A TALE OF THE HUGUENOTS,
MEMOIRS OF A FRENCH REFUGEE FAMILY.
Translated and compiled from the
one of his descendants.
With an Introduction
F.L. Hawks, D.D.
John S. Taylor,
Theological and Sunday School Bookseller,
Corner of Park Row and Spruce Street.
Arrival at Cork-- Enter upon pastoral duties Manufactory-- Great happiness-- Dissension in the church-- Resignation-- Copy of certificate-- Remarkable warning by a dream_ Visit fishing stations-- Death of Aaron-- Turn fisherman-- Remove to Bear Haven-- Loss of the Robert-- Bad season-- Trading voyage-- Success in fishing-- Loss by mismanagement of partners-- Troublesome Irish neighbours.
We landed in safety at Cork on the 24th December 1694, and the agreement I had entered into with the congregation was solemnly renewed. You may see the particulars in the act of the Consistory of Cork dated 19 January, 1695, on which day I commenced the discharge of my pastoral duties.
At first I preached at Christ Church, the use of it being granted to us after the English had finished the services of the day; then we assembled in the County Court room for our worship, and finally, I gave up, for the use of the Church, a spacious apartment on the lower floor of my house, and we had it regularly fitted up with pulpit, benches, and every thing necessary.
My manufactory here was altogether different from that which I had carried on at Taunton. I considered it best to make something for which there would be a demand near home. Coarse baize was the great article of manufacture in this place, but I determined to try my skill in something of better quality, and I succeeded in making good broad-cloth for which it was only necessary to use finer wool and weave it closer and tighter. I built a dye house for my own use at the edge of the river for the convenience of pumping up the water. A dyer in the city applied for permission to use my apparatus, which I granted on the condition that he dyed all my worsteds and cloths without charge, and made me a certain allowance out of his profits in dyeing for other people. My knowledge was very advantageous to him, because I had always written down the proportions of each drug that we used at Taunton, and attached to the memorandum a pattern of the article dyed; thus when he brought me any order he had received, by a reference to my books and comparing his pattern with those I had preserved, I was able to tell him at once the exact quantity he would require of each drug, and my instruction never failed to prove correct.
I was now at the height of my ambition; I was be. loved by my hearers, to whom I preached gratuitous
ly, and thereby had the satisfaction of serving the God who had blessed me, without deriving any pecuniary advantage from it. My dear wife gained by our manufactory an ample support for the family; and by giving employment to many poor Refugees, we were the means of enabling them to maintain their families respectably. The Church increased daily, Refugees came from various parts when they heard that there was a French Church in Cork; and by and bye those who were in easy circumstances became ashamed of allowing me to preach without receiving a stipend, and they proposed to make a voluntary contribution, if it were only to show that they felt grateful for my services. When it came to my knowledge, I thanked them much, but added that as they could not possibly raise enough to support my family without exertion on my own part, I would greatly prefer that whatever they collected should be appropriated to the relief of the poor, of whom we had many in the congregation; and that it gave me great pleasure to imitate St. Paul, preaching the Gospel and earning my living at the same time by the labor of my hands. They were well satisfied with this answer, because they could not raise more than L10, or at the very utmost L15, which would have been a mere trifle towards the support of my large family.
The corporation of Cork as a mark of their esteem presented me with the freedom of the City.
This state of things was altogether too good to last, my cup of happiness was now full to overflowing, and like all the enjoyments of this earth it proved very transitory.
Great numbers of zealous, pious and upright persons had joined our communion; but it could not be expected that all were of this class; and unfortunately there were some in the flock whose conduct was not regulated by the principles of our holy religion. A man named Isaac de la Croix, originally a merchant in Calais, who had caused dissension in the Church there before its condemnation; then settled in Dover, and there also made dissension in the Church; and to punish us for our sins he came from there to join our Church, and he had not been with us more than eighteen months before he was the cause of discord amongst us also. The history of it is as follows. He had a son twenty five years of age, who was in the habit of doing business on his own account; this young man chartered a vessel of about 30 tons for Ostend, and he loaded her with butter and tallow, promising payment in ready money. On a Saturday afternoon he went down in the vessel to Cove, at the mouth of the harbour, and expected, the next day being Sunday, to steal away, and
get fairly out to sea without paying for any part of his cargo. A butcher, from whom he had made some purchases, feeling a little suspicious, went to the father produced his son's promisory note, and asked him to endorse it; he, thinking the vessel had got to sea, made answer that he had nothing to do with his son's affairs. The butcher without loss of time hired a boat, and went down with bailiffs to Cove, where he found the vessel and stopped her, thus arresting the dishonesty of both father and son.
It so happened that I had some time before commenced a series of sermons on the ten commandments, and on Sunday, the day after this intended fraud had been discovered, my text, in regular course, was the eighth commandment: " Thou shalt not steal." I solemnly declare before God, that when I mounted the pulpit, not a whisper of this transaction had reached my ears. I proceeded in my exposition to the very best of my power, explaining the various ways in which its spirit might be violated; and amongst others, I very naturally named the tricks and evasions sometimes practiced in commerce, which branch of the subject must have been well handled, for Isaac de la Croix felt that his character was sketched to the very life, and concluded that it was intended for him, which enraged him so much that as he left the Church he declared, with the most blas
phemous oaths, that he would make me suffer for what I had said.
The elders related the story to me after the sermon, and I protested to them that I knew nothing of it before, and that the singular coincidence must be ascribed to the providence of God alone. Mr. de la Croix would not believe that it was undesigned, and continued his threats of revenge, and in the end made his words good, for he did cause me much anxiety and unhappiness.
On Monday morning it was ascertained that neither father nor son could pay for the cargo; the son ran away and I never heard more of him; the creditors went on board the vessel, and each claimed his own property as well as he could, the vessel was emptied, and the Captain was the main loser, having to seek a fresh freight.
Mr. de la Croix did not forget his promise of revenging himself upon me for his imaginary injury; he set to work without, loss of time to poison the minds of my flock, he began with persons whom he knew to be weak and vain, telling them they would never rise to consideration in the city so long as they had a Presbyterian for their Minister. In this way he wrought upon those who looked up to the office of Mayor or even sheriff as something to be desired above measure; and by degrees, a spirit of opposi-
tion was infused into large numbers of my hearers, and they required me to receive ordination from the Bishop; this begot discussion, and the dispute waxing warm, I must acknowledge that I said that which it would have been much better to have left unsaid. A complaint was made to the Bishop of what I had said; and it contained what I had said, what I had not said, and assuredly what I had not even so much as thought. The Bishop was exasperated by this report, and he wrote in consequence thereof to my Lord Galway, then Lord Chief Justice of Ireland; this caused a correspondence between his Lordship and myself of which you will find full copies amongst my papers. Mr. de la Croix went so far as to assert that I was no Minister at all, and he visited from house for house repeating it, so that I was obliged to write for vouchers to the gentlemen of the Walloon Church in Threadneedle street, London. Finally, I felt it my duty, for the sake of peace, to request that they would allow me to resign, and I annex a copy of their permission.
" Mr. James Fontaine our Minister having written to this congregation to request to be released from the service of the Church, for reasons assigned in his letter of30th. May last, this congregation, distressed
at the prospect of separation, and the causes which hare led him to request it, deem it expedient nevertheless to give a reluctant and sorrowful consent to his desire; thanking him most humbly for the services he has rendered to this church during two years and a half, without receiving any stipend or equivalent whatsoever for his unceasing exertions. We feel bound to testify that though he has been obliged to use his own industry for the support of his family, yet it has never occasioned him to neglect any duty of the Holy Ministry. We have been extremely edified by his preaching, which has always been in strict accordance with the pure word of God. He has imparted consolation to the sick and afflicted, and set a bright example to the flock of the most exemplary piety and good conduct. We pray God to bless him and his family, and to grant him the consolation of exercising elsewhere, with more comfort to himself, those gifts which God has given him for the Holy Ministry to which he has been called.
In testimony whereof we have given to him this present certificate at Cork, 5th. June, 1698.