Agency of Wingate 277
Meherrin Church beginning May 12, and obtained nearly $2,000 in
subscriptions and scholarships at that time, and as chairman of the
committee wrote the report on Wake Forest College which was in
these years regularly a part of the Chowan Association proceedings.9
Perhaps it may be well here to stop to consider those qualities of
mind and heart which contributed to Wingate's success as agent. With
deep sympathies for his fellow men and for inanimate nature, and a
poetic cast of mind, he also had the power to analyze economic
conditions and appreciate their bearings upon his work. These
qualities are revealed in the following extracts from one of his letters.
It is from Colerain, dated March 4, 1853. It was a rainy, boisterous
day, and Wingate had time to write:
You are aware, he writes, that I am in the portion of the State where fishing is
carried on to so great an extent. The season had just commenced, and those engaged
in it are making preparations for entangling the unwary inhabitants of their waters.
The broad smooth current of the Chowan is now being peopled with her annual
visitors from the sea. Masters are buying red shirts for their negroes, and they in
turn are anticipating with great glee this frolic in the water. Their fondness for this
excitement is peculiar; and the long melancholy dirge of the fishermen, when they
return to their homes, while it attests their sorrow, brings many a tear to the eyes of
those who have been accustomed to hear it from infancy.
The brother with whom I am housed has just been giving me an account of this
stirring season. And what most struck me was the ingenuity displayed in devising so
many various modes of catching the herring. If they remain in the bed of the stream,
there these unsuspecting little people suddenly find their heads entangled in the gill
net; or perhance borne backward without questions, by a long swoop of the seine.
Should they again grow weary of the current and take a trip to the shore, while
heedlessly sporting round and round, as becomes them in their home, they find
themselves suddenly blockaded there by the wares (weirs) and unceremoniously
of their playground, at the pleasure of their lords.
But this is only one of the ways of living in this richly blessed portion of
the State. Here is one man just entering his timbered land
9 Ibid., May 20, 1853.