miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2015




Signature of F. de P. Castells


We do not know much about the childhood of Francisco de Paula Castells Cañas (or, as he is known in the British context, Francis de Paula Castells or F. de P. Castells. He was born on the 30th May 1867 in Mataró (Barcelona), son to Francisco Castells Abadal and María Dolores Cañas, who had married in January 1866. He had been such a bad boy and so unmanageable that his parents had sent him away from home. He had accepted an invitation to live in Barcelona with the Swedish missionary Erik Lund, and had become an intense Christian, eager to do something heroic.

Erik Enrique Lund
(1850 - 1935)
When he was twenty he was already at the service of the Bible Society, being sent to Malaysia, where he would remain for almost one year. An internal letter of the Bible Society dated on the 6th April 1888 summons a farewell meeting to be held on the 16th April at the Bible House in London, with the purpose of saying goodbye to the members of an expedition leaving for Malaysia. The expedition was made up of Mr. John Haffenden (director of the expedition), his wife, and the colporteurs Mr. Alfred Lea, Mr. G. E. Irving, Mr. B. Purdy, and Mr. B. W. H. Boram. Mr. F. de P. Castells would join them in Malaysia as he “had already started for the same destination.” Castells was back at the end of 1888, but the Bible Society already described him as a good organizer.

At the beginning of 1889 Pastor Manrique Alonso Lallave attended the Lund’s. Alonso had been a friar in the Philippines for twelve years, but he had converted to Protestantism. Alonso and Lund agreed that it was necessary to take the Gospel to the Philippines, and it was decided that Manrique Alonso would return. Castells was present in the meeting and asked Alonso to let him go with him. Alonso agreed.




IN THE PHILIPPINES WITH MANRIQUE ALONSO LALLAVE

Manrique Alonso Lallave had been a Dominican friar for twelve years, but in 1861 he had converted to Protestantism, thus being excommunicated and summoned to an ecclesiastical court. He escaped to Singapore, under British control, then becoming an Episcopalian Minister and staying in England for ten years. He came back to Spain in 1871. He entered the Spanish Christian Church and performed as Pastor in Granada, Madrid and Seville, where he was initiated into Freemasonry, in Numancia Lodge no. 16 under the auspices of the Lusitanian Grand Orient.

Cover of the translation of the Gospel
according to Luke by

Manrique Alonso Lallave.
During his stay in Spain Alonso translated the Gospel into Pangasinan (a  Philippino vernacular tongue). From Valera Bible he first translated the Gospel of Luke, with the title Say Masantos a Evangelio na cataoan tin Jesu Cristo de onuñg na dinemuet nen San Lucas, which was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in London in 1887. The next year the translations of Matthew, Mark, John and Acts were printed. In mid February Alonso and Castells set off for the Philippines with 8000 copies printed in Madrid; but in the false bottom of their chest there were seven Protestant Bibles in Spanish, a New Testament in Spanish and a Bible in Chinese. About the 20th February they steamed off from Barcelona, and on the 30th March 1889 Alonso and Castells had arrived to Manila. The custom authorities forbid them to bring the Gospels in Pangasinan into the country, so they stayed in Hotel de Oriente while they were trying to sort out the problem created by the custom officers.


Hotel de Oriente, Manila, 1890.
Two months later a dramatic situation took place: after having lunch at the hotel, both Alonso and Castells suffered the first symptoms of what, in all probability, was a poisoning instigated by the friars. Manrique Alonso Lallave died on the 5th June 1889. Due to the bitter resentment that the friars felt towards Alonso, they refused to bury him. A few days later, with the body in an advanced state of decomposition, the British consul was given permission to bury him in the Protestant cemetery in Makati. An English doctor saved Castells' life, but the daring youth rose from his bed, weak and grief-stricken as he was, tore the false bottom out of his trunk, went out on the street, approached passers-by, and sold his nine Bibles one by one until he was arrested. The British Consul appeared again, and succeeded in persuading the governor general to place the young Spaniard on a boat and send him away, with strict orders never to return. Thus his life was saved.


Manrique Alonso Lallave
(1839 - 1889)
The situation suffered by Manrique Alonso Lallave and F. de P. Castells seems more understandable if we bear in mind the administrative reality of the Phillipine Islands. In Provinces geographically closer to Spain, such as Cuba, there was a plentiful Spanish population, which made it possible to create an actual government. But in the Philippines the Spanish-born population was really scarce due to the distance (26.000 Spaniards scattered all over the isles); therefore it was not possible to set up a government according to modern patterns. This caused religious orders, such as Dominicans or Augustinians, who had a solid structure in all the territory, to become the de facto representatives of Spain, granting them a power which would be unthinkable in the metropolis. This unique kind of government, characteristic of the Spanish Philippines, was called frailocracy. Alonso had reported the abuse by religious orders in his book Los Frailes en Filipinas (Madrid, 1972).


Two months after Alonso Lallave’s death, his daughter received a telegram from the coroner stating that his father had died “of a bad fever”, but two subsequent messages asserted that he had been poisoned.



We cannot finish the story of F. de P. Castells in Philippines without mentioning that, in spite of his short stay, he was initiated, passed and raised in Integridad Nacional Lodge no. 1, and he was also a founder member of Unión Lodge no. 2 (this was usual due to the swift way they conferred Masonic Degrees in the Philippines), though he would only develop a really active Masonic life after 1905, once he had settled in Kent.



Photograph of the foundational Synod of the Spanish Anglican Church (Madrid, 1886), then called Spanish Christian Church. The two main candidates for the Chair of Bishop were Manrique Alonso Lallave and Juan Cabrera. Finally Cabrera, iconic character of Spanish Protestantism, would become Bishop.


Dominican friars with Philippino natives, c. 1885.



SINGAPORE AND FRENCH COCHINCHINA

Castells left for Singapore with the 8000 Bibles. In Singapore he got married to Mary Smith (Blackburn, Lancashire, 1866 – Middlesex, London, 18th December 1947). On the 7th September 1892 his first son was born: Francis Theodore Castells (Singapore, 7th September 1892 -Regents Park Road, Finchley, 18th December 1956).

Castells was received by the French Consul, who allowed him to enter French Cochinchina. The French were grateful for the way he took care of their ill soldiers, and thanks to this good relationship with the French government, in 1892 Castells became the Sub-agent of the Bible Society in Cochinchina, where he sold some 3000 Bibles, mainly in Chinese and French. Due to health problems he had to return to England.


CENTRAL AMERICA

In 1893 F. de P. Castells was appointed by the Bible Society to conduct their work in Central America. In this regard we have an interesting reference in Trailblazers for Translators, by Anne Marie Dalqvist:


In 1892 Rev. F. de P. Castells was appointed by the British and Foreign Society to head up its work in Central America. He immediately began to urge translations for the Mayas and for other tribes, but found no support from the missionaries with whom he came into contact. The 1902 British and Foreign Bible Society Annual Report says of him: "His efforts were at first severely criticized. The languages of these tribes were not thought worth of Bible translation. It was declared that any version produced must prove utterly useless. The Indians were considered too ignorant, and the Society and its agents were pronounced visionaries". In spite of the opposition from the established missions, Castells commissioned translations of Scripture portions into Yucatec Maya and into Carib. In 1897, at the urging of Presbyterian pioneer Edward Haymaker, he also commissioned a translation of Saint Mark's Gospel into Quiché (a Maya language). This work was undertaken by Felipe Silva, a Catholic professor of Maya languages at San Carlos University in Guatemala City. Castells himself supervised the translation, which was published in 1898. A second edition was published the following year and a third in 1902. The total of the three editions amounted to 7000 copies, which were distributed by the Bible Society colporteurs.

Castells was outspoken about the need for Bible translation among the Indians of Latin America. At the Ecumenical Missionary Conference held at New York in 1900 he sought to disprove two widely extended myths: namely, that the Indians of Latin America could be reached through the Spanish scriptures, and that, being nominally Catholic, they had already been adequately evangelized.

from Trailblazers for Translators, by Anne Marie Dalqvist.



We also have a description of F. de P. Castells’ work in Central America in A History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, by W. Canton (here you are some excerpts, you may find the full text at the end of the page):


THE FIVE CENTRAL REPUBLICS

The arrival of Senor Castells in Costa Rica in the autumn of 1893 was auspiciously timed. The Honduras Auxiliary, whose records went back with various breaks to 1818, had just been revived at Belize. Costa Rica was on the eve of an election in which the Clericals were defeated with disastrous results. The organ of the party was suppressed, the Bishop of San Jose and a number of his clergy, who a few weeks before had closed the bookshops against the Scriptures, were imprisoned, and a new law penalised the priestly manoeuvre of declaring political opponents "eternally lost."

Unnoticed in the gay throngs were some five hundred work men, Indians of the down-trodden aborigines of the interior. Senor Castells visited them at their meal-time; they listened willingly to the parables of Our Lord, which he read from the Spanish Bible; those who knew Spanish translated for their comrades, and for whole days they talked of little else but the New Testament stories. The race in Guatemala numbered over 880,000, steeped for the most part in ancient heathenism; Spanish they refused to learn; the influence of the Church of Rome scarcely touched them. Cakchiquel, the commonest of their tongues, was also spoken to some extent in Honduras and Salvador; and Castells set himself to master it, for the purpose of translating the Gospel of St Mark. It turned out, however, to be but a dialect of the widespread Quiche stock; and while continuing his own task, he was able to engage on another version of the Gospel the best Quiche scholar in the country, Don Felipe Silva, who had spent his life as a Government official among the aborigines.Meanwhile Mark in Carib, translated by the Rev. J. F. Laughton of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, had been published at the request of Dr. Ormsby, the Bishop of Honduras, and Senor Castells set out on a tour of 1000 miles 225 on foot, 150 by train, 200 by steamer, 370 in canoe and sailing boat, 100 on horseback to make it known among the Carib settlements. At the sound of the native sea-shell and the cry of "Uganubinditi!" ("The good news!") the people flocked together. They listened and bought readily, and their visitor soon "came to be known as the Good-news Man." It was just a hundred years since the last remnant of the warlike Carib nation had been deported from St Vincent by the British. From Ruatan Island they had spread along the shores of Honduras and up the rivers; still a separate race, preserving the dark superstitions, the devil-worship, and (it was believed with good reason) the cannibal sacrifices of their ancestors. The Good News touched their heathen hearts. An appeal for more books came from inland settlements, and the Queen of the Caribs herself applied to the United States consul. Another edition was printed, and in 1901 the Gospel of St John was issued in all, 2538 copies.



Auxiliary of Saint John, Guatemala, where F. de P. Castells performed as Curate in 1903.


In Guatemala City the priests got wind of the Quiche translation, and promptly interposed, but Don F. Silva, who had felt there was a spell in the book (algo que atrae, "something that draws "), was unmoved by their inducements; and in 1898 the Gospel was finished amid a turmoil of revolutions and war-scares in all five Republics. A few weeks later Senor Castells saved the MS. from a fire which broke out in the block of houses in which he lived, and took it to the Minister of Public Works. "Dear friend," said the latter, "I saw at our Exhibition last year something of what your Society is doing to educate the world in the truths of Christianity, and it would please me greatly if our Government could print this new version on its own account, but the recent troubles make that impossible." By his order, however, Mark was given precedence of all other matter, and in April 1000 copies Quiche in parallel columns with the Spanish of Valera passed through the State press at a nominal charge.


With a high heart Castells set out for the Quiche hill-country in the west. He had been warned of the dangers of such a journey. All his Indian projects indeed had been sharply criticised. The tribes were declared too brutish to understand Christianity ; their wretched jargon did not admit of Bible translation. The Committee and their representative were visionaries. Even missionaries were slow to acknowledge the claims of these poor aborigines. Yet in these hopeless regions the Good-news Man and his books were welcomed gladly. In less than four months the whole edition was exhausted. A second edition, 5000 copies, was printed in Costa Rica in 1899. In the following year the first missionary settled among the Quiches, and found his way wonderfully prepared for him. In 1902 a third edition appeared at Belize. Luke and John in Maya had been printed in the sixties for the Wesleyan missionaries in Yucatan. The veteran translator, the Rev. Richard Fletcher, was still alive at Hull, and saw the Gospels of Matthew and Mark through the press in 1900. Once again experience proved that the language in which the Word of God could not be spoken to His children was yet to be discovered.



This list of current sentences from Método Quiché shows us the Protestant creed that Castells professed. We were once good, we are sinner is a reference to the Fall of Man. My salvage is the Grace of God evoques the principle of sola fide (by faith alone). Note the lack of references to the Virgin Mary.


After six years of arduous labour Senor Castells sailed for Europe in September 1898 on a well-earned furlough. Mr. Mellowes, from the Leeward Islands, took up his work, but while in Nicaragua in the following year fell ill of malaria, and resigned his post. When Castells returned, it was to be an independent agency which extended from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to that of Panama an area of nearly 186,000 square miles, with a population of 5,500,000, very largely aborigines and half-castes.


A History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, por W. Canton




F. de P. Castells remained in Central America until 1905. During their stay in Guatemala his second son was born, Edmund Castells (Guatemala, 9th May 1895 – Alicante, Spain, 28th January 1981). In 1901 F. de P. Castells was ordained Deacon and in 1903 Priest.



Record of the entry of passengers into the United Kingdom in 1896. In this sheet appear F. de P. Castells (he appears as being 27, when he was 29), his wife (30 y.o.), and their children (5 and 1 y.o.). The arrival port was Plymouth, and being a travel during his Central American period, his boat was coming, in all probability, from New Orleans (Castells appears several times in the records of New Orleans too).


KENT (ENGLAND)

After his misionary experience.F. de P. Castells returns finally to England in 1905. From 1905 to 1907 he performs as Curate of the Holy Trinity Church in Brompton (Kent). In that moment he finishes his studies in Theology in the King’s College, so becoming A.K.C. (Associate of the King’s College).




Holy Trinity Church in Brompton (Kent).

King’s College, London, in 1928, such as F. de P. Castells knew it.

From 1907 until 1912 he performs as Curate in Christ’s Church (Bexleyheath), though in 1911 he appears occasionally in a parish in Saint Pancras.

Christ Church in Bexleyheath, at the beginning of the 20th century, where F. de P. Castells was posted as Curate. (Courtesy of Bexley Borough Archives).


(Courtesy of Bexley Borough Archives)



On 19th October 1905 he becomes British citizen.

Naturalization Act of F. de P. Castells.




From 1912 Castells performed as Chaplain in the River Hospitals in Dartford. Between 1877 and 1903 something extraordinary in the history of health services had happened in this small town. The number of hospital beds in Dartford increased a staggering 60-fold to reach almost 10,000, this in a local population of just over 20,000, which became the hospital town of Greater London. Castell’s younger son, Edmund, got married in Dartford in March 1922, in a ceremony officiated by his father in all probability.



River Hospitals, Dartford, c. 1900.

After settling in Kent he rejoined Freemasonry. Castells had been initiated in 1891 in Integridad Nacional Lodge no. 1 in Manila and had been a founder of Unión Nacional Lodge no. 2. Though he joined Bexleyheath Lodge no. 2429, this Lodge disappeared, therefore we ignore the actual date of his rejoining. Nonetheless we know the dates of his membership in Lullingstone Lodge no. 1837, where he spent most of his Masonic life: he joined the Lodge on October the 8th 1912. In 1924 he took the Office of Chaplain of the Lodge, and in 1926 he was honoured with Grand Rank (Past Assistant Grand Charity Steward). In the same year he was installed as First Principal in Lullingstone Chapter no. 1837. He already appeared as Past Assistant Grand Provincial Chaplain, therefore he must have been awarded that Rank during his stay in Bexleyheath Lodge no. 2429.








Sheets of the Census of England and Wales 1911. At the bottom appears the address of the Castells (257 Broadway, Bexleyheath). In the sheet appear Mary Castells (45 y.o.), his older son (Francis Theodore Castells (18y.o.) and the servant, Agnes Mary Lawless (27y.o.). Francis does not appear as that year he was appointed on a temporary basis to St. Pancras, and he was living in a guest house.
F. de P. Castells
by Juan Palomares



Francis de Paula Castells left for the Eternal East on 28th December 1934, being buried in Edgeware, London.

His wife Mary passed away on August the 18th August 1947 in Hendon, Middlesex, London.




Record of the burial of F. de P. Castells (right bottom), on the 2nd January 1935.



Entry in the Testamentary Record of Mary Castells.



His older son, Francis Theodore Castells (Singapore, September the 7th 1892 - Regents Park Road, Finchley, December the 18th 1956), an accountant, served as a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Regiment of York, being decorated on November the 20th 1916. He got married in Kharagpur (Calcuta, India) on July the 23th 1921 with Margaret Mary Josephine "Maggie" Burke, and they had a daughter, Mary Margaret Denise "Denise" Faranfield, born Castells (1922 - 2013) and a son, Francis James Patrick Castells (Bombay, 1923 - Paris, October 2012). 



Record of the decoration awarded to Francis Thedorore Castells.

His younger son, Edmund Castells (Guatemala, 9th May 1895 - Alicante, España, 28th January 1981) atended the Sandhurst Military Academy between 1915 and 1918. From 1918 to 1923 he served, first as a Lieutenant and then as a Captain, in the India Army, being awarded the Victoria Cross. He married Phoebe Elizabeth V. Bower in March 1922 in Dartford, in a ceremony probably officiated by F. de P. Castells. Their only child, Flight Sergeant (Pilot) Nigel Paul Ivan Castells (Dorset, September 1923 - Bremerhaven, 28th July 1943) disappeared in combat fighting in Germany. Once Edmund Castells retired, he came to Costa Blanca, like many other retired British citizens. He passed away in 1981.


Record of the decoration awarded to Edmund Castells.











FULL DESCRIPTION OF F. DE P. CASTELLS' WORK IN CENTRAL AMERICA IN A HISTORY OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY, BY W. CANTON.



THE FIVE CENTRAL REPUBLICS

The arrival of Senor Castells in Costa Rica in the autumn of 1893 was auspiciously timed. The Honduras Auxiliary, whose records went back with various breaks to 1818, had just been revived at Belize. Costa Rica was on the eve of an election in which the Clericals were defeated with disastrous results. The organ of the party was suppressed, the Bishop of San Jose and a number of his clergy, who a few weeks before had closed the bookshops against the Scriptures, were imprisoned, and a new law penalised the priestly manoeuvre of declaring political opponents "eternally lost."

Spanish by descent and in speech, and equipped at all points by his training in Malaysia and the Philippines, Senor Castells was quickly master of the situation. The Governor of San Jose furnished him with a safe-conduct, the Railway Company gave him a free pass. In a little while he was far afield in Honduras and Guatemala, Nicaragua and Salvador, circulating the Scriptures, making friends, collecting information as to the native races and their languages. The priests scattered broadcast 50,000 tracts denouncing the Protestant Bible as spurious, but many of his sales were made in villages where there was no priest to interfere, where the people were ready to receive the Word of God, and the illiterate gathered in eager groups around those who were able to read.


Unnoticed in the gay throngs were some five hundred work men, Indians of the down-trodden aborigines of the interior. Senor Castells visited them at their meal-time; they listened willingly to the parables of Our Lord, which he read from the Spanish Bible; those who knew Spanish translated for their comrades, and for whole days they talked of little else but the New Testament stories. The race in Guatemala numbered over 880,000, steeped for the most part in ancient heathenism; Spanish they refused to learn; the influence of the Church of Rome scarcely touched them. Cakchiquel, the commonest of their tongues, was also spoken to some extent in Honduras and Salvador; and Castells set himself to master it, for the purpose of translating the Gospel of St Mark. It turned out, however, to be but a dialect of the widespread Quiche stock; and while continuing his own task, he was able to engage on another version of the Gospel the best Quiche scholar in the country, Don Felipe Silva, who had spent his life as a Government official among the aborigines.Meanwhile Mark in Carib, translated by the Rev. J. F. Laughton of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, had been published at the request of Dr. Ormsby, the Bishop of Honduras, and Senor Castells set out on a tour of 1000 miles 225 on foot, 150 by train, 200 by steamer, 370 in canoe and sailing boat, 100 on horseback to make it known among the Carib settlements. At the sound of the native sea-shell and the cry of "Uganubinditi!" ("The good news!") the people flocked together. They listened and bought readily, and their visitor soon "came to be known as the Good-news Man." It was just a hundred years since the last remnant of the warlike Carib nation had been deported from St Vincent by the British. From Ruatan Island they had spread along the shores of Honduras and up the rivers; still a separate race, preserving the dark superstitions, the devil-worship, and (it was believed with good reason) the cannibal sacrifices of their ancestors. The Good News touched their heathen hearts. An appeal for more books came from inland settlements, and the Queen of the Caribs herself applied to the United States consul. Another edition was printed, and in 1901 the Gospel of St John was issued in all, 2538 copies.

In Guatemala City the priests got wind of the Quiche translation, and promptly interposed, but Don F. Silva, who had felt there was a spell in the book (algo que atrae, "something that draws "), was unmoved by their inducements; and in 1898 the Gospel was finished amid a turmoil of revolutions and war-scares in all five Republics. A few weeks later Senor Castells saved the MS. from a fire which broke out in the block of houses in which he lived, and took it to the Minister of Public Works. "Dear friend," said the latter, "I saw at our Exhibition last year something of what your Society is doing to educate the world in the truths of Christianity, and it would please me greatly if our Government could print this new version on its own account, but the recent troubles make that impossible." By his order, however, Mark was given precedence of all other matter, and in April 1000 copies Quiche in parallel columns with the Spanish of Valera passed through the State press at a nominal charge.




With a high heart Castells set out for the Quiche hill-country in the west. He had been warned of the dangers of such a journey. All his Indian projects indeed had been sharply criticised. The tribes were declared too brutish to understand Christianity ; their wretched jargon did not admit of Bible translation. The Committee and their representative were visionaries. Even missionaries were slow to acknowledge the claims of these poor aborigines. Yet in these hopeless regions the Good-news Man and his books were welcomed gladly. In less than four months the whole edition was exhausted. A second edition, 5000 copies, was printed in Costa Rica in 1899. In the following year the first missionary settled among the Quiches, and found his way wonderfully prepared for him. In 1902 a third edition appeared at Belize. Luke and John in Maya had been printed in the sixties for the Wesleyan missionaries in Yucatan. The veteran translator, the Rev. Richard Fletcher, was still alive at Hull, and saw the Gospels of Matthew and Mark through the press in 1900. Once again experience proved that the language in which the Word of God could not be spoken to His children was yet to be discovered.

After six years of arduous labour Senor Castells sailed for Europe in September 1898 on a well-earned furlough. Mr. Mellowes, from the Leeward Islands, took up his work, but while in Nicaragua in the following year fell ill of malaria, and resigned his post. When Castells returned, it was to be an independent agency which extended from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to that of Panama an area of nearly 186,000 square miles, with a population of 5,500,000, very largely aborigines and half-castes. It was called a Christian land, but "the people hardly knew the alphabet of Christian doctrine." "As with ancient paganism, ritual went hand in hand with immorality." Here were the priests with their music and pageants, their miraculous black crucifixes and wonder working Madonnas, their guilds and confraternities. Here, in Guatemala, the Government, " shaking off the trammels of mediaeval superstition," established a yearly Festival of Minerva; the school children, singing and strewing flowers, trooped round a statue of the old pagan Goddess of Wisdom; and the State orator bade them understand "that the Minerva Festival was the apotheosis of Free-thought, the only possible factor of our national culture." Here were masses of Hondurenians besotted with witchcraft and seeking for books of Magica. In Salvador 60 per cent, of the children were illegitimate ; and 68 per cent, of the men and 80 per cent, of the women could not sign their own names. On the Feast of Corpus Christi, the High Street of Guatemala City was lined with gambling tables, farmed out to the highest bidder. "The unwholesome literatures of the Old Continent," declared the Diario de San Salvador, "have maddened and wasted our intellectual youth... Alcohol is our evil spirit... Everyone gets drunk, from the common labourer to the most stilted aristocrat."


The number of colporteurs was increased to eight, to thirteen, to sixteen. Biblewomen were found for Masaya, Belize and San Salvador. Nowhere in the range of the Society’s work was the Word of God circulated amid stranger scenes and surroundings than here between the Indian villages of Chiapas and the peaks in Darien, between the waters of the Pacific and the island-labyrinth of the Chiriqui lagoon. On the banana farms of the lagoon Chinese settlers were among the purchasers. Further north, along the Moskito coast, a very network of streams, the men sold the native Testament translated by the Moravian Mission. They were storm-stayed by tropic rains and inundations; they were detained by sanitary cordons in districts ravaged by yellow fever; they worked in villages threatened by rumbling volcanoes, in towns besieged by revolutionists or shaken by earthquake. The gunboats of warring Republics conveyed their supplies of Scripture. Denunciations from the pulpit and in the press did them little harm. More than once a Ministerial letter of commendation saved them from arrest or secured them an apologetic release. The destruction of a few books was generally followed by the purchase of many others, and in one instance the effect was remarkable. In the course of a visitation the Archbishop of Guatemala solemnly committed a number of Bibles to the depths of Lake Atitlan. He was horrified to find the people of a neighbouring parish burning their sacred images. They had read the Bible, and learned to reverence it; and the news of his sacrilegious act had decided them to join the Evangelical Mission.


The headquarters of the agency were removed to Belize in 1901, and in October that year Mr. William Keech joined Senor Castells as sub-agent in the wide field, which was rapidly "whitening" for the missionary. On the termination of the war between Mexico and the Maya Indians, work began in Yucatan, and the Bible shared with Roman Catholic books of devotion the privilege of import duty-free. Little was possible during the struggle of Panama to break away from Colombia and the Spanish friars, who had flocked thither with their treasure from the Philippines; but peace threw open, and the coup d’etat which achieved independence secured a new province for colportage.


In what out-of-the-way nooks one came upon traces of the effect of the work! Towards nightfall Castells found himself at Sabaneta, a poor mountain hamlet in Guatemala. As he sat at supper he heard the rude music of the Indian marimba and sounds of rejoicing. It was the Noche Buena, explained the innkeeper, "the Good Night," Christmas Eve; there was no priest for twenty miles round, and the people were celebrating the Divine Birth as it was first celebrated by St Francis. The floor of the largest house was strewn with sprays of pine, the walls were hung with flowers, and in a circle of lighted candles clay figures represented the scene at Bethlehem. Castells proposed to read the very story of the Nativity. While he read he saw with surprise seven or eight persons with Gospels or Testaments following him verse by verse. A strange man had brought the books to these mountains a little time ago, and the passages he had just read had been read a few minutes before by one of their own number.



In the last seven years of the period 5000 Gospels had been sold to the Indians alone, and had been paid for in eggs, starch, cocoa beans, logwood, and other oddments. Arrangements were in progress for another edition of the Aztec Luke, published seventy years before ; and the Gospel of St John in Bribri was about to be printed for the Talamanca Indians in Costa Rica. More than this, Senor Castells had taught two blind Spaniards to read the Scriptures the first blind men, it is said, ever taught to read in Central America, and they were teaching others.

The agency received every encouragement from the Republican Governments. Free postage, free freight, passes or reduced fares by rail or water considerably relieved the burden on the funds of the Society. The British, American and Spanish consuls were unfailing in good offices. Co-operation was heartily given by twenty-five voluntary helpers, most of them connected with the six different missions at work in Central America. The Auxiliary at Belize flourished under the presidency of the Governor of Honduras, and in the Centenary Year Bishop Ormsby accepted office as Vice- President of the Society. The American Bible Society was also in the field, and a friendly understanding provided against overlapping. Finally, in 1903, Senor Castells and Mr. Stark, the agent of the Andean Republics, met in Panama, and linked up the New World system of the Society from Bermuda to Patagonia.



A History of the British and Foreign Bible Society, por W. Canton