Monday, March 9, 2009


Dec. 30th. 1888 Church Army Gazette:
The latest notes of an English visitor:
The Church Army Gazette publishes the following letter dated 30th December 1888 received from Mr Edward Clifford, treasurer of the Church Army, who has gone on a visit to the leper settlement at Molokai, Sandwich Islands:

“I have now been here nearly a fortnight. There are 1030 lepers here, well-cared for, not generally suffering pain, and in most cases seeing light-hearted and happy. Their air is very soft and pleasant, even when the wind is high and gusty. Enormous cliffs close in the leper settlement and make it almost inaccessible from the other parts of the island, and the sea is so wild that often even a boat cannot land.

“When I arrived I had to come on shore at a precipitous rock at some distance from the village. Father Damien met me there, having with him about twenty lepers. He gave me a hearty, affectionate welcome, and as it was too rough to have my large case landed I had it unpacked in the boat, and all the presents taken out one by one, handed across the waves and carried by the lepers to Kalawao. The engraving of ‘The Good Shepherd’ from Lady Mount-Temple came first and then the magic lantern [which I have since been three times showing], the Ariston, [a sort of little barrel-organ, with many hymn tunes – the lepers love to turn it], and many pictures and books. Mr Burne-Jones’ beautiful picture I had myself carried by hand all the way from London, and is now hung in Father Damien’s room.

“He is just what you would expect him to be – a simple, sturdy, hard-working, devout man. No job was too menial for him – building, carpentering, tending the sick, washing the dead, and many other such things form part of his daily work. He is always cheerful, often playful, and one of the most truly humble men I ever saw. The leprosy has disfigured him a good deal, but I never feel it anything but a pleasure to look at him; and already the gurium oil which I brought is making a manifest difference in his face and hands, and in his power of sleeping. How far the cure will reach it is, of course, impossible to say. He is such a busy man that I sometimes fear he will not find time to do the medicine full justice. The English affection for him and their sympathy touch him very much indeed. Pray for him, for there must be many times when he is tempted to be discouraged and over-sad at all the terrible cases, bodies and souls, around him. I was very glad to be here at Christmas. You would have enjoyed the hearty way in which the lepers sang ‘O come all ye faithful.’ I have been much interested in an old Christian leper from America who says he can thank God for His kindness and for many great mercies since he came here. He is more happy and contented than many people who have health, wealth and friends, and it has come to him through his illness. Father Damien has told me today that for the first time for months he has been able to sing again.”

Taken from a book published on 5th January 1889
Entitled “Great Thoughts from Master Minds”
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