The Net in the Bay, Or, Journal of a Visit to Moose and Albany, by the Bishop of Rupert’s Land.

Account of an evangelizing journey from Fort Gerry to Albany and Moose on the James Bay in 1853, with various liturgical services throughout the trip, by the first Bishop of Rupert’s Land (consecrated 1849). The book is full of pieties but somehow a sense of sincerity breaks through.

p. 3: A tin box, containing my robes and a few articles of clothing, a waterproof leathern bag with some other necessaries, and a very small box with papers, letters, and two or three books; this was all that I could carry for so long a journey.

p. 5, at Brokenhead River he was reading on his journey, “Ryle’s Sermons to Children”: …and felt the desire that something of this stamp might be translated into the Indian tongue, their simplicity and plainness seems so calculated for usefulness. But, alas! they are still too advanced for the poor Indian—the bread must be broken into much smaller crumbs for them….

I was reading, during the rest of the day, an interesting lecture on New Zealand, by…Rev. Ralph Barker.

p. 7-8: I occupied myself with an Ogibwa grammar and a little German, and the time passed rapidly on.

p. 17: After service we parted into groups. I gave my own men some tracts and books. H. A. Mackenzie read some passages, in Ogibwa, to the Indians; James M’Kay read to me some hymns with which he was familiar, from Dr. O’Meara’s Prayer Book, and, after leaving me, I heard him soon singing with the Indians, one of the hymns we had sung in their own tongue. I heard also a little girl say her alphabet and read….

p. 93, July 29th.–….: After prayers with my own men, I had the Indians assembled: some are absent from the Fort, but upwards of fifty were brought together, men, women, and children. To see them with their books is novel to me; these are little paper books, in which Mr. Horden writes out for them in the syllabic character, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, with the opening versicles of the Prayer-book, and a few leading texts containing the essence of the Gospel; added to these are a few short hymns, and these they copy out and multiply themselves. [Mr. Horden at the time was not ordained.]

p. 99: The great novelty to me is to find Indians looking into a book, and that a book bearing on another world and their souls, and in their own tongue…. They have, some of them, a case for their little books, two bark boards, like the oaken boards of old binding; these, tied together with a leather thong, make a treasure. This they will carry sixty miles off, and there they will read it together. Is not this as of old, when a few leaves of the Bible were precious, and is not the very office of a scribe revived? Mr. Horden is as yet the chief scribe over them, but many from among themselves are, as it were, scribes of the Lord.

p. 112, at Fort Moose: Saw the library lately established, numbering, as yet, very few books, promised to write home on their behalf to some of our societies. It is a subject which has been much on my mind. If libraries of some extent could be established at some central posts, and the books circulated through the surrounding district, the good effect produced might be very great. It might be the means of self-improvement to young men cut off from all the advantages of society, and beguile the solitude of these retired posts. Something has already been done by gentlemen in the service. I hear with pleasure that there is a library of more than 300 volumes at Fort Simpson, which is for the use of the Mackenzie River District generally. The addition of a few such in other parts of the country would be a great boon. York and Moose would seem to be suitable spots for their establishment.

p. 126-31, part of Bishop Anderson’s duty was to administer confirmations as well as the examination of Mr. Horden for ordination, including tests on the 39 Articles, OT History, evidences, NT history, Church History, and finally preparation of a sermon, which Anderson read in mss.

p. 130: One advantage Mr. Horden possesses, and which it seems only an act of justice to others to mention. That he has more time for study and self-improvement than any of our other missionary clergy.

p. 133, at Fort Churchill: Dr. Long, late of Montreal, the medical officer, had a very good collection of sacred music, from which we tried over many old favourites, aided often by his voice and instrument.

p. 188-89, on August 31st, during heavy rains: My companion during the morning was Trench, “On the Study of Words,” a book which I seized on with great delight, and read and re-read by the way. It was, indeed, one which bore well a second and third perusal, as suggestive of thoughts, and thus a good companion for a solitary journey…. That friends at home imagined it a book to my mind may be inferred from the circumstance, that three copies of it have reached me; the one which luckily found its way to Moose, was fully digested on my way home, and the others which I found there were not lost, as they have been thoroughly instilled into my scholars, and thoroughly enjoyed by them, and some of my clergy.

p. 204, at Martin’s Falls, 800 miles from home: There was a small collection of books belonging to the postmaster, with which I passed, as it turned out, an enjoyable day. I had not seen “Blair’s Lectures on Rhetoric” for many years, and beguiled the time by reading right through the Lectures on Pulpit Eloquence, and also his critique of the most eminent historical and philosophical writers, ancient and modern. [Cf. Melville’s sarcastic comment on Blair in White-Jacket.]Though not always agreeing with the book or its style, it brought up many old recollections. There was also a good old work on the immortality of the soul by Wadsworth, 1670; besides it “Jamieson’s Manners and Trials of the Early Christians,” and several others, which I was astonished to find in so remote a spot. With these the long solitary winters need never be dull. Indeed, to know the full value of a book, one requires nothing more than a secluded post and a snowy or rainy day.

p. 216: I have too more time to enjoy the prospect [sic], having fewer books. All [his books] have been left behind or nearly all. A book is such a gift when the means of reading are small, that one leaves behind all that one can. The weather too, when stormy, does not so well admit of reading, as the rain falls on the page; and even apart from this, when poling vigorously, as we have been doing more or less for weeks, the book runs a risk of a splash, which cannot at times be avoided.