Wesleyan Mission Commenced at Goobbe.
In April, 1837, Mr and Mrs Hodson went to live at Goobbe. At first they dwelt in tents, and then they built a little cottage, of which the accompanying sketch gives a fair representation. The walls, about six feet high, were made of mud, the roof was thatch, and the rooms were small and few. But the Missionary and his wife found it very comfortable when the weather was fine, though when it rained they were subject to many little inconveniences. This mission cottage, situated on the brow of a rising ground, commanded a pleasant and extensive prospect. In the front there was a view over hill and dale, wood and water, for fifty or sixty miles. On one side the low flat lands, well watered from a large tank, were covered with rich crops of rice. On other sides there were patches of varied cultivation, interspersed with clumps of trees, as well as large tracts of uncultivated land, used as common pasturage for all the cattle of the town. To these unenclosed grounds cows, sheep, etcetera, were driven out every morning, and after grazing all day, were brought back into the town of Goobbe every evening. Occasionally, a shepherd's boy, reclining on the ground near his sheep, played sweetly on an instrument, newly made by himself out of some hollow vegetable stalk, but which in an hour or two, on its becoming dry or injured, he would break and throw away as a useless `bruised reed.' The Missionary has often sat at his cottage door admiring these beauties of nature, when unexpectedly a few graceful timid antelopes have run across the garden in front of him, adding life as well as beauty to the scene. On a Sunday morning he often fancied every thing appeared clearer, brighter and more beautiful than on other days. There was, however, one dark cloud hanging over all this loveliness, in the fact that the town of Goobbe, just at the foot of the hill was wholly given to idolatry:

"Every prospect pleases,
Only man is vile."

The Missionary and his assistant went forth daily from their poor abodes carrying the riches of the Gospel either into one of the streets of Goobbe, or to some of the numerous villages within seven or eight miles of the mission cottage, and preached in the open air to as many people as they could collect; and when a congregation could not be obtained, they went from house to house, and thus made known the plan of salvation. When they went the first time to any village the people stood in the attitude of attention, but what they heard was so new, that more of wonder than intelligence was manifested by all. After a few visits, when information had increased a little, there was still a manifest disinclination to accept the truth. Because, for a Hindu to be told that in order to salvation he must forsake the idols which his forefathers have worshipped for hundreds of years, and adopt the creed laid down in the Shastras of another nation, is to him the height of absurdity. And it very frequently happened that at the conclusion of a sermon the Missionary would hear some one say, "Very good, all very true; your religion is good for you, and ours is good for us."

Very few of the people were able to read, so that the distribution of tracts was very limited. They invited all serious enquirers to the cottage to talk about Christianity. Amongst the women who came, some had sickly children with them. On seeing this, Mrs Hodson administered some simple medicines, which cured several, and their parents attributing the cure to the favour of the Missionary's God, they were for a time very anxious to hear more about Jesus Christ. Reports of these cures were exaggerated, and so mixed up with the New Testament accounts of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ in raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, etcetera, that one poor woman brought her child, who had been blind three years, in hopes that Mrs Hodson would be able to restore its sight. Amongst the more intelligent visitors was Daniel: and one evening, just after the tent, as a residence, had been abandoned for the thatched cottage, Mrs Hodson went with her husband to see Daniel's village, Singonahully. No English lady had ever been in the village before, so that there was considerable excitement produced by the visit. Mr Hodson says, "As we drew near to the gate of the village we saw two or three boys running to let their parents and others know that the Missionary and his wife were coming. On entering, Daniel showed us his house, and in a very short time nearly all the people of the village, men, women, and children, were gathered together." Having such a large congregation, Mr Hodson preached a short sermon, but with very little good effect, especially on the minds of the women, for their attention was evidently much more occupied with the shape, colour and material of Mrs Hodson's dress than with anything her husband said to them.

chapter twelve the first sermon
Top of Page
Top of Page