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Past and Present
Or a Description of Persons and Events Connected with Canadian Methodism


About twelve years ago I was in the receipt, monthly, of the Ladies’ Repository and Gatherings of the West ; and felt myself much interested in the sketchy and memorial part of it. I naturally thought, “Why should not similar memorials be preserved of what God has done by the instrumentality of Methodism in Canada?” During that year, at several intervals of leisure, mostly at night, after being wearied out with severe studies, a few of the following sketches, substantially, were thrown off—although without any definite decision about publication in any form. My occupation of an invalid station, about eight years later, afforded me leisure to add a few more ’ when all of those which related to deceased persons in my reminiscences, to the number of twenty-six, were given to the public in the columns of the Christian Guardian, over the signature of “A Voice from the Past”—to test what reception matter of that description would receive. So far as I learned any thing about them, they were regarded with some favor. Relief from the full amount of pulpit work, about a year after, by the presence and labors, in my next station, of the Rev. James Caughey, gave me time to retouch them; the rest I had by me; and I then arranged them pretty much in the order they now assume, with the persuasion that some day they might see the light. Mr. C- encouraged me to have them published; still I hesitated, mostly because I thought they would scarcely make a sizable book. There the matter slumbered till the late Conference, when I fell in with Watson’s Tales and Takings, and the notion possessed itself of my mind—more fully expounded in another place—of adding some sketches of living Ministers, and thus make out a medium volume. I was now pretty much decided to publish, if it met the approval of disinterested and judicious friends. This course was followed. The rest is known from my Circulars.

By those who can think of nothing being worthy of perusal but what relates to far distant times and scenes—aye, and those described too by some writer far away—such a volume about Canadian Methodism will be likely to be spurned. Still it has recurred to the writer :—What is literature, but a picture of manners ? If we have pictures of other things, why not a picture of them ? If a picture of manners in general, why not of Canadian manners ? Or, why not have Canadian literature ? If a picture of Canadian manners in general, why not that particular phase of them found in its religious society ? And religious society within the pale of Methodism ; or within the circle of its influence ? Such a description would not necessarily ignore, much less disparage, what has been enacted within the operations of other evangelical communities (whom the Lord in mercy bless!) while it simply portrays what the writer happened to have witnessed.

Some of these incidents may seem very simple, if not trivial, to some minds. Still, are they not natural ? And when nature is addressed, she will always respond. The arts of the literatuer the unpretending author knoAVS nothing of; but he found by frequent recitation of parts of these incidents by the fire-side, that they always interested. He therefore concluded that what interested the jew might also interest the many and probably some outside of Methodism. For, “as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.” “But you wrote the sketches merely to amuse people' a serious brother exclaims. Not wholly so ; but if I had, I would have done a good work in furnishing a book that was mirthful without being harmful, which, alas ! cannot be said of all books of amusement. But I further aspired to the production of a work, which, while it was adapted to amuse the young people of our Methodist families, would reveal to them something of its heroic animus, and attach them more fully to its institutions ; and aggressive, onward efforts. Was that wrong ? And will our favored land and Church furnish no materials for such a book ? Shame on the Canadian Methodist who says “no”!

As to what relates to “matters personal,” I refer the reader to the article “The Conference and the Crayons.” Some will have prejudged the writer’s ability to accomplish creditably the task undertaken: to such our only answer is, the work must testify ; it will give us pleasure if those who thus object will write a better.

Having written most of the articles at different periods and under the difficulties of interruptions, and some of them after the previous ones were sent to the press, there may be a want of congruity between some of its parts, as well as some repetitions ’ if so, we promise to correct and reduce them to greater conformity in a second edition, if a generous public buy up the present.

Such are some of the reasons for our presumption in attempting this piece of authorship. We have yet another, no4-before revealed. We hoped the avails of our publication might furnish us the means of educating liberally our two children, which we find our ministerial salary wholly unequal to. With this frank disclosure of our position and views, we shall patiently await the ordeal of criticism.


Every one has observed in reading, occasional mistakes of the Printer; such as a letter, a word, or a point misplaced. The wonder is, that such inaccuracies do not more frequently occur, considering the care which is necessary to procure perfect correctness, and the haste with which printing is often executed. The following ingenious and eloquent apology for faults of this kind is given in Peter Martyr’s “Common-Places,” a book which was published in the year 1574. The original spelling is preserved “

There is no garden so well trimmed but hath some weeds; no silver so well tried but hath some drosse; no wine so well fined but hath some leeze; no honie so well clarified but hath some dregs; finallie, no human action, but hath some defect: mervell not then, (good readers,) that this volume, consisting of so manie leaves, lines, and letters oftentimes varied, both in forme and matter, a fault or two doo escape; were the corrector’s care never so great, his diligence never so earnest, his labour never so continual, his eies never so quick, his judgment never so sound, his memorie never so firm; brieflie, all his senses never so active and livelie. Such faults, therefore, as are passed, being but few in number, if it please you, in reading favourablie to amend.”



Preliminary Annals
The Old Framed Meeting House
My Spiritual Father
An Early Classmate
An “Elect Lady,”
Sammy Richardson; or the Zealous Irishman
One of my first Pastors
A Nation Born in a Day
A Canadian Camp-Meeting Thirty-five years ago
“Father” Youmans
One of our Supplies
“The Venerable Thomas Whitehead,”
The Two Soldier Preachers
The Rev. Thomas Madden
The Rev. James Wilson
Rev. Franklin Metcalf
Ezra Healy
The Rev. Alexander Irvine
The Outset
“My First Circuit,”
My First Colleague
An Estimate of Prindel
An Old Fashioned Quarterly Meeting
The Last Night of a Youthful Homicide
Rev. William Smith
Lorenzo Dow
“Father Magraw,”
Bread Cast on the Waters
Scene in a Ferry-Boat
Admonitory End of an Early Colleague
My Fellow Candidates
Traditionary Recollections
Revival Coincidence
Experiences of a Self-Taught Minister
The Big Snow Storm
Remarkable Answers to Prayer
Though Reprehended, Still Remembered
The Father of Canadian Missions


The Conference and the Crayons
  Father Corson
  Rev. Enoch Wood
  Rev. Samuel Rose
  Rev S. D. Rice
  Doctor Stinson
  Rev. H. Hurlburt
  Rev. James Brock
  Rev. S. Waldron
  “Father Wright,”
  Rev. Henry Wilkinson
  Rev. Richard Jones
  Rev. William Tomlin
  Rev. James Masson
  Rev. Robert Robinson
  Rev. Edmund Sweet
  Rev. L. Warner
  Rev. E. B. Harper
  Rev. Wm. Pollard
  Rev. William Ryerson
  The “Two Philps,”
  "The Two Colemans,”
  Rev. James Musgrove
  Rev. Wellington Jeffers
  Rev. Thomas Jeffers
  Rev. Michael Fawcett
  Rev. John Gemley
  Rev. Lachlin Taylor
  Doctor Anson Green
  Rev. James Spencer
  Doctor Egerton Ryerson
  Doctor Ephraim Evans
  Rev. Sylvester Hurlburt
  Rev. Thomas Hurlburt
  Rev. Erastus Hurlburt
  Rev. James H. Bishop
  Rev. Jonathan Scott
  Rev. W. H. Poole
  Rev. President Nelles
  Rev. G. R. Sanderson
  Rev. Robert Cooney, D. D.
  Rev. I. B. Howard
  Rev. William McFadden
  Rev. C. Vandusen
  Rev. J. W. McCollum
  Rev. N. F. English
  Rev. R. A. Flanders
  Rev. Richard Whiting

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