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Cyprus, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Cairo and Malta. We have also given Tracts to be distributed by others in Constantinople, Mytilene, Ipsera, Santorin, Crete, Zante and some other places. We know that many of them have been read with interest, and have produced, to a certain extent, a spirit of inquiry. We have conversed with a great number of priests, monks, schoolmasters, pilgrims and other individuals, concerning religion, and have read with them the Scriptures.”
TO MRS. P. F. ANDOVER.
Malta, September 8, 1822. “Dear Madam-I have not much to say about our mission. I often think of Dr. Porter's remark; •You must go prepared to spend ten years in climbing up a smooth perpendicular rock.' I firmly believe we shall gain the top, but I cannot tell how
I fear the present war between the Greeks and Turks will have a discouraging influence on the friends of our mission. It does indeed interrupt, or rather change and modify our operations for the time being; but I consider it only as an evil to be expected occasionally in Turkey, and which should have very little influence on our general plans. Indeed there is seldom a year, in which there is not a civil war or a rebellion in some part of Turkey. This will throw difficulties in the way of missionary efforts. Yet there will always be some door open. The walls can be built even in 'troublous times.' But though there are always disturbances in some part of the vast dominions of the Sultan, yet at some given place you will generally enjoy tranquillity. At Smyrna, for example, there has been no great disturbance before, for forty or fifty years. I cannot say, that this war discourages me in the least degree. I am very anxious to see several more missionaries in this part of the world. If there are any at Anclover who think of coming, tell them not to be dis
couraged. The land is an exceeding good land, and the Lord our God will give it to us for a possession. There is no ground to fear, unless our unbelief should prevent success.
The communication a part of which will soon be introduced, was addressed to the Corresponding Secretary of the Board, dated Malta, October 12, 1822, and contains a summary of Mr. Fisk's missionary labors, while on the Island. The preceding part of the document contains a historical sketch of Malta. From this sketch it appears, that Malta was originally settled by a Phenician colony about 1,500 B. C. It was subjugated in the fifth century of the Christian era by the Vandals and Goths. In the ninth century the Arabs took possession of the place. It was the theatre of some important transactions in the time of the Crusades in the eleventh century, and became subject to the Normans; by whom the Arabs were expelled from the Island. It was afterwards surrendered to the Germans, who retained possession of it about 70 years, when it was taken by Louis IX. of France. In the year 1428, it was attached to the kingdom of Sicily.. Charles V. in the year 1530, established the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, as the perpetual masters of the Island.
This Order, founded by Gerard, became very powa erful, had extensive establishments in the Catholie countries, and commanded immense resources. They sustained many vigorous assaults by the Turks, and retained possession of the Island till 1798, when it was taken from them by the French under Bonaparte. The Order was then broken and scattered; and it is believed has almost become extinct. In about three months after the French took possession, the inhabitants of the Island revolted, and Valetta only remained in possession of the conquerors. The English soon blockaded it, and after a long siege
became masters of the Island, to whom it was confirmed by the treaty of 1814.
What follows relates to the present state of Malta and its inhabitants.
“At present, the principal city on the Island is Valetta. It is built entirely of stone, and is consequently exempt from one of the greatest evils to be feared in the cities of the Levant;-viz. fire. It would be almost impossible to burn a house here, if a person should undertake it; and it would be quite impossible that a fire should spread in any part of the town. The streets are in general well paved; and are kept tolerably clean by the labors of convicts, who clear and sweep them regularly, under the direction of soldiers. The houses are, almost without exception, well built and excellent. The churches are nuinerous; and the larger ones particularly are furnished with two or three bells each, and some of them with still more. These are rung almost perpetually. The streets cross : regularly at right angles; and, at the respective corners, are images of the different saints; as St. Augustine, St. Francisco, St. George, the Virgin Mary, &c, Under many of these images there is an inscription, in the name of the bishop of the island, promising forty days indulgence to every one, who shall repeat before the image a Pater Noster, an Ave Maria, &c. I have inquired of two priests, and several others, about the import of this promise; but can get no satisfactory answer. One says, it means forty days earlier release from purgatory.
Another says, it means a release from forty days of penance imposed by one's confessor. A third says, it does not mean precisely forty days, but a much less period, the duration of which is not precisely known; for instance, if a confessor orders forty days fasting as a penance for some sin, this indulgence may perhaps release from one day of it. Thus we see in passing through
the streets, that the city is given to idolatry. The population of Valetta is about 20 or 25,000.
"Not long after my arrival in 'Malta I one day made an excursion into the country. I went in company with five military gentlemen, all of whom I have the happiness to consider as brethren in Christ. We went first to the palace and gardens of St. Antonio. This place was the public property of the knights. It is now the summer house of the governor and his secretary. The gardens occupy, as the gardener informed us, about thirty acres of ground; and are filled with plants, flowers, and fruits, of innumerable kinds. From St. Antonio we went to the ancient capital of the Island, now known by different names, Medica, Citta Vecchia, (Old City) City Notable, &c. It is six or seven miles from Valetta; and contains about 3,000 inhabitants. After visiting the cathedral of St. Paul, a very magnificent building, we went to the grotto, which bears the name of the same Apostle. It is beneath a church; indeed one of its apartments is a subterranean chapel. In another, which is about the size of a small bed-chamber, is a marble statue of the Apostle, who, according to the tradition of the place, used to retire to this retreat for his devotions. A
young elesiastic, who accompanied us, broke off some pieces of the stones and gave them to us, saying, that they would prevent all harm from the bite of serpents. I inquired if he had ever experienced or witnessed its efficacy.. He replied, “No; but they say so.'
"From this grotto we went to the catacombs. As I have not seen any catacombs before, I cannot compare these with others; and our examination of these was so hasty and imperfect, that I can say but little about them. We entered a number of subter: ranean apartments of different sizes.
The rooms are altogether 'excavations in the solid rock. We observed a great number of small excavations, like coffins of different sizes. Our ecclesiastical guide
told us, (and others have told us the same,) that there was an avenue which led to Boschetto, (two miles distant,) and another which led to Valetta; but these and some others have been closed up because many persons, venturing in too far, had never returned. On my telling him, that when the Saracens possessed Malta, Christians used to live in caverns and catacombs, he said that was impossible, for there were no Christians in Malta before the time of St. Paul. I was not able to convince him, that St. Paul was here long before the time of the Saracens. Bres considers these catacombs as the work of the Greeks, who settled in Malta. From the catacombs we went to the Boschetto, a place distinguished from almost every other spot on the island, for its groves of fruit trees and a delightful fountain. In the course of the day, I had considerable interesting conversation with the gentlemen who accompanied me. How delightful to see military officers, who unite with agreeable manners and extensive information, humble and ardent piety!
“The island contains about twenty-five lasals or townships. A lasal includes a village and the surrounding country. The inhabitants are generally poor, and many of them live miserably. At least ihis is true, and most emphatically true, if we compare them with the people of the United States of America. Their situation in regard to literature is deplorable enough. The great body of the people, and in the country almost all without exception, know no language but the Maltese. This scarcely deserves to be called a written language. It is a dialect of the Arabic; but the Arabic alphabet is totally unknown to the Maltese. In writing letters, in their own dialect, they always use the Roman character. I have seen no books in their language, except a popish catechism, the Gospel of John, a grammar and a dictionary. The catechism was published by the bishop, for the religious instruc