The New­found­land Mem­oirs of Rev. C. Ernest Smith

Chap­ter 7

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

fa­mous mem­ory; also the Sco­tia, equally fa­mous as the only pad­dle steamer cross­ing the At­lantic, while the Minia, a steamship owned by the com­pany it­self, was a fre­quent vis­i­tor. It was from Heart’s Con­tent that men first went to ac­com­plish that most sur­pris­ing feat of pick­ing up in midAt­lantic the ends of a bro­ken ca­ble, join­ing them to­gether and then let­ting the re­paired ca­ble gen­tly fall back again into its bed of ooze on the At­lantic floor.”

As with other Angli­can parishes in New­found­land, the Heart’s Con­tent parish re­served “ the right to choose its own rec­tor.” All other parishes were “mis­sions” and, as such, were “sub­ject to the Bishop’s di­rec­tion.”

De­spite the right of the parish to call its own rec­tor, it elected to leave the choice to the Bishop. He ap­pointed Smith “ to fill the va­cancy.”

Smith, who “ was only in dea­con’s or­ders,” dis­played “ the usual self-con­fi­dence of youth.” In­stead of “ tak­ing the cus­tom­ary few days to con­sider the of­fer,” he read­ily ac­cepted it. Within a mat­ter of weeks, he was in­stalled as rec­tor of the Heart’s Con­tent parish.

His parish “ was per­haps the largest and, in some re­spects, the most im­por­tant in the is­land.” How­ever, “ Dame Ru­mour had it that it was a parish of some­what ex­cep­tional dif­fi­culty.”

The rea­son for this per­ceived dif­fi­culty lay with the com­po­si­tion of the res­i­dents. “ There were,” Smith wrote, “ two en­tirely dif­fer­ent sets of peo­ple, each liv­ing their own life” and, he in­ti­mated, “ never the twain shall meet.”

The first set were the “‘ na­tives’ who formed the great bulk of the parish­ioners-mostly fish­er­men, shop­keep­ers and mer­chants.”

The sec­ond set were “ the ‘staff ’ and their fam­i­lies.” They had ar­rived in the town “ from all parts of the world, Eng­land, Canada, United States, Ire­land and France.”

Most of the lat­ter set were mem­bers of the Church of Eng­land. Smith was in­ter­ested to learn that, among his parish­ioners were two nieces of Bishop John Co­leridge Pat­ter­son ( 182771), the mar­tyred priest of Me­lane­sia. The women were mar­ried to prom­i­nent men of the Com­pany staff. Pat­ter­son had dis­tin­guished him­self by do­ing “so great a work for the is­lands of the South­ern Seas and, in death, a still greater [work], for then, as ever, the blood of the mar­tyrs had been the seed of the Church.”

To be con­tin­ued.

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