Life of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
From her departure from America, till her arrival at
ON the 6th of February, 1812, Mr. Judson, and Messrs. Samuel Newell, Samuel Nott, Jr., Gordon Hall, and Luther Rice, were ordained, as missionaries, in the Tabernacle church, in Salem.
On the 19th of February, Messrs. Judson and Newell, with their wives, sailed from Salem, in the brig Caravan, Captain Heard, for Calcutta. The Rev. Mr. Nott and lady, and Messrs. Hall, and Rice, sailed for the same port, on the 18th, from Philadelphia, in the ship Harmony, Captain Brown.
Mrs. Judson wrote in her journal, the following reflections, on embarking for India:
" Feb . 18. Took leave of my friends and native land, and embarked on board the brig Caravan, for India. Had so long anticipated the trying scene of parting, that I found it more tolerable than I had feared. Still my heart bleeds. O America, my native land, must I leave thee? Must I leave my parents, my sisters and brother, my friends beloved, and all the scenes of my early youth? Must I leave thee, Bradford, my dear native town, where I spent the pleasant years of childhood; where I learnt to lisp the name of my mother; where my infant mind first began to expand; where I entered the field of science; where I learnt the endearments of friendship, and tasted of all the happiness this world can afford; where I learnt also to value a Saviour's blood, and to count all things but loss, in comparison with the knowledge of him? Yes, I must leave you all, for a heathen land, an uncongenial clime. Farewell, happy, happy scenes,—but never, no, never to be forgotten."
She suffered, for a few days, from sea sickness; but soon recovered.—The voyage was rapid, and pleasant. She and her companions employed their time principally in study and in devotion. On the Sabbath days, they held public worship in the cabin.—Mrs. Judson thus describes her voyage, in a letter to a friend.
"The morning we sailed, I was taken with sea sickness. I had anticipated the most distressing sensations from this sickness, but was agreeably disappointed; for I felt no worse through the whole, than if I had taken a gentle emetic. I kept my bed for the most of the time for four days. We had a strong, favourable wind the first week we sailed, which carried us into mild, comfortable weather. The change of the weather in so short a time was so great, together with sea-sickness and the want of exercise, that I soon lost all relish for my food. Every thing tasted differently from what it does on land, and those things I was the most fond of at home, I loathed the most here. But I soon began to find the real cause of my ill health. It was want of exercise. For some time we could invent nothing which could give us exercise equal to what we had been accustomed to. Jumping the rope was finally invented, and this we found to be of great use. I began and jumped it several times in the day, and found my health gradually return, until I was perfectly well.
"We found it exceedingly hot the first time that we crossed the equator. When going round the Cape of Good Hope, we had rough, rainy weather for twenty days. I never knew till then "the dangers of the deep." I never felt before, my entire dependence on God for preservation. Some nights I never slept, on account of the rocking of the vessel and the roaring of the winds. Yet God preserved us—enabled us to trust in him and feel safe. Surely we have every reason to confide in God, and leave it with him to dispose of us as he pleases. We have again crossed the equator, and are within a few days' sail of Calcutta. My heart rejoices at the thought of once more seeing land. Yes, even the thought of seeing the land of strangers and heathenish darkness, produces sensations before unknown. We know not where we shall go, or in what part of the world we shall spend our remaining days. But I feel willing to leave it all with our heavenly Father. I doubt not he will protect us, and place us in that station in which we shall be most useful. I have spent the most of my time, since on the water, in reading. I knew I needed a more intimate acquaintance with the sacred Scriptures; consequently, I have confined my attention almost exclusively to them. I have read the New Testament once through in course, two volumes of Scott's Commentary on the Old, Paley, Trumbull, and Dick, on the Inspiration of the Scriptures, together with Faber and Smith on the Prophecies. I have been much interested in reading these authors of inspiration, on account of my almost total ignorance of the evidences of the divinty of the Scriptures, and I gained fresh evidence of the reality of the Christian religion. O my dear friend, how much enjoyment Christians lose by neglecting to study the Bible. The more we are conversant with it, the more shall we partake of the spirit of its author, and the more we shall feel that this world is not our home, and that we are rapidly hastening to another."
About the middle of June, they arrived at the mouth of the Hoogly river, a branch of the Ganges, on which Calcutta is situated. They were in great danger of shipwreck, at the mouth of the river, but the Lord preserved them. Mrs. Judson, in an account of their passage up the river written to her sister, says:
"I have never, my dear sister, witnessed or read any thing so delightful as the present scene. On each side of the Hoogly, where we are now sailing, are Hindoo cottages, as thick together as the houses in our seaports. They are very small, and in the form of hay-stacks, without either chimneys or windows. They are situated in the midst of trees, which hang over them, and appear truly romantic. The grass and fields of rice are perfectly green, and herds of cattle are every where feeding on the banks of the river, and the natives are scattered about, differently employed. Some are fishing some driving the team, and many are sitting indolently on the banks of the river. The pagodas we have passed, are much handsomer and larger than the houses. Notwithstanding the scene is so pleasant, on account of the works of nature, yet it is truly melancholy when we reflect, that these creatures, so numerous, so harmless, have immortal souls, and like us are destined to the eternal world—and yet have none to tell them of Christ. I suppose the natives that live on these shores, for many miles, have never seen a missionary. I should be happy to come and live among them, in one of their little houses, if it was as large a field for usefulness as some others. There are many elegant English seats near the shore."
On the 18th of June, 1812, the missionaries landed at Calcutta, where they were met and welcomed to India, by the venerable Dr. Carey. He immediately invited them to Serampore, to reside in the mission family, until the other missionaries in the Harmony, should arrive.1
They accordingly stayed one night in Calcutta, and the next morning they took a boat, and went up the river, fifteen miles, to Serampore. Here they were received with the utmost kindness by the mission family. Mrs. Judson speaks in warm terms, of the piety, industry, economy, and order, which distinguished the operations at that great missionary establishment. Messrs. Carey, Marshman, and Ward, then resided there with their families. Dr. Carey was employed in translating the Scriptures: Dr. Marshman, his wife, and son, taught a male and female school. Mr. Ward superintended the extensive printing establishment.
Mrs. Judson, in a letter to her sister, dated at Serampore, says:
"The third day after we came here, there was a celebration of the worship of Juggernaut. We went about ten in the morning. The immense multitude of natives assembled on the occasion, and the noise they made, answered to the account Buchanan gave. The idol was set on the top of a stone building. He is only a lump of wood, his face painted with large black eyes, and a large red mouth. He was taken from his temple, and water poured on him to bathe him. This is introductory to a more solemn act of worship, which will be performed a fortnight hence. After these poor deluded creatures had bathed their god, they proceeded to bathe themselves. Poor, miserable, deluded beings, they know not what they do. O Mary! the inhabitants of America know nothing of poverty, slavery, and wretchedness, compared with the natives of India. So very numerous, they cannot get employment; and when they do, they are treated by Europeans like beasts more than like men. Many of them die for the want of nourishment. Add to all this, they are ignorant of the only way of salvation. Who would not pity the poor heathen, and rejoice to contribute their mite to relieve some of their distresses!"
After they had been here about ten days, Messrs. Judson, and Newell, were summoned to Calcutta, and an order of the Government was read to them, requiring them immediately to leave the country and return to America. The government of India at that time, were resolutely opposed to missions.
Their motives we need not now examine. The charter of the East India company, which was renewed in 1813, was so amended in its passage through Parliament, by the zealous exertions of Wilberforce, Smith, Thornton, Fuller, and other friends of Christ in Great Britain, as to secure toleration for missionary efforts. The British possessions in the East were constituted an Episcopal See, and placed under the superintendence of a Bishop, and three Archdeacons. The Rev. Dr. Middleton was the first Bishop, and was succeeded by Bishop Heber, who has since died. It is just to say, that a great change of feeling has taken place among the officers of government, and the European residents in India. Their fears concerning the effects of missionary operations have subsided, and they are disposed to favour and promote them.
This order was a very alarming and distressing one. The thought of returning, without accomplishing, in any degree, their object, was insupportable. The instructions of the Board of Commissioners, when they left America, directed them to fix the seat of their mission in the Burman empire, unless circumstances should render it inexpedient to attempt it. All the missionaries, however, thought it impracticable to establish a mission there. The despotic character of the government, and the failure of all previous attempts to introduce the gospel into that empire, induced them to renounce the idea of a Burman mission. Mr. Nott, in a letter to a friend, said, "The Burman empire seems at present out of the question." Mrs. Newell, in her journal, July 16, 1812, says; "We cannot feel that we are called in providence to go to Burmah. Every account we have from that savage, barbarous nation, confirms us in our opinion, that the way is not prepared for the spread of the gospel there."—They therefore petitioned for leave to go to the Isle of France, which was granted; and Mr. and Mrs. Newell sailed about the first of August: as the vessel could accommodate but two passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Judson remained in Calcutta two months longer.
They were entertained with the most liberal hospitality, at the house of Mr. Rolt, an English gentleman; and the treatment which they received from other Christian friends, was kind and soothing to their feelings, amid their difficulties.
An event occurred, at this time, which it is necessary to mention. Mr. and Mrs. Judson, and Mr. Rice, whose minds were led, during the voyage from America, to a consideration of the subject of baptism, adopted Baptist principles, and were baptized in Calcutta. This change of opinion is interesting; for it resulted in the establishment of the Burman mission, and in the formation of the Baptist General Convention in the United States. The great head of the church seems to have made this a leading event in that series of causes which aroused the Baptist churches in America, to the duty of engaging in foreign missions.
The difficulties of their situation were greatly increased by their change of sentiments. Their connection with the American Board of Commissioners, they considered as dissolved. They could expect no further support from that Board; and they could not be sure that their Baptist brethren would aid them. They could not stay in Hindostan, and yet they resolved to devote themselves to missionary labours, if any position could be found, where they might stay and toil. At one time, they thought it expedient to attempt a mission in South America; and Mr. Judson commenced the study of the Portuguese language. Japan, Persia, Madagascar, and other countries, were thought of, as fields for missionary efforts. Mr. Judson had long regarded Burmah as the most desirable station; but it seemed inexpedient, at that time, to attempt to establish a mission there.
The Bengal government were offended by the stay of the missionaries at Calcutta, supposing probably that they intended to remain in Bengal. They accordingly issued a peremptory order, that they should be sent immediately on board of a vessel bound to England. But, after much difficulty, and considerable danger, Mr. and Mrs. Judson, and Mr. Rice obtained a passage in a vessel bound to the Isle of France.2 After a long and rough passage they arrived there, January 17, 1813.—There they heard the melancholy news of the death of Mrs. Newell. We extract here from the journal of Mrs. Judson.
" Jan . 17. Have at last arrived in port; but O what news, what distressing news! Harriet is dead. Harriet, my dear friend, my earliest associate in the Mission, is no more. O Death! thou destroyer of domestic felicity, could not this wide world afford victims sufficient to satisfy thy cravings, without entering the family of a solitary few, whose comfort and happiness depended much on the society of each other? Could not this infant Mission be shielded from thy shafts? But thou hast only executed the commission of a higher power. Though thou hast come, clothed in thy usual garb, thou wast sent by a kind Father to release his child from toil and pain. Be still, then, my heart, and know that God has done it. Just and true are thy ways, O thou King of saints! Who would not fear thee? Who would not love thee?
"18. Brother Newell has just been on board. Poor, disconsolate, broken-hearted widower. He has borne his afflictions alone, without a single Christian friend to comfort his heart. His feelings allow him to give us a few broken hints only of Harriet's death.
"Soon after they left Calcutta, in consequence of contrary winds and storms, the vessel was found to be in a leaky, sinking condition, which obliged them to put into Choringa to repair. Before the vessel got in, Harriet was seized with a complaint, which was extremely distressing. She, however, was considerably recovered before they put to sea again, and was in hopes of soon getting to the Isle of France.—But they again had contrary winds, which made their passage much longer.—In a few days a storm came on; and as she and her infant were much exposed to the wet weather, they both took cold, which speedily terminated the life of the infant, and threw Harriet into a consumption, of which she died, on the 30th of November. She thought herself in a consumption from the first of her illness, and endeavoured to be prepared to meet the king of terrors. She had her reason perfectly to the last moment of her life. She felt no fear of death, but longed for its approach. The day before she died, her physician told her she would not continue another day. She lifted up her hands, and exclaimed, 'O glorious intelligence.' She took a formal leave of Mr. Newell, and delivered to him messages to her friends with the greatest composure. She frequently mentioned in her sickness, that she had never repented leaving her native country, and that the consideration of having left it for the cause of Christ, now afforded her great consolation. She died in a happy, composed frame, without a struggle or a groan. Her body now lies, solitary and alone, in yonder healthy ground. No marble monument3 is erected to speak her worth, no common grave-stone to tell the passing stranger, 'Here lie the remains of one , who, for the love of Christ and immortal souls, left the bosom of her friends, and found an early grave in a land of strangers.' But angels will watch her dust, even in this benighted land; and at the resurrection of the just, it will be reunited to her immortal spirit, which, no doubt, is now in the full enjoyment of her God."
An enlarged memoir of this interesting woman, is now publishing by the American Sunday school Union, and will be found, we hope, in all the Sunday school libraries. We refer our young readers to that book for further particulars concerning her.
" Jan . 23. No prospect of remaining long on this island. It seems as if there was no resting place for me on earth. O when will my wanderings terminate? When shall I find some little spot, that I can call my home, while in this world? Yet I rejoice in all thy dealings, O my heavenly Father; for thou dost support me under every trial, and enable me to lean on thee. Thou dost make me to feel the sweetness of deriving comfort from thee, when wordly comforts fail. Thou dost not suffer me to sink down in despondency, but enablest me to look forward with joy, to a state of heavenly rest and happiness. There I shall have to wander no more, suffer no more; the face of Jesus will be unveiled, and I shall rest in the arms of love, through all eternity."
Soon after their arrival, it was thought expedient, that Mr. Rice should return to America, for the purpose of exciting the attention of the Baptist churches in this country. He accordingly sailed for the United States, in March, 1813. He was welcomed on his arrival with great affection, and was successful, in a very short time, in awakening such a spirit of missionary exertion in the Baptist churches, that a large number of missionary societies were formed in various parts of the country; and in April, 1814, the Baptist General Convention was formed in Philadelphia. One of the first acts of the Convention was to appoint Mr. and Mrs. Judson as their missionaries, leaving it to their discretion to select a field of labor. Mr. Rice, also, was appointed a missionary, but was requested to prosecute, for a while, his zealous and successful agency in forming auxiliary societies, and collecting funds.
During Mrs. Judson's residence at the Isle of France, the following affecting incident occurred. It will, we hope, make our young readers thankful to God that they do not live in a heathen land:—
"Last night I heard a considerable noise in the yard in which we live, connected with another family. We went to the door, and saw a female slave with her hands tied behind her, and her mistress beating her with a club, in a most dreadful manner. My blood ran cold within me, and I could quietly see it no longer. I went up to the mistress, and in broken French, asked her to stop, and what her servant had done. She immediately stopped, and told me that her servant was very bad, and had lately ran away. I talked with her, till her anger appeared to be abated, and she concluded her punishment with flinging the club she had in her hands at the poor creature's head, which made the blood run down her garment. The slave continued with her hands tied behind her all night. They were untied this morning, and she spent the day in labour, which made me conclude she would be punished no more. But this evening I saw a large chain brought into the yard, with a ring at one end, just large enough to go round her neck. On this ring were fixed two pieces of iron about an inch wide, and four inches long, which would come on each side of her face to prevent her eating. The chain was as large and heavy as an ox chain, and reached from her neck to the ground. The ring was fastened with a lock and key. The poor creature stood trembling while they were preparing to put the chain on her. The mistress' rage again kindled at seeing her, and she began beating her again, as the night before. I went to her again and begged she would stop. She did, but so full of anger that she could hardly speak. When she had become a little calm, I asked her if she could not forgive her servant. I told her that her servant was very bad, but that she would be very good to forgive her. She made me understand that she would forgive her, because I had asked her; but she would not have her servant think it was out of any favour to her. She told her slave that she forgave her because I requested it. The slave came, knelt and kissed my feet, and said, "Mercy, madam—mercy, madam," meaning, Thank you, madam. I could scarcely forbear weeping at her gratitude. The mistress promised me the chain should not be put on her, and ordered it carried away. I have felt very happy this evening, that this poor slave can lie down and sleep, without that heavy chain. But O, my dear sisters, how much more wretched is the spiritual than the temporal state of these slaves. They have none to tell them of their danger, none to lead them to that Saviour, who is equally the friend of the slave and the master."
After long deliberation as to the course which they should pursue in their present embarrassing and unforeseen condition, Mr. and Mrs. Judson resolved to attempt a mission at Penang, or Prince of Wales's Island, situated on the coast of Malacca, and inhabited by Malays. As no passage to that Island could be obtained from the Isle of France, they resolved to visit Madras, with the hope of obtaining a passage thence to Penang. They accordingly sailed in May, 1813. They had a pleasant passage.
The missionaries arrived in Madras in June.4 They were kindly received and entertained by Mr. and Mrs. Loveless, English missionaries stationed there, and by other friends of Christ in that city. But here they were disappointed. No passage for Penang could be procured. Fearful that the English Government in Bengal would, on learning their arrival, send them to England, they resolved to take passage to a vessel bound to Rangoon. Accordingly, after a stay at Madras of a few days, they sailed for Rangoon. Thus, by a wonderful series of providential occurrences, they were impelled, contrary to their expectations and plans, to the Burman empire.
The passage to Rangoon was unpleasant and dangerous. The vessel was old, and was in imminent peril of shipwreck; but by the blessing of God, the missionaries, in July, 1813, arrived safely at Rangoon, the place where their Saviour had designed they should labour for him many years, and where they were to be the instruments of gathering a little church of redeemed Burmans. They were guided hither by the special providence of God. No one, who reviews the series of occurrences from the time of their arrival in Calcutta, can doubt that God was preparing the way for establishing the Burman mission.
The Baptist Board of Foreign Missions in the United States, were so fully convinced of their duty to sustain the mission, that in the close of the year 1815, they appointed Mr. George H. Hough, and his wife, as missionaries to assist Mr. Judson. Mr. Hough had acquired a knowledge of the printing business, and it was hoped, that he would be able to benefit the Burmans, by the agency of the press, as well as by preaching the Gospel.—They sailed from Philadelphia, in December 1815, for Calcutta.
1 The Harmony arrived six weeks after the Caravan.
2 The Isle of France is situated in the Indian Ocean, in fifty-eight degrees twenty-seven minutes east longitude, and twenty degrees south latitude. It is about thirty-three miles long, and twenty-four broad from east to west. It was captured from the French by the English, who still retain possession of it.
3 A monument has since been erected over her grave, by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
4 Madras is the seat of one of the Presidencies of Hindostan. It is situated on the coast of Coromandel, in eighty degrees twenty-five minutes east longitude, and thirteen degrees five minutes north latitude, and is about one thousand miles south-west from Calcutta. In 1794, the population of the city of Madras was 300,000.
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