EDINBURGH, THE SETTLEMENT OF TRISTAN DA CUNHA, FROM THE SEA



THE LONELY ISLAND

BY

ROSE ANNIE ROGERS

WIFE OF THE LATE HENRY MARTYN ROGERS
MISSIONARY PRIEST AT TRISTAN DA CUNHA
AND FELLOW-WORKER WITH HIM ON THAT
ISLAND

 

 

WITH A MAP AND 24 ILLUSTRATIONS

 

 

LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.
RUSKIN OUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C.1



Abstracted from Admiralty Chart No. 1769 and reduced. Agent Mr. J. D. Potter, 145, Minories, E.1.


DEDICATED
TO

THE MEMBERS OF OUT LITTLE FLOCK
ON THE ISLAND OF TRISTAN DA CUNHA



HENRY MARTYN ROGERS


In Memoriam

HENRY MARTYN ROGERS
Born February 22, 1879.   Died May 14, 1926.

"The rushing of the Atlantic waves is still in my ears, while I can still smell the kelp on the beach, and can see those eager, tear-stained faces pleading for our return—for my heart is ever there and I hope I may yet be able to return to the little island flock I love so well."
HENRY MARTYN ROGERS, in a public lecture delivered shortly before his death.


IN MEMORIAM

THE service of Henry Martyn Rogers on behalf of the people of Tristan da Cunha has been a sacrifice throughout, and it has ended in the supreme sacrifice. He volunteered well knowing that there was the minimum of reward attaching to the work, and it afforded no means of provision for the future. He knew, too, that the funds available did not admit of adequate equipment or safeguard against those privations that were inevitable in life on a barren rock in the very centre of the South Atlantic Ocean and out of the way of all regular ships' traffic. Moreover, his acceptance of the conditions held good despite the realization later of what he had undertaken. For, as is well known, he and his devoted wife, who was his staunch supporter in his resolution to go, had to wait nearly a year for the means of passage to the island, and their decision to undertake the work remained steadfast and unshaken to the end.

The character thus displayed by Mr. and Mrs. Rogers was of good promise for the fulfilment of the task they had set themselves, and their devotion to duty is shown in a conspicuous way by a note which I received from Mrs. Rogers when they had been on the island some sixteen months. Knowing as I did their anxieties consequent on the birth of their child there, Mrs. Rogers wrote to reassure me, and she did so in these words: " We have many difficulties which, by God's grace, we shall overcome. Both my husband and I will always do our very best for these poor people, and shall stay as long as ever we can to help them. Don't trouble about us."

Mr. and Mrs. Rogers stayed on the island for a further eighteen months, and how well their promise to do their best for the people was performed is shown by the letters they received after they had left. Selected from many is one, typical of the rest, which came from Mrs. Frances Repetto, one of the most respected women of the island. It was written a month after their departure and it has this touching tribute in it:

Peter has hung up your photograph, and so we always look at you and think and talk about you—for we shall never see such good, kind friends again. I keep Sunday School for as many as come, and always tell them how pleased you and the Minister would be to see the children keeping Sunday. I will try and remember all you taught me, and do what I can, but you know I am not strong. When I look over the sea I always think of you, and though, dear Madam, we are many miles apart, we can pray for one another and the good God will take care of us all. Peace, health, and happiness. I am too upset to write more.

Separated as they were from people giving proof of such attachment to them, it is not to be wondered at that there grew upon Mr. and Mrs. Rogers a longing to return, and only a fortnight before his death, moved by an appeal which he had received from the people, Mr. Rogers wrote to me intimating his readiness to go back if only it were made possible for him to do so. But his career was ended and his work done—how well those who saw him at it testified—and his return was not to be.

DOUGLAS M. GANE,
Hon. Sec.,
TRISTAN DA CUNHA FUND.


AUTHOR'S PREFACE

I PUBLISH this little book in tender and honoured memory of my husband, who helped me to write it. It makes no claim to literary merit. Its aim is merely to describe in familiar terms the daily life of the quaintest and most isolated community in the British Empire. At Tristan da Cunha even the ordinary happenings of everyday life seem to take on a glow of romance, and commonplace folk come to fill conspicuous places in our interest which in a larger setting are denied to them. On this account I have taken the liberty of introducing most of the islanders to my readers by name, and I have done this in the hope that they will feel a more intimate and personal interest in them as my narrative proceeds.

I offer my grateful acknowledgments to Mr. Douglas M. Gane, who is behind the present movement for helping the island, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, its oldest friend, for their endeavours throughout to ease our task and render its accomplishment within our reach. And I also thank all those kind friends, at home and abroad, interested in the island, who, in diverse ways, gave us their assistance and support.

Furthermore, I thank Mr. Gane for his contributions to the book, and I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Messrs. George Alien & Unwin, Ltd., for undertaking the publication of it, and for so kindly making it their contribution to what they are good enough to call "a very worthy cause."

I am under obligation, too, for permission to use photographs—the work of Captain G. H. Wilkins—forming part of the Quest collection, and for others taken by officers of H.M.S. Dublin and the Ramon da Larrinaga on their visits to the island and the visitors who accompanied the Dublin. Unfortunately my own camera broke down soon after my arrival.

For the description of the new bird given in one of the Appendices I am indebted to Dr. Percy Lowe, of the Natural History Museum, and I offer him thanks for his valuable service in this connection. My thanks are also due to the Editor of the Illustrated London News for allowing me to reproduce from that paper Mr. G. E. Lodge's drawing, in which he so ably reconstructs the bird.



CONTENTS

PAGE
IN MEMORIAM 10
AUTHOR'S PREFACE 13
CHAPTER
I.             SOME GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY 19
II.             THE BRINK OF A GREAT ADVENTURE 27
III.             ARRIVAL AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS 35
IV.             LIFE ON TRISTAN DA CUNHA 43
V.             THE "QUEST" AT TRISTAN 60
VI.             A TRIP TO SEAL BAY 76
VII.             THE COMING OF BABY EDWARD 90
VIII.             CHRISTMAS ON TRISTAN DA CUNHA 98
IX.             THE VISIT OF H.M.S. "DUBLIN" 120
X.             BUILDING A CHURCH 133
XI.             ISLAND CUSTOMS AND FESTIVITIES 150
XII.             EXPLORATIONS AND DISCOVERIES 164
    (a) Inaccesssible Island
    (b) Nightingale Island
    (c) The Caves
    (d) Sandy Point
    (e) Up the Base
    (f) The "Pyramids"
XIII.             THE LAST YEAR AND ITS DIFFICULTIES 190
APPENDIX
I.             CENSUS OF THE ISLANDERS 206
II.             DR. PERCY LOWE'S DESCRIPTION OF THE "FLIGHTLESS RAIL" 209
III.             THE ISLANDERS' PETITION AND THE GOVERNMENT REPLY 214
IV.             CUSTOM IN TRISTAN DA CUNHA 217


ILLUSTRATIONS

EDINBURGH, THE SETTLEMENT OF TRISTAN DA CUNHA FRONTISPIECE
MAP OF THE ISLAND Page 5
  FACING PAGE
HENRY MARTYN ROGERS 9
THE TRISTAN DA CUNHA MISSION FIELD 27
ISLAND COTTAGE, WITH THE LATE BETTY COTTON IN THE GROUP 43
THE MISSION HOUSE, WITH MRS. ROGERS AND COMMANDER FRANK WILD IN FRONT 43
THE SCHOOL CHILDREN OF THE ISLAND OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL-HOUSE 49
THE PENGUIN TROOP RECEIVING THE CHIEF SCOUT'S PRESENTATION FLAG 57
ISLAND BOATS AT SEA 65
LANDING SHORES FROM THE "QUEST" BY NIGHT 65
EDWARD TRISTAN CHESELDON ROGERS 97
MRS. REPETTO AND HER THREE SONS 97
H.M.S. "DUBLIN" PREPARING TO LAND STORES 121
ANOTHER TRISTAN COTTAGE 121
THE MAIL BEING BROUGHT ASHORE FROM H.M.S. "DUBLIN" 125
THE LANDING OF THE STORES FROM H.M.S. "DUBLIN" 125
THE BISHOP OF ST. HELENA AND CAPTAIN SHIPWAY ASHORE 129
MR. AND MRS. ROGERS DISTRIBUTING THE MAIL 129
THE POTATO PATCHES 137
INACCESSIBLE ISLAND 169
THE FLIGHTLESS RAIL 177
A MOUNTAIN SEA-VIEW 193
MR. AND MRS. ROGERS WITH THE OFFICERS OF THE "RAMON DA LARRINAGA" 193
A TRISTAN BULLOCK-WAGON 201
THE LAST FAREWELL ON THE BEACH 201


Notes on this version of Rogers:

The text was scanned from an original copy of Rogers and OCR software was used to generate a text file which was carefully proof-read against the original.

British Library call number: 10482.bbb.10. and W7/8318 and 919.7 *3802*


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