committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs


life of mrs. ann h. judson, late missionary to burmah;

With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.

Chapter 10

Some account of the Sufferings of the Prisoners during the War.

Narrative Continued.

"NOTWITHSTANDING the order the Governor had given for my admittance into prison, it was with the greatest difficulty that I could persuade the under jailer to open the gate. I used to carry Mr. Judson's food myself, for the sake of getting in, and would then remain an hour or two, unless driven out. We had been in this comfortable situation but two or three days, when one morning, having carried in Mr. Judson's breakfast, which in consequence of fever he was unable to take, I remained longer than usual, when the Governor in great haste sent for me. I promised him to return as soon as I had ascertained the Governor's will, he being much alarmed at this unusual message. I was very agreeably disappointed, when the Governor informed me, that he only wished to consult with me about his watch, and seemed unusually pleasant and conversable. I found afterwards, that his only object was, to detain me until the dreadful scene, about to take place in prison, was over. For when I left him to go to my room, one of the servants came running, and, with a ghastly countenance, informed me, that all the white prisoners were carried away. I would not believe the report, and instantly went back to the Governor, who said he had just heard of it, but did not wish to tell me. I hastily ran into the street, hoping to get a glimpse of them before they were out of sight; but in this was disappointed. I ran first into one street, then another, inquiring of all I met; but no one would answer me. At length an old woman told me the white prisoners had gone towards the little river; for they were to be carried to Amarapora. I then ran to the banks of the little river, about half a mile, but saw them not, and concluded the old woman had deceived me. Some of the friends of the foreigners went to the place of execution, but found them not. I then returned to the Governor, to try to discover the cause of their removal, and the probability of their future fate. The old man assured me that he was ignorant of the intention of government to remove the foreigners till that morning. That since I went out, he had learned that the prisoners were to be sent to Amarapora; but for what purpose he knew not. 'I will send off a man immediately,' said he, 'to see what is to be done with them. You can do nothing more for your husband,' continued he; ' take care of yourself .' With a heavy heart I went to my room, and having no hope to excite me to exertion, I sunk down almost in despair. For several days previous, I had been actively engaged in building my own little room, and making our hovel comfortable. My thoughts had been almost entirely occupied in contriving means to get into prison. But now I looked towards the gate with a kind of melancholy feeling, but no wish to enter. All was the stillness of death, no preparation of your brother's food; no expectation of meeting him at the usual dinner hour; all my employment, all my occupations seemed to have ceased, and I had nothing left but the dreadful recollection that Mr. Judson was carried off, I knew not whither. It was one of the most insupportable days I ever passed. Towards night, however, I came to the determination to set off the next morning for Amarapora; and for this purpose was obliged to go to our house out of town.

"Never before had I suffered so much from fear in traversing the streets of Ava. The last words of the Governor, 'Take care of yourself,' made me suspect there was some design with which I was unacquainted. I saw, also, he was afraid to have me go into the streets, and advised me to wait till dark, when he would send me in a cart, and a man to open the gates. I took two or three trunks of the most valuable articles, together with the medicine chest, to deposit in the house of the Governor; and after committing the house and premises to our faithful Moung Ing and a Bengalee servant, who continued with us, (though we were unable to pay his wages,) I took leave, as I then thought probable, of our house in Ava for ever.

"The next morning I obtained a pass from government, and with my little Maria, who was then only three months old, Mary and Abby Hasseltine, (two of the Burman children,) and our Bengalee cook, who was the only one of the party that could afford me any assistance, I set off for Amarapora. The day was dreadfully hot; but we obtained a covered boat, in which we were tolerably comfortable, till within two miles of the government house. I then procured a cart; but the violent motion, together, with the dreadful heat and dust, made me almost distracted. But what was my disappointment on my arriving at the court house, to find that the prisoners had been sent on two hours before, and that I must go in that uncomfortable mode four miles further with little Maria in my arms, whom I held all the way from Ava. The cart-man refused to go any further; and after waiting an hour in the burning sun, I procured another, and set off for that never to be forgotten place, Oung-pen-la. I obtained a guide from the Governor, and was conducted directly to the prison yard. But what a scene of wretchedness was presented to my view! The prison was an old shattered building, without a roof; the fence was entirely destroyed; eight or ten Burmese were on the top of the building, trying to make something like a shelter with leaves; while under a little low projection, outside of the prison, sat the foreigners, chained together two and two, almost dead with suffering and fatigue. The first words of your brother were, 'Why have you come? I hoped you would not follow, for you cannot live here.' It was now dark. I had no refreshment for the suffering prisoners, or for myself, as I had expected to procure all that was necessary at the market of Amarapora, and I had no shelter for the night. I asked one of the jailers if I might put up a little bamboo house near the prison; he said no, it was not customary. I then begged he would procure me a shelter for the night, when on the morrow, I could find some place to live in. He took me to his house, in which there were only two small rooms—one in which he and his family lived—the other, which was then half full of grain, he offered to me; and in that little filthy place, I spent the next six months of wretchedness. I procured some half boiled water, instead of my tea, and, worn out with fatigue, laid myself down on a mat spread over the paddy, and endeavoured to obtain a little refreshment from sleep. The next morning your brother gave me the following account of the brutal treatment he had received on being taken out of prison.

"As soon as I had gone out at the call of the Governor, one of the jailers rushed into Mr. Judson's little room—roughly seized him by the arm—pulled him out—stripped him of all his clothes, excepting shirt and pantaloons—took his shoes, hat, and all his bedding—tore off his chains—tied a rope round his waist, and dragged him to the court house, where the other prisoners had previously been taken. They were then tied two and two, and delivered into the hands of the Lamine Woon, who went on before them on horseback, while his slaves drove the prisoners, one of the slaves holding the rope which connected two of them together. It was in May, one of the hottest months in the year, and eleven o'clock in the day, so that the sun was intolerable indeed. They had proceeded only half a mile, when your brother's feet became blistered; and so great was his agony, even at this early period, that as they were crossing the little river, he ardently longed to throw himself into the water to be free from misery. But the sin attached to such an act, alone prevented. They had then eight miles to walk. The sand and gravel were like burning coals to the feet of the prisoners, which soon became perfectly destitute of skin; and in this wretched state, they were goaded on by their unfeeling drivers. Mr. Judson's debilitated state, in consequence of fever, and having taken no food that morning, rendered him less capable of bearing such hardships than the other prisoners. When about half way on their journey, as they stopped for water, your brother begged the Lamine Woon to allow him to ride his horse a mile or two, as he could proceed no farther in that dreadful state. But a scornful, malignant look, was all the reply that was made. He then requested Captain Laird, who was tied with him, and who was a strong, healthy man, to allow him to take hold of his shoulder, as he was fast sinking. This the kind-hearted man granted for a mile or two, but then found the additional burden insupportable. Just at that period, Mr. Gouger's Bengalee servant came up to them, and seeing the distresses of your brother, took off his head dress, which was made of cloth, tore it in two, gave half to his master, and half to Mr. Judson, which he instantly wrapt round his wounded feet, as they were not allowed to rest even for a moment. The servant then offered his shoulder to Mr. Judson, and was almost carried by him the remainder of the way. Had it not been for the support and assistance of this man, your brother thinks he should have shared the fate of the poor Greek, who was one of their number, and when taken out of prison that morning was in perfect health. But he was a corpulent man, and the sun affected him so much that he fell down on the way. His inhuman drivers beat and dragged him until they themselves were wearied, when they procured a cart, in which he was carried the remaining two miles. But the poor creature expired in an hour or two after their arrival at the court house. The Lamine Woon seeing the distressing state of the prisoners, and that one of their number was dead, concluded they should go no further that night, otherwise they would have been driven on until they reached Oung-pen-la the same day. An old shed was appointed for their abode during the night, but without even a mat, or pillow, or any thing to cover them. The curiosity of the Lamine Woon's wife, induced her to make a visit to the prisoners, whose wretchedness considerably excited her compassion, and she ordered some fruit, sugar, and tamarinds, for their refreshment; and the next morning rice was prepared for them, and as poor as it was, it was refreshing to the prisoners, who had been almost destitute of food the day before. Carts were also provided for their conveyance, as none of them were able to walk. All this time the foreigners were entirely ignorant of what was to become of them; and when they arrived at Oung-pen-la, and saw the dilapidated state of the prison, they immediately all as one, concluded that they were there to be burnt, agreeable to the report which had previously been in circulation at Ava. They all endeavoured to prepare themselves for the awful scene anticipated; and it was not until they saw preparations making for repairing the prison, that they had the least doubt that a cruel lingering death awaited them.

"At this place my personal bodily sufferings commenced. While your brother was confined in the city prison, I had been allowed to remain in our house, in which I had many conveniences left, and my health had continued good beyond all expectations. But now I had not a single article of convenience—not even a chair or seat of any kind, excepting a bamboo floor. The very morning after my arrival, Mary Hasseltine was taken with the small pox, the natural way. She, though very young, was the only assistant I had in taking care of little Maria. But she now required all the time I could spare from Mr. Judson, whose fever still continued in prison, and whose feet were so dreadfully mangled, that for several days he was unable to move. I knew not what to do, for I could procure no assistance from the neighbourhood, or medicine for the sufferers, but was all day long going backwards and forwards from the house to the prison with little Maria in my arms. Sometimes I was greatly relieved by leaving her, for an hour, when asleep, by the side of her father, while I returned to the house to look after Mary, whose fever ran so high as to produce delirium. She was so completely covered with the small pox, that there was no distinction in the pustules. As she was in the same little room with myself, I knew Maria would take it; I therefore innoculated her from another child, before Mary's had arrived at such a state as to be infectious. At the same time, I inoculated Abby, and the jailer's children, who all had it so lightly as hardly to interrupt their play. But the inoculation in the arm of my poor little Maria did not take—she caught it of Mary, and had it the natural way. She was then only three months and a half old, and had been a most healthy child; but it was above three months before she perfectly recovered from the effects of this dreadful disorder.

"The jailer's children having had the small pox so lightly, in consequence of inoculation, my fame was spread all over the village, and every child, young and old, who had not previously had it, was brought for inoculation. And although I knew nothing about the disorder, or the mode of treating it, I inoculated them all with a needle, and told them to take care of their diet—all the instruction I could give them. Mr. Judson's health was gradually restored, and he found himself much more comfortably situated, than when in the city prison.

"The prisoners were at first chained two and two; but as soon as the jailers could obtain chains sufficient, they were separated, and each prisoner had but one pair. The prison was repaired, a new fence made, and a large airy shed erected in front of the prison, where the prisoners were allowed to remain during the day, though locked up in the little close prison at night. All the children recovered from the small pox; but my watchings and fatigue, together with my miserable food, and more miserable lodgings, brought on one of the diseases of the country, which is almost always fatal to foreigners. My constitution seemed destroyed, and in a few days I became so weak as to be hardly able to walk to Mr. Judson's prison. In this debilitated state, I set off in a cart for Ava, to procure medicines, and some suitable food. I reached the house in safety, and for two or three days the disorder seemed at a stand; after which it attacked me so violently, that I had no hopes of recovery left—and my only anxiety now was, to return to Oung-pen-la to die near the prison. It was with the greatest difficulty that I obtained the medicine chest from the Governor, and then had no one to administer medicine. I however got at the laudanum, and by taking two drops at a time for several hours, it so far checked the disorder, as to enable me to get on board a boat, though so weak that I could not stand, and again set off for Oung-pen-la. The last four miles was in that painful conveyance, the cart, and in the midst of the rainy season, when the mud almost buries the oxen. You may form some idea of a Burmese cart, when I tell you their wheels are not constructed like ours, but are simply round thick planks, with a hole in the middle, through which a pole that supports the body is thrust.

"I just reached Oung-pen-la when my strength seemed entirely exhausted. The good native cook came out to help me into the house; but so altered and emaciated was my appearance, that the poor fellow burst into tears at the first sight. I crawled on to the mat in the little room, to which I was confined for more than two months, and never perfectly recovered until I came to the English camp. At this period, when I was unable to take care of myself, or to look after Mr. Judson, we must both have died, had it not been for the faithful and affectionate care of our Bengalee cook.

"Our dear little Maria was the greatest sufferer at this time, my illness depriving her of her usual nourishment, and neither a nurse nor a drop of milk could be procured in the village. By making presents to the jailers, I obtained leave for Mr. Judson to come out of prison, and take the emaciated creature around the village, to beg a little nourishment from those mothers who had young children. Her cries in the night were heart-rending, when it was impossible to supply her wants.

"It was some time after our arrival at Oung-pen-la, that we heard of the execution of the Pakan Woon, in consequence of which our lives were still preserved. For we afterwards ascertained, that the white foreigners had been sent to Oung-pen-la, for the express purpose of sacrificing them; and that he himself intended witnessing the horrid scene. We had frequently heard of his intended arrival at Oung-pen-la; but we had no idea of his diabolical purposes. He had raised an army of fifty thousand men, (a tenth part of whose advanced pay was found in his house,) and expected to march against the English army in a short time, when he was suspected of high treason, and instantly executed without the least examination. Perhaps no death in Ava ever produced such universal rejoicings, as that of the Pakan Woon. We never, to this day, hear his name mentioned, but with an epithet of reproach or hatred."

The time at length arrived for their release from this detested prison. Mr. Judson's services were required by the Burmese army at Melloone, as translator, whither he was sent upon a few hours notice, leaving Mrs. Judson at the house, in Ava. About a fortnight after his departure, she was seized with the spotted fever, the progress of which she thus describes:—

"I knew the nature of the fever from its commencement; and from the shattered state of my constitution, together with the want of medical attendants, I concluded it must be fatal. The day I was taken with the fever, a Burmese nurse came and offered her services for Maria. This circumstance filled me with gratitude and confidence in God; for though I had so long and so constantly made efforts to obtain a person of this description, I had never been able; when at the very time I most needed one, and without any exertion, a voluntary offer was made. My fever raged violently and without any intermission. I began to think of settling my worldly affairs, and of committing my dear little Maria to the care of a Portugese woman, when I lost my reason, and was insensible to all around. At this dreadful period Dr. Price was released from prison; and hearing of my illness, obtained permission to come and see me. He has since told me that my situation was the most distressing he had ever witnessed, and that he did not then think I should survive many hours. My hair was shaved, my head and feet covered with blisters, and Dr. Price ordered the Bengalee servant who took care of me, to endeavour to persuade me to take a little nourishment, which I had obstinately refused for several days. One of the first things I recollect was, seeing this faithful servant standing by me, trying to induce me to take a little wine and water. I was in fact so far gone, that the Burmese neighbours who had come in to see me expire, said, 'She is dead; and if the King of angels should come in, he could not recover her.'

"The fever, I afterwards understood, had run seventeen days when the blisters were applied. I now began to recover slowly; but it was more than a month after this before I had strength to stand. While in this weak, debilitated state, the servant who had followed your brother to the Burmese camp, came in, and informed me that his master had arrived, and was conducted to the court-house in town. I sent off a Burman to watch the movements of government, and to ascertain, if possible, in what way Mr. Judson was to be disposed of. He soon returned with the sad intelligence, that he saw Mr. Judson go out of the palace yard accompanied by two or three Burmans, who conducted him to one of the prisons; and that it was reported in town, that he was to be sent back to the Oung-pen-la prison.

"If I ever felt the value and efficacy of prayer I did at this time. I could not rise from my couch; I could make no efforts to secure my husband; I could only plead with that great and powerful Being who has said, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will hear , and thou shalt glorify me;' and who made me at this time feel so powerfully this promise, that I became quite composed, feeling assured that my prayers would be answered.

"In the meantime the Governor of the north gate presented a petition to the high court of the Empire, offered himself as Mr. Judson's security, obtained his release, and took him to his house, where he treated him with every possible kindness, and to which I was removed as soon as returning health would allow.

"The rapid strides of the English army towards the capital at this time threw the whole town into the greatest state of alarm, and convinced the government that some speedy measures must be taken to save the golden city. They had hitherto rejected all the overtures of Sir Archibald Campbell, imagining, until this late period, that they could in some way or other drive the English from the country. Mr. Judson and Dr. Price were daily called to the court-house and consulted; in fact, nothing was done without their approbation. It was finally concluded that Mr. Judson and a British officer who was a prisoner, should be sent immediately to the English camp, in order to negotiate. The danger attached to a situation so responsible, under a government so fickle as the Burmese, induced your brother to use every means possible to prevent his being sent. Dr. Price was not only willing, but desirous of going; this circumstance Mr. Judson represented to the members of government, and begged he might not be compelled to go, as Dr. Price could transact the business equally as well as himself. After some hesitation and deliberation, Dr. Price was appointed to accompany Dr. Sanford, one of the English officers, on condition that Mr. Judson would stand security for his return; while the other English officer then in irons, should be security for Dr. Sanford.

"At length the boat in which the ambassadors had been sent was seen approaching a day earlier than was expected. As it advanced towards the city, the banks were lined by thousands, anxiously inquiring their success. But no answer was given—the government must first hear the news. The palace gates were crowded, when Dr. Price made the following communication: 'The General and commissioners will make no alteration in their terms, except the hundred lacks (a lack is a hundred thousand) of rupees, may be paid at four different times. The first twenty-five lacks to be paid within twelve days, or the army will continue their march.' In addition to this, the prisoners were to be given up immediately. The General had commissioned Dr. Price to demand Mr. Judson and myself and little Maria. This was communicated to the King, who replied, 'They are not English, they are my people, and shall not go.'

"In this interval, the fears of the government were considerably allayed, by the offers of a General, by name Layar-thoo-yah, who desired to make one more attempt to conquer the English, and disperse them. He assured the King and government, that he could so fortify the ancient city of Pagan, as to make it impregnable; and that he would there defeat and destroy the English. His offers were heard, he marched to Pagan with a very considerable force, and made strong the fortifications. But the English took the city with perfect ease, and dispersed the Burmese army; while the General fled to Ava, and had the presumption to appear in the presence of the King, and demand new troops. The King being enraged that he had ever listened to him for a moment, in consequence of which the negotiation had been delayed, the English General provoked, and the troops daily advancing, ordered the General to be immediately executed! The poor fellow was soon hurled from the palace, and beat all the way to the court-house—when he was stripped of his rich apparel, bound with cords, and made to kneel and bow towards the palace. He was then delivered into the hands of the executioners, who by their cruel treatment, put an end to his existence, before they reached the place of execution.

"The King caused it to be reported, that this General was executed, in consequence of disobeying his commands, ' not to fight the English .'1

"Dr. Price was sent off the same night, with part of the prisoners, and with instructions to persuade the General to take six lacks instead of twenty-five. He returned in two or three days with the appalling intelligence, that the English General was very angry, refused to have any communication with him, and was now within a few days' march of the capital. The Queen was greatly alarmed, and said the money should be raised immediately, if the English would only stop their march. The whole palace was in motion, gold and silver vessels were melted up, the King and Queen superintended the weighing of a part of it, and were determined, if possible, to save their city. The silver was ready in the boats by the next evening; but they had so little confidence in the English, that after all their alarm, they concluded to send down six lacks only, with the assurance that if the English would stop where they then were, the remainder should be forth coming immediately.

"The government now did not even ask Mr. Judson the question whether he would go or not; but some of the officers took him by the arm, as he was walking in the street, and told him he must go immediately on board the boat, to accompany two Burmese officers, who were going down to make peace. The General and commissioners would not receive the six lacks, neither would they stop their march; but promised, if the sum complete reached them before they should arrive at Ava, they would make peace. The General also commissioned Mr. Judson to collect the remaining foreigners, of whatever country, and ask the question before the Burmese government, whether they wished to go or stay. Those who expressed a wish to go should be delivered up immediately, or peace would not be made.

"Mr. Judson reached Ava at midnight, and had all the foreigners called the next morning. The remainder of the money was soon collected; the prisoners at Oung-pen-la were all released, and either sent to their houses, or down the river to the English; and in two days from the time of Mr. Judson's return, we took an affectionate leave of the good natured officer who had so long entertained us at his house, and who now accompanied us to the water side, and we then left for ever the banks of Ava.

"It was on a cool, moonlight evening, in the month of March, that with hearts filled with gratitude to God, and overflowing with joy at our prospects, we passed down the Irrawaddy, surrounded by six or eight golden boats, and accompanied by all we had on earth.

"We now, for the first time, for more than a year and a half, felt that we were free, and no longer subject to the oppressive yoke of the Burmese. And with what sensations of delight, on the next morning, did I behold the masts of the steam-boat, the sure presage of being within the bounds of civilized life. As soon as our boat reached the shore, Brigadier A. and another officer came on board, congratulated us on our arrival, and invited us on board the steam-boat, where I passed the remainder of the day; while your brother went on to meet the General, who, with the detachment of the army, had encamped at Yandaboo, a few miles further down the river. Mr. Judson returned in the evening, with an invitation from Sir Archibald, to come immediately to his quarters, where I was the next morning introduced, and received with the greatest kindness by the General, who had a tent pitched for us near his own—took us to his own table, and treated us with the kindness of a father, rather than as strangers of another country.

"We feel that our obligations to General Campbell can never be cancelled. Our final release from Ava, and our recovering all the property that had there been taken, was owing entirely to his efforts. The subsequent hospitality, and kind attention to the accommodations for our passage to Rangoon, have left an indelible impression on our minds. We daily received the congratulation of the British officers, whose conduct towards us formed a striking contrast to that of the Burmese. I presume to say, that no persons on earth were ever happier than we were during the fortnight we passed at the English camp. For several days, this single idea wholly occupied my mind, that we were out of the power of the Burmese government, and once more under the protection of the English. Our feelings continually dictated expressions like these: What shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits towards us .

"The treaty of peace was soon concluded, signed by both parties, and a termination of hostilities publicly declared. We left Yandaboo, after a fortnight's residence, and safely reached the mission house in Rangoon, after an absence of two years and three months.

"We now consider our future missionary prospects as bright indeed; and our only anxiety is, to be once more in that situation where our time will be exclusively devoted to the instruction of the heathen."

At the close of this affecting narrative, we may appropriately introduce the following tribute to the benevolence and talents of Mrs. Judson, written by one of the English prisoners, who were confined at Ava with Mr. Judson. It was published in a Calcutta paper, after the conclusion of the war.

"Mrs. Judson was the author of those eloquent and forcible appeals to the government, which prepared them by degrees for submission to terms of peace, never expected by any, who knew the hauteur and inflexible pride of the Burman court.

"And while on this subject, the overflowings of grateful feelings, on behalf of myself and fellow prisoners, compel me to add a tribute of public thanks to that amiable and humane female, who, though living at a distance of two miles from our prison, wihtout any means of conveyance, and very feeble in health, forgot her own comfort and infirmity, and almost every day visited us, sought out and administered to our wants, and contributed in every way to alleviate our misery.

"While we were all left by the government destitute of food, she, with unwearied perseverance, by some means or other, obtained for us a constant supply.

"When the tattered state of our clothes evinced the extremity of our distress, she was ever ready to replenish our scanty wardrobe.

"When the unfeeling avarice of our keepers confined us inside, or made our feet fast in the stocks, she, like a ministering angel, never ceased her applications to the government, until she was authorized to communicate to us the grateful news of our enlargement, or of respite from our galling oppressions.

"Besides all this, it was unquestionably owing, in a chief degree, to the repeated eloquence, and forcible appeals of Mrs. Judson, that the untutored Burman was finally made willing to secure the welfare and happiness of his country, by a sincere peace."

Upon the release of the missionaries, they found the Burmese converts, and inquirers, had been dispersed in all directions, by the events of the war. Several were dead; several were found by Mr. and Mrs. Judson on their passage down the river; and some were in Rangoon, waiting for their determination where to settle. Moung Shwa-gnong died of the cholera, on his way from Ava, after the peace. Mah Men-la, the first female convert, was found with her sister, at Prome, living in boats; and they both resolved to accompany the Christian teachers to Rangoon.



1 See Appendix.



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