of men are formed; there the larger species of savage beasts, inhabitants of the desert, wander in safety ; there a vegetable creation arises, the first glance of which tells us that it belongs to a distant and unknown region of the world."* The exuberance of animal and of vegetable life cannot but strike the beholder with astonishment, and greatly enlarge his conceptions of the amazing skill and wisdom of the Creator. Innumerable forms and varieties of organic existence are here, the study of which would occupy a longer period than is granted for the life of man. “ The forests and wooded glens are all alive with their feathered inhabitants, many of them adorned with the most splendid plumage. The mountains and the rocks have their appropriate occupants. The sea-coast and many of the rivers swarm with fish and water-fowl; and the inland streams, less fruitful in the finny tribes, are full of crabs and tortoises, and vocal in spring with the shrill chirping of millions of frogs. The arid deserts, uninhabitable by man, furnish food and refuge to the ostrich and the serpent-eater; and in the tracks of death-like desolation, where even those solitary birds cannot find a fountain, life is still found pouring forth from the inexhausti. ble womb of the parched yet pregnant earth. Thousands of lizards and land-tortoises are seen crawling about, or basking on the rocks and stones; and myriads of ants are building their clay pyramids, or busily travelling to and fro, in long black trains across the sultry ground.”+ Who, on reading this description, can refrain from saying, “ O Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches?”
Whilst, on one occasion, in a distant part of my Circuit, a flight of locusts, which I had observed for some time on the wing, alighted on a field of Indian corn, several acres in extent. The effect produced was marvellous beyond conception. It was the first time I had witnessed the ravages of the insect; and never did the beauty, force, and truthfulness of the Prophet Joel's description of “God's great army" present themselves so vividly before me as at that moment. In the space of fifteen minutes, the crop, which was nearly ready for the sickle, was totally destroyed, the stalks being stripped of all their heads and leaves, robbed of their beauty and their strength, and left completely bare. The flight was comparatively a small one, to those which occasionally devastate the country; but, small as it was, it was ruinous to the prospects of the proprietor of the field; and, after performing the work of destruction there, it rose again upon the wing, and proceeded onward, probably to alight elsewhere, and spread desolation in its track.
This remarkable creature belongs to the Linnæan order Hemiptera, and the species Gryllus. It is similar in form to the common grasshopper, but
* Heeren on the Ancient Nations of Africa, vol. i.
its colour is usually red or brown. It has two pairs of wings, remarkably light and transparent, and six legs, two of which, however, may be considered as hands or arms; so that Moses, who assigns to it but four feet, (Lev. xi. 22,) is correct. Its visits are periodical, and, it would seem, from several data which have been collected, less frequent in the Cape Colony now than formerly; the larger swarms, at least, only making their appearance once in fifteen years. It has been supposed that Ethiopia is the great cradle of locusts; but those which infest the Colony are probably bred in the deserts of the interior beyond the Gariep or Great Orange-River. Those that fly are borne upon the air by the north or north-east wind, and often come in clouds so thick and dense as to eclipse the rays of the sun, and cast a deep broad shadow on the earth. A column of them sometimes extends over a space of several square miles. I once rode through one in Kaffraria two or three miles in length, my horse being greatly annoyed with the creatures striking his head, and I myself often receiving a rather smart blow upon the face. Whilst the sun is up they usually continue on the wing; but towards evening they alight, and then the entire face of the country is thickly covered with them ; every tree, and every branch of every tree, every herb, and every blade of grass, being occupied; when instantly the work of devastation is begun, all nature seems in motion, and a rustling noise is heard “like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble.” Nothing in the shape of vegetation escapes their rapacity. The trees are stripped of their foliage, and the branches of their tender bark. Plants and flowers are destroyed, and their beauty wastes away. Fruit is nipped off by the stems which bear it, and falls immediately to the ground. “The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.”
When a flight is seen approaching, the farmer attempts to prevent its alighting on his grounds by kindling fires of grass and stubble, the smoke of which, rising in large volumes, will sometimes deter its approach. Several persons will at the same time be employed in cracking the long waggonwhip used in the country, in order to frighten the enemy by noise. The most destructive species,* however, are the larvæ, or young insects, devoid of wings, and called by the Dutch voet-gangers, because they walk or leap. Troops of these proceed along unchecked in their course by any obstacle whatever. They will even rush into a fire, until it is extinguished by their numbers. They will cross a stream of water, the foremost of them forming a bridge, over which the rest will pass. “They run upon the wall, they climb up into the houses, they enter in at the windows like a thief.” An Independent Minister in the Colony informed me that he was preaching one Sabbath morning, from the second chapter of Joel, when a large number of locusts poured into the chapel through the open windows, thus furnishing an illustration of his subject of the most impressive kind. To destroy this species of the insect the farmer turns out flocks of sheep and cattle, by which thousands upon thousands are trodden to death.
Every creature of God is good, and is designed to answer some useful purpose. Even the locusts, destructive as they are, must be considered, on
* Not less than ten different words are employed in the Hebrew Scriptures, to designate the locust. Bochart, Credner, and others, have attempted to show that each of these words denotes a different species of the insect; but this position is untenable, as several of the words are used interchangeably. See Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. iii., notes on Joel.
the whole, a blessing rather than a curse. They have been called “the scavengers of nature,” “ clearing the way," says Sparman, “ for the renovation of vegetable productions which are in danger of being destroyed by the exuberance of some particular species, and are thus fulfilling a law of the Creator that of all that he has made should nothing be lost. A region that has been choked up by shrubs and perennial plants, and hard, halfwithered, impalatable grasses, after having been laid bare by these scourges, soon appears in a far more beautiful dress, with new herbs, superb lilies, fresh annual grasses, and young and juicy shrubs of perennial kinds, affording delicious herbage for the wild cattle and game.” They also furnish food to many of the natives, who esteem them a luxury, gather them in sacks, and prepare them for eating, first by boiling, and afterwards drying them in the sun. The taste is said to be similar to that of shrimps. Nearly all kinds of animals also prey upon them, and the locust-bird, (passer gallinaceus,) which Barrow calls a species of thrush, follows them in numbers not less astonishing than that of the insects themselves. The Turks affirm that one of these birds eats a thousand locusts a day. Thus an antidote is provided for the evil: and it may be added, that as the winged locusts cannot fly against the wind, myriads of them are carried into the sea, where they become food for the finny tribes, or are cast dead upon shore by the returning tide.
The above is but a very imperfect description of one of the most remarkable creatures that the Lord God hath made. Is it not astonishing, that so insignificant an insect should be employed to accomplish purposes so vast? But such is the mode of the divine operations in nature, providence, and grace. God usually sets the great aside, and effects his grand designs by an instrumentality upon which man would be disposed to look with scorn.
(To be continued.)
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST OF THE SHEFFIELD DISTRICT-MEETING.
(To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine.) The subject of pastoral visitation, or a Minister's private intercourse with the members of his church, now occupies much of public attention. It seems to be highly desirable that a Pastor have personal acquaintance with his flock, and know something of their religious experience. This will gain their confidence, and assist his own public ministrations. Any amount of such intercourse, whilst it is of a spiritual character, will certainly be beneficial. When the church and congregation are small, and the ministerial labours connected with them proportionately limited, pastoral visitation may be pursued to any extent that shall be deemed prudent. But in large churches considerable difficulty will be experienced, both from the number of the people and a want of opportunity. The manners of the times are highly unfavourable to pastoral visits ; for business is conducted in so eager a manner, and continued to such late hours, as to make it almost impossible to find the whole or even the greater part of a family at home at any convenient season. This particularly refers to the lower classes; and is a difficulty experienced by Ministers of every denomination.
An admirable provision has been made in the Methodist economy for seeing all the members once a quarter at the regular visitation of the classes. Such a provision is not to be found in any other church ; and it would not be easy to find one more adapted to the circumstances of the age. We only regret that some of the people do not appear to value it as they ought, but allow a small matter to keep them away on these important occasions. We hope that they will never complain of any neglect on the part of the church or ministry towards themselves ; as they certainly cannot do so with a clear conscience. In society-meetings, love-feasts, band-meetings, &c., the Wesleyan Ministers have also favourable opportunities of spiritual communion with their people.
On the other hand, the itinerancy labours under great disadvantages in the private visitation of the flock at their own homes. New names, faces, streets, and towns, are serious obstacles in the way of the most diligent Pastor; and the young grow up without any attachment to their own Minister, as one who has watched over them from childhood, and led them from their earliest days in the ways of righteousness. The Wesleyan itinerancy can never be associated with a complete pastorate ; for it is deficient in some of the strongest bonds of pastoral union. Not one member of your congregation was baptized, exhorted, prayed for, married, and sympathized with, in the varied joys and sorrows of life, by yourself!
The spiritual good you have done them, in conjunction with your colleagues and their Class-Leaders, during two or three short years, is all your hold upon the affections of your people. They are naturally led to love the system more than the particular Ministers. It will require much time before you can find out their abodes, or even distinguish their persons and characters; and scarcely has this been done, when you are called away to a new sphere of labour, to begin the same work over again ; with the memory burdened and kindered by a multitude of past recollections and conflicting associations !
Besides, the Wesleyan Ministers are engaged in some religious or secular meeting, (about church matters,) almost every evening, and frequently in an afternoon : so that their time and opportunity for visiting the flock at their own houses are very circumscribed ; and at such seasons, the men and children are generally absent.
We do not make these remarks with the intent of deterring Ministers from the performance of pastoral duties, which we would advise them to pursue as far as practicable, under every disadvantage.* But we do think that some of our people are unkind and unreasonable, in expecting from us a degree and amount of labour, which it is impossible to give; and which, if given, would not be of the effective character that is often supposed. It is sometimes said, that if the Ministers would only visit the people more frequently, moral wonders would be accomplished. However, it would be impossible to see a large part of the congregation at their own houses, unless they should remain at home for this very purpose. Even then, we dare not think that the word of God would prove more effectual in a private
* In large Circuit towns where several Ministers are stationed, would it not be well for one of them to be relieved from most of the country work on week-days, so as to devote his time and energies to pastoral visitation ? Of course, that Minister would be selected who had a taste and tact for this department of the work; for all are not similarly gifted. At present, those who delight in pastoral duties have no more opportunity afforded for pursuing them, than those who feel no relish or qualification for this exercise, and who, therefore, chiefly confine their attention to “ preaching the word.” Do we wisely employ the varied talents of our Ministers ? Do we not rather wish to level them all ?-a hopeless task ! VOL. IV.-FOURTH SERIES.