The Beginnings of American Foreign Missions
Samuel J. Mills, when a student in Williams College, gathered about him a group of fellow students, all feeling the burden of the great heathen world. One day in 1806 four of them, overtaken by a thunderstorm, took refuge in the shelter of a haystack. They passed the time in prayer for the salvation of the world, and resolved, if opportunity offered, to go themselves as missionaries. This "haystack prayer meeting" has become historic.
These young men went later to Andover Theological Seminary, where Adoniram Judson joined them. Four of these sent a petition to the Massachusetts Congregational Association at Bradford, June 29, 1810, offering themselves as missionaries and asking whether they might expect support from a society in this country, or whether they must apply to a British society. In response to this appeal the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was formed.
When a charter for the Board was applied for, an unbelieving soul objected upon the floor of the legislature, alleging in opposition to the petition that the country contained so limited a supply of Christianity that none could be spared for export, but was aptly reminded by another, who was blessed with a more optimistic make, that this was a commodity such that the more of it was sent abroad the more remained at home. There was much perplexity concerning plans and finances, so Judson was dispatched to England to confer with the London Society as to the feasibility of the two organizations cooperating in sending and sustaining the candidates, but this scheme came to nothing. At last sufficient money was raised, and in February, 1812, the first missionaries of the American Board sailed for the Orient. Mr. Judson was accompanied by his wife, having married Ann Hasseltine shortly before sailing.
On the long voyage out, in some way Mr. and Mrs. Judson and Mr. Rice were led to revise their convictions with reference to the proper mode of baptism, reached the conclusion that only immersion was valid, and were re-baptized by Carey soon after their arrival in Calcutta. This step necessarily sundered their connection with the body which had sent them forth, and left them wholly destitute of support. Mr. Rice returned to America to report this condition of affairs to the Baptist brethren. They looked upon the situation as the result of an act of Providence, and eagerly planned to accept the responsibility thrust upon them. Accordingly the Baptist Missionary Union was formed. So Mr. Judson was the occasion of the organization of two great missionary societies.
The Persecution of Doctor Judson
After laboring for some time in Hindustan Dr. and Mrs.
Judson finally established themselves at Rangoon in the Burman Empire, in 1813. In 1824 war broke out between the British East India Company and the emperor of Burma. Dr. and Mrs. Judson and Dr. Price, who were at Ava, the capital of the Burman Empire, when the war commenced, were immediately arrested and confined for several months. The account of the sufferings of the missionaries was written by Mrs. Judson, and is given in her own words.
"Rangoon, May 26, 1826.
"My beloved Brother,
"I commence this letter with the intention of giving you the particulars of our captivity and sufferings at Ava. How long my patience will allow my reviewing scenes of disgust and horror, the conclusion of this letter will determine. I had kept a journal of everything that had transpired from our arrival at Ava, but destroyed it at the c ommencement of our difficulties.
"The first certain intelligence we received of the declaration of war by the Burmese, was on our arrival at Tsenpyoo-kywon, about a hundred miles this side of Ava, where part of the troops, under the command of the celebrated Bandoola, had encamped. As we proceeded on our journey, we met Bandoola himself, with the remainder of his troops, gaily equipped, seated on his golden barge, and surrounded by a fleet of gold war boats, one of which was instantly despatched the other side of the river to hail us, and make all necessary inquiries. We were allowed to proceed quietly on, when he had informed the messenger that we were Americans, not English, and were going to Ava in obedience to the command of his Majesty.
"On our arrival at the capital, we found that Dr. Price was out of favor at court, and that suspicion rested on most of the foreigners then at Ava. Your brother visited at the palace two or three times, but found the king's manner toward him very different from what it formerly had been; and the queen, who had hitherto expressed wishes for my speedy arrival, now made no inquiries after me, nor intimated a wish to see me. Consequently, I made no effort to visit at the palace, though almost daily invited to visit some of the branches of the royal family, who were living in their own houses, out of the palace enclosure. Under these circumstances, we thought our most prudent course lay in prosecuting our original intention of building a house, and commencing missionary operations as occasion offered, thus endeavoring to convince the government that we had really nothing to do with the present war.
"In two or three weeks after our arrival, the king, queen, all the members of the royal family, and most of the officers of government, returned to Amarapora, in order to come and take possession of the new palace in the customary style.
"I dare not attempt a description of that splendid day, when majesty with all its attendant glory entered the gates of the golden city, and amid the acclamations of millions, I may say, took possession of the palace. The saupwars of the provinces bordering on China, all the viceroys and high officers of the kingdom were assembled on the occasion, dressed in their robes of state, and ornamented with the insignia of their office. The white elephant, richly adorned with gold and jewels, was one of the most beautiful objects in the procession. The king and queen alone were unadorned, dressed in the simple garb of the country; they, hand in hand, entered the garden in which we had taken our seats, and where a banquet was prepared for their refreshment. All the riches and glory of the empire were on this day exhibited to view. The number and immense size of the elephants, the numerous horses, and great variety of vehicles of all descriptions, far surpassed anything I have ever seen or imagined. Soon after his majesty had taken possession of the new palace, an order was issued that no foreigner should be allowed to enter, excepting Lansago. We were a little alarmed at this, but concluded it was from political motives, and would not, perhaps, essentially affect us.
"For several weeks nothing took place to alarm us, and we went on with our school. Mr. J. preached every Sabbath, all the materials for building a brick house were procured, and the masons had made considerable progress in raising the building.
"On the twenty-third of May, 1824, just as we had concluded worship at the Doctor's house, the other side of the river, a messenger came to inform us that Rangoon was taken by the English. The intelligence produced a shock, in which was a mixture of fear and joy. Mr. Gouger, a young merchant residing at Ava, was then with us, and had much more reason to fear than the rest of us. We all, however, immediately returned to our house, and began to consider what was to be done. Mr. G. went to Prince Thar-yar-wadee, the king's most influential brother, who informed him he need not give himself any uneasiness, as he had mentioned the subject to his majesty, who had replied, that 'the few foreigners residing at Ava had nothing to do with the war, and should not be molested.'
"The government were now all in motion. An army of ten or twelve thousand men, under the command of the Kyee-woon-gyee, were sent off in three or four days, and were to be joined by the Sakyer-woon-gyee, who had previously been appointed viceroy of Rangoon, and who was on his way thither, when the news of its attack reached him. No doubt was entertained of the defeat of the English; the only fear of the king was that the foreigners hearing of the advance of the Burmese troops, would be so alarmed as to flee on board their ships and depart, before there would be time to secure them as slaves. 'Bring for me,' said a wild young buck of the palace, 'six kala pyoo, (white strangers,) to row my boat;' and 'to me,' said the lady of Woon-gyee, 'send four white strangers to manage the affairs of my house, as I understand they are trusty servants.' The war boats, in high glee, passed our house, the soldiers singing and dancing, and exhibiting gestures of the most joyful kind. Poor fellows! said we, you will probably never dance again. And so it proved, for few if any ever saw again their native home.
"At length Mr. Judson and Dr. Price were summoned to a court of examination, where strict inquiry was made relative to all they knew. The great point seemed to be whether they had been in the habit of making communications to foreigners, of the state of the country, etc. They answered that they had always written to their friends in America, but had no correspondence with English officers, or the Bengal government. After their examination, they were not put in confinement as the Englishmen had been, but were allowed to return to their houses. In examining the accounts of Mr. G it was found that Mr. J. and Dr. Price had taken money of him to a considerable amount. Ignorant, as were the Burmese, of our mode of receiving money, by orders on Bengal, this circumstance, to their suspicious minds, was a sufficient evidence that the missionaries were in the pay of the English, and very probably spies. It was thus represented to the king, who, in an angry tone, ordered the immediate arrest of the 'two teachers.'
"On the eighth of June, just as we were preparing for dinner, in rushed an officer, holding a black book, with a dozen Burmans, accompanied by one, whom, from his spotted face, we knew to be an executioner, and a 'son of the prison.' 'Where is the teacher?' was the first inquiry. Mr. Judson presented himself. 'You are called by the king,' said the officer; a form of speech always used when about to arrest a criminal. The spotted man instantly seized Mr. Judson, threw him on the floor, and produced the small cord, the instrument of torture. I caught hold of his arm;
'Stay, (said I,) I will give you money.' 'Take her too,' said the officer; 'she also is a foreigner.' Mr. Judson, with an imploring look, begged they would let me remain until further orders. The scene was now shocking beyond description.
"The whole neighborhood had collected-the masons at work on the brick house threw down their tools, and ran-the little Burman children were screaming and crying-the Bengalee servants stood in amazement at the indignities offered their master-and the hardened executioner, with a hellish joy, drew tight the cords, bound Mr. Judson fast, and dragged him off, I knew not whither. In vain I begged and entreated the spotted face to take the silver, and loosen the ropes, but he spurned my offers, and immediately departed. I gave the money, however, to Moung Ing to follow after, to make some further attempt to mitigate the torture of Mr. Judson; but instead of succeeding, when a few rods from the house, the unfeeling wretches again threw their prisoner on the ground, and drew the cords still tighter, so as almost to prevent respiration.
"The officer and his gang proceeded on to the courthouse, where the governor of the city and the officers were collected, one of whom read the order of the king, to commit Mr. Judson to the death prison, into which he was soon hurled, the door closed-and Moung Ing saw no more. What a night was now before me! I retired into my room, and endeavored to obtain consolation from committing my case to God, and imploring fortitude and strength to suffer whatever awaited me. But the consolation of retirement was not long allowed me, for the magistrate of the place had come into the veranda, and continually called me to come out, and submit to his examination. But previously to going out, I destroyed all my letters, journals, and writings of every kind, lest they should disclose the fact that we had correspondents in England, and had minuted down every occurrence since our arrival in the country. When this work of destruction was finished, I went out and submitted to the examination of the magistrate, who inquired very minutely of everything I knew; then ordered the gates of the compound to be shut, no person be allowed to go in or out, placed a guard of ten ruffians, to whom he gave a strict charge to keep me safe, and departed.
"It was now dark. I retired to an inner room with my four little Burman girls, and barred the doors. The guard instantly ordered me to unbar the doors and come out, or they would break the house down. I obstinately refused to obey, and endeavored to intimidate them by threatening to complain of their conduct to higher authorities on the morrow. Finding me resolved in disregarding their orders, they took the two Bengalee servants, and confined them in the stocks in a very painful position. I could not endure this; but called the head man to the window, and promised to make them all a present in the morning, if they would release the servants. After much debate, and many severe threatenings, they consented, but seemed resolved to annoy me as much as possible. My unprotected, desolate state, my entire uncertainty of the fate of Mr. Judson, and the dreadful carousing and almost diabolical language of the guard, all conspired to make it by far the most distressing night I had ever passed. You may well imagine, my dear brother, that sleep was a stranger to my eyes, and peace and composure to my mind.
"The next morning, I sent Moung Ing to ascertain the situation of your brother, and give him food, if still living. He soon returned, with the intelligence that Mr. Judson, and all the white foreigners, were confined in the death prison, with three pairs of iron fetters each, and fastened to a long pole, to prevent their moving! The point of my anguish now was that I was a prisoner myself, and could make no efforts for the release of the missionaries. I begged and entreated the magistrate to allow me to go to some member of government to state my case; but he said he did not dare to consent, for fear I should make my escape. I next wrote a note to one of the king's sisters, with whom I had been intimate, requesting her to use her influence for the release of the teachers. The note was returned with this message-She 'did not understand it'-which was a polite refusal to interfere; though I afterwards ascertained that she had an anxious desire to assist us, but dared not on account of the queen. The day dragged heavily away, and another dreadful night was before me. I endeavored to soften the feelings of the guard by giving them tea and cigars for the night; so that they allowed me to remain inside of my room, without threatening as they did the night before. But the idea of your brother being stretched on the bare floor in irons and confinement, haunted my mind like a spectre, and prevented my obtaining any quiet sleep, though nature was almost exhausted.
"On the third day, I sent a message to the governor of the city, who has the entire direction of prison affairs, to allow me to visit him with a present. This had the desired effect; and he immediately sent orders to the guards, to permit my going into town. The governor received me pleasantly, and asked me what I wanted. I stated to him the situation of the foreigners, and particularly that of the teachers, who were Americans, and had nothing to do with the war. He told me it was not in his power to release them from prison or irons, but that he could make their situation more comfortable; there was his head officer, with whom I must consult, relative to the means. The officer, who proved to be one of the city writers, and whose countenance at the first glance presented the most perfect assemblage of all the evil passions attached to human nature, took me aside, and endeavored to convince me, that myself, as well as the prisoners, was entirely at his disposal-that our future comfort must depend on my liberality in regard to presents-and that these must be made in a private way and unknown to any officer in the government! 'What must I do,' said I, 'to obtain a mitigation of the present sufferings of the two teachers?' 'Pay to me,' said he, 'two hundred tickals, (about a hundred dollars,) two pieces of fine cloth, and two pieces of handkerchiefs.' I had taken money with me in the morning, our house being two miles from the prison-I could not easily return. This I offered to the writer, and begged he would not insist on the other articles, as they were not in my possession. He hesitated for some time, but fearing to lose the sight of so much money, he concluded to take it, promising to relieve the teachers from their most painful situation.
"I then procured an order from the governor, for my admittance into prison; but the sensations, produced by meeting your brother in that wretched, horrid situation-and the affecting scene which ensued, I will not attempt to describe. Mr. Judson crawled to the door of the prison-for I was never allowed to enter-gave me some directions relative to his release; but before we could make any arrangement, I was ordered to depart, by those iron-hearted jailers, who could not endure to see us enjoy the poor consolation of meeting in that miserable place. In vain I pleaded the order of the governor for my admittance; they again, harshly repeated, 'Depart, or we will pull you out.' The same evening, the missionaries, together with the other foreigners, who had paid an equal sum, were taken out of the common prison, and confined in an open shed in the prison enclosure. Here I was allowed to send them food, and mats to sleep on; but was not permitted to enter again for several days.
"My next object was to get a petition presented to the queen; but no person being admitted into the palace, who was in disgrace with his majesty, I sought to present it through the medium of her brother's wife. I had visited her in better days, and received particular marks of her favor. But now times were altered: Mr. Judson was in prison, and I in distress, which was a sufficient reason for giving me a cold reception. I took a present of considerable value. She was lolling on her carpet as I entered, with her attendants around her. I waited not for the usual question to a suppliant, 'What do you want?' but in a bold, earnest, yet respectful manner, stated our distresses and our wrongs, and begged her assistance. She partly raised her head, opened the present I had brought, and coolly replied, 'Your case is not singular; all the foreigners are treated alike.' 'But it is singular,' said I, 'the teachers are Americans; they are ministers of religion, have nothing to do with war or politics, and came to Ava in obedience to the king's command. They have never done any thing to deserve such treatment; and is it right they should be treated thus?' 'The king does as he pleases,' said she; 'I am not the king, what can I do?' 'You can state their case to the queen, and obtain their release,' replied I. 'Place yourself in my situation-were you in America, your husband, innocent of crime, thrown into prison, in irons, and you a solitary, unprotected female-what would you do?' With a slight degree of feeling, she said, 'I will present your petition, come again to-morrow.' I returned to the house, with considerable hope, that the speedy release of the missionaries was at hand. But the next day Mr. Gouger's property, to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, was taken and carried to the palace. The officers, on their return, politely informed me, they should visit our house on the morrow. I felt obliged for this information, and accordingly made preparations to receive them, by secreting as many little articles as possible; together with considerable silver, as I knew, if the war should be protracted, we should be in a state of starvation without it. But my mind in a dreadful state of agitation, lest it should be discovered, and cause my being thrown into prison. And had it been possible to procure money from any other quarter, I should not have ventured on such a step.
"The following morning, the royal treasurer, Prince Tharyawadees, Chief Woon, and Koung-tone Myoo-tsa, who was in future our steady friend, attended by forty or fifty followers, came to take possession of all we had. I treated them civilly, gave them chairs to sit on, tea and sweetmeats for their refreshment; and justice obliges me to say that they conducted the business of confiscation with more regard to my feelings than I should have thought it possible for Burmese officers to exhibit. The three officers, with one of the royal secretaries, alone entered the house; their attendants were ordered to remain outside. They saw I was deeply affected, and apologized for what they were about to do, by saying that it was painful for them to take possession of property not their own, but they were compelled thus to do by order of the king.
"'Where is your silver, gold, and jewels?' said the royal treasurer. 'I have no gold or jewels; but here is the key of a trunk which contains the silver-do with it as you please.' The trunk was produced, and the silver weighed. 'This money,' said I, 'was collected in America, by the disciples of Christ, and sent here for the purpose of building a kyoung, (the name of a priest's dwelling) and for our support while teaching the religion of Christ. Is it suitable that you should take it? (The Burmans are averse to taking what is offered in a religious point of view, which was the cause of my making the inquiry.) 'We will state this circumstance to the king,' said one of them, 'and perhaps he will restore it. But this is all the silver you have?' I could not tell a falsehood: 'The house is in your possession,' I replied, 'search for yourselves.' 'Have you not deposited silver with some person of your acquaintaince?' 'My acquaintances are all in prison, with whom should I deposit silver?'
"They next ordered my trunk and drawers to be examined. The secretary only was allowed to accompany me in this search. Everything nice or curious, which met hjis view, was presented to the officers, for their decision, whether it should be taken or retained. I begged they would not take our wearing apparel, as it would be disgraceful to take clothes partly worn into the possession of his majesty, and to us they were of unspeakable value. They assented, and took a list only, and did the same with the books, medicines, etc. My little work table and rocking chair, presents from my beloved brother, I rescued from their grasp, partly by artifice, and partly through their ignorance. They left also many articles, which were of inestimable value, during our long imprisonment.
"As soon as they had finished their search and departed, I hastened to the queen's brother, to hear what had been the fate of my petition; when, alas! all my hopes were dashed, by his wife's coolly saying, 'I stated your case to the queen; but her majesty replied, The teachers will not die: let them remain as they are.' My expectations had been so much excited that this sentence was like a thunderbolt to my feelings. For the truth at one glance assured me that if the queen refused assistance, who would dare to intercede for me? With a heavy heart I departed, and on my way home, attempted to enter the prison gate, to communicate the sad tidings to your brother, but was harshly refused admittance; and for the ten days following notwithstanding my daily efforts, I was not allowed to enter. We attempted to communicate by writing, and after being successful for a few days, it was discovered; the poor fellow who carried the communications was beaten and put in the stocks; and the circumstance cost me about ten dollars, besides two or three days of agony, for fear of the consequences.
"The officers who had taken possession of our property, presented it to his majesty, saying, 'Judson is a true teacher; we found nothing in his house, but what belongs to priests. In addition to this money, there are an immense number of books, medicines, trunks of wearing apparel, of which we have only taken a list. Shall we take them, or let them remain?' 'Let them remain,' said the king, 'and put this property by itself, for it shall be restored to him again, if he is found innocent.' This was an allusion to the idea of his being a spy.
"For two or three months following, I was subject to continual harassments, partly through my ignorance of police management and partly through the insatiable desire of every petty officer to enrich himself through our misfortunes.
"You, my dear brother, who know my strong attachment to my friends, and how much pleasure I have hitherto experienced from retrospect, can judge from the above circumstances, how intense were my sufferings. But the point, the acme of my distresses, consisted in the awful uncertainty of our final fate. My prevailing opinion was that my husband would suffer violent death; and that I should, of course, become a slave, and languish out a miserable though short existence, in the tyrannic hands of some unfeeling monster. But the consolations of religion, in these trying circumstances, were neither 'few nor small.' It taught me to look beyond this world, to that rest, that peaceful, happy rest, where Jesus reigns, and oppression never enters.
"Some months after your brother's imprisonment, I was permitted to make a little bamboo room in the prison inclosures, where he could be much by himself, and where I was sometimes allowed to spend two or three hours. It so happened that the two months he occupied this place, was the coldest part of the year, when he would have suffered much in the open shed he had previously occupied. After the birth of your little niece, I was unable to visit the prison and the governor as before, and found I had lost ocnsiderable influence, previously gained; for he was not so forward to hear my petitions when any difficulty occurred, as he formerly had been. When Maria was nearly two months old, her father one morning sent me word that he and all the white prisoners were put into the inner prison, in five pairs of fetters each, that his little room had been torn down, and his mat, pillow, etc., been taken by the jailers. This was to me a dreadful shock, as I thought at once it was only a prelude to greater evils.
"The situation of the prisoners was now distressing beyond description. It was at the commencement of the hot season. There were above a hundred prisoners shut up in one room, without a breath of air excepting from the cracks in the boards. I sometimes obtained permission to go to the door for five minutes, when my heart sickened at the wretchedness exhibited. The white prisoners, from incessant perspiration and loss of appetite, looked more like the dead than the living. I made daily applications to the governor, offering him money, which he refused; but all that I gained was permission for the foreigners to eat their food outside, and this continued but a short time.
"After continuing in the inner prison for more than a month, your brother was taken with a fever. I felt assured he would not live long, unless removed from that noisome place. To effect this, and in order to be near the prison, I removed from our house and put up a small bamboo room in the governor's inclosure, which was nearly opposite the prison gate. Here I incessantly begged the governor to give me an order to take Mr. J. out of the large prison, and place him in a more comfortable situation; and the old man, being worn out with my entreaties at length gave me the order in an official form; and also gave orders to the head jailer, to allow me to go in and out, all times of the day, to administer medicines. I now felt happy, indeed, and had Mr. J. instantly removed into a little bamboo hovel, so low, that neither of us could stand upright-but a palace in comparison with the place he had left.
Removal of the Prisoners to Oung-pen-la-Mrs. Judson Follows Them
"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. J'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, that he only wished to consult 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 the 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, but 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 none 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 until that morning. That since I went out, he had learned that the prisoners had been 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.
"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 until 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 forever.
"The day was dreadfully hot; but we obtained a covered boat, in which we were tolerably comfortable, until 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 courthouse, 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 the leaves; while under a little low protection 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 in 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 prisoners; 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 endeavored 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. J's little room-roughly seized him by the arm-pulled him out-stripped 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, dragged him to the courthouse, 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 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. J's debilitated state, in consequence of the fever, and having taken no food that morning, rendered him less capable of bearing such hardships than the other prisoners.
"When about halfway 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 headdress, which was made of cloth, tore it in two, gave half to his master, and half to Mr. Judson, which he instantly wrapped round his wounded feet, as they were not allowed to rest even for a moment. The servant then offered his shoulder to Mr. J. and was almost carried by him the remainder of the way.
"The Lamine Woon, seeing the distressing state of the prisoners, and that one of their number was dead, concluded they should go no farther 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 anything 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 burned, agreeably to the report which had previously been in circulation at Ava. They all endeavored 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. My arrival was an hour or two after this.
"The next morning I arose and endeavored to find something like food. But there was no market, and nothing to be procured. One of Dr. Price's friends, however, brought some cold rice and vegetable curry, from Amarapora, which, together with a cup of tea from Mr. Lansago, answered for the breakfast of the prisoners; and for dinner, we made a curry of dried salt fish, which a servant of Mr. Gouger had brought. All the money I could command in the world I had brought with me, secreted about my person; so you may judge what our prospects were, in case the war should continue long. But our heavenly Father was better to us than our fears; for notwithstanding the constant extortions of the jailers, during the whole six months we were at Oung-pen-la, and the frequent straits to which we were brought, we never really suffered for the want of money, though frequently for want of provisions, which were not procurable.
"Here 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 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 smallpox, 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 neighborhood, 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 smallpox 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 inoculated her from another child, before Mary's had arrived at such a state 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.
"You will recollect I never had the smallpox, but was vaccinated previously to leaving America. In consequence of being for so long a time constantly exposed, I had nearly a hundred pustules formed, though no previous symptoms of fever, etc. The jailer's children having had the smallpox 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 instructions 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 smallpox; but my watching's 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, leaving the cook to supply my place. I reached the house in safety, and for two or three days the disorder seemed at a stand; after which it attacked me violently, that I had no hopes of recovery left-and my 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 laundanum, 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 were 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 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 look after Mr. Judson we must both have died, had it not been for the faithful and affectionate care of our Bengalee cook. A common Bengalee cook will do nothing but the simple business of cooking; but he seemed to forget his caste, and almost his own wants, in his efforts to serve us. He would provide, cook, and carry your brother's food, and then return and take care of me. I have frequently known him not to taste of food until near night, in consequence of having to go so far for wood and water, and in order to have Mr. Judson's dinner ready at the usual hour. He never complained, never asked for his wages, and never f or a moment hesitated to go anywhere, or to perform any act we required. I take great pleasure in speaking of the faithful conduct of this servant, who is still with us, and I trust has been well rewarded for his services.
"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 heartrending, when it was impossible to supply her wants. I now began to think the very affliction of Job had come upon me. When in health, I could bear the various trials and vicissitudes through which I was called to pass. But to be confined with sickness, and unable to assist those who were so dear to me, when in distress, was almost too much for me to bear; and had it not been for the consolations of religion, and an assured conviction that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I must have sunk under my accumulated sufferings. Sometimes our jailers seemed a little softened at our distress, and for several days together allowed Mr. Judson to come to the house, which was to me an unspeakable consolation. Then again they would be as iron-hearted in their demands as though we were free from sufferings, and in affluent circumstances. The annoyance, the extortions, and oppressions, to which we were subject, during our six months residence in Oung-pen-la, are beyond enumeration or description.
"The time at length arrived for our release from that detested place, the Oung-pen-la prison. A messenger from our friend, the governor of the north gate of the palace, who was formerly Koung-tone, Myoo-tsa, informed us that an order had been given, the vening before, in the palace, for Mr. Judson's release. On the same evening an official order arrived; and with a joyful heart I set about preparing for our departure early the following morning. But an unexpected obstacle occurred, which made us fear that I should still retained as a prisoner. The avaricious jailers, unwilling to lose their prey, insisted that as my name was not included in the order, I should not go. In vain I urged that I was not sent there as a prisoner, and that they had no authority over me-they still determined I should not go, and forbade the villagers from letting me a cart. Mr. Judson was then taken out of prison, and brought to the jailer's house, where, by promises and threatenings, he finally gained their consent, on condition that we would leave the remaining part of our provisions we had recently received from Ava.
"It was noon before we were allowed to depart. When we reached Amarapora, Mr. Judson was obliged to follow the guidance of the jailer, who conducted him to the governor of the city. Having made all necessary inquiries, the governor appointed another guard, which conveyed Mr. Judson to the courthouse in Ava, to which place he arrived some time in the night. I took my own course, procured a boat, and reached our house before dark.
"My first object the next morning was to go in search of our brother, and I had the mortification to meet him again in prison, though not the death prison. I went immediately to my old friend the governor of the city, who was now raised to the rank of a Woon-gyee. He informed me that Mr. Judson was to be sent to the Burmese camp, to act as translator and interpreter; and that he was put in confinement for a short time only, until his affairs were settled. Early the following morning I went to this officer again, who told me that Mr. Judson had that moment received twenty tickals from government, with orders to go immediately on board a boat for Maloun, and that he had given him permission to stop a few moments at the house, it being on his way. I hastened back to the house, where Mr. Judson soon arrived; but was allowed to remain only a short time, while I could prepare food and clothing for future use. He was crowded into a little boat, where he had not room sufficient to lie down, and where his exposure to the cold, damp nights threw him into a violent fever, which had nearly ended all his sufferings. He arrived at Maloun on the third day, where, ill as he was, he was obliged to enter immediately on the work of translating. He remained at Maloun six weeks, suffering as much as he had at any time in prison, excepting that he was not in irons, nor exposed to the insults of those cruel jailers.
"For the first fortnight after his departure, my anxiety was less than it had been at any time previous, since the commencement of our difficulties. I knew the Burmese officers at the camp would feel the value of Mr. Judson's services too much to allow their using any measures threatening his life. I thought his situation, also, would be much more comfortable than it really was-hence my anxiety was less. But my health, which had never been restored, since that violent attack at Oung-pen-la, now daily declined, until I was seized with the spotted fever, with all its attendant horrors. 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, 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 the Portuguese woman, when I lost my reason, and was insensible to all around me. 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 endeavor 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 neighbors 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 courthouse 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. I was too weak to bear ill tidings of any kind; but a shock as dreadful as this almost annihilated me. For some time, I could hardly breathe; but at last gained sufficient composure to dispatch Moung Ing to our friend, the governor of the north gate, and begged him to make one more effort for the release of Mr. Judson, and prevent his being sent back to the country prison, where I knew he must suffer much, as I could not follow. Moung Ing then went in search of Mr. Judson; and it was nearly dark when he found him in the interior of an obscure prison. I had sent food early in the afternoon, but being unable to find him, the bearer had returned with it, which added another pang to my distresses, as I feared he was already sent to Oung-pen-la.
"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.
"When Mr. Judson was sent from Maloun to Ava, it was within five minutes' notice, and without his knowledge of the cause. On his way up the river he accidentally saw the communication made to government respecting him, which was simply this: 'We have no further use for Yoodathan, we therefore return him to the golden city.' On arriving at the courthouse, there happened to be no one present who was acquainted with Mr. J. The presiding officer inquired from what place he had been sent to Maloun. He was answered from Oung-pen-la. 'Let him then,' said the officer, 'be returned thither'-when he was delivered to a guard and conducted to the place above-mentioned, there to remain until he could be conveyed to Oung-pen-la. 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.
"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 steamboat, 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 steamboat, where I passed the remainder of the day; while your brother went on to meet the general, who, with a detachment of the army, had encamped at Yandaboo, a few miles farther 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.
"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 toward 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."
Through all this suffering the precious manuscript of the Burmese New Testament was guarded. It was put into a bag and made into a hard pillow for Dr. Judson's prison. Yet he was forced to be apparently careless about it, lest the Burmans should think it contained something valuable and take it away. But with the assistance of a faithful Burmese convert, the manuscript, representing so many long days of labor, was kept in safety.
At the close of this long and melancholy 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 forceful 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, without 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 left by the government destitute of food, she, with unwearied perseverance, by some means or3 another, 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 a 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."
Epilogue to the Original Edition
And now to conclude, good Christian readers, this present transaction, not for the lack of matter, but to shorten rather the matter for largeness of the volume. In the meantime the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ work with thee, gentle reader, in all thy studious readings. And when thou hast faith, so employ thyself to read, that by reading thou mayest learn daily to know that which may profit thy soul, may teach thee experience, may arm thee with patience, and instruct thee in all spiritual knowledge more and more, to thy perfect comfort and salvation in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be glory in secula seculorum. Amen.