THE CEMETERY.—-On Monday evening, the 15th, in response to an invitation from the Rector, a very large and representative meeting was held to consider the present condition and the future of the Cemetery. All who have any affection or respect for the departed have no doubt felt that some little self-sacrifice is due to their memory. The case stands thus in 1859 the Rector, Rev. H. Lawes gave three acres of land for an additional burial ground. However, after making a present to the parish of over £200, he did not undertake to keep their burial ground in good order for them. Those were in the days of Church Rates, and by means of a d. rate the land was walled in and partly drained. No doubt it was thought a small Church Rate would keep it in order. Then Church Rates were abolished; hence private subscriptions were collected from time to time; ultimately these failed. After that a collection was made in church at Easter amounting to about £2. Then the present Rector gave up all his fees amounting to about £5 a year. Mrs. Sharp also made a donation. However, all this is not only insufficient, but altogether wrong. The burial ground is common ground for all; whether people can agree together on earth or not, they will have to lie together in death; therefore all ought to help keep it in order. Anybody may be buried there, and any religious service may be used, provided it is reverent, by any respectable man. About £50 is required this year, and about £20 would he sufficient afterwards; a small voluntary rate would easily meet the matter, but this did not seem to find favour. The Rector offered to hand over the whole ground with his fees to the Parish council. However, at present it appears illegal for the Rector to make this offer or for the Parish Council to accept it. In the mean time at the suggestions of a committee, the Rector is corresponding with the Local Government Board, and the Cemetery remains as it was.
Two missionary meetings have been held during this month, at which lectures were given with a magic lantern by Rev. J. Perkins, minor Canon of Ely—collected at S. Owen’s, 7s. 6d at Pymoor 6s.
A most interesting letter has been received from Mr Cook from India, which is sure to be of interest. Here it is:-“My dear Rector…….I am able to give some account of what my work will be. The chief centre is called Salahonia, and it is one of the wildest of the places of which I am to have the care. First we go about eight hours journey by train, and then if we make a quick journey, we could reach the place in about twelve hours in a boat. We lived for a week in our boat, which was roofed over, and had our meals cooked in another boat. At Salahorsia we first of all sent notice of our arrival, and of a service of p for the Holy Communion. Our rule is not to allow any to come to the Holy Communion unless they have been at the preparation service, so those who meant to communicate Caine to the Saturday service; they consider it a punishment to be shut out from holy Communion. But few of these people understand English, so the services were performed b Mr. Duffadar, a Bengali deacon. I was able to say the priest’s part in Bengali having practised beforehand, I spoke a few words at evensong which were interpreted to the people. There is no Church yet in this district. Services are held in the schools, these are all built on a platform pf class, beaten hard and raised about three feet as the ground is at times very wet, the roof is of thatch supported by posts, the ridge pole is curved like a pig’s back, and the eaves reach nearly to the ground. The scholars and the congregation sit on the floor on mats, and those who have boots take them off before they come in. These schools cost about £5 each, and will seat thirty or forty children. Sitting outside the school of Salahonia I could think myself back again at Downham in the fields beyond fourth drove. The rice fields are quite flat,’ and the little farms with trees round them are very like fen country. But life in the fens of Bengal is not quite so easy as in Cambridgeshire. There is likely to be distress in this coming year owing to the failure of the rice crop. Sometimes they suffer from floods. The father of one of the chief farmers came to Salabonia on a raft in one such flood from quite a different part of the country, and settled where the flood landed him. There are many tigers in the wild near the villages. We went to one place where the people had been driven out by tigers, and have only lately begun to go back again. When they went back they found the skulls of the former settlers whom the tigers had eaten. In another place two women went to draw water from the river and slipped over a log as they thought, but it turned out to be a crocodile, and they had to escape for their lives. We saw several crocodiles on our voyage down the river. When the Bishop came for a Confirmation he heard the cries of the tigers in the jungle. So the people meant what they said when they asked us to pray for them. Downham is often in my mind and I value the monthly prayer as a link with you all
Our last Concert was very successful. All the parts were well done, and an immense amount of enjoyment was afforded to the audience.
The next Concert will be on Monday, April 25th, for which Mr. Vallis’ Nigger Troupe are making great preparations.
THE election of a Parochial Council took place on March 15th. The Rector, not being a candidate, occupied the chair. The meeting was characterised by good humour and common sense. The whole of last year’s Council was reelected. Some alterations have been made in the procedure, giving the Chairman more authority in checking reckless demands for a poll. Thus a good many unnecessary elections will be avoided.