WILLIAM CAREY AND JOSHUA MARSHMAN, THE SERAMPORE MISSIONARIES.
The English subjects and allies in India had hitherto owed their scanty lessons in Christianity to Germans or Danes, and the first of our own countrymen who attempted the work among them was, to the shame of our Government be it spoken, a volunteer from among the humblest classes, of no more education than falls to the lot of the child of a village schoolmaster and parish clerk.
In 1761, when Schwartz was just beginning to make his way in Tanjore, William Carey was born in the village of Paulerspury, in Northamptonshire. He showed himself a diligent scholar in his father's little school, and had even picked up some Latin before, at fourteen years old, he was apprenticed to a shoemaker at the neighbouring village of Hackleton. Still he had an earnest taste for study; and, falling in with a commentary on the New Testament full of Greek words, he copied them all out, and carried them for explanation to a man living in his native village, who had thrown away a classical education by his dissipated habits.
The young shoemaker, thus struggling on to instruct himself, fell under the notice of Thomas Scott, the author of the Commentary on the Bible, and it was from him that Carey first received any strong religious impressions. Scott was a Baptist; and young Carey, who had grown up in the days of the deadness of the Church, was naturally led to his teacher's sect, and began to preach at eighteen years of age. He always looked back with humiliation to the inexperienced performances of his untried zeal at that time of life; but he was doing his best to study, working hard at grammar, and every morning reading his portion of the Scripture for the day in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as well as English. Well might Mr. Scott say, as he looked at the little cobbler's shop, "That was Mr. Carey's college;" for all this time he was working at his trade, and, on his master's death, took the business, and married the daughter of the house before he was twenty.
It was an unlucky marriage, for she was a dull, ignorant woman, with no feeling for her husband's high aims or superior powers, and the business was not a flourishing one; but he never manifested anything but warm affection and tenderness towards this very uncompanionable person, and perhaps, like most men of low station and unusual intellect, had no idea that more could be expected of a wife.
Perhaps, in spite of his kindness, Mrs. Carey had to endure the disasters common to the wives of struggling great men: for William Carey's shoes were not equal to his sermons, and his congregation were too poor even to raise means to clothe him decently. His time was spent in long tramps to sell shoes he had made and to obtain the mending of others, and, meantime, he was constantly suffering from fever and ague.
In 1786, when in his twenty-fifth year, he obtained a little Baptist chapel and the goodwill of a school at Moulton; but as a minister he only received 16l. per annum, and at the same time proved, as many have done before him, that aptness to learn does not imply aptness to teach. He could not keep order, and his boys first played tricks with him and then deserted, till he came nearly to starvation, and had to return to his last and his leather.
Yet it was the geography lessons of this poor little school that first found the way to the true chord of Carey's soul. Those broad tracts of heathenism that struck his eye in the map, and the summary of nations and numbers professing false religions, were to a mind like his no mere items of information to be driven into dull brains, but were terrible realities representing souls perishing for lack of knowledge. Cook's Voyages fell into his hands and fed the growing impulse. He hung up in his shop a large map, composed of several sheets pasted together, and gazed at it when at his work, writing against each country whatever information he had been able to collect as to the number of the inhabitants, their religion, government, or habits, also as to the climate and natural history.
After he had for some time thus dwelt on the great longing of his heart, he ventured on speaking it forth at a meeting of ministers at Northampton, when there was a request that some topic might be named for discussion. Carey then modestly rose and proposed "the duty of Christians to attempt the spread of the Gospel among the heathen." The words were like a shock. The senior, who acted as president, sprang up in displeasure, and shouted out, "Young man, sit down! When God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine." And another, namely Mr. Fuller, who afterwards became the sheet anchor of the Missions, describes himself as having thought of the words of the noble at Jezreel, "If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be?"
Silenced by his brethren, Carey persevered, and proceeded to write what he had not been allowed to speak. A Birmingham tradesman of the name of Pott, an opulent man, was induced by his earnestness to begin a subscription for the publication of Carey's pamphlet, which showed wonderful acquaintance with the state of the countries it mentioned, and manifested talent of a remarkable order. In truth, Carey had been endowed with that peculiar missionary gift, facility for languages. A friend gave him a large folio in Dutch, and was amazed by his returning shortly after with a translation into English of one of the sermons which the book contained.
He was becoming more known, and an invitation from a congregation at Leicester, in 1789, placed him in somewhat more comfortable circumstances, and brought him into contact with persons better able to enter into his views; but it was three years more before he could either publish his pamphlet or take the very first steps towards the establishment of a Society for Promoting the Conversion of the Heathen.
The first endeavour to collect a subscription resulted in 13l. 2s. 6d. This was at Kettering, and at the same time Carey offered to embark for any country the Society might appoint. The committee, however, waited to collect more means, but they found it almost impossible to awaken people's minds. At Birmingham, indeed, 70l. was collected, but in London the dissenting pastors would have nothing to do with the cause; and the only minister of any denomination who showed any sympathy was the Rev. John Newton, that giant of his day, who had in his youth been captain of a slaver, and well knew what were the dark places of the earth. The objections made at that time were perfectly astounding. In the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, several Presbyterian ministers pronounced it to be "highly preposterous" to attempt to spread the Gospel among barbarous nations, extolled the "simple virtues" of the untutored savage, and even declared that the funds of Missionary Societies might be turned against Government.
In India itself, the endeavours of the Danish settlement at Tranquebar had little affected Bengal, but a few of the more religious men at Calcutta had begun to be shocked at the utter oblivion of all Christian faith and morality by their own countrymen, and the absolute favour shown to the grossest idolatry of the heathen. Charles Grant, a member of the Board of Trade at Calcutta, was the foremost of these, and on his return to England brought the subject under the notice of that great champion of Christ, William Wilberforce. The charter of the East India Company was renewed from time to time; and when it was brought before Parliament, Wilberforce proposed the insertion of clauses enforcing the maintenance of chaplains, churches, and schools, so that a branch of the Church might take root in Hindostan.
This scheme, however, excited violent and selfish alarm in the directors, chiefly men who had made their fortunes in India, and after living there for years under no restraint were come home to enjoy their riches. They believed that the natives would take umbrage at the least interference with their religion, and that their own wealth and power, so highly prized, would be lost if idolatry were not merely tolerated, but flattered and supported. The souls of men and the honour of God were nothing to them; they were furious with indignation, and procured from the House of Commons the omission of the clauses. There was another hope in the Lords; but though Archbishop Moore and the Bishop of London spoke in favour of the articles, the Bishop of St. David's said one nation had no right to impose its faith on another. None of the other Bishops stirred, and the charter passed without one line towards keeping Englishmen Christians, or making Hindoos such! The lethargy of the Church of the eighteenth century was so heavy that not only had such a son as Carey been allowed to turn from her pale in search of earnest religion, but while she was forced to employ foreigners, bred up in the Lutheran communion, as the chaplains and missionaries of her Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, he was going forth unaccredited as a volunteer in the cause which her paralysed efforts could not support!
For it was to India that the minds of the little Baptist Society were turned by the return of one John Thomas, who seems to have been the Gaultier Sans Avoir of this crusade. He was Baptist by education, and having gone out as a surgeon to Calcutta, had been so shocked at the state of things as to begin to preach on his own account, but he was a hot tempered, imprudent man, and quarrelled with everybody, so as to make the cause still more unpopular with the East Indians. Yet this strange, wild character had a wonderful power of awakening enthusiasm. He had come home in the same ship with one Wilson, whose history was a marvel in itself. He had been made prisoner by the French during the Carnatic war, and finding that the captives were to be delivered up to Hyder Ali, he resolved to escape, leapt forty feet from his prison window, and swam the river Coleroon, in happy ignorance that it was infested with alligators; but then going up an eminence to judge of his bearings, he was seen, secured, and stripped naked, and, with his hands tied behind him, was driven before Hyder Ali. His account of having crossed the Coleroon was treated as a lie. "No mortal man," said the natives, "had ever swum the river; did he but dip a finger in, he would be seized by the alligators," but when evidence proved the fact, the Nabob held up his hands and cried, "This is the man of God." Nevertheless Wilson was chained to a soldier, and, like the well-known David Baird, John Lindsay, and many others, was driven naked, barefoot, and wounded, 500 miles to Seringapatam; where, loaded with irons of thirty-two pounds weight, and chained in couples, they were thrust into a "black hole," and fed so scantily that Wilson declared that at sight of food his jaws snapped together of themselves. Many a time in the morning corpses were unchained, and the survivors coupled up together again. Wilson was one of the thirty-one who lived to be released after twenty-two months, in a frightful state of exhaustion and disease. Afterwards, when commanding a ship at Bencoolen, every European under his command died, and he alone escaped, yet all this time he was an absolute infidel; and, when having made a fortune, he was returning home, he appeared so utterly hardened against all the arguments that the zealous Thomas could bring in favour of Christianity, as to make him in despair remark to the chief officer that he should have more hope of converting the Lascar sailors than of Captain Wilson.
However, the words were penetrating the hitherto ignorant or obdurate heart, and preparing it to attend to further instruction. After some years of comfort at home, on hearing of plans for a mission to the South Sea Islands, Wilson resolved to offer himself as a free and spontaneous fellow-worker, ready to sacrifice his whole self in the great cause!
Meantime Thomas's fervid account of the needs of India had made the infant Society propose to send him out with one colleague; and William Carey, now thirty-three years of age, offered himself as a fellow-worker.
The notion was terrible to Mrs. Carey, who flatly refused to go; but her husband decided on leaving her at home, and only taking his eldest boy, then about ten or eleven years old. An application was made to the Board of Directors for a licence to the two missionaries to preach, and for a passage in one of the Company's vessels; but when Mr. Grant learnt that Thomas was one of them, he refused to assist in promoting their request, though he undertook to do what he could for Carey alone. However, the Board were certain to refuse them a passage; not because they were unordained or dissenters, but simply because they wished to be Christian teachers. A captain with whom Thomas had sailed as surgeon, offered to smuggle them over without permission; but while his ship was preparing, they had to wait in the Isle of Wight, and Thomas was continually in danger of being arrested by his creditors, and was constantly obliged to hide himself, till Carey became ashamed of such an associate. At last, just as they were on board, with 250l. paid for their passage, and the goods in which the money for their support had been invested, the captain received a letter warning him that an information was about to be laid against him at the India House for taking out people without permission. Not only missionaries, but Europeans of any kind, not in the public service, were forbidden to set foot on the Company's territories without special licence, and the danger was so great that the captain set them ashore at once; and poor Carey beheld with tears the Indian fleet sailing from Portsmouth without him.
However, by vigorous exertion, Thomas found that a Danish ship would be lying in the Downs, on her way to the East Indies, and that a passage in her would cost 100l. for a full-grown person and 50l. for a child. Posting down to Northamptonshire, Carey made a desperate effort to persuade his wife to come with him, and succeeded at last, on condition that her sister, Miss Old, should come too. There were now five children, and the passage-money for the whole party amounted to 600l., of which their utmost efforts, including the sale of all the little property the Careys possessed, could only raise half.
Thomas, who really had a generous spirit, then arranged that the whole party should be squeezed into two cabins, and that Mr. and Mrs. Carey alone should be treated as first-class passengers. They were taken on these terms; but the captain, an Englishman, naturalized in Denmark, gave Mr. Thomas and Miss Old each a cabin, made them dine at his own table, and treated them all most kindly.
Thus they safely arrived at Calcutta; but this was only the beginning of troubles. The goods, the sale of which was intended to maintain the mission, were entrusted to Thomas, and realized next to nothing; and Carey was indebted to the goodwill of a rich Hindoo for a miserable house in an unhealthy suburb of Calcutta, where he lodged his unfortunate family. They had a great deal of illness, and he was able to do little but study the language and endeavour to translate the Bible into Bengalee. Several moves made their state rather worse than better, until, in 1795, a gentleman in the Civil Service, Mr. George Udney, offered Carey the superintendence of an indigo factory of his own at Mudnabutty, where he hoped both to obtain a maintenance, and to have great opportunities of teaching the natives in his employment.
Disaster as usual followed him: the spot was unhealthy, the family had fevers, one of the children died, and the mother lost her reason from grief, so that she had to be kept under restraint for the rest of her life. Nor was Carey a better indigo-planter than a shoe-maker; the profits of the factory dwindled, and the buildings fell into ruin; the seasons were bad, and in three years Mr. Udney found himself obliged to give up the speculation; but in the meantime, though Carey had not been able to produce much effect on the natives, he had completed the preparation of the implement to which he most trusted for his work, a translation of the New Testament; and, moreover, had been presented by good Mr. Udney with a wooden printing-press with Bengalee type. The wonderful-looking thing was set up in one of the side rooms at the factory, and was supposed by the natives to be the idol of the Europeans!
In the meantime he opened a school, and preached to the natives in all the villages round, but without making much, if any, impression; indeed he was so disheartened, that he did not even teach his own children. The chief benefit of his residence in India was at present the example he set, and the letters he sent home, which bore in on the minds of others the necessities of their brethren in the East, and brought aid in subscriptions and, what was still more needed, men.
In 1799, four members of the Baptist communion offered themselves to go out as missionaries to India, and two of these were men who left most important traces behind them: William Ward, who had been a printer and editor of a newspaper at Derby, and had seen Mr. Carey before his going out to India, and Joshua Marshman. This latter was the person who, above all others, gave the struggling mission the strength, consistency, and prudence which it wanted. The descendant of an old Puritan officer on the one side, and of Huguenot refugees on the other, he was brought up in strict Baptist principles by his father, who was one of the cloth weavers then inhabiting Wiltshire in great numbers. As a child, he was passionately fond of reading, and his huge appetite for books and great memory made him a wonder in his village. A London bookseller, who was visiting the place, heard of this clever lad, and took him into his shop as an errand boy; but Joshua found that his concern was more with the outside of books than the inside, and came home, at the end of five months, to his father's loom.
He was a steady lad, with no passions save for reading and quiet heartfelt religion; but though he had never been guilty of any serious fault, the Baptist body to which his family belonged considered he had too much "head-knowledge" of Christianity to have much "heart-knowledge" of its truths; and for that reason only, and their distrust and contempt of human learning, refused to admit him to baptism.
However, this was no obstacle either to his marrying the daughter of a minister of his own persuasion, or taking the mastership of a school at Bristol, where he found less narrow-minded co-religionists, and was baptized by them in 1734, when twenty-six years of age. He was a successful schoolmaster, and was likewise able to join the classes at Bristol Academy, where he studied thoroughly Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. His circumstances were prosperous and rapidly improving when, after five years of great comfort at Bristol, his mind became so imbued with the sense of the need that some one should assist Carey, that he offered himself, together with Ward and two other young men, one of whom he had recently brought back to Christianity from Tom Paine's infidel doctrines. Again his "human learning" stood in his way. The honest, ignorant men who were working so earnestly, fancied it connected with Pharisaism, and had little idea that the Brahmin philosophy was as hard to deal with as the Greek. They accepted him, but with hesitation, and a passage for the whole party, including wives and children, was taken in an American vessel.
Mr. Charles Grant advised them not to attempt to land at Calcutta, where they would probably be at once arrested and sent home again, but to land at the Danish colony of Serampore, and there wait for an opportunity of joining Carey at Mudnabutty.
Serampore is on the Hooghly, sixteen miles above Calcutta, and here they found themselves on the 13th of October, 1799, in a town pleasantly situated, beautiful to look at, and full of a mixed population of Danes, Dutch, English, and natives of all hues. They were preparing to set forth for Mudnabutty when, on the fifth day after their arrival, they were informed that the British Government demanded that they should be immediately re-embarked and sent home again, whilst a local English paper, having never heard of Baptists, concluded that the word was a mistake for Papists, and announced the arrival of four Popish priests, emissaries of Buonaparte. The Danish governor, Colonel Bie, was resolved to stand his ground and not deliver them up; but they were prevented from setting foot upon the Company's territory, and the unwholesome, damp, little house that they were obliged to take while waiting at Serampore proved fatal to one of their number, the young man whom Marshman had rescued from infidelity, who died of chill and fever before his inexperienced associates were aware of his danger.
Another difficulty in the way of joining Carey and assisting in the printing of his translations, was that papers which were thought dangerous to the British power had lately been issued, and the Marquis Wellesley, who was then in the midst of his great war with Tippoo Sahib, was resolved not to allow any printing to be carried on except in Calcutta, where it could be under the eye of his officials. However, he had no objection to the establishment of mission, school, or press on the Danish ground, and Colonel Bie was only desirous to keep them there; so it was decided to send Ward alone, with a Danish passport, to visit Carey at Mudnabutty, and confer with him upon his removal to Serampore, and the establishment of a mission settlement there.
All doubt was removed, while this consultation was in progress, by finding that the jealous Anglo-Indians were prepared to arrest any missionary whom they caught upon their ground; and Carey's five years' covenant as an indigo planter being now run out, his supposed idol was taken down and packed up, and his four boys and poor insane wife removed to Serampore, where all their present capital was laid out in the purchase of a piece of ground and the construction of the habitations of the little colony. The expenses were to be defrayed from a common stock, each missionary in turn superintending the domestic arrangements for a month, all the household dining together at one table, and only a small allowance being made to each head of a family for pocket money.
Six families were here united, and only 200l. was left to support them for the six months until remittances could be obtained from England; but all were used to cottage fare, and were not so dependent on servants as most Europeans in India. A piece of land attached to the house became, under Mr. Carey's care, a beautiful botanic garden. The press was set up under the care of Ward, and on the 18th of March, 1800, the first sheets of the Gospels in Bengalee were struck off. Mr. and Mrs. Marshman opened two boarding schools for European children for the maintenance of the mission, and their great ability in tuition rendered these so profitable as to become its main support. This was soon followed by another school for the natives, to which they eagerly thronged.
Meanwhile the missionaries went out, singly or in pairs, into the streets or the neighbourhood of the heathen temples, and attracted a crowd by singing hymns in Bengalee, and then preached to them, offering to receive any inquiries at the mission-house. Carey's time was almost entirely taken up in hearing and answering these questions; but, as usual, the ties of family, society, and custom almost always proved too strong to be broken through even by the conviction of the truth of Christianity. Ram- bosoo, Mr. Carey's first Hindoo friend, was like Serfojee, ready to do anything on behalf of Christianity except to embrace it openly himself.
Mr. Thomas had meantime engaged himself as superintendent of a sugar factory at Beerbhoom, whence he came to visit his brethren at Serampore, bringing with him one of his workmen named Fukier, whom he believed that he had converted. The man gave so good an account of his faith that the missionaries deemed him fit for baptism, and rejoiced in him as the first- fruits of seven years' labour; but he went home to take leave of his friends, and either they prevailed on him to give up his intention, or privately murdered him, for he never was heard of again.
However, a carpenter of Serampore named Krishnu, who had been brought into the mission-house with a dislocated arm for Mr. Thomas to set, was so struck by what he heard there that he, with his wife and daughter and his brother Goluk, were all willing to give up their caste and be baptized.
There was much, however, to render the joy of this day far from being unmixed. Poor John Thomas, after his seventeen years of effort, fitful, indeed, but sincere, was so overjoyed at this confession of faith that he became frantic, and in three days was raving violently. Meanwhile, the native mob, infuriated by hearing that Krishnu and Goluk had renounced their caste, rose to the number of two thousand, and dragged them to the magistrate, but found nothing to accuse them of. The magistrate released them, but they were brought back immediately after, on the plea that the person to whom Krishnu's daughter had been betrothed had a claim upon her. This, however, the authorities disallowed, and they even gave the missionaries a guard to secure them from any interruption during the rite of Baptism, which, by the customs of their sect, was necessarily in public, and by immersion; but there was serious consultation whether it were fit to use the Ganges, so superstitiously adored by the natives, for the purpose. Some argued that the Hindoos might think that the sacredness of Gunga was thus recognized, others that they would consider that the Christians had defiled it, and it was finally resolved to use it like any other stream. In the meantime, Goluk and the two women had been so much terrified that they would not come forward; and on the day of the baptism, Sunday, the 26th of December, 1800, the only two candidates were Krishnu and Felix Carey, the missionary's own eldest son. William Carey walked from the chapel to the ghat, or steps leading to the river, with his son on one side and the Hindoo on the other; but the court they had to pass resounded with the frightful imprecations of poor Mr. Thomas in one room, echoed by screams from Mrs. Carey in the other.
At the ghat the Danish governor himself, together with several of his countrymen, some Englishmen, a large body of Portuguese, and a throng of natives, Hindoo and Mahometan, were waiting, and before all these the baptism was performed by Mr. Carey. All were silent as if overawed, and Colonel Bie even shed tears.
The next day there was not a scholar in the native school, but the love of learning soon filled it again. Even down till quite recently, when the bands of attachment to the old heathenism have become much loosened, every open conversion continued to empty the schools, though never for long at a time.
The women soon recovered from their alarm and were baptized, and the mission also gained over an influential Portuguese gentleman named Fernandez, whom their tenets led them to view as in as much need of conversion as the heathen. He proved an active assistant, and for full thirty years laboured in their cause.
In the meantime Lord Wellesley had been engaged in founding the college at Fort William, Calcutta, for the training of young Europeans for the civil service in the knowledge of the numerous native tongues, laws, and customs with which they had to deal--and which are as various as they are important--not only practically, but philosophically. The only person at that time in Bengal qualified to teach the Bengalese language was the Northamptonshire cobbler, who had acquired it for the love of God and the spread of Gospel light!
His dissent was a disqualification for any of the higher offices of the college, but the teachership was offered to him, with a salary of 500 rupees a month--absolute affluence compared with his original condition. Yet he would not accept the post unless he were allowed still to be regarded as a missionary. No objection was made, and thus by his talent and usefulness had Carey forced from the Government which had forbidden him to set foot on their territories his recognition in the character he had always claimed. Even his private secular earnings he never regarded as his own: this income, and that arising from Marshman's school, these good men viewed as rendering their mission from henceforth independent, and setting free the Society at home to support fresh ones. Already the accounts they sent home were stirring up many more subscribers, and the commendations bestowed on them in the periodical accounts pained their humility. Ward wrote that it was like a public show: "Very fine missionaries to be seen here! Walk in, brethren and sisters, walk in!"
It was happy for the missionaries that their ground had thus been won, for the war with Denmark occasioned Serampore to be occupied by British troops early in 1801, and this would, earlier in their career, infallibly have led to their expulsion: but, as it was, they were allowed to proceed exactly as they had done before.
Their most serious difficulties were at an end before poor Thomas, though he had recovered from his brain fever, died of an attack of fever and ague, after having done almost an equal amount of good and harm to his cause by his excitable nature and entire want of balance. Converts continued from time to time to be gathered in: Goluk took courage after waiting about two years, and a Brahmin named Krishnu-prisad trampled on his brahminical cord or poita, and was baptized. He was allowed to wear it as a mark of distinction, but he gave it up voluntarily after three years. Moreover he broke through Indian prejudice by marrying the daughter of Krishnu, the first convert, though of a caste far inferior to his own. This was the occasion of a happy little wedding feast, given under a tree in front of the house of the bride's father, when a hymn composed by Krishnu was sung, and native dishes served up in Eastern style, after which the entertainment concluded with prayer. Only the next week, in contrast to the devotion that blessed these family ties, three Hindoo widows were burnt on a pile not far from the mission-house!
In still greater contrast was the first funeral among the converts of the mission-house--that of a man named Gokool. The native custom is that the dead are always carried to burial by persons of their own caste, and it is intense defilement for one of another caste to touch the body. Christians were always carried by the lowest class of the Portuguese, who had fallen into so degraded a state that they were usually known by their own word for poor, "pobre," and were despised by the whole population. They were generally drunk and disorderly, and their rudeness, irreverence, and quarrels were a scandal to the solemn occasion. Mr. Marshman, who was in charge of the mission at the time in Mr. Carey's absence, had some difficulty in persuading the Hindoo converts that it was no shame, but a charitable work, to bear a brother's body to its last resting-place, even though they were seen doing the work of the despised pobres. Accordingly he resolved to set the example, and the corpse of the convert, within a coffin covered with white muslin, was carried to the burial-ground by Marshman, Felix Carey, a baptized Brahmin, and a baptized Hindoo, all the procession singing a Bengalee Christian hymn.
The most remarkable events that befell the Serampore Mission from this time were either domestic, or related to their connection with the College at Fort William, and the sanction they received from Government. Lord Wellesley went home in 1805, Colonel Bie died the same year, and these were most serious losses to the cause of the Serampore mission. Lord Wellesley had followed his own judgment, and carried things with a high hand, often against the will of the East India Company, and there was a strong desire to reverse his policy. His successor, Lord Cornwallis, died two months after landing, and Sir George Barlow, who carried on the government in the interregnum, though a good man, had not force enough to withstand the dislike of the Anglo-Indians to the mission. Mr. Ward made an attempt at Calcutta to preach in Hindoo in a chapel, the ground of which had been purchased by the missionaries, but as he walked through the streets the people shouted, "That's the Hindoo padre; why dost thou destroy the caste of the people?" And when, two Sundays later, a preacher of Brahmin birth appeared, there were loud cries of indignation. "O vagabond," cried one man, "why didst thou not come to my house? I would have given thee a handful of rice rather than that thou shouldst have become a Feringhee!" In spite of these cries, however, the chapel was thronged, until, after the third Sunday, when an order came forth from the magistrates, forbidding the missionaries either to preach, allow their converts to preach, distribute tracts, or even argue with the natives--or in anyway "interfere with their prejudices"--in Calcutta; and two new missionaries, named Chater and Robinson, who had come out without a licence, were prohibited from proceeding to Serampore.
Considering that these orders emanated only from a Provisional Government during an interregnum, and that there was every hope that they might be reversed by the next Governor-General, the missionaries resolved to submit to them for the time, and to abstain from working in Calcutta. Early in the year 1806, however, the animosity of the English East Indians was increased by a mutiny that broke out among the Sepoys at Vellore, in the Madras Presidency, in consequence of some regulations as to their dress, which they resented as being supposed to assimilate them to Europeans. The English colonel and all his garrison were massacred, and, though the mutineers were surrounded and destroyed, great alarm prevailed. The discontent of the Sepoys was attributed to their displeasure at the spread of Christianity, and it was even averred that the lives of the English in India could only be preserved by the recall of all the missionaries!
At Calcutta, Sir George Barlow sent to forbid Mr. Carey and his colleagues from making any further attempts at conversion, and for a short time they were entirely restricted to the Danish territory, while Chater and Robinson were ordered to embark for England, and were only kept by their appeal to the flag of Denmark.
Upon this Mr. Chater proceeded to Rangoon, an independent province, but on the whole the current of opposition was diminishing. Lord Wellesley and Mr. Pitt had prevailed upon Government not to permit the College at Fort William to be broken up, though it was reduced and remodelled. Mr. Carey was a gainer by the change, for he was promoted to a professorship, with an increase of salary, which he said was "very good for the mission." He soon after received the diploma of a Doctor of Divinity from an American University.
The head-quarters of the establishment continued to be at Serampore, where the missionaries and their families still lived in common, supported upon the proceeds of Mr. Carey's professorship, Mr. Marshman's school, and likewise the subscriptions received from England. Here were their chapel, their schools, and their printing-press, from whence emanated such books and tracts in Bengalee as could be useful for their purpose, and likewise their great work, the translation of the Scriptures, which Marshman and Carey were continually revising and improving as their knowledge of the language became more critical. Thence Mr. Carey went to give instruction at Fort William, and thence the preachers, as the opposition relaxed, went forth on expeditions into the country to teach, argue, and persuade, without any very wide-spread success, but still every year gaining a few converts--sometimes as many as twenty--who, when they had given sufficient evidence of faith, were always publicly baptized by immersion, according to the custom of the sect, which indeed acknowledged no other form as valid, and re-baptized such members of other communions as joined them. Every missionary to the East Indies, whether belonging to their own society or not, was certain to visit and hold council with them, as the veterans of the Christian army in India, and the men most experienced in the character and language of the natives; they were the prime leaders and authorities in all that concerned the various vernacular translations of the Scriptures, and their example was as a trumpet-call to others to follow them in their labours; while all the time the simplicity, humility, self-denial, and activity of the men themselves remained unspoiled.
Wonderful, too, had been the effect produced by the stirring of the sluggish waters of indifference. The Society that had been with such difficulty established at home, was numbering multitudes of subscribers both in England and America; it had awakened a like spirit in other sects, and whereas no dissenting minister in London had at first taken up Carey's cause, it had become a scandal for a minister not to subscribe to or promote missions to the heathen. Missionary reports were everywhere distributed, young men aspired to the work, and American Universities did honour to the ability and scholarship of the pioneers of Serampore.
Mrs. Carey died on the 7th of December, 1807, having spent twelve years in a state of constant melancholy and often raving insanity. Poor woman! she was from the first a victim to her husband's aspirations, which she never understood. There is something piteous in the cobbler's daughter marrying the apprentice to keep on the business, and finding him a genius and a hero on her hands, starving, being laughed at, and at last carried off to a strange land and fatal climate, all without the least comprehension or sympathy for the cause, and her mind failing before the material prosperity came, which she might have regarded as compensation.
In 1807, when some progress had been made, the grant for the translation of the Scriptures was withdrawn; but the superintendents resolved to persevere on their own account, and at the same time to collect all the information in their power respecting the Christians in India, so as to be able to rouse the cold hearts at home to the perception that a real work was in progress. For this purpose, Dr. Claudius Buchanan, the Provost of the College at Fort William, made an expedition of inquiry among the various Christians, and his little book, "Christian Researches," brought much before the public at home, of which they had hitherto been ignorant.
Before his time the enormities of the worship of Jaghernauth, and the horrors of the car, beneath which human victims threw themselves, had hardly been realized; and his very effective style of writing brought into full prominence the atrocities of the Suttee, or burning of widows on the funeral pile, a custom with which it was supposed to be impossible to interfere, but which has been proved to be entirely a corrupt practice, unsanctioned by any ancient law, only encouraged by the Brahmins out of avarice. Happily the present generation only knows of these atrocities as almost proverbial expressions, but when the century came in they were in full force.
It was Buchanan, too, who first revealed to the English the existence of those Nestorian Christians of St. Thomas, on the coast of Malabar, who had probably had no ecclesiastical intercourse with this country since the embassy of King Alfred, nine hundred years before. He also brought into public notice the effect of Swartz's labours, by describing a visit that he made to Tanjore, where he had a most kind reception from Serfojee, and greatly admired the numerous charitable foundations of that beneficent Rajah. He also heard the services held in three languages in Swartz's church, and was greatly struck, when the Tamul sermon began, by hearing a universal scratching and grating all round him. This was caused, he found, by the iron pens upon the palmyra leaves upon which most of the native congregation were taking notes, writing nearly as fast as the minister spoke. He also heard Sattianadem--now a white-haired old man--preach on the "Marvellous Light," and he felt that a great man had verily left his impress on these districts.
Carey's second marriage was curiously different from his first. It was to a lady named Charlotte Rumohr, of noble extraction, belonging to a family of high rank, in the duchy of Schleswig. She was small and slightly deformed, but of good abilities; she had been highly educated, and being generally a prisoner on a couch, she had read deeply in many languages. She had come out to India in search of a warm climate, and residing at Serampore, had fallen under the influence of the missionaries, and had some years previously been admitted to their congregation by immersion. For the first time, Dr. Carey now enjoyed a really happy home, with a lady equal to conversing with him after the labours of the day.
But this mission, though subsisting for some years longer, hardly affords many more events. It was not without troubles. At times came friendly support; at others, opposition from the authorities--the committee at home were sometimes ignorantly meddlesome, sometimes sordid in their fits of economy; insufficiently tested fellow-labourers came out and failed; promising converts fell away; the climate was one steady unrelaxing foe, which took victims out of every family: but all these things were as the dust of the highway, trials common to man, and only incident to the very position that had been so wondrously achieved, since the day when the poor Baptist cobbler was so peremptorily silenced for but venturing to hint at the duty of converting the heathen.
Lord Hastings' government was far more friendly than any previous one, and the few notable events that befell the community are quickly numbered. In 1821, they were visited by Swartz's pupil, Serfojee, who was staying with the Governor-General, Lord Hastings, on his way to Benares, whither, strange and sad to say, he was on pilgrimage, though all the time showing full intellectual understanding of, and warm external affection for, the Christian faith. He talked English easily, and showed much interest in all that was going on, but a heathen he still remained.
This visit only preceded by a few weeks the death of Mrs. Carey, after thirteen years' marriage, the happiest of Dr. Carey's life; but in another year he married a widow of forty-five, who was ready to nurse his now declining years. That year 1822 was a year of much sorrow; the cholera, said to have first appeared in 1817, became very virulent. The Hindoos viewed it as a visitation from the goddess of destruction, and held services to propitiate it, and when that had passed away, a more than usually fatal form of fever set in. Krishnu-pal, the first convert, who had for twenty years been a consistent Christian, was one of the first to be taken away. Dr. Carey himself, though exceedingly ill, recovered his former state of health, and continued his arduous labours, he being by this time the ablest philologist in India; but the little band had come to the time of life when "the clouds return after the rain," and in 1823 Mr. Ward died of cholera. For twenty-three years had the threefold cord between Carey, Marshman, and Ward, been unbroken. They had lived together like brothers, alike in aim and purposes, each supplying what the other lacked; and the distress of the parting was terrible, especially to Dr. Marshman, who at the time of his friend's illness was suffering from an attack of deafness, temporary indeed, but for some days total, so that he could only watch the final struggle without hearing a single word.
He wrote as if he longed to be with those whose toils and sorrows were at an end, but he still had much more to do. In 1826, he visited England, partly for the sake of pleading with the Society at home, first begun on so small a scale by Carey, but which now numbered many members and disposed of large sums. The committee, however, were often hard to deal with. There were among them many men of good intentions, but without breadth of views, and used to small economies. They listened to false reports, censured without sufficient information, pinched their missions, and dictated the management, so that to deal with them was but a vexation of spirit. Indeed, such annoyances are inseparable from the very fact of the supplies and the government being in the hands of a body at a distance from the scene of action, and destitute of personal experience of the needs.
After much argument, the matter ended in the Serampore mission being separated from the General Society, as indeed it had become nearly self- supporting through the numerous schools which the talents of the members of it had been able to establish. It was an unfortunate time, however, when the two men whose abilities had earned their present position were so far past the prime of life; and, in 1830, the failure of a great banking company both deprived them of a large part of their investments, and, by ruining numerous families, lessened the attendance at Dr. Marshman's school. Moreover, the American subscribers sent a most vexatious and absurd remonstrance against any part of their contributions for training young men to the ministry, being employed in teaching science. "As if," said Dr. Marshman, "youths in America could be educated for ministers without learning science."
Another disaster was that, on Lord William Bentinck's arrival in India in 1830, the finances of the Government were found to be in so unsatisfactory a state, that salaries were everywhere reduced, and that which Dr. Carey had derived from the college at Fort William was thus cut down from 1,000 rupees per month to 500. At this time, the missions and preachers dependent on Serampore required 1,500l. a year for their support, and only 900l. was to be had, and this when both Marshman and Carey were seventy years of age, and still were toiling as hard as ever.
There were other troubles, too, as to who was the owner of the buildings, whether the Baptist Society, or the missionaries as trustees, and as having paid a large portion of the price. A great inundation of the Hooghly had nearly settled the question by washing the whole away. As it was, it did much damage, and destroyed the beautiful botanical garden that had for twenty years been Dr. Carey's delight. Finally the whole of the right of Marshman and Carey to the buildings was sold to the Society, for a much less amount than they had paid from their own pockets; but they were to occupy them rent free for the rest of their lives.
The trouble and anxiety consequent on this question, which had been of many years' standing, had greatly impaired Dr. Marshman's strength both of body and mind. Morbid attacks of depression came on, during which he wandered about, unable to apply himself so much as even to write a letter, though in the intervals he was both cheerful and full of activity. Dr. Carey's health was likewise failing, and, with no formed illness, he gradually sank, and died on the 9th of June, 1834, in his seventy-third year.
To him belongs the honour of the awakening of the missionary spirit in England. Yet, as an individual preacher and teacher, he does not seem to have had much power. His talent was for language and philology; his perfections were faith and perseverance. In these he was a giant; in everything else, whether as a cobbler, schoolmaster, indigo-planter, nay, even as father of a family, he was a failure: but his steady, faithful purpose enabled him so to use that one talent as to make him the pioneer and the support as well as the example of numbers better qualified for the actual work than himself.
His loss left Dr. Marshman alone, and suffering from melancholy more and more, as well as much harassed by difficulties as to the resources, and by captious complaints from home. In 1836, a great shock was given to his nerves by the danger of his daughter. She was the wife of Lieutenant Henry Havelock, a young officer, who, deeply impressed by Dr. Marshman's piety, had joined his congregation, and who was destined to become in after years one of the most heroic and able of the defenders of the British cause in India. During his absence, she and her three children had been left at Landour, when their bungalow caught fire in the middle of the night, and blazed up with a rapidity due to its light, dry materials. She rushed out with her baby in her arms, but in crossing the verandah tripped and fell, losing her hold of the child. She was dragged away by a faithful native servant, who likewise snatched out her two eldest boys, but the poor baby was lost in the flames, and she herself was so much injured and overwhelmed by the alarm and grief, that, when her husband arrived, her state was almost hopeless, and he wrote a letter preparing her father to hear of her death. From some untoward accident, no more tidings reached Serampore for three days, and to spirits that had already lost their balance the suspense was fatal. The aged father wandered about the house in a purposeless manner, sometimes standing gazing along the road through the Venetian blinds, sometimes talking incoherently; and when at last the intelligence arrived that Mrs. Havelock was out of danger, though his joy and thankfulness were ecstatic, the effects of these three days were irremediable; he was hardly ever seen to smile again, could take no part in the renewed discussions with the Baptist Society, although his mind and memory were still clear. He died on the 5th of December, 1837, just as the Serampore mission had been re-united to the General Baptist mission.
"There had been but few men at Serampore, but they were all giants," was said of them by one of the dignitaries of the Church and assuredly it was a wonderful triumph, that a shoe-maker, a schoolmaster, and a printer should in thirty-eight years not only have aroused the missionary spirit in England, but have, by their resolution and talent, established thirty- three stations for the preaching of Christianity in India; while at the time of the death of the last survivor, forty-nine ministers were in union with them, half of whom were natives of Hindostan, and around each of the elder stations was a fair proportion of converts. Still more amazingly, these self-educated men had, by their accurate knowledge and deep study, become most eminent authorities in matters of language and philology; and by their usefulness had actually compelled a prejudiced Government to depend on them for assistance, and thus to support the work for which alone they cared. Never were the words more completely fulfilled than in them, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
The reverses that chequered their wonderful success were not the more interesting difficulties of wild country, or persecuting heathen, but troubles with an obstructive Government, and with the Society at home, which endeavoured to rule them without understanding them. These vexations are inseparable from the conditions of Societies trying to govern from home instead of letting the management be carried on by a head upon the spot.