Paperback 296 pages. (Approx $34 from online suppliers, or borrow through the public library system.
Reviewed by Ted Witham (re-posted for National Sorry Day).
Some years ago, I was at an ecumenical, outdoor service in a country town. To begin the service, a local Noongar elder welcomed us to his country, “where Noongars have roamed for tens of thousands of years.” The congregation (two-thirds “wadullahs” (white people)) listened with a stillness of respect.
When aboriginal formally welcome wadullahs to their country, the welcome is always an offer to receive a gift. The tone of the welcome is totally hospitable. “This is our land,” they say, “and we positively want to share it with you.”
Reading any story of aboriginal-white relations over the past 200 years makes me reflect how astoundingly generous and forgiving towards Europeans the aboriginal people have been.
Cavan Brown’s new biography of The Reverend John Gribble is a novelised account of the failed attempt by the Anglican Church to set up a mission for aborigines near Carnarvon in the 1880s. The story traces the fascinating, if somewhat depressing, events in which the passionate motivations of Gribble were crushed and terminated.
On his arrival in Carnarvon, Gribble held high hopes for his mission. He gave to the mission near the town the name of Galilee Baba, after the Sea of Galilee and the Ingarra word for water. His vision was to provide a place where aborigines could live in reasonable conditions, not in the dust and dirt of their camps, where the sick could be cared for, and where aborigines could learn to read and write.
Soon after his arrival, he travelled to the site of his remoter mission. As he travelled through station country, he observed the ways in which some station people treated aborigines: rounded up for work on the stations, imprisoned if they ran away, bound by the Masters and Servants Act, for which they could not have given informed consent. He observed sexual exploitation of aboriginal women, and degrees of cruelty towards all the aboriginal people there.
Being a man of high principle and precipitate action, Gribble complained loudly about these practices, both locally, and in the Perth newspapers.
The response came quickly and vigorously. Bishop Parry initially supported Gribble’s comments. However, pressure was brought to bear on Bishop Parry and the mission committee he chaired. Influential families and pastoral lease-holders joined in a condemnation of Gribble. Cavan Brown’s telling of the story reveals how the Diocese caved in to this pressure, believing that it was better to avoid dividing the small community than dealing with admitted injustices.
Because of his comments, Gribble was assaulted, and his complaints were dealt with slowly and inadequately. Gribble’s temper became more aroused. British justice could not even be meted out to him, a European. What hope did aborigines have?
Eventually, Gribble returned to NSW, bitter and defeated. The Bishops in the Eastern States continued to support him and his mission work with aborigines.
Cavan Brown explains in his Preface that he chose deliberately to write the story of Gribble in novel form, rather than as straight history. His purposes were twofold: to make a more readable story through reconstructing dialogue, and to bring to light the motivations of the various characters.
His imagined conversation between Bishop Parry and his Presbyterian friend, George Truscott, explores most sympathetically the dilemma into which the Bishop had fallen. The immediate threat to the Diocese came from pastoralists who would remove financial support for the Cathedral. This explains the immediate conflict into which Winthrop Hackett, Charles Harper and other prominent Anglicans placed him. However, the Bishop’s deeper intention in withdrawing support from Gribble appears to have been a long-term strategy. He hoped to win slowly and surely an understanding from the white establishment about the treatment of aboriginal people.
The title for Cavan Brown’s book, The Blackfellow’s Friend, may produce controversy today because of its lack of political correctness. The title is in fact taken from Gribble’s tombstone in Sydney, and was intended as a tribute for Gribble’s life work. But even in the 19th Century, a phrase like “Blackfellow’s Friend” was used by Gribble’s opponents as a way of insulting and belittling his positive disposition towards aborigines.
Equally controversial may be Brown’s attempts to write down aboriginal Creole. He has transcribed the sounds and untaught grammar of aboriginal speakers in a way that some readers may find offensive. On the whole, I think Brown has succeeded in achieving a balance between arousing cute contempt for the limited English spoken by aborigines and a sense of realism.
Cavan Brown, as a Baptist pastor, has not been so successful in describing the peculiarly Anglican world of Bishops, Deans and Archdeacons. Perhaps only Anglicans will notice that Bishop Parry’s responsibility for Western Australia is described several times as a “parish”, when it was, by definition, a Diocese. I doubt very much that Anglican clergy were addressed as “Rev.” in the 1800s. The English pattern was to call the ordained “Mister”, and use the full form, “Reverend” only in writing about a priest.
For non-Anglicans, these may be quibbles. They certainly do not destroy the vigour of the story telling, but they do betray, along with numerous typographical errors, hasty sub-editing, which does detract from the enjoyment of the book.
In sum, I recommend this book strongly. It is a courageous and enticing piece of historical story-telling that will open perspectives both on the legacy of Church matters and also on the rugged and painful history of the way whites have treated the original owners of Australia.
First published in The Anglican Messenger.
Our translation of Henry Allon’s beautiful canticle Jesus, Saviour of the World, made for the French-speaking network of the Anglican communion.
Jésus, Sauveur du monde, viens à nous dans ta miséricorde :
sois notre salut et notre secours.
Par ta croix et ta vie offerte pour nous, tu as libéré ton peuple :
sois notre salut et notre secours.
Quand ils étaient sur le point de mourir, tu as sauvé tes disciples :
nous nous tournons vers toi pour nous secourir.
Dans la grandeur de ta miséricorde, brise nos chaînes:
pardonne les péchés de tout ton peuple
Présente-toi comme notre sauveur et notre libérateur puissant:
sauve-nous et aide-nous pour que nous puissions te louer.
Viens et demeure avec nous, Seigneur Christ Jésus !
Écoute notre prière et sois avec nous à jamais.
Et quand tu reviendras dans ta gloire,
Unis-nous à toi et partage avec nous la vie de ton royaume.
Traduction : Rév. Père Ted Witham, Cécile Schantz-Rauld et Rév. Père Ron Silarshah
This review by Colin tssf, Provincial Minister of the Third Order for Australia, was published in the Stigmata Issue of the Australian Province’s Newsletter 2012 (www.tssf.org.au)
Very appropriately named, this book contains talks and workshops given by Ted when he was the Provincial Minister of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis. It provides those who read it with challenges that faced Brother Francis over 800 years ago.
Ted has selected eight talks to stimulate, guide and challenge us as readers to not only fully appreciate St Francis’s ultimate focus on God and all creation, but also to lead us with Francis in developing our own faith journey in Franciscan spirituality and to stand firmly in faith and to make a difference in the time God has given us. As Francis gazed upon the cross of St Damiano he was confronted with God’s call. In ‘Gazing prayer’, the first of Ted’s addresses, he introduces us to the 3- fold movement in prayer. He points out that ‘gazing, transforming, and acting’ lead us to follow God’s call as Franciscans with full understanding of who we are and what God wants of us.
The Upside-Down World of St Francis continues with addresses relating to Discipleship, the joy of poetry and literature in discovering Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the gift of this ministry. Hopkins on escape from his journals wrote, ‘I know the beauty of our Lord by it as we drove home the stars came out thick: I lent back to look at them and my heart opening more than usual praised our Lord to and in whom all that is beauty comes home, this busy working of nature wholly independent of the earth and seeming to go on in a strain of time not reckoned by our reckoning of days and years…… was like a new witness to God and filled me with delightful fear.’
The book continues and focuses upon Spiritual Poverty again with the challenge given us through Francis. Ted writes: ‘For our spiritual survival, paradoxically, we should choose poverty…..In our relationships with others, we should learn to hold nothing back. In our relationship with God, we should be learning how to give ourselves in our entirety to God.’
The Salvation of Creation encourages us as Franciscans, and as Christians to be responsible within community, a community that embraces all of creation, not domination of it. Money and the Third Order reminds us of our commitment as members of our Order of the wider purpose we each have in our journey in serving others, in making a difference. The First Third Order and Penance, leads us to Francis’s joy and love he had in the presence of God. His journey of penance in love reminds us of God’s unconditional love for us. This love he shows us each day in the world in which we live, work and play. We are called to reflect and discover God in all things, rejoicing as Francis did. Challenging greed and violence, raises the questions: how do you refuse to live in the domination system? What does non-passiveness mean to you? What would nonviolence look like in your world? In conclusion Ted calls us to transformation. So the challenge of Jesus and the challenge of Francis is to rebuild our community a community based upon love and not power!
The Green Passover of Francis of Assisi: translated by Ted, draws together this collection in our place within the whole of creation focusing upon the Canticle of the Creatures. “For Francis and each of us, ‘there can be no rediscovered creation without the inner becoming of a person. But equally there can be no new person without a rediscovered creation’.
+ + +
Buy the e-book:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/205347 (In all E-book formats. $US 3.99)
http://www.amazon.com/The-Upside-Down-World-Francis-ebook/dp/B008S4KOOC/ (In Kindle format $US 3.99)
Or order the print version from:
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Published in the July/August edition of TableAUS, the magazine of Australian Mensa
The Joys of Bilingualism and How to Get There
I have the pleasure of teaching two adult classes in French. When other people find out this fact, their first question is, ‘Why would anyone learn another language?’ In fact, most of the class members ask the same question. Learning a language as an adult is a hard slog, and, at the rate of a lesson a week, is likely to take three years to be able to conduct a simple conversation. 
Sure, in a few months, I can give people the confidence to negotiate customs, direct a taxi driver, check in at the hotel and order a good wine, but the 4,000 words said to be needed to hold up one end of a conversation with their supporting grammar and non-verbal clues take longer. 
For older people, one obvious benefit of the process of learning a language is the delay of mental deterioration. One study showed that bilinguals with Alzheimer’s were diagnosed on average four years later than their monolingual peers. The mental agility required to learn a language evidently holds bilinguals in good stead.
New research suggests that people making decisions in their second language may be more objective than when they make similar decisions in their mother-tongue. These studies used standard tests requiring the participants to balance risks. In the mother tongue, people were more likely to avoid a possible 30% loss than make a possible 70% gain; in their second language, they could more easily see that the risk was the same in both cases. So bilinguals (may) make better investment decisions and relationship choices! 
Neuroscientists are surprised at the mental flexibility of bilinguals because not only do their brains have to store the vocabulary and grammar of both languages, when they speak, they activate both languages. This may explain why bilinguals may be slightly slower at recalling specific words in the language they are using, but it also reveals the benefit of more flexible thinking.
When we lived in multilingual Mauritius, we were amused at the strategy Mauritians used when they couldn’t recall a word: they simply switched over to the other language.
Some linguists believe that a second language gives the speaker a different framework for understanding the world. The scholars Sapir and Whorf in the early 20th Century proposed that the language you speak forces you into the worldview of that culture and language. This hypothesis is controversial, not least because it is hard to test.
Scholars have tried to devise conclusive tests.
For example, the range of words for colour differs in different languages. English, for example, makes a distinction between blue and green, and we can pick these colours when we see them. In some languages, there is only word for what English regards as two colours and speakers of those languages make no distinction between blue and green objects. Researchers believe that this means they may not see the difference.
Most linguists today accept a weak version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: the language you are speaking has some influence on your world-view. As a bilingual, I cannot judge how much I am influenced by the world-views of French and English as I use them, but I observe that the French language forces you into expressions which have different implications in each language. For example, when in English I say, ‘We must’ in French I would say ‘Il faut’. This literally means ‘it is necessary’, and I speculate on how much French takes away personal responsibility by using the more impersonal turn of phrase.
At a lighter level, idioms in different languages reveal the way we think about each other. In French, the English expression ‘to take French leave’ is ‘filer à l’anglaise’ (slip away in the English manner)! The claim that French idioms are more logical than their English counterparts is borne out by the French version of ‘I read it in black and white’ – ‘Je l’ai lu en noir sur blanc’, ‘I read it in black on white’. Does the fact that French has one word only for ‘sand’ and ‘gravel’ – le sable – mean that French speakers have a different mental picture of a beach?
I get fascinated by these small – and probably unscientific – differences, and they have the bonus of clarifying my thinking, of hunting out the imagery behind idioms to check what I actually mean when I use them. Knowing two languages may lead to clearer more nuanced thinking.
The other benefit that researchers often overlook is the access a second language gives you to a crowd of potential friends, to the riches of another culture (not every novel is translated into English, and not every movie is sub-titled), and to seeing history through different eyes (World War 2 has a difference resonance for the French than for us Australians.)
So if you are thinking of learning a new language, commit to a few months, a few years or a lifetime. The very attempt will reap great benefits!
 Paul Nation and Robert Waring, “Vocabulary Size, Test Coverage and Word Lists,” http://www.fltr.ucl.ac.be/fltr/germ/etan/bibs/vocab/cup.html Accessed 22/5/2012
 Jonah Lehrer, “The Benefits of Being Bilingual”, May 15, 2012 Wired Magazine, http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/the-benefits-of-being-bilingual/, Accessed 21/5/2012
Reviewed by Ted Witham
George Steiner reminds us what a wonderful and impossible task translation is. Steiner takes us to the source of the problem, which is our ignorance of what language is: neither the philosophy of language, nor the science of linguistics has come close to unravelling this mystery.
Words are certainly not a one-for-one description of an object. There is nothing simple about the relation between the word “dog ” and the animal lying at my feet. In addition, every word comes with its history, some of its inscribed on its surface, and some of it in deeper resonances.
Language is certainly not the simple giving of information, like the alarm signal one chook gives to the group that a hawk is overhead. Animals, Steiner claims, never lie. In contrast, most human speech utterances are designed to conceal as much as they reveal. As social animals, human beings present their best face by shaping their words for many and mainly hidden purposes.
Even the instant interpretation bilinguals provide for their monolingual friends which has the addition of facial and bodily gestures is a very loose communication. It reminds us, however, that language is far more than words on the page. Written language is analogous to a musical score.
Steiner illustrates history’s ambivalence about translation from the history of Bible translation. There have always been those who claim that Hebrew (or is it Greek?) is God’s language, and any attempt to translate it into the vulgate will despoil its sacredness. Against those have always been others urging the translation of sacred texts as part of spreading the good news contained in them.
So translation is a daunting task. If every word has its own history in its own language, then how can it be translated into the words of another language? Playwrights in English, for example, have echoes of Shakespeare. If you are translating a modern playwright into French, the Shakespearean allusions will inevitably be lost. One solution is to make the French translation thick with invented resonances like those of an invented French Shakespeare lending his echoes to the current translation.
How can translators know all the context of a text they are translating into their own language? Many years ago I took it on myself to translate Ionesco’s Le Roi se meurt into English. At the time I was immersed in Ionesco’s existential contemporaries Camus and Sartre, and I think I was aware of some of the psychological dimensions of the piece: the King as self. But I knew very little of Ionesco’s Romanian history and only a tiny bit about the Dadaist and absurdist sources for his work. How could I, or any one translator, be deeply immersed in all of that?
Translators need some grasp of how we understand, hermeneutics, and consciously use that knowledge in their translation. Specifically, Steiner commends a fourfold movement:
- We begin in an approach to the text drenched in love and trust. This text, we say to ourselves, has something worthwhile to say at least to us.
- We then move to attack mode, analysing the text. How does it communicate through meaning, syntax, and sound and thought?
- Then we transform, rendering the text into a new form lying somewhere along the continuum from literal to literary.
- The fourth movement, Steiner names “compensation” or ” all that “. In some way, our translation has to revalue the original for a new audience.
This is not to suggest that Steiner’s is primarily a technical manual. He raises questions rather than describes methods. He takes the philosophy of language and the then infant science of evolutionary biology to its limits and finds only mystery. His critiques of Chomsky’s generative grammar and Steven Pinker’s proposition that there is only one human language underlying the hundreds of languages still stand in 2012.
He gives outstanding examples of good translations. He presents in inter-linear form Pierre Leyris’ breathtaking translation of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Pied Beauty which so moved me that I copied it out.
But above all, After Babel swirls with rich ideas about language and how we share it with others. What is Babel? Is the multitude of tongues, which our planet experiences as the norm, actually preferable to the hegemony of just one language? Is Babel the attempt to impose politically correct language to the private version of language each individual speaks? The Bible presents Pentecost as Babel’s antidote, and the miracle of Pentecost is precisely the mutual understanding of many languages.
It may be that the translator, whether interpreting a text from a far off culture and language, or explaining a passage from Jane Austen, is doing her part to bring in Pentecost.
Her small hand looked pale as the sun shone warmly on it into the lounge room. A large diamond glinted in the light. The band looked too big for her finger. Her hand moved along the big glass-fronted cabinet. She watched it closely as if it were someone else’s hand, and once more hated herself for her inability to stop it. The white fingers turned the key and plunged inside. The hand half-grabbed, half-caressed, the neck of the decanter. She realised her right hand, the other hand, had been carrying a large tumbler, a Vegemite glass. She placed the glass on the cabinet shelf and quickly filled it and brought it to her lips.
The rasping self-hatred surfaced again, and she hesitated. But the insistent, astringent aroma of the sherry overcame all her hesitation and she drank deeply. Within seconds, the glass was empty, but the woman was not satisfied.
“I shouldn’t,” she thought briefly, but still re-filled the glass and drained it. The wine felt sour in her gullet like reflux, and the emotional pain in her head felt like it was beginning to cloud and soften.
The third glassful went down more slowly, and she thought of the decreased pace as a more civilised way of drinking.
“It’s OK,” she said aloud, “I’m on top of it.” There was nobody in the big house to hear her.
With the decanter in one hand and the tumbler in the other, she walked over to the new lounge chair, swaying slightly on her way, and sat heavily in the chair taking exaggerated care not to spill a drop. The wall clock chimed three times, and she began to congratulate herself on waiting so long this day to answer the imperative call of the glass-fronted cabinet.
“To me!” she slurred and lifted the glass to her lips.
The decanter was empty when the clock struck four, and Brenda drifted in a fitful sleep.
This was the part of the day she hated – the memory would wake her and prevent her from complete oblivion. Every day it jerked her back to reality.
She was back on the podium in the State Convention Centre, behind the lectern draped with the Fabian Party banner. She could feel the warmth of the hand-picked crowd applauding her speech. A good performance tonight, and chances were she would be the next Premier. She caught her Dad’s eye in the fourth row, and saw there a gleam of pride.
At the back of the crowd, she saw two delegates talking. The first one had the West Australian folded open. “What is 4 Across?” he asked his neighbour, “the clue is ‘bizarrely re-prime for first in State’.”
Back at the podium she remember how sharp she was in questions and answers, so the Party minders had agreed to a short session after the speech.
The man was dressed in an open-necked green knit shirt and taupe trousers, contrasting with the uniform suits and power dresses. In her memory now, the man was holding a knife as he slowly approached the floor microphone. She smiled encouragingly, wanting to be in charge.
“Is it true, Ms Berndale,” he asked, and she could hear the self-assurance in the familiar Geordie burr, “that you and your father were members of the English New Nazi Party?” A gasp from the Party faithful. The camera closed on the woman’s face and caught that moment of horrified hesitation. In a moment she stuttered, pointed at her father, and said, “My father was. Not me. I was never ideologically aligned. He was. But not me.”
But the questioner was well-prepared –he must have had friends in the Party office – and with quiet scorn spoke again in to the microphone. “Then you had better watch this. You had all better watch this.”
As they looked to the big screens, the woman’s face dissolved to be replaced by the scene of a noisy crowd, the dark towers of York Minster the backdrop. Another stage, another microphone with a younger Brenda Berndale, hair tightly cropped and shouting, “This cowardly Government has failed to keep out these dirty Ottomans!” This English crowd cheered, but the Party audience watching in the auditorium in Australia was stunned. Then an angry buzz arose from the front seats where her front bench colleagues were seated. They walked as a group to the podium and pushed the woman outside into the darkness. The audience jeered.
Back in her lounge chair the woman was crying. Again. She swore at the empty decanter.
The door-bell sounded; at first far away, but then pressed again, it sounded more insistent. Brenda Berndale was not inclined to stand and respond. But it rang again, and Brenda got to her feet feeling full of confusion and anger and walked slowly to the front door. She peered through the spy-hole. There were two aboriginal kids calling, “Mizz Berndale, are you alright?” Brenda knew she had seen these kids before. They lived in the next street. The other neighbours chased them away, but Brenda had once passed glasses of Coke out to them. It was early in her campaign when she was seeking out every favourable voice she could muster.
Brenda was about to turn away, but on impulse reached out to the snib and opened the door. “Are you alright, Mizz?” the younger child, a boy, asked again. Brenda was aware of their appraising eyes, and looked down at herself, and saw the tumbler still in her hand. “Not good drink,” the boy said flatly, as if from experience of others.
“No,” Brenda replied softly, “No.” Tears spilled down her face. The familiar wound in her head throbbed less doggedly. She held out her hand across the threshold. “Come in, kids. Can I get you a glass of Coke? Please stay and talk to me.”
Brenda stood aside and watched two little strangers obtrude upon her territory, and she had to admit to herself that it felt good.
First published in http://www.narratoraustralia.com.au/, June 19, 2012
Anne Lamott, Imperfect birds, Crawley WA: UWA Publications, 2010.
Paperback, 278 pages ISBN 9781742580975. RRP $32.95
Reviewed by Ted Witham
When Elizabeth Ferguson was pregnant with Rosie, she was afraid how doomed she would be as a parent. Imperfect Birds illustrates that doom.
Imperfect Birds is the third novel in Anne Lamott’s series on the Ferguson family: Elizabeth, fragile and alcoholic, clever, athletic Rosie, now 17, and writer James, whom Elizabeth married after the death of her first husband.
However, this is the first of the series to be published in Australia, and the first that I have read. In early parts of the book, I found myself lost among the cast.
I usually read thrillers and crime with tight plotting. The plot of Imperfect Birds meanders: Rosie and her two close girl-friends fall more and more deeply into addiction, while Rosie’s deceptions confuse her mother. Rosie falls in love with her science teacher, so when that relationship ends in disillusion, she attaches herself to another slightly older man, seduced by his sophistication and access to drugs.
The novel climaxes with Rosie’s parents sending her on a ‘tough love’ wilderness program in the depths of the Utah winter. This process shakes Rosie into seeing clearly her parents’ love, even though she can see their flaws.
To apply tension to this plot, Lamott cuts judiciously between points of view, mainly those of Elizabeth and Rosie. Lamott gets inside the heads of mother and daughter and stays there. Lamott describes writer James’ techniques of eavesdropping teenagers to record their idiom. Is this Lamott’s own secret to such accurate rendering of the thoughts and speech patterns of Rosie and her friends? I was gripped by the quality of Lamott’s writing. Lamott’s description of the Parkade where the Landsdale teenagers gather is a compelling mix of boredom and danger.
Literary allusions are scattered through the novel, like Rumi’s “Each person has to enter the nest made by the other imperfect birds,” from which the title is taken. Prominent use is made of Rilke to deepen insights.
Imperfect Birds is a smart and generous depiction of growing up in contemporary US and parents’ dilemmas with these adolescent children.
Published in Studio: A journal of Christians writing, No. 124, June 2012.
This account of a dream of redemption recorded by John Newton, the former slave-captain, has fascinated me since it was first shown me at Duke University. It seems straightforward on first reading, but becomes more and more intriguing with each reading.
The scene presented to my imagination was the harbour of Venice, where we had lately been. I thought it was night, and my watch upon the deck; and that, as I was walking to and fro by myself, a person came to me, I do not remember from whence, and brought me a ring, with an express charge to keep it carefully: assuring me, that while I preserved the ring I would be happy and successful: but if I lost or parted with it, I must expect nothing but trouble and misery.
I accepted the present and the terms willingly, not in the least doubting my own care to preserve it, and highly satisfied to have my happiness in my own keeping. I was engaged in these thoughts, when a second person came to me, and observing the ring on my finger, took occasion to ask me some questions concerning it. I readily told him all its virtues; and his answer expressed a surprise at my weakness, in expecting such effects from a ring. I think he reasoned with me for some time upon the impossibility of the thing; and at length urged me, in direct terms, to throw it away.
At first I was shocked with the proposal; but his insinuations prevailed. I began to reason and doubt myself, and at last plucked it off my finger, and dropped it over the ship’s side into the water; which it no sooner touched, than I saw, at the same instant, a terrible fire burst out from a range of mountains, a part of the Alos which appeared at some distance behind the city of Venice.
I saw the hills as distinctly as if awake, and they were all in flames. I perceived, too late, my folly; and my tempter, with an air of insult, informed me, that all the mercy of God in reserve for me was comprised in that ring, which I had wilfully thrown away.
I understood that I must now go with him to the burning mountains, and that all the flames I saw were kindled on my account. I trembled, and was in great agony; so that it was surprising I did not then awake: but my dream continued; and when I thought myself upon the point of constrained departure, and stood, self-condemned, without plea or hope, suddenly, either a third person, or the same who brought the ring at first, came to me, (I am not certain which), and demanded the cause of my grief. I told him the plain case, confessing that I had ruined myself wilfully, and deserved no pity. He blamed my rashness; and asked, if I should be wiser supposing I had my ring again. I could hardly answer to this; for I thought it was gone beyond recall. I believe indeed, I had not time to answer, before I saw this unexpected friend go down under the water, just in the spot where I had dropped it; and he soon returned, bringing the ring with him.
The moment he came on board, the flames in the mountain were extinguished, and my seducer left me.
Then was “the prey taken from the hand of the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered”. My fears were at an end, and with joy and gratitude I approached my kind deliverer to receive the ring again; but he refused to return it and spoke to this effect: ‘If you should be intrusted with this ring again, you would very soon bring yourself into the same distress; you are not able to keep it: but I will preserve it for you, and, whenever it is needful, will produce it in your behalf.’
John Newton (1799 ?), The Life of the Rev. John Newton: “An Authentic Narrative”
London: The Religious Tract Society, 20-21.