William Elliot Griffis.

A maker of the new Orient : Samuel Robbins Brown, pioneer educator in China, America, and Japan : the story of his life and work online

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D. D., L. H. D.

The Mikado's Empire.

Japanese Fairy World.

Corea, the Hermit Nation.

Japan : In History, Folk-lore, and Art.

The Lily among Thorns.

The Religions of Japan.

Matthew Calbraith Perry.

Brave Little Holland.

Townsend Harris.

The Pilgrims in their Three Homes.

The Romance of Discovery.

The Romance of American Colonization.

The Romance of Conquest.

The Pathfinders of the Revolution.

In the Mikado's Service.

The Students' Motley.

The American in Holland.

America in the East.

Verbeck of Japan.

, » * » o

» • «


A Maker of the New


Samuel Robbins Brown

Pioneer Educator in China, America, and
Japan. The Story of his Life and Work



Author of " Verbeck of Japan,'' ''The Mikado's Empire,'*
and ''Brave Little Holland''

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which
a woman, took and hid in three measures of meal.


If I had a hundred lives, I would give them all for

— S. R. Brown.

* ' J J i •>

New York Chicago Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company

London and Edinburgh


Copyright, 1902,


» •


WITH A "banzai"






For we cannot tarry here;
We must march, my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful, sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,

Pioneers ! O Pioneers.

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond

the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson.
Pioneers! O Pioneers!

—The Pioneer— V^ oXt Whitman.


There is a new Orient, and the chief instru-
ments in its making have been the EngHsh-
speaking peoples. A century ago that part of
the world ruled by Chinese ideas cared nothing
for human beings, even for its own people, be-
yond the border. Now the once hermit nations
have entered humanity's brotherhood. China
has all the living nations of Europe for her
neighbors. Korea has been reborn. Japan is a
world-power. The changes within, wrought by
the leaven from Christendom, are even more
wonderful than those phenomenal and external.

In this twentieth century we can see in clear
perspective how the transformation has been
wrought. TTiere were many agencies and influ-
ences stimulating evolution, but none were more
potent than the personality and work of the
American missionaries in China, Japan, and

To tell the story of the life and work of one of
the makers of the New Orient, who in China
initiated Protestant Christian education and
started the first Chinese students to study
abroad, who in America was pioneer in the for-
mation of the first chartered woman's college,


f t

8 Preface

and who, as accomplished scholar, taught the
Japanese during nearly twenty years, translated
the New Testament, began the training of a
native ministry, and whose works follow long
after he has rested from his labors, is the aim of
this work.

In its preparation I have had Dr. Brown's
letters to his parents and friends and to the
Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed
Church in America, notebooks and journals,
besides assistance from so many friends, Chinese,
Japanese, American, and British, that I trust that
they will pardon me for not mentioning their
names and receive this general acknowledgment
of thanks, which I make most gratefully and
heartily. Four years of close personal acquaint-
ance in Japan, while I was engaged in the edu-
cational service of the Mikado's government, and
nearly eighteen of fellowship in the Reformed
Church in America, besides visitations to most
of the places he dwelt in, have enabled me to
give to the background some firmness of touch
and warmth of coloring, I trust, while allowing

the chief actor to speak for himself.

W. E. G.

Ithaca, N. Y.
August, 1902.



I. A Missionary Mother, .... 15

II. In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood, . . 25

III. School-Teaching — Grit and Grace, . 35

IV. North and South — Elms and Violets, . 45

V. Trade and the Gospel-— A Call to

China, 57

VI. Pioneer Educator in the Middle

Kingdom, 69

VII. Under the British Flag, ... 85

VIII. Professor Brown at Rome Academy, . 108

IX. The Dutch Domine at Owasco Lake, 117

X. A Pioneer in Woman's Higher Edu-
cation, 127

XI. Ho FOR Japan! 137

XII. Life IN A Buddhist Temple at Kanagawa, 147

XIII. All Things to All Men, . , . 161

XIV. Amid Wars and Rumors of War, . 171
XV. Life and Work at Yokohama, . . 185

XVI. The Old Order Changing, . . , 201

XVII. In the United States Again, . . 213

XVIII. Overland to Niigata, . . . .221





XIX. The Era of Enlightened Civilization, 235
XX. A Spiritual Engineer, .... 249

XXI. Training a Native Ministry,

XXII. A Voyage in Southern Seas,

XXIII. Thrusting in the Sickel,

XXIV. Last Home Coming,
XXV. Falling on Sleep,


List of Illustrations

Samuel Robbins Brown,

Scenes of Dr. Brown's Boyhood,

The Brown Cottage at Monson,

Chinese Shops at Canton,

The Reformed Church at Owasco Outlet

Verbeck, Brown, and Simons in 1859,

Dr. Brown's Temple Home, . •

A View of Yokohama in 1872,

Dr. Brown and His Pupils at Yokohama,

Union Church, Yokohama, .

The Rev. O Kuno Masatsuna,

At Rest in God's Acre,

Facing title




A Missionary Mother




A Missionary Mother

BORN on that May day in 1783, when the
news of the ratification of peace between
Great Britain and the United States of
America was received, Phoebe Allen Hinsdale
was playfully named " The Olive Branch." In
the Providence of God, she was to become one
of the first and best of early American hymn-
writers and the mother of Samuel Robbins

Descended in the maternal line from ances-
tors in the Pilgrim church that had crossed the
Atlantic on the Mayflower, her father, George
Hinsdale, also of English stock, settled at Har-
rington, Conn.

Early left an orphan, Phoebe's career was a
very varied one, of poverty, suffering, and even,
for a time, cruel treatment at the hands of stran-
gers. In her old age she wrote her biography,
well worthy of print, which showed that she was
not only a reader of solid literature, but also a

« » r

ji-d' > • A Maker of the New Orient

poet and a thinker. She was married at Ca-
naan, N. Y., June, 1805, to Mr. Timothy Brown,
the son of a Revolutionary veteran, who had
served under Washington and known the hor-
rors of Valley Forge. The newly wedded
couple removed to East Windsor, Conn., where
on the i6th of June, 18 10, the future missionary,
Samuel Robbins Brown, was born, and in which
his babyhood and the first three years of his life
were spent, and where his white-haired old
grandfather, whom he dimly remembered, died.
Yet his mother, even though busy with young
children in a household not noted for wealth,
had already begun hiding her leaven. At this
time Central New York was being settled by
streams of immigrants from Connecticut, New
Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Busy with cutting
down the forests, breaking up the virgin soil,
building log cabins, and laying out roads, these
newcomers needed aid for the life of the soul.
Poor as she was, one of Mrs. Brown's greatest
pleasures was in giving, finding therein the
promised blessing. Out of her poverty went
small sums of money to the missionary society
in Hartford, which sent books and preachers to
the new settlements in the central and western
parts of the Empire State. She kept up her
studies in the Bible and even wrote a little com-
mentary on the Song of Songs. Her husband
was not yet a member of the church. As her
children were born, she had them baptized.

A Missionary Mother 17

After she had looked upon the face of her first-
born son, the future missionary, she wrote in her
journal, " Sickness prevents me from carrying
my Samuel to the house of God, but he was as
fervently and sacredly devoted to God in the
ordinance of private baptism."

Heartily interested in making real her daily
petition, " Thy kingdom come," Mrs. Brown be-
sought God for years that organized missionary
effort should be put forth in foreign lands by her
own American people. She kept herself well in-
formed by reading. A prayer meeting held in
1806, by students in Williams College under the
shelter of a haystack, grew into the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Samuel R. Brown was thirteen days old when
the American Board was formed. When Mrs.
Brown heard the news, she took her baby boy
in her arms and in a thrill of rapture dedicated
him to God to bear his good news of love to dis-
tant lands.

Mrs. Brown had to suffer penalties. A living
woman praying, talking, working, giving for
foreign missions was too far above the average
villager and called forth many a sneer, but she
hid her leaven with true faith in God. In her
case it was true that *' seeing that which is in-
visible does not blind the eyes to duty near at
hand." She was found faithful in all her duties
as wife and mother, besides having public and
even cosmopolitan spirit.

1 8 A Maker of the New Orient

In his bright and sunny childhood, at East
Windsor, Robbins, as we shall call him, grew up
under the ministry of the Rev. Shuabel Bartlett,
for fifty years the devoted pastor of the Congre-
gational Church in the village. It was his
daughter Elizabeth, born July i6, 1813, three
years and one month after Robbins Brown, who
afterwards became his wife and helpmate. The
old manse still stands, in possession of a distant
descendant of the parson.

As the boy's eyes were not strong, he learned
his letters with spectacles on, yet by wise use of
his eyesight and of the day for work, these win-
dows of the soul were undimmed throughout
life until finally closed forever.

To secure more permanent employment, the
father with his family removed November i,
1813, to Ellington, Conn., six miles distant,
where the mother united at once with the Con-
gregational Church.

During their stay of five years in this place,
two other children, daughters, were born. Here
also the father, Mr. Timothy Brown, confessed
his faith in Christ and united with the church on
the day in 1814 that his daughter Mary was pub-
licly dedicated to God — a. day of joyful thanks-

It was at Ellington that Mrs. Brown wrote the
familiar lines,

** I love to steal a while away.
From every cumbering care,'*

Home of Mr. and Mrs. Brown
East Windsor, Conn.

Congregational Church,
East Windsor, Conn.

Th.e Old Brown Homestead,
East Windsor. Conn.

Ellington Road, where Mrs. Brown wrote
" I love to steal awhile away."


A Missionary Mother 19

which, for nearly a century, have been sung to
the tune " Monson," that her son himself com-
posed, the other tune, ** Brown," being written
by WilHam B. Bradbury and named in her
honor. In the original draft, the second line

•* From little ones and care,'*

and the future missionary was one of these
" little ones." *

One quotation, often used by the mother,
which greatly influenced the life of her son was

" Never do good with the expectation of being
rewarded by gratitude; gratitude is an exotic
plant, cultivated in the greenhouse of a holy
heart, but seldom found in the cold wild soil of
the world around you. Do good for its own
sake and you shall not lose your reward."
Nevertheless Samuel Brown was, in a sense, the
discoverer of a grace the very existence of which
had been doubted by many — " gratitude in

For the first three years of Mr. Brown's resi-
dence in Ellington business was very brisk, but
during the last two building seems to have sus-
pended. With a large family to support, includ-
ing his mother and sister, there was some diffi-

*For other hymns composed by Mrs. Brown, see
Julian's "Dictionary of Hymnology" and Duffield's
"English Hymns."

20 A Maker of the New Orient

culty in obtaining sufficient revenue, so in 1818
it was decided to remove to Monson, a town
among the hills on the southern edge of central
Massachusetts in Hampden County. The great
attraction, perhaps even greater than the hope
of obtaining remunerative employment, was the
Academy, which at this time already enjoyed a
noble reputation.

We have noted hereditary forces and the ener-
gies latent in his environment which were sure
to compel young Robbins, then eight years old,
into future orbits of usefulness. Let us now
glance at his future fields of labor, then hidden
from him. At this time Japan was a sealed
island empire, with only a breathing hole at
Nagasaki, where a few Hollanders lived and
traded; a single ship bringing once a year news
of the outer world. The continental empire of
China was almost the same sort of a political
hermit, with only one open port, Canton, and
Macao in Portuguese possession. 'Both coun-
tries, with Korea, ignored all humanity be-
yond their own frontiers, and refused to recog-
nize even their own people who left their shores.
In America a great wall of tradition isolated
women from learning. Not their feet, but their
brains, were bound, nor had anyone dreamed of
a college in which the lore of the ages should
be freely opened to them.

Meanwhile the mother and father looked to
see whence help should come. Their hope and

A Missionary Mother 21

aspirations were for the education of their chil-
dren. In Monson, in the neighboring State, was
an academy, presided over by a master of abiHty,
in which a boy could be prepared for college.
This was the magnet. So hither in 1818 Tim-
othy Brown, in faith and hope, with his wife and
little ones came.

In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood


In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood

FOR the place of the developing boyhood of
Samuel Robbins Brown, one must look at
one of those hill towns in New England,
whence are the fountains of streams that have
fertilized the world. On the map of Massachu-
setts, east of the Connecticut Valley, not far from
the southern boundary line of the two States, be-
tween Springfield and Southbridge and below
the railway that traverses the whole State, we
read the name Monson. Longmeadow, Aga-
wam, Wilbraham, and other places which are
classic in American history and literature lie not
far away. The region of lakes and ponds lies
to the east.

Monson is in Hampden County, among the
hills and above the valley through which flows
the Chicopee river. It is four miles south of
Palmer, and fifteen miles east of Springfield,
whence we ride on the New London Northern
Railroad. It consists chiefly of one long street
on the hillside, with mills and various industries
at the southern end. In the center stands the
Academy, whose students were so long animated


26 A Maker of the New Orient

with a zeal for missions, and the original magnet
which drew the Browns out of Connecticut into

The neat and attractive Congregational
edifice, with its heaven-pointing spire, is a nota-
ble " finger of God." It stands with plenty of
room around it, where grass may be green and
flowers show masses of color, while hard by
is the commodious parsonage. The excellent
Sunday School was organized May 5, 18 19, soon
after the Browns made their home in Monson,
and the primary or infant department was
founded by Mrs. Brown herself. Northward,
at the end of the village, one comes to a modest-
looking cottage, in front and around which
generations of flowers have bloomed, vines have
trailed, and great trees have grown. Here may
we look upon one of the first American centers
of prayer for Asia.

Across the road is the place of the beginning
of Chinese education in America. The build-
ing is somewhat altered from its first form, while
yet substantially the same. Here lived the first
Chinese lads brought to this country for Chris-
tion education by S. R. Brown.

Within the grounds, a little to the southeast,
stands the carpentry and paint shop in which
Mr. Timothy Brown, the father, worked. To
the north is a stream of water flowing in a little
gorge. Crossing this, over a stone bridge, we
reach the last home where abides the dust of

1 ) 1

In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood 27

father and mother, of the missionary son and his
devoted companion, and the ashes of their son
Robert. It is an encampment with many a
" low green tent, whose curtain never outward
swings." Not far away, indeed but a few feet to
the eastward, are the graves and monuments of
two Japanese lads. To Monson, with New
Brunswick, N. J., belongs the honor of being one
of the places of the beginning of Japanese edu-
cation in America.

Frontward of the cottage is the hill crest
which makes sunset a little earlier for those who
dwell under its shadow. In the good old days,
when Christians '' kept Saturday night," ** the
Sabbath " was very bright and cheerful to those
who loved the Lord's Day. The children of the
Brown family laid aside all labor and boisterous
amusements, just as soon as the golden disk was
lost to sight behind the hilltops. On Sunday
afternoons, they waited with decorum and rev-
erence, until old Sol had again " pillowed his
chin " on the western waves of granite and said
his " warm good-night." Then the day of rest
was over, joyful sports at once began, and mer-
riment was the order of the evening.

There seems to be nothing more sensible than
this Puritan Sabbath. Seen from within, it stands
in happy contrast to the abominable modern
waste of force on Saturday night at the theater,
the dance, the card party, the working on the
fashionable dress or hat until midnight, for the

28 A Maker of the New Orient

parade to church next day when the worshiper
arrives ill fitted for devotion. Solidly sensible,
and decidedly more aesthetic, was the idea of a
rest day lying between sunset and sunset.
There was less robbing of God in those days
than in some modern methods of cheating the

In the larger Sunday School of 1824, when
Robbins Brown was fourteen, the work of the
pupils at home consisted to a considerable ex-
tent of " memorizing Scripture, sacred songs,
and the catechism." In five months of that sum-
mer, among 146 pupils in seven classes, the
record shows that the two highest names on the
roll were Alfred Ely, Jr., and Samuel R. Brown.
The first recited 751, and the second 750 verses
of Scripture. Out of the Sunday School went at
least seven missionaries — to the Cherokee In-
dians, to the freedmen in Georgia, to India,
Hawaii, Persia, Korea, China, and Japan. Be-
sides S. R. Brown, his school- and play-mate,
James Lyman Merrick, three years younger than
he, after a notable record of life work in Persia,
returned to Monson to sleep with his fathers in
the village God's acre.

The Rev. Simeon Colton was for many years
(1806- 1 807 and 182 1 -1830) the able and inspir-
ing principal of Monson Academy, but young
Rollins, when first set to the study of Latin, at
the age of nine, had not yet come under the mas-
ter's personal instruction. He was ordered at

In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood 29

once, as it were, to butt his infant noddle at the
language of Caesar and Cicero, as against a
dead wall without any meaning. Hear him tell
the story:

" I was set to the study of Adams' Latin
Grammar under a private tutor who boarded in
my father's family and was a teacher in the
academy, but as he gave me no hint as to what
Latin or Latin Grammar was, nor explained
any of its technical terms, I remember well the
day I attempted to learn the first lesson assigned
me; that after having read the page that con-
tained the declension of penna, with the English
equivalent set opposite to the cases, I closed the
book in perfect wonder at what it all meant.
Not many months afterwards I was sent to the
academy . . . and I verily believe that for two
or three years I thought Latin was simply a
puzzle made for schoolboys."

Again he wrote in 1879:

" I was given a copy of Adams' Latin Gram-
mar, with instructions to learn the first page. I
shall never forget the wonders excited in my
mind, when I took the book, and going across
the street from my father's house, seated myself
in the shade of a poplar tree, and opened the
volume to read the first lesson. I as yet knew
not the meaning of the word ' grammar,' and
less still of the expression ' Latin Grammar.'
When I had read the declension of penna, with
its English equivalents, ' a pen, of a pen, to a

30 A Maker of the New Orient

pen, O pen, with a pen,^ I closed the book and
thought * What does all this mean? Why has
my tutor given me this to learn?' As no one
then, nor afterwards explained the terms, gram-
mar, parts of speech, declension, etc., and I was
but eight years old at the time, I think that my
conviction for about two or three years was that
Latin Grammar was just a puzzle made for
schoolboys. Had someone informed me that
Latin was a language once spoken by a great
nation, it would have relieved me from great
perplexity and made the acquisition of Latin
more rapid and pleasant than it could be while
I was left to flounder on amid these mysteries,
until time and my unaided cogitations at length
furnished me a clew to their unraveling. I men-
tion this fact merely to show what change has
come over the methods of instruction in schools
since the days of my boyhood."

That terrible experience of being set to study
Latin in true Chinese fashion, without the
slightest idea as to what Latin was, made him,
when he had entered into the spirit of the lan-
guage and of Roman history a sympathetic,
kindly, helpful, and masterful teacher.

While father Brown as carpenter, cabinet-
maker, painter, paper-hanger, and glazier pro-
vided for his family, young Samuel spent his
summers in helping his parents, attending the
Academy during the winter months. He was
not ashamed to work. Indeed he wondered that

In Monson — A Yankee Boyhood 31

so many sons of persons in the village, whose
parents were wealthy, should content themselves
with being merchants or storekeepers, without
any higher ambitions. He had no desire to fol-
low their example. Thus at the age of seven-
teen, after four years* instruction in the
Academy, his boyhood over and looking forward
to manhood, he found himself fitted for college
according to the standards of the day. What
were his ideals of life at this time? Let himself

" My parents did not suggest to me the course
I preferred (from my early childhood I had had
one chosen line of life before me, namely, to get
a liberal education, to study for the sacred min-
istry, and then to be a missionary to some
heathen people), nor asked me what I proposed
to do with my education if I should ever be able
to attain it, though their character and example
as devoted Christians, whose efforts to do good
were not confined to their family or neighbor-
hood, but extended to the remotest parts of the
earth, before the first foreign missionary society
existed in this country, doubtless had much to
do in shaping my course in life."

School-Teaching — Grit and Grace


School-Teaching — Grit and Grace

HAVING to earn his own way through
the world, Robbins first tried his hand at
a small district school, in the town of
Brimfield, Mass. Here " in his noisy mansion
skilled to rule," he persevered with the goal
ever in view. During twelve weeks he was paid
at the rate of nine dollars per month, with board
from house to house in the district. While he
taught " the three R's," he was fed largely on
the three P's — potatoes, pork, and pie. He
brought home as his earnings twenty-seven dol-
lars, which he handed over to his delighted
father, whose exchequer and faith in his boy
were alike enlarged.

After another winter of work with his father,
he went the following summer to West Spring-
field, Mass. Here he opened a select school and
taught three months. At the end he took home
his net earnings, thirty-six dollars, giving them
all to his father for the family support.

He now opened his heart to his parent and
told him of his wish to enter college. He had
been already fitted for two or three years, and

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Online LibraryWilliam Elliot GriffisA maker of the new Orient : Samuel Robbins Brown, pioneer educator in China, America, and Japan : the story of his life and work → online text (page 1 of 14)