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.
CHAPTER VII. THE BISHOPRIC OF CALCUTTA: THOMAS MIDDLETON, REGINALD HEBER, DANIEL WILSON.
Perhaps dying in a cause is the surest way of leading to its success. Henry Martyn was sinking on his homeward journey, while in England the renewal of the Charter of the East India Company was leading to the renewal of those discussions on the promotion of religion in Hindostan which had been so entirely quashed twenty years before, in 1793. Claudius Buchanan had published his "Christian Researches," the Life of Schwartz had become known, the labours of Marshman and Carey were reported, and the Legislature at length attended to the representations, made through Archbishop Manners Sutton, by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and consented to sanction the establishment of a branch of the Church, with a Bishop to govern it at Calcutta, and an Archdeacon there and also at Madras and Bombay; the Bishop to have 5,000l. a year but no house, and each Archdeacon 2,000l. Such was all that the efforts of Wilberforce could wring from the East India Company for a diocese, in length twenty degrees, in breadth ten, and where the inconvenience of distances was infinitely increased by the difficulties and dangers of travelling.
One excuse for the insufficiency of this provision had more weight with the supporters of the Church than we can understand. England had for more than a thousand years been accustomed to connect temporal grandeur with the Episcopacy; a Bishop not in the House of Lords seemed an anomaly, and it was imagined that to create chief pastors without a considerable endowment would serve to bring them into contempt; whereas to many minds, that very wealth and station was an absolute stumbling- block. However, a beginning was made, and a year after Henry Martyn's death, in 1814, the first of the Colonial Bishops of England was appointed, namely, Thomas Fanshaw Middleton, the son of a Derbyshire clergyman, who had been educated at Christ's Hospital, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, and had since been known as an excellent Greek scholar, and an active clergyman in the diocese of Lincoln. Thence he removed to the rectory of St. Pancras, London, where he strove hard to accomplish the building of a new church, but could not succeed, such was the dead indifference of the period. He was also Archdeacon of Huntingdon, and one of a firmly compacted body of friends who were doing much in a resolute though quiet way for the awakening of the nation from its apathy towards religion. Joshua Watson, a merchant, might be regarded as the lay-manager and leader, as having more leisure, and more habit of business than the clergy, with and for whom he worked. This is no place for detailing their home labours, but it may be well to mention that to their exertions we owe the National Society for the education of the poor, and likewise that edition of the Holy Scriptures, with notes, which is commonly known as Mant's Bible. They were the chief managers at that time of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and when, in 1813, a Danish missionary was sent out by that Society to take charge of the congregations left by Schwartz and his colleagues, it was Archdeacon Middleton who was selected to deliver a charge to him. It was a very powerful and impressive speech, and perhaps occasioned Dr. Tomline, Bishop of Lincoln, to recommend the speaker to the Earl of Buckinghamshire for the bishopric created the next year.
The office would be, humanly speaking, most trying, laborious and perplexing, and neither Archdeacon Middleton's age (forty-five) nor his habits inclined to enthusiasm. He shrank from it at first, then "suspected," as he says, "that I had yielded to some unmanly considerations," and decided that it was his duty to accept the charge as a call from his Master. He was consecrated in the chapel at Lambeth, by Archbishop Manners Sutton, with the Bishops of London, Lincoln, and Salisbury assisting. The sermon was preached by Dr. Rennell, Dean of Winchester, but was withheld from publication for the strange reason that there was so strong an aversion to the establishment of episcopacy in India, that it was thought better not to attract attention to the fact that had just been accomplished.
Bishop Middleton, his wife, and two of his Archdeacons (the third was already in India) sailed on the 8th of June, 1814, and they landed at Calcutta on the 28th of November. There was no public reception, for fear of alarming the natives, though, on the other hand, they were found to entertain a better opinion of the English on finding they respected their own religion. The difficulties of the Bishop's arrival were increased by the absence of Lord Moira, the Governor-General, who was engaged in the Nepaulese war; and as no house had been provided for the Bishop, he had to be the guest of Mr. Seton, a member of the Council, till a house could be procured, at a high rent.
One of the first visitors was a Hindoo gentleman, who told him, "Sir William Jones was a great man and understood our books, but he attended only to our law. Your lordship will study our religion; your people mistake our religion; it is not in our books. The Brahminee religion and your lordship's are the same; we mean the same thing."
The man seems to have been one of those of whom there are now only too many in India, who have thrown off their old superstitions only to believe in nothing, save the existence of a Supreme Being, and who fancy that all other religions can be simplified into the like. This is the class that has, for the seventy years during which Christianity has been preached in earnest, been the alternate hope and anxiety of the missionary; intellectually renouncing their own paganism, but withheld by the prejudices of their families from giving up the heathenish customs of caste; admiring divine morality, but not perceiving the inability of man to attain the standard; and refusing to accept the mysteries in the supernatural portion of Revelation. Such was probably Serfojee; such was the celebrated Brahmin Ram Mohun Roy, with whom Bishop Middleton had much discussion, and of whom he had at one time many hopes, a man of very remarkable powers of mind and clear practical intelligence. Roy's endeavour at first was to purify the native forms of religion, and, recurring to the Vedas, to find a high philosophy in them; but he and the friends he gathered round him soon became convinced that these contained no system of reasonable theology, still less of morality, and they then constructed for themselves a theory culled from Christianity, but rejecting whatever did not approve itself to their intellect, in especial the holy mysteries regarding the nature of the Godhead and the Incarnation of our Lord. This teaching, called Brahmoism, from Brahma, the purest and highest of Hindoo divinities, is, under another form, the Neo-Platonism of the Greeks, or the Soofeeism of the Persians. There was even the germ of it in the grotesque medicine-man encountered by David Brainerd. It is the form of opposition which the spirit of evil always stirs up, wherever the natural character is elevated enough to appreciate the beauty of Christian morality. It only prevails where there are refined and cultivated men, afraid of all belief in the supernatural, as a humbling of their intellect to superstition; and just at present a form of it is very prevalent in India, owing to the amount of education which the natives receive, which uproots the old belief, but does not always implant the new. Whether it will become a stepping-stone to Christianity, or whether it has substance to become a separate sect, remains to be proved.
To return to Bishop Middleton. He knew when he left home that his work would be heavy, and that to set in order the things that were wanting must be his first undertaking; but no words could have conveyed the dead weight of care and toil that lay on him. The huge diocese was shamefully deficient in all that was needful for the keeping up of religious ordinances; the Company's chaplains, few in number, were stationed at immense distances apart, and for the most part had no attempt at a proper church for their congregations. Verandahs or dining-rooms were used on Sundays; and at Meerut, an edifice was actually built for the purpose of a riding-school in the week, and a place of worship on Sunday. Moreover, these chaplains were accustomed to look to the Governor-General as their only superior, and, living so far apart, each followed his own independent line of action, as if entirely unaccountable. Some, such as Mr. Corrie at Cawnpore, were admirable and earnest men; but Henry Martyn's successor at Dinapore had let the place sink into a lamentable state, and there were several chaplains who greatly resented the being brought under authority. The brunt of the battle fell of course upon the first Bishop, and being a man as sensitive as he was firm, it tried him severely. His entreaty was constantly for more men; and in order to obtain a ministry beyond that which the East India Company would provide for, he occupied himself in procuring the foundation of Bishop's College, close to Calcutta, a seminary where young men, both European and native, could receive a good theological and classical education, and be prepared for Holy Orders. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge granted 5,000l. for the purpose, and private subscriptions came in, until on the 15th of December, 1820, the Bishop was enabled to lay the foundation- stone of an institution that has, now for half a century, admirably answered its purpose.
It has long been found that Christianity cannot take root without a native ministry, and Bishop Middleton was most anxious to ordain such catechists of Schwartz's training as were ready; but he found great technical difficulties in the way, since the ordination form in the Prayer Book left no opening for persons who, not being British subjects, could not be expected to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy; and, moreover, it was not certain what language ought to be used with men not speaking English. The arrangement of these difficulties hindered him from ordaining Christian David, the godson and pupil of Schwartz, and a subject of Tanjore, on his visitation to the Presidency. This good man met him, together with the minister of Palamcotta, bringing a deputation about thirty in number. The minister was an exceedingly dark man, with a very interesting countenance. Addresses, interpreted by Christian, were made on either side, and the thirty sang a psalm of thanksgiving in Tamul. They were only a small deputation, for there were several Christian villages in Tinnevelly, with churches built of unburnt brick, and roofed with palmyra leaves, where the English Liturgy was used, having been translated into Tamul by David.
At Tanjore, the Bishop was received in the most friendly manner by Serfojee, who came down from his throne to welcome him, and caused Mrs. Middleton to be conducted to visit the ladies of his zenana. He conducted the Bishop into his library, which contained books in various European languages; also on medicine and anatomy, this being his favourite study, to assist him in which he had an ivory skeleton. He returned the visit in great state, with six elephants, two of enormous size, going before him, and accompanied by his troops, with a wild, horrid dissonance of cannon and native music. Two thousand persons escorted the Rajah to the Bishop's tent, where he conversed very sensibly on various subjects, especially English history, or as he called it, "the Generations of English Kings." He was keeping up the good works he had established, under the encouragement of the British resident, Colonel Blackburne, and in this district the native Christians numbered about 500, who were under the direction of Schwartz's companion, Pohle.
On the Malabar coast Bishop Middleton had much intercourse with the Christians of St. Thomas, visited their churches, and held much conversation with their Bishop, convincing himself that the distinctive tenets of Nestorianism had died out among them, and arranging for their receiving assistance in books and teachers.
His visit to Ceylon followed, and was always regarded by him as a time of much gratification; the good Governor, Sir Robert Brownrigg, had done so much for the improvement of the people, and the missions were flourishing so well. Here Christian David became a catechist, and on the Bishop's second visitation, in 1821, he ordained as deacon a man named Armour, whose history one longs to know more fully. He had come out to Ceylon originally as a private soldier, and finding a number of natives, probably the remnant of the Dutch Mission, whose profession of Christianity was only nominal, he had taken upon himself "almost the work of an evangelist," never varying from the teaching and services of the English Church. He had taught himself to speak and preach fluently in Cingalese, and could use the Dutch and Portuguese languages freely. He had even some knowledge of Latin and Greek, and was so staunch Churchman that he had resisted all invitations from the Baptists to join them. He had gone through frightful difficulties and dangers in the swamp and the jungle, and travelled thousands of miles; and when he came to the Bishop it was with deep humility, and the hope that he had not been presumptuous in taking on himself the charge of souls without sanction. It was his great desire to obtain this commission, and the Bishop, finding how sound in faith, pious, and excellent he was, admitted him to deacon's orders before leaving Colombo.
Ceylon was erected into an archdeaconry and attached to the Bishopric of Calcutta, and shortly after the same arrangement was made respecting Australia—an archdeaconry a great deal larger than the continent of Europe! Thence Bishop Middleton received and attended to the petition of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, a devoted worker in the vineyard, of whom our next chapter will speak.
Distinct missionary labour was scarcely possible to a man overtasked like Bishop Middleton. The district that kept St. Paul in continual "journeyings often" would have been but a quarter of that which depended on him for "the care of all the churches," and the long journeys by sea and land were by far the least harassing part of his life; for he had to fight the battles, sometimes of his Church, sometimes of the whole Christian cause, with unfair and prejudiced officials, and a malignant newspaper press, by which the bitterest attacks were circulated against him and his doings. And, "besides those things that were without," there were the troubles of dealing with men used to do "that which was right in their own eyes," and determined to oppose or neglect one whose powers could only thoroughly be defined by actual practice. To go into these conflicts would be wearisome and vain. They have lost their interest now; but it must be remembered that it is by manfully and firmly enduring vexations such as these, that systems are established which form the framework and foundation of more visible labours, which gain more praise for those who are allowed to carry them out.
The constant wearing effort, the daily vexation, the inability to gain support, the binding of his hands from free action by the machinery of State regulations only applicable to home ecclesiastics, the continual making beginnings that never were allowed to progress—or, as he himself called it, the continual rolling of the stone of Sisyphus—could not but exhaust his powers, above all in such a climate; and that same sickly summer of 1822 which proved fatal to Felix Carey was his last. In July, one of his clergy, on whom he had been obliged to pass censure, instituted proceedings against him in the Supreme Court—a most improper and disloyal act, which much grieved and agitated him. He had to spend eight hours in writing in preparation for this painful matter, and afterwards went out in the carriage with his wife, but too early in the evening, for the slanting rays of the sun, not yet down, fell full on him, and their force is always especially dreaded at that damp and sickly season. He immediately said that the sun had struck him, and returned home; a most distressing fever, chiefly on the nerves, and accompanied by grievous restlessness and afterwards delirium, set in, and he died on the 8th of July, 1822, in his fifty-fourth year, absolutely worn out by toil and worry. But his career had established both the needfulness and the position of a Bishop, and his successor was appointed without the same opposition, still to a path perhaps only less thorny because briefer.
Of a Yorkshire family, where the eldest son was always bred up as the country gentleman, the younger ones usually prepared to hold the family livings, Reginald Heber was born on the 21st of April, 1783, at Malpas, in Cheshire, a rectory held by his father, who was the clerical second son, but soon after became head of the house by the death of his squire- brother. He was twice married, and had a son by his first wife, so that Reginald was born, as it were, to the prospect of taking Holy Orders; and this fact seems to have in a certain degree coloured his whole boyhood, and acted as a consecration, not saddening, but brightening his life.
A happy, eager, docile childhood seems to have been his; so obedient, that when an attack on the lungs necessitated the use of very painful remedies, the physician said that the chances of his recovery turned upon his being the most tractable of children; and with such a love and knowledge of the Bible that, when only five years old, his father could consult him like a little Concordance, and withal full of boyish mirth and daring. When sent to school at Neasdon, he was so excited by the story of an African traveller overawing a wild bull by the calm defiance of the eye, as to attempt the like process upon one that he found grazing in a field, but without the like success; for he provoked so furious a charge that he was forced to escape ignominiously over a high paling, whence he descended into a muddy pond.
Neasdon was the place of education of his whole boyhood, among twelve other pupils. Mr. John Thornton, the schoolfellow friend and correspondent of his life, describes him as having been much beloved there. He had no scruple as to fighting rather than submitting to tyranny from a bigger boy, but his unfailing good nature and unselfishness generally prevented such collisions; he was full of fun, and excellent at games of all sorts; and though at one time evil talk was prevalent among the boys, his perfect purity of mind and power of creating innocent amusement destroyed the habit, without estranging the other lads from him. He took many of his stories from books not read by them, for he was an omnivorous reader, taking special delight in poetry, loving nothing better than a solitary walk with Spenser's "Faerie Queen" in his hand, and often himself composing verses above the average for so young a boy.
He was always thoughtful, and there is a letter of his to his friend Thornton, written when only seventeen, which shows that he had begun to think over Church questions, was deeply sensible of the sacredness of the apostolical commission to the ministry, and of the evils of State interference. That same year, 1800, began his University education, at Brasenose College, Oxford. His course there was alike blameless in life and brilliant in scholarship; his talents and industry could not fail to secure him honours in the schools.
Another young man was at the very same time at Oxford, whose course had been steered thither with more difficulties than Reginald Heber's. Daniel Wilson's father was a wealthy silk manufacturer, at Spitalfields, where he was born in the year 1778. He was educated at a private school at Hackney, kept by a clergyman named Eyre, who must have had a good deal of discernment of character, for he said, "There is no milk and water in that boy. He will be either something very bad or very good." One day, when he was in an obstinate and impracticable state of idleness, Mr. Eyre said, "Daniel, you are not worth flogging, or I would flog you," which so stung him that he never fell into similar disgrace again; nay, one morning when he had failed in his appointed task, he refused food saying, "No! If my head will not work, my body shall not eat." He had considerable powers, and when his own theme on a given subject was finished, would find "sense" for all the dull boys—varying the matter but keeping to the point in all: but his education ceased at fourteen, when he was bound apprentice to his uncle, who followed the same trade as his father, and lived in Cheapside. He was a widower with seven children, one of whom in after years became Daniel's wife. It was a strictly religious household, and whereas Daniel's parents had been wont to attend church or meeting as suited them best, his uncle was a regular churchman, and took his whole family constantly with him, as decidedly as he kept up discipline in his warehouse, where the young men had so little liberty, that for weeks together they never had occasion to put on their hats except on Sunday.
Daniel was a thoughtless, irreverent lad, full of schoolboy restlessness when first he came; but though he was at first remarkable for his ill- behaviour in church, his attendance insensibly took effect upon him, as it brought his mind under the influence of the two chief powers for good then in London, John Newton and Richard Cecil. The vehement struggle for conversion and sense of individual salvation that their teaching deemed the beginning of grace took place, and he turned for aid to them and to his old schoolmaster, Mr. Eyre. It was from his hands in 1797, at the age of nineteen, that he received his first Communion, with so much emotion and such trembling, that he writes to his mother, "I have no doubt I appeared very foolish to those about me," but he adds in another letter to a friend that it had been the happiest day of his life. "And to you I confess it," he says, "(though it ought perhaps to be a cause for shame,) that I have felt great desire to go or do anything for the love of JESUS, and that I have even wished, if it were the Lord's will, to go as a missionary to foreign lands."
It is very remarkable that this thought should have occurred at such a moment to one who only became a missionary thirty-five years later, at a summons from without, not from within. The distinct mission impulse passed away, but a strong desire remained to devote himself to the ministry of the Church. He tried to stifle it at first, lest it should be a form of conceit or pride; but it only grew upon him, and at last he spoke to Mr. Eyre, who promised to broach the subject to his parents.
His father was strongly averse to it, as an overthrow to all his plans, and Mr. Eyre, after hearing both sides, said that he should give no opinion for a year; it would not hurt Daniel to remain another year in the warehouse, to fulfil the term of his apprenticeship, and it would then be proper time to decide whether to press his father to change his mind. It was a very sore trial to the young man, who had many reasons for deeming this sheer waste of time, though he owned he had not lost much of his school learning, having always loved it so much as to read as much Latin as he could in his leisure hours. He submitted at first, but was uneasy under his submission, and asked counsel from all the clergymen he revered, who seem all to have advised him to be patient, but to have urged his father to yield, which he finally did before the year was out; so that Daniel Wilson was entered at St. Edmund's Hall, Oxford, on the 1st of May, 1798. He struggled with the eagerness of one whose desire had grown by meeting with obstacles. In order to acquire a good Latin style, he translated all Cicero's letters into English, and then back into Latin; and when he went up for his degree, he took, besides his Latin and Greek books, the whole Hebrew Bible, but was only examined in the Psalms. He gained a triumphant first-class, and the next year, 1803, he carried off the English prose essay prize. The theme was "Common Sense." He had not in the least expected to gain the prize, and had not even mentioned the competition to his friends, so that their delight and surprise were equal. That same year, Reginald Heber was happy in the subject for Sir Roger Newdegate's prize for English verse, namely, "Palestine," which in this case had fallen to a poet too real to be crushed by the greatness of his subject.
Reginald Heber was used to society of high talent and cultivation. His elder brother, Richard, was an elegant scholar and antiquary, and was intimate with Mr. Marriott, of Rokeby; with Mr. Surtees, the beauty of whose forged ballads almost makes us forgive him for having palmed them off as genuine; and with Walter Scott, then chiefly known as "the compiler of the 'Border Minstrelsy,'" but who a few years later immortalized his friendship for Richard Heber by the sixth of his introductions to "Marmion,"—the best known, as it contains the description of the Christmas of the olden time. It concludes with the wish—
"Adieu, dear Heber, life and health! And store of literary wealth."
Just as Reginald was finishing his prize poem, Scott was on a tour through England, and breakfasted at Richard Heber's rooms at Oxford, when on the way to lionize Blenheim. The young brother's poem was brought forward and read aloud, and Scott's opinion was anxiously looked for. It was thoroughly favourable, "but," said Scott, "you have missed one striking circumstance in your account of the building of the Temple, that no tools were used in its erection."
Before the party broke up the lines had been added:
"No workman's steel, no ponderous axes rung; Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung; Majestic silence—"
The prose essay on "Common Sense" was first recited from the rostrum in the Sheldonian theatre, and Wilson always remembered the hearty applause of the young man who sat waiting his turn. But the effect of the recitation of "Palestine" was entirely unrivalled on that as on any other occasion. Reginald Heber,—a graceful, fine-looking, rather pale young man of twenty,—with his younger brother Thomas beside him as prompter, stood in the rostrum, and commenced in a clear, beautiful, melancholy voice, with perfect declamation, which overcame all the stir and tumultuous restlessness of the audience by the power and sweetness of words and action:
"Reft of thy sons, amid thy foes forlorn, Mourn, widow'd queen; forgotten Zion, mourn. Is this thy place, sad city, this thy throne, Where the wild desert rears its craggy stone; While suns unblest their angry lustre fling, And wayworn pilgrims seek the scanty spring?"
On flowed the harmonious lines, looking back to the call of the Chosen, the victory of Joshua, the glory of Solomon, the hidden glory of the Greater than Solomon, the crime of crimes, the destruction, the renewal by the Empress Helena, the Crusades, and after a tribute (excusable at the time of excitement) to Sir Sidney Smith's defence of Acre, gradually rising to a magnificent description of the heavenly Jerusalem.
"Ten thousand harps attune the mystic throng, Ten thousand thousand saints the strain prolong. 'Worthy the Lamb, omnipotent to save! Who died, Who lives triumphant o'er the grave."
The enthusiasm, the hush, the feeling, the acclamations have ever since been remembered at Oxford as unequalled. Heber's parents were both present, and his mother, repairing at once in her joy to his rooms, found him kneeling by his bedside, laying the burthen of honour and success upon his God. His father, recently recovered from illness, was so overcome and shaken by the pressure of the throng and the thunder of applause as never entirely to recover the fatigue, and he died eight months later, early in 1804.
The two youths who were in juxtaposition at the rostrum were not to meet again. Daniel Wilson was ordained to the curacy of Chobham, under Mr. Cecil, an excellent master for impressing hard study on his curates. He writes: "What should a young minister do? His office says, 'Go to your books, go to retirement, go to prayer.' 'No,' says the enthusiast, 'go to preach, go and be a witness.'"
"'A witness of what?'
"'He don't know!'"
While Wilson worked under Cecil, Heber, who was still too young for the family living of Hodnet, in Shropshire, after taking his bachelor's degree, obtaining a fellowship at All Souls College, and gaining the prize for the prose essay, accompanied John Thornton on a tour through northern and eastern Europe, the only portions then accessible to the traveller; and, returning in 1806, was welcomed at home by his brother's tenants with a banquet, for which three sheep were slaughtered, and at which he appeared in the red coat of the volunteer regiment in which he had taken an eager share during former years.
It was his last appearance in a military character, for in 1807 he was ordained, and entered on his duties as Rector of Hodnet. Two years later he married Amelia Shipley, the daughter of the Dean of St. Asaph. Floating thus easily into preferment, without a shoal or rock in his course, fairly wealthy, and belonging to a well-esteemed county family, connected through his brother with the very elite of literary society, it seemed as though, in the laxity of the early part of the century, Reginald Heber could hardly have helped falling into the indolence of learned ease, the peril of the well-beneficed clergy of his day, especially among those who had not accepted the peculiarities of the awakening school of the period.
But such was not the case. He was at once an earnest parish priest, working hard to win his people, not only to attend at church, but to become regular communicants, and to give up their prevalent evil courses. We find him in one letter mentioning the writing of an article on Pindar in the Quarterly Review, planning for a village-school on the Lancastrian principle, and endeavouring to improve the psalmody. "At least," he says, "I have a better reason to plead for silence than the Cambridge man who, on being asked in what pursuit he was then engaged, replied that he was diligently employed in suffering his hair to grow."
These "endeavours to improve the psalmody" were a forestalling of the victory over the version of Tate and Brady. The Olney Hymns, produced by Cowper, under the guidance of John Newton, had been introduced by Heber on his first arrival in the parish, but he felt the lack of something more thoroughly in accordance with the course of the Christian year, less personal and meditative, and more congregational. Therefore he produced by degrees a series of hymns, which he described as designed to be sung between the Nicene Creed and the Sermon, and to be connected in some degree with the Collects and Gospels for the day. Thus he was the real originator in England of the great system of appropriate hymnology, which has become almost universal, and many of his own are among the most beautiful voices of praise our Church possesses. We would instance Nos. 135 and 263 in "Hymns Ancient and Modern,"—that for the 21st Sunday after Trinity, a magnificent Christian battle-song; and that for Innocents' Day, an imitation of the old Latin hymn "Salvete flores Martyrum." They were put together, with others by Dean Milman and a few more, into a little volume, which Heber requested Dr. Howley, then Bishop of London, to lay before the Archbishop, that it might be recommended for use in churches, but the timidity of the time prevented this from being carried into effect.
A deep student of church history, his letters show him trying every practical question by the tests of ancient authority as well as instructive piety, and, on these principles, already deploring the undue elevation of the pulpit and debasement of the Altar to which exclusive preference of preaching had led. Missions had, since the days of Carey's first opening of the subject become so predominant a thought with the Nonconformist bodies, and were often conducted so irregularly, that there was certain dread and distrust of them among the sober-minded and orthodox; but Heber was one of the first English churchmen who perceived that to enlarge her borders and strengthen her stakes was the bounden duty of the living Church. He was a fervent admirer of Henry Martyn, whose biography was published soon after the news of his death reached England, and his feeling found vent in that hymn so familiar to us all—"From Greenland's icy mountains."
He was meantime rising in influence and station,—Canon of St. Asaph, Preacher at Lincoln's Inn, Select Preacher before the University. He was beloved by all ranks: by the poor for his boundless charity and sympathy; and by his equals, not only for these qualities, but for his sunny temper, bright wit, and playfulness, which showed in his conversation, his letters, and in many a droll, elegant, and scholarly jeu d'esprit, thrown off by a mind that could do nothing without gracefulness. All this prosperity was alloyed only by such domestic sorrow as might be fitly termed gentle chastening. The death of his next brother, Thomas, who had acted as his curate, was a severe loss to him; and in the desire to make every affliction a stepping-stone in Christian progress, he began, from that date, a custom of composing a short collect-like prayer, veiled in Latin, on every marked occurrence in his life. The next occasion was, after several years of marriage, the birth of a little daughter, whom (in his own words) "he had the pleasure of seeing and caressing for six months," ere she faded away, and died just before the Christmas of 1817. He never could speak of her without tears, and (his wife tells us) ever after added to his private prayers a petition to be worthy to rejoin his "sinless child." His grief and his faith further found voice in the hymn, each verse of which begins with "Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee," and which finishes—
"Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee, Whose God was thy ransom, thy Guardian and Guide. He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee, And death has no sting, for the Saviour has died."
Such had been the training of Reginald Heber, through the pleasant paths of successful scholarship and literature, and of well-beneficed country pastorship; a life perilous to spirituality and earnestness, but which he kept full of the salt of piety, charity and unwearied activity as parish priest, and as one of the voices of the Church. Such had been his life up to 1822, when, on the tidings of the death of Dr. Middleton, Bishop of Calcutta, his friend Charles Williams Wynn, President of the Board of Commissioners for the affairs of India, offered him the appointment.
To a man of his present position, talents, and prospects at home, the preferment was not advantageous: the income, with the heavy attendant expenses, would very little increase his means; the promotion threw him out of the chances of the like at home; and the labour and toil of the half-constituted and enormous diocese, the needful struggles with English irreligion and native heathenism, and the perils of climate, offered a trying exchange for all that had made life delightful at Hodnet Rectory. A second little daughter too, whom he could not of course look to educating in India, rendered the decision more trying. But in his own peculiarly calm and simple way, he wrote: "I really should not think myself justified in declining a situation of so great usefulness, and for which, without vanity, I think myself not ill adapted, either from a love for the society and friendship of England, or from a hope, which may never be realized, of being some time or other in a situation of more importance at home." At first, however, the fear for the child's health induced him to decline, but only if anyone else equally suitable could be found; and finally he accepted it, with apparent coolness, veiling the deep spirit of zeal and enthusiasm that glowed within. It was not the ardent vehemence that enables some to follow their inward call, overcoming all obstacles, but it was calm obedience to a call from without. "After all," he wrote, "I hope I am not enthusiastic in thinking that a clergyman is, like a soldier or a sailor, bound to go on any service, however remote or undesirable, where the course of his duty leads him, and my destiny (though there are some circumstances attending it which make my heart ache) has many, very many, advantages in an extended sphere of professional activity, in the indulgence of literary curiosity, and, what to me has many charms, the opportunity of seeing nature in some of its wildest and most majestic features."
In the spring of 1823, he took leave of Hodnet, amid the tears of his parishioners; and on the 18th of May preached his last sermon in Lincoln's Inn chapel, on the Atonement. On coming out, one of the most leading men among the Wesleyan Methodists could only express his feelings by exclaiming, "Thank God for that man! Thank God for that man!"
It is striking to find him in the full pressure of business, while preparing in London for his consecration and his voyage, making time for a letter to one of the Hodnet farmers, to warn him against habits of drunkenness, hoping that it would dwell with him "as a voice from the dead." On the 1st of June, 1823, Reginald Heber was consecrated at Lambeth, and on the 10th sailed for India! He made several sketches along the southern coast, under one of which he wrote:—
"And we must have danger, and fever, and pain, Ere we look on the white rocks of Albion again."
A few days later, when passing the western coast of France on a Sunday, the sound of the bells suggested the following meditative verses:—
"Bounding along the obedient surges, Cheerly on her onward way, Her course the gallant vessel urges Across thy stormy gulf, Biscay. In the sun the bright waves glisten; Rising slow with solemn swell, Hark, hark, what sound unwonted? Listen— Listen—'tis the Sabbath bell.
It tells of ties which duties sever, Of hearts so fondly knit to thee, Kind hands, kind looks, which, wanderer, never Thy hand shall grasp, thine eye shall see. It tells of home and all its pleasures, Of scenes where memory loves to dwell, And bids thee count thy heart's best treasures Far, far away, that Sabbath bell.
Listen again! Thy wounded spirit Shall soar from earth and seek above That kingdom which the blest inherit, The mansions of eternal love. Earth and her lowly cares forsaking, Bemoaned too keenly, loved too well, To faith and hope thy soul awaking, Thou hear'st with joy that Sabbath bell."
By the 28th of September, the vessel was in sight of the Temple of Jaghernauth, and on the 3rd of October was anchored close to the island of Saugor.
All through his voyage and residence in India, the Bishop kept a journal of the doings and scenes of each day, full of interesting sketches, both in pen and pencil. The beauty of the villages on the Hooghly, "the greenhouse-like smell and temperature of the atmosphere," and the gentle countenances and manners of the natives, struck him greatly, as he says, "with a very solemn and earnest wish that I might in some degree, however small, be enabled to conduce to the spiritual advantage of creatures so goodly, so gentle, and now so misled and blinded. 'Angili forent si essent Christiani.'"
On the 10th of October the Heber family entered their temporary abode in the Fort at Calcutta, and were received by two Sepoy sentries and a long train of servants in cotton dresses and turbans, one of them with a long silver stick, another with a mace. There, too, were assembled the neighbouring clergy—alas! far too few—and the next day the Bishop was installed in his cathedral.
Then began a life of very severe labour, for not only had the arrears of episcopal business after the interregnum to be made up, but the deficiency of clergy rendered the Sunday duties very heavy; and the Bishop took as full a share of them as any working parish priest; and even though he authorized the Church Missionary Society's teachers to read prayers and to preach, the lack of sufficient ministrations was great. Bishop's College had, however, been completed, and what Middleton had founded was opened by Heber, with the happiest effect, which has lasted to the present time.
The difficulties as to the form of ordination of such as were not British subjects had also been overcome, and Christian David was to be sent up from Ceylon in company with Mr. Armour, who was to receive Priest's orders. The latter excellent man died just before he was to set off, and this delayed David until the next spring, when he came to Calcutta, was lodged in Bishop's College, passed an excellent examination, and was ordained deacon on Holy Thursday, 1824, and priest on the ensuing Trinity Sunday. He is memorable as the first man of the dark-skinned races admitted by the Church of England to her ministry. An excellent and well- expressed letter from him, on the difficulties respecting the distinctions of caste, is given in Bishop Heber's Life. This, indeed, was one of the greatest troubles in dealing with converts. The Serampore missionaries had striven to destroy it, but Ziegenbalg, Schwartz, and their elder companions, regarded it as a distinction of society—not religious—and, though discouraging it, had not so opposed it as to insist on high and low castes mingling indiscriminately in church or at meals. The younger men who had since come out had been scandalized, and tried to make a change, which had led to much heartburning.
Next to his hymns, Bishop Heber is best known by the journal he kept of his visitation tour, not intended for publication but containing so much of vivid description of scenery and manners, that it forms a valuable picture of the condition of Hindostan as it then was.
His first stage, in barges along the Ganges, brought him to Dacca, where he was delayed by the illness and death of his much esteemed and beloved chaplain. He then went on to Bhaugulpore, where he was much interested in a wild tribe called the Puharries, who inhabit the Rajmahal hills, remnants of the aborigines of India. They carried bows and arrows, lived by the chase, and were viewed as great marauders; but they had a primitive faith, free from idolatry, hated falsehood, and, having no observance of caste and a great respect for Europeans, seemed promising objects for a mission; but unfortunately the climate of their mountains was so injurious to European life, that the clergyman, Mr. Thomas Christian, a scholar of Bishop's College, whom the Bishop appointed to this mission, was only able to spend three months in the hills in the course of the year, while for the other nine he took the children under his instruction back with him to Bhaugulpore.
At Bankipore, the Bishop met Padre Giulio Cesare, still a remarkably handsome and intelligent-looking little man, and speaking warmly of Henry Martyn. Dinapore, that first station of Martyn's, had since his time fallen into a very unsatisfactory state, owing to the carelessness of his successor, though it was newly come into better hands.
On the contrary, at Buxar, the Fort-adjutant, Captain Field, had so influenced all around, though without a chaplain, that, though the Bishop could not give the place a Sunday, his Saturday evening service in the verandah was thronged, the English soldiers coming with Prayer-books and making the responses, besides numerous Hindoos, many of them the Christian wives and children of the soldiers. There was a boys' school kept by a converted Mahometan, and one for girls by "Mrs. Simpson," a native of Agra, converted by Mr. Corrie, and the widow of a sergeant. She, however, got no scholars but the half-caste daughters of the soldiers. A little boy of four years old, son to an English sergeant with a native wife, was baptized, and the Bishop was delighted with the reverent devotion of the spectators. Cureem Musseh, once a Sepoy havildar, had his sword and sash hung over the desk, where, in a clean white cotton dress and turban, he presided over his scholars, whom he had taught to read Hindostanee, and to say the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Commandments, with a short exposition of each. The school served them likewise to hold prayer-meetings in, and, on rare occasions, a clergyman visited them.
The Bishop's entrance into the sacred city of Benares he describes to his wife thus: "I will endeavour to give you an account of the concert, vocal and instrumental, which saluted us as we entered the town:—
"First beggar.—Agha Sahib! Judge Sahib, Burra Sahib, give me some pice; I am a fakir; I am a priest; I am dying of hunger!
"Bearers trotting under the tonjon.—Ugh! ugh!—Ugh! ugh!
"Musicians.—Tingle, tangle; tingle, tangle; bray, bray, bray.
"Chuprassee, clearing the way with his sheathed sabre.—Silence! Room for the Lord Judge, the Lord Priest. Get out of the way! Quick! (Then gently patting and stroking the broad back of a Brahmin bull.) Oh, good man, move.
"Bull, scarcely moving.—Bu-u-uh.
"Second beggar, counting his beads, rolling his eyes, and moving his body backwards and forwards.—Ram, ram; ram, ram!"
Benares, said to be founded on the point of Siva's trident, as the most sacred city of all Hindostan, swarmed with beggars, fakirs, sacred animals, and idols of every description; but close beside it was a church for consecration and thirty candidates for confirmation, of whom fourteen were natives. The next day the Bishop was taken to see a school founded by a rich Bengalee baboo, whom Mr. Corrie had almost persuaded to be a Christian, but who had settled down into a sort of general admiration for the beauty of the Gospel, and a wish to improve his countrymen. He had made over the house where the school was kept to the Church Missionary Society, and the staff consisted of an English schoolmaster, a Persian moonshee, and two Hindostanee writing masters, the whole presided over by an English catechist, a candidate for Holy Orders. There were several class rooms, and a large, lofty hall, supported by pillars, where the Bishop examined the 140, who read Persian and English, answered questions in Hindostanee and English, and showed great proficiency in writing, arithmetic, and geography. No objection was made to their reading the New Testament.
Afterwards, when the Bishop looked into a little pagoda, richly carved, and containing an image of Siva, crowned with scarlet flowers, with lamps burning before him, and a painted bull in front, a little boy, one of the brightest scholars in the school, came forward, and showing his Brahminical string, told, in tolerable English, the histories of the deities with which the walls were painted. "This," says the Bishop, "opened my eyes more fully to a danger which had before struck me as possible, that some of the boys brought up in our schools might grow up accomplished hypocrites, playing the part of Christian with us, and with their own people of zealous followers of Brahma, or else that they would settle down in a sort of compromise between the two creeds, allowing that Christianity was the best for us, but that idolatry was necessary and commendable in persons of their own nation." This in fact seems to have been ever since the state of a large proportion of the educated Hindoos. May it be only a transition state!
The street preaching employed by the Serampore community had not been resorted to by the Church Missionary Society, and Bishop Heber decided that in the fanatic population, amid the crowds of bulls, beggars, and sacred apes, it was far wiser not to attempt it; but the missionaries were often sent for to private houses to converse with natives of rank, on their doctrine. One notable Hindoo, Amrut Row, who had at one time been Peishwa of the Mahrattas, who had retired to Benares, used on the feast of his patron god to give a portion of rice and a rupee to every Brahmin and blind or lame person who applied between sunrise and sunset. He had a large garden with four gates, three of which were set open for the three classes of applicants; the fourth served himself and his servants. As each person received his dole, he was shown into the garden, and detained there to prevent his applying twice, but there he enjoyed plenty of shade, water, company, and idols! This day's distribution often amounted to above 50,000 rupees, and his charities altogether were three times as great in the course of every year. He was a good kind man, religious to the best of his knowledge; and just before the Bishop's visit, he had sent a message to Mr. Morris, the clergyman at Sealcote, to call on him in the middle of the next week as he wished to inquire further into Christianity. Alas! before the appointed day Amrut Row was dead, and his ashes were still smoking when the Bishop quitted Benares.
What had become of Henry Martyn's church does not appear, for at Cawnpore he found none, but service was alternately performed in a bungalow and in the riding-school. He went as far north as Oude, and found at Chinear a much larger native congregation than he expected, though the women still retained so much of Eastern customs that they would not even raise their veils when receiving the Holy Communion. Almost all were the converts of the excellent Mr. Corrie, Henry Martyn's friend.
Arriving at Surat, after a journey of ten months, he there embarked for Bombay, where his wife and eldest child came from Calcutta, by sea, to meet him, and thence, after a stay in Ceylon for some weeks, returned to Calcutta, where, in December, he ordained Abdul Messeh, the man who had been won by Henry Martyn's garden preachings. It was a very remarkable ordination, for Father Abraham, the Armenian Suffragan from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, was present, in the black robes of his convent, and laid his hand on the heads of the candidates, and the service was in Hindostanee, whenever Abdul Messeh was individually concerned. Abdul Messeh was a most valuable worker among his countrymen, but he only survived about eighteen months.
In his last letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Bishop records the reception into Bishop's College of Mesrop David, the kinsman of the Armenian Bishop and already a deacon; also of two native youths from Ceylon, one Tamul and one Cingalese. This college, though a work which had none of the romance of adventure about it, afforded the surest and most important means of thoroughly implanting the Gospel, and forming a native priesthood fit for the varying needs of the various people. Nor could such a task be committed to any but superior men. Only such as have abilities that would win them distinction in England, are fit to cope with the difficulties of dealing with intellects quite as argumentative as, and even more subtle than, those of the ordinary level of Englishmen.