Life in India/The Departure

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The hour for embarkation came. Having received our instructions from the officers of the society which sent us forth, and a farewell from the churches, with hearts filled with mingled emotions of sorrow and joy, we repaired to the vessel that was to bear us to our home among the heathen of far-distant India.

Here all was activity and confusion : officers and crew were busy with preparations for casting off from the wharf, the owners of the ship were exchanging last words with the captain, fresh provisions were arriving for the voyage, while a thronging crowd of friends clustered around those with whom they were so soon to part, it might be, forever.

At length all was ready, and missionaries and friends gathered around an aged minister who had laboured thirty-three years in the land to which we were bound, listened to a last address, joined in a last prayer, and then turned to take a last embrace. Mothers did not venture there. In the privacy of home they had wept their parting tears and given the parting kiss; but dear friends, fathers and brothers pressed for the last time to their hearts the objects of their love, then left us, and took their station upon the wharf to witness our departure. Hawsers were cleared away, sails set, the single plank that united us to our native land thrown off, and with a favouring wind, we were under weigh. Cheers from the wharf were answered from the ship, the crowd of gazers dispersed, and only some few warm-hearted ones remained in the cold October wind to watch the receding and lessening form of the ship, until, like a white-winged bird, it was lost in the distant horizon.

But we had still a connecting link with America. It was the pilot, who guided our ship down the harbour of Boston through rocks and islets to the open bay. Hurrying below, amid the confusion of boxes, trunks, baskets, bags, and luggage in all its forms, we found places on which to lay our paper, that we might once more write our farewells to dear friends whom we left,—left not because we loved them not, but because we heard the voice of God crying in our ears, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature !"

And now the pilot has gone. He has borne with him our last words; friends will hear no more from us until oceans have been crossed by us, and re-crossed by some vessel bearing the news. The pilot in his little dancing craft glides lightly up the bay, and leaves us to plough our slow course through fourteen thousand miles of rolling ocean—the last bond to America is severed, and now—FOR INDIA HO!

The sails were filled, and fair the light winds blew,
As glad to bear us from our native home;
And fast the brown rocks faded from our view,
And soon were lost in circumambient foam.”