THE JUDSON FAMILY.
We must turn to an important offshoot from the Serampore mission, which assumed extensive proportions and a character of its own, chiefly in consequence of American zeal. Here, be it observed, was the first ground attempted by modern missions (not Roman Catholic) which belonged to an independent sovereign.
The great Burmese Empire, roughly speaking, occupies the Eastern India peninsula, being separated from that of Hindostan by the Brahmapootra river. The mountainous formation of the country, its indented coast, and numerous rivers render it fertile, and the hills contain many valuable metals and beautiful precious stones.
The inhabitants are of the Mongolian race, short, stout, active, and brown, with a good deal of ingenuity in arts and manufactures, but not equal to the Chinese, their neighbours. Their language is monosyllabic, their religion Buddhist, their government a despotic empire, and at the time the mission was entered upon they had had little intercourse with strangers, but their women were not secluded, were not wholly uneducated, and were treated with consideration.
Buddha is regarded as a manifestation of Vishnu--the Hindoos say, to delude his enemies; the Buddhists, to bring a new revelation. Gautama was the almost deified being who spread the knowledge of Buddhism, about 500 B.C. In different countries the religion has assumed different forms, but it is nearly co-extensive with the Mongolian race, and the general features are the rejection of the Vedas and of most of the Hindoo myths, faith in the divinity of Buddha, and hope that the individual personality will be entirely absorbed in his essence, the human being lost in the Deity. Five laws of virtue must be observed, ten kinds of sin avoided; and the Buddhist expects that transgressions will be punished by the transmigration of his soul into some inferior creature, whence he will rise by successive stages into another trial as a man, and gradually improving by the help of contemplation, and of a sublime state of annihilation of all self-consciousness, may become fit for his final absorption into the Godhead. There is an extensive priesthood, called Lamas, who live in a state of celibacy in dwellings not at all unlike monasteries; and, in effect, so much in their practices seems to parody the ceremonies of Christianity that the Portuguese thought them invented by the devil for the very purpose. However, there is no doubt that Buddhism inculcates a much purer morality than the religion of Brahma, and far higher aims. In Burmah, however, the idea of the eternity of the Deity had evidently been lost, and Gautama had practically usurped the place that the higher Buddhists gave to Brahma. Indeed, though the true Buddhist system looks to the absorption in the Deity,--Nirvana, as it is called,--the popular notion, as received in Burmah and corrupted by less refined minds, made it into what was either absolute nonentity or could not be distinguished from it, so that the ordinary Burman's best hope for the future was of nothing but annihilation.
There was originally a Burman Empire, but it had become broken up, and the territories of Ava, Pegu, and Siam were separated, though Ava claimed them all, and owned a semi-barbarous magnificent court, with many gradations of dignitaries, sending out Viceroys to the different provinces and towns.
When in 1807 strong opposition was made by Sir George Barlow's government to the landing of the two Baptist missionaries, Robinson and Chater, the former obtained forbearance on account of his wife's health, but the latter was obliged to embark; and, rather than return to England, he chose a vessel bound for Rangoon, a city at the mouth of the river Irrawaddy, the nearest Burmese harbour. His was to be a reconnoitring expedition to discover the condition of the Burmese Empire, the progress that Roman Catholic missions were making there, and the possibility of undertaking anything from the centre of Serampore. Another missionary, named Mardon, went with him. They were well received by the European merchants resident at Rangoon, and returned with an encouraging report. It was decided that the attempt should be made; and as Mr. Mardon did not feel equal to the undertaking, fifteen days were set apart as a time of private prayer for direction who should be chosen in his stead.
It was Felix Carey, then nearly twenty-two, who volunteered to go with Mr. Chater, of whom he was very fond. His father was unwilling to send him, not only on account of his youth, but because he was very valuable in the printers' work, and had an unusual amount of acquaintance with Sanskrit and Bengalee, so that he could hardly be spared from the translations; but the majority of the council at Serampore were in favour of his going, and after a long delay, in consequence of the danger British trading vessels were incurring from French privateers from the Isle of France, they set sail and arrived at Rangoon early in the year 1808.
There they built themselves a house, and obtained a good deal of favour from the gentleness and amiability of Mr. Chater, and from young Carey's usefulness. He had regularly studied medicine for some years in the hospital at Calcutta, and his skill was soon in great request, especially for vaccination, which he was the first to introduce. His real turn was, however, for philology, and he was delighted to discover that the Pali, the sacred and learned language of Burmah, was really a variety of the Sanskrit, cut down into agreement with the Mongolian monosyllabic speech. He began, with the assistance of a pundit, to compile a grammar, and to make a rough beginning of a translation of the Scripture, a work indeed in which the Serampore people were apt to be almost too precipitate, not waiting for those refinements of knowledge which are needful in dealing with the shades of meaning of words of such intense importance and delicate significancy. But on their principles, they could do nothing without vernacular Bibles, and they had not that intense reverence and trained scholarly appreciation which made Martyn spend his life on the correctness of a single version, rather than send it forth with a flaw to give wrong impressions.
Neither does Felix Carey seem to have been a missionary in anything but that bent which is given by training and family impulse. He delighted in languages, but rather as an end than a means; and though he did what the guiding fathers at Serampore required of him, it was as a matter of course, not with his whole heart. In the meantime, the fact of Mr. Chater being a married man occasioned difficulties. Like their kinsmen the Chinese, the Burmese much objected to the residence of foreign females within their bounds; and when Mr. Chater obtained leave to bring his wife, she was so forlorn that he was obliged to seek for another station, and, receiving an invitation to Ceylon, left Felix alone, except for his marriage with a young woman of European extraction, but born in Burmah.
Soon after a dispute arose between the British and Burmese governments, and two English ships of war appeared off Rangoon. The native authorities wished the young missionary to act as interpreter, and on his refusal he was accused of being a spy, and was forced to take refuge on board one of the British ships where he remained for two months before the differences were adjusted, and he was allowed to return on condition that he should not refuse his services as interpreter another time. In the October of 1812 he came home to Serampore to print his Burmese grammar and Gospel of St. Matthew, and not only did this, but carried a press back with him to Rangoon. A youth who was sent from the congregation at Calcutta to co-operate with him proved unfit for the work, and was advised to return to secular business; but in the meantime, the person who was, above all others, to be identified with the Burmese mission, had heard the call and was on his way.
This was Adoniram Judson, a native of New England, the eldest son of the minister of Malden, in Massachusetts, born in 1788, and bred up first at a school near home, and afterwards at Brown University. His acuteness and cleverness from infancy were great, especially in arithmetic and mathematics. During his studies, he met with a clever and brilliant friend who had imbibed the deistical teaching of the French Revolution, and infected him with it, and he came home at seventeen the winner of all the honours and prizes that the College afforded, but announcing himself to his parents as a decided infidel! The pastor treated him with stern displeasure, and argued hotly with him, but young Adoniram was the cleverer man, and felt his advantage. His mother's tears and entreaties were less easy to answer, and the thought of them dwelt with him, do what he would, when he set out on a sort of tour through the surrounding States. On his journey, he stopped at a country inn, and was told, with much apology, that there was no choice but to give him a room next to that of a young man who was so ill that he could scarcely live till morning. In fact, Adoniram's rest was broken by the groans of the dying man and the footsteps of the nurses, and there--close to the shadow of death--his infidelity, which had been but pride of intellect and fashion, began to quail, as the thought of the future haunted him. Morning came; all was still. He asked after his fellow-lodger, and heard that he was dead. He asked his name. It was no other than the very youth who had staggered his faith.
The shock changed his whole tone. He could not bear to continue his journey, but turned back to Plymouth, determined to prove to himself what was indeed truth; and, while deeply studying the evidences of Christianity, he supported himself by keeping a school and writing educational books on grammar and arithmetic. His mind was soon thoroughly made up, as, indeed, his aberrations had been only on the surface, and he became very anxious to enter the Theological College at Andover, Massachusetts. This belonged to the most earnest of the Congregationalists, and evidence of personal conversion and piety was required from the candidates; but, in his case, the professors were satisfied, and he entered on his course of study, which included Hebrew. In the last year of his studies there he fell in with Claudius Buchanan's "Star in the East," and the perusal directed his whole soul to the desire of missionary labour. His mind was harassed night and day with the thought of longing to do something for the enlightenment of the millions in Asia; and, meeting with Symes' "Burmese Empire," his thoughts turned especially in that direction. It was a quiet steady purpose, though he was slow of communicating it; until, one evening at home, his father began throwing out hopes and hints of some great preferment, and his mother and sister smiled complacently, as if they were in the secret. Adoniram begged for an explanation, since it was possible their plans might not coincide, to which his father replied there was no fear, and told him that the minister of the biggest church in Boston wished for him as a colleague. "So near home," said the delighted mother. He could not bear to answer her, but, when his sister chimed in, he turned to her, saying, "No, sister, I shall never live in Boston; I have much farther to go;" and then, steadily and calmly, but fervidly, he set forth the call that he felt to be upon him. How different a communication from that which he had made two years before! No doubt his family so felt it, for, though his mother and sister shed many tears, neither they nor his father offered a word of opposition.
Thenceforth his fate was determined, and he began to prepare himself. He was, in person, slightly made and delicate-looking, with an aquiline face, dark eyes, and chesnut hair; and though his constitution must have been immensely strong to have borne what he underwent, at this time he was thought delicate; and therefore, with his one purpose before him, he carefully studied physiology, and made himself a code of rules which he obeyed to the end of his life, in especial inhaling large quantities of air, sponging the whole body with cold water, and taking daily exercise by walking. He was a man of great vivacity and acuteness, with the poetical spirit that accompanies strong enthusiasm, and with a fastidious delicacy and refinement in all personal matters, such as seemed rather to mark him as destined to be an accomplished scholar than to lead the rude life of a missionary; and Ann Hasseltine, the young lady on whom he had fixed his affections, was a very beautiful girl, of great cultivation and accomplishments, but they were alike in one other great respect,--namely, in dauntless self-devotion. He began to talk of his purpose to the like- minded among his college mates, and gradually gathered a few into a very small missionary association, into which none were admitted who had any duties that could forbid their going out to minister among the heathen.
At the same time, and partly through their means, a wider association was formed, which had its centre at Bradford, and which finally decided on sending Judson to England to endeavour to effect a union with the London Missionary Society, which had been formed in 1795, in imitation of Carey's Baptist Society, to work in other directions by Nonconformists of other denominations.
The voyage in 1811, in the height of the continental war, was a very perilous one. On the way the vessel was taken by the French and carried into Bayonne, while the young American passenger was summarily thrown into the hold with the common sailors. He became very ill, but, when the French doctor visited him, he could hold no communication for want of a common language. Then it was that there came thoughts of home, and of the "biggest church in Boston," and a misgiving swept over him, which he treated at once as a suggestion of the enemy, and betook himself to prayer. Then, in the grey twilight of the hold, he felt about for his Hebrew Bible; and to keep his mind fully absorbed, began mentally rendering the Hebrew into Latin. When the doctor came in, he took up the Bible, perceived that he had a scholar to deal with, began to talk Latin to him, and arranged his release from the hold.
But on landing at Bayonne, he was marched through the streets as a prisoner with the English crew. He began declaiming in his native language on the injustice of detaining an American, and obtained his purpose by attracting the attention of an American gentleman in the street, who promised to do what he could for him, but advised him in the meantime to proceed quietly. The whole party were thrown into a dismal underground vault, and the stones covered with straw, which seemed to Judson so foul that he could not bear to sit down on it, and he walked up and down, though sick and giddy with the chill, close, noisome atmosphere. Before his walking powers were exhausted, his American friend was at the door, and saying, "Let me see whether I know any of these poor fellows," took up the lamp, looked at them, said "No friend of mine," and as he put down the lamp threw his own large cloak round Mr. Judson, and grasping his arm, led him out under it in the dark; while a fee, put into the hand, first of the turnkey and then of the porter, may have secured that the four legs under the cloak should pass unobserved. "Now run," said the American, as soon as they were outside, and he rushed off to the wharf, closely followed by his young countryman, whom he placed on board a vessel from their own country for the night. Afterwards, Judson's papers were laid before the authorities, and he was not only released, but allowed to travel through France to the northern coast, and, making friends with some of the Emperor's suite on the way home from Spain, travelled to Paris in an Imperial carriage. Afterwards, he made his way to England, where he received a warm welcome from the London Missionary Society, by which he and the three friends he had left in America--Samuel Newell, Samuel Nott, and Gordon Hall--were accepted as missionaries; but on Judson's return to America, he found that the Congregationalist Mission Board there was able to undertake their expenses, and accordingly they went out, salaried by their own country. All four were dedicated to the ministry at Salem on the 6th of February, 1812, and immediately prepared to sail for the East Indies.
Judson, with his wife, the beautiful dark-eyed Ann Hasseltine, and his friends Mr. and Mrs. Newell, also newly married, embarked in the Caravan; Hall, Nott, and another college mate, named Luther Rice, were in the Harmony. They were at once received at Serampore, on their landing, in the June of 1812, but Dr. Carey's expectations of them were not high. Adoniram and Ann Judson were both delicate, slender, refined- looking people. "I have little hope from the Americans," he wrote; "if they should stay in the East, American habits are too luxurious for a preparation to live among savages." He little knew what were the capabilities of Ann Judson, the first woman who worked effectively in the cause, the first who rose above the level of being the comfort of her husband in his domestic moments, and was an absolute and valuable influence.
The opposition to the arrival of missionaries was at its height, and this large batch so dismayed the Calcutta authorities that, declaring them British subjects come round by America, they required their instant re- embarkation. It was decided to go to the Isle of France, whence it was hoped to find a French ship to take them to the aid of Felix Carey, but the first vessel could only take the Newells, and the detention at Serampore drew the Judsons and Rice into the full influence of Marshman's powerful and earnest mind. Aware that they would have to work with the Baptist mission, they had studied the tenets on the voyage, but found when they arrived, that the points of difference were subjects that the trio at Serampore did not choose to discuss, lest their work among the heathen should suffer by attention to personal controversy. However, their own thoughts and the influences of the place led them to desire baptism by immersion; and this being done, they considered it due to the Congregationalists, who had sent them out, to resign their claim on them for support, though this left them destitute. It was decided that Rice should go home and appeal for their support to the American Baptists, and in this he thoroughly succeeded, while the Judsons, after sailing for Mauritius, where they found poor Mrs. Newell recently dead, made their way back to Madras, and there found a vessel bound for Rangoon. It was a crazy old craft, with a Malay crew, no one but the captain able to speak a word of English. The voyage was full of disaster. A good European nurse, who had been engaged to go with Mrs. Judson, fell on the floor and died suddenly, even while the ship was getting under weigh, too late to supply her place. Mrs. Judson became dangerously ill, and the vessel was driven into a perilous strait between the Great and Little Andaman Islands, where the captain was not only out of his bearings, but believed that, if he were driven ashore, the whole ship's company would be eaten by the cannibal islanders. The alarm, however, acted as a tonic, and Mrs. Judson began to recover.
They reached Rangoon in safety, but Judson writes: "We had never before seen a place where European influence had not contributed to smooth and soften the rough features of uncultivated nature. The prospect of Rangoon, as we approached, was quite disheartening. I went on shore, just at night, to take a view of the place and the mission-house, but so dark and cheerless and unpromising did all things appear, that the evening of that day, after my return to the ship, we have marked as the most gloomy and distressing that we ever passed." The mission-house was not quite empty, though Felix Carey, who they had hoped would welcome them, was at Ava. When Mrs. Judson, still too weak to walk, was carried ashore, she was received by his wife, who could speak Burmese, and managed the household, providing daily dinners of fowls stewed with rice or with cucumber.
It was, however, a dismal place, near the spot where public executions took place, and where the dead were burnt outside the walls. And all around, among the beautiful vegetation and lovely forests on the banks of the broad Irrawaddy, rose the pagodas, graceful with the peculiar beauty of the far East, with gilded lacquer-work, umbrella-shaped roofs spiring upwards; huge idols with solemn contemplative faces within, and all around swarms of yellow-robed, fat, lazy lamas.
The new comers meantime applied themselves to the study of the language, after overcoming the disdain of their pundit at having to instruct a woman. He could not speak English, and had neither grammar nor dictionary, so that the difficulties were great; but the eager spirit of the students overcame all, and they ventured to remove into town and keep house themselves.
Mrs. Judson was taken to visit the wives of the Myowoon, or Viceroy of Rangoon, by a French lady who had been admitted before. On their first arrival the principal wife was not up, and the ladies waited, while the inferior wives examined all they wore, and tried on their gloves and bonnets; but when the great lady appeared, they all crouched together at a distance. She came in richly attired, and smoking a silver pipe, and sat down on a mat by Mrs. Judson, whom she viewed with much curiosity, asking if she were her husband's first wife. The Myowoon came in looking wild and savage, and carrying a huge spear in his hand; but he was very polite to Mrs. Judson, though he took very little notice of her husband.
In fact the government was violent and barbarous. There were perpetual murders and robberies, and these were punished by horrid executions, accompanied by torture; yet the Burmese regarded themselves as superior to all other nations, and were far from understanding how greatly they fell short even of the requirements of Buddhism.
Felix Carey, meantime, had been requested by the king to vaccinate the royal children; but he had to return to Calcutta to procure matter for the purpose. He then visited Rangoon on his way back, and prepared to carry up his family, property, and printing-press to Ava, with the hope of forming a fresh station there, under royal patronage; but after ten days' voyage, the vessel was capsized by a sudden storm, and all who could not swim were drowned. Felix tried to rescue his little son of three years old, but, finding himself sinking, he let the child go, and saved himself alone.
Everything in the vessel was lost; but the king gave him compensation for the property, and took him into high favour, sending him shortly after, to conduct some negotiations with the British Government. He appeared at Calcutta with the title and gorgeous dress of a Burmese noble, and showed himself in the streets with a train of fifty followers. Old Dr. Carey was seriously grieved at his thus "sinking from a missionary to an ambassador;" and he was by no means successful in this new line; in fact his negotiations turned out so ill, that on his return to Rangoon he was obliged to fly the country. The excitement of his life had made missionary labour distasteful to him, and, after strange wanderings in the wild lands eastward of Bengal, he became prime minister and generalissimo to a barbarous prince; and in that capacity led an army against his old friends, the Burmese, sustained a defeat, and was forced to wander in the jungle. After three years of this strange life, he fell in by chance at Chittagong with Mr. Ward, and was by him persuaded to return to the printing and philology, for which alone, like his father, he really was well qualified. He lived at Serampore till 1822, and then was carried off by the same sickly season that had proved fatal to Krishnu-pal, who had been baptized with him, and to Bishop Middleton.
Meantime, Mr. and Mrs. Judson were working steadily on, and were greatly cheered by the arrival of a much less barbarous viceroy, named Mya-day- men. They were invited, with all the Europeans, to a banquet at the new official's house, and Mrs. Judson was entertained by the wife, who questioned her eagerly, and asked if she knew how to dance in the English way; but was satisfied on hearing that the wives of priests did not dance. As Buddhist priests are celibate, Mrs. Judson must have been rather a puzzle to the good lady; and all this time the real work of the mission had not commenced, for the preliminary operation of acquiring the language had not been completed, and Judson was warned not to attempt preaching till he was familiar with it, by Dr. Carey having told him that after some years in Bengal, when he imagined himself to be freely able to use the language, he had found from the remark of a young man, that he was really not in the least understood. Private arguments with the teachers was all that could be attempted, and in these there seems to have been some forgetfulness of St. Paul's words, "Who art thou that judgest another? To his own master he standeth or falleth;" since there was a very free threatening that the souls of the pagans must be lost; to which the pundits replied with true Eastern calmness, "Our religion is good for us, yours for you." During this time of perseverance and preparation, Mrs. Judson's health became so much affected that she was forced to go to Madras. Heroine as she was, she would not consent to let her husband break up his work to accompany her; but the solitude of her absence fell on him most severely. She says, "He had no individual Christian with whom he could converse or unite in prayer during the six months of her absence;" but he worked on heartily, and she returned in perfect health.
In the spring of 1816, the death of their first-born child was a great shock to the father's health, which was already disordered; and he continued in a declining state all through the summer. The Myowoon's wife, whom Mrs. Judson conveniently calls the vice-reine, was very kind to them, and took them on elephant-back to visit her country-house. The way lay through the woods, between trees sometimes so thick that the elephants broke them down, at the mahout's word, to make way. Thirty men in red caps, with spears and guns, formed the guard; then came the vice- reine's elephant, with a gilded howdah, where the lady sat dressed in red and white silk; then the Judsons' animal, three or four more behind with grandees, and 300 or 400 attendants followed. At a beautiful garden, full of fruit trees, a feast was spread under a noble banyan, the vice- reine causing the cloth next to her to be allotted to her guests, whom she tended affectionately, gathering and paring fruit, cutting flowers and weaving them for them, and, unlike the Hindoos, freely eating what they handed her. This hospitable and amiable lady had just begun to ask Mrs. Judson the difference between the Christians' God and Gautama, when she was obliged to return to Ava.
For several months Mr. Judson's illness increased; but exercise on horseback did much to relieve him, and the comfort and encouragement of the arrival of a brother missionary, Mr. Hough, with his family, did more. He weathered the attack without leaving his post, and in 1817 made his first real step. A press had come out with Mr. Hough, and with it two little tracts, summarizing the chief truths of Christianity, were printed and distributed at Rangoon.
Shortly after, a respectable-looking Burmese, attended by a servant, walked into Mr. Judson's house, and sat down. Presently he inquired, "How long a time will it take me to learn the religion of JESUS?"
Mr. Judson answered, that where God gave light and wisdom, it was soon learnt; but without, a whole lifetime would not teach a man. "But how," he asked, "came the wish for this knowledge?"
"I have seen two little books."
"And who is JESUS?" said the missionary.
"He is the Son of GOD, who, pitying human creatures, came into this world and suffered death in their stead."
"Who is GOD?" continued Mr. Judson.
"He is a Being without beginning or end, who is not subject to old age or death, but always is."
Mr. Judson showed him the two little books, which he recognized, but begged for more. He did not attend much to what Judson tried to teach him by word of mouth, but begged for book. The Gospel of St. Matthew was in hand, but could not be finished for three months; and when he was told this "Have you not a little of that book done, which you will graciously give me now?" he asked. "And I," writes Judson, "beginning to think that God's time was better than man's, folded and gave him the two first half- sheets, which contain the first five chapters of St. Matthew, on which he instantly rose, as if his business was done, and took leave."
It was long before they saw him again; though many other persons began calling at the mission-house to inquire about what they called the new religion; but all were so much afraid of one another, that no one would ask any questions if a fellow-citizen were present. Mrs. Judson was also getting together from fifteen to twenty women every Sunday, whom she tried to instruct. One of them, like the Norseman of old, preferred casting in her lot with her forefathers to a heaven separated from them; and when Mrs. Judson told her they would reproach her with the rejection of the truth they had never known, and that she would regret her folly when it was too late, she answered, "If I do, I will cry out to you to be my intercessor." Another combined prayers to our Lord and Gautama.
The vice-reine came back from Ava, and continued to be very kind to Mrs. Judson, made her explain her doctrine, caused the little catechism to be taught to her daughter, and accepted a copy of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which was at length completed. This being finished, Mr. Judson, after four years' study of the language, believed himself able to undertake more public ministrations; but first went on a voyage to Chittagong, where he hoped to find, among the Christian converts of Burmese speech, one to assist him in communicating with the people.
Mrs. Judson remained with the Houghs, and had the pleasure of receiving the Burmese inquirer, whose long absence had been occasioned by his being appointed governor of some villages in Pegu. He said he was thinking and reading in order to become a believer. "But I cannot yet destroy my old mind, for, when I see a handsome patso, or a handsome gounboun, [f:130] I still desire it. Tell the great teacher, when he returns, that I wish to see him, though I am not a disciple of Christ." She gave him the rest of St. Matthew, and a tract to each of his attendants, and he promised that, if the great teacher would come and see him, he would collect his villagers to hear the new doctrine preached. There was something very attractive, meek, and unassuming about the man's whole appearance, and of him there was much hope; but, just about this time great anxiety fell on the mission party. The kindly Myowoon and his wife were removed, and immediately after a summons was sent to Mr. Hough to appear at the court- house of the city, with the intimation, "that, if he did not tell the whole truth they would write it in his blood." He was kept all Friday and Saturday answering, through an interpreter, foolish questions: who were his father and mother, how many suits of clothes he had, and the like; all which was formally written down. On the third day, Sunday, Mrs. Judson, resolving to ascertain whether this were really done by the command of the Myowoon, drew up a petition, which she carried herself. She was graciously received, and it presently appeared that an order had really been sent for the banishment of some Portuguese priests, and that the petty officials of the Court had taken advantage of it to harass Mr. Hough, in the hope of extracting a reward for his liberation.
At this time there was a terrible visitation of cholera, which the Burmese attributed to evil spirits, and accordingly attempted to drive away by force of noise. It was supposed that the evil spirits would take refuge in any house that was silent, and for three whole nights cannon were fired from the court-house, and every human creature used the utmost powers nature or art afforded for producing a din. The mission party were uninfected by the contagion, but it was a time of terrible anxiety, for nothing had been heard of Mr. Judson or his ship for months; there were reports of ill-feeling between the Burmese and British Governments, no arrivals of English at Rangoon, and no intelligence. Mrs. Judson's female classes had fallen off ever since Mr. Hough's summons, and the state of things was such, that the Houghs decided on removing to Bengal. Mrs. Judson, with her little girl, most reluctantly decided to accompany them, but, just as the vessel in which they sailed had gone down the river, she was ascertained not to be seaworthy; and, during this delay, Mrs. Judson's fears of her husband's finding her gone, if he ever returned to Rangoon, so increased, that she went back with her child to the house, and, brave woman as she was, took up her abode there with the native servants, trusting herself wholly to the protection of her God. She was rewarded by her husband's arrival, after an absence of nine months, caused by the captain of his ship having broken his engagement, and carried him on to Madras, where he had been detained all this time for want of a vessel to return in. The Houghs also came back, and two young men from America soon after came out, full of zeal and activity, but both fell ill very shortly afterwards, and the younger died, but his fellow, Mr. Colman, became a valuable assistant.
This era, the spring of 1819, was the first great step in the Burmese mission. Funds had been raised by the Baptist Society in America, which were applied to the erection of a zayat or public room, with walls of bamboo and a thatched roof. It had two rooms, one for a school for the women, another for the men, who gladly learnt to read and write from Mrs. Judson and a Burmese teacher. Here, too, Mr. Judson openly held prayers and preaching on Sunday, and these attracted many, some of whom would come in the week for private discussion.
The first real convert was a man of thirty-five, named Moung Nau, poor, but of excellent character, and so intelligent, that he became a useful assistant after his baptism, on the 27th of June, 1819. Others were inquiring, among whom the most interesting was Moung Shwaygnong, a schoolmaster or tutor by profession, at a village a little way from Rangoon, and already a philosopher, "half deist, half sceptic, the first of the sort I have seen among the Burmans" (our quotations are from Mr. Judson's journal), who, however, worshipped at the pagodas, and conformed to national observances. The second time he came the conversation seemed to have made "no impression on his proud sceptical heart, yet he promised to pray to the eternal God, through the Saviour." It appeared that, about eight years previously, it had come before him that there is indeed One Eternal God, and that this thought had been working in him ever since. A copy of Mr. Judson's tract which fell in his way chimed in with this primary belief, and next came the question of the Scripture revelation, which he argued over with much metaphysical power and acuteness, being a very powerful reasoner, and well trained in the literature of his own country. Meantime three simpler minds--Moung Thaahlah, Moung Byaay, and Moung Ing--had been thoroughly convinced, and, though aware that they would expose themselves to considerable danger, resolved to become Christians.
The Viceroy had remarked the zayat, and notice was taken that men were there led "to forsake the religion of the country." The alarm cleared the zayat of all the audience, and emptied Mrs. Judson's class of women, but Thaahlah [f:133] and Byaay sent in a letter, entreating to be admitted to baptism, and Ing would have followed their example, but that his trade as a fisherman carried him off to sea. They begged not to be baptized openly, as Nau had been, in a piece of water near the town and presided over by an image of Gautama; and Mr. Judson yielded so far, that he conducted the preliminary devotions in the zayat, and baptized them in the same pool two hours after dark. Shwaygnong had in the meantime taken alarm at being interrogated by the Government, had apologized, and apparently fallen away; but he could not keep aloof, and soon came back again. After a good deal of fencing and putting forth metaphysical cavils, he allowed that it was all for the sake of experiment, and declared that he really believed both in God and in the Atonement.
"Said I," writes Mr. Judson, "knowing his deistical weakness, do you believe all that is contained in the book of St. Matthew which I gave you? In particular, do you believe that the Son of God died on a cross?"
"Ah!" he replied, "you have caught me now. I believe that He suffered death, but I cannot admit that He suffered the shameful death of the cross."
"Therefore," said I, "you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the Book. His pride has yielded to Divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the Word of God."
He stopped and thought. "As you utter these words," said he, "I see my error. I have been trusting in my own reason, not in the Word of God."
Some interruption now occurred. When we were again alone, he said, "This day is different from all the days on which I have visited you. I see my error in trusting to my own reason, and I now believe the Crucifixion of Christ, because it is contained in the Scripture."
The profession of Christianity had become more perilous since the Judsons' arrival in Burmah. The old Emperor had died in 1819, and had been succeeded by his grandson, who was far more zealous for Buddhism than he had been, and who had appointed a viceroy at Rangoon, very minute in exacting observances--so much so, as to put forth an edict forbidding any person with hat, shoes, umbrella, or horse, to pass through the grounds belonging to the great pagoda, Shwaay Dagon, which extended half a mile from the building, and were crossed by all the chief roads. At the same time, he was new gilding the pagoda, a specially sacred one, as containing some bits of hair of Gautama.
It was plain that the mission had little chance of succeeding, unless some sanction could be obtained from royalty; and Mr. Judson therefore determined to go to Ava and petition the Emperor to grant him permission to teach at Rangoon. So he obtained a pass from the Viceroy "to go up to the golden feet, and lift up our eyes to the golden face," and hired a boat to take him and Mr. Colman, with ten oarsmen, a headman, a steersman, a washerman, and two cooks, of whom Moung Nau was one. They had invited Shwaygnong to accompany them, but he refused, though he appeared waving his hand to them on the bank as they pushed off from the land. They took with them, as the most appropriate present, a Bible, bound in six volumes, in gold leaf, intending to ask permission to translate it.
They arrived at Ava on the 28th of January, 1820, and beheld the gilded roofs of the pagodas and palace. Two English residents welcomed them, and Mya-day-men, the Viceroy who had been their friend at Rangoon, undertook to present them to the Emperor.
They were taken to the palace, and were explaining their wishes to the Prime Minister, Moung Zah, when it was announced that "the golden foot was about to advance," and he had to hasten to attend the Emperor. The dome whither the missionaries followed him was dazzling with splendour, very lofty, and supported on pillars entirely covered with gold, and forming long avenues, through one of which the Emperor advanced alone, with the proud gait and majesty of an Eastern monarch, with a gold-sheathed sword in his hand. Every one prostrated his forehead in the dust except the two Americans, who merely knelt with folded hands. He paused before them, and demanded who they were.
"The teachers, great king," replied Mr. Judson.
"What? You speak Burmese--the priests that I heard of last night? When did you arrive? Are you like the Portuguese priests? Are you married?" and so on, he asked; then placing himself on a high seat, with his hand on the hilt of his sword, he listened to the petition read aloud by Moung Zah. He then held out his hand for it; Moung Zah crawled forward and gave it; the Emperor read it through to himself, and held out his hand for the little tract which was handed to him in like manner. The hearts of the missionaries throbbed with hope and prayer; but, after reading the two first sentences, the Emperor threw it from him, and when the gift was presented would not notice it. The answer communicated through Moung Zah was: "In regard to the objects of your petition, his Majesty gives no order. In regard to your sacred books, his Majesty has no use for them; take them away." Something was said of Colman's skill in medicine; upon which the Emperor desired that both should be taken to the Portuguese priest, who acted as his physician, to ascertain whether they could be useful in that line, and then lay down on his cushions to listen to music.
They were taken two miles to the residence of the Portuguese, who of course perceived that they brought no wonderful secret of medicine, and then returned to their boat. They afterwards saw Moung Zah in private, and heard that the Burmese laws tolerated foreign religions, but that there was no security for natives who embraced them, and that it was an unpardonable offence even to propose it. The English collector went to the Emperor, but could obtain nothing from him but permission for them to return to Rangoon, where they might find some of their countrymen to teach. There was no actual prohibition against teaching Burmese subjects, but there was no security that the converts would not be persecuted; and the collector told them that fifteen years previously a Burmese teacher who had been converted by the Portuguese, and had even visited Rome, was denounced on his return by his nephew and commanded to recant. On his refusal, he was tortured with the iron mall--hammered, namely, from his feet upwards till he was all one livid wound as far as his breast, pronouncing the name of Christ at every blow. Some persons at last told the Emperor that he was a mere madman, on which he was spared, and the Portuguese contrived to send him away to Bengal, where he died. The nephew was high in the favour of the present Sovereign, who was besides far more attached than his grandfather had ever been to the Buddhist doctrine. Only four Portuguese clergy were in the country, and they confined themselves to ministrations to the descendants of the converts of the old Jesuit mission, instead of attempting to extend their Church. Nothing was to be done but to return to Rangoon, and for this a passport was necessary, the obtaining of which cost thirty dollars in presents. Mr. Judson was advised also to procure a royal order for personal protection, otherwise, when it became known that the royal patronage had been refused, he might be molested by ill-disposed persons; but finding that this would be exceedingly costly, he preferred "trusting in the Lord to keep us and our poor disciples."
It was encouraging that at Pyece, a place on the banks of the Irrawaddy, the missionaries met Shwaygnong, who had come thither to visit a sick friend, and came on board eagerly to know the result of their journey. They told him all, even of the good confession beneath the iron mall, and he seemed less affected and intimidated than they expected, though he had nearly made up his mind to cast in his lot with them. "If I die, I shall die in a good cause," he said. "I know it is the cause of truth." And then he repeated his actual faith: "I believe in the Eternal God, in His Son Jesus Christ, in the Atonement which Christ has made, and in the writings of the Apostles as the true and one Word of God." He also said he had never, since their last conversation, lifted up his folded hands before a pagoda, though on the day of worship, to avoid persecution, he would walk up one side of the building and down the other. To this Mr. Judson replied, "You may be a disciple of Christ in heart, but you are not a full disciple. You have not faith and resolution enough to keep all the commands of Christ, particularly that which commands you to be baptized though in the face of persecution and death. Consider the words of JESUS--'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.'"
He listened in profound silence, and with the manner with which he always received what he considered deeply; but there was still a long struggle to come, and many fluctuations, and the simpler minds were the stay and comfort of the missionaries, when on their return to Rangoon they considered what steps to take. Their first proposal was to move to a district between Bengal and Arracan, where were several Christian natives now destitute of a pastor, and where the language was very like Burmese, though the place was beyond the power of the Emperor, and to take their three baptized converts with them. Nau and Thaahlah were ready to follow them everywhere, but Byaay was married, and no Burmese woman was allowed to leave the country. He, with several others who were on the point of conversion, entreated the missionaries not to leave them, and Thaahlah made a remarkable speech. "Be it remembered," he said, "that this work is not yours or ours, but the work of God. If He give light, the religion will spread."
It was decided, according to the earnest wish of these poor people, that they should not be deserted till there were enough of them to form a congregation and have a teacher from among themselves set over them, and this--as the sect to which the Judsons belonged has no form of setting apart for the ministry--was all that they regarded as requisite. The Arracan converts were not, however, to be neglected, and Mr. Colman therefore was to go to Chittagong, and there establish a station, which might receive those from Rangoon in case it should become needful to leave the place. He was doing well there, when he died from an attack of fever.
The Judsons remained, and held their worship in the zayat on Sunday with the doors closed and only the initiated present; but it seemed as if the fear of losing their teachers quickened the zeal of the Christian converts in bringing their friends to inquire. Shwaygnong had long been unconsciously preparing the way by his philosophical instructions, going so much deeper than the popular Buddhism, and he brought several of his pupils, both male and female, telling them that "he had found the true wisdom;" but he still hung back. [f:137] Mr. Judson suspected him of wanting a companion of his own rank to keep him in countenance, and doubted whether it were fear of the world or pride of heart that kept him back; but he seems to have had a genuine battle with his own sceptical spirit, and the acceptance of such ordinances as the Baptists required was a difficulty to him. Four or five later converts were baptized before him, and at last he kept away from the mission for so long that Mr. Judson thought they had lost him; but when he reappeared it turned out that he had been ill with fever, and had had much sickness in his family, and had meantime fought out his mental conflict, and made up his mind to the full acceptance of Christianity at all risks.
He came again with five disciples, one of them a woman of fifty-one years old, named Mah-menlay, with her husband, all formally requesting baptism; but Mr. Judson was not sufficiently satisfied of the earnestness of any to receive them at once, excepting Shwaygnong himself, whom Mr. Judson kept till evening; and then, after reading the history of St. Philip's baptism of the Ethiopian, and praying, led him down to the water in the woods and baptized him, like others, in the pool, by the light of the stars in the tropical night. That same night Mah-menlay came back, entreating so earnestly for baptism, that she, too, was led down to the water and baptized. "Now," she said, "I have taken the oath of allegiance to JESUS CHRIST, and I have nothing to do but to commit myself, soul and body, to the hands of my Lord, assured that He will never suffer me to fall away."
This was the last thing before the Judsons embarked for Serampore, a journey necessitated by a severe attack of liver complaint, from which Mrs. Judson had long been suffering and their little girl had also died.
To these devoted people a visit to Calcutta was a change for the sake of health! On their return, after half a year's absence, the first thing they heard was that their kind friend Mya-day-men had come as Myowoon to Rangoon, and they were met on the wharf by all their disciples, led by Shwaygnong, in a state of rapture. They found that such as had lived in the yard of the mission had been subjected to a petty official persecution, which had made them fly to the woods; but that the good Mya- day-men had refused to hear an accusation brought against Moung Shwaygnong by the lamas and officials of the village, who had him before the tribunal, accusing him of trying "to turn the priest's rice-pot bottom upwards."
"What matters it," said the Myowoon; "let the priests turn it back again."
This was enough to ensure the safety of the Christians during his viceroyalty, though at first he paid little attention to Mr. Judson, being absorbed in grief for the death of his favourite daughter, one of the wives of the Emperor. She does not seem to have been the child of the amiable Vice-reine, or, as her title had now become, Woon-gyee-gaadaw, who had been promoted to the right of riding in a wau, a vehicle carried by forty or fifty men, but who had not forgotten Mrs. Judson, and received her affectionately.
There were now twenty-five disciples. Ing likewise joined them having returned from his voyage, and was shortly after baptized. Mah-menlay opened a school for little girls, and Shwaygnong was regularly engaged by Mr. Judson to revise his translation of the Epistle to the Ephesians and the first part of the Book of Acts, before they were printed. Another remarkable man came to study the subject, Moung Long, a philosopher of the most metaphysical kind, whose domestic conversations with his wife were reported to be of this description.--The wife would tell him, "The rice is ready."
"Rice! what is rice? Is it matter or spirit? Is it an idea or a nonentity?"
If she answered, "It is matter," he would reply, "And what is matter? Are you sure there is such a thing in existence, or are you merely subject to a delusion of the senses?"
Mr. Judson was struck with the expression of this man's one eye, which had "as great a quantity of being as half-a-dozen common eyes." After the first exposition of the Christian doctrine, the philosopher began with extreme suavity and politeness: "Your lordship says that in the beginning God created one man and one woman. I do not understand (I beg your lordship's pardon) what a man is, and why he is called a man."
Mr. Judson does not record his own line of argument, only that the Buddhist sceptic was foiled, and Shwaygnong, who had often argued with him, was delighted to see his old adversary posed. He came again and again, and so did his wife, the ablest woman whom Mrs. Judson had met, asking questions on the possibility of sin finding entrance to a pure mind, and they were soon promising catechumens; but in the midst of all this hopefulness, a season of cholera and fever set in, both the Judsons were taken ill at the same time, and could not even help one another, and the effect on Ann's health was such that, as the only means of saving her life, she was sent off at once to England, while her husband remained at his post quite alone, for Colman had died a martyr to the climate.
She was warmly welcomed by the Missionary Societies in London and Edinburgh, and thence returned to America, where her mother and sisters were still living to hail her return. Her narratives, backed by her natural sweetness, eloquence and beauty, had a great effect in stirring up the mission spirit among both her countrymen and countrywomen, and there was no lack of recruits willing to return with her and share her toil.
The account of Colman's devotion and death had had an especial effect upon a young girl named Sarah Hall, of Salem, Massachusetts, one of those natures that seem peculiarly gifted with poetic enthusiasm, yet able to stand the brunt of the severest test of practice. She was the daughter of one of those old-fashioned New England families, where a considerable amount of prosperity and a good deal of mental culture is compatible with much personal homely exertion. As the eldest of thirteen, Sarah had to work hard, but all the time she kept a prim little journal, recording, at an age when one is surprised to see her able to write at all, that her mother is too busy to let her go to school, and she must improve herself at home; and this she really did, for her notes, as she grew older, speak of studying Butler's Analogy, Paley's Evidences, logic, geometry, and Latin. Her library of poetry is said to have consisted only of Thomson's Castle of Indolence, and Macpherson's Ossian; but hymns must have filled her ear with the ring of rhyme, for she was continually versifying, sometimes passages of Scripture, sometimes Ossian, long before she was halfway through her teens. Very foolish, sing-song, emotional specimens they are, but notable as showing the bent of nature that forms itself into heroism. Her family were Baptists, and she was sixteen when the sense of religion came on her so strongly as to lead her to seek baptism. Remarkably enough, the thought of the ignorance of the heathen, and the desire to teach them, began to haunt her from that time, and is recorded in the last page of her childish journal, dated a month later than her baptism.
In fact, her zeal seems to have been pretty strong towards the persons around her. While staying at a friend's house, she found a pack of cards left by a young man on the table, and wrote on it the text beginning, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth," &c. Hearing that the owner was very curious to know the perpetrator, she wrote down this verse for him:
"And wouldst thou know what friend sincere Reminds thee of thy day of doom? Repress the wish, yet thou mayst hear She shed for thee a pitying tear, For thine are paths of gloom."
She also says that she had been for six weeks engaged, with the assistance of a gentleman, in working out proofs of the immortality of the soul, apart from those in Scripture. She had prayer-meetings for her young friends in her own room, and distributed tracts in the town, while still acting at home, as her mother's right hand, among her little brothers and sisters.
But her vocation she felt to be for missionary life. At one time she thought of joining a mission to the Red Indians, and her verses were full of the subject. Her ode on Colman's death expressed the feeling of her soul in the verse:
"The spirit of love from on high The hearts of the righteous hath fired; Lo! they come, and with transport they cry, 'We will go where our brother expired, And labour and die.'"
The words fall sadly short of the feeling,--a very real one, but the ode not only satisfied Sarah's critics and obtained circulation, but it fired the heart of George Dana Boardman, a young student at Waterville College, intended for the Baptist ministry; and he never rested till he had found out the authoress, met her, and asked her to be his partner in "labouring and dying," as Colman had done before them.
There was no illusion in her mind; she knew her task would be full of toil and suffering; but her feeling was the desire to devote her whole self to the work of the Redeemer, who had done so much for her. Mr. and Mrs. Hall were at first reluctant, but after a time heartily consented, and she was introduced to Mrs. Judson as a future companion in her toils. With very questionable taste, some of her friends insisted on her reading her own elegy on Colman, aloud, before a whole circle of friends that they might see Mrs. Judson listen to it. Blushes and refusals were of no avail; she was dragged out, and the paper thrust into her hand; she began, faltering, but as she proceeded the strong purpose of her soul inspired her, and she ended with firmness and enthusiasm--but was so overpowered that, without daring to look up and see that Mrs. Judson's eyes were overflowing, she crept away to hide in a corner the burning tears on her own cheeks. Twenty years after she spoke of it as one of the most painful moments of her life.
At first it had been proposed that Mr. Boardman and Sarah should accompany Mrs. Judson on her return, but it was thought better that he should spend a little more time on his studies, and Ann Judson therefore sailed in 1823, with Mr. and Mrs. Wade as her companions.
In the meantime Judson himself had been going on with his work at Rangoon, among many troubles.
Another accusation was drawn up by the lamas against Shwaygnong, and the Viceroy, on reading it, pronounced him worthy of death; but before he could be arrested, he took boat, came down to the mission-house with his family, obtained a supply of tracts and portions of Scripture, and then secretly fled up the river to a town named Shway-doung, where he began to argue and distribute the tracts. So little regular communication was there between different places in Burmah, that this could be done with comparative safety; but the accusation and his flight created so much alarm at Rangoon, that Mr. Judson had to shut up the zayat, and only assemble his converts in the mission-house. They suffered another loss in Moung Thaahlah, their second convert, who died of cholera, after nineteen hours' illness. He had seven months before married a young Christian woman, this being the first Burmese Christian wedding; and as he was a youth of much promise and good education, he was a serious loss to the mission. All this time Mr. Judson was alone, until the arrival of Jonathan Price, who had wisely qualified himself to act as a physician, and no sooner did a report of his skill reach Ava, than the King sent for him; and as he had no time to learn the language, Judson went with him as interpreter. Dr. Price says, "The King is a man of small stature, very straight, steps with a natural air of superiority, but has not the least appearance of it in conversation. He wears a red, finely-striped silk cloth from his waist to his knees, and a blue-and-white handkerchief on his head. He has apparently the good of his people as well as the glory of his kingdom at heart, and is encouraging foreign merchants, and especially artisans to settle in his capital. A watchmaker at this moment could obtain any favour he should please to ask."
As soon as the missionaries arrived, he sent for them and received them in an open court, where they were seated on a bamboo floor about ten feet from his chair. He took no notice of Judson, except as an interpreter, but interrogated Price as to his skill in surgery, sent for his medicines, looked at them and at his instrument, and was greatly amused with his galvanic battery; he then dismissed them with orders to choose a spot on which a house should be built for them, and to look up the diseased to try Price's skill upon.
Moung Zah, the former minister, recognized Judson kindly, and after a time the King took notice of him: "You in black, what are you, a medical man too?"
"Not a medical man, but a teacher of religion, your Majesty."
After a few questions about his religion the King proceeded to ask whether any Burmese had embraced it.
"Not here," diplomatically said Judson.
"Are there any in Rangoon?"
"There are a few."
"Are they foreigners?"
Mr. Judson says he trembled for the consequences of an answer, but the truth must be spoken at all risks, and he replied, "Some foreigners and some Burmese."
The King showed no displeasure, but asked questions on religion, geography, and astronomy, as though his temper was quite changed. His brother, a fine young man of twenty-eight, who suffered from paralysis, became a patient of Dr. Price, and had much conversation with Judson, showing great eagerness for instruction. He assured the missionaries that under the present reign there was no danger to the native Christians, and after a successful operation for cataract, performed by Dr. Price, the missionaries were so much in favour that while Price remained at Ava and there married a native lady, Judson was desired only to go back to Rangoon to meet his wife on her return, and bring her to reside at Ava.
Their good and tolerant friend, the Viceroy, was dead, and his successor was a severe and unjust man, so that the people had fled in numbers from the place, and few Christians remained except at Moung Shwaygnong's village. There was thus the less to leave, when in December 1823 Mrs. Judson safely arrived, and two fresh missionaries with her, to whom the flock at Rangoon could be left. There is a most happy letter written on the voyage up the Irrawaddy to Ava, when it seemed as though all the troubles and difficulties of four years had been smoothed away. The mission had been kindly welcomed at Ava, and established in the promised house, when the first of the English wars with Burmah broke out, on grounds on which it is needless to enter. It is enough to say that after many mutual offences, Sir Archibald Campbell, with a fleet and army, entered Rangoon, and occupied it without resistance, the Viceroy being absent at the time.
The Court of Ava were exceedingly amazed at the insolence of the foreigners. An army supposed to be irresistible was sent off, dancing and singing, in boats down the river, and all the fear was lest the alarm should drive away the white strangers with the "cock-feather chief" before there was time to catch any for slaves. A lady sent a commission for four to manage the affairs of her household, as she heard they were trustworthy; a courtier, for six to row his boat.
The capture of Rangoon was supposed by national pride to be wholly owing to the treachery of spies, and three English merchants were fixed upon as those spies and put under arrest. The King was advised likewise to secure the persons of the missionaries, but he answered, "They are quiet men; let them alone." Unfortunately, however, a receipt for some money paid to Adoniram Judson was found among the papers of one of the merchants, and this to the Burmese mind was proof of his complicity in the plot. Suddenly, an official, accompanied by a dozen men, one of whom had his face marked with spots, to denote his being an executioner, made his appearance demanding Mr. Judson. "You are called by the King," said the official, and at the same moment the executioner produced a cord, threw Mr. Judson on the floor, and tied his arms behind his back. His wife vainly offered money to have his arms unbound, and he was led away, the faithful Ing following at a distance to see what was done with him, while Mrs. Judson retired to her room and poured out her soul "to Him who for our sakes was bound and led away to execution," and great was her comfort even in that moment. She was immediately after summoned to be examined by a magistrate in the verandah, and after hastily destroying all journals and papers, went out to meet him. He took down her name and age, those of four little Burmese girls she had charge of, and of two Bengal servants; pronounced them all slaves to the King, and set a guard over them. Mrs. Judson fastened herself and her children into the inner room, while the guards threatened her savagely if she would not show herself, and even put her servants' feet in the stocks till she had obtained their release by promises of money.
Moung Ing had ascertained that his master was in prison; and when, after the most dreadful night she had ever spent, she sent him again in the morning, with a piece of silver to obtain admittance, he brought word that both Judson and Price, with the three English merchants, were in the death-prison, each wearing three pairs of iron fetters and fastened to a long pole. Mrs. Judson immediately sent to the governor of the city with an entreaty to be allowed to visit him with a present. This procured her a favourable reception, and he promised to make the condition of the prisoners more comfortable, but told her that she must consult his head writer as to the means. This man, a brutal-looking fellow, extorted from her a huge bribe, and then promised to release the two teachers from the pole, and to put them into another building where she might send them food daily, and pillows and mats to sleep on. She obtained an order for an interview with her husband, whose looks were so wretched and ghastly that she lost no time in fulfilling these exorbitant demands.
Her hope was in a petition to the Queen, but being under arrest herself, she could not go to the Queen in person, and had to approach her through her sister-in-law--a proud, haughty dame, who received her in the most cold, discouraging manner, but who undertook to present the petition. She then went to the prison again, but the head writer would not allow her to enter; and on her return home she found that all the property in the mission-house was to undergo a scrutiny; but this was humanely done, and was only inventoried, not seized--i.e. the King did not seize it, but the officials helped themselves to whatever took their fancy. The next day the Queen's answer was obtained--"He is not to be executed; let him remain where he is."
The poor lady's heart fainted within her, but she thought of the widow and the unjust judge, and persevered day after day in applying to every member of the royal family or of Government to entreat for her husband's liberation. The King's mother, sisters, and brother were all interested in his favour, but none of them ventured to apply direct to the King lest they should offend the favourite Queen. All failed, but the hopes that from time to time were excited, kept up the spirits of the sufferers. During the long weary months while the missionaries continued in fetters, i.e. chained by the feet to a bar of bamboo, Mrs. Judson was often not allowed to visit them for ten days at a time, and then only by walking to the prison after dark, two miles, unattended. She could, however, communicate with her husband by means of the provisions she sent him daily. At first she used to write on the dough of a flat cake, which she afterwards baked and concealed in a bowl of rice, while he answered by writing on a tile, where the inscription disappeared when dry but was visible when wet; but latterly they found it most convenient to write on a roll of paper hidden in the long nose of a coffee-pot, in which tea was sent to the prisoners.
Mrs. Judson delighted to send him little surprises, once a mince-pie, which Moung Ing carried with the utmost pride to his imprisoned master. Mrs. Judson found herself obliged to wear the native dress, though she was so much taller than the Burmese women that she could be hardly taken for one of them. It was a becoming dress; her hair was drawn into a knot on the forehead, with a cocoa-blossom, like a white plume, drooping from it; a saffron vest open in front to show a crimson tunic below; and a tight skirt of rich silk, sloping down behind, made her look to advantage, so that her husband liked to remember her as she stood at his prison door. She never was allowed to come further.
For twenty days she was absent, and then she came with a tiny, pale, wailing, blue-eyed baby on her breast. Poor Judson, clanking up to the door in his chains to welcome his little daughter, commemorated his feelings in some touching verses ending:--
"And when in future years Thou know'st thy father's tongue, These lines will show thee how he felt, How o'er his babe he sung."
Every defeat by the European forces added to the perils of captives. A favourite old general named Bundoolah had promised, when sent to command the army against Rangoon, that he would release all the white prisoners on his return as a conqueror; and when he was totally defeated, the wrath of the Burmese was so great that at this time the King himself seems to have scarcely acted at all. He was gentle, indolent and indifferent, more intelligent than those around him, scarcely a Buddhist in belief, and very kind-hearted: indeed Judson believed that it was his interposition alone that prevented the lives of the captives from being taken at once; but he was demoralized by self-indulgence, and allowed himself to be governed by his queen, the daughter of a superintendent of gaols; and through her, by her brother, who was cruel, rapacious and violent, and the chief author of all the sufferings inflicted on the prisoners. Among these were seven or eight British officers, and the King had commanded that a daily allowance of rice should be served to these, but scarcely half of it ever reached them; Mrs. Judson did her best to supply them as well as her husband, but their health gave way under their sufferings, and all died but one.
At the end of seven months, it was reported that the English army was advancing into the interior; and in the passionate alarm thus excited, the English captives were all loaded with five pairs of fetters and thrown into the common prison among Burman thieves and robbers,--a hundred in a room without a window, and that in the hottest season of the year. Mrs. Judson again besought the governor to relieve them from this horrible condition, by at least allowing them to sit outside the door, and he actually shed tears at her distress, but he told her that he had been commanded to put them all to death privately, and that he was doing his best for them by massing them with the rest. The Queen's brother had really given this order, but the governor delayed the execution in case they should be required of him by the King, and they continued in this frightful state for a whole month, until Mr. Judson sickened with violent fever, and the governor permitted him to be removed into a little bamboo room, six feet long and four wide, where his wife was allowed to visit him and bring him food and medicine, she meantime living in a bamboo house in the governor's compound, where the thermometer rose daily to 106 degrees, but where she thought herself happy as she saw her husband begin to recover.
One day, however, when the governor had sent for her and was kindly conversing with her, a servant came in and whispered to him that the white strangers had suddenly been taken away, no one knew whither. The governor pretended to be taken by surprise, but there could be no doubt that he had occupied Mrs. Judson to hinder her from witnessing the removal; and it was not till the evening that she learnt that the prisoners had been taken to Umerapoonah, whither she proceeded with her three months old baby and one servant. There she found that the prisoners had been sent on two hours before to a sort of penal settlement called Oung-pen-lay, whither she followed, to find her husband in a lamentable state. He had been dragged out of his little room, allowed no clothing but his shirt and trowsers, a rope had been tied round his waist, and he had been literally driven ten miles in the hottest part of the day. His feet were so lacerated that he was absolutely falling, when a servant of one of the merchants tore a piece from his turban, and this wrapped round his feet enabled him to proceed, but he could not stand for six weeks after; indeed the scars remained for life. In this state he lay chained to Dr. Price. The intention was to sacrifice them both, in order to obtain success for an intended expedition; but before this could be done, a different woongye, or prime minister, came in, and their condition was somewhat improved, for they only wore one bamboo, through two slits in which their feet were forced, and they were allowed to crawl into the enclosure. Meantime, a poor lion, once a great favourite, which was thought to be connected with the lions on the English colours, was placed in a bamboo cage in sight of the prisoners, and there starved to death, in hopes of thus abating the force of the enemy. When its carcase was removed, Mr. Judson, at his own earnest entreaty, was allowed the reversion of its cage, and there, to his great joy, Moung Ing brought him his MS. translation of part of the Burmese Bible, which he had kept in his pillow at Ava till it was torn away by the jailors on his removal. The faithful Ing, thinking only to secure a relic of his master, had picked up the pillow and secured the treasure.
Solitude was the greatest boon to Judson, whose fastidious delicacy suffered greatly in the thronged prison, but his faithful Ann was suffering terribly. One of the little Burmese girls who lived with her had caught the small-pox, and was very ill: Mrs. Judson inoculated the other child and her own little Maria, but Maria's inoculation did not take effect, and she caught the disease, and had it very severely. Then Mrs. Judson herself fell ill of a fever, and remained for two months unable to visit her husband, both of them owing all their food to the exertions of their good Bengalee cook. Poor little Maria was nearly starved, no milk was to be had, and the only food she obtained was when the jailers were bribed to let her father carry her round the village to beg a little nourishment from the nursing mothers. Her moans at night rent the heart of her sick mother, and it is scarcely possible to imagine how either survived. By this time, the English troops were so far advancing that the King was reduced to negotiate, and, being in need of an interpreter, he sent an order for Mr. Judson's release; but as his wife was not named in it, she had great difficulty in effecting her departure, and half-way through the journey a guard came down and carried him off to Ava without her. Arriving next day, she found him in prison, but under orders to embark in a little boat and go at once to the camp at Maloun. She hastened to prepare all that was needful for his comfort, but all was stolen except a mattress, pillow, and one blanket. The boat had no awning, and was so crowded that there was no room to lie down for the three days and three nights of alternate scorching heat and heavy dew; there was no food but a bag of refuse-rice, and the banks on either side of the Irrawaddy were bordered with glittering white sand, which in sunlight emitted a metallic glare intolerable to the eyes, and heat like a burning furnace. The fever returned upon Judson, and, when he reached Maloun, he was almost helpless; but he found himself lodged in a small bamboo hut in the middle of the white sand, where he could not admit air by rolling up the matting without letting in the distressing glare, and where the heat reflected from the sand was like a furnace. He could not stir when the officers came to summon him to the presence of the Burmese general, and they thought it stubbornness, and threatened him; then they brought him papers and commanded him to translate them, while he writhed in torture and only longed that the fever in his brain would deprive him of his senses. This it must have done, for he had only a confused impression of feet around him, and of fancying that he was going to be burnt alive, until he found himself on a bed in a somewhat cooler room. As he lay there, papers were continually brought him to explain and translate, and he found that the greatest difficulty was in making the Burmese understand that a State paper could mean what it said, or that truth and honesty were possible. Sometimes, as he tried to explain the commonest principle: of good faith and fair dealing among Christian nations, his auditors would exclaim, "That is noble," "That is as it should be;" but then they would shake their heads and say, "The teacher dreams; he has a heavenly spirit, and so he thinks himself in the land of the dwellers in heaven."
He remained here six weeks, suffering much at night from cold, for his only covering was a small rug and his well-worn blanket. Then, on the advance of the English, he was sent back to Ava, but was marched straight to the court-house without being suffered to halt for a moment at his own abode, to discover whether his wife was there. He was placed in a shed, guarded all day, and left without food, till Moung Ing found him out in the evening, and replied to his questions, that the Mamma Judson and the child were well; yet there was something about his manner that was unsatisfactory, and Judson, thinking it over, became terribly uneasy, and in the morning, being sent for by the governor of the jail, obtained permission to go to his own house.
At the door he saw a fat, half-naked Burmese woman with a child in her arms, so dark with dirt that it never occurred to him that it could be his own; and entering, he found, lying across the foot of the bed, his wife, ghastly white and emaciated, her hair all cut away, and her whole appearance that of a corpse. She woke as he knelt down by her in despair! She had been ill all this time with a horrible spotted fever. The day she had fallen ill, the Burmese woman had offered to take charge of little Maria, and the Bengalee cook had attended on her. Dr. Price was released from prison and had cut off her hair, bled, and blistered her, but she could hardly move when the tidings came of her husband being in the town, and she had sent Moung Ing to him. The husband and wife were at last together again, and Dr. Price was sent to conduct the treaty at the English camp.
As soon as Sir Archibald Campbell heard of the sufferings of the Judsons, he demanded them as well as the English subjects; but the King was aware that they were not English, and would not let them go. This attempt at a treaty failed; but its failure, and the alarm consequent upon a report of the advance of the English, led to Mr. Judson's being sent off, almost by force, with two officials, to promise a ransom if Ava were spared. Sir Archibald Campbell undertook that the city should not be attacked, provided his terms were complied with before he reached it; and among these was the stipulation that not only English subjects, but all foreigners should have free choice whether to go or to stay. Some of the officials tried to persuade Mr. Judson to stay, declaring that he would become a great man, but he could not refuse the freedom offered him after such cruel sufferings, and he was wont to declare that the joy of finding himself floating down the Irrawaddy in a boat with his wife and baby, made up for their twenty-one months of peril and misery.
They were received with courtesy, and indeed with gratitude, respect, and veneration at the English camp. The Englishmen who had been in captivity bore witness to the kindness with which Mrs. Judson had relieved their wants, as well as those of her husband: how she had brought them food, mended their clothes, obtained new ones, and, as they believed, by her arguments and appeals to the ignorant and barbarous Government, had not only saved their lives, but convinced the authorities of the necessity of accepting the British terms of peace.
These terms included the cession of a large portion of the Burmese territory; and this it was that decided the missionaries to leave Ava; for the state of exasperation and intolerance into which this brought the Court, made it vain to think of continuing to give instruction where they would be regarded with enmity and suspicion. Meantime, the officers in the English camp, who had not seen a lady for nearly two years, could not make enough of the graceful, gentle woman, so pale and fragile, yet such a dauntless heroine, and always ready to exert herself beyond her strength for every sufferer who came in her way.
There was a curious scene at a dinner given to the Burmese commissioners, in a magnificent tent, with all the military pomp the camp could furnish. When Sir Archibald appeared with Mrs. Judson on his arm, and seated her by his side, there was such a look of discomfiture on the faces of the guests, that he asked her if they were not old acquaintance who had treated her ill. "That fellow with the pointed beard," he said, "seems taken with an ague fit." Then Mrs. Judson told how, when her husband lay in a burning fever with the five pairs of fetters, she had walked several miles with a petition to this man, had been kept waiting till the noontide sun was at its height, and not only was she refused, but as she departed her silk umbrella was torn out of her hand by his greediness; and when she begged at least to let her have a paper one to go home with, the officer only laughed at her, and told her that she was too thin to be in danger of a sunstroke! The English gentlemen could not restrain their countenances at least from expressing their indignation; and the Burmese, who thought she was asking for their heads, or to have them laid out in the sun with weights upon their chests, were yellow with fright, and trembled visibly. Mrs. Judson kindly turned to them with a smile, assuring them that they had nothing to fear, and, on repeating her words to Sir Archibald Campbell, he confirmed them to the frightened barbarians.
That visit to the English camp was one of the few spaces of comfort or repose in those busy lives. It concluded by the husband and wife being forwarded to their old home at Rangoon.
It was in the height of the war, when anxieties for the fate of Mr. and Mrs. Judson were at the utmost, that, on the 4th of July, 1825, George Boardman and Sarah Hall were married, and sailed for Calcutta, thinking it possible that they might find their predecessors martyred, and that they were coming "to step where their comrades stood."
At Calcutta they found Mr. and Mrs. Wade, who had with great difficulty escaped, and soon after they heard of the rescue of the Judsons, and welcomed Dr. Price. Rangoon, in the meantime, had been occupied by the English, and then besieged by the Peguans; the mission-house was ruined, and the people dispersed, and Moung Shwaygnong had died of cholera, faithful to the last. The city was to be restored to the Burmese, and the King, though willing to employ Judson politically, refused toleration to his subjects; so that, as the provinces on the Martaban river were to be ceded to the English, it seemed wise to take advantage of the reputation which the Judsons had established to found a mission-station under their protection in the new town of Amherst, which Sir Archibald Campbell proposed to build on the banks of the Martaban river.
Hither was transported the old zayat of Rangoon; and Mount Ing, Moung Shwaba, and a few other of the flock accompanied their teachers, to form the nucleus of the mission. Sir Archibald Campbell had made a great point of Mr. Judson's accompanying the English embassy that was to conclude the treaty at Ava; and he, hoping to obtain something for the Christian cause, complied, leaving that most brave and patient woman, his wife, with her little delicate girl, in a temporary house in Amherst, which, as yet, consisted only of barracks, officers' houses, and fifty native huts by the riverside in the space of freshly-cleared jungle. There she set to work with energy that enfeebled health could not daunt, to prepare the way for the Wades and the Boardmans, to superintend a little school, of which Moung Ing was master, and to have a house built for her husband.
She had just moved into it, when she was attacked with remittent fever, and, though attended by an English army surgeon and nursed by a soldier's wife, she sank under it, and died on the 24th of October, 1826. She was buried under a hopia, or, as her friends loved to call it, a hope tree; and the Wades, coming shortly after, took charge of poor little Maria, who lived to be embraced by her father, on his arrival after three months' absence; but she continued to pine away, and only survived her mother six months.
Judson endured patiently, thought of his wife's sufferings as gems in her crown, wrote cheerful letters, and toiled indefatigably, without breaking down, but he was never the same man again. Amherst was probably unhealthy, for several of the Rangoon converts died there, among them one of the little Burmese girls who had been with Mrs. Judson throughout her troubles. Those who died almost always spoke with joy of their hope of seeing Mamma Judson in heaven. "But first," said one woman, "I shall fall down before the Saviour's feet, and thank Him for sending us our teachers."
It was shortly before little Maria's death that Mr. and Mrs. Boardman arrived, bringing with them a daughter born at Calcutta. Moulmein, the town near at hand, was decided on as their station, and they removed to a mission-house on the border of the jungle, about a mile from the cantonments, with a beautiful range of hills behind them, and the river in front. Opposite lay the Burman province of Martaban, which had been desolated during the war, and was now the haunt of terrible Malay pirates, who came and robbed in the town, and then fled securely to the opposite bank, where they could not be pursued. The English officers had entreated the Boardmans to reside within the cantonments, but they wished to be among the people, so as to learn the language more readily and become acquainted with them.
One night, Mrs. Boardman awoke and found the lamp gone out. She rose and re-lighted it. Every box and drawer lay overthrown and rifled, nothing left but what the thieves deemed not worth taking. She turned round to the mosquito curtain which concealed her husband; it was cut by two long gashes, the one close to his head, the other to his feet. There the robber-sentry must have kept watch, ready to destroy the sleepers if they had wakened for a moment! Nearly every valuable had been carried away, and not a trace of any was ever found. After this, Sir Archibald Campbell gave them a Sepoy guard; and, as population increased, the danger diminished. Indeed, Amherst proved an unsuccessful attempt, and was gradually abandoned in favour of Moulmein, which became the head-quarters both of Government and of the Mission.
The Boardmans were specially devoted to that, because of the work which regarded the Karens. These were a wandering race who occupied a strip of jungle, a hilly country to the south of Burmah, living chiefly by hunting and fishing, making canoes, and clothed in cotton cloth. They had very scanty ideas either of religion or civilization, but were not idolaters, and had a good many of what Judson calls the gentler virtues of savages, though their habits were lazy and dirty. They had been a good deal misused by the Burmese, but occasionally wandered into the cities; and there Judson had asked questions about them which had roused the interest of his Burman converts. During the war, one of these Burmese found a poor Karen, named Ko-Thah-byoo, in bondage for debt, paid the amount, made him his own servant, and, on the removal to Moulmein, brought him thither. He proved susceptible of instruction, and full of energy and zeal; and not only embraced Christianity heartily himself, but introduced it to his tribe, and assisted the missionaries in acquiring the language.
To be nearer to these people, the Boardmans removed to Tavoy, where they had a Burmese congregation; and Mr. Boardman made an expedition among the Karens, who were, for the most part, by no means unwilling to listen, and with little tradition to pre-occupy their minds, as well as intelligence enough to receive new ideas. At one place, the people were found devoted to an object that was thought to have magic power, and which they kept with great veneration, wrapt up in many coverings. It proved to be an English Common Prayer Book, printed at Oxford, which had been left behind by a Mahometan traveller. On the whole, this has been a flourishing mission; the Karens were delighted to have their language reduced to writing, and the influence of their teachers began to raise them in the scale; but all was done under the terrible drawback of climate. Mrs. Boardman never was well from the time she landed at Moulmein, and her beautiful flower-covered house at Tavoy was the constant haunt of sickness, under which her elder child, Sarah, died, after showing all that precocity that white children often do in these fatal regions. A little boy named George had by this time been born, and shared with his mother the dangers of the Tavoy rebellion, an insurrection stirred up by a prince of the Burmese royal blood, in hopes of wresting the province from the English.
One night, a Burmese lad belonging to the school close to the Boardmans' house, was awakened by steps; and, peeping through the braided bamboo walls of his hut, saw parties of men talking in an undertone about lost buffaloes. Some went into the town, others gathered about the gate, and, when their numbers began to thicken, a cloud of smoke was seen in the morning dawn, and yells from a thousand voices proclaimed, "Tavoy has risen!"
Boardman awoke and rushed out to the door, but a friendly voice told him that no harm was intended him. The revolt was against the English, and never was a movement more perilous. The commandant, Colonel Burney, was absent at Moulmein, the English officer next in command was ill of a fatal disease, the gunner was ill, and the whole defence of a long, straggling city was in the hands of a hundred Sepoys, commanded by a very young surgeon, assisted by Mrs. Burney, who had a babe of three weeks old. The chief of the fight was at the powder magazine, not very far from the Boardmans' abode. It was attacked by two hundred men with clubs, knives, spears, but happily with very few muskets, and defended by only six Sepoys, who showed great readiness and faithfulness. Just as their bullets seemed to be likely to endanger the frightened little family, a savage-looking troop of natives were seen consulting, with threatening gestures aimed at the mission-house, and Mr. Boardman, fully expecting to be massacred, made his wife and her baby hide in a little shed, crouching to escape the bullets; but this alarm passed off, and, at the end of an hour, the whole of the gates had been regained by the Sepoys, and the attack on the magazine repulsed. Mr. Boardman took this opportunity of carrying his family to the Government house, where they were warmly welcomed by Mrs. Burney; but it was impossible to continue the defence of so large an extent as the town occupied, and therefore the tiny garrison decided on retiring to a large wooden building on the wharf, whither the Sepoys conveyed three cannon and as much powder as they expected to want, throwing the rest down wells. This was not done without constant skirmishing, and was not completed till three o'clock, when the refugees were collected,--namely, a hundred Sepoys, with their wives and children, stripped of all their ornaments, which they had buried; some Hindoo and Burmese servants; a few Portuguese traders; a wily old Mussulman; Mrs. Boardman and Mrs. Burney, each with her baby; and seven Englishmen besides Mr. Boardman. Among them rode the ghastly figure of the sick officer, who had been taken from his bed, but who hoped to encourage his men by appearing on horseback; but his almost orange skin, wasted form, sunken eyes, and perfect helplessness, were to Mrs. Boardman even more terrible than the yells of the insurgents around and the shots of their scanty escort.
Three hundred persons were crowded together in the wooden shed, roofed over, and supported on posts above the water, with no partitions. The situation was miserable enough, but they trusted that the enemy, being only armed with spears, could not reach them. By and by, however, the report of a cannon dismayed them. The jingals, or small field-pieces, were brought up, but not till evening; and the inexperienced rebels took such bad aim that all the balls passed over the wharf into the sea, and the dense darkness put a stop to the attempt; but all night the trembling inmates were awakened by savage yells; and a Sepoy, detecting a spark of light through the chinks of the floor, fired, and killed an enemy who had come beneath in a boat to set fire to the frail shelter!
In the morning the firing from the walls was renewed, but at long intervals, for there was a great scarcity of powder, though the unhappy besieged apprehended every moment that the right direction would be hit upon, and then that the balls would be among them. They could send nowhere for help, though there was a Chinese junk within their reach, for it could not put to sea under the fire of the rebels; and two more days, and two still more terrible nights, passed in what must have been almost a black hole. The fifth night was the worst of all, for the town was set on fire around, and by the light of the flames the enemy made a furious attack; but just in time to prevent the fire from attaining the frail wooden structure, a providential storm quenched it, and the muskets of the Sepoys again repulsed the enemy. By this time the provisions were all but exhausted, and there were few among even the defenders who were not seriously ill from the alternate burning sun and drenching rain. Death seemed hovering over the devoted wharf from every quarter; when at last, soon after sunrise on the fifth day, the young doctor quietly beckoned the Colonel's wife to the door that opened upon the sea, and pointed to the horizon, where a little cloudy thread of smoke was rising.
It was the steamer bringing Colonel Burney back, in perfect ignorance of the peril of Tavoy and of his wife! But he understood all at a glance. The women and children were instantly transferred to the steamer, and she was sent back to Moulmein, but Colonel Burney and the few men who came with him landed, and restored courage and spirit to the besieged. Not only was a breastwork thrown up to protect the wharf, but the Colonel led a trusty little band of Sepoys to the wall where the cannon stood, recaptured them, and had absolutely regained Tavoy before the tidings of the insurrection had reached Moulmein. Mrs. Burney's babe died soon after the steamer had brought the two mothers and their infants to their refuge; but little George Boardman did not suffer any ill effects from these dreadful days and nights, and was, in fact, the only child of his patents who outlived infancy. Another son, born a few months afterwards, soon ended a feeble existence, and Mrs. Boardman was ill for many months. Her husband, delicate from the first, never entirely recovered the sufferings at the wharf; yet in spite of an affection of the lungs, he would often walk twenty miles a day through the Karen villages, teaching and preaching, and at night have no food but rice, and sleep on a mat on the floor of an open zayat.
The Moulmein station was a comparative rest, and the husband and wife removed thither to supply the place of Judson and of the Wades, who were making another attempt upon Burmah Proper; the Wades taking up their residence at Rangoon, and Judson going on to Prome, the ancient capital, where he preached in the zayats, distributed tracts, and argued with the teachers in his old fashion; but the Ava Government had become far more suspicious, and interfered as soon as he began to make anything like progress, requesting the English officer now in residence at the Court to remonstrate with him, and desire him not to proceed further than Rangoon. He was obliged to yield, and again to float down the river in his little boat, baffled, but patient and hopeful.
A great change had come upon the bright, enthusiastic, lively young man who had set out, with his beautiful Ann, to explore the unknown Eastern world. Suffering of body had not altered him so much as bereavement, and bereavement without rest in which to face and recover the shock. A strong ascetic spirit was growing on him. Already on his first return to Moulmein, after joining in the embassy, he had thought it right to cut short the ordinary intercourse of society, to which his residence in the camp had given rise, and had announced his intention in a letter to Sir Archibald Campbell. He was much regretted, for he was a particularly agreeable man; and it is evident, both from all testimony and from the lively tone of his letters, that he was full of good-natured sympathy, and, however sad at heart, was a cheerful and even merry companion.
But through these years, throughout constant care and unrelaxed activity of mind and body, his heart was aching for the wife he had no time to mourn; and the agony thus suppressed led to an utter loathing for all that he thought held him back from perfect likeness to the glorified Saint whom he loved. He took delight in the most spiritual mystical writings he could find,--a Kempis, Madame Guyon, Fenelon, and the like,--and endeavoured to fulfil the Gospel measure of holiness. He gave up his whole patrimony to the American Baptist Mission Board (now separate from England and Serampore), mortified to the very utmost his fastidious delicacy by ministering to the most loathsome diseases; and to crush his love of honour, he burnt a letter of thanks for his services from the Governor-General of India, and other documents of the same kind. He fasted severely, and having by nature a peculiar horror of the decay and mouldering of death, he deemed it pride and self-love, and dug a grave beside which he would sit meditating on the appearance of the body after death. He had a bamboo hermitage on the borders of the jungle, where he would live on rice for weeks together--only holding converse with those who came to him for religious instruction; and once, when worn out with his work of translation, he went far into the depths of the wildest jungle, near a deserted pagoda, and there sat down to read, pray, and meditate. The next day, on returning to the spot, he found a seat of bamboo, and the branches woven together for a shelter. Judson never learnt whose work this was, but it was done by a loving disciple, who had overcome the fear of tigers to provide by night for his comfort, though the place was thought so dangerous that his safety, during the forty days that he haunted it, was viewed by the natives as a miracle. He spent several months in retirement. It was indeed four years after his bereavement, but it is plain that he was taking the needful rest and calm that his whole nature required after the shock that he had undergone, but which he had in a manner deferred until the numbers of workers were so increased that his constant labour could be dispensed with. He came forth from his retirement renovated in spirit, for the second period of his toils.
Meantime, the Boardmans had returned to Tavoy, where they were eagerly welcomed by their Karen flock, and found many candidates for baptism. Weak as he was, Mr. Boardman examined them. He was sometimes able to sit up in his chair and speak for himself, but oftener so weak that his wife sat on his couch and interpreted his feeble whispers; but he was so happy that tears of joy often filled his eyes. The actual baptism, performed by going down into the water like Philip with the Ethiopian, could hardly have been carried out by a man in his state; but Moung Ing, who had been admitted to the pastorate, touched at Moulmein, on a mission to Mergui, and undertook the baptisms. The Karens carried Mr. Boardman to the water in his cot, along a street filled with lamaseries, whence the yellow-clothed priests looked down in scorn, and the common people hooted and reviled: "See! see your teacher, a living man borne as if he were already dead!" with still worse unfeeling taunts. The Christians, about fifty in number, reached the spot, a beautiful lake, nearly a mile in circumference, and bordered by green grass overshadowed by trees. There they all knelt down and prayed, and then Moung Ing baptized the nineteen new disciples, while the pastor lay pale and happy, and his wife watched him with her heart full of the last baptism, when it had been he who poured the water and spoke the words.
Mr. Boardman lived on into the year 1831, and welcomed a new arrival from America, Francis Mason and his wife, on the 23rd of January, and a week later set out to introduce the former to the Karens, a band of whom had come down to convey the party. Mr. Boardman was carried on his bed, his wife in a chair, and on the third day they reached a spot where the Karens, of their own accord, had erected a bamboo chapel beside a beautiful stream beneath a range of mountains. Nearly a hundred had assembled there, of whom half were candidates for baptism. They cooked, ate, and slept in the open air, but they had made a small shed for Mr. Mason, and another for the Boardmans, too small to stand upright in, and so ill-enclosed as to be exposed to sun by day and cold air by night.
The sufferer rapidly became worse, but he had an ardent desire to see this last baptism, and all the thirty-four women, who were sufficiently prepared, were baptized in his sight, though he was so spent as scarcely to be able to breathe without the fan and smelling-bottle. In the evening he contrived to speak a few words of exhortation to the disciples, and to give them each a tract or a portion of Scripture. The next morning the party set out on their return, but in the afternoon were overtaken by a great storm of thunder and lightning, with rain that drenched his mattress and pillows; and when they reached a house, they found it belonged to heathens, who would scarcely let the strange teacher lie in the verandah.
His cot was so wet that he was forced to lie on the bamboo floor, and the rain continued all night. A boat was expected at twelve the next day, and it was resolved to wait for this, while the Tavoyans looked grimly on, and refused even to sell a chicken to make broth for the sick man. By nine o'clock he was evidently dying, and the Karens rubbed his hands and feet as they grew cold. Almost immediately after being conveyed to the boat, the last struggles came on, and in a few minutes he had passed away. He was buried at Tavoy, beside his little Sarah; all the Europeans in the town attending, as well as a grateful multitude of Burmese and Karens.
"The tree to which the frail creeper clung Still lifts its stately head, But he, on whom my spirit hung, Is sleeping with the dead,"
wrote Sarah Boardman; and her first thought was of course to go home with her child, but the Masons had not learnt the languages, and had no experience, and, without her, there would be no schools, no possibility of instruction for the converts of either people until they could speak freely, and she therefore resolved not to desert her work. She was keeping school, attending to all comers, and interpreting from sunrise till ten o'clock at night, besides having the care of her little boy, and her schools were so good that, when the British Government established some, orders were given for conducting them on the same system.
She tried to learn Karen, but never had time, and it was the less needful that a little Burmese was known to some Karens, and thus she could always have an interpreter. She sometimes made mission tours to keep up the spirit of the Karens till Mr. Mason should be qualified to come among them. Her little George was carried by her attendants, and there is a note to Mrs. Mason, sent back from one of the stages of her journey, which shows what her travels must have been: "Perhaps you had better send the chair, as it is convenient to be carried over the streams when they are deep. You will laugh when I tell you that I have forded all the smaller ones." But there is scarcely any record of these journeys of hers, she was too modest and shy to dwell on what only related to herself; and though she several times, with the help of her Burmese interpreter, led the devotions of two or three hundred Karens, it was always with a sense of reluctance, and only under necessity.
She had been a widow four years, when Adoniram Judson, who had returned from Rangoon, and was about to take charge of the station at Moulmein, made her his second wife, on the 10th of April, 1834. At the same time, an opportunity offered of sending little George back to America for education; but year after year filled the house at Moulmein with other little ones,--careful comforts, in that fatal climate, which had begun to tell on the health of both the parents. Pain and sorrow went for little with this devoted pair. To be as holy as the Apostles though without their power, was the endeavour which Judson set before himself, and the work of such a man was one of spirit that drew all to hear and follow him. The Burmese converts were numbered by hundreds, and one of the missionaries in the Karen country could write: "I no longer date from a heathen land. Heathenism has fled from these banks; I eat the rice and fruits cultivated by Christian hands, look on the fields of Christians, see no dwellings but those of Christian families. I am seated in the midst of a Christian village, surrounded by a people that live as Christians, converse as Christians, act as Christians, and, to my eyes, look like Christians."
All this, like every other popular conversion, involved many individual disappointments from persons not keeping up to the Christian standard, and from coolness setting in when the excitement of the change was over; and great attention had to be paid to rules, discipline, &c., as well as to providing books and schools. Judson himself had to work hard at the completion and correction of the Burmese Bible, to which he devoted himself, the more entirely because an affection of the throat and cough came on, and for some time prevented him from preaching. In 1839, he tried to alleviate it by a voyage to Calcutta, where he was received by both Bishop Wilson and by the Marshman family at Serampore; but, as he observes, "the glory of Serampore had departed," and his stay there must have been full of sad associations. His work upon the Scriptures was finished in 1840, and he then began a complete Burmese dictionary, while his wife was translating the Pilgrim's Progress; but both were completely shattered in health, and their children, four in number, had all been brought low by the hooping cough, and then by other complaints. A voyage to Calcutta was imperatively enjoined on all; but it was stormy and full of suffering, and soon after they arrived at Serampore their youngest child, little Henry, died. A still further voyage was thought advisable, and the whole family went as far as the Isle of France, where they recovered some measure of health, and their toil at Moulmein was resumed. Four more years passed, three more children were born, and then the strength that had been for nineteen years so severely tried, gave way, and the doctors pronounced that Sarah Judson's life could only be saved by a voyage to America. The three elder children were to go with her, but the three little ones were to remain, since their father only intended to go as far as the Isle of France, and then return to his labour. The last words she ever wrote were pencilled on a slip of paper, intended to be given to him to comfort him at their farewell:--
"We part on this green islet, love: Thou for the Eastern main, I for the setting sun, love; Oh! when to meet again?
My heart is sad for thee, love, For lone thy way will be; And oft thy tears will fall, love, For thy children and for me.
The music of thy daughter's voice Thou'lt miss for many a year, And the merry shout of thine elder boys Thou'lt list in vain to hear.
Yet my spirit clings to thine, love, Thy soul remains with me, And oft we'll hold communion sweet O'er the dark and distant sea.
And who can paint our mutual joy When, all our wanderings o'er, We both shall clasp our infants three At home on Burmah's shore?
But higher shall our raptures glow On yon celestial plain, When the loved and parted here below Meet, ne'er to part again.
Then gird thine armour on, love, Nor faint thou by the way Till Boodh shall fall, and Burmah's sons Shall own Messiah's sway."
What a trumpet-note for a soldier to leave after nineteen years service "through peril, toil, and pain," undaunted to the last! For by the time the ship left the Isle of France, she was fading so rapidly that her husband could not quit her, and sailed on with her to St. Helena. She was fast dying, but so composed about her children, that some one observed that she seemed to have forgotten the three babes. "Can a mother forget?" was all her answer. She died on board the ship, at anchor in the bay of St. Helena, and was carried to the burial-ground, where all the colonial clergy in the island attended, and she was laid beside Mrs. Chater, the wife of that Serampore missionary whose expulsion had led to the first pioneering at Rangoon, and who had since worked in Ceylon. She was just forty-two, and died September 1st, 1845.
Her husband found her beautiful farewell; and, as he copied it out, he wrote after the last verse, "Gird thine armour on," "And so, God willing, I will yet endeavour to do; and while her prostrate form finds repose on the rock of the ocean, and her sanctified spirit enjoys sweeter repose on the bosom of JESUS, let me continue to toil on all my appointed time, until my change too shall come."
On the evening of the day of her burial, he sailed with the three children, and arrived at Boston on the 15th of October, 1845. He remained in his native country only nine months, and, if a universal welcome could have delighted him, he received it to the utmost. So little did he know of his own fame, that, returning after thirty years, he had been in pain to know where to procure a night's lodging at Boston, whereas he found half the city ready to compete for the honour of receiving him, and every one wanted to meet him. Places of worship where he was to preach were thronged, and every public meeting where he was expected to speak was fully attended; but all this fervour of welcome was a distress to him, his affection of the throat made oratory painful and often impossible, and the mere going silently to an evening assembly so excited his nerves that he could not sleep for the whole night after. Any sort of display was misery to him; he could not bear to sit still and hear the usual laudation of his achievements; and, when distinguished and excellent men were introduced to him, he received them with chilling shyness and coldness, too humble to believe that it was for his goodness and greatness that they sought to know him, but fancying it was out of mere curiosity.
His whole desire was to get back to his work and escape from American notoriety, and, disregarding all representations that longer residence in the north might confirm his health, he intended to seize the first opportunity of returning to Moulmein. But a wife was almost a necessity both to himself and his mission, and even now, at his mature age and broken health, he was able to win a woman of qualities almost if not quite equal to those of the Ann and Sarah who had gone before her.
Emily Chubbuck, born in 1817, was the daughter of parents of the Baptist persuasion, living in the State of New York. She was the fifth child of a large family in such poor circumstances that, when she was only eleven years old, she was sent to work at a woollen factory, where her recollections were only of "noise and filth, bleeding hands and aching feet, and a very sad heart;" but happily for her, the frost stopped the works during the winter months, and she was able to go to school; and, after two years, the family removed to a country farm. They were all very delicate, and her elder sisters were one after the other slowly dying of decline. This, with their "conversions" and baptisms, deepened Emily's longing to give the tokens required by her sect for Christian membership, but they came slowly and tardily with her, and she quaintly told how one day she was addressed by one of the congregation whose prayers had been asked for her, "What! this little girl not converted yet? How do you suppose we can waste any more time in praying for you?" Her intelligence was very great, and in 1832, when her mother wanted her to become a milliner, she entreated to be allowed to engage herself as a school teacher. "I stood as tall as I could," she says, when she went to offer herself, and she was accepted, although only fifteen. The system was that of "boarding round"--i.e. the young mistress had to live a week alternately at each house, and went from thence to her school, but she found this so uncomfortable that she ended by sleeping at home every night. She struggled on, teaching in various schools, doing needlework in after-hours, trying to improve herself, and always contending with great delicacy of health, which must have made it most trying to cope with what she calls in one of her letters "a little regiment of wild cats" for about seven years, when some of the friends she had made obtained of two sisters who kept a boarding school at Utica that she should be admitted there to pursue the higher branches of study for a year or two, and then to repay them by her services as a teacher.
The two ladies, Miss Urania and Miss Cynthia Sheldon, and their widowed sister, Mrs. Anable, proved Emily's kindest friends, and made a thoroughly happy home for her. She was very frail and nervous, but of great power of influence, and even while still only a pupil had this gift. Here she spent the rest of her maiden days, and here she supplied the failure of her labours in needlework by contributions to magazines, generally under the nom de plume of Fanny Forester. They were chiefly poems and short tales, and were popular enough to bring in a sum that was very important to the Chubbuck family. The day's employment was very full, and she stole the time required from her rest. Late one night, Miss Sheldon seeing a light in the room looked in, and found her trembling in nervous agitation, holding her head with her hands and her manuscript before her; and when gently rebuked, and entreated to lie down at once, she exclaimed with a burst of tears, "Oh! Miss Urania, I must write; I must help my poor parents."
Her brave and dutiful endeavours prospered so much that she was actually able to buy a house for them. It was during her stay at Utica that she was baptized, and several of her writings were expressly for the Baptist Sunday School Union; and though others were of a more secular cast, all were such as could only be composed by a religious woman. A little book of hers fell into the hands of Dr. Judson, and struck him so much that he said, "I should be glad to know her. A lady who writes so well ought to write better." She was then at Philadelphia, and at the moment of his introduction to her was undergoing the process of vaccination. As soon as it was over he entered into conversation with her with some abruptness, demanding of her how she could employ her talents in writings so trifling and so little spiritual as those he had read.
Emily met the rebuke without offence, but defended herself by describing the necessity of her case, with her indigent parents depending upon her; so that her work must almost of necessity be popular and profitable, though, as a duty, she avoided all that could be of doubtful tendency.
The missionary was thoroughly softened, and not only acquitted her, but begged her to undertake the biography of his wife Sarah: and this threw them much together. He was fifty-seven, she twenty-eight, when he offered himself to her in the following letter, sent with a watch:--
"I hand you, dearest, a charmed watch. It always comes back to me, and brings its wearer with it. I gave it to Ann when a hemisphere divided us, and it brought her safely and surely to my arms. I gave it to Sarah during her husband's lifetime (not then aware of the secret), and the charm, though slow in its operation, was true at last."
The charm worked. Emily Chubbuck was ready to follow Dr. Judson to the deadly climate of Burmah, to share his labours, and become a mother to the babies he had left there.
They were married on the 2nd of June, 1846, and five weeks later sailed for Burmah, leaving the three children at school.
Emily seems to have differed from Ann and Sarah, in that she had less actual missionary zeal than they. Sarah at least was a missionary in heart, and, as such, became a wife; but Emily was more the wife, working as her husband worked. She had much more literary power than either; her letters to her friends were full of vivid description, playful accounts of their adventures, and lively colouring even of misfortunes, pain, and sickness. She arrived at Moulmein in November. One little boy had died during Dr. Judson's absence, but the other two were tenderly cared for by the new Mrs. Judson, who threw herself into all the work and interests of the mission with great animation. It proved, however, that both the Burman and Karen missions were well supplied with teachers; and Dr. Judson thought he should be more useful at Rangoon, where there had, since one attempt on the part of the Wades, been no resident missionary. He heard accounts of the Court which made him hope to recover a footing at Ava, and decided on again living at Rangoon; but he soon heard that there was less hope than ever at Ava. The king whom he had known was dead, and had been succeeded by a devoted Buddhist, whose brother and heir, "having been prevented from being a lama," writes Dr. Judson, "poor man! does all that he can. He descends from his prince-regal seat, pounds and winnows the rice with his own hands, washes and boils it in his own cook-house, and then, on bended knees, presents it to the priests. This strong pulsation at the heart has thrown fresh blood through the once shrivelled system of the national superstition, and now every one vies with his neighbour in building pagodas and making offerings to the priests. What can one poor missionary effect, accompanied by his yet speechless wife, and followed by three men and one woman from Moulmein, and summoning to his aid the aged pastor of Rangoon and eight or ten surviving members of the church?"
The Vice-governor, or Raywoon, was a violent and cruel savage, whose house and court-yard rang with shrieks from the tortured, and the old remnant of Christians were sadly scattered. When they were collected to worship on Sunday, they durst not either come in or go out in company, and used to arrive with their garments tucked up to look like Coolies, or carrying fruit or parcels, while the Karens crept down from the hills in small parties. The Governor was friendly, but a weak man, whose authority the Raywoon openly set at defiance; and all sorts of petty annoyances were set in action against the teachers, while the probability that the converts would suffer actual persecution daily increased. Dr. Judson used to call the present difficulties the Splugen Pass, and illness, of course, added to their troubles.
The great Buddhist fast of the year had never before been imposed on strangers, but now the markets contained nothing but boiled rice, fruit, or decaying fish, and terrible illness was the consequence both with themselves and the children, until some boxes of biscuit arrived from Moulmein, and a Mahometan was bribed to supply fowls.
But the finances of the Society at home were at a low ebb, and it was thought needful to diminish the number of stations. The intolerance of the Burmese Government led to the decision that there was less benefit in maintaining that at Rangoon than those in the British provinces; and, as Dr. Judson had no private means, he was obliged to obey and return to Moulmein. Here he had a curious correspondence with the Prince of Siam, whose letter began in his own English: "Venerable sir, having received very often your far-famed qualities, honesty, faithfulness, righteousness, gracefulness, and very kindness to poor nation, &c., from reading the book of your ancient wife's memoir and journal." . . . The object of this letter was to ask for some of his Burmese translations, and, in return for them, his Royal Highness sent "a few artificial flowers, two passion flowers, one mognayet or surnamed flower, and three roses manufactured by most celebrated princess the daughter of the late second king or sub-king."
The Dictionary continued to be Judson's chief occupation, for his affection of the voice rendered him unable to take charge of a congregation. He continued to work at it till the November of 1849, when he caught a severe cold, which brought on an attack of fever, and from that time he never entirely rallied.
One of the last pleasures of his life deserves to be mentioned. He had always had a strong feeling for the Jews, and had longed to work for their conversion, praying that he might at least do something towards it. After his last illness had begun, a letter was read to him by his wife, giving an account of a German Jew who had been led, by reading the history of his toils in Burmah in the Gospel cause, to study Christianity and believe. "Love," he said presently, his eyes full of tears, "this frightens me. I do not know what to make of it." "What?" "What you have just been reading. I never was deeply interested in any object; I never prayed sincerely and fervently for anything, but it came at some time--no matter how distant a day--somehow, in some shape, probably the last I should have devised, it came. And yet I have always had so little faith."
After spending a month at Amherst in the vain hope of improvement, a sea- voyage was recommended; but his reluctance was great, for his wife was expecting a second child, and could not go with him. There are some lines of hers describing her night-watches, so exquisite and descriptive, that we must transcribe them:--
"Sleep, love, sleep! The dusty day is done. Lo! from afar the freshening breezes sweep Wide over groves of balm, Down from the towering palm, In at the open casement cooling run; And round thy lowly bed, Thy bed of pain, Bathing thy patient head, Like grateful showers of rain They come; While the white curtains, waving to and fro, Fan the sick air; And pityingly the shadows come and go, With gentle human care, Compassionate and dumb. The dusty day is done, The night begun; While prayerful watch I keep, Sleep, love, sleep! Is there no magic in the touch Of fingers thou dost love so much? Fain would they scatter poppies o'er thee now; Or, with its mute caress, The tremulous lip some soft nepenthe press Upon thy weary lid and aching brow; While prayerful watch I keep, Sleep, love, sleep!
On the pagoda spire The bells are swinging, Their little golden circlet in a flutter With tales the wooing winds have dared to utter, Till all are ringing, As if a choir Of golden-nested birds in heaven were singing; And with a lulling sound The music floats around, And drops like balm into the drowsy ear; Commingling with the hum Of the Sepoy's distant drum, And lazy beetle ever droning near. Sounds these of deepest silence born, Like night made visible by morn; So silent that I sometimes start To hear the throbbings of my heart, And watch, with shivering sense of pain, To see thy pale lids lift again.
The lizard, with his mouse-like eyes, Peeps from the mortise in surprise At such strange quiet after day's hard din; Then boldly ventures out, And looks around, And with his hollow feet Treads his small evening beat, Darting upon his prey In such a tricksy, winsome sort of way, His delicate marauding seems no sin. And still the curtains swing, But noiselessly; The bells a melancholy murmur ring, As tears were in the sky: More heavily the shadows fall, Like the black foldings of a pall, Where juts the rough beam from the wall; The candles flare With fresher gusts of air; The beetle's drone Turns to a dirge-like, solitary moan; Night deepens, and I sit, in cheerless doubt, alone."
In spite of all this tender care, Dr. Judson became so much worse that, as a last resource, a passage was taken for him and another missionary, named Ramney, on board a French vessel bound for the Isle of Bourbon. The outset of the voyage was very rough, and this produced such an increase of illness, that his life closed on the 12th of April, 1850, only a fortnight after parting from his wife, though it was not for four months that she could be informed of his loss. During this time she had given birth to a dead babe, and had suffered fearfully from sorrow and suspense.
She had become valuable enough to the mission for there to be much anxiety to retain her, and at first she thought of remaining; but her health was too much broken, and in a few months she carried home her little girl and her two step-sons. She collected the family together, and spent her time in the care of them, and in contributing materials for the Life of her husband; but the hereditary disease of her family had already laid its grasp on her, and she died on the 1st of June, 1854, the last of a truly devoted group of workers, as remarkable for their cheerfulness as for their heroism.
[f:6] At first sight this seems one of the last misfortunes likely to have befallen a godly gentleman of Charlestown; but throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Algerine pirates swept the seas up to the very coasts of England, as Sir John Eliot's biography testifies. Dr. James Yonge, of Plymouth, an ancestor only four removes from the writer, was at one time in captivity to them; and there was still probability enough of such a catastrophe for Priscilla Wakefield to introduce it in her "Juvenile Travellers," written about 1780.
[f:130] Articles of dress.
[f:133] The Judsons always use the universal prefix Moung, which we omit, as evidently is a general title.
[f:137] All along in these letters, written journal fashion, it is to be observed how careful and even distrustful Mr. Judson is.