From The September, 1826 Issue of The Wesleyan Methodist Magazine
[This piece of Adam Clarke Miscellany consists of a letter originally sent to Adam Clarke, passed on by him to the editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, prefaced with an appeal by Adam Clarke for help to build places of worship on "the North Isles of Shetland." -- DVM] SHETLAND ISLANDS
To the Editor of the Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine
I have just received the enclosed letter from the North Isles of Shetland; you will probably give it an early place in the Magazine. We want a chapel both in Yell and Unst; particularly in the former. I hope some of your readers will contribute to that good work. To afford the poor people who are at such vast distances from the parish-church, places to worship God in, is a great charity. In some places where we have many hundreds to hear, and large societies, we have not a house in which we can stow even those who form our societies. May God put it in the hearts of our friends to help them. I am, dear Sir, yours truly,
Pinner, Aug. 10, 1826
Rev. and Dear Sir,
I fear that you have had a tedious and unpleasant voyage on your return from these northern regions; but hope that when this reaches you, it will find you safe in the bosom of your family. I shall not soon forget the day on which I had the pleasure of seeing you in Lerwick: the interview was short; but the words I heard from you strengthened and encouraged me, and inspired me with fresh zeal; so that I returned to my circuit with a renewed determination to be more than ever given up to God and to his work. I left Lerwick in the boat that evening, -- at six o'clock, and reached Gossaburgh, East-Yell, at one in the morning.
We had a tolerable passage, but were thoroughly wet with rain. On the same day I set off for Unst. I walked to the north of that island, spent the Sabbath there, and preached on my journey at the fishing-station in North-Yell, and other places, and returned to East-Yell on the Thursday after. Almost every person I met with inquired after Dr. Clarke, and many respectable families expressed much disappointment when I informed them that you were unable to visit the North Isles: and certainly you were prevented from seeing what is, in many respects, the most interesting part of Shetland.
On the Saturday, I went to visit those poor widows I mentioned to you, whose husbands had been cast away at the Haaf, or Fishing Bank. They are five in number, and have among them twenty-two fatherless children. They were in much distress. I conversed and prayed with them, and gave them suitable tracts; and then went to Burravos.
On Sunday the 7th, I preached at Burravoe in the morning, and gave tracts to upwards of two hundred people. After the sermon, I met the class, and added one to the society, and then crossed the Firth to Lunna, and preached in the evening to a serious congregation. In the morning I left Lunna for the Skerries, in a fishing boat. We reached the place of our destination at ten o'clock; and in the afternoon I preached in the open air to a congregation of fishermen and inhabitants, amounting to upwards of three hundred.
The Skerries are four or five small islands situated about twelve or fourteen miles east from Yell, six from Whalsey, and fourteen from Fetlar. Two of these islets are inhabited, and contain seventy-five souls. One sermon a year is the most that these people get from their minister; so that they have no profusion of spiritual food. These islands, small as they are, like the rest of the country, are all intersected by narrow sounds and voes, and afford many facilities for prosecuting the ling-fishing; and during the summer season there are employed on this station forty-five boats, and about three hundred men.
At this place, no Methodist preacher had ever been before. During my stay, I preached to them every day, visited the families, examined and catechized all the children, distributed a number of religious tracts, and spake to all the people. The inhabitants appeared eager for religious instruction, and expressed their gratitude for my visit in no equivocal terms.
On Friday night I returned to Lunna, preached on Saturday morning to a serious congregation, and then crossed the sound, and walked home in the evening.
Sunday last, the 16th inst., was wet and windy, but a good congregation collected, and I preached twice; I met the society, added one, and held a meeting for exhortation and prayer. We had a good day. To God be all the praise.
On Monday morning all the children in the neighborhood (about thirty in number) were collected together, that I might instruct and catechize them. This I intend to do every week when I am at home; but I am greatly at a loss for Catechisms. The children are anxious to learn. From this you will perceive that the work of God in Yell is going steadily on; the congregations are good, the society is increasing, and from every quarter the people are saying, "Come over and help us." The seed has been sown, and it is now springing up and bringing forth fruit to the honor and praise of God. In this island God has set before us an open door: the hindrances are removing, and
"The vineyard of the Lord, Before his laborers lies."
A simple, teachable, affectionate people has been raised up in this neighborhood; but they have no place to worship God in but my room in East-Yell, and a booth kindly lent us by a person in South-Yell, and we have no certainty of retaining either of these places. What must be done? I think a piece of ground may be got for a chapel in South-Yell, to which the inhabitants of East and West Yell might have access; and the population of these places together amounts to about eight hundred. There is no place of worship of any kind in this district. There was formerly a kirk [church], but it has been in ruins for twenty years past. I think a house might be built very reasonably in the coming winter and spring.
I am now well acquainted with the people, and I believe that I could get most of the stones for very little expense in the winter-season: vessels are regularly going this way, so that timber &c., would be easily obtained; and wages in the spring will, I think, be low, because the fishing is very poor this summer; and for these and other reasons, it appears to me, that if a chapel be built at all in the North Isles, now is the time.
I think a place to contain two hundred hearers might be built for about 40 l. Some of my friends in England have offered to subscribe something towards building a chapel in Yell. I have consulted our chairman upon this subject, and my views met with his approbation. I am your obedient son in the Gospel,
S. C. Hindson * * * * * * *