THREE MRS. JUDSONS:
MRS. ANN H. JUDSON,
MRS. SARAH B. JUDSON,
MRS. EMILY C. JUDSON,
MISSIONARIES TO BURMAH.
ARABELLA W. STUART,
(MRS. ARABELLA M. WILLSON.)
A self-denying band, who counted not Life dear unto them, so they might fulfil Their ministry, and save the heathen soul.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.
NEW YORK: CHARLES T. DILLINGHAM.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five,
By Miller, Orton & Mulligan,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New York.
Among the many benefits which modern missions have conferred on the world, not the least, perhaps, is the field they have afforded for the development of the highest excellence of female character. The limited range of avocations allotted to woman, and her consequent inability to gain an elevated rank in the higher walks of life, has been a theme of complaint with many modern reformers, especially with the party who are loud in their advocacy of woman's rights. That few of the sex have risen to eminence in any path but that of literature, is too well known to admit of denial, and might be proved by the scantiness of female biography. How few of the memoirs and biographical sketches which load the shelves of our libraries, record the lives of women!
The missionary enterprise opens to woman a sphere of activity, usefulness and distinction, not, under the present constitution of society, to be found elsewhere. Here she may exhibit whatever she possesses of skill in the mastery of unknown and difficult dialects; of tact in dealing with the varieties of human character; of ardor and perseverance in the pursuit of a noble end under the most trying discouragements; and of exalted Christian heroism and fortitude, that braves appalling dangers, and even death in its most dreadful forms, in its affectionate devotion to earthly friends, and the service of a Heavenly Master. Compared with the true independence, the noble energy, the almost superhuman intrepidity of the Mrs. Judsons, how weak and despicable seem the struggles of many misguided women in our day, who seek to gain a reluctant acknowledgment of equality with the other sex, by a noisy assertion of their rights, and in some instances, by an imitation of their attire! Who would not turn from a female advocate at the bar, or judge upon the bench, surrounded by the usual scenes of a court-house, even if she filled these offices with ability and talent, to render honor rather to her, who laying on the altar of sacrifice whatever of genius, or acquirement, or loveliness she may possess, goes forth to cheer and to share the labors and cares of the husband of her youth, in his errand of love to the heathen?
And it seems peculiarly appropriate that woman, who doubtless owes to Christianity most of the domestic consideration and social advantages, which in enlightened countries she regards as her birthright, should be the bearer of these blessings to her less favored sisters in heathen lands. If the Christian religion was a Gospel to the poor, it was no less emphatically so to woman, whom it redeemed from social inferiority and degradation, the fruit for ages of that transgression which "brought death into the world, and all our wo." Never until on the morning of the resurrection "she came early unto the sepulchre," was she made one in Christ Jesus (in whom "there is neither in male nor female") with him who had hitherto been her superior and her master. Nor does she seem then to have misunderstood her high mission, or to have been wanting to it. The 'sisters' in the infant churches rivalled the brethren in attachment and fidelity to the cause, and to their "ministry" the new religion was indebted in no small degree for its unparalleled success.
Perhaps an apology may be deemed necessary for another memoir of the distinguished females whose names adorn our title-page. With regard to the first Mrs. Judson, it has been thought that a simple narrative of her life, unencumbered with details of the history of the mission, would be more attractive to youthful readers than the excellent biography by Mr. Knowles. Of the second, though we cannot hope or wish to rival the graceful and spirited sketch by Fanny Forrester, still it is believed that a plain, unembellished story of a life which was in itself so exceedingly interesting, may also find favor with the public.
As to the last of these three Christian heroines who has so lately departed from among us, as full a sketch as practicable is given, from a wish to embalm in one urn—perhaps a fragile one—the memories of all those whose virtues and affections have contributed so largely to the happiness and usefulness of one of the noblest and most successful of modern missionaries—the Rev. Adoniram Judson.
The approval of several of the friends of the subjects of these memoirs, has encouraged us in our undertaking, and it is our sincere desire that the manner of its execution may be found acceptable, not only to them, but to the friends of missions in general. And should the work gain favor with our youthful readers, especially with female members of Sunday-schools and Bible-classes, and prompt them to a noble emulation of so illustrious examples, the author's fondest hopes will be more than realized.
THE LIFE OF THE FIRST MRS. JUDSON
CHAPTER I. Page
Mrs. Judson's Birth.—Education and Conversion, 13
Her Marriage and Voyage to India, 21
Her Arrival at Calcutta.—Difficulties with the Bengal Government.—Voyage to the Isle of France.—Death of Mrs. Newell.—Change of Sentiments.—Voyage to Rangoon, 28
Description of Burmah, its boundaries, rivers, climate, soil, fruits and flowers—Burman People, their dress, houses, food, government and religion, 37
Rangoon—Letters from Mrs. Judson, 52
Learning the Language.—Mrs. J. visits the Wife of the Viceroy.—Her Sickness.—Her Voyage to Madras.—Her Return to Rangoon.—Birth of a Son, 60
Difficulty of inculcating the Gospel.—Death of her Son.—Failure of Mrs. Judson's Health.—Arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Hough at Rangoon, 66
Missionary Labors.—Female Intellect in Burmah.—Description of a Pagoda.—Burman Worship, and Offerings, 74
Distressing Events.—Mr. Judson's Absence from Rangoon.—Persecution of Mr. Hough.—His Departure for Bengal.—Mrs. Judson's heroic Fortitude.—Mr. Judson's Return, 82
Intolerance of the Burman Government.—First Edifice for Christian Worship erected.—Instruction of Natives.—Conversion of a Native.—His Baptism.—That of two timid Disciples.—Messrs. Judson and Colman visit Ava, 91
Reception of Messrs. Colman and Judson at Ava—Their Return to Rangoon.—Their Resolution to leave Rangoon.—Opposition of Disciples to this Measure.—Increase of Disciples.—Their Steadfastness.—Failure of Mrs. Judson's Health, 95
Mr. and Mrs. Judson visit Bengal and return.—Mrs. Judson's Health again fails.—Her Resolution to visit America.—Her Voyage to England and Visit there, 104
Mrs. Judson's Arrival in America.—Influence of her Visit.—Hostile Opinions.—Her Person and Manners.—Extracts from her Letters, 110
Further Extracts from her Letters.—Her Illness.—Her History of the Burman Mission.—Her Departure from America with Mr. and Mrs. Wade, 119
Messrs. Judson and Price visit Ava.—Their Reception at Court.—Their Return to Rangoon.—Mrs. Judson's Return.—A Letter to her Parents describing their Removal to Ava.—Description of Ava, 127
War with the British.—Narrative of the Sufferings of the Missionaries during the War, 131
Narrative continued and concluded.—Their deliverance from Burman Tyranny, and Protection by British Government, 141
Influence of these Disasters on the Missionary Enterprise.—Testimonials to Mrs. Judson's Heroic Conduct.—Letter from Mr. Judson.—His Acceptance of the Post of Interpreter to Crawford's Embassy.—Mrs. Judson's Residence at Amherst.—Her Illness and Death.—Death of her Infant, 166
* * * * *
THE LIFE OF THE SECOND MRS. JUDSON.
Birth and Education.—Poetical Talent, 183
Conversion.—Bias toward a Missionary Life.—Acquaintance with Boardman, 193
Account of George Dana Boardman, 198
Marriage of Miss Hall and Mr. Boardman.—They sail for India—Letter from Mr. B.—Letters from Mrs. B.—Another Letter from Mr. B., 204
Stationed at Maulmain.—Attack of Banditti.—Missionary Operations.—Danger from Fire, 222
Removal to Tavoy.—Idolatry of the People.—Letter from Mrs. B.—Baptism of a Karen Disciple.—Some Account of the Karens, 230
Letter from Mrs. B.—Mr. B's. Visit to the Karens in their Villages.—Defection of Disciples.—Its Effect on Mr. and Mrs. B., 239
Death of their First-born.—Letters from Mrs. B., 248
Revolt of Tavoy.—Letter from Mr. B., 252
Missionary Labors of Mr. Boardman—His ill Health.—Letter from Mrs. B.—Death of a second Child.—Letters from Mrs. B., 262
Letter from Mrs. Boardman.—Illness and Death of George Dana Boardman, 269
Letters from Mrs. B.—Her Decision to remain in Burmah.—Her Missionary Labors.—Her Trials.—Schools, 284
Correspondence between Mrs. Boardman and the Superintendent.—Her Tours among the Karens.—Her Personal Appearance.—Her Acquaintance with the Burman Language.—Dr. Judson's Translation of the Bible, 296
Mrs. Boardman's Second Marriage.—Removal to Maulmain.—Letter from Mrs. Judson.—Her Son sent to America.—Her Husband's Illness, 304
Illness of her Children.—Death of one of them.—Her Missionary Labors, and Family Cares.—Her Declining Health.—Poem.—Her last Illness and Death, 311
* * * * *
THE LIFE OF THE THIRD MRS. JUDSON.
Remarks on her Genius—Her Early Life.—Conversion.— Employments—Tales and Poems—Acquaintance with Dr. Judson.—Marriage.—Voyage to India—Biography of Mrs. S.B. Judson.—Poem written off St. Helena—Poem on the Birth of an Infant.—Lines addressed to a Bereaved Friend—Letter to her Children.—Prayer for dear Papa.—Poem addressed to her Mother.—Her Account of Dr. Judson's last Illness and Death, 321
Reflections on the Death of Emily C. Judson—The Delicacy of her Constitution and her Final Malady—Her Sufferings at Rangoon, and the Good Effect upon her Health of a Removal to Maulmain—Precarious State of her Health—Her Resignation—Death of Dr. Judson—Decides to Leave Burmah, and Returns to her Maternal Home, in Hamilton. N.Y.—Her death—The Traits of her Character—Domestic Attachments—Her Missionary Life and Literary Labors, 357
LIFE OF MRS. ANN H. JUDSON,
FIRST WIFE OF
REV. ADONIRAM JUDSON, D.D.
MRS. JUDSON'S BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND CONVERSION.
When an individual attains a position of eminence which commands the admiration of the world, we naturally seek to learn his early history, to ascertain what indications were given in childhood of qualities destined to shine with such resplendent lustre, and to discover the kind of discipline which has developed powers so extraordinary. But in no researches are we more apt to be baffled than in these. Few children are so remarkable as to make it worth while, even to a parent, to chronicle their little sayings and doings; and of infant prodigies—though there is a superstitious belief that most of them die early, which is expressed in the adage—
"Whom the Gods love, die young,"
those that live commonly disappoint the hopes of partial friends, who watched their infancy with wonder and expectation.
There are certain qualities, however, which we shall rarely miss even in the childhood of those who attain eminence by a wise employment of their talents and acquirements. These are: firmness of purpose, industry and application, and an ardent, and sometimes enthusiastic temperament. These qualities were possessed in no common degree by Ann Hasseltine, the subject of this memoir. She was born in Bradford, Massachusetts, on the 22d of December, 1789. In a sketch which she has given of her life, between twelve and seventeen years of age, we find evidence of an active, ardent, and social disposition, gay and buoyant spirits, persevering industry, and great decision of character.
Whatever engaged her attention, whether study or amusement, was pursued with an ardor that excited the sympathy and love both of her teachers and schoolfellows. Though little of her writing at this period is preserved, and the generation that knew her personally is mostly passed away, yet her whole subsequent career gives evidence of an intellect of a very high order, carefully cultivated by study and reflection.
She seems scarcely to have been the subject of serious impressions before her seventeenth year. Until that time she enjoyed the pleasures of the world with few misgivings and with a keenness of relish which led her to think herself, as she says, "the happiest creature on earth." She adds, "I so far surpassed my friends in gayety and mirth, that some of them were apprehensive I had but a short time to continue in my career of folly, and should be suddenly cut off. Thus passed the last winter of my gay life."
During the spring of 1806, she began regularly to attend a series of conference meetings in Bradford, her native town. She soon felt that the Spirit of God was operating on her mind. Amusements lost their relish; she felt that she must have a new heart or perish forever; and she often sought solitude, that she might, unseen by others, weep over her deplorable state. Soon, however, her fears that her distress might be noticed by her companions, were merged in her greater terrors of conscience, and she "was willing the whole universe should know that she felt herself to be a lost and perishing sinner." Her distress increased as she became more and more sensible of the depravity of her heart, and the holiness and sovereignty of God. Her mind rose in rebellion against a Being, who after all her prayers and tears and self-denial, still withheld from her the blessing of pardon and peace. She says, "In this state I longed for annihilation, and if I could have destroyed the existence of my soul with as much ease as that of my body, I should quickly have done it. But that glorious Being who is kinder to his creatures than they are to themselves, did not leave me to remain in this distressing state." The plan of salvation through a crucified Redeemer, gradually unfolded itself before her; she began to take delight in those attributes of God which before had filled her with abhorrence; and although she did not at first imagine that this was the new heart for which she had sought so earnestly, yet she was constrained to commit all her interests for time and eternity unreservedly to that Saviour, who now seemed infinitely worthy of the service of her whole existence.
The change in her from extreme worldliness to a life of piety and prayer was deep and permanent. Hers was no half-way character. While she was of the world, she pursued its follies with entire devotion of heart; and when she once renounced it as unsatisfying, and unworthy of her immortal aspirations, she renounced it solemnly and finally. Her ardor for learning did not abate, but instead of being inspired, as formerly by a thirst for human applause and distinction, it was now prompted by her sense of responsibility to God for the cultivation of the talents he had given her, and her desire to make herself increasingly useful. In the sketch referred to she remarks, "I attended my studies in school with far different feelings and different motives from what I had ever done before. I felt my obligation to improve all I had to the glory of God; and since he in his providence had favored me with advantages for improving my mind, I felt that I should be like the slothful servant if I neglected them. I therefore diligently employed all my hours in school in acquiring useful knowledge, and spent my evenings and part of the night in spiritual enjoyments." "Such was my thirst for religious knowledge, that I frequently spent a great part of the night in reading religious books." A friend says of her: "She thirsted for the knowledge of gospel truth in all its relations and dependencies. Besides the daily study of the scripture with Guise, Orton, and Scott before her, she perused with deep interest the works of Edwards, Hopkins, Belamy, Doddridge, &c. With Edwards on Redemption, she was instructed, quickened, strengthened. Well do I remember the elevated smile that beamed on her countenance when she first spoke to me of its precious contents. When reading scripture, sermons, or other works, if she met with anything dark or intricate, she would mark the passage, and beg the first clergyman who called at her father's to elucidate and explain it."
How evidently to us, though unconsciously to herself, was her Heavenly Father thus fitting her for the work he was preparing for her. Had she known that she was to spend her days in instructing bigoted and captious idolaters in religious knowledge, she could not have trained herself for the task more wisely than she was thus led to do.
While, under the guidance of the Spirit of truth, she was thus cultivating her intellect, that same Spirit was also sanctifying and purifying her heart. She loathed sin both in herself and others, and strove to avoid it, not from the fear of hell, but from fear of displeasing her Father in heaven.
In one place she writes: "Were it left to myself whether to follow the vanities of the world, and go to heaven at last, or to live a religious life, have trials with sin and temptation, and sometimes enjoy the light of God's reconciled countenance, I should not hesitate a moment in choosing the latter, for there is no real satisfaction in the enjoyments of time and sense."
On the fourteenth of August, 1806, she made a public profession of religion, and united with the Congregational church at Bradford, being in her seventeenth year.
Very early in her religious life she became sensible that if unusual advantages for acquiring knowledge had fallen to her lot, she was the more bound to use her talents and acquirements for the benefit of others less favored than herself. Actuated by such motives, she opened a small school in her native place, and subsequently taught in several neighboring villages. Her example in this respect is surely worthy of imitation. Perhaps no person is more admirable than a young lady fitted like Miss Hasseltine by a cultivated mind and engaging manners to shine in society, who having the choice between a life of ease and one of personal exertion, chooses voluntarily, or only in obedience to the dictates of conscience, the weary and self-denying path of the teacher. And probably such a course would oftener be chosen, were young persons aware of the unquestionable fact, that the school in which we make the most solid and rapid improvement, is that in which we teach others.
An extract from her journal will sustain what we have said of her conscientiousness and purity of motive in endeavoring to instruct the young:
"May 12, 1809.—Have taken charge of a few scholars. Ever since I have had a comfortable hope in Christ, I have desired to devote myself to him in such a way as to be useful to my fellow-creatures. As Providence has placed me in a situation in life where I have an opportunity of getting as good an education as I desire, I feel it would be highly criminal in me not to improve it. I feel, also, that it would be equally criminal to desire to be well educated and accomplished, from selfish motives, with a view merely to gratify my taste and relish for improvement, or my pride in being qualified to shine. I therefore resolved last winter to attend the academy from no other motive than to improve the talents bestowed by God, so as to be more extensively devoted to his glory, and the benefit of my fellow-creatures. On being lately requested to take a small school for a few months, I felt very unqualified to have the charge of little immortals; but the hope of doing them good by endeavoring to impress their young and tender minds with divine truth, and the obligation I feel to try to be useful, have induced me to comply. I was enabled to open the school with prayer. Though the cross was very great, I felt constrained by a sense of duty to take it up. O may I have grace to be faithful in instructing these children in such a way as shall be pleasing to my heavenly Father."
Such being the principles by which she was actuated in commencing the work of instruction, we cannot doubt that her efforts to be useful were blessed not only by the temporal, but the spiritual advancement of her pupils, some of whom may appear, with children from distant Burmah, as crowns of her rejoicing in the last great day.
[Footnote 1: She thus describes more particularly the exercises of her mind, in an entry in her Journal a year later.
"July 6. It is just a year this day since I entertained a hope in Christ. About this time in the evening, when reflecting on the words of the lepers, 'If we enter into the city, then the famine is in the city and we shall die there, and if we sit still here we die also,'—I felt that if I returned to the world, I should surely perish; if I stayed where I then was I should perish; and I could but perish if I threw myself on the mercy of Christ. Then came light, and relief, and comfort, such as I never knew before."]
HER MARRIAGE, AND VOYAGE TO INDIA.
In 1810, the calm current of Miss Hasseltine's life was disturbed by circumstances which were to change all her prospects, and color her whole future destiny. From the quiet and seclusion of her New England home, she was called to go to the ends of the earth, on a mission of mercy to the dark browed and darker minded heathen.
It is perhaps impossible for us to realize now what was then the magnitude of such an enterprise. Our wonderful facilities for intercourse with the most distant nations, and the consequent vast amount of travel, were entirely unknown forty years ago. A journey of two hundred miles then involved greater perplexity and required nearly as much preparation, and was certainly attended with more fatigue than a voyage to England at the present day. The subject of evangelizing the heathen in foreign countries had scarcely received any attention in Europe, and in this country there was not even a Missionary Society. That a female should renounce the refinements of her enlightened and Christian home, and go thousands of miles across unknown oceans
"to the farthest verge Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes,"
to spend her life in an unhealthy climate, among a race whose language was strange to her ear, whose customs were revolting to her delicacy, and who might moreover make her a speedy victim to her zeal in their behalf,—a thing so common now as to excite no surprise and little interest—was then hardly deemed possible, if indeed, the idea of it entered the imagination. To decide the question of such an undertaking as this, as well as another question affecting her individual happiness through life, was Miss Hasseltine now summoned.
* * * * *
Mr. Judson, a graduate of Brown University, "an ardent and aspiring scholar," was one of four or five young men in the then newly founded Theological Seminary at Andover, whose minds had become deeply impressed with the wants of the heathen, and a desire to go and labor among them. By their earnestness and perseverance, they so far awakened an interest in their project, that a Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was appointed, and the young men were set apart as missionaries. During the two years in which Mr. Judson and his associates were employed in efforts to accomplish this result, he had formed an acquaintance with Miss Hasseltine, and made her an offer of his hand. That he had no wish to blind her to the extent of the sacrifices she would make in accepting him, his manly and eloquent letter to her father, asking his daughter in marriage, abundantly proves. He says:
"I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?"
The writer of this letter, who, after nearly forty years of missionary labor in which he endured all and more than all he has thus almost prophetically described, has just gone to join "the noble army of martyrs" and "those who came out of great tribulation," in his final home,—as he looks back on the hour when he thus gave up his life and what was more precious than life to the service of those souls, dear as he believed to the Redeemer, though perishing for lack of vision,—with what deep and serene joy must he contemplate the sacrifice! And she—
"Not lost, but gone before,"
who was there to meet and welcome him to
"happier bowers than Eden knew,"
where they rest from their labors, does she now regret that to his solemn appeal, she answered, "I will go?"
Mr. and Mrs. Judson were married at Bradford on the fifth of February, 1812, and on the nineteenth of the same month embarked on the brig Caravan, bound for Calcutta. Mr. and Mrs. Newell, also missionaries sailed in the same vessel. We will here give some extracts from letters written by Mrs. Judson to her friends at home, dated "at sea."
To her sister she writes, "I find Mr. Judson one of the kindest, most faithful and affectionate of husbands. His conversation frequently dissipates the gloomy clouds of spiritual darkness which hang over my mind and brightens my hope of a happy eternity. I hope God will make us instrumental of preparing each other for usefulness in this world, and greater happiness in a future world."
"June 16.—Day before yesterday, we came in sight of land, after having been out only one hundred and twelve days. We could distinguish nothing but the lowering mountains of Golconda. Yesterday we were nearer land ... and the scene was truly delightful, reminding me of the descriptions I have read of the fertile shores of India—the groves of orange and palm trees. Yesterday we saw two vessels.... You have no idea how interesting the sight—a vessel at the side of us, so near we could hear the captain speak—for he was the first person we have heard speak since we sailed, except what belong to our ship.
"Tuesday.—Last night was the most dangerous, and to me, by far the most unpleasant we have had.... To-day the scene is truly delightful. We are sailing up the river Hoogly, a branch of the Ganges, and so near the land that we can distinctly discover objects. On one side of us are the Sunderbunds, (islands at the mouth of the Ganges.) The smell which proceeds from them is fragrant beyond description.
"Wednesday.—On each side of the Hoogly are the Hindoo cottages, as thick together as the houses in our seaports. They are very small, and in the form of hay-stacks, without either chimneys or windows. They are situated in the midst of trees which hang over them and appear truly romantic. The grass and fields of rice are perfectly green, and herds of cattle are everywhere feeding on the banks of the river, and the natives are scattered about, ... some fishing, some driving the team, and some sitting indolently on the bank of the river. The pagodas we have passed are much handsomer and larger than the houses. There are many English seats near the shore.... Oh, what reason we have to be thankful for so pleasant and prosperous a voyage....
"Well, sister, we are safe in Calcutta harbor, and almost stunned with the noise of the natives. Mr. Judson has gone on shore to find a place for us to go. The city is by far the most elegant of any I have ever seen. Many ships are lying at anchor, and hundreds of natives all around. They are dressed very curiously—their white garments hanging loosely over their shoulders. But I have not time to describe anything at present.
"Thursday.—Harriet and I are yet on board the vessel, and have not been on land. Mr. Judson has not yet gained permission for us to live in the country. He and Mr. Newell are gone again to-day, and what will be their success I know not. The East India Company are violently opposed to missions, and have barely given permission to their own countrymen to settle here as preachers. We have nothing to expect from man, and everything from God.... If God has anything for us to do here, he will doubtless open a door for our entrance, if not he will send us to some other place."
HER ARRIVAL AT CALCUTTA.—DIFFICULTIES WITH THE BENGAL GOVERNMENT.—VOYAGE TO THE ISLE OF FRANCE.—DEATH OF MRS. NEWELL.—CHANGE OF SENTIMENTS.—VOYAGE TO RANGOON.
Mr. and Mrs. Judson landed at Calcutta on the 18th of June, 1812, and were hospitably received by the venerable Dr. Carey, who immediately conducted them to his home in Serampore. There they found a delightful mission family, consisting of Messrs. Carey Marshman and Ward, with their wives and children who welcomed them most cordially, and invited them to remain until the arrival of their brother missionaries. Of the arrangements in this truly Christian family—the schools, the religious exercises, the cultivation of the gardens belonging to the establishment, and the instruction communicated to the natives, they express themselves in the highest terms of eulogy.
Hitherto the course of our missionaries in their enterprise had indeed run smooth, and they had begun to flatter themselves that they had over-estimated the trials and dangers of the life they had chosen; but sad reverses awaited them. They had been in Serampore but ten days, when Messrs. Judson and Newell were summoned to Calcutta, where an order from government was read to them, commanding them immediately to leave the country, and return to America. The British East India Company were at that time unfriendly to missions, and especially intolerant to missionaries from America. The idea of returning, without effecting the object for which they had left their native land, was too painful to be endured by the missionaries, and they immediately attempted to gain permission to go to some country not under the company's jurisdiction.—Burmah, the field to which they had been assigned by their brethren at home, seemed, for various reasons, utterly inaccessible; but they finally got leave to take passage in a ship bound for the Isle of France. The vessel would, however, accommodate but two passengers, and the health of Mrs. Newell requiring that she should be in a place of quiet, it was agreed that she and her husband should embark in it. For three months the rest of their company remained in Calcutta, watched with jealousy by the British Government, but unable to find a vessel to convey them away. At length they had peremptory orders to embark in a vessel bound to England. All hope of escape seemed now cut off, when Mr. Judson accidentally learned that a ship was about sailing for the Isle of France. They applied for a passport to go on board of her, but were refused. They informed the captain of the vessel of their circumstances, and were allowed to go on board without a pass. They had got but a few miles down the river, however, when a government despatch overtook them, commanding the pilot to conduct the ship no further, as there were persons on board who had been ordered to England.
By advice of the captain, the missionaries left the ship, and went on shore, while the pilot wrote a certificate that no such persons were on board. The captain being angry at the detention of his vessel, ordered them to take their baggage from it immediately, but at length consented to let it remain on board until he should reach a tavern sixteen miles further down the river. Mrs. Judson also remained in the ship until it came opposite the tavern, "where," she says, "the pilot kindly lent me his boat and a servant to go on shore. I immediately procured a large boat to send to the ship for our baggage. I entered the tavern a stranger, a female and unprotected. I called for a room and sat down to reflect on my disconsolate situation. I had nothing with me but a few rupees. I did not know that the boat which I had sent after the vessel would overtake it, and if it did, whether it would ever return with our baggage; neither did I know where Mr. Judson was, or when he would come, or with what treatment I should meet at the tavern. I thought of home and said to myself, These are some of the trials attendant upon a missionary life, and which I have anticipated. In a few hours Mr. J. arrived, and toward night our baggage."
After two or three days of great perplexity and distress, and when they had given up all hope of being able to proceed to the Isle of France, they unexpectedly received from an unknown friend a magistrate's pass to go on board the Creole, the vessel they had left. Their only difficulty now was that she had probably got out to sea, as it was three days since they had left her. However they hastened down the river seventy miles, to Saugur, where, among many ships at anchor, they had the inexpressible happiness to find the Creole, on which they embarked for the Isle of France, their first destination.
Their dangers on the passage to the Isle of France were great, the vessel being old and leaky; and when they reached there, they found little encouragement to remain. While on the island, Mrs. J. had a severe attack of illness, as well as much depression of spirits from the uncertainties of their situation. After much deliberation they determined to establish themselves on an island near Malacca, to reach which they must first go to Madras, and they accordingly sailed for that place. War having broken out between England and America, the hostility of the East India Directors to American missionaries was of course much increased, so that it would be impossible for them to make any stop at all in Madras, without incurring the danger of being sent back to America. What, then, was their distress on their arrival there, to find no ship bound for the island they wished to visit! Their way seemed entirely hedged up, for the only vessel in Madras harbor ready for sea, was destined to Burmah, a country pronounced by all their friends in India, utterly inaccessible.
In her journal, at this time, Mrs. J. writes: "Oh, our heavenly Father, direct us aught! Where wilt thou have us to go? What wilt thou have us to do? Our only hope is in thee, and to thee only do we look for protection. Oh, let this mission live before thee!" "To-morrow," she adds, at a somewhat later date, "we expect to embark for Rangoon, (in Burmah.) Adieu to polished, refined, Christian society. Our lot is not cast among you, but among pagans, among barbarians, whose tender mercies are cruel. Indeed, we voluntarily forsake you, and for Jesus' sake choose the latter for our associates. O may we be prepared for the pure and polished society of heaven, composed of the followers of the Lamb, whose robes have been washed in his blood!"
Everything combined to render the passage to Rangoon unpleasant and perilous;—sickness, threatened shipwreck, and the want of all comforts;—but at length on the 14th of July, 1813, about eighteen months from the time they left Salem, in Massachusetts, they set their 'weary, wandering feet' on that shore which was to be their future home.
Among the depressing circumstances that had occurred in this gloomy period, not the least painful was the death of Mrs. Judson's early friend, and companion in her eastern voyage, Mrs. Harriet Newell. Of less mental and physical vigor than Mrs. Judson, this amiable and ardent Christian had gladly relinquished all other objects in life, for that of sharing the privations and soothing the cares of a husband to whom she was tenderly attached, in his labors among the heathen. But this privilege was denied her; she was not even permitted to reach a scene of missionary labor. Her heart-broken husband was compelled to bury her in a far distant isle of the ocean, and finish his short earthly course alone. But he lived to see the grave of that young martyr missionary visited by many pilgrim feet, and her name embalmed in many admiring hearts.
How keenly Mrs. Judson felt her loss, may be learned from a letter written from the Isle of France, whither she and her husband went on being driven from Calcutta:—"Have at last arrived in port; but oh, what news, what distressing news! Harriet is dead. Harriet, my dear friend, my earliest associate in the mission, is no more. Oh death, could not this wide world afford thee victims enough, but thou must enter the family of a solitary few whose comfort and happiness depended so much on the society of each other? Could not this infant mission be shielded from thy shafts!" "But be still, my heart, and know that God has done it. Just and true are thy ways, oh thou King of saints!"
Another heavy trial, was the separation of herself and husband from the church in which they were both educated, from the missionary association on which they depended for support, and from the sympathies of those Christians in their native land who had hitherto given them the most cordial encouragement in their enterprise. This separation was in consequence of a change in their sentiments in regard to baptism. So liberal has the church become at this day, that all now look upon this change as having decidedly advanced the cause of missions by enlisting a large and respectable body of Christians in this country, not hitherto engaged in it. But in 1813, a step like this on the part of beneficiaries of the Board, could not but be regarded with much disfavor and prejudice, render those who had taken it highly unpopular, and even subject their motives to unworthy imputations. Whatever may be thought of the soundness of their new views, therefore, there is not the shadow of a reason to doubt their conscientiousness in adopting them. That they did it in the face of every worldly motive, their letters and journals abundantly prove. Mrs. Judson writes: "It is extremely trying to reflect on the consequences of our becoming Baptists. We must make some very painful sacrifices." "We must be separated from our dear missionary associates, and labor alone in some isolated spot. We must expect to be treated with contempt, and to be cast off by many of our American friends—forfeit the character we have in our native land, and probably have to labor for our own support wherever we are stationed." "These things are very trying to us, and cause our hearts to bleed for anguish—we feel that we have no home in this world, and no friend but each other." "A renunciation of our former sentiments has caused us more pain than anything which ever happened to us through our lives."
Thus "perplexed but not in despair, cast down but not destroyed," they reached Rangoon, then the capital of the Burman Empire, and established themselves in what they regarded as their future home. Here, "remote, unfriended" and solitary—"reft of every stay but Heaven"—they were destined to pass nearly two years, before their hearts could be cheered by the intelligence from America, of the general interest awakened for them there in the denomination with which they had connected themselves; and the formation of a Baptist Board of Missions, which had appointed them its Missionaries. Of one thing, however, they must have felt sure, that they were conducted there by the special providence of God. The honor of commencing the Burman Mission, says Prof. Gammell, "is to be ascribed rather to the Divine Head of the Church, than to any leading movement or agency of the Baptist denomination. The way was prepared and the field was opened by God alone, and it only remained for true-hearted laborers to enter in and prosecute the noble work to which they had been summoned."
DESCRIPTION OF BURMAH.—ITS BOUNDARIES, RIVERS, CLIMATE, SOIL, FRUITS AND FLOWERS.—BURMAN PEOPLE.—THEIR DRESS, HOUSES, FOOD, GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION.
The Burman Empire being thus the place to which the feet of the first "bringers of good tidings" from America were so signally directed, and having been now, for nearly forty years, missionary ground of the most interesting character, it is proper to pause here and give something more than a passing glance at its natural features, its government and religion, and the character of its population. For information on these points we are indebted chiefly to the researches of the Rev. Howard Malcom.
Burmah, or the Burman Empire, lies between the Salwen river on the east, and the Burrampooter on the northwest and north, while its western and southern shores are washed by the great bay of Bengal, which separates it from the peninsula of Hindustan. Besides the noble rivers which form its eastern and north-western boundaries, its entire length from north to south is traversed by the Irrawaddy, which after a course of 1200 miles, empties by many mouths into the Bay of Bengal. Its territory is generally so much elevated above the level of the sea, that it enjoys, though in the torrid zone, a comparatively salubrious and temperate climate. The heat is rarely excessive; while winter in our sense of the word, is unknown.
"The general features of a country so extensive are, of course, widely diversified. It may be said of it as a whole, in the language of Dr. Hamilton, that in fertility, beauty and grandeur of scenery, and in the variety, value, and elegance of its natural productions, it is equalled by few on earth."
In the parts of the country lying near the sea there are two seasons, the wet and the dry. About the 10th of May showers commence, and increase in frequency, until, in the latter part of June, it begins to rain almost daily, and this continues until the middle of September. Heavy rains then cease, but showers continue, diminishing in frequency until the middle of October, when "the air is cool, the country verdant, fruits innumerable, and everything in nature gives delight." Even in the rainy season, the sun shines out a part of the day, so that the rankest vegetation covers everything; even walls and buildings, unless smoothly coated with plaster, are not exempt from grass and weeds. Of the climate during the warmest portion of the year, Dr. Malcom thus writes: "I have now passed the ordeal of the entire hot season, and of nothing am I more convinced, both from experience and observation, than that the climate is as salubrious and pleasant as any other in the world. I have suffered much more from heat in Italy, and even in Philadelphia, than I have ever done here; and have never found a moment when I could not be perfectly comfortable by sitting still. To go abroad at mid-day, is, however, for any but natives, eminently hazardous."
The soil, in the maritime provinces, is represented as unsurpassed in fertility, and under the imperfect cultivation of the natives, yields from eighty to a hundred fold, and sometimes more.
The heights are crowned with forests, while the low lands are jungle, that is, "a region of many trees, but scattered; with much undergrowth;" and the haunt of tigers and other wild animals.
The fruit-trees are numerous, and of names and kinds unknown in America. There is found the mangosteen, with a fruit said by travellers to be the most delicious in the world; the noble mango, growing to the height of one hundred feet, and of vast diameter, and bearing as great a variety of delicious fruit as the apple-tree does with us; the cocoa-nut, whose fruit we are acquainted with, and whose husk is formed into excellent cordage; the plantain, that invaluable blessing to the natives of the torrid zone, as it supplies them bread without much labor; a circumstance of importance in countries where hard labor is oppressive by reason of heat; the splendid tamarind, with wide-spreading limbs, and a dense foliage of vivid green, among which appear clusters of beautiful yellow flowers, delicately veined with red, and the long shining pods which contain the fruit; the custard-apple, with its pulpy fruit contained in a husk resembling the pineapple in shape; and the curious palmyra, whose leaves furnish the natives with paper, while its trunk yields a liquor much prized by them as drink, and capable of being boiled down into sugar, like the juice of our maple.
Hundreds of other trees might be named, many valuable for their fruit, others for their timber, and some for both. Most of the trees are evergreen, that is, few of them shed their leaves annually and at once; but a constant succession of leaves makes the forest always verdant.
Besides the fruits which grow upon trees, there is a variety of others such as berries, tomatoes, pineapples, &c.; and among roots are found the ginger, licorice, arrow-root, sweet-potatoe, Irish potatoe, asparagus, ground-nut, &c. The country abounds in flowers of most splendid colors, but generally deficient in fragrance; though some have a fine perfume.
The favorite food of the country being rice, this is, of course, the grain most extensively cultivated. There are no farms as with us; cultivators of the soil always reside in villages, for mutual protection against wild beasts and robbers. Each family cultivates a patch of the neighboring jungle, and brings the produce into the village, where the cattle are also brought for security. Besides rice, they cultivate wheat, Indian-corn, sugar-cane, millet and indigo; but generally in a slovenly and unskilful manner. In the dry season, the land is watered by artificial means, some of which are quite ingenious.
Of animals there is, of course, a vast variety, one of the most useful of which is the buffalo, which is used to draw their carriages, as well as to perform the labor that the ox does with us. Elephants are the property of the king, but great men are allowed to keep them.
The birds in Burmah, though of gay plumage, have little melody in their song; splendid as they are, we would scarce exchange for them our cheerful robin and merry bobolink.
Reptiles and insects, though numerous, are not so troublesome or so venomous as in many parts of the torrid zone. The white ant is perhaps as destructive as any other insect, and the greatest precaution hardly preserves one from its intrusion.
The Burmans are, as a race, superior to the Hindoos, being more athletic and vigorous, and more lively and industrious. They are less tall than Americans, their complexions dark, their noses flat, and their lips thick and full. The hair is very abundant, black and glossy, but generally rather coarse. "Men tie it in a knot on the top of the head, and intertwine it with the turban. Women turn it all back, and without a comb, form it into a graceful knot behind, frequently adding chaplets of fragrant natural flowers strung on a thread. Both sexes take great pains with their hair, frequently washing it with a substance which has the properties of soap, and keeping it anointed with sweet oil."
The custom of blacking the teeth is almost universal. When asked the reason of this custom, the answer is, "What! should we have white teeth like a dog or a monkey?"
Smoking and chewing are also universal. Malcom says, "I have seen little creatures of two or three years, stark naked, tottering about with a lighted cigar in their mouth." Tobacco is not used alone for these purposes, but mixed with several other substances.
The dress of the men is a cotton cloth about four and a half yards long, covering, when the man is not at work, nearly the whole body in a graceful manner. A jacket, with sleeves generally of white muslin but often of broadcloth or velvet, is sometimes added, especially among the higher classes. On the feet, when dressed, are worn sandals of wood or cowhide, covered with cloth, and held on by straps, one of which passes over the instep, the other over the great toe. On entering a house, these are always left at the door.
Women wear a temine, or petticoat, of cotton or silk, lined with muslin, extending from the arm-pits to the ankles. Over this is sometimes worn a jacket, open in front with close, long sleeves. Both sexes wear ornaments in the ears. Men wear mustachios, but pluck out the beard with tweezers. Women, in order to render their complexions more fair, rub over the face a delicate yellow powder; and they occasionally stain the nails of the fingers and toes with a scarlet pigment. All ranks are exceedingly fond of flowers, and display great taste in arranging them.
The houses are made of timbers, or bamboos, set in the earth, with lighter pieces fastened transversely. The sides are covered, some with mats, more or less substantial and costly, others with thatch, fastened with split ratans. The roof is very ingeniously made and fastened on, and is a perfect security against wind and rain. The floor is of split cane, elevated a few feet from the earth, which secures ventilation and cleanliness. The windows and doors are of mat, strengthened with a frame of bamboo, and strongly fastened at the top. When open they are propped up with a bamboo, and form a shade. Of course, there are no chimneys. Cooking is done on a shallow box a yard square, filled with earth.
We must not judge of the architectural skill of the people by their private houses. A Burman conceals his wealth with as much care as we exhibit ours, for a display of it only subjects him to extortion from the officers of government. Malcom describes some of their zayats, pagodas and bridges, especially in and near Ava, as truly noble.
Rice may be said to be the universal food. It is generally eaten with a nice curry, and sauces of various vegetables are added. Wheat is not made into bread by the natives, but boiled like rice. Its name in Burmah is "foreigner's rice," which shows it is not native to the country.
* * * * *
The natural good traits of the Burman character are almost rendered nugatory by their religion, and the oppressive nature of their government. The latter is an absolute despotism. The king has a nominal council with whom he may advise, but whose advice he may, if he chooses, treat with utter contempt. It is not, however, the direct oppression of the monarch that causes most suffering among his subjects. It is rather that of the inferior officers of government whose rapacity and extortion renders property, liberty, and life itself insecure. Deceit, fraud and lying are the natural, if not necessary consequences of a system which leaves the people entirely at the mercy of those who bear rule over them.
The religion is Buddhism, one of the most ancient and wide-spread superstitions existing on the face of the earth. Its sacred Divinity, or Buddh, is Gaudama, who has passed into a state of eternal and unconscious repose, which they consider the summit of felicity; but which seems to us to differ little from annihilation. Images of this god are the chief objects of worship. These are found in every house, and are enshrined in pagodas and temples, and in sacred caves which appear to have been used from time immemorial for religious purposes. The wealth and labor bestowed on the latter show how great the population must have been in former ages. Dr. Malcom describes one cave on the Salwen, which is wholly filled with images of every size, while the whole face of the mountain for ninety feet above the cave is incrusted with them. "On every jutting crag stands some marble image covered with gold, and spreading its uncouth proportions to the setting sun. Every recess is converted into shrines for others. But imposing as is this spectacle, it shrinks into insignificance compared with the scene presented on entering the cavern itself. It is of vast size, and needs no human art to render it sublime. The eye is confused and the heart appalled at the prodigious exhibition of infatuation and folly. Everywhere—on the floor, over head and on every jutting point, are crowded together images of Gaudama—the offerings of successive ages. A ship of five hundred tons could not carry away the half of them."
Pagodas are innumerable. In the inhabited parts there is scarcely a peak, bank, or swelling hill, uncrowned by one of these structures. In general, they are almost solid, without door or window, and contain some supposed relic of Gaudama.
The religious system of the Burmans contains many excellent moral precepts and maxims, which, however being without sanction or example, are utterly powerless to mould the character of the people to wisdom or virtue.
A curious feature of Buddhism is, that one of the highest motives it presents to its followers is the "obtaining of merit." Merit is obtained by avoiding sins, such as theft, lying, intoxication, and the like; and by practising virtues and doing good works. The most meritorious of all good works is to make an idol; the next to build a pagoda. It confers high merit, also, to build a zayat, to transcribe the sacred books, to erect any useful public edifice, to dig public wells, or to plant shade or fruit-trees by the wayside. If they give alms, or treat animals kindly, or repeat prayers, or do any other good deed, they do it entirely with this mercenary view of obtaining merit. This "merit" is not so much to procure them happiness in another world, as to secure them from suffering in their future transmigrations in this; for they believe that the soul of one who dies without having laid up any merit, will have to pass into the body of some mean reptile or insect, and from that to another, through hundreds of changes, perhaps, before it will be allowed again to take the form of man.
This reliance on 'merit,' and certainty of obtaining it through prescribed methods, fosters their conceit, so that ignorant and debased as they are, "there is scarcely a nation more offensively proud." It also renders them entirely incapable of doing or appreciating a disinterested action, or of feeling such a sentiment as gratitude. If you do them a favor, they suppose you do it to obtain merit for yourself, and of course feel no obligation to you; the simple phrase, "I thank you," is unknown in their language.
Like the ancient Romans, the Burmans believe in dreams, omens, and unlucky days; observe the flight and feeding of fowls, the howl of dogs, and the aspect of the stars; they regard the lines in the hand, the knots in trees, and a thousand other fortuitous circumstances, and by these allow their actions to be governed.
The priesthood in Burmah is arranged into a regular hierarchy. The highest functionary is a kind of archbishop, who presides over all the other priests in the empire, and appoints the presidents of the monasteries. He resides at the imperial court, where he has a high rank, and is considered one of the greatest men in the kingdom. Below him are various ranks of priests, each having his appointed sphere and appropriate duties, and all supported by the so-called voluntary contributions of the people. The number of priests is exceedingly great, and their sway over the minds of the people almost unlimited.
"But great and potent as the priests of Buddh are," says a writer in the Foreign Quarterly Review, "there is a kind of sacred personage still greater than the highest of them, and next in rank to the sovereign; this is no other than that diseased animal, the White Elephant, far more highly venerated here than in Siam. The creature is supposed by the Burmans to lodge within its carcass a blessed soul of some human being, which has arrived at the last stage of the many millions of transmigrations it was doomed to undergo, and which, when it escapes, will be absorbed into the essence of the Deity." This most sacred personage has a regular cabinet composed of a prime minister, secretary of state, transmitter of intelligence, &c., possesses estates in various parts of the country, and receives handsome presents from foreign ambassadors. His residence is contiguous to the royal palace, and connected with it by a long open gallery, at the further end of which a curtain of black velvet embossed with gold, conceals his august person from vulgar eyes. His dwelling is a lofty hall splendidly gilded, and supported by sixty-four pillars, to four of which he is chained with massive silver chains. His bed is a thick mattress, covered with blue cloth, over which is a softer one of crimson silk. His trappings are magnificent, being gold, studded with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and other precious stones; his betel-box, spittoon, and the vessel out of which he feeds, are of gold inlaid with precious stones. His attendants, according to Hamilton, from whom we take a part of this description, amount to over a thousand persons.
"Buddhism in its moral precepts is perhaps the best religion ever invented by man. The difficulty is, its entire basis is false. It is a religion of Atheism. Instead of a Heavenly Father forgiving sin, and filial service from a pure heart, as the effect of love—it presents nothing to love, for its Deity is dead; nothing as the ultimate object of action but self; and nothing for man's highest and holiest ambition but annihilation."
"Their doctrine of merit, leaves no place for holiness, and destroys gratitude either to God or man." It also ministers to the grossest pride, for the very fact of his being now a man, assures the Buddhist that in numberless former unremembered transmigrations, he must have acquired incalculable merit, or he would not now occupy so distinguished a rank in the scale of being.
Their system of balancing evil with good, reduces all sin to a thing of little importance. "If any man sin" in Burmah, his religion tells him of no "advocate with the Father" on whose altar he may lay the tribute of a believing, penitent, obedient and grateful heart; but instead, it tells him he may repeat a form of words, he may feed a priest, he may build a pagoda, he may carve an idol, and thus balance his iniquity with merit. If any man suffer in Burmah, his religion points him to no place where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest," and where "God himself will wipe away all tears from all faces;" but it dictates a proud submission to unalterable fate, and flatters him that his sufferings here may purchase immunity from torment in some unknown future existence; and finally if any man die, in Burmah, his religion tells him of no Saviour who has "passed through the grave and blessed the bed," and "swallowed up death in victory;" but it threatens degradation, perhaps into a soulless brute; or at best, a place of expiatory misery;—in short, "living or dying," the Burman may be said emphatically to be "without hope, and without God in the world."
Such was the stupendous system of superstition and ignorance, which two feeble missionaries armed like David when he met the Philistine with "trust in the Lord his God," ventured to attack, and hoped to subdue.
RANGOON; LETTERS FROM MRS. JUDSON.
Rangoon, one of the chief seaports of the Burman Empire, situated on one of the numerous mouths of the Irrawaddy, and having a splendid harbor, is yet one of the meanest, and most uninteresting cities that can well be imagined. It is situated in a flat, marshy plain, and is merely a vast collection of bamboo huts, with narrow streets, and here and there an ugly building of brick or wood, and would give a stranger a most unfavorable impression of the noble country to which it is the entrance.
On their arrival at this city, Mr. and Mrs. Judson took up their abode in a deserted mission-house just outside the wall, which had formerly been occupied by some Baptist missionaries from Serampore. The house was large and not unsuited to the climate, but unfinished and comfortless. However, it had a garden full of flowers and fruit-trees, and the scenery around it was rural and pleasant. Here they found one Christian female, the only person remaining of the former mission family, and she was a native of the country. Mrs. Judson's peculiar trials and encouragements at this time will be best learned by extracts from her letters and journal.
July 30, 1813, she writes: "We felt very gloomy and dejected the first night we arrived, in view of our prospects; but we were enabled to lean on God, and to feel that he was able to support us under the most discouraging circumstances.
"The next morning I prepared to go on shore, but hardly knew how I should get to Mr. Carey's house; it was, however, concluded that I should be carried in an arm-chair; consequently, when I landed one was provided, through which were put two bamboos, and four of the natives took me on their shoulders. When they had carried me a little way into the town, they set me down under a shade, when great numbers of the natives gathered round, having seldom seen an English female. Being sick and weak, I held my head down, which induced many of the native females to come very near, and look under my bonnet. At this I looked up and smiled, on which they set up a loud laugh. They again took me up to carry, and the multitude of natives gave a shout which much diverted us. They next carried me to a place they call the custom-house. It was a small open shed, in which were seated on mats, several natives, who were the custom-house officers. After searching Mr. Judson very closely, they asked liberty for a native female to search me, to which I readily consented. I was then brought to the mission-house, where I have nearly recovered my health."
"July 22.—It is now a week since we arrived here. My health is quite restored, and I feel much more contented and happy than I ever expected to be in such a situation. I think I enjoy the promises of God in a higher degree than ever before, and have attained more true peace of mind and trust in the Saviour. When I look back to my late situation in that wretched old vessel, without any accommodations—scarcely the necessaries of life—no physician—no female attendants—so weak that I could not move—I hope I am deeply sensible of the kind care of my heavenly Father in carrying me safely through the peculiar dangers of the voyage, and giving me once more a resting-place on land.
"Still, were it not for the support we derive from the gospel of Jesus, we should be ready to sink down in despondency in view of the dark and gloomy scenes around us. But when we recollect that Jesus has commanded his disciples to carry the gospel to the heathen, and promised to be with them to the end of the world; that God has promised to give the heathen to his Son for an inheritance, we are encouraged to make a beginning, though in the midst of discouragement, and leave it to Him to grant success in his own time and way."
"I find here no female friends with whom I can unite in social prayer, nor even one with whom I can converse. I have, indeed, no society at all except that of Mr. Judson, yet I feel happy in thinking that I gave up this source of pleasure, as well as most others, for the sake of the poor heathen."
In her journal we find the following sentiment: "Though we find ourselves almost destitute of all those sources of enjoyment to which we have been accustomed, and are in the midst of a people who are at present almost destitute on account of the scarcity of provisions; though we are exposed to robbers by night and invaders by day, yet we both unite in saying that we never were happier, never more contented in any situation than the present. We feel that this is the post to which God hath appointed us; that we are in the path of duty; and though surrounded with danger and death, we feel that God can with infinite ease, preserve and support us under the most heavy sufferings.
"Oh, if it may please the dear Redeemer to make me instrumental of leading some of the females of Burmah to a saving acquaintance with Him, my great object will be accomplished, my highest desires gratified, I shall rejoice to have relinquished my comforts, my country and my home." "Oh Lord, here I am; thou hast brought me to this heathen land, and given me desires to labor for thee. Do with me what pleaseth thee. Make me useful or not as seemeth good in thy sight. But oh, let my soul live before thee; let me serve none but thee; let me have no object in life but the promotion of thy glory."
"Aug. 15.—I have begun to study the language. Find it very hard and difficult, having none of the usual helps in acquiring a language, except a small part of a grammar, and six chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel by Mr. Carey, now at Ava."
"Aug. 28.—Have been writing letters this week to my dear friends in America. Found that a recollection of former enjoyments in my own native country, made my situation here appear less tolerable. The thought that I had parents, sisters, and beloved friends still in existence, and at such a distance that it was impossible to obtain one look or exchange a word, was truly painful. While they are still in possession of the comforts I once enjoyed, I am an exile from my country and my father's house, deprived of all society and every friend but one, and with scarcely the necessaries of life. These privations would not be endured with patience in any other cause but that in which we are engaged. But since it is thy cause, blessed Jesus, we rejoice that thou didst give us so many enjoyments to sacrifice, and madest it so plainly our duty to forsake all in order to bring thy truth to the benighted heathen. We would not resign our work, but live contented with our lot, and live to Thee."
"Sept. 5.—Yes, I do feel thankful that God has brought me to this heathen land, and placed me in a situation peculiarly calculated to make me feel my dependence on him and my constant need of the influences of the Holy Spirit. I enjoy more in reading the Scriptures, and in secret prayer than for years before; and the prosperity of this mission, and the conversion of this people, lie with weight on my mind, and draw forth my heart in constant intercession. And I do confidently believe that God will visit this land with Gospel light, that these idol temples will be demolished, and temples for the worship of the living God be erected in their stead."
Let us here pause for a moment and contemplate the picture brought by these words before our imagination. Let us survey the scene in which the lonely missionary penned this prediction. A vast country not waste and uninhabited, but enriched by the partial sun with every natural gift to cheer the sense and gratify the taste of man; swarming with human beings endowed with capacities for advancement in knowledge, and virtue, and temporal enjoyment, as well as for immortal happiness; yet who, having said in their heart there is no God 'that minds the affairs of men,' have built up for themselves a fabric of absurd superstitions, and unmeaning rites, and senseless formalities, to which they cling with a stubbornness that nothing but the power of God can subdue; on such a shore are cast by the providence of God two 'pilgrim strangers,' not endowed with apostolic gifts; not able to control disease, or raise the dead, or even to speak in a foreign tongue without long and patient and assiduous study to acquire it; and yet with a simple and sublime faith in the clear and sure word of their master, "Go—preach my Gospel—lo, I am with you," these pilgrim strangers can CONFIDENTLY BELIEVE that God will visit this land with gospel light, and that those gilded fanes which now glisten in the morning and evening sun, on every hill-top, will fall, and those poor idolaters will say, "What have we to do any more with idols?" "our trust is in the name of the Lord that made heaven and earth."
In one of the last paragraphs of her private journal which has been preserved, dated Oct. 8th of the same year, she says: "To-day I have been into the town, and I was surprised at the multitude of people with which the streets are filled. Their countenances are intelligent; and they appear to be capable under the influence of the Gospel, of becoming a valuable and respectable people. But at present their situation is truly deplorable, for they are given to every sin. Lying is so universal among them that they say, 'we cannot live without telling lies.' They believe the most absurd notions imaginable. My teacher told me the other day, that when he died he would go to my country; I shook my head, and told him he would not; but he laughed, and said he would. I did not understand the language sufficiently to tell him where he would go, or how he could be saved. Oh thou Light of the world, dissipate the thick darkness that covers Burmah. Display thy grace and power among the Burmans—subdue them to thyself, and make them thy chosen people."
[Footnote 2: The war had almost produced a famine.]
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE.—MRS. JUDSON VISITS THE WIFE OF THE VICEROY.—HER SICKNESS.—HER VOYAGE TO MADRAS.—HER RETURN TO RANGOON.—BIRTH OF A SON.
Those who have acquired a modern European language with the aid of grammars, dictionaries, and other suitable books, can scarcely estimate the labor of learning without such aids, such a language as the Burman. In fact Mr. Judson thinks more progress can be made in the French in a few months, than in the Burman in two years. Mrs. Judson took the whole management of family affairs on herself, in order to leave her husband at liberty to prosecute his studies and the consequence was, that being obliged constantly to use all the Burman she knew, in her intercourse with servants, traders, and others, her progress was more rapid than his.
One cause of difficulty in learning their language was that their books were made of palm-leaves, marked or engraved with an iron style or pen, without ink. We who are accustomed to clear characters on paper can hardly imagine the difficulty of tracing out these obscure scratches on the dried palm-leaves. Another was that in writing, "their words are not fairly divided like ours by breaks, and points, and capitals, but run together in a long continuous line, a sentence or paragraph seeming like one long word." Another difficulty was, that in their idiom, a great variety of verbs must be used to express one action, either as performed by persons of different rank, or as done under different circumstances. Thus there are three or four ways to speak of eating rice, sleeping, dying, &c. one of which is always used of the king, another of priests, another of rulers, and another of common persons, and it would be an insult to use a phrase lower than one is entitled to. Again, for our term to wash, for instance, there are many words; one is used for to wash the face, another, the hands, another, linen, another, dishes, &c. They have in their language eleven vowels and thirty-three consonants, but of these there are so many combinations, that about one thousand characters must be used in printing. Printing, however, was unknown to the Burmans until our missionaries introduced it.
As no progress at all could be made in their missionary labors until the language was mastered, they applied themselves cheerfully and diligently to its acquisition.
An interesting incident is related by Mrs. Judson under date of Dec. 11th, 1813, her first visit to the wife of a man in power. "To-day for the first time I have visited the wife of the Viceroy. I was introduced to her by a French lady who has frequently visited her. When we first arrived at the government house, she was not up, consequently we had to wait some time. But the inferior wives of the Viceroy diverted us much by their curiosity, in minutely examining everything we had on, and by trying on our gloves, bonnets, &c. At last her Highness made her appearance, richly dressed in the Burman fashion, with a long silver pipe in her mouth, smoking. At her appearance all the other wives took their seats at a respectful distance, and sat in a crouching posture without speaking. She received me very politely, took me by the hand, seated me upon a mat and herself by me. One of the women brought her a bunch of flowers, of which she took several and ornamented my cap. She was very inquisitive whether I had a husband and children, whether I was my husband's first wife,—meaning by this whether I was the highest among them, supposing that Mr. Judson, like the Burmans, had many wives; and whether I intended tarrying long in the country.
"When the Viceroy came in I really trembled, for I never before beheld such a savage-looking creature. His long robe and enormous spear not a little increased my dread. He spoke to me, however, very condescendingly, and asked whether I would drink some rum or wine. When I arose to go, her highness took my hand again, told me she was happy to see me, and that I must come to see her every day. She led me to the door, I made my salam and departed.
"My object in visiting her was, that if we should go into any difficulty with the Burmans, I could have access to her, when perhaps it would not be possible for Mr. Judson to have an audience with the Viceroy."
In pursuing his study of the language, Mr. Judson had fortunately secured as a teacher a Burman of more than ordinary intelligence, and who had a perfect knowledge of the grammatical construction of the Burman dialect, and also of the Pali, or language of the sacred books. Day after day he sat with his teacher in the open verandah which surrounded their dwelling, reading, writing, and talking, joined by Mrs. Judson in every interval she could spare from family cares, and thus were they fitting themselves to teach to the poor idolaters the new religion. Nor did they neglect such opportunities of doing good as presented themselves even then; but every effort to inculcate their sentiments was met with the objection, "Your religion is good for you, ours for us." "You will be rewarded for your good deeds in your way, we in our way." They found they had to deal with one of the proudest and most conceited races on earth. Their very religion, as we have before said, encourages this conceit, by leading them constantly to make "a merit" of their good actions, or what they suppose such; while it inculcates neither contrition nor penitence. The peculiar doctrines of Christianity, its justification through the merits of another, its humility and charity, were in the last degree opposed to the character of the Burman race. The missionaries were made daily more sensible that the Spirit of God must come "with power," before the truth could ever enter those darkened understandings. Prayer was therefore their only reliance, as it was their only comfort.
But even this enjoyment, as far as it was social, was soon broken in upon by the increasing illness of Mrs. Judson, which obliged her to try the effect of a change of scene and climate. She could not think of taking Mr. Judson from his labors, and therefore embarked alone in January, 1815, for Madras. We may imagine the joy experienced by the missionary, thus left behind, on receiving during her absence letters from this country, containing an account of the general movement in America in favor of the Mission, and the formation of the Baptist General Convention. His heart overflowed with gratitude, and the thought that though he had no friend near him, there were yet hundreds in his native land praying and laboring in the same cause, inspired him with new zeal in his beloved enterprise.
Mrs. Judson's journey, though solitary, was prosperous and successful. Friends appeared for her where she least expected them. The influence of her engaging person and winning manners is observable in one obliging attention she received even from strangers. The Viceroy appointed a woman to accompany her free of expense; the captain refused money for her passage; and the physician at Madras, from whom she had received visits for six weeks, returned the fee which she sent him, saying he was happy if he had been of service to her. Her health being perfectly restored she returned to Rangoon after an absence of three months, and "on the 11th of September, was made the happy mother of a little son." She soon resumed her studies, and though she saw little other result of her labors, was cheered by noticing that she and her husband were gradually gaining the confidence of the natives, who, as she says, would say to each other "that they need not be afraid to trust us, for we do not tell falsehoods as the Burmans do." The indolent and deceitful Burmans saw with surprise that these two Christians always kept themselves busily employed, and paid every debt they contracted with strict punctuality. Thus was laid the foundation of respect for the new religion.
DIFFICULTY OF INCULCATING THE GOSPEL.—DEATH OF HER SON.—FAILURE OF MR. JUDSON'S HEALTH.—ARRIVAL OF MR. AND MRS. HOUGH AT RANGOON.
In a letter which Mrs. Judson wrote to her sisters in December, 1815, she says: "Doubtless you expect by this time that some of the Burmans have embraced the Christian religion, or at least are seriously inquiring respecting it." "But you cannot imagine how very difficult it is to give them any idea of the true God and the way of salvation by Christ, since their present ideas of Deity are so very low." "They have not the least idea of a Divinity who is eternal, without beginning or end. All their deities have been through the several grades of creatures, from a fowl to a God...." "They know of no other atonement for sin, than offerings to their priests or their pagodas."
She goes on to mention some instances of serious inquiry among the people, which from time to time had raised their hopes, only to dash them again by the relapse of the inquirers into indifference; but adds "These things do not discourage us. It is God alone who can effectually impress the mind with divine truths; and though seed may lie buried long in the dust, yet at some future period it may spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God."
In this letter she gives an account of the recall of the Viceroy from Rangoon to Ava, the imperial residence, and the consequent confusion of the people, ten thousand of whom accompanied him to Ava. She regretted his departure, as both he and his lady had ever treated her with civility and kindness. The newly appointed Viceroy was a stranger, and might not be equally kind to them.
She says, "Oh how I long to visit Bradford; to spend a few evenings by your firesides, in telling you what I have seen and heard. Alas! we have no fireside, no social circle. We are still alone in this miserable country, surrounded by thousands ignorant of the true God." ... "But we still feel happy in our employment, and have reason to thank God that he has brought us here. We do hope to live to see the Scriptures translated into the Burman language, and a church formed from among these idolaters."
Her next letter details "with all the pathos of a mother's sorrow," a new trial to which they were called by Him, who though "clouds and darkness are about him" yet "doeth all things well."
"May 7th, 1816.—My dear Parents,—Little did I think when I wrote you last, that my next letter would be filled with the melancholy subject upon which I must now write. Death, regardless of our lonely situation has entered our dwelling, and made one of the happiest of families wretched. Our little Roger Williams, our only little darling boy, was three days ago laid in the silent grave. Eight months we enjoyed the precious little gift, in which time he had so completely entwined himself around his parents' hearts that his existence seemed necessary to their own. But God has taught us by affliction, what we would not learn by mercies—that our hearts are his exclusive property, and whatever rival intrudes, he will tear it away."
"He was a remarkably pleasant child—never cried except when in pain, and what we often observed to each other was the most singular, he never during his little existence manifested the least anger or resentment at anything. This was not owing to the want of intellect, for his tender feelings of sensibility were very conspicuous. Whenever I or his father, passed his cradle without taking him, he would follow us with his eyes to the door, when they would fill with tears, his countenance so expressive of grief, though perfectly silent, that it would force us back to him, which would cause his little heart to be as joyful as it had before been sorrowful. He would lie hours on a mat by his papa's study-table, or by the side of his chair on the floor, if he could only see his face. When we had finished study or the business of the day, it was our exercise and amusement to carry him round the house or garden, and though we were alone, we felt not our solitude when he was with us." ...
Her account of his last sickness and death follows, and she adds: "Thus died our little Roger:
'Short pain, short grief, dear babe, was thine— Now joys eternal and divine.'
We buried him in the afternoon of the same day, in a little enclosure, the other side of the garden. Forty or fifty Burmans and Portuguese followed with his afflicted parents the last remains to the silent grave. All the Burmans who were acquainted with us, tried to sympathize with us and console us under our loss." ... "We do not feel a disposition to murmur, or inquire of our Sovereign why he has done this. We wish rather to sit down submissively under the rod and bear the smart, till the end for which the affliction was sent shall be accomplished. Our hearts were bound up in this child; we felt he was our earthly all, our only source of innocent recreation in this heathen land. But God saw it was necessary to remind us of our error and strip us of our little all. Oh may it not be in vain that he has done it. May we so improve it that he will stay his hand and say, 'It is enough.'" A while after this she writes: "Since worship I have stolen away to a much loved spot, where I love to sit and pay the tribute of affection to my lost, darling child. It is a little enclosure of mango-trees, in the centre of which is erected a small bamboo house, on a rising spot of ground, which looks down on the new-made grave of our infant boy. Here I now sit, and though all nature around wears a most delightful, and romantic appearance, yet my heart is sad, and my tears frequently stop my pen. You, my dear Mrs. L. who are a mother, may imagine my sensations, but if you have never lost a first born, an only son, you can never know my pain. Had you even buried your little boy, you are in a Christian country, surrounded by friends and relatives, who could soothe your anguish and direct your attention to other objects. But behold us, solitary and alone, with this one source of recreation! Yet this is denied us, this must be removed, to show us that we need no other source of enjoyment but God himself.
"Do not think though I write thus, that I repine at the dealings of Providence. No! though he slay me yet will I trust in him!... Though I say with the Prophet, Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, yet I would also say, It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. God is the same when he afflicts, as when he is merciful, just as worthy of our entire trust and confidence now, as when he entrusted us with the precious little gift. There is a bright side even to this heavy affliction."
The following tender and beautiful effusion was written by the Rev. J. Lawson of the Serampore Mission and presented to Mrs. Judson on this occasion. As it has not been published in former notices of Mrs. J. we take pleasure in inserting it here.
"Hush'd be the murmuring thought! Thy will be done O Arbiter of life and death. I bow To thy command—I yield the precious gift So late bestowed; and to the silent grave Move sorrowing, yet submissive. O sweet babe! I lay thee down to rest—the cold, cold earth A pillow for thy little head. Sleep on, Serene in death. No care shall trouble thee. All undisturbed thou slumberest; far more still Than when I lulled thee in my lap, and sooth'd Thy little sorrows till they ceased.... Then felt thy mother peace; her heart was light As the sweet sigh that 'scaped thy placid lips, And joyous as the dimpled smile that played Across thy countenance.—O I must weep To think of thee, dear infant, on my knees Untroubled sleeping. Bending o'er thy form, I watch'd with eager hope to catch the laugh First waking from thy sparkling eye, a beam Lovely to me as the blue light of heaven. Dimm'd in death's agony, it beams no more!
Oh yet once more I kiss thy marble lips, Sweet babe I and press with mine thy whitened cheeks. Farewell, a long farewell!—Yet visit me In dreams, my darling; though the visioned joy Wake bitter pangs, still be thou in my thoughts And I will cherish the dear dream, and think I still possess thee. Peace, my bursting heart! O I submit. Again I lay thee down, Dear relic of a mother's hope. Thy spirit, Now mingled with cherubic hosts, adores That grace that ransomed it, and lodg'd it safe Above the stormy scene."
She then gives an interesting account of a visit paid them by the wife of the Viceroy, who on hearing of the death of the 'little white child' as she called him, came to condole with his parents. She was attended by about two hundred of her officers of state and members of her household, expressed great sympathy in Mrs. Judson's affliction, and reproached her for not having sent her word that she might have come to the funeral. Mrs. Judson says, "I regaled her with tea, sweetmeats, and cakes, with which she seemed much pleased." She adds, "I sometimes have good opportunities of communicating religious truths to the women in the government-house, and hope I shall have an opportunity of conversing with the wife of the Viceroy herself." ... "Oh that she might become a real disciple of Jesus!"
In the same melancholy letter she relates another affliction—Mr. Judson, who had frequently been asked by the natives, 'Where are your religious books?' had been diligently employed in preparing a Tract in the Burman language called 'A Summary of Christian Truth;' when his nervous system, and especially his head became so afflicted, that he was obliged to lay aside all study, and seriously think of a voyage to Calcutta as his only means of restoration. But he was prevented from executing his design by the joyful news that two additional missionaries were about to join them. Mr. and Mrs. Hough, from America, arrived in Rangoon in October, 1816; and brought with them as a present from the Mission at Serampore, a printing press, with a fount of types in the Burman character than which nothing could have been more acceptable.
Can we wonder that after laboring in loneliness and sorrow three years, such an event as this should fill their hearts with joy and consolation?
The Burmans are very generally taught to read, though having little that is attractive in their own literature, and books being scarce and dear, they could not at the time of which we write, be said to be a reading people. Still the fact that numbers were able to read, was a strong encouragement to print tracts and books for them. On the occasion of printing the tract above-mentioned, and a catechism, Mr. Hough writes thus:
"These two little tracts are the first printing ever done in Burmah; and it is a fact grateful to every Christian feeling, that God has reserved the introduction of this art here, for his own use."
MISSIONARY LABORS.—FEMALE INTELLECT IN BURMAH.—DESCRIPTION OF A PAGODA, OF BURMAN WORSHIP AND OFFERINGS.
A circumstance still more cheering to the hearts of the missionaries than even the arrival of companions from their beloved native land, was a visit of a Burman who having read the "two little books" from the press of Mr. Hough, came to inquire further into the new religion. When Mr. Judson first heard from the lips of an idolater the confession that "God is a Being without beginning or end, not subject to old age or death, but who always is,"—his feelings were indescribable and overpowering. Here at length was a germination of that seed they had so long been sowing in tears! For if one heathen heart could be thus led by the Spirit to investigate the truth, why not more.—Why not many? and why might not the same Spirit lead them to him who is not only the truth, but the way,—the way to Heaven?
They soon received visits from other Burmans who had seen the tracts issued by them; and who seemed desirous of learning the truth, but still very fearful of being known as inquirers. It became necessary therefore to seek the patronage of the government, and Mr. Judson determined, so soon as he should have finished his dictionary of the language, to proceed to Ava, the residence of the emperor.
Mrs. Judson met every Sabbath a society of fifteen or twenty females, to whom she read the Scriptures, and talked about God. They were attentive, and willing to ask and answer questions, but for a long time experienced no abiding convictions of sin or of duty. Some were willing to serve Christ if they could do it without renouncing dependence on their own merits. Others would serve God, if they might serve Gaudama also.
As there is a tendency in enlightened minds to feel a contempt for the intellect of barbarians; and as some have even felt that time spent as Mrs. Judson's was with those native females, was thrown away, we will here record her testimony to the intelligence of the Burmese women. "The females of this country are lively, inquisitive, strong and energetic, susceptible of friendship and the warmest attachment, and possess minds capable of rising to the highest state of cultivation and refinement.... This is evident from their mode of conversing," and may be illustrated by some particulars in the experience of one of them, named May-Meulah.
Previous to the arrival of the missionaries in her country, her active mind was led to inquire the origin of all things. Who created all that her eyes beheld? She inquired of all she met, and visited priests and teachers in vain; and such was her anxiety, that her friends feared for her reason. She resolved to learn to read, that she might consult the sacred books. Her husband, willing to gratify her curiosity, taught her to read himself. In their sacred literature she found nothing satisfactory. For ten years she prosecuted her inquiries, when God in his providence brought to her notice a tract written by Mr. Judson in the Burmese language, which so far solved her difficulties, that she was led to seek out its author. From him she learned the truths of the gospel, and by the Holy Spirit those truths were made the means of her conversion. "She became an ornament to her profession, and her daily walk and conversation would shame many professors in Christian countries."
Christians in America, was Mrs. Judson's time thrown away, when she was leading Burmese females to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus?
One of the most splendid buildings in the empire is a pagoda at Rangoon, in which is enshrined a relic of Gaudama. At this pagoda, a yearly feast is celebrated which lasts three days, and draws people together from all parts of the country.