Hassall's Anecdotes | State Library of New South Wales

Thomas Hassall's Anecdotes

Thomas Hassall recorded his memories from his time as Sunday school leader and described some of the children who were drawn to the school and their enthusiasm for learning, despite being reviled as "Methodists" by their peers. 

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Transcript: "Anecdotes concerning Sunday schools in Parramatta..." by Thomas Hassall, pp. 205-209, Hassall family - Papers of Rowland Hassall, 1797 - 1860, MLMSS A860

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2yr of Report

London May 1818

Dear Sir

Your Reports have stated the establishment of Sunday Schools in New South Wales accordingly to your desire. I beg leave to state two or three occurrences that took place during the time I had the pleasure of being engaged in that important & beneficial work – Trusting you will have the kindness to correct any error that may appear in the following account

I remain Dear Sir
Your Affectionate Brother & friend

About febry or March 1818 one of the Girls was taken ill and violently afflicted with fits. I often visited and talked with her and she attributed that peace of mind and comfort which she enjoyed under her affliction to the salutary instructions received in the Sunday School and she could not help expressing her thankfulness that she had ever been a Sunday School Girl – Language fails, when I strive to record the sensations of my soul heart upon the affecting occasion – especially  (indecipherable) I am to See the good old Soldier, (her Father) her affectionate mother, and two dear Sisters bending over her bed expecting each struggle to be the last – Twas pleasing however to behold her patience & resignation and particularly when the violence of the spasm was past, and nature resuming its functions; at these times her heart o’er flow’d with gratitude and her mouth uttered the praises of God in a train of scripture language that made the beholders weep afresh for you and pray that 

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that God would in much mercy make this a season of refreshing to her’s and the souls of those around her – God seem’d to hear prayer on her behalf and since this time herself and one of her sisters have been received as teachers amongst us.

To encourage teachers to attend to their  scholars when they meet them in the course of the week as well as on the Sabbath I state the following account which hope will prove acceptable –

Anecdotes for New South Wales

A teacher one evening hearing a boy from the was laying in wait for the purpose of beating another boy who had spread some unpleasant report against him; sent for them & enquired into the causes of complaint – after which he shewed them the great evil of spreading evil tales (however true they might be) that would tend to injure their fellow creatures. Both appeared stiff, the elder boy seemed determined to have his revenge & the younger persisted in stating what he heard to be true. Another boy was soon after brought as being the founder of the report. He altered the case materially in favour of the elder – who to our great astonishment burst into tears and cried “O Sir I might have done these things and worse before “I came to the Sunday Schools but I am sure I have never done so since.” The teacher then shewed the evil of sin as manifested in our wicked tempers more especially in that of anger and revenge; pointed to the Saviour who said – ‘Do good to them that hate you Bless them that curse you – Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you – 7 Matt 44. and led them to

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the Saviours dying words “Father forgive them” etc.

The subject was interesting & the teachers heart appeared to be warmed with holy fervour. They stood just without the church, where the little ones had assembled to sing their Redeemers praise. Their little tender voices appeared sweet & heavenly; and the sound vibrating through the air seem’d to

Swell’d & sink and swell again     
Dead on the walls, but live to God –

Close by, stood the bell Post Post, and from the top thereof, many had been summons’d to the light and labours of another day- Summons’d to the House of God, yea I would hope to the very gate of heaven – Here too, the awful knell of dying & funeral solemnities had oft saluted the ear – the pale moon surrounded by thousands of resplendant stars shone as the Queen of night while the lengthened shaddow proclaimed about in majestic silence, the uncertainty of all sublunary happiness. These things seem’d to fix the attention and solemnize the mind – All present appeared to feel the Saviours love and forgiving forever but how was this heightened when the elder boy again came forward burst into a fresh flood of tears stretched forth his hand asked his school fellows pardon pardon & forgiveness, while the younger lad melted with the scene readily begged forgiveness in his turn and the third joined in shaking hands and begging that they might be firmer friends for the time to come. There

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were two other teachers present who could not but feel sensibly on the occasion – We joined our hands with them, and while our cheeks were wet with tears, we could not but hope that by and by we might all receive pardon from our offended maker, and be received up into Glory through our forgiving Saviour – Surely if the Angel’s rejoice over one sinner that repenteth they did rejoice to see the our flinty hearts thus softened at the Saviours name.

A short time after the this above we heard many pleasing accounts from England of the usefulness of Sunday Schools and of the blessings derived by many children instructed therein. The Teacher in giving an address was led to enquire whether the children could not make themselves useful in Parramatta also. Not long after we heard that two of the Girls had began a little evening School for Girls that could not read and that one of the Boys had been searching for a place where he could assemble with a few more of an evening for the purpose of prayer & reading the scriptures – a place was found. The children put their pence together to buy candles light & when they first met there were 16 or 17 present. The boy that formerly permitted anger & malice to to rage lurk in his brow now opened this little meeting with praise & prayers. for On the day following he was reviled called a Methodist or [indecipherable] Parson & other names as terms of reproach – this came to one of the teachers ears who on the Sabbath following chose an appropriate hymn and addressed them upon

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upon the subject of calling ill names & he felt warm and many seemed much affected. He said that he wished, yea rejoiced to think, that some might arise out of that school as missionaries to the heathens and not be ashamed of owning Christ as their Lord & Saviour – after School he went to the boy and enquired the reason he did not come and mention the behaviour of those boys who had been calling him names – He burst into tears an said “why Sir when they called me those names I remembered it was nothing to what Christ endured was suffered; so I did not mind what they said” His parents Father & Mother were both wicked drunken people and as he found no peace in his Fathers House with he was anxious to leave it. [indecipherable] as soon as an opportunity offered. His wishes were soon answered, for an opportunity offered & he left the colony with a pious family, and we trust he will make a good servant and a useful man. We also earnestly hope & sincerely pray that Teachers may be encouraged to “Go Forward” in every good word and work and that the Dear children may be trained up in the fear nurture & admonition of the Lord.


School Teacher