John William Kaye.

Lives of Indian officers : illustrative of the history of the civil and military service of India (Volume 1) online

. (page 37 of 51)
Online LibraryJohn William KayeLives of Indian officers : illustrative of the history of the civil and military service of India (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

unexpected providence, to enjoy these
interviews." Journals and Letters.
Edited by Wilberforce. Mr. Sargent's
biography is altogether cloudy upon
these points.


1805. is the only thing that damps my expectations. According
to some persons in the ship, the climate in the course of
a few years will render me incapable of active exertion.
My anxiety does not arise from the fear of an early grave,
for many good ends might be answered by such an event,
but from a dread lest my present excessive languor should
become listlessness and indolence in India. With the appre-
hension of these things in my mind, I would humbly and
earnestly request your prayers for me, and beg that you
would occasionally send me such plain admonitions on the
subject, that I may be in no danger of being deceived by the
bad example of others, or the fancied debility of my own
frame. My situation on board is as agreeable as it can be in
a ship. I see little reason to prefer my college room to my
cabin, except that the former stands still. My sickness,

however, has upon the whole been of service to me The

whole fleet is now under weigh. I therefore bid you adieu.
May God bless you, my dear sir, and all your family. This
is the sincere wish and earnest prayer of one who honours
and loves you in the Lord."

Another extract from this letter, which was finished on the
31st of August, is equally illustrative of Martyn's character,
and of the difficulties with which he had to contend : " Since
writing the above, a few days ago, the commodore has hauled
down his blue Peter, and it is now said that we are to be
detained until something certain shall be known about the
invasion and the combined fleets. The passengers are very
dissatisfied, and the captains much more so. It would be
proper to make Captain Muter some compensation, on my
arrival in India, for the expense occasioned to him by this
delay. He continues the same man on board as on shore. He
is not, however, a truly religious man. It would be very easy
for him to have service more than once on the Sunday, if he
had a love for the truth. However, the want of more frequent
opportunities of public instruction is supplied by my having
free access to the soldiers and sailors. The regimental sub-
alterns dislike my talking to the soldiers and giving them
books, and would prevent it if they could ; but the command-
ing officer begs me to continue my labours among them. So
I go on reading and explaining the ' Pilgrim's Progress '


every day to them on the orlop-deck. Those officers who 1805.
oppose the truth never speak to me on the subject, but reserve
their whole fire for Mackenzie, who, I rejoice to say, is always
the advocate of serious piety, and is more than a match for
them all. I was lately on board the Anne, to see Mr. Thomas.
He complained much of his situation, and expressed a deter-
mination of leaving the ship if possible. The captain will
never allow him to say grace at table, nor even to have service
on Sunday, if he can find the least excuse. A few Sundays
ago there was no service because the ship was painting. From
the tyrannical behaviour of the officers and men, Mr. Thomas
had no doubt there would be a mutiny, which has accordingly
happened. The mutineers, whose plan it was to murder the
officers, were on their trial when I was aboard the last time.
The boats to and from the shore do not pass near the William
Pitt, as she lies near the mouth of the harbour ; and on that
account, I am sorry to say, I have not seen Cecil, though I
watch for an opportunity every day. There is a Botany Bay
ship lying close to us, which I have visited. There are one
hundred and twenty women, and one clergyman, a convict
whom I could not see. My indignation was roused at what I
saw upon deck between the sailors and the women, and I
warned them of the consequence of their wickedness. The
men defended their conduct very coolly, and from what they
said I conclude that every man in the ship has his mistress.
The captain is, I find, a man of bad character. He has
promised, however, to dispense some Testaments among

The voyage to India tried the courage of Henry Martyn. The voyage to
He was on board a troop-ship ; and the troop-ship was what India-
troop-ships commonly were sixty years ago. To preach
Christ crucified to such a congregation was to bring down
much hatied and contempt upon himself to endure hardness
of every kind. He found it up-hill work ; but he toiled
upwards manfully, never turning or looking back. There
could scarcely have been a better apprenticeship to the busi-
ness of that most unpopular evangelical ministry to which he
was speeding across the ocean ; and, though probably at no
period of his life were his sufferings, bodily and mental,
* Unpublished correspondence.


18051806. greater than at this time,* there was a little solace for him in
the thought that he was not labouring wholly in vain. He
spoke to all classes of his fellow-passengers, freely and earnestly,
about the state of their souls and the great scheme of man's
redemption. To the officers of the ship and to the officers of
the regiment, to the young cadets, to the soldiers and the
sailors, he addressed himself as they sat or walked on the
deck. The seed often fell on hard, stony ground, but some-
times it was permitted to him to hope that it was striking
root and fructifying in good soil. The voyage was not a com-
mon-place one. Sickness of a bad type broke out on board.
The captain died. As they neared the Cape of Good Hope, it
became known that the troops would be landed for active ser-
vice. The Cape was to be wrested from the Dutch. The
Fifty-ninth had scarcely landed before a battle was fought.
Martyn was then on board, endeavouring to comfort the ladies.
He has himself related how " a most tremendous fire of artil-
lery began behind a mountain abreast of the ships. It seemed
as if the mountain itself was torn by intestine, convulsions.
The smoke arose from a lesser eminence on the right of the
hill, and, on the top of it, troops were seen marching down the
further declivity. Then came such a long-drawn fire of mus-
ketry, that I could not conceive anything like it. We all
shuddered at considering what a multitude of souls must be
passing into eternity. The poor ladies were in a dreadful con-
dition ; every peal seemed to go through their hearts. I have
just been endeavouring to do what I could to keep up their
spirits. The sound is now retiring, and the enemy are seen
retreating along the low ground on the right towards the
town."f A few hours afterwards he went on shore, to see

* He suffered greatly from sea-sick- whether it would be right, in the pre-

ness, which was probably rendered more sent weak state of my body, to omit the

than ordinarily painful and exhausting meal of dinner."

by frequent fasts. His board-ship f This was on the 8th* of January,

journals contain such entries as the fol- 1806, when the Cape fell to Baird and

lowing : " The flesh seemed very un- Popham. A detailed account of this

willing to submit to such self-denial, important event will be found in Theo-

especially as the bodily frame, from dore Hook's " Life of Sir David Baird."

weakness, seems scarcely able to support In Mr. Sargent's Memoirs, the very in-

it; however, I can but try. In my teresting letter describing Martyn's visit

walk on deck my flesh seemed again to to the field of battle is dated Table Bay,

shrink very much from fasting and January 7 ; but this would seem to be

prayer." " Had some thoughts of de- a clerical or typographical error for

voting this day to prayer and fasting, January 9.
but was undecided as to the latter,


what could be done among the wounded and the dying. " We 1806.
found several," he wrote in a letter to Mr. Simeon, "but
slightly hurt ; and these we left for a while, after seeing their
wounds dressed by a surgeon. A little onward were three
mortally wounded. One of them, on being asked where he
was struck, opened his shirt and showed a wound in his left
breast. The blood which he was spitting showed that he had
been shot through the lungs. As I spread my great-coat over
him, by the surgeon's desire I spoke of the blessed Gospel,

and besought him to look to Jesus Christ for salvation

Among several others, some wounded and some dead, was
Captain S., who had been shot by a rifleman. We all stopped
for a while to gaze in pensive silence on his pale body, and then
passed on to witness more proofs of the sin and misery of
fallen man." Leaving the battle-field, he went with the sur-
geon to some Dutch farm-houses in the neighbourhood, which
had been converted into temporary hospitals, and where, he
said, the wounded presented a more ghastly spectacle than he
could have conceived. " They were ranged without and
within the houses in rows, covered with gore. Indeed, it was
the blood, which they had not had time to wash off, that made
their appearance more dreadful than the reality, for few of
their wounds were mortal." After this, he again visited, with
the surgeon, the field of battle, and saw many of the wounded
enemy. Here, the surgeon having left him, he was mistaken
by a Highland soldier for a Frenchman, and narrowly escaped
being shot. " As I saw that he was rather intoxicated," wrote
Martyn, "and did not know but that he might actually fire
out of mere wantonness, I sprang up towards him and told
him, that if he doubted my word he might take me as a pri-
soner to the English camp, but that I certainly was an English
clergyman. This pacified him, and he behaved with great re-
spect." When evening began to close in, the young minister
returned to the shore, intending to regain his ship, but found
that she had left her moorings and was under weigh. " The
sea ran high," he said, " our men were almost spent, and I
was faint with hunger, but, after a long struggle, we reached
the Indiaman about midnight."

Soon after this, the Dutch having capitulated, and peace
being restored, Martyn went on shore and took lodgings in


1806. Cape Town. Like most other English visitors, he ascended
Table Mountain ; and he " thought of the Christian life, what
up-hill work it is." As he was resting on his way down, he
began to reflect with death-like despondency on his friendless
condition. " Not that I wanted," he said, " any of the com-
forts of life, but I wanted those kind friends, who loved me,
and in whose company I used to find such delight after my
fatigues." He made frequent visits to the hospitals at this
time, and generally preached on Sundays. In the second week
of February, he rejoined the vessel, which then continued its
voyage to India. On the 19th of April, they sighted Ceylon ;
and on the following Sunday Martyn preached his farewell
sermon on board. Many of his hearers ridiculed and reviled
him. " It pained me," he said, " that they should give a ridi-
culous turn to anything on so affecting an occasion as that of
parting for ever in this life. But such is the unthankful office
of a minister. Yet I desire to take the ridicule of men with
all meekness and charity, looking forward to another world
for approbation and reward." But India was now in sight,
and the long and painful voyage was nearly at an end.
Early history And here something may be said about the state of the
Church iif 18 Company's ecclesiastical establishment in India at the time
India, when the Reverend Henry Martyn, military chaplain, entered

the Bay of Bengal. There were then but few English clergy-
men and fewer churches in India. The Protestant faith had
done little to assert itself in the East. Not that the Company
had been unmindful, even from the first, of their obligations
to provide some sort of religious ministrations for their
servants, or that the King's Government had failed to make
such provision compulsory upon them. The Directors had
generally sent out chaplains on board their ships, and an Act
of Parliament had been passed decreeing that the Company
should "in every garrison and superior factory" constantly
maintain one minister, and should "provide or set apart a
decent and convenient place for divine service only," and that
u all such ministers as shall be sent to reside in India, shall
be obliged to learn, within one year after their arrival, the
Portuguese language, and shall apply themselves to learn the
native language of the country where they shall reside, the
better to enable them to instruct the Gentoos that shall be the


servants or slaves of the said Company or of their agents, in 1806.
the Protestant religion." But after a while a succession of
various obstructive circumstances, such as the rivalry of the
two Companies and occasional contentions with the native
powers, as well as the conviction that it was not the easiest
thing in the world for English clergymen, fresh from home,
to instruct the Gentoos in the Protestant religion, caused this
Act of Parliament to become little more than a dead letter.
The chaplains who went out to India did not remain there
very long, or perhaps they found that there was more profit-
able employment to be had than that of reading prayers to
their countrymen and converting the Gentoos* Much de-
pended at that time upon the personal characters of the chief
people of the settlements. At one time we read of the Pre-
sident, the Council, and the inferior servants of the Company
walking to church in orderly procession, and at others of there
being an almost total absence of religious observances at all
our settlements. It will be presumed that the general thrifty
system of the Company with respect to the pay of their
servants was not departed from in the case of their chaplains.
In the early part of the seventeenth century the pay of a
chaplain was WOL a year.

It was long a standing complaint against the Company,
that although they could find money to build forts, they could
not find money to build churches. But the charge was
scarcely a just one ; for they had not any greater predilection
for forts than for -churches, and the former were generally
constructed without their consent. When at last India wit-
nessed the spectacle of an Anglican church, it was to private
Hot to public beneficence that she was indebted for the gift.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Sir ' George
Oxenden had striven hard at Bombay to compass the erection
of a church ; but he died before the object was accomplished,
and it is stated that one of his successors in the Presidential
chair thought the money would be better employed if he
applied it to his own uses. So it happened that the first
Protestant church was erected, in the year 1681, not at
Bombay but at Madras, whither a Company's servant named
Streynsham Master, who had served under Oxenden in the
former settlement, was sent as chief of the factory. In 1715,


1806. a church was built by subscription in Calcutta. In 1737, the
steeple was destroyed in a great hurricane, and in 1756 the
entire building was demolished by Surajah Dowlah. The
settlers in Bengal were then without a church, until a member
of the Danish mission, named Kiernander, whom Lord Olive
invited to Calcutta, built what was long afterwards known as
the Mission Church. He had married a rich widow, and
devoted a portion of the wealth thus acquired to Protestant
Christianity. His prosperity, however, was short lived. He
fell into trouble. . The church, being private property, was
seized for debt, when Charles Grant stepped forward and
bought it. In the mean while, however, the first stone of
another church had been laid in 1784, when Warren Hastings
was Governor- General. It was completed in 1787, and is
said to have been " consecrated." This building, which was
known as the new church, and afterwards, in early episcopal
days, as St. John's Cathedral, was the property of Govern-
ment, whilst the old church remained in the hands of trustees.
There was not much church-going in the time of Warren
Hastings. During the administrations of Lord Cornwallis
and Sir John Shore there had been some improvement in this
respect, and Lord Wellesley ever recognised the importance
of an outward observance of respect for the religion of his
country. It was in his eyes a matter of policy, as an antidote
to the poison of the French Revolution. Mr. Buchanan, at
the beginning of the century, wrote that " it became fashion-
able to say that religion was a very proper thing, that no
civilised state could subsist without it, and it was reckoned
much the same thing to praise the French as to praise in-
fidelity." " The awful history of the French Revolution,"
wrote the Reverend David Brown, from Calcutta, in 1805,
" prepared the minds of our countrymen to support the prin-
ciples of religion and loyalty which our late Govern or- General
(Lord Wellesley) considered it his most sacred duty to uphold ;
he resolved, to use his own words, to make it be seen that the
Christian religion was the religion of the State, and, there-
fore, at different times, he appeared in his place as chief re-
presentative of the British nation, attended to church by all
the officers of Government, to give the Christian religion the
most marked respect of the Governor of the country." But


it was not all statecraft in Lord Wellesley. Mr. Brown 1806.
believed that he promoted and encouraged religion on its own
account. "We lose in Marquis Wellesley," he wrote in a
letter to Mr. Grant, now before me, " the friend of religion
and the bulwark of the public morals. I have turned over
with him the holy Scriptures, and I shall ever believe that

' the tear

Which dropped upon his Bible was sincere.'

He has countenanced and encouraged faithful preaching,
treated with kindness and favour those devoted men, Carey
and his brethren, and has done much in every way for the
truth, and nothing against it. Having been Lord Wellesley's
almoner for seven years past, I can speak of his diffusive bene-
volence I have just presented him with Bishop Home

on the Psalms, to be his companion on the voyage, believing it
to be a work in all respects exactly suited to his Lordship's re-
ligious views, genius, and taste."*

No man had done more to uphold the character of the
English Church in India than the writer of this letter ; and,
in truth, it needed such support, for it had been little honoured
in the persons of its representatives in the Eastern world. The
chaplains who had been sent out in the latter part of the
eighteenth century were, with a few exceptions, men who, if
they not disgrace their religion by their immorality, de-
graded it by the worldliness of their lives. The prevailing
taint of cupidity was upon them as upon their brother settlers,
and they grew rich like the rest. It is not uncharitable to
surmise that men who, after a few years of ecclesiastical ser-
vice in India, carried home with them considerable fortunes,
did not derive their wealth from the legitimate gains of the
ministry. It has been stated, on credible authority, that one
chaplain, Mr. Blanshard, after a service of little more than
twenty years, carried home a fortune of 50,000/. ; that another,
Mr. Johnson, after thirteen years' service, took with him from
Calcutta 35,000/. ; and that a third, Mr. Owen, at the end of
ten years, had amassed 25,000?. At a later period, they were
less successful in money-making, but scarcely more profitable
as members of the Church and ministers of the Gospel. " Our

* Manuscript correspondence.


1806. clergy, with some exceptions," wrote Sir John Shore In 1795,
" are not very respectable characters. Their situation, indeed,
is arduous, considering the general relaxation of morals, and
from which a black coat is no security." At a later period
not long before the epoch at which I have arrived in the career
of Henry Martyn Mr. Brown concluded a letter to a corre-
spondent in England with the words, " I might finish with
giving you some account of our wicked chaplains. Out of
nine (the full complement), four are grossly immoral cha-
racters, and two more have neither religion nor learning. "*
Between these men and the two devoted ministers, who main-
tained alike by their lives and their doctrines the sanctity of
the English Church, there was an indecorous feud, patent to
the whole settlement. u The doctrine of the Cross," wrote
Mr. Brown, in August, 1805, "has of late years -given offence
to many who formerly sat under the same ministry. Mr.
Limrick tried for a long time to side with evangelical prin-
ciples, but by conforming to the world he lost his good im-
pressions, and, encouraged by the virulent declamations de-
livered from the pulpit by Dr. Stacy and Mr. Shepherd, came
forward at last to oppose publicly the doctrines of Grace. This
induced Mr. Buchanan to preach a set of discourses on the
Doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, which was
attended with good effect, "f But all this increased the bitter-
ness of the majority, and, so worsted in their argumentative
strife, they endeavoured to get rid at least of one of their
opponents by denying his clerical authority, and threatening
to prosecute him for the performance of ecclesiastical duties to
which he had not been, ordained. Mr. Brown was only a
deacon of the English Church, and his enemies affected to
believe that he had not received episcopal ordination at all.
One of their number, therefore, wrote to him demanding a sight
of his "letters of orders," and another told him that " a pro-
cess of law was about to be commenced against him, which,
in the first instance, would subject him to legal penalties, and
ultimately to degradation, and concluded by assuring him that
if he would but immediately resign, he was authorised to say
that the business would be dropped." Mr. Brown laid the
matter at once before Lord Wellesley, who sent, through his

* Manuscript correspondence. "j" Ibid.


private secretary, a kind and encouraging letter to the faithful 1806.
minister, and commended his determination to treat such
threats with contemptuous silence.

Such was the state of the Company's ecclesiastical esta- Martyn in
blishment in Bengal when Henry Martyn arrived at Calcutta.
Lord Wellesley had left India ; Lord Cornwallis was dead ;
Lord Lauderdale 'was expected; and Sir George Barlow, a
Company's civilian of high character, was invested with the
powers of the Governor-General. The mutations of the tem-
poral Government were not a matter of much concern to Mr.
Martyn, any further than that one ruler might be better dis-
posed than another to give a permissive sanction to missionary
efforts, and to afford an example in his own person of piety
and godly living and respect for the ordinances of religion. As
for himself, he had gone out to India to be a chaplain on the
Company's establishment, for the performance of the duties
of which office he was to receive a thousand a year. He had
nothing of the missionary about him except the true mis-
sionary spirit. He was not his own master; he could not
choose the place of his ministrations ; he was under the orders
of the Commander-in- Chief ; and was answerable for all his
acts to the temporal authorities, as much as if he had been a
lieutenant or an assistant-surgeon. There was much, doubt- 1
less, in this irksome to a man of his eager and enthusiastic '
nature. The chains must have pressed heavily upon one who
had set David Brainerd before him as his great exemplar,
and who had longed to go forth and do likewise. But the
position had its compensations too ; and chief among them
was this : that there had been no greater obstacle to the dif-
fusion of Christianity among the heathens than the ungodly
lives which were commonly led by professing Christians. It
was no small thing, then, to be allowed to convert his own
countrymen. He had gone out to preach, not to the black
man, but to the white ; and he saw plainly that if he could
but touch the hearts and reform the lives of the English
settlers, he would make a grand first step towards the pro-
pagation of the Gospel in the East. On board the Union he
had had some practice in this good work ; he knew how pain-


1806. ftd it was, but he was prepared to endure hardness, and he
would not shrink from an encounter with scoffers, let them

Online LibraryJohn William KayeLives of Indian officers : illustrative of the history of the civil and military service of India (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 51)