CHAPTER VII -- CALCUTTA AND THE MISSION CENTRES FROM DELHI TO AMBOYNA, 1802-1817
And soon, by the same historic irony which has marked so many of the greatest reforms--"He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh"--the Government of India became, though unwittingly, more of a missionary agency than the Baptist Society itself. The only teacher of Bengal who could be found for Lord Wellesley's new College of Fort William was William Carey. The appointment, made and accepted without the slightest prejudice to his aggressive spiritual designs and work, at once opened Calcutta itself for the first time to the English proselytising of natives, and supplied Carey with the only means yet lacking for the translation of the Scriptures into all the languages of the farther East. In spite of its own selfish fears the Company became a principal partner in the Christianisation of India and China.
From the middle of the year 1801 and for the next thirty years Carey spent as much of his time in the metropolis as in Serampore. He was generally rowed down the eighteen miles of the winding river to Calcutta at sunset on Monday evening and returned on Friday night every week, working always by the way. At first he personally influenced the Bengali traders and youths who knew English, and he read with many such the English Bible. His chaplain friends, Brown and Buchanan, with the catholicity born of their presbyterian and evangelical training, shared his sympathy with the hundreds of poor mixed Christians for whom St. John's and even the Mission Church made no provision, and encouraged him to care for them. In 1802 he began a weekly meeting for prayer and conversation in the house of Mr. Rolt, and another for a more ignorant class in the house of a Portuguese Christian.
By 1803 he was able to write to Fuller: "We have opened a place of worship in Calcutta, where we have preaching twice on Lord's day in English, on Wednesday evening in Bengali, and on Thursday evening in English." He took all the work during the week and the Sunday service in rotation with his brethren. The first church was the hall of a well-known undertaker, approached through lines of coffins and the trappings of woe. In time most of the evangelical Christians in the city promised to relieve the missionaries of the expense if they would build an unsectarian chapel more worthy of the object. This was done in Lall Bazaar, a little withdrawn from that thoroughfare to this day of the poor and abandoned Christians, of the sailors and soldiers on leave, of the liquor-shops and the stews. There, as in Serampore, at a time when the noble hospitals of Calcutta were not, and the children of only the "services" were cared for, "Brother Carey gave them medicine for their bodies and the best medicine for their poor souls," as a contemporary widow describes it.
The site alone cost so much--a thousand pounds--that only a mat chapel could be built. Marshman raised another £1100 in ten days, and after delays caused by the police Government sanctioned the building which Carey opened on Sunday, 1st January 1809. But he and his colleagues "not episcopally ordained" were forbidden to preach to British soldiers and to the Armenians and Portuguese. "Carey's Baptist Chapel" is now its name. Here was for nearly a whole generation a sublime spectacle--the Northamptonshire shoemaker training the governing class of India in Sanskrit, Bengali, and Marathi all day, and translating the Ramayana and the Veda, and then, when the sun went down, returning to the society of "the maimed, the halt, and the blind, and many with the leprosy," to preach in several tongues the glad tidings of the Kingdom to the heathen of England as well as of India, and all with a loving tenderness and patient humility learned in the childlike school of Him who said, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
Street preaching was added to the apostolic agencies, and for this prudence dictated recourse to the Asiatic and Eurasian converts. We find the missionaries writing to the Society at the beginning of 1807, after the mutiny at Vellore, occasioned as certainly by the hatlike turban then ordered, as the mutiny of Bengal half a century after was by the greased cartridges:--
"We now return to Calcutta; not, however, without a sigh. How can we avoid sighing when we think of the number of perishing souls which this city contains, and recollect the multitudes who used of late to hang upon our lips; standing in the thick-wedged crowd for hours together, in the heat of a Bengal summer, listening to the word of life! We feel thankful, however, that nothing has been found against us, except in the matters of our God. Conscious of the most cordial attachment to the British Government, and of the liveliest interest in its welfare, we might well endure reproach were it cast upon us; but the tongue of calumny itself has not to our knowledge been suffered to bring the slightest accusation against us. We still worship at Calcutta in a private house, and our congregation rather increases. We are going on with the chapel. A family of Armenians also, who found it pleasant to attend divine worship in the Bengali language, have erected a small place on their premises for the sake of the natives."Krishna Pal became the first native missionary to Calcutta, where he in 1810 had preached at fourteen different places every week, and visited forty-one families, to evangelise the servants of the richer and bring in the members of the poorer. Sebuk Ram was added to the staff. Carey himself thus sums up the labours of the year 1811, when he was still the only pastor of the Christian poor, and the only resident missionary to half a million of natives:--
"Calcutta is three miles long and one broad, very populous; the environs are crowded with people settled in large villages, resembling (for population, not elegance) the environs of Birmingham. The first is about a mile south of the city; at nearly the same distance are the public jail and the general hospital. Brother Gordon, one of our deacons, being the jailer we preach there in English every Lord's day. We did preach in the Fort; but of late a military order has stopped us. Krishna and Sebuk Ram, however, preach once or twice a week in the Fort notwithstanding; also at the jail; in the house of correction; at the village of Alipore, south of the jail; at a large factory north of the city, where several hundreds are employed; and at ten or twelve houses in different parts of the city itself. In several instances Roman Catholics, having heard the word, have invited them to their houses, and having collected their neighbours, the one or the other have received the word with gladness.On his voyage to India Carey had deliberately contemplated the time when the Society he had founded would influence not only Asia, but Africa, and he would supply the peoples of Asia with the Scriptures in their own tongues. The time had come by 1804 for organising the onward movement, and he thus describes it to Ryland:--
"14th December 1803.--Another plan has lately occupied our attention. It appears that our business is to provide materials for spreading the Gospel, and to apply those materials. Translations, pamphlets, etc., are the materials. To apply them we have thought of setting up a number of subordinate stations, in each of which a brother shall be fixed. It will be necessary and useful to carry on some worldly business. Let him be furnished from us with a sum of money to begin and purchase cloth or whatever other article the part produces in greatest perfection: the whole to belong to the mission, and no part even to be private trade or private property. The gains may probably support the station. Every brother in such a station to have one or two native brethren with him, and to do all he can to preach, and spread Bibles, pamphlets, etc., and to set up and encourage schools where the reading of the Scriptures shall be introduced.Two years later he thus anticipates the consent of the local Government, in spite of the Company's determined hostility in England, but the Vellore mutiny panic led to further delay:--
"25th December 1805.--It has long been a favourite object with me to fix European brethren in different parts of the country at about two hundred miles apart, so that each shall be able to visit a circle of a hundred miles' radius, and within each of the circuits to place native brethren at proper distances, who will, till they are more established, be under the superintendence of the European brethren situated in the centre. Our brethren concur with me in this plan. In consequence of this, I thought it would be desirable to have leave of Government for them to settle, and preach, without control, in any part of the country. The Government look on us with a favourable eye; and owing to Sir G. Barlow, the Governor-General, being up the country, Mr. Udny is Vice-President and Deputy-Governor. I therefore went one morning, took a breakfast with him, and told him what we were doing and what we wished to do. He, in a very friendly manner, desired me to state to him in a private letter all that we wished, and offered to communicate privately with Sir G. Barlow upon the subject, and inform me of the result. I called on him again last week, when he informed me that he had written upon the subject and was promised a speedy reply. God grant that it may be favourable. I know that Government will allow it if their powers are large enough."Not till 1810 could Carey report that "permission was obtained of Government for the forming of a new station at Agra, a large city in upper Hindostan, not far from Delhi and the country of the Sikhs," to which Chamberlain and an assistant were sent. From that year the Bengal became only the first of "The United Missions in India." These were five in number, each under its own separate brotherhood, on the same principles of self-denial as the original, each a Lindisfarne sprung from the parent Iona. These five were the Bengal, the Burman, the Orissa, the Bhootan, and the Hindostan Missions. The Bengal mission was fourfold--Serampore and Calcutta reckoned as one station; the old Dinajpoor and Sadamahal which had taken the place of Mudnabati; Goamalty, near Malda; Cutwa, an old town on the upper waters of the Hoogli; Jessor, the agricultural capital of its lower delta; and afterwards Monghyr, Berhampore, Moorshedabad, Dacca, Chittagong, and Assam. The Bhootan missionaries were plundered and driven out.
The Hindostan mission soon included Gaya, Patna, Deegah, Ghazeepore, Benares, Allahabad, Cawnpore, Ajmer, and Delhi itself. From Nagpoor, in the very centre of India, and Surat to the north of Bombay, Carey sought to bring Marathas and Goojaratees under the yoke of Christ. China, where the East India Company was still master, was cared for by the press, as we shall see. Not content with the continent of Asia, Carey's mission, at once forced by the intolerance which refused to allow new missionaries to land in India proper, and led by the invitations of Sir Stamford Raffles, extended to Java and Amboyna, Penang, Ceylon, and even Mauritius. The elaborate review of their position, signed by the three faithful men of Serampore, at the close of 1817, amazes the reader at once by the magnitude and variety of the operations, the childlike modesty of the record, and the heroism of the toil which supplied the means.
At the time of the organisation into the Five United Missions the staff of workers had grown to be thirty strong. From England there were nine surviving:--Carey, Marshman, Ward, Chamberlain, Mardon, Moore, Chater, Rowe, and Robinson. Raised up in India itself there were seven--the two sons of Carey, Felix and William; Fernandez, his first convert at Dinajpoor; Peacock and Cornish, and two Armenians, Aratoon and Peters; two were on probation for the ministry, Leonard and Forder. Besides seven Hindoo evangelists also on probation, there were five survivors of the band of converts called from time to time to the ministry--Krishna Pal, the first, who is entered on the list as "the beloved"; Krishna Dass, Ram Mohun, Seeta Ram, and Seeta Dass. Carey's third son Jabez was soon to become the most advanced of the three brothers away in far Amboyna. His father had long prayed, and besought others to pray, that he too might be a missionary. For the last fifteen years of his life Jabez was his closest and most valued correspondent.
But only less dear than his own sons to the heart of the father, already in 1817 described in an official letter as "our aged brother Carey," were the native missionaries and pastors, his sons in the faith. He sent forth the educated Petumber Singh, first in November 1802, to his countrymen at Sooksagar, and "gave him a suitable and solemn charge: the opportunity was very pleasant." In May 1803 Krishna Pal was similarly set apart. At the same time the young Brahman, Krishna Prosad, "delivered his first sermon in Bengali, much to the satisfaction of our brethren." Six months after, Ward reports of him in Dinajpoor:-- "The eyes of the people were fixed listening to Prosad; he is becoming eloquent." In 1804 their successful probation resulted in their formal ordination by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the brethren, when Carey addressed them from the divine words, "As my Father hath sent me so send I you," and all commemorated the Lord's death till He come.
Krishna Dass was imprisoned unjustly, for a debt which he had paid, but "he did not cease to declare to the native men in power that he was a Christian, when they gnashed upon him with their teeth. He preached almost all night to the prisoners, who heard the word with eagerness." Two years after he was ordained, Carey charged him as Paul had written to Timothy, "in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the quick and the dead," to be instant in season and out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and teaching. Ram Mohun was a Brahman, the fruit of old Petumber's ministry, and had his ability as a student and preacher of the Scriptures consecrated to Christ on the death of Krishna Prosad, while the missionaries thus saw again answered the invocation they had sung, in rude strains, in the ship which brought them to India:--
"Bid Brahmans preach the heavenly wordSo early as 1806 the missionaries thus acknowledged the value of the work of their native brethren, and made of all the native converts a Missionary Church. In the delay and even failure to do this of their successors of all Churches we see the one radical point in which the Church in India has as yet come short of its duty and its privilege:--
"We have availed ourselves of the help of native brethren ever since we had one who dared to speak in the name of Christ, and their exertions have chiefly been the immediate means by which our church has been increased. But we have lately been revolving a plan for rendering their labours more extensively useful; namely, that of sending them out, two and two, without any European brother. It appeared also a most desirable object to interest in this work, as much as possible, the whole of the native church among us: indeed, we have had much in them of this nature to commend. In order, then, more effectually to answer this purpose, we called an extraordinary meeting of all the brethren on Friday evening, Aug. 8, 1806, and laid before them the following ideas:--Carey's scheme so early as 1810 included not only the capital of the Great Mogul, Surat far to the west, and Maratha Nagpoor to the south, but Lahore, where Ranjeet Singh had consolidated the Sikh power, Kashmeer, and even Afghanistan to which he had sent the Pushtoo Bible. To set Chamberlain free for this enterprise he sent his second son William to relieve him as missionary in charge of Cutwa. "This would secure the gradual perfection of the version of the Scriptures in the Sikh language, would introduce the Gospel among the people, and would open a way for introducing it into Kashmeer, and eventually to the Afghans under whose dominion Kashmeer at present is." Carey and his two colleagues took possession for Christ of the principal centres of Hindoo and Mohammedan influence in India only because they were unoccupied, and provided translations of the Bible into the principal tongues, avowedly as a preparation for other missionary agencies.
All over India and the far East he thus pioneered the way of the Lord, as he had written to Ryland when first he settled in Serampore:-- "It is very probable we may be only as pioneers to prepare the way for most successful missionaries, who perhaps may not be at liberty to attend to those preparatory labours in which we have been occupied--the translation and printing of the Scriptures," etc. His heart was enlarged like his Master's on earth, and hence his humbleness of mind. When the Church Missionary Society, for instance, occupied Agra as their first station in India, he sent the Baptist missionary thence to Allahabad. To Benares "Brother William Smith, called in Orissa under Brother John Peters," the Armenian, was sent owing to his acquaintance with the Hindi language; he was the means of bringing to the door of the Kingdom that rich Brahman Raja Jay Narain Ghosal, whom he encouraged to found in 1817 the Church Mission College there which bears the name of this "almost Christian" Hindoo, who was "exceedingly desirous of diffusing light among his own countrymen."
The most striking illustrations of this form of Carey's self-sacrifice are, however, to be found outside of India as it then was, in the career of his other two sons in Burma and the Spice Islands. The East India Company's panic on the Vellore mutiny led Carey to plan a mission to Burma, just as he had been guided to settle in Danish Serampore ten years before. The Government of India had doubled his salary as Bengali, Marathi, and Sanskrit Professor, and thus had unconsciously supplied the means. Since 1795 the port of Rangoon had been opened to the British, although Colonel Symes had been insulted eight years after, during his second embassy to Ava. Rangoon, wrote the accurate Carey to Fuller in November 1806, is about ten days' sail from Calcutta. "The Burman empire is about eight hundred miles long, lying contiguous to Bengal on the east; but is inaccessible by land, on account of the mountains covered with thick forests which run between the two countries. The east side of this empire borders upon China, Cochin China, and Tongking, and may afford us the opportunity ultimately of introducing the Gospel into those countries. They are quite within our reach, and the Bible in Chinese will be understood by them equally as well as by the Chinese themselves. About twenty chapters of Matthew are translated into that language, and three of our family have made considerable progress in it."
This was the beginning of Reformed missions to Eastern Asia. A year was to pass before Dr. Robert Morrison landed at Macao. From those politically aggressive and therefore opposed Jesuit missions, which alone had worked in Anam up to this time, a persecuted bishop was about to find an asylum at Serampore, and to use its press and its purse for the publication of his Dictionarium Anamitico-Latinum. The French have long sought to seize an empire there. That, at its best, must prove far inferior to the marvellous province and Christian Church of Burma, of which Carey laid the foundation. Judson, and the Governors Durand, Phayre, Aitchison, and Bernard, Henry Lawrence's nephew, built well upon it.
On 24th January 1807 Mardon and Chater went forth, after Carey had charged them from the words, "And thence sailed to Antioch from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, which they fulfilled." Carey's eldest son Felix soon took the place of Mardon. The instructions, which bear the impress of the sacred scholar's pen, form a model still for all missionaries. These two extracts give counsels never more needed than now:--
"4. With respect to the Burman language, let this occupy your most precious time and your most anxious solicitude. Do not be content with acquiring this language superficially, but make it your own, root and branch. To become fluent in it, you must attentivly listen, with prying curiosity, into the forms of speech, the construction and accent of the natives. Here all the imitative powers are wanted; yet these powers and this attention, without continued effort to use all you acquire, and as fast as you acquire it, will be comparatively of little use.Felix Carey was a medical missionary of great skill, a printer of the Oriental languages trained by Ward, and a scholar, especially in Sanskrit and Pali, Bengali and Burman, not unworthy of his father. He early commended himself to the goodwill of the Rangoon Viceroy, and was of great use to Captain Canning in the successful mission from the Governor-General in 1809. At his intercession the Viceroy gave him the life of a malefactor who had hung for six hours on the cross. Reporting the incident to Ryland, Dr. Carey wrote that "crucifixion is not performed on separate crosses, elevated to a considerable height, after the manner of the Romans; but several posts are erected which are connected by a cross piece near the top, to which the hands are nailed, and by another near the bottom, to which the feet are nailed in a horizontal direction."
He prepared a folio dictionary of Burmese and Pali, translated several of the Buddhist Sootras into English, and several books of Holy Scripture into the vernacular. His medical and linguistic skill so commended him to the king that he was loaded with honours and sent as Burmese ambassador to the Governor-General in 1814, when he withdrew from the Christian mission. On his way back up the Irawadi he alone was saved from the wreck of his boat, in which his second wife and children and the MS. of his dictionary went down. Of this his eldest son, who "procured His Majesty's sanction for printing the Scriptures in the Burman and adjacent languages, which step he highly approved," and at the same time "the orders of my rank, which consist of a red umbrella with an ivory top, gold betel box, gold lefeek cup, and a sword of state," the father wrote lamenting to Ryland:-- "Felix is shrivelled from a missionary into an ambassador." To his third son the sorrowing father said:-- "The honours he has received from the Burmese Government have not been beneficial to his soul. Felix is certainly not so much esteemed since his visit as he was before it. It is a very distressing thing to be forced to apologise for those you love." Mr. Chater had removed to Ceylon to begin a mission in Colombo.
In July 1813, when Felix Carey was in Ava, two young Americans, Adoniram Judson and his wife Ann, tempest-tossed and fleeing before the persecution of the East India Company, found shelter in the Mission House at Rangoon. Judson was one of a band of divinity students of the Congregational Church of New England, whose zeal had almost compelled the institution of the American Board of Foreign Missions. He, his wife, and colleague Rice had become Baptists by conviction on their way to Serampore, to the brotherhood of which they had been commended. Carey and his colleagues made it "a point to guard against obtruding on missionary brethren of different sentiments any conversation relative to baptism;" but Judson himself sent a note to Carey requesting baptism by immersion. The result was the foundation at Boston of the American Baptist Missionary Society, which was to win such triumphs in Burma and among the Karens. For a time, however, Judson was a missionary from Serampore, and supported by the brotherhood. As such he wrote thus:--
"Rangoon, Sept. 1, 1814.--Brother Ward wishes to have an idea of the probable expense of each station; on which I take occasion to say that it would be more gratifying to me, as presenting a less temptation, and as less dangerous to my habits of economy and my spiritual welfare, to have a limited monthly allowance. I fear that, if I am allowed as much as I want, my wants will enlarge with their gratification, and finally embrace many things, which at first I should have thought incompatible with economical management, as well as with that character among the heathen which it becomes the professed followers of Him who for our sakes became poor, even to sustain. It is better for a missionary, especially a young man, to have rather too little than rather too much. Your case, on coming out from England, was quite different from mine. You had all that there was, and were obliged to make the most of it.While Judson wrote to Serampore, which he once again visited, leaving the dust of a child in the mission burial-ground, "I am glad to hear you say that you will not abandon this mission," Carey pressed on to the "regions beyond." Judson lived till 1850 to found a church and to prepare a Burmese dictionary, grammar, and translation of the Bible so perfect that revision has hardly been necessary up to the present day. He and Hough, a printer who joined him, formed themselves into a brotherhood on the same self-denying principles as that of Serampore, whom they besought to send them frequent communications to counsel, strengthen, and encourage them. On 28th September 1814 Judson again wrote to Carey from Rangoon:--
"Dear brother Carey--If copies of Colebrooke's Sungskrita Dictionary, and your Sungskrita Grammar are not too scarce, I earnestly request a copy of each. I find it will be absolutely necessary for me to pick up a little of the Pali, chiefly on account of many theological terms, which have been incorporated from that language into the Burman. I have found a dictionary, which I suppose is the same as that which Mr. Colebrooke translated, adapted to the Burman system. This I intend to read. I want also Leyden's Vocabulary, and a copy or two of your son's grammar, when it is completed. I gave your son on his going up to Ava, my copy of Campbell's Gospels, together with several other books, all of which are now lost. The former I chiefly regret, and know not whence I can procure another copy.By 1816 Judson had prepared the Gospel of Matthew in Burmese, following up short tracts "accommodated to the optics of a Burman."
Carey's third son Jabez was clerk to a Calcutta attorney at the time, in 1812, when Dr. Ryland preached in the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, the anniversary sermon on the occasion of the removal of the headquarters of the Society to London. Pausing in the midst of his discourse, after a reference to Carey, the preacher called on the vast congregation silently to pray for the conversion of Jabez Carey. The answer came next year in a letter from his father:-- "My son Jabez, who has been articled to an attorney, and has the fairest prospects as to this world, is become decidedly religious, and prefers the work of the Lord to every other." Lord Minto's expeditions of 1810 and 1811 had captured the islands swept by the French privateers from Madagascar to Java, and there was soon an end of the active hostility of the authorities to Christianity. Sir Stamford Raffles governed Java in the spirit of a Christian statesman.
The new Governor-General, Lord Moira, afterwards Marquis of Hastings, proved to be the most enlightened and powerful friend the mission had had. In these circumstances, after the charter of 1813 had removed the legislative excuse for intolerance, Dr. Carey was asked by the Lieutenant-Governor to send missionaries and Malay Bibles to the fifty thousand natives of Amboyna. The Governor-General repeated the request officially. Jabez Carey was baptised, married, and despatched at the cost of the state before he could be ordained. Amboyna, it will be perceived, was not in India, but far enough away to give the still timid Company little apprehension as to the influence of the missionaries there. The father's heart was very full when he sent forth the son:--
"24th January 1814.--You are now engaging in a most important undertaking, in which not only you will have our prayers for your success, but those of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ, and who know of your engagement. I know that a few hints for your future conduct from a parent who loves you very tenderly will be acceptable, and I shall therefore now give you them, assured that they will not be given in vain.Under both the English and the Dutch for a time, to whom the island was restored, Jabez Carey proved to be a successful missionary, while he supported the mission by his official income as superintendent of schools and second member of the College of Justice. The island contained 18,000 native Christians of the Dutch compulsory type, such as we found in Ceylon on taking it over. Thus by the labours of himself, his sons, his colleagues, and his children in the faith, William Carey saw the Gospel, the press, and the influence of a divine philanthropy extending among Mohammedans, Buddhists, and Hindoos, from the shores of the Pacific Ocean west to the Arabian Sea.
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