life of mrs. ann h. judson, late missionary to burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
From their Return to Rangoon, to the Death of Mrs. Judson.
MRS. JUDSON now thought that her trials were past, and that she might anticipate a long and uninterrupted course of toil for the conversion of the heathen. The severe sufferings and appalling dangers which she had experienced, did not abate her love for the souls of the Burmans, nor diminish her desire to go onward with the mission. She had devoted her life to this service; and she was ready to die whenever the sacrifice should be needful for the welfare of the heathen.
Alas! her fond anticipations were soon disappointed. The mission is indeed, we trust, to go on, until Burmah shall be converted to God. But she who had assisted in its establishment, who had largely shared in its trials and joys; and to whose firmness, intrepidity, ready presence of mind, and devoted affection, her husband and Dr. Price were indebted, under God, for the preservation of their lives, during their imprisonment at Ava, was soon to be summoned away from her toils and sufferings on earth, to the presence of her Saviour.
On the first of April, Mr. Judson left Rangoon, in company with Mr. Crawford, the Commissioner of the governor general of India, on an exploring expedition, to a part of the territories, ceded by the Burmese to the British. They proceeded to the mouth of the Salwan, or Martaban river, about 60 miles east of Rangoon, where they fixed on the site of a town, on the eastern bank, which they called Amherst, in honour of the British governor general. On this occasion, the 60th chapter of Isaiah was read by Mr. Judson, and a prayer offered. The British flag was hoisted, and other ceremonies signalized the occupation of this spot, as the seat of the English government in the newly ceded territories.
On the 9th of April, Mr. Judson returned to Rangoon, and made immediate preparations to proceed to Amherst, whither the native converts were also removing.—He conveyed Mrs. Judson and family thither, and then accompanied Mr. Crawford, the English commissioner, to Ava, with the hope of being able to procure an article in the new treaty about to be formed, by which toleration might be secured to missionary operations in the Burman empire. This attempt, however, proved to be entirely unavailing.
It was during the absence of Mr. Judson, that Mrs. Judson was seized with the fatal disorder, which terminated her life, on the 24th of October 1826. The shocks which her constitution had received from previous attacks of disease, and during the scenes at Ava, rendered her incapable of withstanding the violence of this last attack. She died—died in a strange place—and surrounded by strangers. Such was God's will. It would be consoling to know more of the state of her mind, during her sickness, and of her feelings in prospect of death. But she is gone. Her life was a series of proofs that she loved the Saviour; and we may believe, with entire confidence, that she has entered into the joy of her Lord.
The following extracts of letters from her husband, contain a statement of all the particulars which could be obtained concerning her last sickness and death. His feelings we will not attempt to describe.
To Mrs. Hasseltine, of Bradford, (Mass.) dated Ava, Dec. 7, 1827.
" Dear Mother ,—This letter, though intended for the whole family, I address particularly to you; for it is a mother's heart that will be most deeply interested in its melancholy details. I propose to give you, at different times, some account of my great, irreparable loss, of which you will have heard before receiving this letter.
"I left your daughter, my beloved wife, at Amherst, the 5th of July last, in good health, comfortably situated, happy in being out of the reach of our savage oppressors, and animated in prospect of a field of missionary labour opening under the auspices of British protection.
"We had been preserved through so many trials and vicissitudes, that a separation of three or four months, attended with no hazards to either party, seemed a light thing. We parted therefore, with cheerful hearts, confident of a speedy reunion, and indulging fond anticipations of future years of domestic happiness. After my return to Rangoon, and subsequent arrival at Ava, I received several letters from her, written in her usual style, and exhibiting no subject of regret or apprehension, except the declining health of our little daughter Maria. Her last was dated the 14th of September. She says, 'I have this day moved into the new house, and, for the first time since we were broken up at Ava, feel myself at home. The house is large and convenient, and if you were here I should feel quite happy. The native population is increasing very fast, and things wear rather a favourable aspect. Moung-Ing's school has commenced with ten scholars, and more are expected. Poor little Maria is still feeble. I sometimes hope she is getting better; then again she declines to her former weakness. When I ask her where papa is, she always starts up and points towards the sea. The servants behave very well, and I have no trouble about any thing excepting you and Maria. Pray take care of yourself, particularly as it regards the intermittent fever at Ava. May God preserve and bless you, and restore you in safety to your new and old home, is the prayer of your affectionate Ann.'
"On the 18th October, Captain F. writes, 'I can hardly think it right to tell you, that Mrs. Judson has had an attack of fever, as before this reaches you, she will, I sincerely trust, be quite well, as it has not been so severe as to reduce her.'—My next communication was a letter with a black seal, handed me by a person, saying he was sorry to inform me of the death of the child. I know not whether this was a mistake on his part, or kindly intended to prepare my mind for the real intelligence. I went into my room, and opened the letter with feelings of gratitude and joy, that at any rate the mother was spared. It was from Mr. B—, Assistant Superintendant of Amherst, dated the 26th of October, and began thus:—
"'My dear Sir, to one who has suffered so much and with such exemplary fortitude, there needs but little preface to tell a tale of distress. It were cruel indeed to torture you with doubt and suspense.
To sum up the unhappy tidings in a few words— Mrs. Judson is no more .'
"At intervals, I got through with the dreadful letter, and proceed to give you the substance as indelibly engraven on my heart.
"'Early in the month she was attacked with a most violent fever. From the first she felt a strong presentiment that she should not recover; and on the 24th, about eight in the evening, she expired. Dr. R—was quite assiduous in his attentions, both as friend and physician. Capt. F—procured her the services of a European woman from the 45th regiment; and be assured all was done that could be done, to comfort her in her sufferings, and to smooth the passage to the grave. We all feel deeply the loss of this excellent lady, whose shortness of residence among us was yet sufficiently long to impress us with a deep sense of her worth and virtues. It was not until about the 20th that Dr. R. began seriously to expect danger. Before that period, the fever had abated at intervals but its last approach baffled all medical skill. On the morning of the 23d, Mrs. Judson spoke for the last time. The disease had then completed its conquest, and from that time, up to the moment of dissolution, she lay nearly motionless, and apparently quite insensible. Yesterday morning, I assisted in the last melancholy office of putting her mortal remains in the coffin; and in the evening her funeral was attended by all the European officers now resident here. We have buried her near the spot where she first landed; and I have put up a small rude fence around the grave, to protect it from incautious intrusion.'
"You perceive, that I have no account whatever of the state of her mind, in view of death and eternity, or of her wishes concerning her darling babe, whom she loved most intensely. I hope to glean some information on these points from the physician who attended her, and the native converts who must have been occasionally present.
"I will not trouble you, my dear mother, with an account of my own private feelings—the bitter heart-rending anguish, which for some days would not admit of mitigation, and the comfort which the Gospel subsequently afforded, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings life and immortality to light. Blessed assurance—and let us apply it afresh to our hearts—that while I am writing and you perusing these lines, her spirit is resting and rejoicing in the heavenly paradise,
'Where glories shine, and pleasures roll,
That charm, delight, transport the soul;
And every panting wish shall be
Possessed of boundless bliss in thee.'
And there, my dear mother, we also soon shall be, uniting and participating in the felicities of heaven with her, for whom we now mourn. 'Amen—even so, come, Lord Jesus.'"
To the same .
" Amherst, Feb . 4, 1827.
"Amid the desolation that death has made, I take up my pen once more to address the mother of my beloved Ann. I am sitting in the house she built—in the room where she breathed her last—and at a window from which I see the tree that stands at the head of her grave, and the top of the 'small rude fence,' which they have put up 'to protect it from incautious intrusion.'
"Mr. and Mrs. Wade are living in the house, having arrived here about a month after Ann's death; and Mrs. Wade has taken charge of my poor motherless Maria. I was unable to get any accounts of the child at Rangoon; and it was only on my arriving here, the 24th ult. that I learned she was still alive. Mr. Wade met me at the landing place; and as I passed on to the house, one and another of the native Christians came out, and when they saw me, they began to weep. At length we reached the house; and I almost expected to see my Love coming out to meet me, as usual: but no, I saw only in the arms of Mrs. Wade, a poor little puny child, who could not recognize her weeping father, and from whose infant mind had long been erased all recollections of the mother who loved her so much.
"She turned away from me in alarm, and I, obliged to seek comfort elsewhere, found my way to the grave; but who ever obtained comfort there! Thence I went to the house, in which I left her, and looked at the spot where we last knelt in prayer, and where we exchanged the parting kiss.
"The doctor who attended her has removed to another station, and the only information I can obtain, is such as the native Christians are able to communicate.
"It seems that her head was much affected during her last days, and she said but little. She sometimes complained thus—'The teacher is long in coming, and the new missionaries are long in coming: I must die alone, and leave my little one; but as it is the will of God, I acquiesce in his will. I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid I shall not be able to bear these pains. Tell the teacher that the disease was most violent, and I could not write; tell him how I suffered and died; tell him all that you see; and take care of the house and things until he returns.' When she was unable to notice any thing else, she would still call the child to her, and charge the nurse to be kind to it, and indulge it in every thing, until its father should return. The last day or two, she lay almost senseless and motionless, on one side—her head reclining on her arm—her eyes closed—and at eight in the evening, with one exclamation of distress in the Burman language, she ceased to breathe.
" Feb . 7. I have been on a visit to the physician who attended her in her illness. He has the character of a kind, attentive and skilful practitioner; and his communications to me have been rather consoling. I am now convinced that every thing possible was done; and that had I been present myself, I could not have essentially contributed to avert the fatal termination of the disease. The doctor was with her twice a day, and frequently spent the greater part of the night by her side. He says, that from the first attack of the fever, she was persuaded she would not recover; but that her mind was uniformly tranquil and happy in the prospect of death. She only expressed occasional regret at leaving her child, the native Christians, and the schools, before her husband or another missionary family could arrive. The last two days she was free from pain. On her attention being roused by reiterated questions, she replied, 'I feel quite well, only very weak.' These were her last words."
But there was yet in reserve another trial, to add bitterness to the cup of his sorrow. The poor motherless child survived but a few months. Her father thus announced her death.
To Mrs. Judson's Mother.
" Amherst, April 26, 1827.
" Dear Mother Hasseltine ,—My sweet little Maria lies by the side of her fond mother. The complaint, to which she was subject several months, (an affection of the bowels,) proved incurable. She had the best medical advice; and the kind care of Mrs. Wade could not have been, in any respect, exceeded by that of her own mother. But all our efforts, and prayers, and tears, could not propitiate the cruel disease.—She ceased to breathe, on the 24th inst. at three o'clock, P. M. aged two years and three months, and we folded her little hands—the exact pattern of her mother's, on her cold breast. The next morning we made her last bed, in the small enclosure which surrounds her mother's lonely grave. Together they rest in hope, under the hope tree, (Hopia) which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing, after a short separation of precisely six months.
"Thus I am left alone in the wide world. My father's family, and all my relatives, have been, for many years, separated from me by seas that I shall never repass. They are the same to me as if buried. My own dear family I have actually buried: one in Rangoon, and two in Amherst. What remains for me, but to hold myself in readiness to follow the dear departed, to that blessed world—
'Where my best friends, my kindred dwell,
Where God, my Saviour, reigns?'
"How happy should I be to find myself once more in the bosom of the family in Bradford, and tell you ten thousand things that I cannot put on paper. But this will never be. Nor is it of much consequence. A few more rolling suns, and you will hear of my death, or I of yours. Till then, believe me your most affectionate brother. And when we meet in heaven—when all have arrived, and we find all safe, for ever safe, and our Saviour ever safe and glorious, and in him all his beloved—oh, shall we not be happy, and ever praise Him who has endured the cross to wear and confer such a crown!"
Those who have followed, thus far, this eventful narrative, do not need any comment to assist them to form an estimate of Mrs. Judson. We cannot, however, refrain from taking notice of two or three prominent points of her character.
Her habitual piety is the most lovely and important trait. It was not an official devotion, assumed on particular occasions. It was not a flame which blazed up brightly at rare and uncertain intervals. She was every where, and at all times, the Christian and the Missionary. She walked with God. Her secret journals in which she recorded her thoughts, with no witness but the Searcher of Hearts; her most private letters, in which she poured out her feelings without reserve, are marked by even more of fervent and humble piety, than her public writings. Religion was the chosen theme of her conversation; and it is known that she spent much time in secret devotion. The hopes of religion supported her in her appalling sufferings; and the love of Christ constrained her to persevere unto death, in her efforts to lead the poor wanderers of Burmah, to the shepherd and bishop of their souls.
Her unwearied perseverance is another characteristic. We have seen her, amid perplexities, disease, and danger, pressing steadily onward towards the great object to which her life was devoted. The state of her health repeatedly forced her away from the scenes of her labours; but she returned as soon as her recruited strength would permit.
Of her intellectual powers , it is needless to say any thing. Her actions, and her writings, furnish ample evidence of superior talents.
It would be proper to say something in this place, of her person, her manners, and her private character. On these points, however, we can say little from personal knowledge, as the author had but once the pleasure of an interview with her. In her manners, there was much unaffected dignity: but she was affable; and there was an attractive grace in her conversation, resulting from the union of mental strength, with feminine affections. Her dispositions were kind, and her benevolence warm, active and unwearied. We appeal with confidence to the course of her life, to her journals, and letters, and to those persons of kindred minds, and feelings, who have conversed with her, for ample testimony to the warmth of her affections, to her affability, modesty, and meekness, as well as to the strength of her intellect, and the activity of her zeal for the welfare of mankind. Envy, with its acute vision, and calumny, with its open ear and ready tongue, although they have assailed her, have never insinuated a doubt of the purity of her life. She was a mark for malice, aimed not at her alone, but at the cause of her Saviour. The reproaches which were meant for him, fell on her; but she was content to suffer for his sake. She felt, too, that she was imperfect. Her journals and letters exhibit numerous proofs of her acquaintance with her own heart, and of her deep grief for the deficiency of her holiness. But she is perfect now; and doubtless she looks back upon her life on earth, with adoring wonder, and with gratitude for the grace of her Saviour, who pardoned her sins, and made her useful in his service, and conducted her, at last, by many a rough path, and through deep waters, to the rest which remaineth for the people of God.
She had not lived in vain. Five converted Burmans had gone before her to heaven. Her name will be remembered in the churches of Burmah, in future times, when the pagodas of Gaudama shall have fallen; when the spires of Christian temples shall gleam along the waters of the Irrawaddy, and the Salwen; and when the "golden city" shall have lifted up her gates, to let the King of glory in. Let us hope, meanwhile, that her bright example will inspire others with the generous resolution to toil and to die, like her, for the salvation of the heathen.
Two marble stones with the following inscription, were sent from Boston, in July, 1830, by the Baptist Board, to be placed over Mrs. Judson's grave at Amherst. These were procured at the expense of some female friends.
Erected to the memory
Ann H. Judson,
wife of Adoniram Judson,
Baptist General Convention in the United States,
She was born at Bradford,
In the state of Massachusetts, North America,
Dec. 22, 1789.
She arrived with her husband at Rangoon,
in July, 1813:
And there commenced those
which she sustained with such
Christian Fortitude, Decision and Perseverance,
Amid scenes of
Civil Commotion, and Personal Affliction,
As won for her
Universal Respect and Affection.
She died at
Amherst, Oct. 24, 1826.
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