“This clergyman might be called (for a reason to be hereafter assigned) ‘The Guardian of the Negroes’; and his province should be to superintend the moral and spiritual concern of the slaves, to take upon himself the religious instruction of the adult Negroes, and to take particular care that all the Negro children are taught to read by the catechist and the two assistant women (now employed by the society) and also that they are diligently instructed by the catechist in the principles of the Christian religion, till they are fifteen years of age, when they shall be instructed by himself with the adult Negroes.
“This instruction of the Negro children from their earliest years is one of the most important and essential parts of the whole plan; for it is to the education of the young Negroes that we are principally to look for the success of our spiritual labours. These may be easily taught to understand and to speak the English language with fluency; these may be brought up from their earliest youth in habits of virtue, and restrained from all licentious indulgences: these may have the principles and the precepts of religion impressed so early upon their tender minds as to sink deep, and to take firm root, and bring forth the fruits of a truly Christian life. To this great object, therefore, must our chief attention be directed; and as almost everything must depend on the ability, the integrity, the assiduity, the perseverance of the person to whom we commit so important a charge, it is impossible for us to be too careful and too circumspect in our choice of a CATECHIST. He must consider it his province, not merely to teach the Negroes the use of letters, but the elements of Christianity; not only to improve their understandings, but to form their hearts. For this purpose they must be put into his hands the moment they are capable of articulating their words, and their instruction must be pursued with unrelenting diligence. So long as they continue too young to work, they may be kept constantly in the school; as they grow fit to labour, their attendance on the CATECHIST must gradually lessen, till at length they take their full share of work with the grown Negroes.
“A school of this nature was formerly established by the society of Charlestown in South Carolina, about the year 1745, under the direction of Mr. Garden, the Bishop of London’s commissary in that province. This school flourished greatly, and seemed to answer their utmost wishes. There were at one time sixty scholars in it, and twenty young Negroes were annually sent out from it well instructed in the English language, and the Christian faith. Mr. Garden, in his letters to the society, speaks in the highest terms of the progress made by his scholars, and says, that the Negroes themselves were highly pleased with their own acquirements. But it is supposed that on a parochial establishment being made in Charlestown by government, this excellent institution was dropt; for after the year 1751, no further mention is made of it in the minutes of the society. From what little we know of it, however, we may justly conceive the most pleasing hopes from a similar foundation at Barbadoes.”—The Works of Bishop Porteus, vi., pp., 171-179.