The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Kingston Herald (Kingston, ON), June 29, 1841

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p.2 "The Sailor's Cause" - Under this caption our readers will find an article on our last page worthy an attentive perusal. We understand that in a few days a subscription list will be opened for the support of a Bethel Minister at this place, a copy of which list, will be left at the principal Warehousing and Forwarding establishments.



The question is often asked - "Why is there nothing doing in this Port of Kingston, to improve the social and moral condition of Seamen." the question is an important one, and should be responded to, by a magnanimous effort on the part of the friends of Sailors in this place.

Let any generous hearted man, who wishes well to his species, contemplate but for once, the scene which every returning Sabbath presents at our wharfs, and along our principal business streets: and if he has entertained doubts as to the propriety - nay the absolute necessity of an effort of some sort, those doubts will speedily vanish.

The Sailor - after the toils and hardships of weeks - during which he has been deprived of the Sabbath - finds at length he has a Sabbath that he can call his own, and comes on shore to enjoy it. But how does he come among us, and what are his enjoyments? He comes on shore a Stranger, no "Sailors Home" is prepared for his reception, no friend meets him and points him to the Santuary: no Bethel Flag is seen floating on the breeze, directing to where the God of Jacob may be worshiped.

A Sailor is eminently a social being, and whatever he meets that promises social enjoyment, he lays hold of.

We have seen that no inducements are held out no means provided, for innocent and healthful enjoyment, and those being no choice left him, the Sailor resorts to the dram Shop.

Good people wonder, that the Sailors that come into this Port are in so many instances intemperate they seem astonished at the fact and unable to account for it: their wonder and astonishment would cease, were they to supply as many sources of innocent enjoyment as there are now haunts of intemperance and vice thrown open to the sailor: make a suitable provision for him, and to a great extent he will abandon the worst, and choose the best means of enjoyment, and his intemperance and degradation will cease altogether. Such have been the results on both sides of the Atlantic, where attention has been paid to the social and moral improvement of the mariner; where the Bible, the Tract and the Sailors preacher, the Bethel Chapel and Sailors Home, are working together for his good.

And why should we be behind other communities in effort to do the mariner good? Surely we owe him something, on the score of humanity, and religion. He is our Brother, perhaps an erring one; but a brother still, and who hast made us to differ from him, he has a Lord too, and who shall say its not worth an effort to save, where such a ransom has been paid for it?

We owe him much on the score of gratitude, to his toils and hardships and privation, are we indebted in no small degree, for our present prosperity and commercial importance. We owe it to ourselves, on the score of consistency, that our public Agents be cared for; we are laying out largely for time to come; the improvements already made and making, and others still in prospect: - the multiplication of facility for doing a large portion of the business of the western world; all looking for a concentration of mercantile effort at this place; all these demand on our part a corresponding outlay for the benefit of this adventurous portion of our fellow men, who are to act an important part in these extended operations. Self-interest moreover, comes in with its promptings; with an intelligent, painstaking, and highly moral Public Agent, the risks of navigation are immeasurably diminished and promptness, efficiency and despatch secured. No money is better laid out than that which provides against the thousand evils caused by an intemperate and irresponsible "Common Carrier."

We have probably, our means of social and moral improvement considered; a maritime population as intelligent and moral as may be found elsewhere, but that should not satisfy us. We are yet to become in all human probability, the commercial emporium of a Country almost unlimited in extent, and it is a praise worthy ambition on our part, not only to equal, but to exceed all other communities in Philanthropic efforts to ameliorate the condition of the Common Carrier. "England expects every man to do his duty."

May not an effort be made the present season on this behalf? Our merchants it is bellieved need only to be consulted to secure their instant and cordial co-operation in any feasible plan and our Community will not be outdone by other communities of equal ability.

If we cannot at once provide a Chapel and open a Sailor's Home, possibly we may secure the services of a suitable individual who will devote himself to the promotion of the Sailors interests. Such an one would find enough to do, and would meet from mariners themselves, both countenance and support. Sailors are not slow to appreciate honest well meant efforts to do them good.

An office might be obtained near the Shipping, & Bibles and Tracts deposited there for sale and occasional gratuitous distribution.

There the Sailors Friend, for such we would call him, would be found and consulted, the numerous Vessels and Boats that arrive in Port might be visited by him. Tracts and Books distributed and religious worship might be held regularly on the Sabbath on board of some Vessel or Steam Boat.

The Emigrants that throng our wharves and Shipping during a portion of the Business Season, would profit by such an effort, and in ways too numerous to mention.

Who will start this good work? whoever he may be he may rest assured that the blessing of many now ready to perish will come upon him.

To the Editor of the Chronicle & Gazette

Sir: - An article in Wednesday's Chronicle, under the imposing title of "Caution to Emigrants and the public at large," in which our reputation is pretty freely handled, demands, on our part, some explanation. We now hasten to do so, more with a view to vindicate our own character in quarters into which the article alluded to may find its way, and where we may not be known; and to obviate any unfavorable impressions which may have been formed in the public mind, in consequence of the publication of the article in question, than from any importance we attach to such an ungrateful individual as Edward Cochrane.

To proceed with our explanation, or rather refutation of the malicious falsehoods contained in Mr. Cochrane's production, we would here observe, that the barge Bytown, in which he and his fellows left Montreal. is a fine, strong, sound craft, well found in every respect, and was built a year or two ago at Quebec, for Messrs. P. McGill and Co. of Montreal, (from whom we purchased her) expressly for the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal trade, for which she is well adapted. About the 26th May our firm in Montreal were despatching several barges thence for this place, laden with goods and passengers. They were also sending off the Bytown with but a few tons of goods on board. - Our towing means at the time being rather limited, it was decided that the laden barges should have the sole benefit of the towing power then available, and that the barge Bytown being light, should make the best of her way, at least part of the route, without the aid of steam. This being the case, the time of her arrival here would depend altogether on the state of the wind and the exertions of the crew. It could not therefore, be deemed prudent to put any passengers on board of her.

About the time that the Bytown was to leave Montreal, Mr. Cochrane and his friends were also leaving for the upper country, and rather than take passage in any of the barges that were laden with passengers, and sure of a quick trip, preferred taking passage on board the Bytown even under the certainty of being liable to a greater length of time on the way up, than any of the others; believing that the additional accommodation and comfort they would have on board of her, would fully compensate them for any probable difference in the time of performing the trip to this place. Urgent in their request to this effect, they were allowed to take passage on board of her. - The passengers were fourteen in number. All that could be done was done to render them comfortable. The forecastle was given up to the female passengers. ln fact the whole boat was at the disposal of these fourteen persons. More than this, Mr. Cochrane, who pretends to be so badly treated by us, not having money to pay his passage, Mr. Murray, in order to assist him in getting to his friends, took his watch as security until he might find it convenient to redeem it. The Bytown is a barge of about 80 to 85 tons burthen; it is impossible then that fourteen passengers could be otherwise than comfortable on board of her. At Vaudreuil Rapids she accidentally got aground, and could not be got off for several days, notwithstanding all the exertions made by the crew, under the superintendence of Mr. C.M. Murray, one of our young men, who was on board; and who, by the way, is not related to Mr. Murray, and who even if he were, would not on that account think of ill treating any passengers under our charge.

The 3 days unnecessary delay mentioned by Mr. Cochrane, is the period that elapsed from the time that the barge struck until the first barge came along and took the passengers on board. - The second barge into which the passengers were transferred was the Janet, a small barge of about 35 tons burthen, having no cargo with the exception of a steam boiler, and being well furnished with good oil cloths, 14 persons could certainly make themselves comfortable on board of her. - The observation relative to "dirty water" and the "stench" arising therefrom, only shows the ignorance of the writer. Any one at all conversant with barges or other craft, knows that in tight and seaworthy vessels a certain quantity of water which cannot be pumped out, always remains in the bottom, and frequently emits a flavour not altogether of a pleasing nature. It is a pity that some means of obviating this inconvenience has not been found, so as to save the olfactory organs of such delicate gentlemen as Mr. Cochrane from such severe ordeals.

Shortly after the passengers were transferred to the Janet, she overtook another barge of ours, the Otter, of about 65 tons burthen, and being but fairly laden, they were with a view to their better accommodation, again transferred to her, and remained on board of her until they arrived here. It will thus be seen that although these people were longer on the way than either they or we could have wished, or if they had taken passage on board of any of the passenger boats leaving at the same time - the fault rests not with us, nor with our men, who, we are aware, did all in their power to expedite matters. The mode of transfer was one of their own choice, and they were made aware of its being a tedious one before they embarked.

On Mr. Cochrane's arrival here he was very anxious to get back his watch, which had been sent up to Mr. Gunn our Agent here, to hand over to him on payment of the sum for which it was taken as security, but having no means of raising funds to do so, hit upon the idea of getting up a long story about ill-treatment, etc ., experienced by himself and his fellow passengers, which he accordingly drew out and presented to Mr. Gunn, stating at the same time that if he Mr. G. would refund the passage money, no further notice would be taken of the matter; if not, the statement should be published in the public prints. Mr. Gunn very properly refused to comply with his request, and told him so long as we were satisfied that no ill-treatment had been shown by us, or any of our men, he Mr. Cochrane was at perfect liberty to publish whatever he thought proper. Fired with indignation at the idea of having his very modest request so lightly treated, he determined on having his statement published, and Mr. Editor through your assistance effected his object. And here we would beg to observe, that in our opinion in all cases of the kind, where complaints are made by Immigrants to Editors of newspapers against Forwarders, whether on real or pretended grounds, they should be referred to the Emigrant Agent (provided there is one at hand) whose duty it undoubtedly is to investigate charges of this nature, and not, as we are informed has been the case in the present instance, to recommend the course adopted by Mr. Cochrane, and made no further inquiry into the matter.

The other passengers made no observations here on the subject of their alleged grievances. Mr. Cochrane was spokesman for all, and he no doubt, induced them to sign his letter under the impression that their passage money would be refunded. At all events it is evident that his exertions were directed more with a view to get back his watch and have a free passage, than from any philanthropic desire on his part to communicate a "Caution to Emigrants and the public at large." His request to compound the matter for a "consideration," plainly indicates this.

We have been thus explicit, in the hope that the public may judge for themselves and see that we are not to blame, and because we deem the matter one of no small importance.

Should this not be deemed sufficient, we are open to investigation, nay we invite it. And trusting that you sir, and any other editor who may have copied the former article, may also insert this,

We remain, sir,

Your ob't serv'ts.,

SANDERSON & MURRAY. Kingston, June 19th, 1841.

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June 29, 1841
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Kingston Herald (Kingston, ON), June 29, 1841