James Hough.

The history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) online

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informed that the king had sometimes inquired ofAva.
about the ''American teachers," in a way to awaken
hope that another application might be more suc-
cessful than the first had proved. Reports of Dr
Price's medical and surgical skill had reached his
majesty's ears ; in consequence of which an order
was despatched from Ava, requiring his attendance


CHAP, at the palace, Mr Judson thought it not right to
^' let him go alone, yet the improving state of the
mission rendered his absence from Rangoon at this
time somewhat difficult. On the 21st of August
1822, he baptized his eighteenth convert. Two
more candidates for baptism remained, but one was
deterred by the fear of Government, the other by
fear of her husband. There were other inquirers
of great promise ; and Mr Judson esteemed it, on
the whole, one of the most interesting fields of
labour ever opened to a missionary. He naturally
felt, therefore, reluctant to leave it, though for a
short season; but duty seemed to call him to
Favour- 21. Accordingly, leaving the mission in charge

ceived^by of Mr Hough, he Set out, with Dr Price, on the
the^king. 28th of August, and reached the capital on the
27th of September. As soon as the king was in-
formed of their arrival, he ordered them to be im-
mediately introduced ; and as they entered, he
inquired, with apparent impatience, which was the
doctor ? When they were seated, he interrogated
Dr Price as to his skill in curing diseased eyes,
cutting out wens, setting broken bones, besides
many things to which his skill did not extend.
His medicines were then called for, and all his
stock inspected. His surgical instruments were
much admired. After looking at them, the king
sent for his own, one case' of which being unlike
Dr Price's, he immediately gave it into his hands,
which was considered as equivalent to commanding
him in future to make the capital his place of
residence. The king and his courtiers seemed to
have been greatly amused with his galvanic pile.

But though the doctor met with so gracious a
reception, Mr Judson, who accompanied him, when-
ever called to the presence of the king, was not
noticed by his majesty for a few days. At last the


king said to him, ^'And you in black, what are
you ? — a medical man too ? " ^' Not a medical
man, but a teacher of religion, your majesty." The
king then asked him if any had embraced his reli-
gion ; to which he replied in the affirmative. His
majesty then put many questions to him on reli-
gion, geography, and astronomy. After Mr Jud-
son left the king, he held further conversations
with a royal secretary and other persons about the
court ; and upon the close of his last visit to the
palace, he observes — '^Thanks be to God for the
encouragement of this day ! The monarch of the
empire has distinctly understood that some of his
subjects have embraced the Christian religion, and
his wrath has been restrained."

22. The brethren's hopes for the mission were Mr Jadson
now raised high indeed, and for a while all smiled '^^^^^^^^
upon them at Ava They were desired to look out

a place there for themselves, with a promise from
his majesty to build them a habitation. A piece
of ground was secured for them, on the other side
of the river, opposite the palace ; and Mr Judson
was allowed to go back to Rangoon, on the under-
standing that he was to return and settle with Dr
Price at the capital.

23. After spending about four months there, Mr Transia-
Judson left on the 23d of January 1823, and scdprnres.
reached Rangoon on February 2d. After his arrival

he occupied himself in completing his version of
the New Testament, which he accomplished some
time before midsummer. He had made some pro-
gress in the Old Testament also ; but finding it
requisite to suspend this work, in the speedy pros-
pect of returning to settle at Ava, he prepared an
epitome of the Old Testament, the reception of
which amply rewarded his labour in compiling
it, as it was read with eagerness and profit by
the converts. These he found stedfast in the


CHAP, faith/ but no addition had been made to their
^' number during his absence.

^ In the early stage of the different missions described in this
History, a specimen of the sentiments of one or more of the
first converts has been given in their own words. Afterwards
their letters and compositions have become too numerous to
be noticed with more than a passing remark, though some of
them have been of equal interest, and as ably written. We
now give a specimen from one of the earliest converts at
Eangoon. It is a translation of a letter written by Moung
Shwa-ba to the Eev Dr Baldwin, and translated from the
Burman original : " Sept. 23, 1823. Shwa-ba, an inhabitant of
Bangoon, a town of Eurmah, one who adheres to the religion
of Christ, and has been baptized; who meditates on the im-
measurable, incalculable nature of the Divine splendour and glory
of the Invisible, even the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father,
and takes refuge in the wisdom, and power, and glory of God ;
affectionately addresses the great teacher Baldwin, a superin-
tendent of missionary affairs in the city of Boston, of America.

"Beloved Elder Brother — Though in the present state,
the places of our residence are very far apart, and we have
never met ; yet by means of letters, and of the words of teacher
Judson, who has told me of you, I love you, and wish to send
you this letter. When the time arrives in which we shall
wholly put on Christ — Him, in loving whom we cannot tire,
and in praising whom we can find no end, and shall be adorned
with those ornaments, which the Lord will dispense to us out
of the heavenly treasure-house that he has prepared, then we
shall love one another more perfectly than we do now.

" Formerly I was in the habit of concealing my sins, that
they might not appear ; but now I am convinced that I cannot
conceal my sins from the Lord, who sees and knows all things ;
and that 1 cannot atone for them, nor obtain atonement from
my former objects of worship. And, accordingly, I count my-
self to have lost all, under the elements of the world, and
through the grace of the faith of Christ only to have gained
the spiritual graces and rewards pertaining to eternity, which
cannot be lost. Therefore, I have no ground for boasting,
pride, fashion, and self-exaltation. And without desiring the
praise of men, or seeking my own will, I wish to do the will of
God the Father. The members of the body, dead in trespasses
and sins, displeasing to God, I desire to make instruments of
righteousness, not following the will of the flesh. Worldly de-
sire and heavenly desire being contrary the one to the other,



24. Early in December 1823, Mrs Judson re-
turned to Rangoon, accompanied by a new mis-

Arrival of

and the desire of visible things counteracting the desire of in-
visible things, I am as a dead man. However, he quickens the
dead. He awakens those that sleep. He lifts up those that
fall. He opens blind eyes. He perforates deaf ears. He
lights a lamp in the great house of darkness. He relieves the
wretched. He feeds the hungry. The words of such a Bene-
factor, if we reject, we must die for ever, and come to everlast-
ing destruction. Which circumstance considering, and medi-
tating also on sickness, old age, and death, incident to the
present state of mutabilit}^, I kneel and prostrate myself, and
pray before God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has
made an atonement for our sins, that he may have mercy upon
me, and pardon my sins, and make me holy, and give me a re-
penting, believing, and loving mind.

" Formerly, I trusted in my own merits ; but now, through
the preaching and instruction of teacher Judson, I trust in the
merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. The teacher, therefore, is the
tree ; we are the blossoms and fruit. He has laboured to par-
take of the fruit, and now the tree begins to bear. The bread
of life he has given, and we eat. The water of the brook which
flows from the top of Mount Calvary, for the cleansing of all
filth, he has brought, and made us bathe and drink. The bread
of which we eat will yet ferment and rise. The water which
we drink and bathe in is the water of an unfailing spring ; and
many will yet drink and bathe therein. Then all things Avill
be regenerated and changed. Now we are strangers and pil-
grims ; and it is my desire, without adhering to the things of
this world, but longing for my native abode, to consider and
inquire how long I must labour here ; to whom I ought to shew
the light which I have obtained ; when I ought to put it up,
and when disclose it.

" The inhabitants of this country of Burmah, being in the
evil practice of forbidden lust, erroneous worship, and false
speech, deride the religion of Christ. However, that we may
bear patiently derision and persecution, and death, for the sake
of the Lord Jesus Christ, pray for us. 1 do thus pray. For,
elder brother, I have to bear the threatening of my own bro-
ther, and my brother-in-law, who say, ' We will beat, and
bruise, and pound you ; we will bring you into great diiriculty ;
you associate with false people; you keep a false religion, and
you speak false words.' However, their false religion is the
religion of death. The doctrine of the cross is the religion of




State of
the female

sionary^ Mr Jonathan Wacle, and his wife. Mr
Judson had not heard of his wife for thirteen
months^ through the failure of her letters ; and on
the ver}^ day of her arrival he had abandoned all
hope of seeing her again. His feelings^ therefore^
on her return we leave to be imagined. They
must have been a counterpart of her own emotions
on his unexpected arrival^ after an absence from
her of eight months^ as recorded in the present
chapter. Such instances of a merciful termination
to the trial of faith^ tend greatly to encourage the
Lord's servants to hold fast their confidence in his
love, when threatened with tribulation in the path
of duty.

25. Mrs Judson was happy in her meeting with
the female converts, some of whom she described
as an honour to their Christian profession ; and she
wrote of one, the second woman who was baptized,
that she had died, in the triumphs of hoj)e, a few
months before, assuring those who stood around her
that she should soon be in the presence of Christ.
This one instance of the power of Divine grace
Mrs Judson considered more than a compensation
for all their days of darkness and distress, formerly

life, of love, of faith. I am a servant of faith. Formerly I
was a servant of Satan, now I am a servant of Christ. And a
good servant cannot but follow his Master. Moreover, the
Divine promises mnst be accomplished.

" In this country of Burmah are many strayed sheep. Teacher
Judson, pitying them, has come to gather them together, and to
feed them in love. Some will not listen, but run away. Some
do listen, and adhere to him ; and that our numbers may in-
crease, we meet together, and pray to the Proprietor of the

" Thus I, Moung Shwa-ba, a discijDle of teacher Judson, in
Eangoon, write and send this letter to the great teacher Bald-
win, who lives in Boston, America," — Missionary Records, vol.
ii. ch. vi.


spent in preparation for their work. It appears
that Burman females are not in the same degraded
state as those in Hindoostan, a very large propor-
tion of them being taught to read ; and, in Janu-
ary 1824, the missionaries opened a free school,
which contained nine boys and seven girls.

26. Early in the same month Mr and Mrs Jud- JJj/J^^
son set out for Ava, which they reached, February son^pro-'
19th, after a journey of six weeks. They found ^^d to
Dr Price as comfortable in his solitude as the fa-
vour of the king and attention of courtiers could
make him. He was superintending some mechani-
cal arrangements, which appeared highly accepta-
ble to the king. His majesty reposed entire con-
fidence in him, and admitted him near his person.
The building lot granted to the mission, was 245
cubits by 140 to 170. Here Dr Price had put up
a bamboo house, and was now erecting a more sub-
stantial habitation, having a royal order for as
many bricks as he might want. The house was
nearly completed, and the king seemed gratified
with its situation and appearance, and expressed
his desire that similar houses should be built on
the '' Golden River." He also promised similar
privileges to every American or English missionary
who should settle at Ava. Mr and Mrs Judson
met with a favourable reception at court. Mrs
Judson's appearance, indeed, excited great curi-
osity, and die received several tokens of his ma-
jesty's favour. Every thing seemed to promise
a successful commencement to the mission at Ava ;
and though under the dominion of a despotic
government, the missionaries felt no apprehension
for their personal safety. This bright prospect, f^^-i'^^f
however, was too soon overcast, and their lives against
were brought into imminent peril. lidia^^

27. For some time past the young king of Bur- Com-
mah had cherished the ambitious design of invad- rUones.^'




Arrival of
a British
Fleet at

ment and
of the Eu-

ing Bengal ; and with this intent he had collected
an army of thirty thousand men^ under the com-
mand of his successful general^ Maha Bandoola. It
was reported that he had provided the general with
a pair of golden fetters^ designed to be worn by the
Governor- General of India^ Marquis Hastings^ when
he should be led as a captive to the ^^ golden feet"
at Ava. The encroachments of the Burmese Go-
vernment on the Company's possessions had been
long a subject of complaint ; and after treating all
the pacific endeavours of the British to obtain re-
dress only with neglect, they at last made prepara-
tions for the invasion of Hindoostan.

28. The Bengal Government, however, resolved
to anticipate the blow, and so quick were they in
their movements, that the fleet conveying the
troops arrived at the mouth of the river soon after
the missionaries at Rangoon had heard that war
was declared against the Burmans. They had been
assured that all grievances were amicably settled ;
but on the lOtli of May 1824, information came
that a number of ships were at the mouth of the

29. The consternation into which the place was
thrown by this intelligence ma}' be easily imagined.
The English gentlemen at Rangoon^ together with
the missionaries, loaded with fetters, were imme-
diately thrown into prison. Most of the attendants
at the mission-house fled, leaving the missionaries'
wives, with only a few servants, and one of the
native converts, Moung Shwa-ba, who remained to
pray with and console them. In the morning, the
fleet was in sight of the town, and received a shot
from the Burmans. The English answered it with
two shots ; and in a few moments after they were
fired, most of the Burmans took what property
they could and fled. Each prisoner had an execu-
tioner placed over him, with orders to strike ofl* his


head when the first English gun was fired : but as
soon as the firing commenced they were so panic
struck^ tliat tliey all slunk into one corner of the
prison^ speechless^ and almost breathless. The
next shot made the prison tremble, and the in-
mates expected the Avhole roof to fall upon them.
The third fire made the l^eepers rush to the door.
Tlie prisoners used every efibrt to persuade them
to remain, but all to no purpose ; they broke open
the door and fled, not, however, without fastening
the door on the outside. In a few moments the
firing ceased, when the prisoners expected that the
troops were landing, and hoped to be soon released ;
but instead of tliis, about fifty Burmans rushed into
the prison, and drew them out for execution. They
were stripped of their upper garments, their naked
arms were drawn behind them, and corded as tight
as the strength of one man would permit, and in
this state they were almost literally carried through
the streets on the points of the guards' spears. In
this dreadful situation tlie missionaries' mves saw
their husbands-, from the window of a small hut to
which they had fled, and expected every moment
to be bound and treated in a similar manner.

Wlien they arrived at the seat of judgment they
were made to kneel, with their bodies bending for-
ward for the convenience of the executioner, who
was ordered that moment to behead them. None
of them understood the order but Mr Hough, who
requested the executioner to desist for a moment,
and petition the Yawoon (the chief magistrate) to
send him on board the frigate, and he promised to
use his influence to prevent any further firing upon
the town. The linguists seconded the proposal,
and pleaded that they might be reprieved for a
few moments.

The Yawoon answered, ^'If the English fire
again, there shall be no reprieve ;" and asked Mr


CHAP. Hough if he would positively promise to put an
^' immediate stop to the firings which had been dis-
continued from the time that the keepers had fled
from the prison. At this moment several shots
being sent very near them, 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 the prisoners
before them ; who were obliged to make their way
as fast as possible, for the madness and terror of
the attendants allowed of no pause. They were
soon overtaken by the government people, fleeing
upon horseback.

About a mile and a half from the town they
halted, and the prisoners were again placed before
the guards. Mr Hough and the linguists then re-
newed their petition. After a few moments' con-
versation his irons were taken off, and he was
sent on board the frigate, with the most awful
threatenings to himself and the rest if he did not

On Mr Hough's return from the. ships he could
find nothing of the ofiicers and prisoners ; for after
his departure they resumed their march, and the
prisoners were again put in confinement, where
they remained until released by the British troops
on the following day. The missionaries and their
wives soon met again at the mission house, where
they found everything almost as they had left it,
and united in grateful praises to the Lord for their
marvellous deliverance. They soon after embarked
for Bengal, finding that their stay at Rangoon
would be attended with continual danger, while
they would have no opportunity of carrying on
. ^ their missionary work during the war.
oftheMTs- 30. The missionaries at Ava, being suspected as
and others ^^'^^^> Were taken, with the other gentlemen there,

at Ava.


and their sufFerings cannot be better described
than in Mrs Judson's own words : ^ —

'^ On the 8th of June/' she says, ^^ just as we
were preparing for dinner, in rushed an officer,
holding a black book, with a dozen Burmans, ac-
companied 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 in-
quiry. Mr Judson presented himself. ' You are
called by the king,' said the officer, a form of
speech always ubed 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 till further orders. The scene was
now shocking beyond description. The whole neigh-
bourhood 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 Bengalese servants stood in amazement at the
indignities offered their master ; and the hardened
executioner, with a kind of 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 ; he spurned my offers, and imme-
diately departed. I gave the money, however, to
Moung Ing, to follow after, to make some further

^ In a narrative of the dreadful scenes she witnessed, ad-
dressed to Mr Judson's brother. A second narrative she ad-
dressed to Joseph Butterworth, Esq. This narrative may be
seen in the Missionary Register for November 1826, and in the
Missionary Herald for January and February 1 827. Both these
narratives are used in the account here drawn up, several incidents
being given in one which are not contained in the other.


CHAP, attempt to mitigate the torture of Mr Judson ;
^' but instead of succeeding^ when a few rods from
the house, the unfeeHng wretches again threw
their prisoner on the ground, and drew the cords
still tighter, so as almost to prevent respiration. I
was left guarded by ten men, who had received
strict orders to confine me close, and let no one go
in or out. I retired to my room, and attempted
to pour out my soul to Him, who, for our sakes,
was bound and led away to execution ; and even
in that dreadful moment I experienced a degree
of consolation hardly to be expected.

^' But this employment was of short duration.
The magistrate of that part of Ava in which we
lived was in the verandah, continually calling me
to come out, and submit to his examinations.

^^ The next morning, I sent Moung Ing to ascer-
tain Mr Judson' s situation, and to give him food,
if still living. He soon returned, with the intelli-
gence that Mr J. and all the white foreigners were
confined in the death prison, with ^ve pairs of iron
fetters each, and fastened to a long pole, to pre-
vent their moving ' They were so crowded with
Burman thieves and robbers, that they had not
sufficient room to lie down. There were at the
time near a hundred prisoners, all in one room,
without a window or hole for the admittance of
air, and the door half closed. I again applied to
the governor of the city to allow the missionaries
to be removed to their former place, or at least to
let them remain outside of the door during the
day. I offered him money^ and promised to re-
ward him handsomely when in my power ; but all
in vain. The old man shed tears at my distress,
but said that it was not in his power to comply
with my request, for his orders were from a high
quarter : he had even been commanded to execute
all the white prisoners in private ; and to keep


them in close confinement was as little as he
could do.

'' 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 en-
treated the magistrate to let me go to some mem-
ber of the 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. I afterwards ascer-
tained 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
w^as before me. I endeavoured to soften the feel-
ings of the guard by giving them tea and segars
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 con-
finement haunted my mind like a spectre, and
prevented my obtaining any quiet sleep, though
nature was almost exhausted."

On the third day Mrs Judson procured an order
from the governor for her admittance into the
prison; ''but," she remarks, '' the sensations pro-
duced by meeting your brother in that wretched,
horrid situation, and the affecting scene wdiich
ensued, I will not attempt to describe. Mr Judson
crawled to the door of the prison, for I was never
allowed to enter, and gave me some directions
relative to his release ; but before we could make

Online LibraryJames HoughThe history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) → online text (page 23 of 54)