Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

a

who, having already caught the chants and psalm tunes, join heartily in the service. The Queen has been baptized. The king and queen, some of their European ministers, and numbers of the residents and educated natives, have been confirmed. One native gentleman, a very intelligent and accomplished man, of the highest social position and consideration, a principal chief of ancient descent, a member of the house of nobles, a major in the army, and principal aide to the king, whose moral character and stability are to some extent evidenced by his having been

“church member” among the Americans for many years, is a candidate for ordination. In short, the Hawaiians as a nation seem to have received the English mission with open arms; and all that is wanting is labourers enough to reap the spiritual field which is so ripe to the harvest.

We must not omit to mention as another of the many points of special and novel interest in this mission, that its original plan was, that the American Episcopal Church should co-operate with the mother Church in this new work, by sending and maintaining three of her clergy, to join the three English clergy under an English bishop. The outbreak of the civil war has prevented the accomplishment of this part of the scheme. We will hope that this act of communion in good works may be only delayed, but meantime it has left the mission very feeble. This is not the place for criticism, but we must take leave to say, if it is right in us to send a mission to Hawaii at all, it is right to make it efficient. This staff of a bishop and three clergy is manifestly very far short of what is necded. We may call to mind—it is the last of the historical parallels with which we will trouble the reader-that when England was a barbarous island in the distant seas, and the patriarch of the Church which then led the van of the armies of Christendom desired to send a mission to it, he sent not four men but forty. The sooner we send a reinforcement of clergy, a number of Christian women to deal with the native females, schoolmasters to teach the children, and

money to build churches, schools, and parsonages, the sooner we may be rid of the uncomfortable feeling that the English Church and nation has made at present but a shabby answer to the very

remarkable and affecting appeal which this interesting people has made to use made to the English Church as the great steward of her Master's truth, and to the beneficence of the wealthy and powerful English nation, to which the Hawaiians have always looked up

with

an

almost filial admiration and confidence.

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

PERHAPS our memories of Bonchurch, in the Isle of Wight Undercliff, may not date to so early a period as 1828, when John Sterling proclaimed it to be “ an earthly fairy-land, combining all the varied and fanciful beauty of enchantment with the highest degree of domestic comfortable reality;” nor may we have known the Bonchurch of 1832, when William Wilberforce pronounced it "the most delightful of all possible retreats—an oasis in the wilderness.” Perchance we have not visited the Undercliff until the Wilberforce wilderness has become a peopled fruitful land, and the shady retirement of the Bonchurch oasis has been ruthlessly invaded by residents and wanderers, by shops, stage-coaches, lodging-houses, and hotels. But if Ventnor, since the discovery of “the British Madeira” by Sir James Clark, has so rapidly been developed from a little fishing village into the capital of Southern Vectis, it is not to be wondered at that its outlying hamlet of Bonchurch should have changed its rural aspect into the less picturesque shape that befits the environs of a flourishing watering-place.

Ventnor began to emerge from its chrysalis state in the year

1828; but it was not till 1837 that Bonchurch gave its first warning-note of change by the division of many of its fair acres into smaller lots for building purposes. Then was the “oasis” threatened with villas and terraces; then was the “ earthly fairy land” made more terrestrial by the apparition in its most romantic nook of Ribbands' Family Hotel; then were the thatched cottages, of which Sterling said that they were “in the very style a poet would have imagined or a painter designed," converted into larger houses of lodger-receiving capacities, or elbowed into corners by more stately edifices, that, turning their faces to the sea, and their backs to the rocky ramparts of the sheltering Downs, sunned themselves in a fairy land and oasis of their own creation ; then were noble rows of antique elms felled to make roof-trees for the villas that should occupy the broad sweep of turf they had for centuries o'ershadowed; and rustic lanes, lying deep amid hedgerows, veiled with the sweet tendrils of the traveller's joy, and banked with thickest growth of fern, were widened into coach-roads bordered with dull stone walls. Which walls, indeed, would alone testify to the change that has converted so large a portion of the former verdure of Bonchurch into the stones which the Medusa of innovation has frowned into their places on every coign of vantage between the Downs and the shore; and, as the traveller passes between their gray boundaries, he may possibly think that the present picturesqueness of the Bonchurch roads would be greatly enhanced by the destruction of the stony fences and the restoration of the hedgerows with their clustering ferns and clematis; unless, indeed, the traveller is precluded from these mental references to the pristine traveller's joy” from the exigencies of his position in being perched on the top of an over-laden coach, that is making its way from Ryde to Ventnor (where will very soon be a railway), and is descending that great hill from Dunnose and Boniface Down at an angle of 45°, and twisting and turning and zig-zagging down the shute," as the natives term it, and threatening to topple over, and shoot that traveller, like a sack of soot, over the stone walls and down the chimneys of the houses, above whose roofs the road is carried. If such be the fashion of the traveller's triumphal entry into Bonchurch, we would counsel him to avoid a disaster by leaving the coach at the top of the zig-zag, and tarrying at that aforesaid hotel, hight Ribbands', where, after enjoying its manifold comforts, and the glorious sea-view that it commands, he may ramble through its romantic grounds, and clamber up that rocky staircase to the Downs, from thence to view a panorama that is scarcely equalled, and certainly not surpassed, throughout the island. It so happens, too, that from this point of view the modern villas of Bonchurch are shrouded by intervening foliage; so that we might also fancy ourselves in the pre-Victorian rural days of the oasis and fairy-land.

[blocks in formation]

Yet, certainly, the Bonchurch of to-day (when we descend from our overhanging Downs, and peer more closely into its attractions), beautifal and elaborately picturesque as it is, must be as different from the Bonchurch of thirty years ago as the modern Ventnor is unlike to that Etching of fishing-boats and huts which Mr. E. W. Cooke was fain to make do duty for his representation of the future queen of Southern Vectis. And we, who only know the modern Bonchurch, may very readily understand the feelings of our elderly friends—who have known and loved (and, haply, been restored to health in) the quiet, rustic, thinly.peopled Bonchurch of the Georgian era-when they pronounce its modern representative to be an overgrown and degenerate impostor. Your own experience of Bonchurch is so comparatively recent, and such grumblers have so much to say on their side of the question, that you are constrained to bow to the decision of your elders; though you keep yonr own opinion just the same.

Now you may, or you may not, have known Bonchurch when it was an “ oasis in the wilderness;" but if you have not, the absence of any discontented feelings at its change from its former condition will give you the greater capacity for the enjoyment of its present beauties, which are undeniably as great as those of any other portion of the lovely Undercliff, with the exception, perhaps, of certain spots between St. Lawrence and Sandrock, where all the wild beauties of nature would seem to have met for a glorious pic-nic. Despite the cutting-down of many forest trees, still there are so many left standing, and the growth of shrubs is on such a Brobdignagian scale, that Bonchurch revels in one element that is sadly lacking at Ventnor—the agreeable element of shade. If the repose and quiet of the olden time are no longer preserved intact, yet still the sylvan shades of Bonchurch remain for the poet's song and the artist's pencil, equally as much as for the heated pedestrian and the worn invalid. And, down by that pretty pool by the roadside to Ventnor, we may see some of the thatched cottages that belonged to the Bonchurch of 1801, when the sum total of its inhabitants was sixty-nine. Against these cottage walls, myrtles bloom in winter, fuschias grow into trees, scarlet geraniums are taller than the doorway, and the Virginian creeper and clematis twine around the very chimney-pots.

And if the gardens of the few cottagers are so gay, we may readily imagine the bevy of floral beauties that cluster around the houses of the residents. We say “ residents" advisedly, and in contradistinction to the nomadic population of Ventnor; for the shade and the greater elbow-room at Bonchurch render it a more desirable spot thap Ventnor for those who would wish to make a temporary or permanent home in this part of the Undercliff. Many who have done so have made their names famous.

Wilberforce and Sterling have been already mentioned, and the name of Sir E. Bulwer Lytton may be added to the list of those who, like the author of “The Shadow of the Cross," have, for many months together, made Bonchurch their home. Of authors resident in Bonchurch, may be mentioned the popular authoress of “Amy Herbert," Miss E. Sewell, who resides with her sister at Seaview, on the Upper Terrace; the Rev. James White, author of "The Eighteen Christian Centuries," and other historical works and drainas; the Rev. Edmund Venables, author of by far the best guide-book to the Isle of Wight that has yet been published; Mr. Edmund Peel, author of “The Fair Island;" and Dr. Martin, author of a “History of the Undercliff.” Bonchurch, too, can boast a celebrated native in the person of that famous lad who, with the same wild yearning that carries the young sea-gull from its inland nest to the throbbing ocean, ran away from the Niton tailor, and, in due time, came back as the nicknamed “ Admiral Snip," the gallant Admiral Sir Thomas Hopson. It was under this ex-tailor Hopson and the exshoemaker, Sir Cloudesley Shovel, that Admiral Vernon won his early laurels and wore his famous grogram breeches, whose reputation has been handed down to the navy under the diluted abbreviation of grog.

The goal of every Bonchurch visitor is the gray old church (see page 281), standing apart from the village, and within a few yards of the cliff's verge, a position that it has occupied for eight centuries, but which the inroads of the sea on the crumbling face of the cliff, threaten to a similar fate with that of Reculvers. It dates to 1070, and being dedicated to St. Boniface, thence gave the name to the village and to the lofty Down. It is a low plain building, with nave, chancel, and a later porch and bell-cot, but with nothing that calls for architectural notice save its Norman chancel-arch and south door, with a few mouldering remains of wall-painting As the old church is but 48 feet long by 12 feet wide, it was found too small for the increasing population, and, since the opening of the new church, has been used only for funerals. The cool tones” of its lichen-stained walls, its warmer red-tiled roof, its situation on the gentle grassy slope near to the verge of the cliff, and its dark leafy background and encircling trees, render it a most picturesque subject for the pencil. Close to the church is Winterbourne House, where, on January 17, 1848, died the Rev. W. Adams, after writing " The Old Man's Home" and "The King's Messengers" within its walls. A peep of the house is seen through the trees to the left. Immediately beneath, in the south-western part of the churchyard, is Mr. Adams's grave, on which “the Shadow of the Cross” is cast by a floriated cross fixed horizontally a few inches above the "coffin-lid” stone. The plain pointed head-stone that marks the grave of John Sterling, is seen just over, but beyond, Mr. Adams's grave, by the western wall. Roses, fuschias, and other flowers, bloom amid the graves.

The new church—also dedicated to St. Boniface of which an

« ZurückWeiter »