CHAPTER VIII -- CAREY'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS, 1807-1812
The colleagues who were associated with him for the third of a century worshipped him in the old English sense of the word. The younger committee-men and missionaries who came to the front on the death of Fuller, Sutcliff, and Ryland, in all their mistaken conflicts with these colleagues, always tried to separate Carey from those they denounced, till even his saintly spirit burst forth into wrath at the double wrong thus done to his coadjutors. His intercourse with the chaplains and bishops of the Church of England, and with the missionaries of other Churches and societies, was as loving in its degree as his relations to his own people. With men of the world, from the successive Governor-Generals, from Wellesley, Hastings, and Bentinck, down to the scholars, merchants, and planters with whom he became associated for the public good, William Carey was ever the saint and the gentleman whom it was a privilege to know.
In nothing perhaps was Carey's true Christian gentlemanliness so seen as in his relations with his first wife, above whom grace and culture had immeasurably raised him, while she never learned to share his aspirations or to understand his ideals. Not only did she remain to the last a peasant woman, with a reproachful tongue, but the early hardships of Calcutta and the fever and dysentery of Mudnabati clouded the last twelve years of her life with madness. Never did reproach or complaint escape his lips regarding either her or Thomas, whose eccentric impulses and oft-darkened spirit were due to mania also. Of both he was the tender nurse and guardian when, many a time, the ever-busy scholar would fain have lingered at his desk or sought the scanty sleep which his jealous devotion to his Master's business allowed him. The brotherhood arrangement, the common family, Ward's influence over the boys, and Hannah Marshman's housekeeping relieved him of much that his wife's illness had thrown upon him at Mudnabati, so that a colleague describes him, when he was forty-three years of age, as still looking young in spite of the few hairs on his head, after eleven years in Lower Bengal of work such as never Englishman had before him.
But almost from the first day of his early married life he had never known the delight of daily converse with a wife able to enter into his scholarly pursuits, and ever to stimulate him in his heavenly quest. When the eldest boy, Felix, had left for Burma in 1807 the faithful sorrowing husband wrote to him:-- "Your poor mother grew worse and worse from the time you left us, and died on the 7th December about seven o'clock in the evening. During her illness she was almost always asleep, and I suppose during the fourteen days that she lay in a severe fever she was not more than twenty-four hours awake. She was buried the next day in the missionary burying-ground."
About the same time that Carey himself settled in Serampore there arrived the Lady Rumohr. She built a house on the Hoogli bank immediately below that of the missionaries, whose society she sought, and by whom she was baptised. On the 9th May 1808 she became Carey's wife; and in May 1821 she too was removed by death in her sixty-first year, after thirteen years of unbroken happiness.
Charlotte Emilia, born in the same year as Carey in the then Danish duchy of Schleswick, was the only child of the Chevalier de Rumohr, who married the Countess of Alfeldt, only representative of a historic family. Her wakefulness when a sickly girl of fifteen saved the whole household from destruction by fire, but she herself became so disabled that she could never walk up or down stairs. She failed to find complete recovery in the south of Europe, and her father's friend, Mr. Anker, a director of the Danish East India Company, gave her letters to his brother, then Governor of Tranquebar, in the hope that the climate of India might cause her relief. The Danish ship brought her first to Serampore, where Colonel Bie introduced her to the brotherhood, and there she resolved to remain. She knew the principal languages of Europe; a copy of the Pensées of Pascal, given to her by Mr. Anker before she sailed, for the first time quickened her conscience. She speedily learned English, that she might join the missionaries in public worship. The barren orthodoxy of the Lutheranism in which she had been brought up had made her a sceptic. This soon gave way to the evangelical teaching of the same apostle who had brought Luther himself to Christ. She became a keen student of the Scriptures, then an ardent follower of Jesus Christ.
On her marriage to Dr. Carey, in May 1808, she made over her house to the mission, and when, long after, it became famous as the office of the weekly Friend of India, the rent was sacredly devoted to the assistance of native preachers. She learned Bengali that she might be as a mother to the native Christian families. She was her husband's counsellor in all that related to the extension of the varied enterprise of the brethren. Especially did she make the education of Hindoo girls her own charge, both at Serampore and Cutwa. Her leisure she gave to the reading of French Protestant writers, such as Saurin and Du Moulin. She admired, wrote Carey, "Massillon's language, his deep knowledge of the human heart, and his intrepidity in reproving sin; but felt the greatest dissatisfaction with his total neglect of his Saviour, except when He is introduced to give efficacy to works of human merit. These authors she read in their native language, that being more familiar to her than English. She in general enjoyed much of the consolations of religion. Though so much afflicted, a pleasing cheerfulness generally pervaded her conversation. She indeed possessed great activity of mind. She was constantly out with the dawn of the morning when the weather permitted, in her little carriage drawn by one bearer; and again in the evening, as soon as the sun was sufficiently low. She thus spent daily nearly three hours in the open air. It was probably this vigorous and regular course which, as the means, carried her beyond the age of threescore years (twenty-one of them spent in India), notwithstanding the weakness of her constitution."
It is a pretty picture, the delicate invalid lady, drawn along the mall morning and evening, to enjoy the river breeze, on her way to and from the schools and homes of the natives. But her highest service was, after all, to her husband, who was doing a work for India and for humanity, equalled by few, if any. When, on one occasion, they were separated for a time while she sought for health at Monghyr, she wrote to him the tenderest yet most courtly love-letters.
"My dearest love,--I felt very much in parting with thee, and feel much in being so far from thee... I am sure thou wilt be happy and thankful on account of my voice, which is daily getting better, and thy pleasure greatly adds to mine own.His narrative of their intercourse, written after her death, lets in a flood of light on his home life:--
"During the thirteen years of her union with Dr. Carey, they had enjoyed the most entire oneness of mind, never having a single circumstance which either of them wished to conceal from the other. Her solicitude for her husband's health and comfort was unceasing. They prayed and conversed together on those things which form the life of personal religion, without the least reserve; and enjoyed a degree of conjugal happiness while thus continued to each other, which can only arise from a union of mind grounded on real religion. On the whole, her lot in India was altogether a scene of mercy. Here she was found of the Saviour, gradually ripened for glory, and after having her life prolonged beyond the expectation of herself and all who knew her, she was released from this mortal state almost without the consciousness of pain, and, as we most assuredly believe, had 'an abundant entrance ministered unto her into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'"When, on 24th June 1809, Carey announced at the dinner table that he had that morning finished the Bengali translation of the whole Bible, and he was asked how much more he thought of doing, he answered: "The work I have allotted to myself, in translating, will take me about twenty years." But he had kept the bow too long and too tightly bent, and it threatened to snap. That evening he was seized with bilious fever, and on the eighteenth day thereafter his life was despaired of. "The goodness of God is eminently conspicuous in raising up our beloved brother Carey," wrote Marshman. "God has raised him up again and restored him to his labours; may he live to accomplish all that is in his heart," wrote Rowe. He was at once at his desk again, in college and in his study. "I am this day forty-eight years old," he wrote to Ryland on the 17th August, and sent him the following letters, every line of which reveals the inner soul of the writer:--
"Calcutta, 16th August 1809.--I did not expect, about a month ago, ever to write to you again. I was then ill of a severe fever, and for a week together scarcely any hopes were entertained of my life. One or two days I was supposed to be dying, but the Lord has graciously restored me; may it be that I may live more than ever to His glory. Whilst I was ill I had scarcely any such thing as thought belonging to me, but, excepting seasons of delirium, seemed to be nearly stupid; perhaps some of this arose from the weak state to which I was reduced, which was so great that Dr. Hare, one of the most eminent physicians in Calcutta, who was consulted about it, apprehended more danger from that than from the fever. I, however, had scarcely a thought of death or eternity, or of life, or anything belonging thereto.Two years after the establishment of the mission at Serampore, David Brown, the senior chaplain and provost of Fort William College, took possession of Aldeen House, which he occupied till the year of his death in 1812. The house is the first in the settlement reached by boat from Calcutta. Aldeen is five minutes' walk south of the Serampore Mission House, and a century ago there was only a park between them. The garden slopes down to the noble river, and commands the beautiful country seat of Barrackpore, which Lord Wellesley had just built. The house itself is embosomed in trees, the mango, the teak, and the graceful bamboo. Just below it, but outside of Serampore, are the deserted temple of Bullubpoor and the Ghat of the same name, a fine flight of steps up which thousands of pilgrims flock every June to the adjoining shrine and monstrous car of Jagganath. David Brown had not been long in Aldeen when he secured the deserted temple and converted it into a Christian oratory, ever since known as Henry Martyn's Pagoda.
For ten years Aldeen and the pagoda became the meeting-place of Carey and his Nonconformist friends, with Claudius Buchanan, Martyn, Bishop Corrie, Thomason, and the little band of evangelical Anglicans who, under the protection of Lords Wellesley and Hastings, sweetened Anglo-Indian society, and made the names of "missionary" and of "chaplain" synonymous. Here too there gathered, as also to the Mission House higher up, many a civilian and officer who sought the charms of that Christian family life which they had left behind. A young lieutenant commemorated these years when Brown was removed, in a pleasing elegy, which Charles Simeon published in the Memorials of his friend. Many a traveller from the far West still visits the spot, and recalls the memories of William Carey and Henry Martyn, of Marshman and Buchanan, of Ward and Corrie, which linger around the fair scene. When first we saw it the now mutilated ruin was perfect, and under the wide-spreading banian tree behind a Brahman was reciting, for a day and a night, the verses of the Mahabharata epic to thousands of listening Hindoos.
"Long, Hoogli, has thy sullen streamWe find this allusion to the place in Carey's correspondence with Dr. Ryland:-- "20th January 1807.--It would have done your heart good to have joined us at our meetings at the pagoda. From that place we have successively recommended Dr. Taylor to the work of the Lord at Bombay, Mr. Martyn to his at Dinajpoor, Mr. Corrie to his at Chunar, Mr. Parsons to his at Burhampore, Mr. Des Granges to his at Vizagapatam, and our two brethren to theirs at Rangoon, and from thence we soon expect to commend Mr. Thomason to his at Madras. In these meetings the utmost harmony prevails and a union of hearts unknown between persons of different denominations in England." Dr. Taylor and Mr. Des Granges were early missionaries of the London Society; the Rangoon brethren were Baptists; the others were Church of England chaplains. Sacramentarianism and sacerdotalism had not then begun to afflict the Church of India. There were giants in those days, in Bengal, worthy of Carey and of the one work in which all were the servants of one Master.
Let us look a little more closely at
Henry Martyn's Pagoda. It is now a picturesque ruin, which the peepul tree
that is entwined among its fine brick masonry, and the crumbling river-bank,
may soon cause to disappear for ever. The exquisite tracery of the moulded
bricks may be seen, but not the few figures that are left of the popular
Hindoo idols just where the two still perfect arches begin to spring. The
side to the river has already fallen down, and with it the open platform
overhanging the bank on which the missionary sat in the cool of the morning
and evening, and where he knelt to pray for the people. We have accompanied
many a visitor there, from Dr. Duff to Bishop Cotton, and John Lawrence,
and have rarely seen one unmoved. This pagoda had been abandoned long before
by the priests of Radhabullub, because the river had encroached to a point
within 300 feet of it, the limit within which no Brahman is allowed to
receive a gift or take his food. The little black doll of an idol, which
is famous among Hindoos alike for its sanctity and as a work of art--for
had it not been miraculously wafted to this spot like the Santa Casa to
Loretto?--was removed with great pomp to a new temple after it had paid
a visit to Clive's moonshi, the wealthy Raja Nobokissen in Calcutta, who
sought to purchase it outright.
In this cool old pagoda Henry Martyn, on one of his earliest visits to Aldeen after his arrival as a chaplain in 1806, found an appropriate residence. Under the vaulted roof of the shrine a place of prayer and praise was fitted up with an organ, so that, as he wrote, "the place where once devils were worshipped has now become a Christian oratory." Here, too, he laid his plans for the evangelisation of the people. When suffering from one of his moods of depression as to his own state, he thus writes of this place:-- "I began to pray as on the verge of eternity; and the Lord was pleased to break my hard heart. I lay in tears, interceding for the unfortunate natives of this country; thinking within myself that the most despicable soodra of India was of as much value in the sight of God as the King of Great Britain."
It was from such supplication that he was once roused by the blaze of a Suttee's funeral pyre, on which he found that the living widow had been consumed with the dead before he could interfere. He could hear the hideous drums and gongs and conch-shells of the temple to which Radhabullub had been removed. There he often tried to turn his fellow-creatures to the worship of the one God, from their prostrations "before a black image placed in a pagoda, with lights burning around it," whilst, he says, he "shivered as if standing, as it were, in the neighbourhood of hell." It was in the deserted pagoda that Brown, Corrie, and Parsons met with him to commend him to God before he set out for his new duties at Dinajpoor. "My soul," he writes of this occasion, "never yet had such divine enjoyment. I felt a desire to break from the body, and join the high praises of the saints above. May I go 'in the strength of this many days.' Amen." "I found my heaven begun on earth. No work so sweet as that of praying and living wholly to the service of God." And as he passed by the Mission House on his upward voyage, with true catholicity "Dr. Marshman could not resist joining the party: and after going a little way, left them with prayer." Do we wonder that these men have left their mark on India?
As years went by, the temple, thus consecrated as a Christian oratory, became degraded in other hands. The brand "pagoda distillery" for a time came to be known as marking the rum manufactured there. The visits of so many Christian pilgrims to the spot, and above all, the desire expressed by Lord Lawrence when Governor-General to see it, led the Hindoo family who own the pagoda to leave it at last as a simple ruin.
Corrie, afterwards the first bishop of Madras, describes the marriage of Des Granges in the oratory, and gives us a glimpse of life in the Serampore Mission House:--
"1806.--Calcutta strikes me as the most magnificent city in the world; and I am made most happy by the hope of being instrumental to the eternal good of many. A great opposition, I find, is raised against Martyn and the principles he preaches... Went up to Serampore yesterday, and in the evening was present at the marriage of Mr. Des Granges. Mr. Brown entered into the concern with much interest. The pagoda was fixed on, and lighted up for the celebration of the wedding; at eight o'clock the parties came from the Mission House [at Serampore], attended by most of the family. Mr. Brown commenced with the hymn, 'Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly dove!' A divine influence seemed to attend us, and most delightful were my sensations. The circumstance of so many being engaged in spreading the glad tidings of salvation,--the temple of an idol converted to the purpose of Christian worship, and the Divine presence felt among us,--filled me with joy unspeakable.Corrie married the daughter of Mrs. Ellerton, who knew Serampore and Carey well. It was Mr. Ellerton who, when an indigo-planter at Malda, opened the first Bengali school, and made the first attempt at translating the Bible into that vernacular. His young wife, early made a widow, witnessed accidentally the duel in which Warren Hastings shot Philip Francis. She was an occasional visitor at Aldeen, and took part in the pagoda services. Fifty years afterwards, not long before her death at eighty-seven, Bishop Wilson, whose guest she was, wrote of her: "She made me take her to Henry Martyn's pagoda. She remembers the neighbourhood, and Gharetty Ghat and House in Sir Eyre Coote's time (1783). The ancient Governor of Chinsurah and his fat Dutch wife are still in her mind. When she visited him with her first husband (she was then sixteen) the old Dutchman cried out, 'Oh, if you would find me such a nice little wife I would give you ten thousand rupees.'"
It was in Martyn's pagoda that Claudius Buchanan first broached his plan of an ecclesiastical establishment for India, and invited the discussion of it by Carey and his colleagues. Such a scheme came naturally from one who was the grandson of a Presbyterian elder of the Church of Scotland, converted in the Whitefield revival at Cambuslang. It had been suggested first by Bishop Porteous when he reviewed the Company's acquisitions in Asia. It was encouraged by Lord Wellesley, who was scandalised on his arrival in India by the godlessness of the civil servants and the absence of practically any provision for the Christian worship and instruction of its officers and soldiers, who were all their lives without religion, not a tenth of them ever returning home.
Carey thus wrote, at Ryland's request,
of the proposal, which resulted in the arrival in Calcutta of Bishop Middleton
and Dr. Bryce in 1814:-- "I have no opinion of Dr. Buchanan's scheme for
a religious establishment here, nor could I from memory point out what
is exceptionable in his memoir. All his representations must be taken with
some grains of allowance." When, in the Aldeen discussions, Dr. Buchanan
told Marshman that the temple lands would eventually answer for the established
churches and the Brahmans' lands for the chaplains, the stout Nonconformist
replied with emphasis, "You will never obtain them." We may all accept
the conversion of the idol shrine into a place of prayer--as Gregory I.
taught Augustine of Canterbury to transform heathen temples into Christian
churches--as presaging the time when the vast temple and mosque endowments
will be devoted by the people themselves to their own moral if not spiritual
good through education, both religious and secular.
The change wrought in seventeen years by Carey and such associates as these on society in Bengal, both rich and poor, became marked by the year 1810. We find him writing of it thus:--
"When I arrived I knew of no person who cared about the Gospel except Mr. Brown, Mr. Udny, Mr. Creighton, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Brown an indigo-planter, besides Brother Thomas and myself. There might be more, and probably were, though unknown to me. There are now in India thirty-two ministers of the Gospel. Indeed, the Lord is doing great things for Calcutta; and though infidelity abounds, yet religion is the theme of conversation or dispute in almost every house. A few weeks ago (October 1810), I called upon one of the Judges to take breakfast with him, and going rather abruptly upstairs, as I had been accustomed to do, I found the family just going to engage in morning worship. I was of course asked to engage in prayer, which I did. I afterwards told him that I had scarcely witnessed anything since I had been in Calcutta which gave me more pleasure than what I had seen that morning. The change in this family was an effect of Mr. Thomason's ministry... About ten days ago I had a conversation with one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, Sir John Boyd, upon religious subjects. Indeed there is now scarcely a place where you can pay a visit without having an opportunity of saying something about true religion."Carey's friendly intercourse, by person and letter, was not confined to those who were aggressively Christian or to Christian and ecclesiastical questions. As we shall soon see, his literary and scientific pursuits led him to constant and familiar converse with scholars like Colebrooke and Leyden, with savants like Roxburgh, the astronomer Bentley, and Dr. Hare, with publicists like Sir James Mackintosh and Robert Hall, with such travellers and administrators as Manning, the friend of Charles Lamb, and Raffles.
In Great Britain the name of William Carey had, by 1812, become familiar as a household word in all evangelical circles. The men who had known him in the days before 1793 were few and old, were soon to pass away for ever. The new generation had fed their Christian zeal on his achievements, and had learned to look on him, in spite of all his humility which only inflamed that zeal, as the pioneer, the father, the founder of foreign missions, English, Scottish, and American. They had never seen him; they were not likely to see him in the flesh. The desire for a portrait of him became irresistible. The burning of the press, to be hereafter described, which led even bitter enemies of the mission like Major Scott Waring to subscribe for its restoration, gave the desired sympathetic voice, so that Fuller wrote to the missionaries:-- "The public is now giving us their praises. Eight hundred guineas have been offered for Dr. Carey's likeness... When you pitched your tents at Serampore you said, 'We will not accumulate riches but devote all to God for the salvation of the heathen.' God has given you what you desired and what you desired not. Blessed men, God will bless you and make you a blessing. I and others of us may die, but God will surely visit you... Expect to be highly applauded, bitterly reproached, greatly moved, and much tried in every way. Oh that, having done all, you may stand!"
Carey was, fortunately for posterity, not rebellious in the matter of the portrait; he was passive. As he sat in his room in the college of Fort William, his pen in hand, his Sanskrit Bible before him, and his Brahman pundit at his left hand, the saint and the scholar in the ripeness of his powers at fifty was transferred to the canvas which has since adorned the walls of Regent's Park College. A line engraving of the portrait was published in England the year after at a guinea, and widely purchased, the profit going to the mission. The painter was Home, famous in his day as the artist whom Lord Cornwallis had engaged during the first war with Tipoo to prepare those Select Views in Mysore, the Country of Tipoo Sultaun, from Drawings taken on the Spot, which appeared in 1794.
Of his four sons, Felix, William, Jabez, and Jonathan, Carey's correspondence was most frequent at this period with William, who went forth in 1807 to Dinajpoor to begin his independent career as a missionary by the side of Fernandez.
"2nd April 1807.--We have the greatest encouragement to go forward in the work of our Lord Jesus, because we have every reason to conclude that it will be successful at last. It is the cause which God has had in His mind from eternity, the cause for which Christ shed His blood, that for which the Spirit and word of God were given, that which is the subject of many great promises, that for which the saints have been always praying, and which God Himself bears an infinite regard to in His dispensations of Providence and Grace. The success thereof is therefore certain. Be encouraged, therefore, my dear son, to devote yourself entirely to it, and to pursue it as a matter of the very first importance even to your dying day.In the absence of Mr. Fernandez, the pastor, William had excluded two members of the Church.
"4th April 1810.--A very little knowledge of human nature will convince you that this would have been thought an affront in five instances out of six. You would have done better to have advised them, or even to have required them to have kept from the Lord's table till Mr. Fernandez's return, and to have left it to him to preside over the discipline of the church. You, no doubt, did it without thinking of the consequences, and in the simplicity of your heart, and I think Mr. Fernandez is wrong in treating you with coolness, when a little conversation might have put everything to rights. Of that, however, I shall say no more to you, but one of us shall write to him upon the subject as soon as we can.William had applied to be transferred to Serampore.
"3rd August 1811.--The necessities of the mission must be consulted before every other consideration. Native brethren can itinerate, but Europeans must be employed to open new missions and found new stations. For were we to go upon the plan of sending Europeans where natives could possibly be employed, no subscriptions or profits could support them. We intend to commence a new station at Dacca, and if you prefer that to Cutwa you may go thither. One of the first things to be done there will be to open a charity school, and to overlook it. Dacca itself is a very large place, where you may often communicate religious instructions without leaving the town. There are also a number of Europeans there, so that Mary would not be so much alone, and at any rate help would be near. We can obtain the permission of Government for you to settle there.William finally settled at Cutwa, higher up the Hoogli than Serampore, and did good service there.
"1st December 1813.--I have now an assistant at College, notwithstanding which my duties are quite as heavy as they ever were, for we are to receive a number of military students--I suppose thirty at least. The translation, and printing also, is now so much enlarged that I am scarcely able to get through the necessary labour of correcting proofs and learning the necessary languages. All these things are causes of rejoicing more than of regret, for they are the very things for which I came into the country, and to which I wish to devote my latest breath... Jabez has offered himself to the Mission, a circumstance which gives me more pleasure than if he had been appointed Chief Judge of the Supreme Court... Your mother has long been confined to her couch, I believe about six months."The following was written evidently in reply to loving letters on the death of his wife, Charlotte Emilia:--
"4th June 1821.--My dear Jonathan--I feel your affectionate care for me very tenderly. I have just received very affectionate letters from William and Brother Sutton (Orissa). Lord and Lady Hastings wrote to Brother Marshman, thinking it would oppress my feelings to write to me directly, to offer their kind condolence to me through him. Will you have the goodness to send five rupees to William for the Cutwa school, which your dear mother supported. I will repay you soon, but am now very short of money.--I am your very affectionate father, W. CAREY."Of the many descendants of Dr. Carey, one great grandson is now an ordained missionary in Bengal, another a medical missionary in Delhi, and a third is a member of the Civil Service, who has distinguished himself by travels in Northern Tibet and Chinese Turkestan, which promise to unveil much of the unexplored regions of Asia to the scholar and the missionary.
Thus far we have confined our study of William Carey to his purely missionary career, and that in its earlier half. We have now to see him as the scholar, the Bible translator, the philanthropist, the agriculturist, and the founder of a University.
= = = = = = = = = = =
/1/ The sight of the red coat of the military surgeon who attended him gave this form to his delirious talk:-- "I treated him very roughly and refused to touch his medicine. In vain did he retire and put on a black coat. I knew him and was resolved."
~~ next chapter ~~ Carey index page ~~ Glossary ~~ fwp's main page ~~