Life of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah;
With an Account of the American Baptist Mission to that Empire.
From her return to the close of the War.
MR. and Mrs. Judson, immediately after her arrival, left Rangoon for Ava, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Wade, with Mr. Hough and family, at Rangoon.
The following letter of Mrs. Judson to her parents, contains a brief account of the passage, and of the state of things at Ava. It is the last letter that she wrote, before the occurrence of those dreadful events, which, for nearly two years, subjected the missionaries to sufferings and dangers, which have had few parallels in the history of missions.
" Ava, Feb. 10, 1824.
" My dear Parents and Sisters,—After two years and a half wandering, you will be pleased to hear that I have at last arrived at home, so far as this life is concerned, and am once more quietly and happily settled with Mr. Judson. When I retrace the scenes through which I have passed, the immense space I have traversed, and the various dangers, seen and unseen, from which I have been preserved, my heart is filled with gratitude and praise to that Being, who has at all times been my protector, and marked out all the way before me. Surely no one was ever more highly favoured, no being was ever under greater obligations to make sacrifices for the promotion of God's glory, than I am at this moment. And I think I feel, more than ever, the importance of being spiritual and humble, and so to cherish the influences of the Holy Spirit, that in the communication of divine truth, powerful impressions may be made, and that I may no more wander from Him, who is deserving of all my services and affections.
"The A-rah-wah-tee (Irrawaddy) is a noble river;1 its banks every where covered with immortal beings, destined to the same eternity as ourselves. We often walked through the villages; and though we never received the least insult, always attracted universal attention. A foreign female was a sight never before beheld, and all were anxious that their friends and relatives should have a view. Crowds followed us through the villages, and some whowere less civilized than others, would run some way before us, in order to have a long look as we approached them. In one instance, the boat being some time in doubling a point we had walked over, we seated ourselves down, when the villagers as usual assembled, and Mr. Judson introduced the subject of religion. Several old men who were present entered into conversation, while the multitude was all attention. The apparent schoolmaster of the village coming up, Mr. Judson handed him a tract, and requested him to read. After proceeding some way, he remarked to the assembly, that such a writing was worthy of being copied, and asked Mr. Judson to remain while he copied it. Mr. Judson informed him he might keep the tract on condition he read it to all his neighbours. We could not but hope the Spirit of God would bless those few simple truths to the salvation of some of their souls.
"On our arrival at Ava, we had more difficulties to encounter, and such as we had never before experienced. We had no home, no house to shelter us from the burning sun by day, and the cold dews at night. We had but one alternative, to remain in the boat till we could build a small house on the spot of ground which the King gave Mr. Judson last year. And you will hardly believe it possible, for I almost doubt my senses, that in just a fortnight from our arrival, we moved into a house built in that time, and which is sufficiently large to make us comfortable. It is in a most delightful situation, out of the dust of the town, and on the bank of the river. The spot of ground given by his Majesty is small, being only 120 feet long, and 75 feet wide; but it is our own, and is the most healthy situation I have seen. Our house is raised four feet from the ground, and consists of three small rooms and a verandah.
"I hardly know how we shall bear the hot season, which is just commencing, as our house is built of boards, and before night is heated like an oven. Nothing but brick is a shelter from the heat of Ava, where the thermometer, even in the shade, frequently rises to a hundred and eight degrees. We have worship every evening in Burman, when a number of the natives assemble; and every Sabbath Mr. Judson preaches the other side of the river, in Dr. Price's house. We feel it an inestimable privilege, that amid all our discouragements we have the language, and are able constantly to communicate truths which can save the soul."
Rumours of approaching war with the Bengal Government had, for some time, disturbed the public mind. It had been well ascertained, that the Burman Emperor cherished the ambitious design of invading Bengal. He had collected in Arracan, an army of 30,000 men, under the command of his most successful general, Maha Bandoola. It is said, that the the army was furnished with a pair of golden fetters, destined to the honourable service of being worn by the Governor General of India, when he should be led as a captive to the golden feet at Ava.
The Bengal government, however, resolved to anticipate the blow, by a sudden irruption into the Burman empire. The encroachments of the Burmese Government on the Company's possessions had been long a subject of complaint; and all attempts to obtain redress had been met by neglect, and at last, by preparations for invasion on the part of the Burmese.
In May, 1824, an army of about six thousand English and native troops, under the command of Sir Archibald Campbell, arrived at Rangoon. So entirely unexpected was this attack, that no resistance was made, except a few shots from the fortifications along the river.
The missionaries at Rangoon were, for a while, in imminent danger.—Mr. Hough and Mr. Wade were seized, chained, and put in close confinement, as soon as intelligence arrived of the approach of the English troops. But Mr. Wade's letter best describes their extreme peril.
" Rangoon , May 15, 1824.
"We did not apprehend, until last Monday, that war was declared against the Burmans. The most credible information which we could obtain, assured us, that all grievances were amicably settled. But on Monday last, information came, that a number of ships were at the mouth of the river. Government immediately ordered every person in Rangoon who wears a hat, to be taken prisoner, which was accordingly done. In the course of the succeeding night, Mr. Hough and myself were chained, and put into close confinement, under armed keepers. In the morning the fleet was in sight of the town, and our keepers were ordered to massacre us the moment the first shot was fired upon the town. But when the firing commenced, our murderers were so effectually panic struck, that they all slunk away into one corner of the prison, speechless, and almost breathless. The next shot made our prison tremble and shake, as if it would be immediately down upon our heads. Our keepers now made for the prison door: we used every exertion to persuade them to remain, but all to no purpose; they broke open the door and fled. In a few moments after, the firing ceased; about fifty Burmans rushed into the prison, drew us out, stripped us of every thing but pantaloons; our naked arms were drawn behind us, and corded as tight as the strength of one man would permit; and we were almost literally carried through the streets upon the points of their spears, to the seat of judgment, and were made to sit upon our knees, with our bodies bending forward, for the convenience of the executioner, who was ordered that moment to behead us. Mr. Hough requested the executioner to desist a moment, and petitioned the Yawoon to send him on board the frigate, and promised to use his influence to prevent any further firing upon the town. The linguists seconded the proposal, and pleaded that we might be reprieved for a few moments.
"The Yawoon answered, 'If the English fire again, there shall be no reprieve.' At this moment, several shots were sent very near us: the government people fled from the seat of judgment, and took refuge under the banks of a neighbouring tank. All the others fled from the town, but kept us before them: we were obliged to make our way as fast as possible, for the madness and terror of our attendants allowed us no compliments. We were soon overtaken by the government people fleeing upon horseback.
"About a mile and a half from the town they halted, and we were again placed before them. Mr. Hough and the linguists renewed their petition.
After a few moments' conversation, his irons were taken off, and he was sent on board the frigate, with the most awful threatenings to himself and us, if he did not succeed.
"The remainder of us were obliged again to resume our march. Finally, a part of us were confined in a strong building, at the foot of the golden pagoda. I, with two others, was taken into the pagoda, and confined in a strong building, and left under the care of a door-keeper. After dark this fellow, by the promise of a present, was induced to remove us into a kind of vault, which had but a small aperture, and was without windows: it afforded only sufficient air for the purpose of respiration. The fellow himself, I believe, ran away. We were several times alarmed during the night.
"The next morning early, we were searched for by our blood-thirsty enemies, who, upon finding we were not in the room where they left us, concluded that we had escaped and fled. We expected every moment we should be discovered, when, to our great relief, we heard them cry out, 'The English are coming!' and they fled. We waited, however, in vain, to hear some sound which would assure us that it would be safe to cry out for assistance; for we soon found we were again surrounded with Burmans.
"About noon, the English troops came up, and to our inexpressible joy, relieved us from our unpleasant situation. As soon as I could be disengaged from my galling chains, I hastened to the mission-house, to learn the fate of Mrs. Wade and Hough. I found them safe and well; but though not imprisoned, they had experienced great sufferings, and escaped great dangers. Mr. Hough I also found safe at the mission-house. When we met and heard the relation of each other's dangers and escapes, we felt constrained to join in the most hearty acknowledgments of gratitude to God, by whose divine interposition our lives had been preserved.
"I have too little room to think of entering upon our feelings when we viewed ourselves as in one moment more to launch into eternity. Suffice it to say, I felt an assurance in the grace of God, which disarmed death of its terror. The hope of the Gospel seemed to me a treasure, whose value was beyond all computation. Finally, I trust the dangers and sufferings of the past week have yielded me a rich spiritual harvest.
"All who had been taken prisoners, and ordered to be executed by the Burmans, were on Wednesday regained, and set at liberty by the English troops. All the Burmans have fled to the jungles, and have built several stockades in different directions from the town, some of which have already been taken and burned by the English troops."
Messrs. Hough and Wade, with their wives, soon after returned to Bengal, their stay in Rangoon being attended with danger, while they had no opportunity of effecting any thing for the mission. Mr. and Mrs. Wade here continued the study of the language; and Mr. Wade employed himself in publishing the Burman Dictionary, which had been compiled by Mr. Judson—a work of great value to future missionaries.
The situation of the missionaries at Ava now became a subject of intense anxiety to all the friends of the mission. There was too much reason to fear that they had fallen victims to the hasty resentment of a vindictive and haughty government.
The war was prosecuted with more than its usual horrors, in consequence of the cruelty towards the prisoners, exercised by both parties. By the Burmans no mercy was shown to the wounded; and although the British soldiers were inclined to pass a fallen or vanquished foe, they soon found it was not safe, as they were exposed to a shot the instant their backs were turned.
No sooner was the arrival of the English expected at a town, than the governors assembled the inhabitants, and caused them to be driven off by the officers and slaves of government, in masses, into the inmost recesses of the woods. The men were then separated and formed into companies, and the unfortunate women and children, strictly guarded as pledges for the good conduct of their friends, whose misconduct was punished by the barbarous sacrifice of their nearest female relatives. Disease, and famine, and cruelty, destroyed thousands of these poor victivs of savage despotism. The inhabitants of Rangoon were thus forced from their abodes. Every Burman Christian fled, excepting Moung Shwa-ba, who continued at the Mission House throughout the whole war, and held fast to his Christian faith.
When the news of the arrival of the British at Rangoon was first communicated to the Emperor, it caused great indignation. Such an event was entirely unexpected, and he had boasted that "he would take such means to prevent it, that the Burmese women should not be disturbed, even in cooking their rice." Orders were now given to "drive the strangers into the ocean," and "lest one of the wild foreigners should escape from being destroyed and slain, the earth was to be covered with an innumerable host, to seize, crush, and kill them,"—"not one was to be spared from being annihilated."2
In pursuance of these orders, a numerous army of Burmese was assembled near Rangoon, composed of the best troops in the nation. These were accompanied by a band of men, who were called Invulnerables , from its being supposed they could not be hurt by the bullets or swords of an enemy. Their appearance was very singular, having their faces and other parts of their bodies marked with figures of tigers, elephants, and a great variety of ferocious animals. They also had pieces of gold, silver, and sometimes precious stones in their arms, which were put under the skin, while children. These poor creatures exposed themselves at first very foolishly, probably under the influence of opium; but they soon became convinced that they had no charm to protect them against the weapons of their foes.
Great expectations, however, were entertained from their valour, and from the fact that the astrologers who accompanied them, after long delays, had discovered that the period of the moon which would occur on the 30th of August, 1824, would be very lucky for an attack upon the English. Accordingly, at midnight of that day they made an assault upon the great pagoda, described by Mrs. Judson, in a former part of this volume. Their approach was made known by the noise and clamour of the threats they uttered against the strangers, if they did not immediately leave the sacred temple. On the part of the British all was silence, until the "Invulnerables" were crowded together in a narrow pathway leading to one of the gates; when, in the midst of their tumult and curses, showers of grape-shot and bullets, fell with dreadful havoc among the thick ranks of these deceived enthusiasts, who found their only safety was in flight; and to this the survivors soon resorted.
The British were equally successful in the other engagements, which preceded and followed the attack upon the pagoda, until at length the Burmese troops were so impressed with terror of their arms, that they abandoned, at the first onset, the strongest forts, and fled to the nearest woods, their leaders setting the first example. In this dilemma the Emperor recalled his celebrated general Maha Bandoola, from a distant expedition against the English territories, and sent him with a fresh, and as it was styled "invincible army"3 of 60,000 men to Rangoon. By such a force, under this experienced warrior, it was hoped "the presumptuous rebels" would be destroyed.
Bandoola commenced his operations with great vigour, by land and water, and with the utmost confidence in his sagacity and strength. After approaching within a short distance of the British lines, his men threw aside their arms and dug holes in the ground, capable of holding two persons each, and in these the whole army disappeared, as if by magic. They were thus entirely sheltered from the weather, and the fire of the enemy, and had supplies of rice and water in each hole, for its inmates. During the night, they made nearer advances, the soldiers in the rear occupying the place left by their comrades in the front. But their contrivances were all defeated by the bravery and discipline of the English, who finally drove the Burmese, with great slaughter, from the neighbourhood of Rangoon, and compelled them to ascend the river towards Ava.
In February, 1825, after nine months residence at Rangoon, the English force moved up the river in pursuit of Bandoola. He was found at Donoobew, a strongly fortified post on the Irrawaddy, but which was soon captured. The Burman leader was killed by a bomb, as he was reclining on a couch. He was noted for his barbarous cruelty, even to his own troops; and a short time before his death, had punished an officer of high rank, for some act of neglect or disobedience, by causing him to be sawed asunder , the body of the sufferer having been for that purpose, placed between two planks. After the death of Bandoola, the command was offered to his brother, who declined it, and fled to Ava, where he was executed by order of the Emperor within a half hour after his arrival, for this refusal.
Donoobew having fallen, the British proceeded on their march towards the capital; the defeated Burmans retiring before them, burning villages in their way, and forcing the wretched inhabitants from their homes, into the thick forests. An universal panic overspread the nation, and neither officers nor soldiers could be induced to contend with an enemy always victorious. In addition to the causes of dread, from the bravery and resolute conduct of the Europeans, their fear had invested them with unnatural powers and qualities. It was said not only, that the progress of the "Balus," as they called the white people, was not stopped by wounds, and that when one was killed in an assault, another immediately stepped into his place, but that they continued to press on, after their hands were chopped off, in scrambling over the stockades, and that the arms and legs of the wounded, were carefully picked up by the surgeons, who replaced them upon their proper owners.4 These accounts were probably invented by the runaways in excuse of their cowardice.
As the rainy season now approached, when it was almost impossible for the troops to act, the town of Prome, a considerable place on the river, was chosen by the English, as their quarters; and here they remained, entirely undisturbed, for several months. A large proportion of the inhabitants, who had been as usual forced away, soon returned and occupied their former homes, where they were uniformly treated with great kindness by the British; but it does not appear that any attempt was made to enlighten the benighted minds of these poor heathen, with heavenly knowledge. There is indeed too much reason to fear that the example of their conquerors, belonging to a nation professedly Christian, was not, in some respects, of a character calculated to exhibit the purity, and holiness, which the missionaries had enjoined as the proper fruits of belief in Christ.
Notwithstanding the British had been victorious in nearly every engagement, and were encamped in the very heart of the empire, with as much safety as if in a friendly country, no disposition had been manifested by the Emperor to put an end to the war. To the offers of peace, which Sir Archibald Campbell was sending by every opportunity, he had deigned no reply. Towards the end of the present winter, however, he authorized his generals to listen to any proposals of peace which might be made; in consequence of which, commissioners were appointed by both parties, to discuss the points of dispute. No good effects resulted from the meeting, and the truce was concluded with an insulting message, from the Burman dignitaries. It was evident that no reliance whatever was to be placed upon their professions, or assertions. Truth was disregarded as a quality of no worth, nor was shame evinced upon detection of having uttered the most gross and palpable falsehoods. One of these commissioners, the Kee Wongee, an officer of high rank in the army, having been afterwards reproved for the breach of faith, of which he and his companions had been guilty, defended himself by saying, that although there "was great beauty, as he called it, in truth, yet some latitude should be allowed among friends." Mr. Judson declared upon another occasion, respecting the officers of government, that they were "utterly faithless, and had no idea of the excellence of good faith; and that they considered it a folly to keep a treaty, if they could gain any thing by breaking it." The form of the Burman oath, furnishes evidence, if further evidence was wanted, of the general disposition to prevaricate, as its imprecations5 are most particular, and evidently framed for the use of those who regard not "truth in their hearts."
Two circumstances contributed greatly to excite the hopes of the Emperor, for a favourable issue to the next campaign, for which he was now preparing, with all energy. His astrologers had observed the stars, and prophesied, that the events of the war would henceforth be fortunate. In addition to this, he had been able to collect new troops, from the frontiers of China, who knew nothing of the English, but through the deceitful accounts of the Burman officers, and were induced to despise them, as contemptible adversaries. The new levies were accompanied by three young and handsome women, of high rank, who were believed by their superstitious countrymen, to be endowed not only with the gift of prophecy, and foreknowledge, but to possess the miraculous power of turning aside the balls of the English from their friends, and rendering them wholly innocent and harmless. These females, dressed in warlike costume, rode constantly among the troops, inspiring them with the most ardent courage.6
In November, an immense force gathered round Prome, with the hope of destroying, at one blow, the whole English force. Strong fortresses were constructed in advantageous positions, and the soldiers were encouraged to expect large rewards from the Emperor, "if they would fight face to face, and conquer." The royal army was again ordered to "seize, kill, and crush the rebel strangers," who, it was said, could not "raise their hands." But the same results took place, as in the previous battles. The English troops marched with cool determination against the entrenchments, which they forced at the point of the bayonet, and gained an easy conquest over the terrified Burmese, who forgot their boasts in the hour of danger, and thought only of flight. Dreadful scenes of slaughter occurred, where they could not easily escape from the entrenchments. We shall omit the melancholy details of these murderous engagements, with the exception of those which relate to the defeat of the "Shans," the troops mentioned as newly enlisted from a distant part of the empire, and who had not as yet tried their arms with the strangers. To copy the narrative of a British officer, who accompanied the expedition—
"The Brigadier-general, (Cotton,) having quickly made his dispositions, the troops moved forward with their usual intrepidity: the Shans, encouraged by the presence of their veteran commander, Maha Nemiow, who, unable to walk, was carried from point to point, in a handsomely gilded litter; and cheered by the example, and earnest exhortations to fight bravely, of the fearless Amazons,7 offered a brave resistance to the assailants; but no sooner was a lodgment made in the interior of their crowded works, than confusion ensued, and they were unable longer to contend with, or check the progress of the rapidly increasing line which formed upon their ramparts, and from whose destructive vollies there was no escaping: the strongly-built inclosures, of their own construction, every where preventing flight, dead and dying blocked up the few and narrow outlets from the work. Horses and men ran in wild confusion from side to side, trying to avoid the fatal fire; groups were employed in breaking down, and trying to force a passage through the defences, while the brave, who disdained to fly, still offered a feeble and ineffectual opposition to the advancing troops. The grey-headed Chobwas8 of the Shans, in particular, showed a noble example to their men, sword in hand, singly maintaining the unequal contest; nor could signs or gestures of good treatment induce them to forbearance—attacking all who offered to approach them with humane or friendly feelings, they only sought the death which too many of them found. Maha Nemiow himself fell while bravely urging his men to stand their ground; and his faithful attendants being likewise killed by the promiscuous fire while in the act of carrying him off, his body, with his sword, Wonghee's chain, and other insignia of office, was found among the dead. One of the fair Amazons also received a fatal bullet in the breast; but the moment she was seen, and her sex was recognized, the soldiers bore her from the scene of death to a cottage in the rear, where she soon expired.
"While this was passing in the interior of the stockades, Sir Archibald Campbell's column, pushing rapidly forward to their rear, met the defeated and panic-struck fugitives in the act of emerging from the jungle, and crossing the Nawine river: the horse-artillery opened a heavy fire upon the crowded ford. Another of the Shan ladies was here observed flying on horseback with the defeated remnant of her people; but before she could gain the opposite bank of the river, where a friendly forest promised safety and protection, a shrapnel exploded above her head, and she fell from her horse into the water; but whether killed, or only frightened, could not be ascertained, as she was immediately borne off by her attendants.
"Few of the Shans were found again in arms: but obliged, in order to escape their Burmese pursuers, to follow a route through insalubrious forests, and unpeopled deserts, numbers whom the sword had spared, perished from famine and disease in the journey to their distant country."
The road being now open for an advance to Ava, still 300 miles distant, the invading army left Prome, on the 8th of December, and pursued their course up the river; their little fleet of gun boats, and the Diana steam vessel, being in company. Upon their arrival at Meaday, the place of the Burman encampment, and which had just been evacuated, a scene of horror met the view of the British troops, which could not fail to affect the hardest heart. It is thus described by an eyewitness.9
" Dec. 19 th , 1825.—Marched to Meaday, where a scene of misery and death awaited us. Within and around the stockades, the ground was strewed with dead and dying, lying promiscuously together, the victims of wounds, disease, and want. Here and there a small white pagoda marked where a man of rank lay buried; while numerous new-made graves plainly denoted that what we saw was merely the small remnant of mortality which the hurried departure of the enemy had prevented them from burying. The beach and neighbouring jungles were filled with dogs and vultures, whose growling and screaming, added to the pestilential smell of the place, rendered our situation far from pleasant. Here and there a faithful dog might be seen stretched out and moaning over a new-made grave, or watching by the side of his still breathing master; but by far the greater number, deprived of the hand that fed them, went prowling with the vultures among the dead, or lay upon the sand glutted with their foul repast."
As if this scene of death had not sufficed, fresh horrors were added to it by the cruel leaders of these unhappy men. Several gibbets were found erected about the stockades, each bearing the mouldering remains of three or four crucified victims, thus cruelly put to death—for perhaps no greater crime than that of wandering from their post in search of food, or, at the very worst, for having followed the example of their chiefs in flying from the enemy.
" Dec . 20 th .—Marched two miles in advance of Meaday, in the vain hope of getting away from the field of death: for fifty miles up the river , and all along the road by which the enemy retired, similar horrors presented themselves; and on some of our grounds of encampment, it was difficult to find room for pitching the tents without previously removing some dead bodies from the spot .
" Dec . 21 st .—We moved towards Melloone, upon which place the Burmese army was now ordered to concentrate. The country through which we passed was wholly depopulated, and the villages either burned or laid in ruins; not a living thing, except the sick and dying stragglers from the Burmese army, was met with in the march. We appeared to traverse a vast wilderness from which mankind had fled; and our little camp of two thousand men seemed but a speck in the desolate and dreary waste that surrounded it—calling forth, at times, an irksome feeling which could be with difficulty repressed, at the situation of a handful of men in the heart of an extensive empire, pushing boldly forward to the capital, still three hundred miles distant, in defiance of an enemy whose force still outnumbered ours in a tenfold ratio; and without a hope of further reinforcement from our distant ships and depots. An occasional shot from the flotilla, which had got considerably higher up the river, from time to time broke the silence of the desert, and reminded us that we had still much work before us, and were fast approaching to Melloone, where every effort of art and labour had been exhausted to arrest our progress on the imperial city."
On the 29th of December, the English encamped on the river bank, opposite Melloone, where the remaining Burman forces were collected. A treaty of peace was made between the commissioners, duly authorized, but rejected by the Emperor, and the consequence was the immediate capture of Melloone, attended with fresh slaughter of human beings; after which the victorious army continued its march towards the capital. Another, and the last conflict took place at Pagahn-mew, in which the Burmans were entirely routed, with great loss. The haughty monarch was now glad to listen to the offers of Sir A. Campbell, and peace was concluded at Yandaboo, about forty miles from Ava, the English receiving about five millions of dollars in money, and the surrender of large and important territories.10
But it is time to return to the missionaries at Ava, over whose fate a cloud, dark and portentous, had hung for nearly two years. That suspense which is often as dreadful as the most awful certainty, agitated the minds of their relatives, and of all the friends of missions, with alternate hopes and fears. Those who cherished the belief that the missionaries were alive, relied only on the power of that God who had so signally protected this mission, and who, by an interposition almost as visibly miraculous as that which rescued Peter from his enemies, had preserved the missionaries at Rangoon, from instant and apparently inevitable death. It was, moreover, nearly certain, that if the missionaries were living, they were subjected to imprisonment, and to dreadful sufferings, both corporeal and mental.
These considerations produced anxiety in the minds of the friends of the missionaries, which has seldom been witnessed, and which, it is believed, drew from many hearts continual and importunate prayer to God, that he would hear the sigh of the prisoners, and protect his servants from the rage of the heathen, and from the perils of war.
At length this painful suspense was terminated by the joyful news, that the missionaries were alive, and were safe in the English camp. The Emperor was, by the treaty, to liberate all the English and American prisoners, and Mr. and Mrs. Judson, and Dr. Price were thus rescued from the grasp of their oppressors; and on the 24th of February, 1826, they were received, with the kindest hospitality, at the British post. Mrs. Judson wrote thus to her sister, after so long a silence, from the British Camp at Yandaboo, forty miles from Ava.
" Feb . 25, 1826.
" My dear Sister A.—Happy indeed am I to be in a situation once more to write to you, and to find myself under the protection of a Christian government. To have my mind once more relieved from those agonizing expectations and fearful apprehensions to which it has so long been subject, almost incapacitates me for writing, from excess of joy, and, I trust, sincere gratitude to Him who has afflicted and delivered us from our afflictions. I have only time to write a line or two, just to inform you of our emancipation and comfortable circumstances.
"Four or five days ago, my hopes of being released from the Burman yoke were faint indeed; but through the kindness of Sir Archibald Campbell, who demanded us of the Burman government, we obtained our liberty, and are now under his protection, and receive from him every possible attention. He has provided us with a tent near his own, during our stay on the banks of the Irrawaddy, and one of the largest gun boats to convey us to Rangoon. Peace was ratified yesterday, and in a few days we shall proceed down the river.
"We have a little daughter, born seven months after the imprisonment of her father; she is a lovely child, and now more than a year old. We call her, Maria Eliza Butterworth. Maria's nurse, together with two little Burman girls, Mary and Abby, I have brought with me, and shall now have it my power to take them with me wherever I go. My health is now good, having just recovered from a dreadful fever, during the height of which I was delirious for several days, and, in the absence of Mr. Judson, without any person to look after me, excepting servants. Perhaps no person was ever brought so low, and recovered. It appeared a miracle to every one, and I could only say, It is the Lord who has done it. So entirely exhausted was my strength, that I could not move a limb for some time, or stand on my feet for six weeks after; and even now, three months since my fever left me, I have hardly strength to walk alone, though I am perfectly well in other respects.
"We shall probably continue in the Burman empire, but in some part under British protection. God has been with us through all sufferings, and intermingled mercies all the way. Bless his holy name, for he is a prayer hearing God, and will not forsake his people in their distress. Remember us in your prayers.
"P.S. This is the first letter I have written for nearly two years."
1 The appearance of the river is sometimes exceedingly
grand from the multitudes of splendid boats and barges with which it is covered.
Some of these are made to resemble fish in their forms, and are gilded so as to
form an imposing spectacle in the sun. The engraving on the opposite page, gives
an accurate representation of one of the " Gold Boats ," as they are called,
belonging to the Emperor. It is entirely covered with gold, not excepting the
oars, and is rowed by forty men.—(Symmes Embassy. Crawford.)
2 Crawford's Embassy to Ava. Snodgrass's Narrative of the Burmese War, &c.
3 The most extravagant appellations are given to every thing connected with the Emperor, and some of his common titles are in the highest degree blasphemous. He is publicly addressed, not only as "most excellent and glorious sovereign of land and sea," but as "Controller of the present state of existence,"—"Great King of righteousness,"—"Object of worship," &c. Crawford's Embassy.—Coxe's Burman Empire.
4 Mr. Judson's deposition at Rangoon, before the British Resident, May, 1826.
5 "If I speak not the truth, may tigers, elephants, buffalos, poisonous serpents, scorpions, &c. seize, crush, and bite me and my relations. May we be subject to all the calamities that are within the body, and without the body; and may we be seized with madness, dumbness, blindness, deafness, leprosy, and hydrophobia. May I be struck with thunderbolts, and lightning, by day and by night, and come to sudden death. In the midst of not speaking truth, may I be taken with vomiting clotted black blood. When I am going by water, may the genii who guard the water, assault me, the boat be upset, and the property be lost; and may alligators, porpoises, sharks, and all other sea monsters, seize and crush me to death. And when I change worlds, may I suffer unmixed regret, in the utmost wretchedness, in four states of punishment."
6 Snodgrass's Narrative.
7 The young females referred to, page 171.
9 Major Snodgrass.
10 These ceded territories comprising the four divisions of Arracan, the provinces of Yah, Tavoy, Mergui, and Tenasserim are called British Pegu , and contain about 100,000 inhabitants.
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