RELIGION.—It is the Mahomedan. The Amir is a strict observer of his religion. Every Friday he may be seen going to prayers in his great mosque. The Koran is carried before him, and four men with golden staves accompany him, crying out, "Pray to God that the Commander of the Faithful may act justly." As he passes by, his people stroke their beards to show their respect. Bokhara is reckoned by Mahomedans a very religious city; for in every street there is a mosque; every evening people may be seen crowding to prayers; and if boys are caught asleep during service, they are tied together, and driven round the market by an officer, who beats them all the way with a thick thong.
There is a school, too, in almost every street of Bokhara, and there the poor boys sit from sunrise, till an hour before sunset, bawling out their foolish lessons from the Koran; and during all that time they are never allowed to go home, except once for some bread. They have no time for play, except in the evening, and no holiday, except on Friday. Seven years they spend in this manner, learning to read and write. When they leave school, if they wish to be counted very wise, they go to one of the colleges; for there are many in Bokhara. Some spend all their lives in these colleges, living in small cells, and meeting in a large hall to hear lectures about the Mahomedan religion. It is a happy thing, however, that in summer the students go out to work in the fields; for how much better is it to work with the hands, than to fill the head with the wicked inventions of Mahomed.
The Mahomedans, however, are very proud of their religion, because they say, they do not worship idols; (yet they do worship at Mecca, a black stone, and other like things in other places). They imagine that all Christians are idolaters, for they know that the Russians bow down to pictures.
Once the Vizier of Bokhara conversed a long while with two Englishmen about their religion.
He asked them, "Do you worship idols?"
The Englishmen replied, "No."
The Vizier would not believe them, but said, "I am sure you have images and crosses hung round your necks."
Upon which, they opened their vests to show there was nothing hidden.
Then the Vizier smiled, and said to his servants, "They are not bad people."
As the servants were preparing tea, the Vizier took a cup, and said to the travellers, "You must drink with us, for you are people of the Book," meaning the Bible.
Yet you must not suppose because the Vizier seemed to approve these Christians, that he, and the Amir, would allow missionaries to settle in the kingdom.
It is dangerous for Englishmen to visit Bokhara. When they do come, they must be very careful not to give offence, or they will lose their lives. Englishmen are more dreaded than any other people, because it is known in Bokhara, that they have conquered Hindostan, and therefore the Amir fears lest they should conquer his kingdom also. As soon as an Englishman enters Bokhara, he is forbidden to write a letter, for fear he should contrive some plan to bring enemies there. Neither is he allowed to ride in the streets; none but Mahomedans are allowed to ride in them, though any one may ride outside the city.
Some years ago two Englishmen came to Bokhara, named Colonel Stoddart, and Captain Conolly. They acted foolishly in writing letters, and trying to send them secretly to their friends. They were found out, and shut up.
Colonel Stoddart behaved very wickedly in one respect; he pretended to be a Mahomedan! Was not this wicked? Soon he grew sorry, and declared himself a Christian. At last both Stoddart and Conolly were sentenced to die. They were led with their hands tied behind them to a place near the palace, to be executed. Conolly as he went along, cried out, "Woe, woe to me, for I have fallen into the hands of a tyrant." At the place of execution the two Englishmen kissed each other.
Stoddart said to the king's minister, (for the Amir was not present,) "Tell the Amir that I die a disbeliever in Mahomed, but a believer in Jesus. I am a Christian, and a Christian I die."
Then Conolly said to his friend, "We shall see each other in paradise near Jesus."
These were their last words. Immediately afterwards their heads were cut off with a knife.
Some time after this cruel murder, a clergyman, named Joseph Wolff, arrived at Bukhara. He had travelled all the way from England, and all alone, on purpose to inquire after Conolly, who had been his dear friend. The Amir was surprised at his coming, and said, "I have taken thousands of Persians and made them slaves, and no one came from Persia to inquire what was become of them; but as soon as I take two ENGLISHMEN prisoners, behold a man comes all this long way to inquire after them!"
The Amir did not know how precious are the lives of Englishmen in the eyes of their countrymen.
Joseph Wolff found it hard to get away from Bokhara. He was kept a long while in prison, and he feared he should be slain; for when he asked the Amir to give him the bones of Stoddart and Conolly to take to England, this was the Amir's answer: "I shall send YOUR bones!" Yet, after all, he was permitted to leave Bokhara, the Lord graciously inclining the tyrant to let him go.
How can Missionaries be sent to such a country!
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Bokhara is the only large town in the kingdom.
The sea of Aral lies to the north of the kingdom: it is an immense lake, but not nearly so large as the Caspian Sea.
The river Oxus flows into the Caspian. It is famous for its golden sands.
The great trade of Bokhara is in black woolly lamb-skins, to make caps for the Persians: the younger the lamb the more delicate the wool. Thus many a pretty lambkin dies to adorn a Persian noble.
The best raisins in the world come from Bokhara.
THE TOORKMAN TARTARS.
You have heard a great deal of the Tartars, and you have been told that they are a quiet and peaceable nation. But not all; there is a tribe of Tartars called the Toorkmans, of a very different character. They wander about in the country between Bokhara and Persia, and their chief employment is to steal men from Persia, and to sell them in Bokhara as slaves. A whole troop, mounted on horses, rush sword in hand upon a Persian city, and return to the camp with hundreds of beasts and human creatures as their captives.
Some English travellers once met five men chained together, walking with sad steps in the deep sands of the desert. They were Persians just caught by the Toorkmans, and on their way to Bokhara. When the Englishmen saw these poor captives, they uttered a sorrowful cry, and the Persians began to weep. One of the travellers stopped his camel to listen to their sad tale; and he heard that a few weeks before, while working in the fields, they had been seized and carried off. They were hungry and thirsty; for the Toorkmans cruelly starve their slaves, in order that they may be too weak to run away. The traveller gave them all he had, which was a melon, to quench their thirst.
But the worst part of the Toorkmans' conduct remains yet to be told. When they have taken many captives, they usually kill the old people, because they would not get much money for them in Bokhara; and they choose one of their captives to offer up as a thank-offering to their god!! Who is their god? The god of Mahomed. But though they are Mahomedans, they have no mosques, and are too ignorant to be able to read the Koran.
Robbery is their whole business. For this purpose they learn to ride and to fight. They understand well how to manage a horse, so as to make him strong and swift. They do not let him eat when he pleases, but they give him three meals a day of hay and barley, and then rein him up that he may not nibble the grass, and grow fat; and sometimes they give him no food at all, and yet make him gallop many miles. By this management the horses are very thin, but very strong, and able to bear their masters eighty miles in a day when required; and they are so swift that they can outrun their pursuers.
It is not surprising that the Toorkmans do not eat these thin horses, though other Tartars are so fond of horse-flesh. They prefer mutton. When they invite a stranger to dinner, they boil a whole sheep in a large boiling-pot; then tear up the flesh,—mix it with crumbled bread, and serve it up in wooden bowls. Two persons eat from one bowl, dipping their hands into it, and licking up their food like dogs. The meal is finished by eating melons.
These coarse manners suit such fierce and wild creatures as the Toorkmans. It is their boast that they rest neither under the shadow of a TREE nor of a KING: meaning that they have neither trees nor kings to protect them in the desert.
The men wear high caps of black sheep-skin, while the Women wear high white turbans. The tents are adorned with beautiful carpets, not only the floors, but the sides, and it is the chief employment of the women to weave them. As for the men, they spend most of their time in sauntering about among the tents; for the fierce dogs guard the flocks. But when their hands are idle, their thoughts are still busy in planning new robberies and murders.
It was by such men that the earth was inhabited when God sent the flood to destroy it. It is written, "The earth was filled with VIOLENCE."
Is there any man brave enough to go to these men to warn them of the judgment to come, and to tell them of pardon for the penitent, through the blood of Jesus?
 Taken from Sir Alexander Burnes, and from Kanikoff, the Russian, and from Rev. Joseph Wolff.
 Extracted from Sir Alexander Burnes' "Bokhara."
Very little is known in Europe of this part of Tartary; and why? Because the Emperor of China, who reigns over it, does not like travellers to go there.
It is divided by high and snowy mountains from the rest of Tartary. When a traveller has passed over these mountains, he finds on the other side Chinese officers, who inquire what business he has come upon. If he have come only to wander about the country, he is desired to go home again; because the Chinese are afraid lest strangers should send spies, and then ARMIES—to conquer their empire.
One traveller, because he stayed too long in Tartary, was imprisoned for three months; and before he was let go, a picture of him was taken. What was done with this picture? It was copied, and the copies were sent to various towns on the borders of Chinese Tartary, with this command, "If the man, who is like this picture, enter the country, his head is the Emperor's, and his property is yours." Happily the traveller heard of this command, and was never seen again in the country. You see how cunning it was of the Chinese to allow any one who killed the traveller to have his property; for thus they made it the interest of all to kill him.
There is one city in Chinese Tartary where many strangers come to trade with the people. It is called Yarkund. There caravans arrive from Pekin, laden with tea, after a journey of five months over the wilds of Tartary. Then merchants come from Bokhara to buy the tea, and to carry it home, where it is so much liked.
This land is not a desert. Yet there are but few trees, and because there is so little shade, the rivulets are soon dried up. Yet it might be a fruitful land, if the inhabitants would plant and sow. But they prefer wandering about in tents, and living upon plunder, to settling in one place and living by their labor. The Tartar has good reason for roaming over his plains, because the land is bad; but the Affghan has no reason, but the love of roaming.
The plains of Affghanistan are sultry, but the mountains are cool; for their tops are covered with snow. The shepherds feed their flocks on the plains during the winter; but in the spring they lead them to the mountains to pass the summer there. Then the air is filled with the sweet scent of clover and violets. The sheep often stop to browse upon the fresh pasture; but they are not suffered to linger long. The children have the charge of the lambs; an old goat or sheep goes before to encourage the lambs to proceed, and the children follow with switches of green grass. Many a little child who can only just run alone, enjoys the sport of driving the young lambs. The tents are borne on the backs of camels. The men are terrible-looking creatures, tall, large, dark, and grim, with shaggy hair and long black beards. They wear great turbans of blue check and handsome jackets, and cloaks of sheep-skin; they carry in their girdles knives as large as a butcher's; and on their shoulders a shield and a gun.
Besides these wild wanderers, there are some Affghans who live in houses.
Cabool, the capital, is a fine city, and the king dwells in a fine citadel. The bazaar is the finest in all Asia. It is like a street with many arches across it; and these people sell all kinds of goods.
But what is a fine bazaar compared to a beautiful garden? Cabool is surrounded by gardens: the most beautiful is the king's. In the midst is an octagon summer-house, where eight walks meet, and all the walks are shaded by fruit-trees. Here grow, as in Bokhara, the best fruits to be found in an English garden, only much larger and sweeter. The same kind of birds, too, which sing in England sing among its branches, even the melodious nightingale. It is the chief delight of the people of Cabool to wander in the gardens: they come there every evening, after having spent the day in sauntering about the bazaar; for they are an idle people, talking much and working little.
The noise in the city is so great that it is difficult to make a friend hear what you say: it is not the noise of rumbling wheels as in London, for there are no wheeled carriages, but the noise of chattering tongues.
The Affghans are a temperate people; they live chiefly upon fruit with a little bread; and as they are Mahomedans, they avoid wine, and drink instead iced sherbets, made of the juice of fruits. In winter excellent dried fruits supply the place of fresh.
But the Affghan, though living on fruits, is far from being a harmless and amiable character; on the contrary, he is cruel, covetous, and treacherous. Much British blood has been shed in the valleys of Affghanistan.
We cannot blame the Affghans for defending their own country. It was natural for them to ask, "What right has Britain to interfere with us?"
A British army was once sent to Affghanistan to force the people to have a king they did not like, instead of one they did like.
I will tell you of a youth who accompanied his father to the wars. This boy looked forward with delight to going as a soldier to a foreign land, and his heart beat high when the trumpet sounded to summon the troops to embark. Joyfully he quitted Bombay, crossed the Indian Ocean, and landed near the mouth of the Indus. When the army began its march towards Affghanistan, he rode on a pony by his father's side.
At first it seemed pleasant to pitch the tent in a new spot every day, to rest during the heat, and to travel in the dead of the night, till the sun was high in the sky. But soon this way of life was found fatiguing, for the heat was great, and the water scarce. The air, too, was clouded by the dust the troops raised in marching; and green grass was seldom seen, or a shady tree under which to rest. The food, too, was dry and stale, and no fresh food could be procured, for the Affghans, before they fled, destroyed the corn and fruit growing in the fields, that their enemies might not eat them. The camels, too, which bore the baggage of the British army, grew ill from heat and thirst; for it is not true that camels can live long without water; in three or four days they die. Besides this, the hard rocks in the hilly country hurt their feet, and hastened their death. Many a camel died as it was seeking to quench its thirst at a narrow stream in the valley, and its dead body falling into the water, polluted it. Yet this water the soldiers drank, for they had no other, and from drinking it they fell ill. The father of the youthful soldier was one of these, and he was compelled to stop on the way for several weeks; and because the heat of a tent was too great, he took shelter in a ruined building. Here his son nursed him with a heavy heart. Where was the delight the youth had expected to find in a soldier's life?
At last the British army reached a strong fort built on the top of a hill; Guznee was its name. Its walls and gates were so strong that it seemed impossible to get into the city; yet the British knew that if they did not, they must die either by the Affghan sword, or by hunger and thirst among the rocks. For some time they were much perplexed and distressed. At last a thought came into the mind of a British captain, "Let us blow up the gates with gunpowder." The plan was good; but how to perform it,—there was the difficulty. Soon all was arranged. In the night some sacks of gunpowder were laid very softly against the gates; but as no one could set fire to the sacks when close to them, a long pipe of cloth was filled with gunpowder, and stretched like a serpent upon the ground; one end of the pipe touched the sack, and the other end was to be set on fire. But before the match was applied, a British officer peeped through a chink in the gates to see what the Affghans were doing within. Behold! they were quietly smoking, and eating their supper, not suspecting any danger! The match was applied—the gunpowder exploded, and the strong gates were shattered into a thousand pieces; the army rushed in sword in hand, and the Affghans fled in wild confusion.
Where was our young soldier? He was running into the fort between two friendly soldiers, who kindly helped him on; each of them was holding one of his arms, and assisting him to keep up with the troops, as they rushed through the gates. As he ran, he heard horrible cries, but the darkness hindered him from seeing the dying Affghans rolling in the dust, only he felt their soft bodies as he hastily passed over them. He heard his fellow-soldiers shouting and firing on every side. Some fell close beside him, and others were wounded, and carried off on the shoulders of their comrades, screaming with agony.
Half an hour after the gates were fired, the city was taken. The news of the victory spread among the Affghans on the mountains, and the plains, and the whole country submitted to the British.
The army soon marched to Cabool, that proud city. No one opposed their entrance, and the bazaar, and the king's garden, and the royal citadel were visited by our soldiers.
After spending two months in beautiful Cabool, resting their weary limbs and feasting on fine fruits, the army was ordered to return home. They began to march again towards the coast, a distance of fifteen hundred miles, over cragged rocks, and scorching plains.
In the course of this terrible journey, the father of the young soldier again fell ill, and was forced to stop by the way. His affectionate son nursed him night and day; closed his eyes in death, and saw him laid in a lowly grave in the desert. With a bleeding heart the youth embarked to return to Bombay.
During the voyage, a furious storm arose, and all on board despaired of life. Then it was the youth remembered the prayers he had offered up by his dying father's bed; then it was he felt he had not turned to God with all his heart, and then it was he vowed, that if the Lord would spare him this once, he would seek his face in truth. God heard and spared.
And did the youth remember his prayers and vows? He did, though not at first,—yet after a little while he did. He read the word of God, he prayed for the Spirit of God, and at length he enjoyed the peace of God; and now he neither fears storm nor sword, because Christ is his shelter and his shield.
Just underneath Affghanistan, lies Beloochistan, by the sea coast. It is separated from India by the river Indus. You may know a Beloochee from an Affghan by his stiff red cotton cap, in the shape of a hat without a brim; whereas, an Affghan wears a turban. Yet the religion of the Beloochee is the same as that of the Affghan, namely, the Mahomedan, and the character is alike, only the Beloochee is the fiercer of the two: the country also is alike, being wild and rocky.
Beloochistan has not been conquered by the British: it has a king of its own; yet the British have fought against Beloochistan. On one occasion a British army was sent to punish the king of Beloochistan for not having sent corn to us, as he had promised.
The army consisted of three thousand men, and amongst them was the young soldier, of whom you have heard so much already. His father was ill at the time, and could not fight; but the youth came upon his pony, with a camel to carry his tent, and all his baggage.
The troops as usual marched in the night. In the morning, about eight o'clock, they first caught sight of Kelat, the capital of Beloochistan. It was a grand sight, for the city is built on a high hill, with a citadel at the top. The dark Beloochees were seen thronging about the walls and the towers, gazing at the British army, but not daring to approach them.
Our soldiers, when they first arrived, were too much tired to begin the attack, and therefore they rested on the grass for two hours. At ten o'clock the word of command was given, and the attack was made. The British planted their six cannons opposite the gates, and began to fire.
Where was the young soldier? He was commanded to run with his company close up to the wall, and there to remain. As he ran, he was exposed to the full fire of the enemy. The youth heard bullets whizzing by as he passed, and he expected every moment that some ball would lay him low; but through the mercy of God he reached the wall in safety. Close underneath the wall was not a dangerous post, for the bullets passed over the heads of those standing there.
About noon, the British cannons had destroyed the gates. Then the British soldiers rushed into the town. Amongst the first to enter was the young soldier; because when the gates fell he was standing close by. As he passed along the streets, he saw no one but the dead and the dying; for the Beloochees had fled for refuge to their citadel on the top of the hill. The king himself was there.
The citadel was a place very difficult for an enemy to enter; for the entrance was through a narrow dark passage underground. Into this passage the British soldiers poured, but soon they came to a door, which they could not get through, for Beloochee soldiers stood there, sword in hand, ready to cut down any one who approached. "Look at my back," said one soldier to his fellow. The other looked, and beheld the most frightful gashes gaping wide and bleeding freely. Such were the wounds that each soldier, who ventured near that door, was sure to receive.
At this moment a cry was heard, saying, "Another passage is found." When the Beloochees heard this cry, they gave up all hopes of keeping the enemy out of the citadel; so they left off fighting, and cried "Peace."
But their king was already dead; he had fallen on the threshold of the passage last found. The first man who tried to get in by that way the king had killed; but the second had killed the king. The British, as they rushed in by this new way, trampled on the body of the fallen monarch. He was a splendid object even in death; his long dark ringlets were flowing over his glittering garments, and his sharp sword, with its golden hilt, was in his hand. The British hurried by, and climbed the steep and narrow stairs leading to the top of the citadel, and the enemy no longer durst oppose their course.
On the terrace at the top of the citadel, in the open air, stood the nobles of Beloochistan. There were princes too from the countries all around. It was a magnificent assembly. These men were the finest of a fine race. Some were clad in shining armor, and others in flowing garments of green and gold. Thus they stood for a moment, and the next—they were rolling on the ground!!
How was this? Had not peace been agreed upon on both sides? Yes, but a British soldier had attempted to take away the sword of one of the princes. The prince had resisted, and with his sword, had wounded the soldier; and instantly every British gun on that spot had been pointed at the nobles of Beloochistan.
This was why the nobles were lying in the agonies of death.
Our young soldier was not one of those who slew the nobles. He was standing on another part of the terrace, when, hearing a tremendous volley of guns, he exclaimed to a friend, "What can that be?" Going forward, he beheld heaps of bleeding bodies, turbans, and garments—in one confused mass. The dying were calling for water, and the very soldiers who had shot them, were holding cups to their quivering lips, though themselves parched with thirst. But water could not save the lives of the fallen nobles: one by one they ceased to cry out, and soon—all were silent—and all were still. The VICTORY was WON! But how awful had been the last scene! How cruelly, how unjustly, had the lives of that princely assembly been cut short!
The conquerors returned that evening to their camp. On their way, they passed through the desolate streets of the city; the mud cottages on each side were empty, and blood flowed between. The young officer, as he marched at the head of his company, was struck by seeing a row of his own fellow-soldiers lying dead upon the ground. They had been placed there ready for burial on the morrow. Their ghastly faces, and gaping wounds were terrible to behold. The youth remembered them full of life and spirits in the morning, unmindful of their dismal end; then he felt how merciful God had been in sparing his life; and when he crept into his little tent that night, he returned him thanks upon his knees; though he did not love him then as his Saviour from eternal death. Wearied, he soon fell asleep, but his sleep was broken by dreadful dreams of blood and death.
The next day he walked through the conquered town, and saw the British soldiers dragging the dead bodies of their enemies by ropes fastened to their feet. They were dragging them to their grave, which was a deep trench, and there they cast them in and covered them up with earth.
Such is the history of the conquest of Kelat. How many souls were suddenly hurled into eternity! How many unprepared to meet their Judge, because their sins were unpardoned, and their souls unwashed! But in war, who thinks of souls and sins! O horrible war! How hateful to the Prince of Peace!
 September 13, 1839.
Of all the kings in Asia, the king of Burmah is the greatest, next to the emperor of China. He has not indeed nearly as large a kingdom, or as many subjects as that emperor; but like him, he is worshipped by his people. He is called "Lord of life and death," and the "Owner of the sword," for instead of holding a sceptre in his hand, he holds a golden sheathed sword. A sword indeed suits him well, for he is very cruel to his subjects. Nowhere are such severe punishments inflicted. For drinking brandy the punishment is, pouring molten lead down the throat; and for running away from the army, the punishment is, cutting off both legs, and leaving the poor creature to bleed to death. A man for choosing to be a Christian was beaten all over the body with a wooden mallet, till he was one mass of bruises; but before he was dead, he was let go.
Every one is much afraid of offending this cruel king. The people tremble at the sound of his name; and when they see him, they fall down with their heads in the dust. The king makes any one a lord whom he pleases, yet he treats even his lords very rudely. When displeased with them, he will hunt them out of the room with his drawn sword. Once he made forty of his lords lie upon their faces for several hours, beneath the broiling sun, with a great beam over them to keep them still. It was well for them that the king did not send for the men with spotted faces. Who are those men? The executioners. Their faces are always covered with round marks tattooed in the skin. The sight of these spotted faces fills all the people with terror. Every one runs away at the sight of a spotted face, and no one will allow a man with a spotted face to sit down in his house. In what terror the poor Burmese must live, not knowing when the order for death will arrive. Yet the king is so much revered, that when he dies, instead of saying, "He is dead," the people say, "He is gone to amuse himself in the heavenly regions"
The king has a great many governors under him, and they are as cruel as himself. A missionary once saw a poor creature hanging on a cross. He inquired what the man had done, and finding that he was not a murderer, he went to the governor to entreat him to pardon the man. For a long while the governor refused to hear him: but at last he gave him a note, desiring the crucified man to be taken down from the cross. Would you believe it?—the Burmese officers were so cruel that they would not toke out the nails, till the missionary had promised them a piece of cloth as a reward! When the man was released, he was nearly dead, having been seven hours bleeding on the cross; but he was tenderly nursed by the missionary, and at last he recovered. Yet all the agonies of a cross had not changed the man's heart, and he returned to his old way of life as a thief. Had he believed in that Saviour who was nailed to a cross for his sins, he would, like the dying thief, have repented. Though the Burmese are so unfeeling to each other, they think it wrong to kill animals, and never eat any meat, except the flesh of animals who have died of themselves. Even the fishermen think they shall be punished hereafter for catching fish; but they say, "We must do it, or we shall be starved." You may be sure that such a people must have some false and foolish religion; and so they have, as you will see.
RELIGION.—It is the religion of Buddha. This Buddha was a man who was born at Benares, in India, more than two thousand years ago; and people say, that for his great goodness was made a boodh, or a god. Yet the Burmese do not think he is alive now; they say he is resting as a reward for his goodness. Why then do they pray to him, if he cannot hear them? They pray because they think it is very good to pray, and that they shall be rewarded for it some day. What reward do they expect? It is this—to rest as Buddha does—to sleep forever and ever. This is the reward they look for. Every one in Burmah thinks he has been born a great many times into the world,—now as an insect,—now as a bird,—now as a beast, and he thinks that because he was very good,—as a reward he was made a man. Then he thinks that if he is very good as a poor man, he shall be born next time to be a rich man; and at last, that he will be allowed to rest like Buddha himself. What is it to be good? The Burmese say that the greatest goodness is making an idol, and next to that, making a pagoda. You know what an idol is, but do you know what a pagoda is? It is a house, with an idol hidden inside, and it has no door, nor window, therefore no one can get into a pagoda. Some pagodas are very large, and others very small. As it is thought so very good to make idols and pagodas, the whole land is filled with them; the roads in some places are lined with them; the mountains are crowned with them.
Next to making idols, and building pagodas, it is considered good to make offerings. You may see the father climbing a steep hill to reach a pagoda, his little one by his side, and plucking green twigs as he goes. He reaches the pagoda, and strikes the great bell, then enters the idol-house near the pagoda, and teaches his young child how to fold its little hands, and to raise them to its forehead, while it repeats a senseless prayer; then leaving the green twigs at the idol's feet, the father descends with his child in his arms. How many little ones, such as Jesus once took in his arms, are taught every day to serve Satan.
The people who are thought the best in Burmah, are the priests. Any one that pleases may be a priest. The priests pretend to be poor, and go out begging every morning with their empty dishes in their hands; but they get them well filled, and then return to the handsome house, all shining with gold, in which they live together in plenty and in pride. They are expected to dress in rags, to show that they are poor; but not liking rags, they cut up cloth in little pieces, and sew the pieces together to make their yellow robes; and this they call wearing rags. They pretend to be so modest, that they do not like to show their faces, and so hide them with a fan, even when they preach; for they do preach in their way, that is, they tell foolish stories about Buddha. The name they give him is Guadama, while the Chinese call him Fo. They have five hundred and fifty stories written in their books about him; for they say he was once a bird, a fly, an elephant, and all manner of creatures, and was so good whatever he was, that at last he was born the son of a king.
CHARACTER.—The Burmese are a blunt and rough people. They are not like the Chinese and the Hindoos, ready to pay compliments to strangers. When a Burmese has finished a visit, he says, "I am going," and his friend replies, "Go." This is very blunt behavior. But all blunt people are not sincere. The Burmese are very deceitful, and tell lies on every occasion; indeed, they are not ashamed of their falsehoods. They are also very proud, because they fancy they were so good before they were born into this world. All the kind actions they do are in the hope of getting more merit, and this bad motive spoils all they do. They are kind to travellers. In every village there is a pretty house, called a Zayat, where travellers may rest. As soon as a guest arrives, the villagers hasten to wait upon him;—one brings a clean mat, another a jug of water, and a third a basket of fruit. But why is all this attention shown? In the hope of getting merit. The Burmese resemble the Chinese in their respect to their parents. They are better than the Chinese in their treatment of their children, for they are kind to the girls is well as to the boys; neither do they destroy any of their infants. They are temperate also, not drinking wine,—having only two meals in the day, and then not eating too much. In these points they are to be approved. They are, however, very violent in their tempers; it is true they are not very easily provoked, but when they are angry, they use very abusive language. Thus you see they are by no means an amiable people.
APPEARANCE.—In their persons they are far less pleasing than the Hindoos; for instead of slender faces and figures, they have broad faces and thick figures. But they have not such dark complexions as the Hindoos.
They disfigure themselves in various ways. To make their skins yellow, they sprinkle over them a yellow powder. They also make their teeth black, because they say they do not wish to have white teeth like dogs and monkeys. They bore their ears, and put bars of gold, or silver, or marble through the holes.
The women wear a petticoat and a jacket. The men wear a turban, a loose robe, and a jacket; they tie up their hair in a knot behind, and tattoo their legs, by pricking their skin, and then putting in black oil. They have the disagreeable custom of smoking, and of chewing a stuff called "coon," which they carry in a box.
Every one (except the priests) carries an umbrella to guard him from the sun; the king alone has a white one; his nobles have gilded umbrellas; the next class have red umbrellas; and the lowest have green.
FOOD.—Burmah is a pleasanter country than Hindostan, for it is not so hot, and yet it is as fruitful. The people live chiefly upon rice; but when they cannot get enough, they find abundance of leaves and roots to satisfy their hunger.
ANIMALS.—There are many tigers, but no lions. The Burmese are fond of adorning their houses with statues of lions, but never having seen any, they make very strange and laughable figures. The pride of Burmah is her elephants; but they all belong to the king, and none may ride upon one but himself, and his chief favorite. Carriages are drawn by bullocks, or buffaloes; and there are horses for riding, so the Burmese can do very well without the elephants. The king thinks a great deal too much of these noble animals. There was a white elephant that he delighted in so much, that he adorned it with gold, and jewels, and counted it next to himself in rank, even above the queen.
HOUSES.—The Burmese build their houses on posts, so that there is an empty place under the floors. Dogs and crows may often be seen walking under the houses, eating whatever has fallen through the cracks of the floor.
The king allows none but the nobles to build houses of brick and stone; the rest build them of bamboos. This law is unpleasant; but there is another law which is a great comfort to the poor. It is this;—any one may have land who wishes for it. A man has only to cultivate a piece of spare land, and it is counted his, as long as he continues to cultivate it; therefore all industrious people have gardens of their own.
Among the mountains of Burmah, there are a wild people called the Karens, very poor and very ignorant; yet some have attended to the voice of the missionaries. They are not so proud as the Burmese; for they have no gods at all, and no books at all: they have not filled their heads with five hundred and fifty stories about Gaudama; therefore they are more ready to listen to the history of Jesus.
The Karens live in houses raised from the ground, and so large is the place underneath, that they keep poultry and pigs there. Every year they move to a new place, and build new houses, clear a new piece of ground, by burning the weeds, dig it up, and sow rice. Thus they wander about, and they number their years by the number of houses they have lived in.
Of all the Eastern nations, they sing and play the most sweetly, and when they become Christians, they sing hymns, very sweetly indeed.
There is one Christian village among the mountains, called Mata, which means love; and every morning the people meet together in the Zayat, or travellers' house, to sing and pray. Before they were Christians, the Karens were in constant fear of the Nats; (not insects, but evil spirits), and sometimes in order to please their Nats, they were so cruel as to beat a pig to death. The Christian Karens have left off such barbarous practices, and have become kind and compassionate. When the missionaries told them that they ought to love one another, some of them went secretly the next day to wait upon a poor leper, and upon a woman covered with sores. Another day, without being asked, they collected some money and brought it to the missionaries, saying, they wished to set free a poor Burman who had been imprisoned for Christ's sake. It is cheering to the missionaries to see them turning from their sins.
This city was once the capital of Burmah, and then it was called the "golden city." But now the king lives in another city, and the glory of Ava has passed away.
This city, though in Burmah, may be called a British city, because the British built it; for they have conquered great part of Burmah. There are missionaries there. One there is, named Judson, who has turned more than a hundred Burmese to the Lord. But he has known great troubles. His wife and his little girl shared in these troubles.
I will now relate the history of the short life of little Maria Judson.
THE MISSIONARY'S BABE.
The missionary's babe, little Maria, was born in a cottage by the side of a river, and very near the walls of the great city of Ava, where the king dwelt.
It was a wooden cottage, thatched with straw, and screened by a verandah from the burning sun. It was not like an English cottage, for it was built on high posts, that the cool air might play beneath. It contained three small rooms all on one floor. The country around was lovely; for the green banks of the river were adorned with various colored flowers and with trees laden with fine fruits.
In this pretty cottage, the infant Maria was lulled in her mother's arms to sleep, and often the tears rolling down the mother's cheeks, fell upon the baby's fair face. Why did the mother weep? It was for her husband she wept. He was not dead, but he was in prison. He was a missionary, and the king of Ava had imprisoned him in the midst of the great city. Was his wife left all alone with her babe in her cottage? No, there were two little Burmese girls there. They were the children of heathen parents, and they had been received by the kind lady into her cottage, and now they were learning to worship God. Their new names were, Mary, and Abby. There were also two men servants, of dark complexion, dressed in white cotton, and wearing turbans. It was a sorrowful little household, because the master of the family was absent, because he was in distress, and his life was in danger. Every day his fond wife visited him in his prison. She left her babe under the care of Mary, and set out with a little basket in her hand. After walking two miles through the streets of Ava, she came to some high walls—she knocked at the gate—a stern-looking man opened it. The lady, passing through the gates, entered a court. In one corner of the court, there was a little shed made of bamboos, and near it, upon a mat, eat a pale, and sorrowful man. His countenance brightens when he perceives the lady enter. She refreshes him with the nice food she has brought in her basket, and comforts him with sweet and heavenly words:—then hastens to return to her babe. As soon as she enters her cottage, she sinks back, half fainting, in her rocking-chair, while she folds again her little darling in her arms. Happy babe! thy parents are suffering for Jesus—and they are blessed of the Lord, and their baby with them.
Greater sorrows still, soon befell the little family. One day, a messenger came to the cottage, with the sad tidings that the bamboo hut had been torn down, the mat, and pillow taken away, and the prisoner, laden with chains, thrust into the inner prison. The loving wife hastened to the governor of the city to ask for mercy; but she could obtain none, only she was permitted to see her husband. And what a sight! He was shut up in a room with a hundred men, and without a window!! Though the weather was hot no breath of air reached the poor prisoners, but through the cracks in the boards. No wonder that the missionary soon fell ill of a fever. His wife, fearing he would die, determined to act like the widow in the parable, and to weary the unjust judge by her entreaties. She left her quiet cottage, and built a hut of bamboos at the governor's gate, and there she lived with her babe, and the little Burmese girls. The prison was just opposite the governor's gate, so that the anxious wife had now the comfort of being near her suffering husband. The governor was wearied by her importunity, and at last permitted her to build again a bamboo hovel for the prisoner in the court of the prison. The sick man was brought out of the noisome dungeon, and was laid upon his mat in the fresh air. He was supplied with food and medicine by his faithful wife, and he began to recover.
But in three days, a change occurred. Suddenly the poor wife heard that her beloved had been dragged from his prison, and taken, she knew not where. She inquired of everybody she saw, "Where is he gone?" but no answer could she obtain. At last the governor told her, that his prisoner was taken to a great city, named A-ma-ra-poora. This city was seven miles from Ava. The wife decided in a moment what to do. She determined to follow her husband. Taking her babe in her arms, and accompanied by the Burmese children, and one servant, she set out. She went to the city up the river in a covered boat, and thus she was sheltered from the scorching sun of an Indian May. But when she arrived at Amarapoora, she heard that her husband had been taken to a village six miles off. To this village she travelled in a clumsy cart drawn by oxen. Overcome with fatigue, she arrived at the prison, and saw her poor husband sitting in the court chained to another prisoner, and looking very ill. He had neither hat, nor coat, nor shoes, and his feet were covered with wounds he had received, as he had been driven over the burning gravel on the way to the prison: but his wounds had been bound up by a kind heathen servant, who had torn up his own turban to make bandages.
When the missionary saw his wife approaching with her infant, he felt grieved on her account, and exclaimed, "Why have you come? You cannot live here?" But she cared not where she lived, so that she could be near her suffering husband. She wished to build a bamboo hut at the prison gate: but the jailor would not allow her. However, he let her live in a room of his own house. It was a wretched room, with no furniture but a mat. Here the mother and the children slept that night, while the servant, wrapped in his cloth, lay at the door. They had no supper that night. Next day, they bought food in the village, with some silver that the lady kept carefully concealed in her clothes.
A new trouble soon came upon them. Mary was seized with a small-pox of a dreadful sort. Who now was to help the weak mother to nurse the little Maria? Abby was too young. The babe was four months old, and a heavy burden for feeble arms; yet all day long the mother carried it, as she went to and fro from the sick child to the poor prisoner. Sometimes, when it was asleep, she laid it down by the side of her husband. He was able to watch a sleeping babe, but not to nurse a babe awake, owing to his great weakness, and to his mangled feet. Soon the babe herself was attacked by the small-pox, and continued very ill for three months. This last trial was too much for the poor mother. Her strength failed her, and for many weeks she lay upon her mat unable to rise. She must have perished, if it had not been for the faithful servant. He was a native of Bengal, and a heathen. Yet he was so much concerned for his sick mistress and imprisoned master, that he would sometimes go without food all day, while he was attending to their wants; and he did all without expecting any wages.
The poor little infant was in a sad case now its mother was lying on the mat. It cried so much for milk, that once its father got leave to carry it round the village to ask the mothers who had babes, to give some milk to his. By this plan, the little creature was quieted in the day, but at night its cries were most distressing.
The time at length arrived, when these trials were to end. The king sent for the missionary, not to put him to death, as he had once intended, but to ask for his help. What help could he render to the king? The reason why the missionary had been imprisoned so long was, that a British army had attacked Burmah. The king had feared, lest the missionary should take part with the enemy, and therefore he had shut him up. Now there were hopes of peace, and an interpreter was wanted to help the Burmese to speak with the British. The missionary knew both the English language and the Burmese, and he could explain to the king what the English general would say.
For this purpose he was brought to Ava. He was not driven along the road like a beast, but relieved from his chains, and treated with less cruelty than formerly. Yet he was still a prisoner.
The mother was now well enough to make a journey, though still very weak. She returned to her cottage by the river-side, and soon she had the delight of seeing her husband enter it. It was seventeen months since he had been torn from it by the king's officers, and ever since, he had been groaning in irons. But he was not now come to remain in his cottage, but only to obtain a little food and clothing to take with him to the Burmese camp. His wife felt cheered on his account, hoping that as an interpreter he would be well treated.
No sooner was he gone, than she was seized with that deadly disease, called spotted fever. What now would become of little Maria? Through the tender mercy of God, on the very day the mother fell ill, a Burmese woman offered to nurse the babe. Every day the mother grew worse, till at last the neighbors came in to see her die. As they stood around, they exclaimed, in their Burmese tongue, "She is dead, and if the king of angels should come in, he could not recover her." Their king of angels could not, but her KING of ANGELS could, for he can raise the dead. But this dear lady was not dead, though nearly dead.
The Lord of life showed her mercy. A friend entered the sick chamber. It was Dr. Price, a missionary and a prisoner, but who had obtained leave from the king to visit the sick lady. He understood her case, and he ordered her head to be shaved, and blisters to be applied to her feet. From that time, she began to recover, and in a month, she had strength to stand up. The governor, who had once been so slow to hear her complaints, now sent for her to his house. He received her in the kindest manner. What was her joy, when she foiled her husband there, not as a prisoner, but as a guest. Many prayers had she offered up, during her long illness, and they were now answered. The promise she had trusted in was fulfilled. This was that promise: "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I WILL DELIVER THEE, and thou shalt glorify me."
But still brighter days were at hand. The King of Burmah had peace with the British, and had agreed to deliver the missionaries into their hands. Glad, indeed, were they to escape from the power of the cruel monarch. Little Maria and her parents, as well as Mary and Abby, were conveyed in a boat down the river to the place where the English army had encamped. The English general received them with fatherly kindness, and gave them a tent to dwell in near his own. What a fortnight they spent in that tent. It was a morning of joy, after a night of weeping. Little Maria was now, for the first time, dwelling with both her parents.
Soon afterwards she was taken to a new home in a town in Burmah, built by the English. It was called Amherst. Here the missionary might teach the Burmese to know their Saviour, without being under the power of the cruel Burmese king.
It seemed as if the little family, so long afflicted, were now to dwell in safety, and to labor in comfort. But there is a rest for the people of God, and to this rest one of this family was soon removed.
The missionary determined to go to Ava, to plead with the king for permission to teach his subjects. He parted from his beloved wife, little thinking he should never see her again.
During her husband's absence, she watched with deep anxiety over her little Maria. The child was pale, and puny, yet very affectionate and intelligent. Whenever her mamma said, "Where is dear papa gone?" the little creature started up, and pointed to the sea. She could not speak plainly, for she was only twenty months old.
Not long did she enjoy her mother's tender care. The poor mother, worn with her past watching, and weeping, was attacked by fever. As she lay upon the bed, she was heard to say, "The teacher is long in coming, I must die alone, and leave my little one; but as it is the will of God, I am content."
She grew so ill, that she took no notice of anything that passed around her; but even then she called for her child, and charged the nurse to be kind to it, and to indulge it in everything till its father returned. This charge she gave, because she knew the babe wan sick, and needed the tenderest care. At last the mother lay without moving, her eyes closed, and her head resting on her arm. Thus she continued for two days, and then she uttered one cry, and ceased to breathe. Her illness had lasted eighteen days. Then she rested from her labors, and slept in Jesus.
What now became of little Maria? The wife of an English officer receded her in her house for a few weeks, and then a missionary and his wife came to Maria's home, and took charge of the child. Maria was pleased to come back to her own home, and she fancied that kind Mrs. Wade was her own mother.
What a day it was when the poor father returned home! No wife to meet him, with love and joy; only a sickly babe, who had forgotten him, and turned from him with alarm. Where could he go, but to the grave to weep there? then he returned to the house to look at the very spot where he had knelt with his wife in prayer, and parted from her in hope of a happy return.
Little Maria was nursed with a mother's care, though not in a mother's arms; but her delicate frame had been shaken by her infant troubles, and care and comforts came TOO LATE. After drooping day by day, she died at the age of two years and three months, exactly six months after her mother. Her father was near to close her faded eyes, and fold her little hands on her cold breast, and then to lay her in a little grave, close beside her mother's, under the Hope Tree.
The words of the poet would suit well the case of this much tried infant:—
"Short pain, short grief, dear babe, were thine, Now, joys eternal and divine."
Like Maria's are the sufferings of many a missionary's babe, and many lie in an early tomb. But they are dear to the Saviour, for their parents' sakes, and their deaths are precious in his sight, and their spirits and their dust are safe in his hands.
 Taken from "Travels in Eastern Asia," by Rev. Howard Malcolm.
 Amherst is only thirty miles from Maulmain.
Cross a river, and you pass from Burmah to Siam. These two countries, like most countries close together, have quarrelled a great deal, and now Britain has got in between them, and has parted them; as a nurse might come and part two quarrelsome children. Britain has conquered that part of Burmah which lies close to Siam, and has called it British Burmah; so Siam is now at peace.
But though these two countries have been such enemies, they are as like each other as two sisters. Siam is the little sister. Siam is a long narrow slip of a country, having the sea on one side, and mountains on the other.
The religion of Siam is the same as that of Burmah, the worship of Buddha. But in Siam he is not called Buddha: the name given him there is "Codom." You see how many names this Buddha has; in China he is Fo; in Burmah he is Gaudama; in Siam, he is Codom. Neither is he honored in Siam in exactly the same way as in Burmah. Instead of building magnificent pagodas, the Siamese build magnificent image houses or temples.
The Siamese resemble the Burmese in appearance, but they are much worse looking. Their faces are very broad, and flat; and so large are the jaws under the ears, that they appear as if they were swollen. Their manner of dressing their hair does not improve their looks; for they cut their hair quite close, except just on the top of their heads, where they make it stand up like bristles; nor do they wear any covering on their heads, except when it is very hot, and then they put on a hat in the shape of a milk pan, made of leaves. They do not disfigure themselves, as the Burmese do, with nose-rings, and ear-bars; but they, love ornaments quite as much, and load themselves with necklaces and bracelets. Their dress consists of a printed cotton garment, wound round the body. This is the dress of the women as well as of the men; only sometimes the women wear a handkerchief over their necks.
In disposition the Siamese are deceitful, and cowardly. It has been said of them, that as friends they are not to be trusted, and as enemies not to be feared: they cannot be trusted because they are deceitful: they need not be feared because they are cowardly. This is indeed a dreadful character; for many wicked people are faithful to their friends, and brave in resisting their enemies.
No doubt the manner in which they are governed makes them cowardly; for they are taught to behave as if they were worms. Whoever enters the presence of the king, must creep about on hands and knees. The great lords require their servants to show them the same respect. Servants always crawl into a room, pushing in their trays before them; and when waiting, they walk about on their knees. How shocking to see men made like worms to gratify the pride of their fellow-men! The rule is never to let your head be higher than the head of a person more honorable than yourself; if he stand, you must sit; if he sit, you must crouch.
The Siamese are like the Burmese in cruelty. When an enemy falls into their hands, no mercy is shown.
A king of a small country called Laos, was taken captive by the Siamese. This king, with his family, were shut up in a large iron cage, and exhibited as a sight. There he was, surrounded by his sons and grandsons, and all of them were heavily laden with chains on their necks and legs. Two of them were little boys, and they played and laughed in their cage!—so thoughtless are children! But the elder sons looked very miserable; they hung down their heads, and fixed their eyes on the ground; and well they might; for within their sight were various horrible instruments of torture;—spears with which to pierce them;—an iron boiler, in which to heat oil to scald them;—a gallows on which to hang their bodies, and—a pestle and mortar in which to pound the children to powder. You see how Satan fills the heart of the heathen with his own cruel devices. The people who came to see this miserable family, rejoiced at the sight of their misery: but they lost the delight they expected in tormenting the old king, for he died of a broken heart; and all they could do then, was to insult his body; they beheaded it, and then hung it upon a gibbet, where every one might see it, and the beasts and birds devour it.
What became of his unhappy family is not known.
But though so barbarous to their enemies, the Siamese in some respects are better than most other heathen nations, for they treat their relations more kindly. They do not kill their infants, nor shut up their wives, nor cast out their parents. Yet they show their cruelty in this:—they often sell one another for slaves. They also purchase slaves in great numbers; and there are wild men in the mountains who watch Burmans and Karens to sell them to the great chiefs of Siam. It is the pride of their chiefs to have thousands of slaves crawling around them.
This city is built on an island in a broad river, and part of it on the banks of the river. It ought therefore to be a pleasant city, but it is not, owing to its extreme untidiness. The streets are full of mud, and overgrown with bushes, amongst which all the refuse is thrown; there are also many ditches with planks thrown across. There is only one pleasant part of the town, and that is, where the Wats are built. The Wats are the idol-houses. Near them are shady walks and fragrant flowers, and elegant dwellings for the priests. The people think they get great merit by making Wats, and therefore they take so much trouble: for the Siamese are very idle. So idle are they that there would be very little trade in Bankok, if it were not for the Chinese, who come over here in crowds, and make sugar, and buy and sell, and get money to take back to China. You may tell in a moment a Chinaman's garden from a Siamese garden; one is so neat and full of flowers;—the other is overgrown with weeds and strewn with litter.
The most curious sight in Bankok, is the row of floating houses. These houses are placed upon posts in the river, and do not move about as boats do; yet if you wish to move your house, you can do so; you have only to take up the posts, and float to another place.
Besides the floating houses, there are numerous boats in the river, and some so small that a child can row them. There are so many that they often come against each other, and are overset. A traveller once passed by a boat where a little girl of seven was rowing, and by accident his boat overset hers. The child fell out of her boat, and her paddle out of her hand; yet she was not the least frightened, only surprised; and after looking about for a moment, she burst out a laughing, and was soon seen swimming behind her boat (still upside down), with her paddle in her hand. These little laughing rowers are too giddy to like learning, and they are not at all willing to come to the missionaries' schools; but some poor children, redeemed from slavery, are glad to be there, and have been taught about Christ in these schools.
This is a peninsula, or almost an island, for there is water almost all round it. In shape it is something like a dog's leg, even as Italy is like a man's leg.
The weather in Malacca is much pleasanter than in most parts of India, because the sea-breezes make the air fresh. There is no rainy season, as in most hot countries, but a shower cools the air almost every day. The country, too, is beautiful, for there are mountains, and forests, and streams.
Yet it is a dangerous country to live in, for the people are very treacherous. There are many pirates among them. What are pirates? Robbers by sea. If they see a small vessel, in a moment the pirates in their ships try to overtake it, seize it, take the crew prisoners, and sell them for slaves. The governors of the land do not punish the pirates; far from punishing them, they share in the gains. That is a wicked land indeed, where the governors encourage the people in their sins.
Malacca has no king of her own; the land belongs to Siam, except a very small part. The inhabitants are called Malays. They are not like the Siamese in character; for instead of being cowardly, they are fierce. Neither have they the same religion, for instead of being Buddhists, they are Mahomedans. Yet they know very little about the Koran, or its laws. One command, however, they have learned, which is—to hate infidels. They count all who do not believe in Mahomet to be infidels, and they say that it is right to hunt them. They are proud of taking Christian vessels, and of selling Christians as slaves.
There are some valuable plants in Malacca. There is one which has a seed called "pepper." There is a tree which has in the stem a pith called sago. Who collects the pepper and the sago? There are mines of tin. Who digs up the tin? The idle Malays will not take so much trouble, so the industrious Chinese labor instead. The Chinese come over by thousands to get rich in Malacca. As there is not room for them in their own country, they are glad to settle in other countries. But though the Chinese set an example of industry, they do not set an example of goodness; for they gamble, and so lose their money, they smoke opium, and so lose their health, and they commit many kinds of wickedness by which they lose their souls.
As for the Malays, they are so very idle, that when trees fall over the river, and block up the way, they will not be at the trouble of cutting a way through for their boats,—but will sooner creep under or climb over the fallen trees.
The capital of Malacca is Malacca, and this city belongs to the English; but it is of little use to them, because the harbor is not good.
This city also belongs to the English, and it is of great use to them, because the harbor is one of the best in the world. Many ships come there to buy, and to sell, and amongst the rest, the Chinese junks. The city is built on a small island, very near the coast. There are many beautiful country houses perched on the hills, where English families live, and there are long flights of stone steps leading from their houses to the sea.
But many of the Malays have no home but a boat, hardly large enough to lie down in. There they gain a living by catching fish, and collecting shells, and coral, to exchange for sago, which is their food. These men are called "Ourang-lout," which means "Man of the water." Does not this name remind you of the apes called "Ourang-outang," which means "Man of the woods?" There are Ourang-outangs in the forests of Malacca, and they are more like men, and are more easily tamed than any other ape. Yet still how different is the tamest ape from the wildest man; for the one has an immortal soul, and the other has none.
The Malay language is said to be the easiest in the world, even as the Chinese is the most difficult. The Malay language has no cases or genders, or conjugations, which puzzle little boys so much in their Latin Grammars. It is easy for missionaries to learn the Malay language. When they know it, they can talk to the Chinese in Malacca in this language.
I will tell you of a school that an English lady has opened at Singapore for poor Chinese girls.
THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL-GIRLS.
The two elder girls were sisters, and were called Chun and Han. Both of them, when they heard about Jesus, believed in him, and loved him. Yet their characters were very different, Chun being of a joyful disposition, and Han of a mournful and timid temper. They had no father, and their mother was employed in the school to take care of the little children, and to teach them needle-work; but she was a heathen.
When Chun and Han had been three years in the school, their mother wanted them to leave, and to come with her to her home. The girls were grieved at the thought of leaving their Christian teacher, and of living in a heathen home; yet they felt it was their duty to do as their mother wished. But they were anxious to be baptized before they went, if they could obtain their mother's consent. Their kind teacher, Miss Grant, thought it would be of no use to ask leave long before the time, lest the mother should carry her girls away, and lock them up. So she waited till the very evening fixed for the baptism. Miss Grant had been praying all day for help from God, and the two sisters had been praying together; and now the bell began to ring for evening service. Now the time was come when the mother must be asked.
"Do you know," said Miss Grant to the mother, "that the children are going to church with me?" "Yes," replied the mother, "wherever Missie pleases to take them." Then the lady told her of the baptism, and entreated her consent. At last the heathen mother replied, "If you wish it, I will not oppose you." Miss Grant, afraid lest the mother should change her mind, hastened into her palanquin, and the sisters hastened into theirs. Looking back, the lady perceived the mother was standing watching the palanquins. Seeing this, she stopped, saying, "Nomis, why should not you come, and see what is done?" To the lady's surprise, the mother immediately consented to come; and so this heathen mother was present at the baptism of her daughters. Their teacher, (who was their mother in Christ,) rejoiced with exceeding joy to see her dear girls give themselves to the Lord, and to hear them answer in their broken English, "All dis I do steadfastly believe."
Soon after their baptism, the girls went to live in their mother's house. To comfort them, Miss Grant promised to fetch them every Sunday, to spend the day with her. She came for them at five o'clock in the morning, before it was light, and took them back at nine, when it was quite dark. If she had not fetched them herself, they would not have been allowed to go.
After awhile, they were not allowed to go. The reason was, that the heathen mother wanted Chun to marry a heathen Chinaman. Chun refused to commit such a sin. Then her mother was angry, mocked her, and prevented her going to see Miss Grant. Still Chun refused. She saw her mother embroidering her wedding-dresses, but she still persisted that she would not marry a heathen, especially as she would have to bow down before an idol at her marriage. Chun grew very unhappy, and looked very pale, she wrote many letters to her kind friend, and offered up many prayers to her merciful God. And did the Lord hear her, and did He deliver her? He did. A Christian Chinaman, who had been brought up by a missionary, heard of Chun, and asked permission to marry her. He had never seen her, for it is not the custom in China for girls to be seen.
Miss Grant was delighted at the thought of her darling Chun marrying a Christian, and she helped to prepare for the wedding. There was no bowing down before an idol at that wedding, but an English clergymen read the service. Chun's face, according to the custom, was covered with a thick veil, and even her hands and feet were hidden. A few days after the wedding, Miss Grant, according to the custom, called on the newly married. She found the room beautifully ornamented, like all Chinese rooms at such times, but there were two ornaments seldom seen in China—two Bibles lying open on the table.
Chun long rejoiced that she had so firmly refused to marry a heathen. One day, Miss Grant said to her, playfully, "Has your husband beaten you yet?" (for she knew that Chinamen think nothing of beating their wives.) Chun replied, with a sweet look, "O no! he often tells me, that first he thanks God, and then you, Miss, for having given me to him as his wife."
There was another girl at Miss Grant's school, named Been. Sometimes she was called Beneo, which means Miss Been, just as Chuneo means Miss Chun. Miss Grant hoped that Been loved the Saviour, and hated idols, but she soon lost her, for her parents took her to their heathen home.
After Been had been home a short time her mother died. The neighbors were astonished to find that Been refused to worship her mother's spirit, and to burn gold paper, to supply her with money in the other world. While her relations were busily occupied in their heathen ceremonies, Been sat silent and alone. Soon afterwards, her father, who cared not for her, sold her to a Chinaman to be his wife, for forty dollars.
Miss Grant heard her sad fate, and often longed to see her, but did not know where to find her. One evening, as she was paying visits in her palanquin, she saw a pair of bright black eyes looking through a hedge, and she felt sure that they were her own Been's. She stopped, and calling the girl, saluted her affectionately. She was glad she had found out where Been lived, as she would now be able to pay her a visit.
Soon she called upon her, in her own dwelling;—a poor little hut in the midst of a sugar plantation. She brought as a present, a New Testament in English, and in large print. Been appeared delighted.
"Do you remember how to read it?" inquired Miss Grant.
"Yes, how could I forget?" Been sweetly replied.
"Well then, read," said Miss Grant.
Been read, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep."
"Do you understand?" inquired the lady.
"Yes," said Been, and she translated the words into Malay.
As Miss Grant was rising to depart, she observed a hen gathering her brood under her wings.
"Of what does that remind you, Been?"
"I know," said the poor girl; "I remember what I learnt at school;" and then in her broken English, she repeated the words: "As a hen gaderet her chickens under her wings, so would I have gaderd de, but dou wouldest not."
At this moment, Been's husband came in. The girl was glad, for she wanted Miss Grant to ask him as a great favor, to allow her to spend next Sunday at the school. The husband consented. There was a joyful meeting indeed, on that Sunday, between Been, and Chun, and Han; nor was their affectionate teacher the least joyful of the company.
This is a name which makes people shiver, because it reminds them of the cold. It is a name which makes the Russians tremble, because it reminds them of banishment, for the emperor often sends those who offend him to live in Siberia.
Yet Siberia is not an ugly country, such as Tartary. It is not one dead flat, but it contains mountains, and forests, and rivers. Neither is Siberia a country in which nothing will grow; in some parts there is wheat, and where wheat will not grow barley will, and where barley will not grow turnips will. Yet there are not many cornfields in Siberia, for very few people live there. In the woods you will find blackberries, and wild roses, like those in England; and red berries, as well as black berries, and lilies as well as roses.
Still it must be owned that Siberia is a very cold country; for the snow is not melted till June, and it begins to fall again in September; so there are only two whole months without snow; they are July and August.
INHABITANTS.—The Russians are the masters of Siberia, and they have built several large towns there. But these towns are very far apart, and there are many wild tribes wandering about the country.
One of these tribes is the Ostyaks. Their houses are in the shape of boxes, for they are square with flat roofs. There is a door, but you must stoop low to get in at it, unless you are a very little child; and there is a window with fish-skin instead of light. There is a chimney, too, and a blazing fire of logs in a hole in the ground. There is a trough, too, instead of a dining-table, and out of it the whole family eat, and even the dogs sometimes. The house is not divided into rooms, but into stalls, like those of a stable; and deer-skins are spread in the stalls, and they are the beds; each person sits and sleeps in his own stall, on his own deer-skin, except when the family gather round the fire, and sitting on low stools, warm themselves, and talk together.
In one of these snug corners, an old woman was seen, quite blind, yet sewing all day, and threading her needle by the help of her tongue. She wore a veil of thick cloth over her head, as all the Ostyak women do, and as she did not need light, she hid her head completely under it.
But though the Ostyaks are poor, they possess a great treasure in their dogs, for these creatures are as useful as horses, and much more sensible. They need no whip to make them go, and no bridle to turn them the right way; it is enough to tell them when to set out, and to stop, or to turn, to move faster, or more slowly. These dogs are white, spotted with black; the hair on their bodies is short, but long on their handsome curling tails. They draw their masters in sledges, and are yoked in pairs. There are some large sledges, in which a man can lie down in comfort: to draw such a sledge twelve dogs are necessary; but there are small sledges in which a poor Ostyak can just manage to crouch, and two dogs can draw it. When the dogs are to be harnessed, they are not caught, as horses are, but only called. Yet they do not like work better than horses like it, and when they first set out they howl, but grow quiet after a little while.
The driver is sometimes cruel to these poor dogs, and corrects them for the smallest fault, by throwing a stone at them, or the great club he holds in his hand, or at least a snow-ball: if a hungry dog but stoop down to pick up a morsel of food on the road, he is punished in this manner. Yet it must be owned, that the dogs have their faults; they are greedy, and inclined to thieving. To keep food out of their way, the Ostyaks build store-houses, on the tops of very high poles. The dogs are always on the watch to slip into their master's houses. If the door be left open ever so little, a dog will squeeze in, if he can; but he does not stay long within, for he is soon thrust out with blows and kicks; the women scream at the sight of a dog in the hut, for they fear lest he will find the fish-trough. Yet after long journeys, the dogs are brought into the hut, and permitted to lie down by the fire, and to eat out of the family trough. At other times they sleep in the snow, and eat whatever is thrown to them. When they travel, bags of dried fish are brought in their sledges, to feed them by the way. The puppies are tenderly treated, and petted by the fire; yet many are killed for the sake of their fleecy hair, which is considered a fine ornament for pelisses.
The Ostyaks have another, and a greater treasure than dogs; they have reindeer. Those who live by fishing have dogs only, but those who dwell among the hills, have deer as well as dogs. Reindeer are like dogs in one respect, they can be driven without either a whip or a bit, which are so necessary for horses. But though they do not need the lashing of a whip; they require to be gently poked with a long pole; and though they do not need a bit, they require to be guided by a rein, fastened to their heads; because they are not like dogs, so sensible as to be managed by speaking.
But deer are very gentle, and are much more easily driven than horses. To drive horses four-in-hand is very difficult, but to drive four reindeer is not. The four deer are harnessed to the sledge all in a row, and a rein is fastened to the head of one; when he turns all the rest turn with him. Usually they trot, but they can gallop very fast, even down hill. When they are out of breath the driver lets them stop, and then the pretty creatures lie down, and cool their mouths with the snow lying on the ground.
Men ride upon reindeer; not upon their backs, but on their necks; for their backs are weak, while their necks are strong. Riders do not mount reindeer as they do horses,—by resting on their backs, and then making a spring, for that would hurt the poor animals; they lean on a long staff, and by its help, spring on the deer's neck. But it is not easy, when seated, to keep on; you would certainly fall off, for all strangers do, when they try to ride for the first time. The Ostyak knows how to keep his balance, by waving his long staff in the air, while the deer trots briskly along. But these reindeer have some curious fancies; they will not eat any food but such as they pluck themselves from the ground. It would be of no use at the end of a long journey, to put them in a stable;—they would not eat; they must be let loose to find their own nourishment, which is a kind of moss that grows wild among the hills.
The reindeer, after he is dead, is of as much use to the Ostyak, as when he was alive; for his skin is his master's clothing. Both men and women dress alike, in a suit that covers them from head to foot; the seams are well joined with thread, made of reindeer sinews, and the cold is kept well out. The Ostyak lets no part of his body be uncovered but just his face, and that would freeze, if he were not to rub it often with his hands, covered over with hairy reindeer gloves. The women cover their faces with thick veils. The Ostyak wears a great-coat made of the skin of a white deer; this gives him the appearance of a great white bear. He carries in his hand a bow taller than himself. His arrows are very long, and made of wood, pointed with iron. With these he shoots the wild animals. He is very glad when he can shoot a sable; because the Russian emperor requires every Ostyak to give him yearly, as a tax, the skins of two sables. The fur of the sable is very valuable, and is made into muffs and tippets, and pelisses for the Russian nobles.
But without his snow-shoes, the Ostyak would not be able to pursue the wild animals, for he would sink in the snow. These shoes are made of long boards, turned up at the end like a boat, and fastened to the feet. What a wild creature an Ostyak must look, when he is hunting his prey, wrapped in his shaggy white coat,—his long dark hair floating in the wind,—his enormous bow in his hand, and his enormous shoes on his feet!
What is the character of this wild man? Ask what is his religion, and that will show you how foolish and fierce a creature he must be. The Ostyak says, that he believes in ONE God who cannot be seen, but he does not worship him alone; he worships other gods. And such gods! Dead men! When a man dies, his relations make a wooden image of him, and worship it for three years, and then bury it. But when a priest dies, his wooden image is worshipped more than three years; sometimes it is never buried; for the priests who are alive, encourage the people to go on worshipping dead priests' images, that they may get the offerings which are made to them.
But what do you think of men worshipping DEAD BEASTS? Yet this is what the Ostyaks do. When they have killed a wolf or a bear, they stuff its skin with hay, and gather round to mock it, to kick it, to spit upon it, and then—they stick it up on its hind legs in a corner of the hut, and WORSHIP it! Alas! how has Satan blinded their mind!
And in what manner do they worship the beasts? With screaming,—with dancing,—with swinging their swords,—by making offerings of fur, of silver and gold, and of reindeer. These reindeer they kill very cruelly, by stabbing them in various parts of their bodies, to please the cruel gods, or rather cruel devils whom they worship.
Has no one tried to convert the Ostyaks to God? The emperor of Russia will not allow protestant missionaries to teach in Siberia. He wishes the Ostyaks to belong to the Greek church, and he has tried to bribe them with presents of cloth to be baptized; and a good many have been baptized. But what good can such baptisms do to the soul?
The Russians do much harm to their subjects, by tempting them to buy brandy. There is nothing which the Ostyaks are so eager to obtain, as this dangerous drink. On one occasion, a traveller was surrounded by a troop of Ostyaks, all begging for brandy, and when they could get none, they brought a large heap of frozen fish, and laid it at the travellers feet, saying, "Noble sir, we present you with this." They did get some brandy in return. Then, hoping for more, they brought a great salmon, and a sturgeon, as long as a man. They seemed ready to part with all they had, for the sake of brandy.
Thus you see how much harm the Ostyaks have learned from their acquaintance with the Russians. The chief good they have got, has been learning to build houses; for once they lived only in tents.
This tribe lives so far to the north, that they see very little of the Russians, though they belong to the emperor of Russia. They live close by the Northern Sea. Imagine how very cold it must be. The Samoyedes inhabit tents made of reindeer skins, such as the Ostyaks used to live in. They are a much wilder people than the Ostyaks. The women dress in a strange fantastic manner; not contented with a reindeer dress, as the Ostyaks are, they join furs and skins of various sorts together; and instead of veiling their faces, they wear a gay fur hat, with lappets; and at the back of their necks a glutton's tail hangs down, as well as long tails of their own hair, with brass rings jingling together at the end.
But if their taste in dress is laughable, their taste in food is horrible, as you will see. A traveller went with a Samoyede family for a little while. They were drawn by reindeer, in sledges, and other reindeer followed of their own accord. When they stopped for the night, they pitched the tent, covering the long poles with their reindeer skins, sewed together. The snow covered the ground inside the tent, but no one thought of sweeping it away. It was easy to get water to fill the kettle, as a few lumps of snow soon melted. Some of the men slept by the blazing fire, while others went out, armed with long poles, to defend the deer from the wolves. There was in the party a child of two years old, with its mother. The child was allowed to help himself to porridge out of the great kettle. The traveller offered him white sugar; but at first he called it snow, and threw it away; soon, however, he learned to like it, and asked for some whenever he saw the stranger at tea. At night, the child was laid in a long basket, and was closely covered with furs; in the same basket also, he travelled in the sledge.
One day the traveller saw a Samoyede feast. A reindeer was brought, and killed before the tent door; and its bleeding body was taken into the tent, and devoured, all raw as it was, with the heartiest appetite. It was dreadful to see the Samoyedes gnawing the flesh off the bones; their faces all stained with blood, and even the child had his share of the raw meat. Truly they looked more like wolves than men.
I might go on to tell you of many other tribes; but I must be content just to mention a few.
There is a tribe who live in the eastern part of Siberia, called the Yakuts, and instead of deer, and dogs, they keep horses, and oxen, and strange to say, they ride upon the oxen; and eat the horses. A horse's head is counted by them a most dainty dish. The cows live in one room, and the family live in the next, with the calves, which are tied to posts by the fire, and enjoy the full blaze. You may suppose that the calves need the warmth of the fire, when I tell you that the windows of the house are made of ice, but that the cold is so great, that the ice does not melt.
There is a large tribe called the Buraets. They dwell in tents. They are Buddhists. At one time the Russians allowed missionaries to go to them. There was an old man named Andang, who used to attend the services very regularly. His wife accompanied him. One Sunday the preacher spoke much of heaven and its glories. The old woman, on returning to her tent, said to her husband, "Old man, I am going home to-night." Her husband did not understand her meaning: then she said, "I love Jesus Christ, and I think I shall be with him to-night." She lay down in her tent that night, but rose no more. In the morning, the old man found her stiff and cold. He saddled his horse, and set off to tell the missionary. "O sir," said he, with tears, "my wife is gone home." When the missionary heard the account of her death, he felt cheered by the hope that the old woman, though born a heathen, had died a Christian, and had left her tent to dwell in a glorious mansion above; for how was it that she felt no fear of death, and how was it that she felt heaven was her home? Was it not because Jesus loved her, and because she loved Jesus?
THE BANISHED RUSSIANS.
Siberia is the land to which the emperor sends many of his people, when they displease him. In passing through Siberia, you would often see wagons full of women, children, and old men, followed by a troop of young men, and guarded by a band of soldiers on horseback. You might know them to be the banished Russians. What is to become of them? Some are to work in the mines, and some are to work in the factories. Some are to have a less heavy punishment; they are to be set free, in the midst of Siberia, to support themselves in any way they can. Gentlemen and ladies have a small sum of money allowed them by the emperor, and they live in the towns.
These people are called in Siberia, "the unfortunates." Some of them have not deserved to be banished; but some have been guilty of crimes.
There are a few cities in Siberia, but only a few, and they have been built by the Russians.
The three chief cities are,—
Tobolsk, on the west, on the river Oby. Irkutsk, in the midst, on the lake Baikal. Yarkutsk, on the east, on the river Lena.
OF THESE CITIES,
Tobolsk is the handsomest. Irkutsk is the pleasantest. Yarkutsk is the coldest.
It is not surprising that Tobolsk should be the handsomest, for there the governor of Siberia resides.
A great many Chinese come to Irkutsk to trade, and they bring quantities of tea.
Yarkutsk is the coldest town in the world; there may be others nearer the north, but none lie exposed to such cold winds. The inhabitants scarcely dare admit the light, for fear of increasing the cold; and they make only one or two very small windows in their houses. Yet in summer vegetables grow freely in the gardens.
The Ostyaks live near the Oby. The Buraets live near lake Baikal. The Yakuts live near the Lena.
THE URAL MOUNTAINS.
They are full of treasures; gold, silver, iron, copper, and precious stones. They are dug up by the banished Russians, and sent in great wagons to Russia, to increase the riches of the emperor.
It is impossible to look at Siberia, without being struck with the shape of Kamkatka, which juts out like a short arm. It is a peninsula. A beautiful country it is; full of mountains, and rivers, and woods, and waterfalls, and not as cold as might be expected. But there are not many people dwelling in it; for though it is larger than Great Britain, all the inhabitants might be contained in one of our small towns. And why are there so few in so fine a country? Because the people love brandy better than labor. They have been corrupted by the Russian soldiers, and traders, and convicts, and they are sickening and dying away.
A traveller once said to a Kamkatdale, "How should you like to see a ship arrive here from China, laden with tea and sugar?" "I should like it well," replied the man, "but there is one thing I should like better—to see a ship arrive full of men; it is men we want, for our men are sick; of the twelve here, six are too weak to hunt or fish."