"1st, 2nd, and 3rd July.—Much engaged in the necessary business of preparing our works for the approaching season of indigo-making, which will commence in about a fortnight. I had on the evening of each of these days very precious seasons of fervent prayer to God. I have been on these evenings much drawn out in prayer for my dear friends at Leicester, and for the Society that it may be prosperous; likewise for the ministers of my acquaintance, not only of the Baptist but other denominations. I was engaged for the churches in America and Holland, as well as England, and much concerned for the success of the Gospel among the Hindoos. At present I know not of any success since I have been here. Many say that the Gospel is the word of truth; but they abound so much in flattery and encomiums, which are mere words of course, that little can be said respecting their sincerity. The very common sins of lying and avarice are so universal also, that no European who has not witnessed it can form any idea of their various appearances: they will stoop to anything whatsoever to get a few cowries, and lie on every occasion. O how desirable is the spread of the Gospel!
"4th July.—Rather more flat, perhaps owing to the excessive heat; for in the rainy season, if there be a fine day, it is very hot indeed. Such has been this day, and I was necessitated to be out in it from morning till evening, giving necessary directions. I felt very much fatigued indeed, and had no spirits left in the evening, and in prayer was very barren...
"9th July to 4th Aug.—Employed in visiting several factories to learn the process of indigo-making. Had some very pleasant seasons at Malda, where I preached several times, and the people seemed much affected with the Word. One day, as Mr. Thomas and I were riding out, we saw a basket hung in a tree, in which an infant had been exposed; the skull remained, the rest having been devoured by ants."
Success in the indigo culture was indeed never possible in Mudnabati. The factory stood on the river Tangan, within what is now the district of Dinajpoor, thirty miles north of Malda. To this day the revenue surveyors of Government describe it as low and marshy, subject to inundation during the rains, and considered very unhealthy. Carey had not been there a fortnight when he had to make this record:—
"5th, 6th, 7th July.—Much employed in settling the affairs of the buildings, etc., having been absent so long, and several of our managing and principal people being sick. It is indeed an awful time here with us now, scarcely a day but some are seized with fevers. It is, I believe, owing to the abundance of water, there being rice-fields all around us, in which they dam up the water, so that all the country hereabouts is about a foot deep in water; and as we have rain, though moderate to what I expected the rainy season to be, yet the continual moisture occasions fevers in such situations where rice is cultivated...Felt at home and thankful these days. O that I may be very useful! I must soon learn the language tolerably well, for I am obliged to converse with the natives every day, having no other persons here except my family."
Soon in September, the worst of all the months in Bengal, he himself was brought near to the grave by a fever, one of the paroxysms continuing for twenty-six hours without intermission, "when providentially Mr. Udny came to visit us, not knowing that I was ill, and brought a bottle of bark with him." He slowly recovered, but the second youngest child, Peter, a boy of five, was removed by dysentery, and caste made it long difficult to find any native to dig his grave. But of this time the faithful sufferer could write:—
"Sometimes I enjoyed sweet seasons of self-examination and prayer, as I lay upon my bed. Many hours together I sweetly spent in contemplating subjects for preaching, and in musing over discourses in Bengali; and when my animal spirits were somewhat raised by the fever, I found myself able to reason and discourse in Bengali for some hours together, and words and phrases occurred much more readily than when I was in health. When my dear child was ill I was enabled to attend upon him night and day, though very dangerously ill myself, without much fatigue; and now, I bless God that I feel a sweet resignation to his will."
A still harder fate befell him. The monomania of his wife became chronic. A letter which she wrote and sent by special messenger called forth from Thomas this loving sympathy:—"You must endeavour to consider it a disease. The eyes and ears of many are upon you, to whom your conduct is unimpeachable with respect to all her charges; but if you show resentment, they have ears, and others have tongues set on fire. Were I in your case, I should be violent; but blessed be God, who suits our burdens to our backs. Sometimes I pray earnestly for you, and I always feel for you. Think of Job, Think of Jesus. Think of those who were 'destitute, afflicted, tormented.'"
A voyage up the Tangan in Mr. Udny's pinnace as far as the north frontier, at a spot now passed by the railway to Darjeeling, restored the invalid. "I am no hunter," he wrote, while Thomas was shooting wild buffaloes, but he was ever adding to his store of observations of the people, the customs and language. Meanwhile he was longing for letters from Fuller and Pearce and Ryland. At the end of January 1795 the missionary exile thus talks of himself in his journal:—"Much engaged in writing, having begun to write letters to Europe; but having received none, I feel that hope deferred makes the heart sick. However, I am so fully satisfied of the firmness of their friendship that I feel a sweet pleasure in writing to them, though rather of a forlorn kind; and having nothing but myself to write about, feel the awkwardness of being an egotist. I feel a social spirit though barred from society...I sometimes walk in my garden, and try to pray to God; and if I pray at all it is in the solitude of a walk. I thought my soul a little drawn out to-day, but soon gross darkness returned. Spoke a word or two to a Mohammedan upon the things of God, but I feel to be as bad as they...9th May. I have added nothing to these memoirs since the 19th of April. Now I observe that for the last three sabbaths my soul has been much comforted in seeing so large a congregation, and more especially as many who are not our own workmen come from the parts adjacent, whose attendance must be wholly disinterested. I therefore now rejoice in seeing a regular congregation of from two to six hundred people of all descriptions—Mussulmans, Brahmans and other classes of Hindus, which I look upon as a favourable token from God...Blessed be God, I have at last received letters and other articles from our friends in England...from dear brethren Fuller, Morris, Pearce, and Rippon, but why not from others?...14th June. I have had very sore trials in my own family, from a quarter which I forbear to mention. Have greater need for faith and patience than ever I had, and I bless God that I have not been altogether without supplies of these graces...Mr. Thomas and his family spent one Lord's day with us, May 23rd...We spent Wednesday, 26th, in prayer, and for a convenient place assembled in a temple of Seeb, which was near to our house...I was from that day seized with a dysentery, which continued nearly a week with fearful violence; but then I recovered, through abundant mercy. That day of prayer was a good day to our souls. We concerted measures for forming a Baptist church."
To his sister he wrote, on the 11th March, of the church, which was duly formed of Europeans and Eurasians. No native convert was made in this Dinapoor mission till 1806, after Carey had removed to Serampore. "We have in the neighbourhood about fifteen or sixteen serious persons, or those I have good hopes of, all Europeans. With the natives I have very large concerns; almost all the farmers for nearly twenty miles round cultivate indigo for us, and the labouring people working here to the number of about five hundred, so that I have considerable opportunity of publishing the Gospel to them. I have so much knowledge of the language as to be able to preach to them for about half an hour, so as to be understood, but am not able to vary my subjects much. I tell them of the evil and universality of sin, the sins of a natural state, the justice of God, the incarnation of Christ and his sufferings in our stead, and of the necessity of conversion, holiness, and faith, in order to salvation. They hear with attention in general, and some come to me for instruction in the things of God."
"It was always my opinion that missionaries may and must support themselves after having been sent out and received a little support at first, and in consequence I pursue a very little worldly employment which requires three months' closish attendance in the year; but this is in the rains—the most unfavourable season for exertion. I have a district of about twenty miles square, where I am continually going from village to village to publish the Gospel; and in this space are about two hundred villages, whose inhabitants from time to time hear the Word. My manner of travelling is with two small boats; one serves me to live in, and the other for cooking my food. I carry all my furniture and food with me from place to place—viz. a chair, a table, a bed, and a lamp. I walk from village to village, but repair to my boat for lodging and eating. There are several rivers in this extent of country, which is very convenient for travelling."
Carey's first convert seems to have been Ignatius Fernandez, a Portuguese descendant who had prospered as a trader in Dinapoor station. The first Protestant place of worship in Bengal, outside of Calcutta, was built by him, in 1797, next to his own house. There he conducted service both in English and Bengali, whenever Carey and Thomas, and Fountain afterwards, were unable to go out to the station, and in his house Thomas and Fountain died. He remained there as a missionary till his own death, four years before Carey's, when he left all his property to the mission. The mission-house, as it is now, is a typical example of the bungalow of one story, which afterwards formed the first chapel in Serampore, and is still common as officers' quarters in Barrackpore and other military stations.
Side by side with his daily public preaching and more private conversations with inquirers in Bengali, Carey carried on the work of Bible translation. As each new portion was prepared it was tested by being read to hundreds of natives. The difficulty was that he had at once to give a literary form to the rich materials of the language, and to find in these or adapt from them terms sufficiently pure and accurate to express the divine ideas and facts revealed through the Hebrew and the Greek of the original. He gives us this unconscious glimpse of himself at work on this loftiest and most fruitful of tasks, which Jerome had first accomplished for Latin Christendom, Ulfila for our Scandinavian forefathers, Wiclif for the English, and Luther for the Germans of the time.
"Now I must mention some of the difficulties under which we labour, particularly myself. The language spoken by the natives of this part, though Bengali, is yet so different from the language itself, that, though I can preach an hour with tolerable freedom so as that all who speak the language well, or can write or read, perfectly understand me, yet the poor labouring people can understand but little; and though the language is rich, beautiful, and expressive, yet the poor people, whose whole concern has been to get a little rice to satisfy their wants, or to cheat their oppressive merchants and zameendars, have scarcely a word in use about religion. They have no word for love, for repent, and a thousand other things; and every idea is expressed either by quaint phrases or tedious circumlocutions. A native who speaks the language well finds it a year's work to obtain their idiom. This sometimes discourages me much; but blessed be God I feel a growing desire to be always abounding in the work of the Lord, and I know that my labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. I am much encouraged by our Lord's expression, 'He who reapeth' (in the harvest) 'receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto eternal life.' If I, like David, only am an instrument of gathering materials, and another build the house, I trust my joy will not be the less." This was written to the well-beloved Pearce, whom he would fain have had beside him at Mudnabati. To guide the two missionaries whom the Society were about to send to Africa on the salaries which he and Thomas had set free for this extension, Carey adds:—"They will do well to associate as much as possible with the natives, and to write down every word they can catch, with its meaning. But if they have children with them, it is by far the readiest way of learning to listen to them, for they will catch up every idiom in a little time. My children can speak nearly as well as the natives, and know many things in Bengali which they do not know in English. I should also recommend to your consideration a very large country, perhaps unthought of: I mean Bhootan or Tibet. Were two missionaries sent to that country, we should have it in our power to afford them much help...The day I received your letter I set about composing a grammar and dictionary of the Bengal language to send to you. The best account of Hindu mythology extant, and which is pretty exact, is Sonnerat's Voyage, undertaken by order of the king of France."
Without Sanskrit Carey found that he could neither master its Bengali offshoot nor enrich that vernacular with the words and combinations necessary for his translations of Scripture. Accordingly, with his usual rapidity and industry, we find that he had by April 1796 so worked his way through the intricate difficulties of the mother language of the Aryans that he could thus write to Ryland, with more than a mere scholar's enthusiasm, of one of the two great Vedic epics:—"I have read a considerable part of the Mahabarata, an epic poem written in most beautiful language, and much upon a par with Homer; and it was, like his Iliad, only considered as a great effort of human genius, I should think it one of the first productions in the world; but alas! it is the ground of faith to millions of the simple sons of men, and as such must be held in the utmost abhorrence." At the beginning of 1798 he wrote to Sutcliff:—"I am learning the Sanskrit language, which, with only the helps to be procured here, is perhaps the hardest language in the world. To accomplish this, I have nearly translated the Sanskrit grammar and dictionary into English, and have made considerable progress in compiling a dictionary, Sanskrit, including Bengali and English."
By this year he had completed his first translation of the Bible except the historical books from Joshua to Job, and had gone to Calcutta to obtain estimates for printing the New Testament, of which he had reported to Mr. Fuller:—"It has undergone one correction, but must undergo several more. I employ a pundit merely for this purpose, with whom I go through the whole in as exact a manner as I can. He judges of the style and syntax, and I of the faithfulness of the translation. I have, however, translated several chapters together, which have not required any alteration in the syntax whatever: yet I always submit this article entirely to his judgment. I can also, by hearing him read, judge whether he understands his subject by his accenting his reading properly and laying the emphasis on the right words. If he fails in this, I immediately suspect the translation; though it is not an easy matter for an ordinary reader to lay the emphasis properly in reading Bengali, in which there is no pointing at all. The mode of printing, i.e. whether a printing-press, etc., shall be sent from England, or whether it shall be printed here, or whether it shall be printed at all, now rests with the Society."
Fuller was willing, but the ardent scholar anticipated him. Seeing a wooden printing-press advertised in Calcutta for L40, Carey at once ordered it. On its arrival in 1798, "after worship" he "retired and thanked God for furnishing us with a press." When set up in the Mudnabati house its working was explained to the natives, on whom the delighted missionary's enthusiasm produced only the impression that it must be the idol of the English.
But Carey's missionary organisation would not have been complete without schools, and in planning these from the very first he gives us the germs which blossomed into the Serampore College of 1818 on the one hand, and the primary school circles under native Christian inspectors on the other, a system carried out since the Mutiny of 1857 by the Christian Literature Society, and adopted by the state departments of public instruction.
"MUDNABATI, 27th January 1795.—Mr. Thomas and I (between whom the utmost harmony prevails) have formed a plan for erecting two colleges (Chowparis, Bengali), one here and the other at his residence, where we intend to educate twelve lads, viz. six Mussulmans and six Hindoos at each place. A pundit is to have the charge of them, and they are to be taught Sanskrit, Bengali, and Persian; the Bible is to be introduced, and perhaps a little philosophy and geography. The time of their education is to be seven years, and we find them meat, clothing, lodging, etc. We are now inquiring for children proper for the purpose. We have also determined to require that the Society will advance money for types to print the Bengali Bible, and make us their debtors for the sum, which we hope to be able to pay off in one year: and it will also be requisite to send a printing-press from England. We will, if our lives are spared, repay the whole, and print the Bible at our own expense, and I hope the Society will become our creditors by paying for them when delivered. Mr. Thomas is now preparing letters for specimens, which I hope will be sent by this conveyance.
"We are under great obligation to Mr. G. Udny for putting us in these stations. He is a very friendly man and a true Christian. I have no spirit for politics here; for whatever the East India Company may be in England, their servants and officers here are very different; we have a few laws, and nothing to do but to obey." Of his own school he wrote in 1799 that it consisted of forty boys. "The school would have been much larger, had we been able to have borne the expense; but, as among the scholars there are several orphans whom we wholly maintain, we could not prudently venture on any further expense...The boys have hitherto learned to read and write, especially parts of the Scriptures, and to keep accounts. We may now be able to introduce some other useful branches of knowledge among them...I trust these schools may tend to promote curiosity and inquisitiveness among the rising generation; qualities which are seldom found in the natives of Bengal."
The Medical Mission completed the equipment. "I submit it to the consideration of the Society whether we should not be furnished with medicines gratis. No medicines will be sold by us, yet the cost of them enters very deeply into our allowance. The whole supply sent in the Earl Howe, amounting to L35, besides charges amounting to thirty per cent., falls on me; but the whole will either be administered to sick poor, or given to any neighbour who is in want, or used in our own families. Neighbouring gentlemen have often supplied us. Indeed, considering the distance we are from medical assistance, the great expensiveness of it far beyond our ability, and the number of wretched, afflicted objects whom we continually see and who continually apply for help, we ought never to sell a pennyworth. Brother Thomas has been the instrument of saving numbers of lives. His house is constantly surrounded with the afflicted; and the cures wrought by him would have gained any physician or surgeon in Europe the most extensive reputation. We ought to be furnished yearly with at least half a hundredweight of Jesuit's bark."
Around and as the fruit of the completely organised mission, thus conducted by the ordained preacher, teacher, scholar, scientist, printer, and licensed indigo planter in one station, and by his medical colleague sixteen miles to the north of him at Mahipal, there gathered many native inquirers. Besides the planters, civil officials, and military officers, to whom he ministered in Malda and Dinapoor stations, there was added the most able and consistent convert, Mr. Cunninghame of Lainshaw, the assistant judge, who afterwards in England fought the battle of missions, and from his Ayrshire estate, where he built a church, became famous as an expounder of prophecy. Carey looked upon this as "the greatest event that has occurred since our coming to this country." The appointment of Lord Mornington, soon to be known as the Marquis Wellesley, "the glorious little man," as Metcalfe called him, and hardly second to his younger brother Wellington, having led Fuller to recommend that Carey should wait upon his Excellency at Calcutta, this reply was received:—"I would not, however, have you suppose that we are obliged to conceal ourselves, or our work: no such thing. We preach before magistrates and judges; and were I to be in the company with Lord Mornington, I should not hesitate to declare myself a missionary to the heathen, though I would not on any account return myself as such to the Governor-General in Council."
Two years before this, in 1797, Carey had written:—"This mission should be strengthened as much as possible, as its situation is such as may put it in our power, eventually, to spread the Gospel through the greatest part of Asia, and almost all the necessary languages may be learned here." He had just returned from his first long missionary tour among the Bhooteas, who from Tibet had overrun the eastern Himalaya from Darjeeling to Assam. Carey and Thomas were received as Christian Lamas by the Soobah or lieutenant-governor of the country below the hills, which in 1865 we were compelled to annex and now administer as Jalpaigori District. They seemed to have been the first Englishmen who had entered the territory since the political and commercial missions of Bogle and Buchanan-Hamilton sent by Warren Hastings.
"The genuine politeness and gentleman-like behaviour of the Soobah exceeded everything that can be imagined, and his generosity was astonishing. He insisted on supplying all our people with everything they wanted; and if we did but cast our eyes to any object in the room, he immediately presented us with one of the same sort. Indeed he seemed to interpret our looks before we were aware; and in this manner he presented each of us that night with a sword, shield, helmet, and cup, made of a very light beautiful wood, and used by all the Bhooteas for drinking in. We admiring the wood, he gave us a large log of it; which appears to be like fir, with a very dark beautiful grain: it is full of a resin or turpentine, and burns like a candle if cut into thin pieces, and serves for that use. In eating, the Soobah imitated our manners so quickly and exactly, that though he had never seen a European before, yet he appeared as free as if he had spent his life with them. We ate his food, though I confess the thoughts of the Jinkof's bacon made me eat rather sparingly. We had much talk about Bhootan, and about the Gospel.
"We found that he had determined to give all the country a testimony of his friendship for us in a public manner; and the next day was fixed on to perform the ceremony in our tent on the market-place. Accordingly we got instructed in the necessary etiquette; and informed him we were only coming a short journey to see the country, were not provided with English cloth, etc., for presents. The time being come, we were waited on by the Soobah, followed by all his servants, both Bhooteas and Hindus. Being seated, we exchanged each five rupees and five pieces of betel, in the sight of the whole town; and having chewed betel for the first time in our lives, we embraced three times in the Eastern manner, and then shook hands in the English manner; after which, he made us a present of a piece of rich debang wrought with gold, each a Bhootan blanket, and the tail of an animal called the cheer cow, as bushy as a horse's, and used in the Hindu worship...In the morning, the Soobah came with his usual friendship, and brought more presents, which we received, and took our leave. He sent us away with every honour he could heap upon us; as a band of music before us, guides to show us the way, etc....The Soobah is to pay us a visit in a little time, which I hope to improve for the great end of settling a mission in that country."
Carey applied his unusual powers of detailed observation and memory in noting the physical and mental characteristics of these little Buddhists, the structure of the language and nature of their books, beliefs, and government, all of which he afterwards utilised. He was often in sight of snowy Kinchinjinga (28,156 feet), behind Darjeeling, and when the Soobah, being sick, afterwards sent messengers with gifts to induce him to return, he wrote:—"I hope to ascend those stupendous mountains, which are so high as to be seen at a distance of 200 or 250 miles. One of these distant mountains, which is seen at Mahipal, is concealed from view by the tops of a nearer range of hills, when you approach within sixty miles of them. The distant range forms an angle of about ten degrees with the horizon." But the time did not come for a mission to that region till the sanitarium of Darjeeling became the centre of another British district opened up by railway from Calcutta, and now the aboriginal Lepchas are coming in large numbers into the church. Subsequent communications from the Soobah informed them of the Garos of Assam.
On his last visit to Calcutta, in 1799, "to get types cast for printing the Bible," Carey witnessed that sight of widow-burning which was to continue to disgrace alike the Hindoos and the Company's Government until his incessant appeals in India and in England led to its prevention in 1829. In a letter to Dr. Ryland he thus describes the horrid rite:—
"MUDNABATI, 1st April 1799.—As I was returning from Calcutta I saw the Sahamaranam, or, a woman burning herself with the corpse of her husband, for the first time in my life. We were near the village of Noya Serai, or, as Rennell calls it in his chart of the Hoogli river, Niaverai. Being evening, we got out of the boat to walk, when we saw a number of people assembled on the river-side. I asked them what they were met for, and they told me to burn the body of a dead man. I inquired if his wife would die with him; they answered Yes, and pointed to the woman. She was standing by the pile, which was made of large billets of wood, about two and a half feet high, four feet long, and two wide, on the top of which lay the dead body of her husband. Her nearest relation stood by her, and near her was a small basket of sweetmeats called Thioy. I asked them if this was the woman's choice, or if she were brought to it by any improper influence? They answered that it was perfectly voluntary. I talked till reasoning was of no use, and then began to exclaim with all my might against what they were doing, telling them that it was a shocking murder. They told me it was a great act of holiness, and added in a very surly manner, that if I did not like to see it I might go farther off, and desired me to go. I told them that I would not go, that I was determined to stay and see the murder, and that I should certainly bear witness of it at the tribunal of God. I exhorted the woman not to throw away her life; to fear nothing, for no evil would follow her refusal to burn. But she in the most calm manner mounted the pile, and danced on it with her hands extended, as if in the utmost tranquillity of spirit. Previous to her mounting the pile the relation, whose office it was to set fire to the pile, led her six times round it, at two intervals—that is, thrice at each circumambulation. As she went round she scattered the sweetmeat above mentioned among the people, who picked it up and ate it as a very holy thing. This being ended, and she having mounted the pile and danced as above mentioned (N.B.—The dancing only appeared to be to show us her contempt of death, and prove to us that her dying was voluntary), she lay down by the corpse, and put one arm under its neck and the other over it, when a quantity of dry cocoa-leaves and other substances were heaped over them to a considerable height, and then Ghee, or melted preserved butter, poured on the top. Two bamboos were then put over them and held fast down, and fire put to the pile, which immediately blazed very fiercely, owing to the dry and combustible materials of which it was composed. No sooner was the fire kindled than all the people set up a great shout—Hurree-Bol, Hurree-Bol, which is a common shout of joy, and an invocation of Hurree, or Seeb. It was impossible to have heard the woman had she groaned, or even cried aloud, on account of the mad noise of the people, and it was impossible for her to stir or struggle on account of the bamboos which were held down on her like the levers of a press. We made much objection to their using these bamboos, and insisted that it was using force to prevent the woman from getting up when the fire burned her. But they declared that it was only done to keep the pile from falling down. We could not bear to see more, but left them, exclaiming loudly against the murder, and full of horror at what we had seen." In the same letter Carey communicates the information he had collected regarding the Jews and Syrian Christians of the Malabar coast.
Mr. G. Udny had now found his private indigo enterprise to be disastrous. He resolved to give it up and retire to England. Thomas had left his factory, and was urging his colleague to try the sugar trade, which at that time meant the distillation of rum. Carey rather took over from Mr. Udny the out-factory of Kidderpore, twelve miles distant, and there resolved to prepare for the arrival of colleagues, the communistic missionary settlement on the Moravian plan, which he had advocated in his Enquiry. Mr. John Fountain had been sent out as the first reinforcement, but he proved to be almost as dangerous to the infant mission from his outspoken political radicalism as Thomas had been from his debts. Carey seriously contemplated the setting up of his mission centre among the Bhooteas, so as to be free from the East India Company. The authorities would not license Fountain as his assistant. Would they allow future missionaries to settle with him? Would they always renew his own licence? And what if he must cease altogether to work with his hands, and give himself wholly to the work of the mission as seemed necessary?
Four new colleagues and their families were already on the sea, but God had provided a better refuge for His servants till the public conscience which they were about to quicken and enlighten should cause the persecution to cease.
THE NEW CRUSADE—SERAMPORE AND THE BROTHERHOOD
Effects of the news in England on the Baptists—On the home churches—In the foundation of the London and other Missionary Societies—In Scotland—In Holland and America—The missionary home—Joshua Marshman, William Ward, and two others sent out—Landing at the Iona of Southern Asia—Meeting of Ward and Carey—First attempt to evangelise the non-Aryan hill tribes—Carey driven by providences to Serampore—Dense population of Hoogli district—Adapts his communistic plan to the new conditions—Purchase of the property—Constitution of the Brotherhood—His relations to Marshman and Ward—Hannah Marshman, the first woman missionary—Daily life of the Brethren—Form of Agreement—Carey's ideal system of missionary administration realised for fifteen years—Spiritual heroism of the Brotherhood.
The first two English missionaries to India seemed to those who sent them forth to have disappeared for ever. For fourteen months, in those days of slow Indiamen and French privateers, no tidings of their welfare reached the poor praying people of the midlands, who had been emboldened to begin the heroic enterprise. The convoy, which had seen the Danish vessel fairly beyond the French coast, had been unable to bring back letters on account of the weather. At last, on the 29th July 1794, Fuller, the secretary; Pearce, the beloved personal friend of Carey; Ryland in Bristol; and the congregation at Leicester, received the journals of the voyage and letters which told of the first six weeks' experience at Balasore, in Calcutta, Bandel, and Nuddea, just before Carey knew the worst of their pecuniary position. The committee at once met. They sang "with sacred joy" what has ever since been the jubilee hymn of missions, that by William Williams—
"O'er those gloomy hills of darkness."
They "returned solemn thanks to the everlasting God whose mercy endureth for ever, for having preserved you from the perils of the sea, and hitherto made your ways prosperous. In reading the short account of your labours we feel something of that spirit spoken of in the prophet, 'Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged.' We cordially thank you for your assiduity in learning the languages, in translating, and in every labour of love in which you have engaged. Under God we cheerfully confide in your wisdom, fidelity, and prudence, with relation to the seat of your labours or the means to carry them into effect. If there be one place, however, which strikes us as of more importance than the rest, it is Nuddea. But you must follow where the Lord opens a door for you." The same spirit of generous confidence marked the relations of Carey and the committee so long as Fuller was secretary. When the news came that the missionaries had become indigo planters, some of the weaker brethren, estimating Carey by themselves, sent out a mild warning against secular temptations, to which he returned a half-amused and kindly reply. John Newton, then the aged rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, on being consulted, reassured them: "If the heart be fired with a zeal for God and love to souls," he said, "such attention to business as circumstances require will not hurt it." Since Carey, like the Moravians, meant that the missionaries should live upon a common stock, and never lay up money, the weakest might have recognised the Paul-like nobleness, which had marked all his life, in relinquishing the scanty salary that it might be used for other missions to Africa and Asia.
The spiritual law which Duff's success afterwards led Chalmers to formulate, that the relation of foreign to home missions acts not by exhaustion but by fermentation, now came to be illustrated on a great scale, and to result in the foundation of the catholic missionary enterprise of the evangelicals of England, Scotland, Ireland, America, Germany, and France, which has marked the whole nineteenth century. We find it first in Fuller himself. In comforting Thomas during his extremest dejection he quoted to him from his own journal of 1789 the record of a long period of spiritual inactivity, which continued till Carey compelled him to join in the mission. "Before this I did little but pine over my misery, but since I have betaken myself to greater activity for God, my strength has been recovered and my soul replenished." "Your work is a great work, and the eyes of the religious world are upon you. Your undertaking, with that of your dear colleague, has provoked many. The spirit of missions is gone forth. I wish it may never stop till the Gospel is sent unto all the world."
Following the pietist Francke, who in 1710 published the first missionary reports, and also the Moravians, Fuller and his coadjutors issued from the press of J. W. Morris at Clipstone, towards the end of 1794, No. I. of their Periodical Accounts relative to a Society formed among the Particular Baptists for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen. That contained a narrative of the foundation of the Society and the letters of Carey up to 15th February 1794 from the Soondarbans. Six of these Accounts appeared up to the year 1800, when they were published as one volume with an index and illustrations. The volume closes with a doggerel translation of one of several Gospel ballads which Carey had written in Bengali in 1798. He had thus early brought into the service of Christ the Hindoo love of musical recitative, which was recently re-discovered—as it were—and now forms an important mode of evangelistic work when accompanied by native musical instruments. The original has a curious interest and value in the history of the Bengali language, as formed by Carey. As to the music he wrote:—"We sometimes have a melody that cheers my heart, though it would be discordant upon the ears of an Englishman."
Such was the immediate action of the infant Baptist Society. The moment Dr. Ryland read his letter from Carey he sent for Dr. Bogue and Mr. Stephen, who happened to be in Bristol, to rejoice with him. The three returned thanks to God, and then Bogue and Stephen, calling on Mr. Hey, a leading minister, took the first step towards the foundation of a similar organisation of non-Baptists, since known as the London Missionary Society. Immediately Bogue, the able Presbyterian, who had presided over a theological school at Gosport from which missionaries went forth, and who refused the best living in Edinburgh when offered to him by Dundas, wrote his address, which appeared in the Evangelical Magazine for September, calling on the churches to send out at least twenty or thirty missionaries. In the sermon of lofty eloquence which he preached the year after, he declared that the missionary movement of that time would form an epoch in the history of man,—"the time will be ever remembered by us, and may it be celebrated by future ages as the AEra of Christian Benevolence."
On the same day the Rev. T. Haweis, rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle, referring to the hundreds of ministers collected to decide where the first mission should be sent, thus burst forth: "Methinks I see the great Angel of the Covenant in the midst of us, pluming his wings, and ready to fly through the midst of heaven with his own everlasting Gospel, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people." In Hindostan "our brethren the Baptists have at present prevented our wishes...there is room for a thousand missionaries, and I wish we may be ready with a numerous host for that or any other part of the earth."
"Scotland was the next to take up the challenge sent by Carey. Greville Ewing, then a young minister of the kirk in Edinburgh, published in March 1796 the appeal of the Edinburgh or Scottish Missionary Society, which afterwards sent John Wilson to Bombay, and that was followed by the Glasgow Society, to which we owe the most successful of the Kafir missions in South Africa. Robert Haldane sold all that he had when he read the first number of the Periodical Accounts, and gave L35,000 to send a Presbyterian mission of six ministers and laymen, besides himself, to do from Benares what Carey had planned from Mudnabati; but Pitt as well as Dundas, though his personal friends, threatened him with the Company's intolerant Act of Parliament. Evangelical ministers of the Church of England took their proper place in the new crusade, and a year before the eighteenth century closed they formed the agency, which has ever since been in the forefront of the host of the Lord as the Church Missionary Society, with Carey's friend, Thomas Scott, as its first secretary. The sacred enthusiasm was caught by the Netherlands on the one side under the influence of Dr. Van der Kemp, who had studied at Edinburgh University, and by the divinity students of New England, of whom Adoniram Judson was even then in training to receive from Carey the apostolate of Burma. Soon too the Bengali Bible translations were to unite with the needs of the Welsh at home to establish the British and Foreign Bible Society.
As news of all this reached Carey amid his troubles and yet triumphs of faith in the swamps of Dinajpoor, and when he learned that he was soon to be joined by four colleagues, one of whom was Ward whom he himself had trysted to print the Bengali Bible for him, he might well write, in July 1799:—"The success of the Gospel and, among other things, the hitherto unextinguishable missionary flame in England and all the western world, give us no little encouragement and animate our hearts." To Sutcliff he had written eighteen months before that:—"I rejoice much at the missionary spirit which has lately gone forth: surely it is a prelude to the universal spread of the Gospel! Your account of the German Moravian Brethren's affectionate regard towards me is very pleasing. I am not much moved by what men in general say of me; yet I cannot be insensible to the regards of men eminent for godliness...Staying at home is now become sinful in many cases, and will become so more and more. All gifts should be encouraged, and spread abroad."
The day was breaking now. Men as well as money were offered for Carey's work. In Scotland especially Fuller found that he had but to ask, but to appear in any evangelical pulpit, and he would receive sums which, in that day of small things, rebuked his little faith. Till the last Scotland was loyal to Carey and his colleagues, and with almost a prevision of this he wrote so early as 1797:—"It rejoices my heart much to hear of our brethren in Scotland having so liberally set themselves to encourage the mission." They approved of his plans, and prayed for him and his work. When Fuller called on Cecil for help, the "churchy" evangelical told him he had a poor opinion of all Baptists except one, the man who wrote The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. When he learned that its author was before him, the hasty offender apologised and offered a subscription. "Not a farthing, sir!" was the reply, "you do not give in faith;" but the persistent Cecil prevailed. Men, however, were a greater want than money at that early stage of the modern crusade. Thomas and Fountain had each been a mistake. So were the early African missionaries, with the exception of the first Scotsman, Peter Greig. Of the thirty sent out by the London Missionary Society in the Duff only four were fit for ordination, and not one has left a name of mark. The Church Mission continued to send out only Germans till 1815. In quick succession four young men offered themselves to the Baptist Society to go out as assistants to Carey, in the hope that the Company would give them a covenant to reside—Brunsdon and Grant, two of Ryland's Bristol flock; Joshua Marshman with his wife Hannah Marshman, and William Ward called by Carey himself.
In nine months Fuller had them and their families shipped in an American vessel, the Criterion, commanded by Captain Wickes, a Presbyterian elder of Philadelphia, who ever after promoted the cause in the United States. Charles Grant helped them as he would have aided Carey alone. Though the most influential of the Company's directors, he could not obtain a passport for them, but he gave them the very counsel which was to provide for the young mission its ark of defence: "Do not land at Calcutta but at Serampore, and there, under the protection of the Danish flag, arrange to join Mr. Carey." After five months' prosperous voyage the party reached the Hoogli. Before arriving within the limits of the port of Calcutta Captain Wickes sent them off in two boats under the guidance of a Bengali clerk to Serampore, fifteen miles higher up on the right bank of the river. They had agreed that he should boldly enter them, not as assistant planters, but as Christian missionaries, rightly trusting to Danish protection. Charles Grant had advised them well, but it is not easy now, as in the case of their predecessors in 1795 and of their successors up to 1813, to refrain from indignation that the British Parliament, and the party led by William Pitt, should have so long lent all the weight of their power to the East India Company in the vain attempt to keep Christianity from the Hindoos. Ward's journal thus simply tells the story of the landing of the missionaries at this Iona, this Canterbury of Southern Asia:—
"Lord's-day, Oct. 13, 1799.—Brother Brunsdon and I slept in the open air on our chests. We arrived at Serampore this morning by daylight, in health and pretty good spirits. We put up at Myerr's, a Danish tavern to which we had been recommended. No worship to-day. Nothing but a Portuguese church here.
"Oct. 14.—Mr. Forsyth from Calcutta, missionary belonging to the London Missionary Society, astonished us by his presence this afternoon. He was wholly unknown, but soon became well known. He gave us a deal of interesting information. He had seen brother Carey, who invited him to his house, offered him the assistance of his Moonshi, etc.
"Oct. 16—The Captain having been at Calcutta came and informed us that his ship could not be entered unless we made our appearance. Brother Brunsdon and I went to Calcutta, and the next day we were informed that the ship had obtained an entrance, on condition that we appeared at the Police Office, or would continue at Serampore. All things considered we preferred the latter, till the arrival of our friends from Kidderpore to whom we had addressed letters. Captain Wickes called on Rev. Mr. Brown, who very kindly offered to do anything for us in his power. Our Instructions with respect to our conduct towards Civil Government were read to him. He promised to call at the Police Office afterwards, and to inform the Master that we intended to stay at Serampore, till we had leave to go up the country. Captain Wickes called at the office afterwards, and they seemed quite satisfied with our declaration by him. In the afternoon we went to Serampore.
"Oct. 19.—I addressed a letter to the Governor to-day begging his acceptance of the last number of our Periodical Accounts, and informing him that we proposed having worship to-morrow in our own house, from which we did not wish to exclude any person.
"Lord's-day, Oct. 20.—This morning the Governor sent to inquire the hours of our worship. About half-past ten he came to our house with a number of gentlemen and their retinue. I preached from Acts xx. 24. We had a very attentive congregation of Europeans: several appeared affected, among whom was the Governor."
The text was well chosen from Paul's words to the elders of Ephesus, as he turned his face towards the bonds and afflictions that awaited him—"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." It proved to be a history of the three men thenceforth best known as the Serampore Missionaries. Ward, too, the literary member of the mission, composed the hymn which thus concluded:—
"Yes, we are safe beneath Thy shade, And shall be so 'midst India's heat: What should a missionary dread, For devils crouch at Jesus' feet.
"There, sweetest Saviour! let Thy cross Win many Hindoo hearts to Thee; This shall make up for every loss, While Thou art ours eternally."
In his first letter to a friend in Hull Ward used language which unconsciously predicted the future of the mission:—"With a Bible and a press posterity will see that a missionary will not labour in vain, even in India." But one of their number, Grant, was meanwhile removed by death, and, while they waited for a month, Carey failed to obtain leave for them to settle as his assistants in British territory. He had appealed to Mr. Brown, and to Dr. Roxburgh, his friend in charge of the Botanic Garden, to use his influence with the Government through Colebrooke, the Oriental scholar, then high in the service. But it was in vain. The police had seen with annoyance the missionaries slip from their grasp because of the liberality of the Governor-General of whom Carey had written to Ryland a year before: "At Calcutta, I saw much dissipation; but yet I think less than formerly. Lord Mornington has set his face against sports, gaming, horse-racing, and working on the Lord's-day; in consequence of which these infamous practices are less common than formerly." The missionaries, too, had at first been reported not as Baptist but as "Papist," and the emissaries of France, believed to be everywhere, must be watched against. The brave little Governor let it be understood that he would protect to the last the men who had been committed to his care by the Danish consul in London. So Ward obtained a Danish passport to enable him to visit Dinapoor and consult with Carey.
It was Sunday morning when he approached the Mudnabati factory, "feeling very unusual sensations," greatly excited. "At length I saw Carey! He is less altered than I expected: has rather more flesh than when in England, and, blessed be God! he is a young man still." It was a wrench to sacrifice his own pioneer mission, property worth L500, the school, the church, the inquirers, but he did not hesitate. He thus stated the case on the other side:—"At Serampore we may settle as missionaries, which is not allow here; and the great ends of the mission, particularly the printing of the Scriptures, seem much more likely to be answered in that situation than in this. There also brother Ward can have the inspection of the press; whereas here we should be deprived of his important assistance. In that part of the country the inhabitants are far more numerous than in this; and other missionaries may there be permitted to join us, which here it seems they will not." On the way down, during a visit to the Rajmahal Hills, round which the great Ganges sweeps, Carey and Ward made the first attempt to evangelise the Santal and other simple aboriginal tribes, whom the officials Brown and Cleveland had partly tamed. The Paharis are described, at that time, as without caste, priests, or public religion, as living on Indian corn and by hunting, for which they carry bows and arrows. "Brother Carey was able to converse with them." Again, Ward's comment on the Bengali services on the next Sunday, from the boats, is "the common sort wonder how brother Carey can know so much of the Shasters." "I long," wrote Carey from the spot to his new colleagues, "to stay here and tell these social and untutored heathen the good news from heaven. I have a strong persuasion that the doctrine of a dying Saviour would, under the Holy Spirit's influence, melt their hearts." From Taljheri and Pokhuria, near that place, to Parisnath, Ranchi, and Orissa, thousands of Santals and Kols have since been gathered into the kingdom.
On the 10th January 1800 Carey took up his residence at Serampore, on the 11th he was presented to the Governor, and "he went out and preached to the natives." His apprenticeship was over; so began his full apostolate, instant in season and out of season, to end only with his life thirty-four years after.
Thus step by step, by a way that he knew not, the shoemaker lad—who had educated himself to carry the Gospel to Tahiti, had been sent to Bengal in spite of the Company which cast him out of their ship, had starved in Calcutta, had built him a wooden hut in the jungles of the Delta, had become indigo planter in the swamps of Dinapoor that he might preach Christ without interference, had been forced to think of seeking the protection of a Buddhist in the Himalaya morass—was driven to begin anew in the very heart of the most densely peopled part of the British Empire, under the jealous care of the foreign European power which had a century before sent missionaries to Tranquebar and taught Zinzendorf and the Moravians the divine law of the kingdom; encouraged by a Governor, Colonel Bie, who was himself a disciple of Schwartz. To complete this catalogue of special providences we may add that, if Fuller had delayed only a little longer, even Serampore would have been found shut against the missionaries. For the year after, when Napoleon's acts had driven us to war with Denmark, a detachment of British troops, under Lord Minto's son, took possession of Fredericksnagore, as Serampore was officially called, and of the Danish East India Company's ship there, without opposition.
The district or county of Hoogli and Howrah, opposite Calcutta and Barrackpore, of which Serampore is the central port, swarms with a population, chiefly Hindoo but partly Mussulman, unmatched for density in any other part of the world. If, after years of a decimating fever, each of its 1701 square miles still supports nearly a thousand human beings or double the proportion of Belgium, we cannot believe that it was much less dense at the beginning of the century. From Howrah, the Surrey side of Calcutta, up to Hoogli the county town, the high ridge of mud between the river and the old channel of the Ganges to the west, has attracted the wealthiest and most intellectually active of all the Bengalees. Hence it was here that Portuguese and Dutch, French and English, and Danish planted their early factories. The last to obtain a site of twenty acres from the moribund Mussulman Government at Moorshedabad was Denmark, two years before Plassey. In the half century the hut of the first Governor sent from Tranquebar had grown into the "beautiful little town" which delighted the first Baptist missionaries. Its inhabitants, under only British administration since 1845, now number 45,000. Then they were much fewer, but then even more than now the town was a centre of the Vishnoo-worship of Jagganath, second only to that of Pooree in all India. Not far off, and now connected with the port by railway, is the foul shrine of Tarakeswar, which attracts thousands of pilgrims, many of them widows, who measure the road with their prostrate bodies dripping from the bath. Commercially Serampore sometimes distanced Calcutta itself, for all the foreign European trade was centred in it during the American and French wars, and the English civilians used its investments as the best means of remitting their savings home. When the missionaries landed there was nothing but a Portuguese Catholic church in the settlement, and the Governor was raising subscriptions for that pretty building in which Carey preached till he died, and the spire of which the Governor-General is said to have erected to improve the view of the town from the windows of his summer palace at Barrackpore opposite.
Removed from the rural obscurity of a Bengali village, where the cost of housing, clothing, and living was small, to a town in the neighbourhood of the capital much frequented by Europeans, Carey at once adapted the practical details of his communistic brotherhood to the new circumstances. With such wisdom was he aided in this by the business experience of Marshman and Ward, that a settlement was formed which admitted of easy development in correspondence with the rapid growth of the mission. At first the community consisted of ten adults and nine children. Grant had been carried off in a fever caused by the dampness of their first quarters. The promising Brunsdon was soon after removed by liver complaint caught from standing on an unmatted floor in the printing-office. Fountain, who at first continued the mission at Dinapoor, soon died there a happy death. Thomas had settled at Beerbhoom, but joined the Serampore brethren in time to do good though brief service before he too was cut off. But, fortunately as it proved for the future, Carey had to arrange for five families at the first, and this is how it was done as described by Ward:—
"The renting of a house, or houses, would ruin us. We hoped therefore to have been able to purchase land, and build mat houses upon it; but we can get none properly situated. We have in consequence purchased of the Governor's nephew a large house in the middle of the town for Rs.6000, or about L800; the rent in four years would have amounted to the purchase. It consists of a spacious verandah (portico) and hall, with two rooms on each side. Rather more to the front are two other rooms separate, and on one side is a storehouse, separate also, which will make a printing-office. It stands by the river-side upon a pretty large piece of ground, walled round, with a garden at the bottom, and in the middle a fine tank or pool of water. The price alarmed us, but we had no alternative; and we hope this will form a comfortable missionary settlement. Being near to Calcutta, it is of the utmost importance to our school, our press, and our connection with England."
"From hence may the Gospel issue and pervade all India," they wrote to Fuller. "We intend to teach a school, and make what we can of our press. The paper is all arrived, and the press, with the types, etc., complete. The Bible is wholly translated, except a few chapters, so that we intend to begin printing immediately, first the New and then the Old Testament. We love our work, and will do all we can to lighten your expenses."
This house-chapel, with two acres of garden land and separate rooms on either side, continued till 1875 to be the nucleus of the settlement afterwards celebrated all over South Asia and Christendom. The chapel is still sacred to the worship of God. The separate rooms to the left, fronting the Hoogli, became enlarged into the stately residence of Mr. John Marshman, C.S.I., and his two successors in the Friend of India, while beyond were the girl's school, now removed, the residence of Dr. Joshua Marshman before his death, and the boys' school presented to the mission by the King of Denmark. The separate rooms to the right grew into the press; farther down the river was the house of the Lady Rumohr who became Carey's second wife, with the great paper-mill behind; and, still farther, the second park in which the Serampore College was built, with the principal's house in which Carey died, and a hostel for the Native Christian students behind. The whole settlement finally formed a block of at least five acres, with almost palatial buildings, on the right bank of the Hoogli, which, with a breadth of half a mile when in flood, rolls between it and the Governor-General's summer house and English-like park of Barrackpore. The original two acres became Carey's Botanic Garden; the houses he surrounded and connected by mahogany trees, which grew to be of umbrageous beauty. His favourite promenade between the chapel and the mill, and ultimately the college, was under an avenue of his own planting, long known as "Carey's Walk."
The new colleagues who were to live with him in loving brotherhood till death removed the last in 1837 were not long in attracting him. The two were worthy to be associated with him, and so admirably supplemented his own deficiencies that the brotherhood became the most potent and permanent force in India. He thus wrote to Fuller his first impressions of them, with a loving self-depreciation:—"Brother Ward is the very man we wanted: he enters into the work with his whole soul. I have much pleasure in him, and expect much from him. Brother Marshman is a prodigy of diligence and prudence, as is also his wife in the latter: learning the language is mere play to him; he has already acquired as much as I did in double the time." After eight months of study and evangelising work they are thus described:—"Our brother Marshman, who is a true missionary, is able to talk a little; he goes out frequently, nay almost every day, and assaults the fortress of Satan. Brother Brunsdon can talk a little, though not like Marshman. Brother Ward is a great prize; he does not learn the language so quickly, but he is so holy, so spiritual a man, and so useful among the children."
Thus early did Carey note the value of Hannah Marshman, the first woman missionary to India. Granddaughter of the Baptist minister of Crockerton in Wiltshire, she proved to be for forty-six years at once a loving wife, and the equal of the three missionaries of Christ and of civilisation whom she aided in the common home, in the schools, in the congregation, in the Native Christian families, and even, at that early time, in purely Hindoo circles. Without her the mission must have been one-sided indeed. It gives us a pathetic interest to turn to her household books, where we find entered with loving care and thoughtful thrift all the daily details which at once form a valuable contribution to the history of prices, and show how her "prudence" combined with the heroic self-denial of all to make the Serampore mission the light of India. Ward's journal supplies this first sketch of the brotherhood, who realised, more than probably any in Protestant, Romanist, or Greek hagiology, the life of the apostolic community in Jerusalem:—
"January 18, 1800.—This week we have adopted a set of rules for the government of the family. All preach and pray in turn; one superintends the affairs of the family for a month, and then another; brother Carey is treasurer, and has the regulation of the medicine chest; brother Fountain is librarian. Saturday evening is devoted to adjusting differences, and pledging ourselves to love one another. One of our resolutions is, that no one of us do engage in private trade; but that all be done for the benefit of the mission...
"August 1.—Our labours for every day are now regularly arranged. About six o'clock we rise; brother Carey to his garden; brother Marshman to his school at seven; brother Brunsdon, Felix, and I, to the printing-office. At eight the bell rings for family worship: we assemble in the hall; sing, read, and pray. Breakfast. Afterwards, brother Carey goes to the translation, or reading proofs: brother Marshman to school, and the rest to the printing-office. Our compositor having left us, we do without: we print three half-sheets of 2000 each in a week; have five pressmen, one folder, and one binder. At twelve o'clock we take a luncheon; then most of us shave and bathe, read and sleep before dinner, which we have at three. After dinner we deliver our thoughts on a text or question: this we find to be very profitable. Brother and sister Marshman keep their schools till after two. In the afternoon, if business be done in the office, I read and try to talk Bengali with the brammhan. We drink tea about seven, and have little or no supper. We have Bengali preaching once or twice in the week, and on Thursday evening we have an experience meeting. On Saturday evening we meet to compose differences and transact business, after prayer, which is always immediately after tea. Felix is very useful in the office; William goes to school, and part of the day learns to bind. We meet two hours before breakfast on the first Monday in the month, and each one prays for the salvation of the Bengal heathen. At night we unite our prayers for the universal spread of the Gospel."
The "Form of Agreement" which regulated the social economy and spiritual enterprise of the brotherhood, and also its legal relations to the Baptist Society in England, deserves study, in its divine disinterestedness, its lofty aims, and its kindly common sense. Fuller had pledged the Society in 1798 to send out L360 a year for the joint family of six missionaries, their wives, and children. The house and land at Serampore cost the Society Rs.6000. On Grant's death, leaving a widow and two children, the five missionaries made the first voluntary agreement, which "provided that no one should trade on his own private account, and that the product of their labour should form a common fund to be applied at the will of the majority, to the support of their respective families, of the cause of God around them, and of the widow and family of such as might be removed by death." The first year the schools and the press enabled the brotherhood to be more than self-supporting. In the second year Carey's salary from the College of Fort-William, and the growth of the schools and press, gave them a surplus for mission extension. They not only paid for the additional two houses and ground required by such extension, but they paid back to the Society all that it had advanced for the first purchase in the course of the next six years. They acquired all the property for the Serampore Mission, duly informing the home Committee from time to time, and they vested the whole right, up to Fuller's death in 1815, in the Society, "to prevent the premises being sold or becoming private property in the families." But "to secure their own quiet occupation of them, and enable them to leave them in the hands of such as they might associate with themselves in their work, they declared themselves trustees instead of proprietors."
The agreement of 1800 was expanded into the "Form of Agreement" of 1805 when the spiritual side of the mission had grown. Their own authoritative statement, as given above, was lovingly recognised by Fuller. In 1817, and again in 1820, the claims of aged and destitute relatives, and the duty of each brother making provision for his own widow and orphans, and, occasionally, the calls of pity and humanity, led the brotherhood to agree that "each shall regularly deduct a tenth of the net product of his labour to form a fund in his own hands for these purposes." We know nothing in the history of missions, monastic or evangelical, which at all approaches this in administrative perfectness as well is in Christlike self-sacrifice. It prevents secularisation of spirit, stimulates activity of all kinds, gives full scope to local ability and experience, calls forth the maximum of local support and propagation, sets the church at home free to enter incessantly on new fields, provides permanence as well as variety of action and adaptation to new circumstances, and binds the whole in a holy bond of prayerful co-operation and loving brotherhood. This Agreement worked for seventeen years, with a success in England and India which we shall trace, or as long as Fuller, Ryland, and Sutcliff lived "to hold the ropes," while Carey, Marshman, and Ward excavated the mine of Hindooism.
The spiritual side of the Agreement we find in the form which the three drew up in 1805, to be read publicly at all their stations thrice every year, on the Lord's Day. It is the ripe fruit of the first eleven years of Carey's daily toil and consecrated genius, as written out by the fervent pen of Ward. In the light of it the whole of Carey's life must be read. In these concluding sentences the writer sketches Carey himself:—"Let us often look at Brainerd in the woods of America, pouring out his very soul before God for the perishing heathen, without whose salvation nothing could make you happy. Prayer, secret, fervent, believing prayer, lies at the root of all personal godliness. A competent knowledge of the languages current where a missionary lives, a mild and winning temper, and a heart given up to God in closet religion; these, these are the attainments which more than all knowledge or all other gifts, will fit us to become the instruments of God in the great work of human redemption. Finally, let us give ourselves unreservedly to this glorious cause. Let us never think that our time, our gifts, our strength, our families, or even the clothes we wear are our own. Let us sanctify them all to God and His cause. Oh! that He may sanctify us for His work. Let us for ever shut out the idea of laying up a cowrie (mite) for ourselves or our children. If we give up the resolution which was formed on the subject of private trade, when we first united at Serampore, the mission is from that hour a lost cause. Let us continually watch against a worldly spirit, and cultivate a Christian indifference towards every indulgence. Rather let us bear hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. No private family ever enjoyed a greater portion of happiness, even in the most prosperous gale of worldly prosperity, than we have done since we resolved to have all things in common. If we are enabled to persevere in the same principles, we may hope that multitudes of converted souls will have reason to bless God to all eternity for sending His Gospel into this country."
Such was the moral heroism, such the spiritual aim of the Serampore brotherhood; how did it set to work?
THE FIRST NATIVE CONVERTS AND CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS
A carpenter the first Bengali convert—Krishna Pal's confession—Caste broken for the first time—Carey describes the baptism in the Hoogli—The first woman convert—The first widow convert—The first convert of writer caste—The first Christian Brahman—The first native chapel—A Bengali "experience" meeting—Carey founding a new community as well as church—Marriage difficulties solved—The first native Christian marriage feast in North India—Hindoo Christian death and burial—The first Christian schools and school-books in North India—The first native Sunday school—Boarding schools for the higher education of country-born Christians—Carey on the mixed Portuguese, Eurasians, and Armenians—The Benevolent Institution for destitute children of all races—A hundred schools—English only postponed—Effect on native opinion and action—The leaven of the Kingdom—The Mission breaks forth into five at the close of 1810.
For seven years Carey had daily preached Christ in Bengali without a convert. He had produced the first edition of the New Testament. He had reduced the language to literary form. He had laid the foundations in the darkness of the pit of Hindooism, while the Northamptonshire pastors, by prayer and self-sacrifice, held the ropes. The last disappointment was on 25th November 1800, when "the first Hindoo" catechumen, Fakeer, offered himself for baptism, returned to his distant home for his child, and appeared no more, probably "detained by force." But on the last Sunday of that year Krishna Pal was baptised in the Hoogli and his whole family soon followed him. He was thirty-five years of age. Not only as the first native Christian of North India of whom we have a reliable account, but as the first missionary to Calcutta and Assam, and the first Bengali hymn-writer, this man deserves study.
Carey's first Hindoo convert was three years younger than himself, or about thirty-six, at baptism. Krishna Pal, born in the neighbouring French settlement of Chandernagore, had settled in the suburbs of Serampore, where he worked as a carpenter. Sore sickness and a sense of sin led him to join the Kharta-bhojas, one of the sects which, from the time of Gautama Buddha, and of Chaitanya, the reformer of Nuddea, to that of Nanak, founder of the Sikh brotherhood have been driven into dissent by the yoke of Brahmanism. Generally worshippers of some form of Vishnoo, and occasionally, as in Kabeer's case, influenced by the monotheism of Islam, these sects begin by professing theism and opposition to caste, though Hindooism is elastic enough to keep them always within its pale and ultimately to absorb them again. For sixteen years Krishna Pal was himself a gooroo of the Ghospara sect, of which from Carey's to Duff's earlier days the missionaries had a hope which proved vain. He recovered from sickness, but could not shake off the sense of the burden of sin, when this message came to him, and, to his surprise, through the Europeans—"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." At the same time he happened to dislocate his right arm by falling down the slippery side of his tank when about to bathe. He sent two of the children to the Mission House for Thomas, who immediately left the breakfast table at which the brethren had just sat down, and soon reduced the luxation, while the sufferer again heard the good news that Christ was waiting to heal his soul, and he and his neighbour Gokool received a Bengali tract. He himself thus told the story:—"In this paper I read that he who confesseth and forsaketh his sins, and trusteth in the righteousness of Christ, obtains salvation. The next morning Mr. Carey came to see me, and after inquiring how I was, told me to come to his house, that he would give me some medicine, by which, through the blessing of God, the pain in my arm would be removed. I went and obtained the medicine, and through the mercy of God my arm was cured. From this time I made a practice of calling at the mission house, where Mr. Ward and Mr. Felix Carey used to read and expound the Holy Bible to me. One day Dr. Thomas asked me whether I understood what I heard from Mr. Ward and Mr. Carey. I said I understood that the Lord Jesus Christ gave his life up for the salvation of sinners, and that I believed it, and so did my friend Gokool. Dr. T. said, 'Then I call you brother—come and let us eat together in love.' At this time the table was set for luncheon, and all the missionaries and their wives, and I and Gokool, sat down and ate together."
The servants spread the news, most horrible to the people, that the two Hindoos had "become Europeans," and they were assaulted on their way home. Just thirty years after, in Calcutta, the first public breach of caste by the young Brahman students of Duff raised a still greater commotion, and resulted in the first converts there. Krishna Pal and his wife, his wife's sister and his four daughters; Gokool, his wife, and a widow of forty who lived beside them, formed the first group of Christian Hindoos of caste in India north of Madras. Two years after Krishna Pal sent to the Society this confession of his faith. Literally translated, it is a record of belief such as Paul himself might have written, illustrated by an apostolic life of twenty-two years. The carpenter's confession and dedication has, in the original, an exquisite tenderness, reflected also in the hymn which he wrote for family worship:—
"SERAMPORE, 12th Oct. 1802.
"To the brethren of the church of our Saviour Jesus Christ, our souls' beloved, my affectionately embracing representation. The love of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, was made known by holy brother Thomas. In that day our minds were filled with joy. Then judging, we understood that we were dwelling in darkness. Through the door of manifestation we came to know that, sin confessing, sin forsaking, Christ's righteousness embracing, salvation would be obtained. By light springing up in the heart, we knew that sinners becoming repentant, through the sufferings of Christ, obtain salvation. In this rejoicing, and in Christ's love believing, I obtained mercy. Now it is in my mind continually to dwell in the love of Christ: this is the desire of my soul. Do you, holy people, pour down love upon us, that as the chatookee we may be satisfied. I was the vilest of sinners: He hath saved me. Now this word I will tell to the world. Going forth, I will proclaim the love of Christ with rejoicing. To sinners I will say this word: Here sinner, brother! Without Christ there is no help. Christ, the world to save, gave his own soul! Such love was never heard: for enemies Christ gave his own soul! Such compassion, where shall we get? For the sake of saving sinners he forsook the happiness of heaven. I will constantly stay near him. Being awakened by this news, I will constantly dwell in the town of joy. In the Holy Spirit I will live: yet in Christ's sorrow I will be sorrowful. I will dwell along with happiness, continually meditating on this;—Christ will save the world! In Christ not taking refuge, there is no other way of life. I was indeed a sinner, praise not knowing.—This is the representation of Christ's servant,
Such is the first epistle of the Church of India. Thus the first medical missionary had his reward; but the joy proved to be too much for him. When Carey led Krishna and his own son Felix down into the water of baptism the ravings of Thomas in the schoolhouse on the one side, and of Mrs. Carey on the other, mingled with the strains of the Bengali hymn of praise. The Mission Journal, written by Ward, tells with graphic simplicity how caste as well as idol-worship was overcome not only by the men but the women representatives of a race whom, thirty years after, Macaulay described as destitute of courage, independence, and veracity, and bold only in deceit. Christ is changing all that.
"Nov. 27.—Krishna, the man whose arm was set, overtook Felix and me, and said he would come to our house daily for instruction; for that we had not only cured his arm, but brought him the news of salvation...
"Dec. 5.—Yesterday evening Gokool and Krishna prayed in my room. This morning Gokool called upon us, and told us that his wife and two or three more of his family had left him on account of the gospel. He had eaten of Krishna's rice, who being of another caste, Gokool had lost his. Krishna says his wife and family are all desirous of becoming Christians. They declare their willingness to join us, and obey all our Saviour's commands. Gokool and his wife had a long talk; but she continued determined, and is gone to her relations.
"Dec. 6.—This morning brother Carey and I went to Krishna's house. Everything was made very clean. The women sat within the house, the children at the door, and Krishna and Gokool with brother Carey and I in the court. The houses of the poor are only calculated for sleeping in. Brother Carey talked; and the women appeared to have learned more of the gospel than we expected. They declared for Christ at once. This work was new, even to brother Carey. A whole family desiring to hear the gospel, and declaring in favour of it! Krishna's wife said she had received great joy from it.
"Lord's-day, Dec. 7.—This morning brother Carey went to Krishna's house, and spoke to a yard full of people, who heard with great attention though trembling with cold. Brother Brunsdon is very poorly. Krishna's wife and her sister were to have been with us in the evening; but the women have many scruples to sitting in the company of Europeans. Some of them scarcely ever go out but to the river; and if they meet a European run away. Sometimes when we have begun to speak in a street, some one desires us to remove to a little distance; for the women dare not come by us to fill their jars at the river. We always obey...
"Dec. 11.—Gokool, Krishna, and family continue to seek after the Word, and profess their entire willingness to join us. The women seem to have learnt that sin is a dreadful thing, and to have received joy in hearing of Jesus Christ. We see them all every day almost. They live but half a mile from us. We think it right to make many allowances for ignorance, and for a state of mind produced by a corrupt superstition. We therefore cannot think of demanding from them, previous to baptism, to more than a profession of dependence on Christ, from a knowledge of their need of Him, and submission to Him in all things. We now begin to talk of baptism. Yesterday we fixed upon the spot, before our gate, in the river. We begin to talk also of many other things concerning the discipled natives. This evening Felix and I went to Gokool's house. Krishna and his wife and a brammhan were present. I said a little. Felix read the four last chapters of John to them, and spoke also. We sat down upon a piece of mat in the front of the house. (No chairs.) It was very pleasant. To have natives who feel a little as we do ourselves, is so new and different. The country itself seems to wear a new aspect to me...
"Dec. 13.—This evening Felix and I went to see our friends Gokool and Krishna. The latter was out. Gokool gave a pleasing account of the state of his mind, and also of that of Krishna and his family. While we were there, Gokool's gooroo (teacher) came for the first time since his losing caste. Gokool refused to prostrate himself at his feet while he should put his foot on his head; for which his gooroo was displeased...
"Dec. 22.—This day Gokool and Krishna came to eat tiffin (what in England is called luncheon) with us, and thus publicly threw away their caste. Brethren Carey and Thomas went to prayer with the two natives before they proceeded to this act. All our servants were astonished: so many had said that nobody would ever mind Christ or lose caste. Brother Thomas has waited fifteen years, and thrown away much upon deceitful characters: brother Carey has waited till hope of his own success has almost expired; and after all, God has done it with perfect ease! Thus the door of faith is open to the gentiles; who shall shut it? The chain of the caste is broken; who shall mend it?"
Carey thus describes the baptism:—"Dec. 29.—Yesterday was a day of great joy. I had the happiness to desecrate the Gunga, by baptising the first Hindoo, viz. Krishna, and my son Felix: some circumstances turned up to delay the baptism of Gokool and the two women. Krishna's coming forward alone, however, gave us very great pleasure, and his joy at both ordinances was very great. The river runs just before our gate, in front of the house, and, I think, is as wide as the Thames at Gravesend. We intended to have baptised at nine in the morning; but, on account of the tide, were obliged to defer it till nearly one o'clock, and it was administered just after the English preaching. The Governor and a good number of Europeans were present. Brother Ward preached a sermon in English, from John v. 39—'Search the Scriptures.' We then went to the water-side, where I addressed the people in Bengali; after having sung a Bengali translation of 'Jesus, and shall it ever be?' and engaging in prayer. After the address I administered the ordinance, first to my son, then to Krishna. At half-past four I administered the Lord's Supper; and a time of real refreshing it was...
"Thus, you see, God is making way for us, and giving success to the word of His grace! We have toiled long, and have met with many discouragements; but, at last, the Lord has appeared for us. May we have the true spirit of nurses, to train them up in the words of faith and sound doctrine! I have no fear of any one, however, in this respect, but myself. I feel much concerned that they may act worthy of their vocation, and also that they may be able to teach others. I think it becomes us to make the most of every one whom the Lord gives us."
Jeymooni, Krishna's wife's sister, was the first Bengali woman to be baptised, and Rasoo, his wife, soon followed; both were about thirty-five years old. The former said she had found a treasure in Christ greater than anything in the world. The latter, when she first heard the good news from her husband, said "there was no such sinner as I, and I felt my heart immediately unite to Him. I wish to keep all His commands so far as I know them." Gokool was kept back for a time by his wife, Komal, who fled to her father's, but Krishna and his family brought in, first the husband, then the wife, whose simplicity and frankness attracted the missionaries. Unna, their widowed friend of forty, was also gathered in, the first of that sad host of victims to Brahmanical cruelty, lust, and avarice, to whom Christianity has ever since offered the only deliverance. Of 124,000,000 of women in India in 1881, no fewer than 21,000,000 were returned by the census as widows, of whom 669,000 were under nineteen years, 286,000 were under fifteen, and 79,000 were under nine, all figures undoubtedly within the appalling truth. Jeymooni and Unna at once became active missionaries among their country-women, not only in Serampore but in Chandernagore and the surrounding country.
The year 1800 did not close without fruit from the other and higher castes. Petumber Singh, a man of fifty of the writer caste, had sought deliverance from sin for thirty years at many a Hindoo shrine and in many a Brahmanical scripture. One of the earliest tracts of the Serampore press fell into his hands, and he at once walked forty miles to seek fuller instruction from its author. His baptism gave Carey just what the mission wanted, a good schoolmaster, and he soon proved to be, even before Krishna in time, the first preacher to the people. Of the same writer caste were Syam Dass, Petumber Mitter, and his wife Draupadi, who was as brave as her young husband. The despised soodras were represented by Syam's neighbour, Bharut, an old man, who said he went to Christ because he was just falling into hell and saw no other way of safety. The first Mohammedan convert was Peroo, another neighbour of Syam Dass. From the spot on the Soondarbans where Carey first began his life of missionary farmer, there came to him at the close of 1802, in Calcutta, the first Brahman who had bowed his neck to the Gospel in all India up to this time, for we can hardly reckon Kiernander's case. Krishna Prosad, then nineteen, "gave up his friends and his caste with much fortitude, and is the first Brahman who has been baptised. The word of Christ's death seems to have gone to his heart, and he continues to receive the Word with meekness." The poita or sevenfold thread which, as worn over the naked body, betokened his caste, he trampled under foot, and another was given to him, that when preaching Christ he might be a witness to the Brahmans at once that Christ is irresistible and that an idol is nothing in the world. This he voluntarily ceased to wear in a few years. Two more Brahmans were brought in by Petumber Singhee in 1804, by the close of which year the number of baptised converts was forty-eight, of whom forty were native men and women. With the instinct of a true scholar and Christian Carey kept to the apostolic practice, which has been too often departed from—he consecrated the convert's name as well as soul and body to Christ. Beside the "Hermes" of Rome to whom Paul sent his salutation, he kept the "Krishna" of Serampore and Calcutta.
The first act of the first convert, Krishna Pal, was of his own accord to build a house for God immediately opposite his own, the first native meeting-house in Bengal. Carey preached the first sermon in it to twenty natives besides the family. On the side of the high road, along which the car of Jagganath is dragged every year, the missionaries purchased a site and built a preaching place, a school, a house for Gokool, and a room for the old widow, at the cost of Captain Wickes, who had rejoiced to witness their baptism. The Brahman who owned the neighbouring land wished to sell it and leave the place, "so much do these people abhor us." This little purchase for L6 grew in time into the extensive settlement of Jannagur, where about 1870 the last of Carey's converts passed away.
From its native chapel, and in its village tank, many Hindoos have since been led by their own ordained countrymen to put on Christ. In time the church in the chapel on the Hoogli became chiefly European and Eurasian, but on the first Sunday of the year, the members of both churches meet together for solemn and joyful communion, when the services are alternately in Bengali and English.
The longing for converts now gave place to anxiety that they might continue to be Christians indeed. As in the early Corinthian Church, all did not perceive at once the solemnities of the Lord's Supper. Krishna Pal, for instance, jealous because the better educated Petumber had been ordained to preach before him, made a schism by administering it, and so filled the missionaries with grief and fear; but he soon became penitent. Associated with men who gave their all to Christ, the native members could not but learn the lesson of self-support, so essential for a self-propagating church, and so often neglected in the early history of missions, and even still. On baptism Krishna received a new white dress with six shillings; but such a gift, beautiful in itself, was soon discontinued. A Mohammedan convert asked assistance to cultivate a little ground and rear silkworms, but, writes Mr. Ward bowed down with missionary cares, "We are desirous to avoid such a precedent." Although these first converts were necessarily missionaries rather than pastors for a time, each preacher received no more than six rupees a month while in his own village, and double that when itinerating. Carey and his colleagues were ever on the watch to foster the spiritual life and growth of men and women born, and for thirty or fifty years trained, in all the ideas and practices of a system which is the very centre of opposition to teaching like theirs. This record of an "experience meeting" of three men and five women may be taken as a type of Bengali Christianity when it was but two years old, and as a contrast to that which prevails a century after:—