DROWNING -In the Sound between the village of Ernest Town and Amherst Island, on Wednesday the 9th instant, Miss SUSAN McKENZIE, daughter of Mr. Colin McKenzie, RODERICK McKAY, Esq., WILLIAM BARBER, PETER LARD, and JAMES JOHNSTON, all of Ernest Town.
Amidst the many melancholy manifestations which we are called to witness and to publish, of the fragility of life and earthly expectation, few, - very few are the instances, which touch the heart so keenly with sorrow, or so deeply with grief and gloom, as the mournful occasion of the present remarks. Seldom, indeed, have we shed the sympathizing tear, over any event so afflictive or affecting. - Seldom have we known a warning so imperious or impressive. To those who are bereft of a friend and relative, the wound is deep and terrible: but to those of us who are exempted from such anguish, it should be like the salutary incision of the Lancet, restoring or reducing our minds to a state of health and capability for useful and active exertion. Surely it was not in the purposes of Providence that these unfortunate beings should perish in vain. From the gloom that envelopes their fates, a voice speaks to us all, in language, admonitory and instructive, though solemn and distressing; and little of human feeling, of human fears or philanthropy does that heart possess, which can regard, unmoved, this lamentable occurrence.
The individuals, whose premature and dreadful fate has called forth these reflections, were returning, at the time of the accident, in a sail boat from Amherst Island to Ernest Town village. All of them, (excepting Miss McKenzie,) went over in the morning. A young Gentleman, who accompanied the party to the Island, determined suddenly and unexpectedly, from some trivial, casual, & perhaps capricious motives, not to return, until the ensuing morning. Miss McKenzie, who was at the Island, on a visit to her friends, was anxious to return; but, for a long time, vibrated between that anxiety and the fears natural to a timid and amiable young female. However, her apprehensions, after much hesitation, were chid away by the cheering assurances and urgent invitations of the gentlemen, and she went on board the fatal boat! -How affecting is the contemplation of this important moment! In vain do we attempt to penetrate the purposes of Providence: nor would we with rash and blasphemous audacity arraign its decisions: yet, apart from impious murmuring or inquisitiveness, we cannot but be impressed, soberly and sadly by that awful and inscrutable destiny which decreed the dreadful and premature fate of a Being, young, lovely and engaging, the charm and the promise of her friends, while it should so obviously and graciously interpose, to snatch from death another one, reserved perhaps for many years of future ufefulness, eminence and happiness. - After leaving the Island-shore, the boat proceeded about one third of the distance to the village, when it was seen to upset, and instantly sink, leaving behind not a speck or a vestige to mark the spot, or keep hope alive. Boats immediately put out from the village; but they could discover only three [---], a silk reticule and a setting pole. It is a probable conjecture, that all clung to the boat, and were intombed with it in the watery grave. But we can only conjecture; and, it is, perhaps, not the least painful and distressing of the circumstances, attending this most melancholy event, that we can only conjecture. There is a certain disposition in our nature, which renders us anxious to know and to witness the expiring language and feelings of our friends, and to be acquainted with all the incidents which accompany their decease. in the present lamentable instance, the mind is left to wander in confusion, conjecture and doubt. Fancy, with painful assiduity, rears up many a gloomy surmise, merely to destroy it. All that can be gathered with precision from the circumstances within our knowledge, is the unquestionable certainty of their awful and unexpected fate. Dark, dreary and dreadful is the chasm, created by the contemplation of this event, in the circle of our gay and cheerful emotions; but it is to be hoped, that, as the annals of accident present no precedent of a similar occurrence, in the vicinity of this melancholy casualty, it may not fleet by without impression or improvement: - and that every one, within reach of the despondency and dismal tone of feelings, which it has awakened, may pass from the contemplation, with sentiments and sensations, sanctified, reproved and admonished. To contemplate scenes sad and sombre as this, may destroy the momentary and elastic energy of gaiety, of the factitious warmth and earnestness of euthusiasm; but far, -very far is it from being without its utility. It reads us practical and lasting lessons. The hour of woe is the hour of wisdom; and from calamities the most desolating and grievous reflections and resolutions the most salutary will always arise. - Who, in contemplating this direful disaster, does not carry his thoughts and reflections beyond the incident that occasioned them? Who does not, with natural and sadly-musing solicitude, look forward, with the vision of faith and fancy, to that moment, yet in the abyss of futurity, which bears upon it the fiat of his own fate? Such, in every mind, must be some of the emotions and ideas which this dismal and distressing misfortune suggests. The anguish of those whose hearts have now been reacked by the bereaving affliction of Providence, admits of no description. A deep and doleful gloom seems to pervade every countenance, and over the whole country is cast an anxious and unaffected melancholy. Every circumstance seems pregnant with precept and premonitions, earnest, and important, to remind us, with emphatic solemnity “what shadows we are, and what shadows we persue.”
Mr. McKay and Mr. Barber, were Europeans: - the former from North Briton, the latter from Ireland. Mr. Lard was a native of the United States. The two other unfortunate persons were born in the immediate vicinity of the place, where they perished. To attempt a biographical sketch, which should do justice to their memory, demands the efforts of a more able pen. Nor do they require it. Enshrined in the hearts of their friends, their memory will long live, to awaken the precious tear of amiable and affectionate sensibility. Our feelings, were too deeply and painfully impressed with this gloomy occurrence, to pass it with the ordinary brevity of an obituary notice. Surely, we must all feel and exclaim, that “man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare: so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”
On Thursday, as if by preconcerted arrangement, a large and solemn concourse spontaneously assembled and united in dragging the bottom to discover their remains. After an anxious and persevering research, the boat was found, about sunset, in eighteen fathoms water, and the next morning raised, with her sails set and half a ton of stone ballast, which was the undoubted cause of her sinking. On Saturday, after further preparation, the bottom was again examined, and the friends of Mr. MacKay and Mr. Lard had the sorrowful satisfaction of seeing their lifeless remains rescued from the deep, to be resigned forever to the grave. No other, we believe, of these unfortunate sufferers, has, as yet, been found.
The bodies of Messrs. MacKay and Lard were interred on Sunday, a 5 o’clock, P.M. - And we understand that the body of Miss McKenzie was found on Monday afternoon. - Every exertion is making to find the other two.
[Kingston Gazette, Sept. 22 1818]
Among the five unfortunate sufferers mentioned in your last Gazette, who were lost in the sound by the foundering of a boat in crossing from Amherst island to Ernest Town on the 9th instant, appears the name of RODERICK MACKAY, Esquire. The sudden and lamented death of this Gentleman, and of those who perished with him, will be long remembered in the village of Ernest Town: even when the soothing hand of time shall have softened the poignancy of that grief which agonizes the hearts of the afflicted relations, the names of the deceased will be remembered with a sigh, and the tear of sympathy will be dropped to their memory. The writer is not acquainted with four of the individuals whose fate he laments, but their merits will be appreciated by those who know them best; their loss will be deeply felt, and their virtues long remembered by those who were respectively connected with them by all the endearing ties of privated friendship, social intercourse, or relationship. With Mr. Mackay, the writer has been intimately acquainted for several years. This gentleman’s general information, lively wit, and engaging manners, rendered his company highly entertaining and agreeable to his friends.
His acts of Charity were numerous, and flowed from a benevolent heart. The inhabitants of Ernest Town will bear ample testimony to his philanthropy and public spirit, during his short residence in that place. In the establishment and support of the Bible Society, of which he was Secretary, in his contribution to the erection of a parsonage house so necessary to the accommodation of the Clergyman officiating in the Church there, in a similar contribution of his for the erection of a Wesleyan Chapel in that village, not less necessary for the comfort and convenience of that denomination of Christians, he shewed a judgment and liberality that did equal honor to his head and heart. If Mr. Mackay had his feeling they were such as “Leaned to virtue’s side”
If he had a slight tincture of vanity, it is a weakness which has often appeared blended with the greatest talents, and the most distinguished abilities. If at any time it shewed itself in him, it was in being the first to promote some public benefit, some benevolent institution. In private life he was a sincere friend, and an affectionate husband, most tenderly beloved by his wife, who but a few days ago had fondly looked forward through the vista of future years to scenes of happiness in the prospect before her -Alas the scene has suddenly changed the pleasing prospect vanished, and left behind a dreary void in the bosom of disappointed affection, which all the remaining sources of worldly happiness are unable to fill. - Such is the melancholy State of this amiable sufferer, and cold and worthless must be that heart, who does not sympathize with her in this hour of deep and complicated distress. - Such has been the awful and unexpected call which in a moment summoned five of our fellow men into the unseen and eternal world. “No warning given, Unceremonious fate.”
If any thing could rouse us thoughtless mortals, from the state of insensibility into which we are sunk, this alarming dispensation could not fail to produce some serious though, some fixed purpose to reform. This however, like numerous other warning of the kind, will by many soon be forgotten. -But though we should shut our eyes on dangers, and slumber on our post, Death slumbers not, nor is he satiated - He has already marked his next victim, and who dare say - “I am not the man”! AMICUS.
Kingston, Sept. 19th, 1818