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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Alert moved into a gale between the Bonin and
the Ladrone islands. At Port Louis, on Guam,
they reached on June 5, at 9.30 a. m., what was
then Spanish and now American territory, hop-
ing to get fresh food and fruit. A man having
the word pratico on his cap-band boarded
the ship. The captain of the port lived five
miles away. He did not come on board, and
Captain Barker, after waiting until 1.30 p. m.,
hoisted anchor and left the place, notwithstand-
ing his great disappointment that no fish, pro-
visions, or fruit could be obtained. These were
♦ See " Matthew Calbraith Perry," p. 420.

286 A Maker of the New Orient

the days of Spanish ownership, and twenty-three
years from the time when the Stars and Stripes
were hoisted over this fair island, about one hun-
dred miles in circumference.

The trade winds blew for several days and
until they reached the Mariana Islands, where
was a Spanish penal settlement with one thou-
sand convicts, rationed by the government, but
allowed to do as they pleased and what they
pleased, for there was no fear of their getting
away from the island. The population of nearly
five thousand was ruled by a governor, whose
name was Don Manuel Bravo. The mail
reached him every six months. A small and an-
tiquated fort in the southeast part of the harbor,
with a garrison of five soldiers and a corporal,
and with an armament of four small guns, was
flying the Spanish flag. They were two days
distant from Dampier's Strait and in north lati-
tude 124° and in east longitude 135° 38', on June
16, 1877, when Dr. Brown was sixty-seven years
old. As they celebrated his birthday, he re-
called that this was the way through which he
had passed on the way to China in 1838.

On June 17 they sighted the island, perhaps
we should say the continent, of New Guinea,
the scene of God's wonderful work through
Paton, Lawes, and Chalmers.* On June 19
they steamed slowly through the coral reefs, —

* See the biography of James Chalmers, New York,

A Voyage in Southern Seas 287

lovely to look at, but frightful to encounter, —
around the west end of King William Island,
and cast anchor at i p. m., opposite the small vil-
lage of Bessin, visited a few years before by Al-
fred Russell Wallace, author of " The Malay
Archipelago." Here he had remained about six
weeks, July to September, i860, collecting speci-
mens and securing data for his profound theo-
ries, which rank with Darwin's in constructive

Not a soul was to be seen in house or canoe
at Bessin, but only a yellow dog. The birds
were heard in the woods, but a general panic
had seized the natives and all had fled. None
appearing, anchor was hoisted on the 21st, and
at eight o'clock in the evening the Alert was
lying off Easter Island. On June 22, at Gebi
Island, three natives came off in a boat to the
ship to say that nineteen Englishmen were on a
small island near by. A Dutch man-of-war had
been around here recently. Perhaps there was
some trouble with the Dutch. Whatever the
causes of the alleged castaway, nothing further
is said in Dr. Brown's journal about the chief
object of their quest.

The delights of physical existence were fairly
ravishing in these eastern seas, and the veteran
missionary forgot all cares. At last they were
in the Spice Islands, the ancient magnet which
first drew the Europeans to the far eastern seas,
the Portuguese first, then the Dutch, then the

288 A Maker of the New Orient

English. Now all the living nations seem after
the prize of Insulinde. Will Germany get it?

They steamed into the harbor of Amboynia,
on the island of Ceram, finding the water very
deep. This is the richest spot on earth for
cloves, a half million pounds being here raised
every year. The Dutch clergyman, Rev. T. K.
Kam, finding that Dr. Brown was, like himself,
a genuine domine (not a dominie) of the Re-
formed Protestant Dutch Church, was delighted
to see him, and Mr. Van Aart invited him to
make his stay on shore with him during the four
days, or until the sailing of the Alert. As they
were to coal ship, Domine Brown was only too
glad to accept the hospitality. Ceram, with its
area of 264 square miles and a population of
thirty thousand souls, had a spicy reputation,
even before the Portuguese reached it in 15 12.
It was captured by the Dutch in 1605, and the
British settlement made in 161 5 was destroyed
by the Dutch in 1623. Taken by the British in
1796, the island was restored in 1802, retaken by
them in 1810, and restored again in 1814 — a
veritable shuttlecock of war and diplomacy.
Over the gateway of the fort Dr. Brown read
the appropriate inscription, ita relinquenda ut
recepta. He visited the church built in 1780,
copied some of the inscriptions on the tombs of
English officers buried there, and studied the
Dutch mausoleums under the carved and sculp-
tured tables. The church was full of tombs.

A Voyage In Southern Seas 289

Happily, in the Dutch homeland the Dutch
have ceased to make graveyards of edifices, and
in their newer houses of worship associate reli-
gion with life, rather than with death.

Domine Brown was happy to find in Domine
Kam a lover of music. The Netherlander
played on his organ fantasies and national airs,
which the American, in his journal, pronounced
very fine. The Dutch domine, born on the
island in 1833, was the son of " the apostle of
Amboyna " and had been here several years.
The official resident was named Van Deijnse.
Dr. Brown called on this dignitary with the
consul or governor and the port captain.
After a delightful stay. Dr. Brown left in the
Alert, July 3.

The Alert anchored at Ternate, July 5, steam-
ing out at sunset, bound for the Sulu group,
which Dr. Brown declared the most beautiful
yet seen on the cruise. They were leaving the
Dutch for the Spanish East Indies, little realiz-
ing that the Philippines would in a few years
be American possessions. Reaching Jolo on
the 9th, they found three Spanish gunboats
there, and on the nth cast anchor at Iloilo on
the island of Panay.

The next day Captain Barker and Dr. Brown
went ashore to return the call of the United
States consular agent, Mr. J. C. Tyler, Jr., of
Boston, who with his brothers was engaged in
the sugar trade. These exiles from home were

290 A Maker of the New Orient

very glad to meet their fellow-American at
tiffin, or noon meal, at Mr. Austin's. After
this they drove out into the country, visiting
three large villages. Each had a cathedral, be-
dizened with very tawdry ornaments on the altar,
but imposing in the eyes of the natives, whose
houses were very lightly built. The Chinese
element, chiefly industrial, was large in the
island. After seeing the extensive sugar planta-
tions, they called with the United States consul
on the governor of the province and captain of
the port. The former had been nineteen years
in the Philippines, and was ranked as lieutenant
colonel in the Spanish army. The captain of
the port belonged to the navy, with the rank of
a commodore in the United States Navy. The
latter was somewhat of a martinet. He had
recently fined the captains of foreign vessels in
the port because they had hauled down their
flags on account of the wind or rain, and then
did not put them up the next day, it being a
Roman Catholic feast day. Subsequently he re-
considered his action and remitted the fine. Un-
fortunately for his consistency, on the day of
the Alert's arrival, although it was a feast day,
there was no flag to be seen on the fort. A
messenger from the port captain visited the
Alert and was very inquisitive in asking the
exact number of guns, men, muskets and pistols,
the quantity of powder on board, etc. Did the
coming event of May i, 1898, cast its shadow

A Voyage in Southern Seas 291

before? On Mindanao Island Dr. Brown no-
ticed that the Augustinian friars had the best
land of that province for themselves.

On the later track of Dewey the Alert steamed
from Spanish into British Asia. Happy was Dr.
Brown to look upon the scenes of forty years

At Hong Kong the worn-out educator and
missionary was fairly ** carried to Paradise on
the stairways of surprise," by an unexpected
demonstration of " the gratitude of Orientals."
In its prodigal generosity it was beyond his
wildest dreams. When the Alert arrived at Vic-
toria, several of his former Chinese pupils in the
early forties, but now from forty-five to fifty-
three years old, hearing of Dr. Brown's feeble
health, boarded the Alert and brought him
ashore. Most of these men were in the govern-
ment service. Led by Dr. Wong, they fitted up
a house for his temporary occupation at Canton,
and provided him with every comfort and deli-
cacy that an invalid could desire, while he made
excursions and enjoyed sight-seeing.

At Hong Kong Dr. Brown visited the site of
his former home and found on Morrison Hill a
tree he had planted thirty-four years before. Its
trunk was five feet in diameter. Other trees,
like this one on the site of his old home, served
as marks of his own age. At Macao he found
his old house in ruins but he brought away a
tile as a memento.

292 A Maker of the New Orient

On his way to Shanghai a northeaster drove
the steamer into Amoy, where Dr. Brown met
four more of his former pupils, who were in the
Customhouse service. They gave their old
teacher a complimentary dinner and proposed
for him a pleasure trip to Chifu, Tientsin, and
Peking — the whole of which, by steamer, boat,
and sedan chair, at his pupils' expense, was hap-
pily accomplished. In the Chinese capital Dr.
Brown stayed eight days with Dr. W. A. P. Mar-
tin, the American missionary and trainer of Chi-
nese statesmen in the new China. At Shanghai
he found four more of his pupils. They pre-
sented him with a tablet of solid silver inscribed
with the most grateful sentiments. Everything
in China — lodging, steamer passage, and gifts
amounting in value to five hundred dollars in
gold — was provided by his grateful pupils.
Thus they tried to show him that " all they had
and were they owed to his early teaching and in-

The silver tablet expressive of the gratitude
of Dr. Brown's pupils to their beloved teacher
is a characteristic specimen of Chinese art, as
rich in suggestive symbolism as it is beautiful
to the eye. It has been, therefore, chosen as
a cover-stamp for this volume.

The thick slab of white precious metal is set
in a frame of very dark carved teak wood.
Four of the elect " old-seal " characters ex-
press, in the terse and fecund phrase for which

A Voyage in Southern Seas 293

Chinese is famous, both a sentiment and a
history. Literature above becomes art below,
and the feeHngs of grateful pupils are expressed
in a symbolism that appeals at once to Chinese,
and with right interpretation, to cosmopolitan

Freely translated by a native scholar, the in-
scription reads:

As the bountiful showers of
Spring induce rich vegetation,
So what is good in your pupils
Is due to your early instructions.

On the right of the four large characters is
the name of Dr. Brown, and on the left, in
Chinese modern script, are the names of the four

Just above the large inscription are the
dragons — symbols of intensest vital energy —
contending for the flaming jewel. Whether as
the moon governing tides and commerce and
thus productive of wealth, or as the symbol of
the soul and of mystery, the " sacred pearl "
represents the prizes of life. The same idea, as
of things most precious but attainable only
by strenuous exertion, is wrought out in the
carved teak-wood setting.

The artistic expression of the motto is carried
out in the chasing and carving of the silver
below. On lofty hills and among the clouds
sages and lovers of books are walking, serenely.

294 A Maker of the New Orient

One of them is pouring out a broad stream of
water, in the ever-widening waves of which
various beings, seated on mighty creatures of
the deep, are borne along, apparently in stren-
uous rivalry. All this symbolizes the broad
river of prosperity and success in life flowing
forth from wisdom, imparted long ago and
maintained by diligence and vigilant endeavor.

The reverse of the tablet shows, in the em-
blems of peace and calm, the quiet, as com-
pared with the strenuous life. The phenixes
in happy union, the full-blown peonies, the
well-rooted, graceful bamboo suggest happy
results after toilsome endeavor.

" Unto him that hath shall be given." Long
before this silver token and the manifest proofs
of 1877, he had beUeved in Chinese gratitude.
He was now confirmed in his faith.

The return to Japan was made without inci-
dent, but with manifest gain to the domine's
health. Although no castaways were found, it
is comforting to know that to civilization noth-
ing is foreign. Wherever the British or Ameri-
can flag floats, there will the lost be sought and
found. Japan, no longer a morose hermit, is
now in the brotherhood of nations, and her ships
also steam or sail in every sea, for rescue, as well
as for trade and defense.

Thrusting in the Sickel

Thrusting in the Sickle

4 T last, in 1878, the theological seminary in
ZA Dr. Brown's own house moved to
1 VTokio, and with other schools and stu-
dents, the latter as many as the letters of the
alphabet, and under the council of three united
missions, became the Meiji Gaku-in, or Hall of
Learning of the Era of Meiji. One-half of the
whole number of the young men, and these the
most advanced, came from the school in Dr.
Brown's house, which, since Dr. Brown had
come under the Bible Society in part for support,
was under the care of the two y^oung ladies. Miss
Hattie Brown and her cousin Miss Winn, Dr.
Brown continuing his instruction in Greek.
While he was absent on the voyage to the Malay
Archipelago, these thirteen students were wholly
under the young ladies' care. They passed a
wonderful examination in English, history, geol-
ogy, algebra, and geometry. " I have taught
more than forty-five years," wrote the doctor,
" and I assure you I never saw students do
themselves more credit than these Japanese did,
and all in a foreign tongue."

At the end of 1902, twenty-four years after


298 A Maker of the New Orient

this declaration, it is very clear that there is no
partiality or exaggeration in his judgment, fot
Dr. Brown's pupils are still among the most
scholarly pastors in Japan. They have stood
firm amid every wind and wave of doctrine, re-
sisted the corrosion of " nationalism," and, amid
the withering influence of fads of all sorts, are
standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ
made them free. They have illustrated the truth
that the passion for righteousness will take pos-
session of the Christian teacher's pupils in pro-
portion as his own scholarship is genuine and

Happily all the Christians of the Reformed
churches holding the Presbyterial form of gov-
ernment, of every name and from every country,
both native and foreign, had October i, 1872,
formed the United Church of Jesus Christ in
Japan, and with fourteen native churches in the
Chiu-kwai (Classis or Presbytery), were working
with zeal and harmony. There came a call for
a preacher to go to Annaka, Neesima's birth-
place, sixty-five miles from Tokio. The transla-
tion committee was at i Corinthians, chapter
15, and hoped in a year to complete the New
Testament. Dr. Brown foresaw that the new
theological school must soon run out, unless
preparatory schools were formed as feeders.
" Dry up the stream and the mill must stop.'*

Dr. Brown was one of the happy men who did
not die " before the sight " of the white harvest.

Thrusting in the Sickle 299

Indeed he saw some of " the full corn in the
ear," on the 3d of April, 1878, at the second
semi-annual meeting of the Classis, or Presby-
tery, in Tokio. It was held in the church of
which Rev. David Thompson was pastor. There
twelve elders answered to the roll, besides three
Japanese acting pastors, sixteen missionaries,
and four evangelists, or thirty-two in all. Dr.
Brown was elected president of this meeting.
The proceedings were in Japanese, but as de-
liberative assemblages were a novelty in Japan,
the terms for parliamentary forms and usages
had not as yet been definitely settled. Never-
theless here began that familiarity with the pro-
ceedings of serious deliberative bodies which
has given the Christians of Japan such dispro-
portionately large membership and influence in
the local assemblies and in the Imperial Diet.
The American missionaries have been one of the
most potent of forces in Japan in steadily build-
ing up representative institutions, and in educa-
ting the nation to constitutional government.

No fewer than thirteen young men appeared
to be examined and licensed to preach the gos-
pel. Six of these had been pupils in the mission
school held in Dr. Brown's house in Yokohama.
The examination occupied nearly the whole day,
before a large audience of Japanese deeply inter-
ested in listening to questions and answers. "To
the missionaries," wrote Dr. Brown, " it was a
scene such as had never been witnessed before

300 A Maker of the New Orient

in this country, and it elicited whispered expres-
sions of admiration and gratitude. . . What a
contrast to the condition of things in Yedo nine-
teen years before, when it was unsafe to walk in
the streets of the city even by daylight without
an armed guard, when it was a capital crime not
only to be a Christian, but even to harbor one,
and when words peculiar to the vocabulary of
Christians were banned under severe penalties."
Then there was not one Protestant believer or
preacher in the country. Now with the gospel
free, churches in operation, and thirteen well-
educated young men publicly offering them-
selves to be preachers of the good news of God,
how could the veteran toiler properly express his

He wrote:

" Words can poorly describe the wonder and
gratitude which filled my soul as I looked upon
this scene, for God had in his mercy permitted
me to be an observer of the great changes which
his hand has wrought here from the beginning
until now." Of thirteen churches, with a total
roll of 807 members, the mother church in
Yokohama had the largest, 186, and that at Na-
gasaki the smallest number, 13. The money
raised for religious purposes in one year was
$490. There had been 145 baptisms since Octo-
ber I, 1887. Dr. Brown noticed that there were
two or there singing meetings, which promised
much for the future. The gatherings lasted

Thrusting in the Sickle 301

three days and a half, and at the public meetings
native brethren made addresses. A committee
on praise was appointed to prepare a selection of
hymns and chants for the use of the churches.
A memorial from Rev. Henry Stout at Nagasaki
was read, calling on the Japanese to carry the
gospel to Korea. Dr. Brown heartily seconded
the idea. " The Japanese Church must be a
missionary church for its own sake, as well as
for the salvation " of the Koreans. A Japanese
merchant from Korea told of the state of affairs
in the peninsula and said that if he could " go
there again, he would gladly shoulder a tem-
bimho [a carrying pole used by coolies or ped-
dlers] and push his way into the Korean vil-
lages" to tell the people of Christ.

The lovely month of June, 1879, found Dr.
Brown in Tokio, the capital, for quiet and retire-
ment with Professor William A. Houghton and
his wife of New Haven. They were very kind
to him. *' As attentive to me," he wrote, *' as
if I had been their father. A Dutch doctor at-
tends my case and Dr. Simmons has me in hand
in Yokohama." The trouble was a painful one
of the bladder, and unfitted the translator for
work. He had been unable to be at church
since the 2d of last February, because unable
to sit still through a service. " It is an old
man's disease, and therefore the more difficult
to cure. On the i6th of this month I shall have
completed my sixtieth year. . . Now I feel that

302 A Maker of the New Orient

unless I have recourse from entire rest and
change of cHmate and scene, there is little or no
hope of renewing my health."

What should he do? Respond to the call of
his classmates and be home for the forty-eighth
anniversary of graduation from Yale College,
with a nearly completed translation of the New
Testament? Only the last two chapters of
Revelation remained to be done into Japanese.

What noble, what conquering patience!
Contrast the spirit and method of Dr. Brown
with that of the uncultured missionary con-
sumed with earth-born zeal, which he mistakes
for heavenly inspiration, and who refuses the
hard work necessary to learn the language or
literature of the people he expects to convert.
For thirteen years Robbins Brown toiled as in a
mine unseen, while all the time his spiritual
vision became clearer, his ideals deepened and
clarified, until there was a native church. For
twenty years he wrought to master the lan-
guage, until the New Testament was done into
Japanese. Now, with native preachers of the
good news of God, ready to distribute to their
countrymen the heavenly treasure of truth, he
saw of the travail of his soul and was satisfied,
ascribing all glory to God.

On June 26, 1879, two surgeons examined the
worn-out soldier of Christ and pointed out the
cause of his distress, deciding that perfect rest
and change of scene were needed, and perhaps

Thrusting in the Sickle 303

specialists in Philadelphia could help him. He
would go home by the Pacific mail steamer.
The veteran's work in Japan was done.

In his last days before leaving the country and
the people he loved, his nephew, Rev. T. C.
Winn, was much with him. As Dr. Brown
talked over his experiences he used to often say,
" If I had a hundred lives, I would give them all
for Japan." Such was his devotion to the land
and people to whom he had given his best days
and consecrated his ripest powers.

Last Home Coming

Last Home Coming

THE story of the sunny missionary is now
of a short walk on the westerly slope of
life. On first arrival on the home soil
he was restless and unsatisfied, until he had
seen Monson and knelt at his mother's grave.
We find him at Hartford, October i, 1879, and
during the winter at Orange, N. J. In the
spring he spent a night at New Haven with his
old friend, now professor of Chinese at Yale, Dr.
S. Wells Williams. In his haste to catch a
street car, he walked too fast, and suflfered bad
results next day. At the request of one of his
old Chinese pupils in Shanghai he went to Clin-
ton, Conn., to see his son, to give him some help-
ful advice. While at the station, talking to the
lad, he fell unconscious. He had to spend Sun-
day at Clinton, but recovered and came on to
Albany. Here he wrote June i, 1880, that he
had taken a house here for two years from the
1st of May, and had furnished it. His health
was feeble and it was hard to improve it. He
was unable to supply pulpits or do any work
requiring physical activity. " I am shelved at
present, perhaps permanently, but the Lord will


3o8 A Maker of the New Orient

provide, I doubt not, as he has done hitherto for
me and mine."

During January and February, 1880, the
teacher in three empires visited Washington,
D. C, as the guest of his friend Dr. Yung Wing,
now secretary of the Chinese Legation.

What a wonderful change had come over the
old Middle Kingdom! Whereas China for-
merly knew or cared neither for her own subjects
beyond her frontier, nor for foreign nations, she
now guarded her own people's rights, had lega-
tions and consulates, and no fewer than 120
Chinese lads were receiving education in the
United States. It seemed astounding that the
Peking government should do so liberal a thing
as to appropriate $1,500,000, erect a $50,000
house in Hartford, and at an expense of $100,000
a year send six score Chinese youth to America
to be educated in New England, but it was so.
It was Samuel Robbins Brown that first inspired
the Chinese youth to come to the United States
to receive an education, and it was he who first
brought three of them to his own home. In-
deed he did the same work in Japan.

It was Yung Wing, A. M., LL. D., graduate
of Yale College, however, who was the mediate
influence. He had been eminent in his class in
English composition, mathematics, and mental
philosophy. Under the elms of New Haven he
was tempted to stay in the United States, and
win money and position, but conscience and the

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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 13 of 14)