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LETTERS AND JOURNAL
NOW ENGAGED IN A RELIGIOUS VISIT
TO THE INHABITANTS OP SOME OF THE
ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN,
VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, AND NEW SOUTH WALES,
ACCOMPANIED BY HIS SON,
HARVEY, AND DARTON, GRACECHURCH STREET.
FROM THE LETTERS, &c.
OUR dear Friend, Daniel Wheeler, of Shoosharry, near Petersburg, in Russia, having for a considerable time past felt his mind strongly attracted, in the love of the Gospel, towards the inhabitants of some of the islands in the Pacific Ocean, of New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land; and believing the time had arrived that he must surrender himself to the service, spread his concern before Balby monthly-meeting in Yorkshire, of which he is a member, the quarterly-meeting of York, and the morning meeting of ministers and elders in London ; in all which meetings much unity and sympathy were felt and expressed with our dear Friend, as appears by the certificates granted to him by the said meetings, bearing date respectively the 20th of 9th month, the 26th of 9th month, and the 14th of 11th month, 1832.
The Committee of the Meeting for Sufferings appointed to forward the object, devoted much time and attention to the subject, frequently met, consulted several persons likely to give accurate information as to the best mode of conveyance, and after very mature deliberation, came at length to the conclusion, as recommended by those whose local knowledge enabled them to form a correct judgment, to purchase a small vessel for the purpose, not only as the most suitable, but probably, in the end, the least expensive; particularly as the prospect of Daniel Wheeler was, to proceed from island to island.
About this time an opportunity occurred of purchasing, on reasonable terms, the “Henry Freeling," lately a Post-Office packet, of 101 tons register. A number of Friends generously came forward, not only to pay for the vessel, but at a considerable expense, to prepare her for the voyage. This offer the Committee gratefully accepted.
Charles Wheeler, son of Daniel Wheeler, believing it his duty to offer himself as a companion to his Father, provided the Committee should approve thereof, wrote a letter to that effect, dated Shoosharry Farm, 2nd of 6th month, 1833, in which he says, Though by no means unconscious of my incapacity to act in a concern of such importance, and however inexpedient in the eye of mere reason such a step may
be in a temporal point of view, I cannot omit offering my assistance in any way which shall be deemed best to promote the object, allowing that it shall be ultimately deemed proper.
Nature, as might be expected, shrinks from a step which involves such important conse
quences, and which in itself, simply considered, is by no means such as I should have chosen; yet my only wish in the case is, I trust, to act faithfully the part designed for me by that Gracious being who has an undoubted right to dispose of His creatures according to the good pleasure of His will; and keeping my obligation to do so in view, I do not see how I can do other than make the offer which this is intended to convey."
The Committee, after due deliberation thereon, believed it right to accept him in that capacity, to which the Meeting for Sufferings agreed, and Balby monthly-meeting signified its concurrence therein by granting him its certificate.
The necessary arrangements having been completed, they sailed from the River Thames on the 13th of 1lth month, 1833, and were proceeding down the English Channel, when on the 21st they were overtaken by a heavy storm, which induced them to seek for shelter near the Isle of Wight. On the evening of that day Daniel Wheeler writes thus to a Friend.
“Mother-bank, 21st of 11th mo. 1833, 6 o'clock, A. M. Some ships that sailed with us have already reached the Motherbank, but it is thought that many will have to return to the Downs, as the weather is now becoming very stormy, and the wind directly opposed to our course down the Channel. It is indeed a great favour to be enabled to find a place of safety, and demands our humble gratitude and thankfulness to Him who presides over every storm, whether outwardly contending elements, or spiritual conflicts; and though the present dispensation may seem to impede our progress towards Cape Horn, yet it is my belief, and I am comforted in it, that all will be well at last, because ordered by Him, in whose will I desire to rest, and in whose tender mercy I trust.”
On the 31st of 12mo. he writes, “In two days more we shall have been six weeks hereabouts, and I am sometimes ready to think our dear friends will be weary of hearing again and again that we are still buffetted by adverse gales at the Mother-bank; but the will of the Lord must be done; and I endeavour to wait patiently to see what He will be pleased to do for his Great Name's sake; for He knows my downsitting and my uprising, and understandeth my thoughts afar off; and that the sole cause of my being here, is no other, than that I may be found coming up in the path of obedience to what I believe to be required of me; and therefore the consciousness of not being here in my own creaturely will and activity, reconciles me to all the turnings and overturnings of His holy hand; and that He will continue to bear me up, is my humble prayer, until He shall be pleased to say, 'It is enough.
During the detention of the vessel, it appeared that advantage would arise from a change being made in the person who had the charge of her; and whilst the Committee were looking out for a more suitable one to supply his place, Daniel Wheeler thus writes, under date of 15th of 2nd mo. 1834.
“In treating with a person to take the command of our vessel, there are many stipulations which ought to be made and insisted upon, besides nautical skill and other qualifications. In the first place it should be understood by the person in treaty for the station, that we are a Temperance Vessel ;- secondly, that the crew are regularly assembled in the cabin twice on every first day, for devotional purposes, and also that the Scriptures are read every morning and evening in the cabin on other days, when both the captain and mate are expected to (and now do) attend ; thirdly, that as much as practicable, all unnecessary work is dispensed with, as regards the sailors, on the first day of the week, to afford them a portion of time for themselves : these things ought, I think, to be thoroughly understood in the outset, so that nothing unpleasant may afterwards occur, when perhaps it would be too late to make them obligatory and bring about their establishment. My motive for mentioning these particulars, is not to make the way more difficult for my dear friends, but in order to save both time and trouble, and perhaps prevent much disappointment and uneasiness in future.”
Owing to such a succession of contrary winds and boisterous weather, as is very unusual for such a length of time, their vessel, (with many others,) was detained until the 15th of the 3rd mo. 1834, when they set sail. On the 14th, D. W. writes, “It is more than three months since I had my foot on the shore, but if I had not persisted in remaining on board, I should not have been in possession of the true character of our seamen, nor of every minutia of the state and condition of our vessel. We have put her in the best trim which we are capable of doing, and must rely on One who is almighty to help, and if He is but with us, we shall have nothing to fear :” “ good indeed,” he adds, “has it been for me to be here, and true it is also, that sufferings and tribulations have only been permitted in boundless mercy to draw me nearer and
nearer to the bosom of my Lord, the only but never-failing source of consolation, in every time of trial and distress; however dark the hour of conflict, the entrance of His word is light and life." He further observes, that “the present great object of his life, the service before him, revives at seasons with increasing and encouraging brightness to his view.”
The same day, (being that previous to their sailing,) D. W. addressed a farewell letter to the Committee, as follows:
“Henry Freeling, Mother-bank, 14th of 3rd mo. 1834. Upon reference I find that it is now considerably more than three months since I began a letter for the information of my
dear friends, when at that time anticipating that ere long we should be permitted to direct our course across the trackless ocean to the Southern hemisphere, but I had not completed more than half a sheet of paper, when the