AN ACCOUNT OF THE STATE OF THE SCHOOLS
IN THE ISLAND OF NEWFOUNDLAND,
ESTABLISHED OR ASSISTED BY THE
SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
IN FOREIGN PARTS.
PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY,
AND SOLD BY C. AND J. RIVINGTON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD,
/3/ AN ACCOUNT OF THE STATE OF THE SCHOOLS IN THE
ISLAND OF NEWFOUNDLAND, ETC.
THE BISHOP OF LONDON having stated at the Board in April last, that it had been represented to him, "that at the time when the Newfoundland School Society commenced their operations, there was only one free school in the island, which had been founded by Lord Gambier, and that the schools under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts were so ineffective as to be only nominal;" and it appearing that statements had been industriously circulated that the education of the poor in the Island of Newfoundland had been grossly neglected by this Society; the Board "requested the Bishop of Nova Scotia to direct his attention to the state of the schools in Newfoundland, and the reports which had reached this country of their utter inefficiency."
In consequence of this application, the following interesting letter
has been received from the Bishop by the Secretary: --
/4/ LETTER FROM THE BISHOP OF NOVA SCOTIA TO THE
SECRETARY OF THE SOCIETY, ETC.
Halifax, Sept. 14, 1827.
I embrace the earliest opportunity, since my return to this place, to give you such particulars relative to schools in Newfoundland as I was able to collect, during my recent visitation of that island.
At ST. JOHN'S, as you are already informed, there is an excellent free school, the master of which, Mr. Beacon, educated entirely in that school, is now here, and promises to be a very efficient Madras master. I brought him with me in his Majesty's ship Alligator, upon an undertaking that all his expenses should be paid; and as the Society were anxious for the establishment of a competent central school in Newfoundland, and this was the only feasible mode of obtaining it, I hope the Board will approve of my having drawn upon them for the amount of those expenses, 20 pounds. I should also recommend that some addition be made to Mr. Beacon's salary; and that a small salary be granted to the mistress of the girls' school, as soon as both are in successful operation as National schools. The usual attendance of boys at Mr. Beacon's school is from 100 to 120. The girls under Miss Rennell are from seventy to eighty in number. There is a more numerous attendance of children at the Orphan Asylum, chiefly Roman Catholics. The Newfoundland Society's School here, whose building has cost more than 700 pounds is indifferently attended. On one day when I visited it, there were only fifteen boys and /5/ eleven girls present. The average attendance is unknown to me; I was afraid of mortifying the master, who is a respectable man, if I asked for his return.
At HARBOUR GRACE there has been a daily school for many years, assisted by the Society. Eight free scholars are admitted in consequence of a small allowance from government. The schoolmaster, Mr. Bray, reads the service when the missionary, Mr. Burt, is absent, as he is part of every Sunday at Carboneer. It has been made known to Mr. Burt, that the Society will expect the schoolmaster, whom they assist, to take poor children recommended by the Missionary, and to exert himself in the charge of a Sunday-school. Mr. Bray is a competent schoolmaster, and teaches children of respectable families in St. John's, who board with him. The attendance at the Newfoundland Society's school here, during a week in June, varied from twenty-two to forty boys, and from thirty-five to fifty-one girls, by the return of the master, which I have.
At CARBONEER, three miles from Harbour Grace, the Society assist a school taught by W. Loader, who reads to the congregation (but is not very well qualified for either office). He receives any scholars recommended by the Missionary. At present his greatest number of daily scholars is twenty-nine; his Sunday scholars, thirty-two boys, twenty-six girls. The Newfoundland Society's school at this place was attended, /6/ during a week in June, by thirty to thirty-eight boys, and twenty-nine to thirty-seven girls.
ISLAND COVE and BREAD AND CHEESE COVE are within a mile of each other. Here the Society assist a competent and respectable master, Mr. Wills. He has a daily school at Island Cove, and a Sunday-school at both places, and reads every Sunday in both. I have not the exact number of his daily scholars, but it must be small, from the nature of the place. His Sunday-schools consist of fifty-six boys and twenty-one girls. As he is much respected he is well attended as a reader every Sunday.
The Newfoundland Society have no schools in Conception Bay, except at Harbour Grace and Carboneer.
At BAY ROBERTS the Society's schoolmaster, Mr. Williams, is aged, and not very efficient. He generally teaches a small daily school. His Sunday-school consists of thirty-eight boys and thirty-three girls. His reading is tolerably well attended.
At BAREMEED, the Society's schoolmaster, Mr. Sarrell, taught a daily school until the last year, but he is now engaged in business, and another person must be found. His Sunday-school has thirty-one boys and twenty-seven girls. His reading is not very much attended.(1)
/7/ At SHIP COVE a school is very desirable, which would also accommodate PORT DE GRAVE. A Sunday-school is taught gratuitously by a very respectable person, Mr. Furneaux, assisted by others of his own family, and he reads to the congregation. This important neighbourhood will now be under the care of the Rev. Mr. Blackman.
BRIGUS is a beautiful settlement chiefly occupied by Methodists. The Society's schoolmaster, Mr. Meaden, is respectable and well qualified. He has more than forty daily scholars, and will receive any number recommended by the Missionary. He reads to a small congregation whom he assembles every Sunday at SALMON COVE, three miles and a half distant, where his Sunday-school is attended by eighteen boys and ten girls.
At EMANUEL'S, on the south shore, Mr. Richard Parmiter teaches a Sunday-school gratuitously, containing thirty-three boys and sixteen girls, and also reads to the people. Mr. Burt is anxious he should receive the Society's allowance, in which case he could be made much more useful, and would teach a daily school. He is not as well qualified as might be desired, but it is not likely that any person more fit than he can be found for this remote situation, until better provision than can be had at present is obtained.
At CUPID'S there is a large Sunday-school, entirely managed by Methodists.
At BAY VERD some provision for instruction is very desirable, but most of the people are dispersed through the forest in the winter.
/8/ TRINITY BAY.
At TRINITY there has been no regular school under the Society's patronage, nor any sufficient school -- which is a very remarkable circumstance considering the appearance of the place -- until the Newfoundland Society established a very good one, under a well qualified master, who was attended during one week in June, of which I have the return, by sixty-eight to eighty-three boys and girls, mixed together in consequence of the ill health of the schoolmistress, who was obliged to retire.
At BONAVENTURA a daily school has been assisted by the Society for ten years. The present master, Mr. Thompson, is not very efficient, though well disposed, and it might be difficult to procure a better for such a situation. His Sunday-school is more regularly attended, and he always reads on that day. He is ready to attend to every direction from the Missionary. The number of his scholars has not been returned to me.
At SILLY COVE a regular day-school has been taught since the year 1777, by John Thomas, and the effect of this venerable man's labours is distinctly visible for many miles around him. The most of his scholars, at all times, were free, or nearly so. He is now unable to teach or to read to the people, and I have already earnestly recommended that this excellent old servant may be allowed to receive his salary from the Society, as a pension, for the little time he can remain, and that the Missionary be authorized to appoint another schoolmaster, with the usual allowance.
/9/ At GRATES COVE, a daily schoolmaster, has been assisted by the Society: John Hoskins has been appointed lately, and promises well. A school-room has been erected, and a church is also here. The schoolmaster reads on Sunday, and has a good Sunday-school.
Several other schools are greatly wanted in this bay, as will be represented in due time.
At BONAVISTA a daily school, assisted by the Society, was taught for many years by Mr. Gayler, a most exemplary person, but with moderate attainments. It was in a great measure free, but has been nearly destroyed by the Newfoundland Society school, which is more ably taught, and, by a weekly report in May last, had from forty-six to forty-eight boys, and from thirty-six to forty-two girls. Mr. Gayler has a Sunday-school, and, in the absence of the Archdeacon, reads three times a day.
At SALVAGE there is a very fair daily school, except in the busiest part of the fishing season. It is assisted by the Society, and has many children, who pay nothing. The master, Mr. Sheldon, has had charge of it five years, with visible good effect. He reads on Sunday, and has a good Sunday-school.
At GREEN'S POND, the Society's schoolmaster, Mr. Whalley, has a daily school, attended by forty to fifty children, many of whom are free. This place has particular attention at present from Archdeacon Costar, and every thing connected with the Church and school is likely to be greatly improved.
/10/ KING'S COVE should have been named immediately after Bonavista. The schoolmaster here is assisted by the Society. His qualifications are very moderate, but his character is respectable. He reads on Sunday to a few persons, and regularly teaches on that day.
At FOGO ISLAND, Mr. James Bell, assisted by the Society, has no daily school, but teaches remarkably well on Sunday, and reads with great propriety to a respectable congregation. A daily school is much wanted here.
Of CHANGE ISLAND I can say nothing from my own view, but I believe Mr. Oak only teaches on Sunday.
At TOULINGUET there is great need of a respectable daily school. The Sunday-school is taught by the Missionary, who has sometimes had 100 scholars.
At EXPLOITS, BURNT ISLAND, I engaged the services of Mr. William Mosdell, a respectable and competent person, to teach a daily and Sunday-school, and read to the congregation, and have recommended him for the Society's salary.
At BURIN, in Placentia Bay, a daily school was taught for many years by Mr. Tulk, the Society's schoolmaster, who has lately moved to St. Lawrence, not very far from thence. He reads on Sunday, but is infirm. He seldom received more than a quintal of fish, worth ten shillings, for each scholar. Several efficient schools are much wanted in the southern parts of the island, which have been greatly and deplorably neglected.(2)
/11/ PETTY HARBOUR, twelve miles from St. John, is the only remaining place where the Newfoundland School society have a master and mistress. They are respectable. A handsome building was in good progress when I visited the place, in July, and I was particularly pleased with the whole management. In the preceding week the attendance was from twenty to twenty-one boys, and from twenty-seven to thirty-one girls. There is no other school in the place, nor is any other required.
Here it may be right to remark that the conduct of the Society's Missionaries towards these schools (which were avowedly established upon the alleged insufficiency of the Society's Missionaries and Schoolmasters) has been judicious and kind; they have assisted their usefulness by their own countenance and visits to the schools; and it is due to the teachers to say, that their conduct has been exemplary, and their attendance upon the church and the sacrament regular. Nor am I aware of any objection to them, except their expense, the injudicious style of some of their reports, which appear ridiculous to those who are on the spot, and the attempt to establish a school at St. John's, which is not wanted there.
I have the honour to be, Reverend Sir,
With great esteem,
Your faithful Servant,
REV. A. HAMILTON JOHN NOVA SCOTIA.
P.S. At Ferryland there never was a good school; at present there is none but a woman's school. At /12/ Heart's Content and New Harbour, the schoolmasters are only readers. The same, I believe, may be said of Mr. Gent and Mr. Wiseman, in Trinity Bay. I could not call at Bird Island Cove and Morton's Harbour, but the schoolmasters there only teach on Sundays as I believe, and read.
Thus it appears from the above document, that there are no less than fifteen daily schools, admitting a larger or a smaller number of free scholars; nine Sunday-schools, which there is reason to believe are open to the children of the poor generally; and four readers, in places where it has not been found practicable to establish a school of any kind, either from the want of a person qualified for and willing to undertake the work of education, or the distances of the children from any central situation, where they might be collected for the purpose of education.
The Society are desirous also of calling the attention of the public to the following EXTRACTS from a LETTER addressed to the Board by ARCHDEACON COSTAR, who has himself for several years been an eye-witness of the good effects produced, and to whose worth and many admirable qualifications His Excellency, Sir Thomas Cochran, the Governor of the island, has borne the most unequivocal testimony: the Letter is dated Bonavista, Newfoundland, July 21st, 1827.
"Some how or other we must have done our part in the work of education, else, how, I would ask, were /13/ the young people in many parts of this country brought to that degree of knowledge and civilization, which it is undeniable they had attained?
I allow, indeed, that it was chiefly by means of Sunday-schools, that we had been serviceable to the children of the poor. Such schools were numerous in our missions; and though the system of instruction pursued in most of them, was very indifferent, and the teachers not so capable as we could have wished; great good indeed was done by them. In some cases I have been surprised to see so much effected with so little means. In them, by Sunday instruction alone, many are the children who have learned to read and to pray, besides being regularly catechized, and brought to public worship; of which, but for the teachers of those schools, they would have known nothing.
Anxious, as I am, that the system should be improved, and the teachers rendered more capable and useful in their two capacities, I hesitate not to affirm, that both the system and the men are quite equal to what could reasonably be expected under the circumstances; and that seldom, indeed, if I mistake not, is the sum of 325 pounds expended by a charitable society to better purpose.
I do not fear but that inquiry will amply confirm this affirmation."
The public should be aware that one great reason why the schools in the island are not, and cannot be so efficient as the schools in England, is to be found in the /14/ peculiar habits and occupations of the population, which is during great part of the year either dispersed in the woods, or engaged in the fisheries, so that a regular attendance of the children cannot be secured, except perhaps in St. John's, and one or two other places. It is certain that it would be desirable to obtain the services of a greater number, and a superior order of schoolmasters; but before this can be done, the Society must be enabled to offer higher salaries, which in the present state of its funds it cannot do. The Society, however, has not failed, on proper occasions, to represent the wants of the island in this particular to his Majesty's government, and it will most readily employ, for this benevolent purpose, any additional means which may be placed at its disposal, either by the paternal care of his Majesty's government, or by the bounty of individuals.
(Signed) ANTHONY HAMILTON.
Nov. 23, 1827.
1. The Bishop here, and in other places, refers to the fact that in many cases, from necessity, the Society are obliged to employ their schoolmasters to read divine service in the school rooms on Sundays, where the presence of a clergyman cannot be obtained.
2. The Society has not at present any schools established in this part of the island, nearly all the inhabitants being Roman Catholics.
(E-text furnished by Dr. Hans Rollmann; typed by Ms. Heather Russell;htmlized by Dr. Hans Rollmann)