Life of William Carey – George Smith

 

carey

William Carey (1761-1834) was far from being a revivalist, but the story of his life has been an inspiration and example to thousands of others who have sought to spread the gospel across the world.

Carey, commonly known as 'The Father of Modern Missions', was a Northamptonshire (U.K.) shoemaker who left the Church of England to become a Baptist in 1783. He became a preacher and pastor in Leicester and soon developed a passion for evangelising the 'heathen' as non-Christians in other lands were then called. His efforts at promoting missions led to the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society.

In 1793 he sailed for India and subsequently translated portions of the Bible into 34 languages, including 6 completed translations of the whole Bible and 23 of the New Testament!. He clearly paved the way for the Gospel in that land. Despite taking five years to win his first Indian convert he never lost his faith in the glorious success of the Gospel. Gleanings from his writings show him to be a revival seeker throughout. 'God's cause will triumph..', 'Christ has begun to besiege this ancient and strong fortress, and will assuredly carry it (through)', 'He must reign, till Satan has not an inch of territory (left)'. By 1813 more than 500 had been baptized and by his death in 1834 he lived to see 24 gospel churches planted in India and 40 fellow workers engaged in Indian missions.

We have included 4 of the 16 chapters.

Chapter I.

1. Carey's College 1761-1785. The Heart of England--The Weaver Carey who became a Peer, and the weaver who was father of William Carey--Early training in Paulerspury--Impressions made by him on his sister--On his companions and the villagers--His experience as son of the parish clerk--Apprenticed to a shoemaker of Hackleton--Poverty--Famous shoemakers from Annianus and Crispin to Hans Sachs and Whittier--From Pharisaism to Christ--The last shall be first--The dissenting preacher in the parish clerk’s home--He studies Latin, Greek and Hebrew, Dutch and French--The cobbler’s shed is Carey’s College.

WILLIAM CAREY, the first of her own children of the Reformation whom England sent forth as a missionary to India, where he became the most extensive translator of the Bible and civiliser, was the son of a weaver, and was himself a village shoemaker till he was twenty-eight years of age. He was born on the 17th August 1761, in the very midland of England, in the heart of the district which had produced Shakespeare, had fostered Wyclif and Hooker, had bred Fox and Bunyan, and had for a time been the scene of the lesser lights of John Mason and Doddridge, of John Newton and Thomas Scott. William Cowper, the poet of missions, made the land his chosen home, writing Hope and The Task in Olney, while the shoemaker was studying theology under Sutcliff on the opposite side of the market place. Thomas Clarkson, born a year before Carey, was beginning his assaults on the slave-trade by translating into English his Latin essay on the day-star of African liberty when the shoemaker, whom no university knew, was writing his Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use means for the Conversion of the Heathens.

William Carey bore a name, which had slowly fallen into forgetfulness after services to the Stewarts, with whose cause it had been identified. Professor Stephens, of Copenhagen, traces it to the Scando-Anglian Car, CAER or CARE, which became a place-name as CAR-EY. Among scores of neighbours called William, William of Carey would soon sink into Carey, and this would again become the family name. In Denmark the name Caròe is common. The oldest English instance is the Cariet who coined money in London for Æthelred II, in 1016. Certainly the name, through its forms of Crew, Carew, Carey, and Cary, still prevails on the Irish coast--from which depression of trade drove the family first to Yorkshire, then to the Northamptonshire village of Yelvertoft, and finally to Paulerspury, farther south--as well as over the whole Danegelt from Lincolnshire to Devonshire. If thus there was Norse blood in William Carey it came out in his persistent missionary daring, and it is pleasant even to speculate on the possibility of such an origin in one who was all his Indian life indebted to Denmark for the protection, which alone made his career possible.

The Carey’s who became famous in English history sprang from Devon. For two and a half centuries, from the second Richard to the second Charles, they gave statesmen and soldiers, scholars and bishops, to the service of their country. Henry Carey, first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, was the common ancestor of two ennobled houses long since extinct--the Earls of Dover and the Earls of Monmouth. A third peerage won by the Carey’s has been made historic by the patriotic counsels and self-sacrificing fate of Viscount Falkland, whose representative was Governor of Bombay for a time. Two of the heroic Falkland’s descendants, aged ladies, addressed a pathetic letter to Parliament about the time that the great missionary died, praying that they might not be doomed to starvation by being deprived of a crown pension of £80 a year. The older branch of the Carey’s also had fallen on evil times, and it became extinct while the future missionary was yet four years old. The seventh lord was a weaver when he succeeded to the title, and he died childless. The eighth was a Dutchman who had to be naturalised, and he was the last. The Carey’s fell lower still. One of them bore to the brilliant and reckless Marquis of Halifax, Henry Carey, who wrote one of the few English ballads that live. Another, the poet’s granddaughter, was the mother of Edmund Kean, and he at first was known by her name on the stage.

At that time when the weaver became the lord the grandfather of the missionary was parish clerk and first schoolmaster of the village of Paulerspury, eleven miles south of Northampton, and near the ancient posting town of Towcester, on the old Roman road from London to Chester. The free school was at the east or “church end” of the village, which, after crossing the old Watling Street, straggles for a mile over a sluggish burn to the “Pury end.” One son, Thomas, had enlisted and was in Canada. Edmund Carey, the second, set up the loom on which he wove the woollen cloth known as “tammy,” in a two-storied cottage. There his eldest child, WILLIAM, was born, and lived for six years till his father was appointed schoolmaster, when the family removed to the free schoolhouse. The cottage was demolished in 1854 by one Richard Linnell, who placed on the still meaner structure, now occupying the site the memorial slab, that guides many visitors to the spot. The schoolhouse, in which William Carey spent the eight most important years of his childhood till he was fourteen, and the school made way for the present pretty buildings.

The village surroundings and the country scenery coloured the whole of the boy’s after life, and did much to make him the first agricultural improver and naturalist of Bengal, which he became. The lordship of Pirie, as it was called by Gitda, its Saxon owner, was given by the Conqueror, with much else, to his natural son, William Peverel, as we see from the Doomsday survey. His descendants passed it on to Robert de Paveli, whence its present name, but in Carey’s time it was held by the second Earl Bathurst, who was Lord Chancellor. Up to the very schoolhouse came the royal forest of Whittlebury, its walks leading north to the woods of Salcey, of Yardley Chase and Rockingham, from the beeches, which give Buckingham its name. Carey must have often sat under the Queen’s Oak, still venerable in its riven form, where Edward IV. when hunting, first saw Elizabeth, unhappy mother of the two princes murdered in the Tower. The silent robbery of the people’s rights called “enclosures” has done much, before and since Carey’s time, to sweep away or shut up the woodlands. The country may be less beautiful, while the population has grown so that Paulerspury has now nearly double the eight hundred inhabitants of a century ago. But its oolitic hills, gently swelling to above 700 feet, and the valleys of the many rivers, which flow, from this central watershed, west and east, are covered with fat vegetation almost equally divided between grass and corn, with green crops. The many large estates are rich in gardens and orchards. The farmers, chiefly on smallholdings, are famous for their shorthorns and Leicester sheep. Except for the rapidly developing production of iron from the Lias, begun by the Romans, there is but one manufacture--that of shoes. It is now centred by modern machinery and labour arrangements in Northampton itself, which has 24,000 shoemakers, and in the other towns, but a century ago the craft was common to every hamlet. For botany and agriculture, however, Northamptonshire was the finest county in England, and young Carey had trodden many a mile of it, as boy and man, before he left home forever for Bengal.

Two unfinished autobiographical sketches, written from India at the request of Fuller and of Ryland, and letters of his youngest sister Mary, his favourite “Polly” who survived him, have preserved for us in still vivid characters the details of the early training of William Carey. He was the eldest of five children. He was the special care of their grandmother, a woman of a delicate nature and devout habits, who closed her sad widowhood in the weaver-son’s cottage. Encompassed by such a living influence the grandson spent his first six years. Already the child unconsciously showed the eager thirst for knowledge, and perseverance in attaining his object, which made him chiefly what he became. His mother would often be awoke in the night by the pleasant lisping of a voice “casting accompts; so intent was he from childhood in the pursuit of knowledge. Whatever he began he finished; difficulties never seemed to discourage his mind.” On removal to the ancestral schoolhouse the boy had a room to himself. His sister describes it as full of insects stuck in every corner that he might observe their progress. His many birds he entrusted to her care when he was from home. In this picture we see the exact foreshadowing of the man. “Though I often used to kill his birds by kindness, yet when he saw my grief for it he always indulged me with the pleasure of serving them again; and often took me over the dirtiest roads to get at a plant or an insect. He never walked out, I think, when quite a boy, without observation on the hedges as he passed; and when he took up a plant of any kind he always observed it with care. Though I was but a child I well remember his pursuits. He always seemed in earnest in his recreations as well as in school. He was generally one of the most active in all the amusements and recreations that boys in general pursue. He was always beloved by the boys about his own age.” To climb a certain tree was the object of their ambition; he fell often in the attempt, but did not rest till he had succeeded. His Uncle Peter was a gardener in the same village, and gave him his first lessons in botany and horticulture. He soon became responsible for his father’s official garden, till it was the best kept in the neighbourhood. Wherever after that he lived, as boy or man, poor or in comfort, William Carey made and perfected his garden, and always for others, until he created at Serampore the botanical park which for more than half a century was unique in Southern Asia.

We have in a letter from the Manse, Paulerspury, a tradition of the impression made on the dull rustics by the dawning genius of the youth whom they but dimly comprehended. He went amongst them under the nickname of Columbus, and they would say, “Well, if you won’t play, preach us a sermon,” which he would do. Mounting on an old dwarf witch elm about seven feet high, where several could sit, he would hold forth. This seems to have been a resort of his for reading, his favourite occupation. The same authority tells how, when suffering toothache, he allowed his companions to drag the tooth from his head with a violent jerk, by tying around it a string attached to a wheel used to grind malt, to which they gave a sharp turn.

The boy’s own peculiar room was a little library as well as museum of natural history. He possessed a few books, which indeed were many for those days, but he borrowed more from the whole countryside. Recalling the eight years of his intellectual apprenticeship till he was fourteen, from the serene height of his missionary standard, he wrote long after: --“I chose to read books of science, history, voyages, etc., more than any others. Novels and plays always disgusted me, and I avoided them as much as I did books of religion, and perhaps from the same motive. I was better pleased with romances, and this circumstance made me read the Pilgrim’s Progress with eagerness, though to no purpose.” The new era, of which he was to be the aggressive spiritual representative from Christendom, had not dawned. Walter Scott was ten years his junior. Captain Cook had not discovered the Sandwich Islands, and was only returning from the second of his three voyages while Carey was still at school. The church services and the watchfulness of his father supplied the directly moral training, which his grandmother had begun.

The Paulerspury living of St. James is a valuable rectory in the gift of New College, Oxford. Originally built in Early English, and rebuilt in 1844, the church must have presented a still more venerable appearance a century ago than it does now, with its noble tower in the Perpendicular, and chancel in the Decorated style, dominating the entire county. Then, as still, effigies of a Paveli and his wife, and of Sir Arthur Throckmorton and his wife recumbent head to head, covered a large altar-tomb in the chancel, and with the Bathurst and other monuments called forth first the fear and then the pride of the parish clerk’s eldest son. In those days the clerk had just below the pulpit the desk from which his sonorous “Amen” sounded forth, while his family occupied a low gallery rising from the same level up behind the pulpit. There the boys of the free school also could be under the master’s eye, and with instruments of music like those of King David, but now banished from even village churches, would accompany him in the doggerel strains of Sternhold and Hopkins, immortalised by Cowper. To the far right the boys could see and long for the ropes under the tower, in which the bell-ringers of his day, as of Bunyan’s not long before, delighted. The preaching of the time did nothing more for young Carey than for the rest of England and Scotland, whom the parish church had not driven into dissent or secession. But he could not help knowing the Prayer Book, and especially its psalms and lessons, and he was duly confirmed. The family training, too, was exceptionally scriptural, though not evangelical. “I had many stirrings of mind occasioned by being often obliged to read books of a religious character; and, having been accustomed from my infancy to read the Scriptures, I had a considerable acquaintance therewith, especially with the historical parts.” The first result was to make him despise dissenters. But, undoubtedly, this eldest son of the schoolmaster and the clerk of the parish had at fourteen received an education from parents, nature, and books which, with his habits of observation, love of reading, and perseverance, made him better instructed than most boys of fourteen far above the peasant class to which he belonged.

Buried in this obscure village in the dullest period of the dullest of all centuries, the boy had no better prospect before him than that of a weaver or labourer, or possibly a schoolmaster like one of his uncles in the neighbouring town of Towcester. When twelve years of age, with his uncle there, he might have formed one of the crowd which listened to John Wesley, who, in 1773 and then aged seventy, visited the prosperous posting town. Paulerspury could indeed boast of one son, Edward Bernard, D.D., who, two centuries before, had made for himself a name in Oxford, where he was Savilian Professor of Astronomy. But Carey was not a Scotsman, and therefore the university was not for such as he. Like his schoolfellows, he seemed born to the English labourer’s fate of five shillings a week, and the poorhouse in sickness and old age. From this, in the first instance, he was saved by a disease, which affected his face and hands most painfully whenever he was long exposed to the sun. For seven years he had failed to find relief. His attempt at work in the field was for two years followed by distressing agony at night. He was now sixteen, and his father sought out a good man who would receive him as apprentice to the shoemaking trade. The man was not difficult to find, in the hamlet of Hackleton, nine miles off, in the person of one Clarke Nichols. The lad afterwards described him as “a strict churchman and, what I thought, a very moral man. It is true he sometimes drank rather too freely, and generally employed me in carrying out goods on the Lord’s Day morning; but he was an inveterate enemy to lying, a vice to which I was awfully addicted.” The senior apprentice was a dissenter, and the master and his boys gave much of the talk over their work to disputes upon religious subjects. Carey “had always looked upon dissenters with contempt. I had, moreover, a share of pride sufficient for a thousand times my knowledge; I therefore always scorned to have the worst in an argument, and the last word was assuredly mine. I also made up in positive assertion what was wanting in argument, and generally came off with triumph. But I was often convinced afterwards that although I had the last word my antagonist had the better of the argument, and on that account felt a growing uneasiness and stings of conscience gradually increasing.” The dissenting apprentice was soon to be the first to lead him to Christ.

William Carey was a shoemaker during the twelve years of his life from sixteen to twenty-eight, till he went to Leicester. Poverty, which the grace of God used to make him a preacher also from his eighteenth year, compelled him to work with his hands in leather all the week, and to tramp many a weary mile to Northampton and Kettering carrying the product of his labour. At one time, when minister of Moulton, he kept a school by day, made or cobbled shoes by night, and preached on Sunday. So Paul had made tents of his native Cilician goatskin in the days when infant Christianity was chased from city to city, and the cross was a reproach only less bitter, however, than evangelical dissent in Christian England in the eighteenth century. The providence which made and kept young Carey so long a shoemaker, put him in the very position in which he could most fruitfully receive and nurse the sacred fire that made him the most learned scholar and Bible translator of his day in the East. The same providence thus linked him to the earliest Latin missionaries of Alexandria, of Asia Minor, and of Gaul, who were shoemakers, and to a succession of scholars and divines, poets and critics, reformers and philanthropists, who have used the shoemaker’s life to become illustrious.1 St. Mark chose for his successor, as first bishop of Alexandria, that Annianus whom he had been the means of converting to Christ when he found him at the cobbler’s stall. The Talmud commemorates the courage and the wisdom of “Rabbi Jochanan, the shoemaker,” whose learning soon after found a parallel in Carey’s. Like Annianus, “a poor shoemaker named Alexander, despised in the world but great in the sight of God, who did honour to so exalted a station in the Church,” became famous as Bishop of Comana in Cappadocia, as saint, preacher, and missionary-martyr. Soon after there perished in the persecutions of Diocletian, at Soissons, the two missionary brothers whose name of Crispin has ever since been gloried in by the trade, which they chose at once as a means of livelihood and of helping their poor converts. The Hackleton apprentice was still a child when the great Goethe was again adding to the then artificial literature of his country his own true predecessor, Hans Sachs, the shoemaker of Nürnberg, the friend of Luther, the meistersinger of the Reformation. And it was another German shoemaker, Boehme, whose exalted theosophy as expounded by William Law became one link in the chain that drew Carey to Christ, as it influenced Wesley and Whitefield, Samuel Johnson and Coleridge. George Fox was only nineteen when, after eight years’ service with a shoemaker in Drayton, Leicestershire, not far from Carey’s county, he heard the voice from heaven which sent him forth in 1643 to preach righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, till Cromwell sought converse with him, and the Friends became a power among men.

Carlyle has, in characteristic style, seized on the true meaning that was in the man when he made to himself a suit of leather and became the modern hero of Sartor Resartus. The words fit William Carey’s case even better than that of George Fox: -“Sitting in his stall, working on tanned hides, amid pincers, paste-horns, rosin, swine-bristles, and a nameless flood of rubbish, this youth had nevertheless a Living Spirit belonging to him; also an antique Inspired Volume, through which, as through a window, it could look upwards and discern its celestial Home.” That “shoe-shop, had men known it, was a holier place than any Vatican or Loretto-shrine. Stitch away, every prick of that little instrument is pricking into the heart of slavery.” Thirty-six years after Fox had begun to wear his leathern doublet he directed all Friends everywhere that had Indians or blacks to preach the Gospel to them.

But it would be too long to tell the list of workers in what has been called the gentle craft, whom the cobbler’s stall, with its peculiar opportunities for rhythmic meditation, hard thinking, and oft harder debating, has prepared for the honours of literature and scholarship, of philanthropy and reform. To mention only Carey’s contemporaries, the career of these men ran parallel at home with his abroad--Thomas Shillitoe, who stood before magistrates, bishops, and such sovereigns as George III and IV and the Czar Alexander I. in the interests of social reform; and John Pounds, the picture of whom as the founder of ragged schools led Thomas Guthrie, when he stumbled on it in an inn in Anstruther, to do the same Christ-like work in Scotland. Coleridge, who when at Christ’s Hospital was ambitious to be a shoemaker’s apprentice, was right when he declared that shoemakers had given to the world a larger number of eminent men than any other handicraft. Whittier’s own early experience in Massachusetts fitted him to be the poet-laureate of the craft, which for some years he adorned. His Songs of Labour, published in 1850, contain the best English lines on shoemakers since Shakespeare put into the mouth of King Henry V. the address on the eve of Agincourt, which begins: “This day is called the feast of Crispin.” But Whittier, Quaker, philanthropist, and countryman of Judson though he was, might have found a place for Carey when he sang so well of others:--

“Thy songs, Hans Sachs, are living yet,
In strong and hearty German;
And Bloomfield’s lay and Gifford’s wit
And patriot fame of Sherman;

“Still from his book, a mystic seer,
The soul of Behmen teaches,
And England’s priest craft shakes to hear
Of Fox’s leathern breeches.”

The confessions of Carey, made in the spiritual humility and self-examination of his later life, form a parallel to the Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, the little classic of John Bunyan second only to his Pilgrim’s Progress. The young Pharisee, who entered Hackleton with such hate in his heart to dissenters that he would have destroyed their meeting-place, who practised “lying, swearing, and other sins,” gradually yielded so far to his brother apprentice’s importunity as to leave these off, to try to pray sometimes when alone, to attend church three times a day, and to visit the dissenting prayer-meeting. Like the zealot who thought to do God service by keeping the whole law, Carey lived thus for a time, “not doubting but this would produce ease of mind and make me acceptable to God.” What revealed him to himself was an incident which he tells in language recalling at once Augustine and one of the subtlest sketches of George Eliot, in which the latter uses her half-knowledge of evangelical faith to stab the very truth that delivered Paul and Augustine, Bunyan and Carey, from the antinomianism of the Pharisee: -

“A circumstance which I always reflect on with a mixture of horror and gratitude occurred about this time, which, though greatly to my dishonour, I must relate. It being customary in that part of the country for apprentices to collect Christmas boxes [donations] from the tradesmen with whom their masters have dealings, I was permitted to collect these little sums. When I applied to an ironmonger, he gave me the choice of a shilling or a sixpence; I of course chose the shilling, and putting it in my pocket, went away. When I had got a few shillings my next care was to purchase some little articles for myself, I have forgotten what. But then, to my sorrow, I found that my shilling was a brass one. I paid for the things, which I bought by using a shilling of my master’s. I now found that I had exceeded my stock by a few pence. I expected severe reproaches from my master, and therefore came to the resolution to declare strenuously that the bad money was his. I well remember the struggles of mind which I had on this occasion, and that I made this deliberate sin a matter of prayer to God as I passed over the fields towards home! I there promised that, if God would but get me clearly over this, or, in other words, help me through with the theft, I would certainly for the future leave off all evil practices; but this theft and consequent lying appeared to me so necessary, that they could not be dispensed with.

“A gracious God did not get me safe through. My master sent the other apprentice to investigate the matter. The ironmonger acknowledged the giving me the shilling, and I was therefore exposed to shame, reproach, and inward remorse, which preyed upon my mind for a considerable time. I at this time sought the Lord, perhaps much more earnestly than ever, but with shame and fear. I was quite ashamed to go out, and never, till I was assured that my conduct was not spread over the town, did I attend a place of worship.

“I trust that, under these circumstances, I was led to see much more of myself than I had ever done before, and to seek for mercy with greater earnestness. I attended prayer-meetings only, however, till February 10, 1779, which being appointed a day of fasting and prayer, I attended worship on that day. Mr. Chater [Congregationalist] of Olney preached, but from what text I have forgotten. He insisted much on following Christ entirely, and enforced his exhortation with that passage, ‘Let us therefore go out unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.’--Heb. xiii. 13. I think I had a desire to follow Christ; but one idea occurred to my mind on hearing those words, which broke me off from the Church of England. The idea was certainly very crude, but useful in bringing me from attending a lifeless, carnal ministry to one more evangelical. I concluded that the Church of England, as established by law, was the camp in which all were protected from the scandal of the cross, and that I ought to bear the reproach of Christ among the dissenters; and accordingly I always afterwards attended divine worship among them.”

At eighteen Carey was thus emptied of self and there was room for Christ. In a neighbouring village he consorted much for a time with some followers of William Law, who had not long before passed away in a village in the neighbourhood, and select passages from whose writings the Moravian minister, Francis Okely, of Northampton, had versified. These completed the negative process. “I felt ruined and helpless.” Then to his spiritual eyes, purged of self, there appeared the Crucified One; and to his spiritual intelligence there was given the Word of God. The change was that wrought on Paul by a Living Person. It converted the hypocritical Pharisee into the evangelical preacher; it turned the vicious peasant into the most self-denying saint; it sent the village shoemaker far off to the Hindoos.

But the process was slow; it had been so even in Paul’s case. Carey found encouragement in intercourse with some old Christians in Hackleton, and he united with a few of them, including his fellow-apprentice, in forming a congregational church. The state of the parish may be imagined from its recent history. Hackleton is part of Piddington, and the squire had long appropriated the living of £300 a year, the parsonage, the glebe, and all tithes, sending his house minister “at times” to do duty. A Certificate from Northamptonshire, against the pluralities and other such scandals, published in 1641, declared that not a child or servant in Hackleton or Piddington could say the Lord’s Prayer. Carey sought the preaching of Doddridge’s successor at Northampton, of a Baptist minister at Road, and of Scott the commentator, then at Ravenstone. He had found peace, but was theologically “inquisitive and unsatisfied.” Fortunately, like Luther, he “was obliged to draw all from the Bible alone.”

When, at twenty years of age, Carey was slowly piecing together “the doctrines in the Word of God” into something like a system which would at once satisfy his own spiritual and intellectual needs, and help him to preach to others, a little volume was published, of which he wrote:--”I do not remember ever to have read any book with such raptures.” It was Help to Zion’s Travellers; being an attempt to remove various Stumbling-Blocks out of the Way, relating to Doctrinal, Experimental, and Practical Religion, by Robert Hall. The writer was the father of the greater Robert Hall, a venerable man, who, in his village church of Arnsby, near Leicester, had already taught Carey how to preach. The book is described as an “attempt to relieve discouraged Christians” in a day of gloominess and perplexity, that they might devote themselves to Christ through life as well as be found in Him in death. Carey made a careful synopsis of it in an exquisitely neat hand on the margin of each page. The worm-eaten copy, which he treasured even in India, is now deposited in Bristol College.

A Calvinist of the broad missionary type of Paul, Carey somewhat suddenly, according to his own account, became a Baptist. “I do not recollect having read anything on the subject till I applied to Mr. Ryland, senior, to baptise me. He lent me a pamphlet, and turned me over to his son,” who thus told the story when the Baptist Missionary Society held its first public meeting in London:--“October 5th, 1783: I baptised in the river Nen, a little beyond Dr. Doddridge’s meeting-house at Northampton, a poor journeyman shoemaker, little thinking that before nine years had elapsed, he would prove the first instrument of forming a society for sending missionaries from England to preach the gospel to the heathen. Such, however, as the event has proved, was the purpose of the Most High, who selected for this work not the son of one of our most learned ministers, nor of one of the most opulent of our dissenting gentlemen, but the son of a parish clerk.”

The spot may still be visited at the foot of the hill, where the Nen fed the moat of the old castle, in which many a Parliament sat from the days of King John. The text of that morning’s sermon happened to be the Lord’s saying, “Many first shall be last, and the last first,” which asserts His absolute sovereignty in choosing and in rewarding His missionaries, and introduces the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. As Carey wrote in the fullness of his fame, that the evangelical doctrines continued to be the choice of his heart, so he never wavered in his preference for the Baptist division of the Christian host. But from the first he enjoyed the friendship of Scott and Newton, and of his neighbour Mr. Robinson of St. Mary’s, Leicester, and we shall see him in India the centre of the Episcopal and Presbyterian chaplains and missionaries from Martyn Wilson to Lacroix and Duff. His controversial spirit died with the youthful conceit and self-righteousness of which it is so often the birth. When at eighteen he learned to know himself, he became forever humble. A zeal like that of his new-found Master took its place, and all the energy of his nature, every moment of his time, was directed to setting Him forth.

In his monthly visits to the father-house at Paulerspury the new man in him could not be hid. His sister gives us a vivid sketch of the lad, whose going over to the dissenters was resented, by the formal and stern clerk, and whose evangelicalism was a reproach to the others.

“At this time he was increasingly thoughtful, and very was jealous for the Lord of Hosts. Like Gideon, he seemed for throwing down all the altars of Baal in one night. When he came home we used to wonder at the change. We knew that before he was rather inclined to persecute the faith he now seemed to wish to propagate. At first, perhaps, his zeal exceeded the bounds of prudence; but he felt the importance of things we were strangers to, and his natural disposition was to pursue earnestly what he undertook, so that it was not to be wondered at, though we wondered at the change. He stood alone in his father’s house for some years. After a time he asked permission to have family prayer when he came home to see us, a favour which he very readily had granted. Often have I felt my pride rise while he was engaged in prayer, at the mention of those words in Isaiah, ‘that all our righteousness was like filthy rags.’ I did not think he thought his so, but looked on me and the family as filthy, not himself and his party. Oh, what pride is in the human heart! Nothing but my love to my brother would have kept me from showing my resentment.”

“A few of the friends of religion wished our brother to exercise his gifts by speaking to a few friends in a house licensed at Pury; which he did with great acceptance. The next morning a neighbour of ours, a very pious woman, came in to congratulate my mother on the occasion, and to speak of the Lord’s goodness in calling her son, and my brother, two such near neighbours, to the same noble calling. My mother replied, ‘What, do you think he will be a preacher?’ ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘and a great one, I think, if spared.’ From that time till he was settled at Moulton he regularly preached once a month at Pury with much acceptance. He was at that time in his twentieth year, and married. Our parents were always friendly to religion; yet, on some accounts, we should rather have wished him to go from home than come home to preach. I do not think I ever heard him, though my younger brother and my sister, I think, generally did. Our father much wished to hear his son, if he could do it unseen by him or any one. It was not long before an opportunity offered, and he embraced it. Though he was a man that never discovered any partiality for the abilities of his children, but rather sometimes went too far on the other hand, that often tended a little to discourage them, yet we were convinced that he approved of what he heard, and was highly gratified by it.”

In Hackleton itself his expositions of Scripture were so valued that the people, he writes, “being ignorant sometimes applauded to my great injury.” When in poverty, so deep that he fasted all that day because he had not a penny to buy a dinner, he attended a meeting of the Association of Baptist Churches at Olney, not far off. There he first met with his lifelong colleague, the future secretary of the mission, Andrew Fuller, the young minister of Soham, who preached on being men in understanding, and there it was arranged that he should preach regularly to a small congregation at Earls Barton, six miles from Hackleton. His newborn humility made him unable to refuse the duty, which he discharged for more than three years while filling his cobbler’s stall at Hackleton all the week, and frequently preaching elsewhere also. The secret of his power which drew the Northamptonshire peasants and craftsmen to the feet of their fellow was this, that he studied the portion of Scripture, which he read every morning at his private devotions, in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

This was Carey’s “college.” On the death of his first master, when he was eighteen, he had transferred his apprenticeship to a Mr. T. Old. Hackleton stands on the high road from Bedford and Olney to Northampton, and Thomas Scott was in the habit of resting at Mr. Old’s on his not infrequent walks from Olney, where he had succeeded John Newton. There he had no more attentive listener or intelligent talker than the new journeyman, who had been more influenced by his preaching at Ravenstone than by that of any other man. Forty years after, just before Scott’s death, Dr. Ryland gave him this message from Carey: --“If there be anything of the work of God in my soul, I owe much of it to his preaching when I first set out in the ways of the Lord;” to which this reply was sent: “I am surprised as well as gratified at your message from Dr. Carey. He heard me preach only a few times, and that as far as I know in my rather irregular excursions; though I often conversed and prayed in his presence, and endeavoured to answer his sensible and pertinent inquiries when at Hackleton. But to have suggested even a single useful hint to such a mind as his must be considered as a high privilege and matter of gratitude.” Scott had previously written this more detailed account of his intercourse with the preaching shoemaker, whom he first saw when he called on Mr. Old to tell him of the welfare of his mother:

“When I went into the cottage I was soon recognised, and Mr. Old came in, with a sensible-looking lad in his working-dress. I at first rather wondered to see him enter, as he seemed young, being, I believe, little of his age. We, however, entered into very interesting conversation, especially respecting my parishioner, their relative, and the excellent state of her mind, and the wonder of divine grace in the conversion of one who had been so very many years considered as a self-righteous Pharisee. I believe I endeavoured to show that the term was often improperly applied to conscientious but ignorant inquirers, who are far from self-satisfied, and who, when the Gospel is set before them, find the thing which they had long been groping after. However that may be, I observed the lad who entered with Mr. Old riveted in attention with every mark and symptom of intelligence and feeling; saying little, but modestly asking now and then an appropriate question. I took occasion, before I went forward, to inquire after him, and found that, young as he was, he was a member of the church at Hackleton, and looked upon as a very consistent and promising character. I lived at Olney till the end of 1785; and in the course of that time I called perhaps two or three times each year at Mr. Old’s, and was each time more and more struck with the youth’s conduct, though I said little; but, before I left Olney, Mr. Carey was out of his engagement with Mr. Old. I found also that he was sent out as a probationary preacher, and preached at Moulton; and I said to all to whom I had access that he would, if I could judge, prove no ordinary man. Yet, though I often met both old Mr. Ryland, the present Dr. Ryland, Mr. Hall, Mr. Fuller, and knew almost every step taken in forming your Missionary Society, and though I sometimes preached very near Moulton, it so happened that I do not recollect having met with him any more, till he came to my house in London with Mr. Thomas, to desire me to use what little influence I had with Charles Grant, Esq., to procure them licence to go in the Company’s ships as missionaries to the British settlements in India, perhaps in 1792. My little influence was of no avail. What I said of Mr. Carey so far satisfied Mr. Grant that he said, if Mr. Carey was going alone, or with one equally to be depended on along with him, he would not oppose him; but his strong disapprobation of Mr. T., on what ground I knew not, induced his negative. I believe Mr. Old died soon after I left Olney, if not just before; and his shop, which was a little building apart from the house, was suffered to go to decay. While in this state I several times passed it, and said to my sons and others with me, that is Mr. Carey’s college.”

This cobbler’s shed which was Carey’s college has been since restored, but two of the original walls still stand, forming the corner in which he sat, opposite the window that looks out into the garden he carefully kept. Here, when his second master died, Carey succeeded to the business, charging himself with the care of the widow, and marrying the widow’s sister, Dorothy or Dolly Placket. He was only twenty when he took upon himself such burdens, in the neighbouring church of Piddington, a village to which he afterwards moved his shop. Never had minister, missionary, or scholar a less sympathetic mate, due largely to that latent mental disease which in India carried her off; but for more than twenty years the husband showed her loving reverence. As we stand in the Hackleton shed, over which Carey placed the rude signboard prepared by his own hands, and now in the library of Regent’s Park College, “Second Hand Shoes Bought and--,”2 we can realise the low estate to which Carey fell, even below his father’s loom and schoolhouse, and from which he was called to become the apostle of North India as Schwartz was of the South.

How was this shed his college? We have seen that he brought with him from his native village an amount of information, habits of observation, and knowledge of books unusual in rustics of that day, and even of the present time. At twelve he made his first acquaintance with a language other than his own, when he mastered the short grammar in Dyche’s Latine Vocabulary, and committed nearly the whole book to memory. When urging him to take the preaching at Barton, Mr. Sutcliff of Olney gave him Ruddiman’s Latin Grammar. The one alleviation of his lot under the coarse but upright Nichols was found in his master’s small library. There he began to study Greek. In a New Testament commentary he found Greek words, which he carefully transcribed and kept until he should next visit home, where a youth whom dissipation had reduced from college to weaving explained both the words and their terminations to him. All that he wanted was such beginnings. Hebrew he seems to have learned by the aid of the neighbouring ministers; borrowing books from them, and questioning them “pertinently,” as he did Scott.3 At the end of Hopkins’s Three Sermons on the Effects of Sin on the Universe, preached in 1759, he had made this entry on 9th August 1787--“Gulielm. Careius perlegit.” He starved himself to purchase a few books at the sale, which attended Dr. Ryland’s removal from Northampton to Bristol. In an old woman’s cottage he found a Dutch quarto, and from that he so taught himself the language that in 1789 he translated for Ryland a discourse on the Gospel Offer sent to him by the evangelical Dr. Erskine of Edinburgh. The manuscript is in an extremely small character, unlike what might have been expected from one who had wrought with his hands for eight years. French he acquired, sufficiently for literary purposes, in three weeks from the French version of Ditton on the Resurrection, which he purchased for a few coppers. He had the linguistic gift, which soon after made the young carpenter Mezzofanti of Bologna famous and a cardinal. But the gift would have been buried in the grave of his penury and his circumstances had his trade been almost any other, and had he not been impelled by the most powerful of all motives. He never sat on his stall without his book before him, nor did he painfully toil with his wallet of new-made shoes to the neighbouring towns or return with leather without conning over his lately acquired knowledge, and making it forever, in orderly array, his own. He so taught his evening school and his Sunday congregations that the teaching to him, like writing to others, stereotyped or lighted up the truths. Indeed, the school and the cobbling often went on together--a fact commemorated in the addition to the Hackleton signboard of the Piddington nail on which he used to fix his thread while teaching the children.

But that, which sanctified and directed the whole throughout a working life of more than half a century, was the missionary idea and the missionary consecration. With a caution not often shown at that time by bishops in laying hands on those whom they had passed for deacon’s orders, the little church at Olney thus dealt with the Father of Modern Missions before they would recognise his call and send him out “to preach the gospel wherever God in His providence might call him:”

“June 17, 1785. --A request from William Carey of Moulton, in Northamptonshire, was taken into consideration. He has been and still is in connection with a society of people at Hackleton. He is occasionally engaged with acceptance in various places in speaking the Word. He bears a very good moral character. He is desirous of being sent out from some reputable church of Christ into the work of the ministry. The principal Question was--’in what manner shall we receive him? by a letter from the people of Hackleton, or on a profession of faith, etc.?’ The final resolution of it was left to another church Meeting.

“July 14- - Ch. Meeting W. Carey appeared before the Church, and having given a satisfactory account of the work of God upon his soul, he was admitted a member. He had been formerly baptised by the Rev. Mr. Ryland, jun., of Northampton. He was invited by the Church to preach in public once next Lord’s Day.

“July 17. - Ch. Meeting, Lord’s Day Evening. W. Carey, in consequence of a request from the Church, preached this Evening. After which it was resolved that he should be allowed to go on preaching at those places where he has been for some time employed, and that he should engage again on suitable occasions for some time before us, in order that farther trial may be made of ministerial gifts.

“June 16, 1786. --C.M. The case of Brother Carey was considered, and a unanimous satisfaction with his ministerial abilities being expressed, a vote was passed to call him to the Ministry at a proper time.

“August 10.--Ch. Meeting. This evening our Brother William Carey was called to the work of the Ministry, and sent out by the Church to preach the Gospel, wherever God in His providence might call him.

“April 29, 1787. - Ch. M. After the Order our Brother William Carey was dismissed to the Church of Christ at Moulton in Northamptonshire with a view to his Ordination there.”

These were the last years at Olney of William Cowper before he removed to the Throckmortons’ house at Weston village, two miles distant. Carey must often have seen the poet during the twenty years, which he spent in the corner house of the market-square, and in the walks around. He must have read the poems of 1782, which for the first time do justice to missionary enterprise. He must have hailed what Mrs. Browning calls “the deathless singing” which in 1785, in The Task, opened a new era in English literature. He may have been fired with the desire to imitate Whitefield, in the description of whom, though reluctant to name him, Cowper really anticipated Carey himself: --

“He followed Paul; his zeal a kindred flame,
His apostolic charity the same;
Like him crossed cheerfully tempestuous seas,
Forsaking country, kindred, friends and ease;
Like him he laboured and, like him, content
To bear it, suffered shame where’er he went.”

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Chapter II.

2. The Birth Of England's Foreign Missions. 1785-1792.Moulton the Mission’s birthplace--Carey’s fever and poverty--His Moulton school--Fired with the missionary idea--His very large missionary map--Fuller’s confession of the aged and respectable ministers’ opposition--Old Mr. Ryland’s rebuke--Driven to publish his Enquiry--Its literary character--Carey’s survey of the world in 1788--His motives, difficulties, and plans--Projects the first Missionary Society--Contrasted with his predecessors from Erasmus--Prayer concert begun in Scotland in 1742--Jonathan Edwards--The Northamptonshire Baptist movement in 1784--Andrew Fuller--The Baptists, Particular and General--Antinomian and Socinian extremes opposed to Missions--Met by Fuller’s writings and Clipstone sermon--Carey’s agony at continued delay--His work in Leicester--His sermon at Nottingham--Foundation of Baptist Missionary Society at last--Kettering and Jerusalem.

THE north road, which runs for twelve miles from Northampton to Kettering, passes through a country known last century for the doings of the Pytchley Hunt. Stories, by no means exaggerated, of the deep drinking and deeper play of the club, whose gatehouse now stands at the entrance of Overstone Park, were rife, when on Lady Day 1785 William Carey became Baptist preacher of Moulton village, on the other side of the road. Moulton was to become the birthplace of the modern missionary idea; Kettering, of evangelical missionary action.

No man in England had apparently a more wretched lot or more miserable prospects than he. He had started in life as a journeyman shoemaker at eighteen, burdened with a payment to his first master’s widow which his own kind heart had led him to offer, and with the price of his second master’s stock and business. Trade was good for the moment, and he had married, before he was twenty, one who brought him the most terrible sorrow a man can bear. He had no sooner completed a large order for which his predecessor had contracted than it was returned on his hands. From place to place he wearily trudged, trying to sell the shoes. Fever carried off his first child and brought himself so near to the grave that he sent for his mother to help in the nursing. At Piddington he worked early and late at his garden, but ague, caused by a neighbouring marsh, returned and left him so bald that he wore a wig thereafter until his voyage to India. During his preaching for more than three years at Barton, which involved a walk of sixteen miles, he did not receive from the poor folks enough to pay for the clothes he wore out in their service. His younger brother delicately came to his help, and he received the gift with a pathetic tenderness. But a calling, which at once starved him, in spite of all his method and perseverance, and cramped the ardour of his soul for service to the Master who had revealed Himself in him, became distasteful. He gladly accepted an invitation from the somewhat disorganised church at Moulton to preach to them. They could offer him only about £10 a year, supplemented by £5 from a London fund. But the schoolmaster had just left, and Carey saw in that fact a new hope. For a time he and his family managed to live on an income, which is estimated as never, exceeding £36 a year. We find this passage in a printed appeal made by the “very poor congregation” for funds to repair and enlarge the chapel to which the new pastor’s preaching had attracted a crowd:--“The peculiar situation of our minister, Mr. Carey, renders it impossible for us to send him far abroad to collect the Contributions of the Charitable; as we are able to raise him but about Ten Pounds per Annum, so that he is obliged to keep a School for his Support: And as there are other two Schools in the Town, if he was to leave Home to collect for the Building, he must probably quit his Station on his Return, for Want of a Maintenance.”

His genial loving-kindness and his fast increasing learning little fitted him to drill peasant children in the alphabet. “When I kept school the boys kept me,” he used to confess with a merry twinkle. In all that our Lord meant by it William Carey was a child from first to last. The former teacher returned, and the poor preacher again took to shoemaking for the village clowns and the shops in Kettering and Northampton. His house still stands, one of a row of six cottages of the dear old English type, with the indispensable garden behind, and the glad sunshine pouring in through the open window embowered in roses and honeysuckle.

There, and chiefly in the school-hours as he tried to teach the children geography and the Bible and was all the while teaching himself, the missionary idea arose in his mind, and his soul became fired with the self-consecration, unknown to Wyclif and Hus, Luther and Calvin, Knox and even Bunyan, for theirs was other work. All his past knowledge of nature and of books, all his favourite reading of voyages and of travels which had led his school-fellows to dub him Columbus, all his painful study of the Word, his experience of the love of Christ and expounding of the meaning of His message to men for six years, were gathered up, were intensified, and were directed with a concentrated power to the thought that Christ died, as for him, so for these millions of dark savages whom Cook was revealing to Christendom, and who had never heard the glad tidings of great joy.

Carey had ceased to keep school when the Moulton Baptists, who could subscribe no more than two pence a month each for their own poor, formally called the preacher to become their ordained pastor, and Ryland, Sutcliff, and Fuller were asked to ordain him on the 10th August 1786. Fuller had discovered the value of a man who had passed through spiritual experience, and possessed a native common sense like his own, when Carey had been suddenly called to preach in Northampton to supply the place of another. Since that day he had often visited Moulton, and he thus tells us what he had seen:--

“The congregation being few and poor, he followed his business in order to assist in supporting his family. His mind, however, was much occupied in acquiring the learned languages, and almost every other branch of useful knowledge. I remember, on going into the room where he employed himself at his business, I saw hanging up against the wall a very large map, consisting of several sheets of paper pasted together by himself, on which he had drawn, with a pen, a place for every nation in the known world, and entered into it whatever he met with in reading, relative to its population, religion, etc. The substance of this was afterwards published in his Enquiry. These researches, on which his mind was naturally bent, hindered him, of course, from doing much of his business; and the people, as was said, being few and poor, he was at this time exposed to great hardships. I have been assured that he and his family have lived for a great while together without tasting animal food, and with but a scanty pittance of other provision.”

“He would also be frequently conversing with his brethren in the ministry on the practicability and importance of a mission to the heathen, and of his willingness to engage in it. At several ministers’ meetings, between the year 1787 and 1790, this was the topic of his conversation. Some of our most aged and respectable ministers thought, I believe, at that time, that it was a wild and impracticable scheme that he had got in his mind, and therefore gave him no encouragement. Yet he would not give it up; but would converse with us, one by one, till he had made some impression upon us.”

The picture is completed by his sister: --

“He was always, from his first being thoughtful, remarkably impressed about heathen lands and the slave-trade. I never remember his engaging in prayer, in his family or in public, without praying for those poor creatures. The first time I ever recollect my feeling for the heathen world, was from a discourse I heard my brother preach at Moulton, the first summer after I was thoughtful. It was from these words: --‘For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake will I give him no rest.’ It was a day to be remembered by me; a day set apart for prayer and fasting by the church. What hath God wrought since that time?”

Old Mr. Ryland always failed to recall the story, but we have it on the testimony of Carey’s personal friend, Morris of Clipstone, who was present at the meeting of ministers held in 1786 at Northampton, at which the incident occurred. Ryland invited the younger brethren to propose a subject for discussion. There was no reply, till at last the Moulton preacher suggested, doubtless with an ill-restrained excitement, “whether the command given to the Apostles, to teach all nations, was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.” Neither Fuller nor Carey himself had yet delivered the Particular Baptists from the yoke of hyper-Calvinism, which had to, that hour shut the heathen out of a dead Christendom, and the aged chairman shouted out the rebuke--“You are a miserable enthusiast for asking such a question. Certainly nothing can be done before another Pentecost, when an effusion of miraculous gifts, including the gift of tongues, will give effect to the commission of Christ as at first.” Carey had never before mentioned the subject openly, and he was for the moment greatly mortified. But, says Morris, he still pondered these things in his heart. That incident marks the wide gulf, which Carey had to bridge. Silenced by his brethren, he had recourse to the press. It was then that he wrote his own contribution to the discussion he would have raised on a duty which was more than seventeen centuries old, and had been for fourteen of these neglected: An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, in which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, are considered by WILLIAM CAREY. Then follows the great conclusion of Paul in his letter to the Romans (x. 12-15): “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek...How shall they preach except they be sent?” He happened to be in Birmingham in 1786 collecting subscriptions for the rebuilding of the chapel in Moulton, when Mr. Thomas Potts, who had made a fortune in trade with America, discovering that he had prepared the manuscript, gave him £10 to publish it. And it appeared at Leicester in 1792, “price one shilling and sixpence,” the profits to go to the proposed mission. The pamphlet forms doubtless accounts for its disappearance now; only four copies of the original edition4 are known to be in existence.

This Enquiry has a literary interest of its own, as a contribution to the statistics and geography of the world, written in a cultured and almost finished style, such as few, if any, University men of that day could have produced, for none were impelled by such a motive as Carey had. In an obscure village, toiling save when he slept, and finding rest on Sunday only by a change of toil, far from libraries and the society of men with more advantages than his own, this shoemaker, still under thirty, surveys the whole world, continent by continent, island by island, race by race, faith by faith, kingdom by kingdom, tabulating his results with an accuracy, and following them up with a logical power of generalisation which would extort the admiration of the learned even of the present day.

Having proved that the commission given by our Lord to His disciples is still binding on us, having reviewed former undertakings for the conversion of the heathen from the Ascension to the Moravians and “the late Mr. Wesley” in the West Indies, and having thus surveyed in detail the state of the world in 1786, he removes the five impediments in the way of carrying the Gospel among the heathen, which his contemporaries advanced--their distance from us, their barbarism, the danger of being killed by them, the difficulty of procuring the necessaries of life, the unintelligible-ness of their languages. These his loving heart and Bible knowledge enable him skilfully to turn in favour of the cause he pleads. The whole section is essential to an appreciation of Carey’s motives, difficulties, and plans: --

“FIRST, As to their distance from us, whatever objections might have been made on that account before the invention of the mariner’s compass, nothing can be alleged for it with any colour of plausibility in the present age. Men can now sail with as much certainty through the Great South Sea as they can through the Mediterranean or any lesser sea. Yea, and providence seems in a manner to invite us to the trial, as there are to our knowledge trading companies, whose commerce lies in many of the places where these barbarians dwell. At one time or other ships are sent to visit places of more recent discovery, and to explore parts the most unknown; and every fresh account of their ignorance or cruelty should call forth our pity, and excite us to concur with providence in seeking their eternal good. Scripture likewise seems to point out this method, ‘Surely the Isles shall wait for me; the ships of Tarshish first, to bring my sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord, thy God.’--Isaiah IX. 9. This seems to imply that in the time of the glorious increase of the church, in the latter days (of which the whole chapter is undoubtedly a prophecy), commerce shall sub-serve the spread of the gospel. The ships of Tarshish were trading vessels, which made voyages for traffic to various parts; thus much therefore must be meant by it, that navigation, especially that which is commercial, shall be one great mean of carrying on the work of God; and perhaps it may imply that there shall be a very considerable appropriation of wealth to that purpose.

“SECONDLY, As to their uncivilised and barbarous way of living, this can be no objection to any, except those whose love of ease renders them unwilling to expose themselves to inconveniences for the good of others. It was no objection to the apostles and their successors, who went among the barbarous Germans and Gauls, and still more barbarous Britons! They did not wait for the ancient inhabitants of these countries to be civilised before they could be christianised, but went simply with the doctrine of the cross; and Tertullian could boast that ‘those parts of Britain which were proof against the Roman armies, were conquered by the gospel of Christ.’ It was no objection to an Eliot or a Brainerd, in later times. They went forth, and encountered every difficulty of the kind, and found that a cordial reception of the gospel produced those happy effects, which the longest intercourse with Europeans without it could never accomplish. It is no objection to commercial men. It only requires that we should have as much love to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and fellow-sinners, as they have for the profits arising from a few otter-skins, and all these difficulties would be easily surmounted.

“After all, the uncivilised state of the heathen, instead of affording an objection against preaching the gospel to them, ought to furnish an argument for it. Can we as men, or as Christians, hear that a great part of our fellow-creatures, whose souls are as immortal as ours, and who are as capable as ourselves of adorning the gospel and contributing by their preaching’s, writings, or practices to the glory of our Redeemer’s name and the good of his church, are enveloped in ignorance and barbarism? Can we hear that they are without the gospel, without government, without laws, and without arts, and sciences; and not exert ourselves to introduce among them the sentiments of men, and of Christians? Would not the spread of the gospel be the most effectual mean of their civilisation? Would not that make them useful members of society? We know that such effects did in a measure follow the afore-mentioned efforts of Eliot, Brainerd, and others amongst the American Indians; and if similar attempts were made in other parts of the world, and succeeded with a divine blessing (which we have every reason to think they would), might we not expect to see able divines, or read well-conducted treatises in defence of the truth, even amongst those who at present seem to be scarcely human?

“THIRDLY, In respect to the danger of being killed by them, it is true that whoever does go must put his life in his hand, and not consult with flesh and blood; but do not the goodness of the cause, the duties incumbent on us as the creatures of God and Christians, and the perishing state of our fellow-men, loudly call upon us to venture all, and use every warrantable exertion for their benefit? Paul and Barnabas, who hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, were not blamed as being rash, but commended for so doing; while John Mark, who through timidity of mind deserted them in their perilous undertaking, was branded with censure. After all, as has been already observed, I greatly question whether most of the barbarities practised by the savages upon those who have visited them, have not originated in some real or supposed affront, and were therefore, more properly, acts of self-defence, than proofs of ferocious dispositions. No wonder if the imprudence of sailors should prompt them to offend the simple savage, and the offence be resented; but Eliot, Brainerd, and the Moravian missionaries have been very seldom molested. Nay, in general the heathen have showed a willingness to hear the word; and have principally expressed their hatred of Christianity on account of the vices of nominal Christians.

“FOURTHLY, As to the difficulty of procuring the necessaries of life, this would not be so great as may appear at first sight; for, though we could not procure European food, yet we might procure such as the natives of those countries which we visit, subsist upon themselves. And this would only be passing through what we have virtually engaged in by entering on the ministerial office. A Christian minister is a person who in a peculiar sense is not his own; he is the servant of God, and therefore ought to be wholly devoted to him. By entering on that sacred office he solemnly undertakes to be always engaged, as much as possible, in the Lord’s work, and not to choose his own pleasure, or employment, or pursue the ministry as a something that is to sub-serve his own ends, or interests, or as a kind of bye-work. He engages to go where God pleases, and to do or endure what he sees fit to command, or call him to, in the exercise of his function. He virtually bids farewell to friends, pleasures, and comforts, and stands in readiness to endure the greatest sufferings in the work of his Lord, and Master. It is inconsistent for ministers to please themselves with thoughts of a numerous auditory, cordial friends, a civilised country, legal protection, affluence, splendour, or even a competency. The slights, and hatred of men, and even pretended friends, gloomy prisons, and tortures, the society of barbarians of uncouth speech, miserable accommodations in wretched wildernesses, hunger, and thirst, nakedness, weariness, and painfulness, hard work, and but little worldly encouragement, should rather be the objects of their expectation. Thus the apostles acted, in the primitive times, and endured hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ; and though we, living in a civilised country where Christianity is protected by law, are not called to suffer these things while we continue here, yet I question whether all are justified in staying here, while so many are perishing without means of grace in other lands. Sure I am that it is entirely contrary to the spirit of the gospel for its ministers to enter upon it from interested motives, or with great worldly expectations. On the contrary, the commission is a sufficient call to them to venture all, and, like the primitive Christians, go everywhere preaching the gospel.

“It might be necessary, however, for two, at least, to go together, and in general I should think it best that they should be married men, and to prevent their time from being employed in procuring necessaries, two, or more, other persons, with their wives and families, might also accompany them, who should be wholly employed in providing for them. In most countries it would be necessary for them to cultivate a little spot of ground just for their support, which would be a resource to them, whenever their supplies failed. Not to mention the advantages they would reap from each other’s company, it would take off the enormous expense which has always attended undertakings of this kind, the first expense being the whole; for though a large colony needs support for a considerable time, yet so small a number would, upon receiving the first crop, maintain themselves. They would have the advantage of choosing their situation, their wants would be few; the women, and even the children, would be necessary for domestic purposes: and a few articles of stock, as a cow or two, and a bull, and a few other cattle of both sexes, a very few utensils of husbandry, and some corn to sow their land, would be sufficient. Those who attend the missionaries should understand husbandry, fishing, fowling, etc., and be provided with the necessary implements for these purposes. Indeed, a variety of methods may be thought of, and when once the work is undertaken, many things will suggest themselves to us, of which we at present can form no idea.

“FIFTHLY, As to learning their languages, the same means would be found necessary here as in trade between different nations. In some cases interpreters might be obtained, who might be employed for a time; and where these were not to be found, the missionaries must have patience, and mingle with the people, till they have learned so much of their language as to be able to communicate their ideas to them in it. It is well known to require no very extraordinary talents to learn, in the space of a year, or two at most, the language of any people upon earth, so much of it at least as to be able to convey any sentiments we wish to their understandings.

“The Missionaries must be men of great piety, prudence, courage, and forbearance; of undoubted orthodoxy in their sentiments, and must enter with all their hearts into the spirit of their mission; they must be willing to leave all the comforts of life behind them, and to encounter all the hardships of a torrid or a frigid climate, an uncomfortable manner of living, and every other inconvenience that can attend this undertaking. Clothing, a few knives, powder and shot, fishing-tackle, and the articles of husbandry above mentioned, must be provided for them; and when arrived at the place of their destination, their first business must be to gain some acquaintance with the language of the natives (for which purpose two would be better than one), and by all lawful means to endeavour to cultivate a friendship with them, and as soon as possible let them know the errand for which they were sent. They must endeavour to convince them that it was their good, alone which induced them to forsake their friends, and all the comforts of their native country. They must be very careful not to resent injuries which may be offered to them, nor to think highly of themselves, so as to despise the poor heathens, and by those means lay a foundation for their resentment or rejection of the gospel. They must take every opportunity of doing them good, and labouring and travelling night and day, they must instruct, exhort, and rebuke, with all long suffering and anxious desire for them, and, above all, must be instant in prayer for the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the people of their charge. Let but missionaries of the above description engage in the work, and we shall see that it is not impracticable.

“It might likewise be of importance, if God should bless their labours, for them to encourage any appearances of gifts amongst the people of their charge; if such should be raised up many advantages would be derived from their knowledge of the language and customs of their countrymen; and their change of conduct would give great weight to their ministrations.”

This first and still greatest missionary treatise in the English language closes with the practical suggestion of these means--fervent and united prayer, the formation of a catholic or, failing that, a Particular Baptist Society of “persons whose hearts are in the work, men of serious religion and possessing a spirit of perseverance,” with an executive committee, and subscriptions from rich and poor of a tenth of their income for both village preaching and foreign missions, or, at least, an average of one penny or more per week from all members of congregations. He thus concludes: - “It is true all the reward is of mere grace, but it is nevertheless encouraging; what a treasure, what an harvest must await such characters as Paul, and Eliot, and Brainerd, and others, who have given themselves wholly to the work of the Lord. What a heaven will it be, to see the many myriads of poor heathens, of Britons amongst the rest, who by their labours have been brought to the knowledge of God. Surely a crown of rejoicing like this is worth aspiring to. Surely it is worth while to lay ourselves out with all our might, in promoting the cause and kingdom of Christ.”

So Carey projected the first organisation which England had seen for missions to all the human race outside of Christendom; and his project, while necessarily requiring a Society to carry it out, as coming from an “independent” Church, provided that every member of every congregation should take a part to the extent of fervent and united prayer, and of an average subscription of a penny a week. He came as near to the New Testament ideal of all Christians acting in an aggressive missionary church as was possible in an age when the Established Churches of England, Scotland, and Germany scouted foreign missions, and the Free Churches were chiefly congregational in their ecclesiastical action. While asserting the other ideal of the voluntary tenth or tithe as both a Scriptural principle and Puritan practice, his common sense was satisfied to suggest an average penny a week, all over, for every Christian. At this hour, more than a century since Carey wrote, and after a remarkable missionary revival in consequence of what he wrote and did, all Christendom, Evangelical, Greek, and Latin, does not give more than five millions sterling a year to Christianise the majority of the race still outside its pale. It is not too much to say that were Carey’s penny a week from every Christian a fact, and the prayer which would sooner or later accompany it, the five millions would be fifty, and Christendom would become a term nearly synonymous with humanity. The Churches, whether by themselves or by societies, have yet to pray and organise up to the level of Carey’s penny a week.

The absolute originality as well as grandeur of the unconscious action of the peasant shoemaker who, from 1779, prayed daily for all the heathen and slaves, and organised his society accordingly, will be seen in the dim light or darkness visible of all who had preceded him. They were before the set time; he was ready in the fullness of the missionary preparation. They belonged not only to periods, but to nations, to churches, to communities which were failing in the struggle for fruitfulness and expansion in new worlds and fresh lands; he was a son of England, which had come or was about to come out of the struggle a victor, charged with the terrible responsibility of the special servant of the Lord, as no people had ever before been charged in all history, sacred or secular. William Carey, indeed, reaped the little that the few brave toilers of the wintry time had sown; with a humility that is pathetic he acknowledges their toll, while ever ignorant to the last of his own merit. But he reaped only as each generation garners such fruits of its predecessor as may have been worthy to survive. He was the first of the true Anastatosantes of the modern world, as only an English-speaking man could be--of the most thorough, permanent, and everlasting of all Reformers, the men who turn the world upside down, because they make it rise up and depart from deadly beliefs and practices, from the fear and the fate of death, into the life and light of Christ and the Father.

Who were his predecessors, reckoning from the Renascence of Europe, the discovery of America, and the opening up of India and Africa? Erasmus comes first, the bright scholar of compromise who in 1516 gave the New Testament again to Europe, as three centuries after Carey gave it to all Southern Asia, and whose missionary treatise, Ecclesiasties, in 1535 anticipated, theoretically at least, Carey’s Enquiry by two centuries and a half. The missionary dream of this escaped monk of Rotterdam and Basel, who taught women and weavers and cobblers to read the Scriptures, and prayed that the Book might be translated into all languages, was realised in the scandalous iniquities and frauds of Portuguese and Spanish and Jesuit missions in West and East. Luther had enough to do with his papal antichrist and his German translation of the Greek of the Testament of Erasmus. The Lutheran church drove missions into the hands of the Pietists and Moravians--Wiclif’s offspring--who nobly but ineffectually strove to do a work meant for the whole Christian community. The Church of England thrust forth the Puritans first to Holland and then to New England, where Eliot, the Brainerds, and the Mayhews sought to evangelise tribes, which did not long survive themselves.

It was from Courteenhall, a Northamptonshire village near Paulerspury, that in 1644 there went forth the appeal for the propagation of the Gospel, which comes nearest to Carey’s cry from the same midland region. Cromwell was in power, and had himself planned Protestant Propaganda, so to the Long Parliament William Castell, “parson of Courteenhall,” sent a petition, which, with the “Eliot Tracts,” resulted in an ordinance creating the Corporation for the Promoting and Propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England. Seventy English ministers had backed the petition, and six of the Church of Scotland, first of whom was Alexander Henderson. The corporation, which, in a restored form, Robert Boyle governed for thirty years, familiarised the nation with the duty of caring for the dark races then coming more and more under our sway alike in America and in India. It still exists, as well as Boyle’s Society for advancing the Faith in the West Indies. The Friends also, and then the Moravians, taught the Wesley’s and Whitefield to care for the Negroes. The English and Scottish Propagation Societies sought also to provide spiritual aids for the colonists and the highlanders.

The two great thinkers of the eighteenth century, who flourished as philosopher and moralist when Carey was a youth, taught the principles which he of all others was to apply on their spiritual and most effective side. Adam Smith put his finger on the crime which had darkened and continued till 1834 to shadow the brightness of geographical enterprise in both hemispheres--the treatment of the natives by Europeans whose superiority of force enabled them to commit every sort of injustice in the new lands. He sought a remedy in establishing an equality of force by the mutual communication of knowledge and of all sorts of improvements by an extensive commerce.5 Samuel Johnson rose to a higher level alike of wisdom and righteousness, when he expressed the indignation of a Christian mind that the propagation of truth had never been seriously pursued by any European nation, and the hope “that the light of the Gospel will at last illuminate the sands of Africa and the deserts of America, though its progress cannot but be slow when it is so much obstructed by the lives of Christians.”

The early movement, which is connected most directly with Carey’s and the Northamptonshire Baptists’, began in Scotland. Its Kirk, emasculated by the Revolution settlement and statute of Queen Anne, had put down the evangelical teaching of Boston and the “marrow” men, and had cast out the fathers of the Secession in 1733. In 1742 the quickening spread over the West Country. In October 1744 several ministers in Scotland united, for the two years next following, in what they called, and what has since become familiar in America as, a “Concert to promote more abundant application to a duty that is perpetually binding--prayer that our God’s kingdom may come, joined with praises;” to be offered weekly on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, and more solemnly on the first Tuesday of every quarter. Such was the result, and so did the prayer concert spread in the United Kingdom that in August 1746 a memorial was sent to Boston inviting all Christians in North America to enter into it for the next seven years. It was on this that Jonathan Edwards wrote his Humble Attempt to promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.

This work of Edwards, republished at Olney, came into the hands of Carey, and powerfully influenced the Northamptonshire Association of Baptist ministers and messengers. At their meeting in Nottingham in 1784 Sutcliff of Olney suggested and Ryland of Northampton drafted an invitation to the people to join them, for one hour on the first Monday of every month, in prayer for the effusion of the Holy Spirit of God. “Let the whole interest of the Redeemer be affectionately remembered,” wrote these catholic men, and to give emphasis to their ecumenical missionary desires they added in italics--“Let the spread of the Gospel to the most distant parts of the habitable globe be the object of your most fervent requests. We shall rejoice if any other Christian societies of our own or other denominations will join with us, and we do now invite them most cordially to join heart and hand in the attempt.” To this Carey prominently referred in his Enquiry, tracing to even the unimportant and feeble prayers of these eight years the increase of the churches, the clearing of controversies, the opening of lands to missions, the spread of civil and religious liberty, the noble effort made to abolish the inhuman slave-trade, and the establishment of the free settlement of Sierra Leone. And then he hits the other blots in the movement, besides the want of importunity and earnestness--“We must not be contented with praying without exerting ourselves in the use of means...Were the children of light but as wise in their generation as the children of this world, they would stretch every nerve to gain so glorious a prize, nor ever imagine that it was to be obtained in any other way.” A trading company obtain a charter and go to its utmost limits. The charter, the encouragements of Christians are exceeding great, and the returns promised infinitely superior. “Suppose a company of serious Christians, ministers and private persons, were to form themselves into a society.”

The man was ready who had been specially fitted, by character and training, to form the home organisation of the society, while Carey created its foreign mission. For the next quarter of a century William Carey and Andrew Fuller worked lovingly, fruitfully together, with the breadth of half the world between them. The one showed how, by Bible and church and school, by physical and spiritual truth, India and all Asia could be brought to Christ; the other taught England, Scotland, and America to begin at last to play their part in an enterprise as old as Abraham; as divine in its warrant, its charge, its promise, as Christ Himself. Seven years older than Carey, his friend was born a farmer’s son and labourer in the fen country of Cromwell whom he resembled, was self-educated under conditions precisely similar, and passed through spiritual experiences almost exactly the same. The two, unknown to each other, found themselves when called to preach at eighteen unable to reconcile the grim dead theology of their church with the new life and liberty, which had come to them direct from the Spirit of Christ and from His Word. Carey had left his ancestral church at a time when the biographer of Romaine could declare with truth that that preacher was the only evangelical in the established churches of all London, and that of twenty thousand clergymen in England, the number who preached the truth as it is in Jesus had risen from not twenty in 1749 to three hundred in 1789. The Methodism of the Wesley’s was beginning to tell, but the Baptists were as lifeless as the Established Church. In both the Church and Dissent there were individuals only, like Newton and Scott, the elder Robert Hall and Ryland, whose spiritual fervour made them marked men.

The Baptists, who had stood alone as the advocates of toleration, religious and civil, in an age of intolerance, which made them the victims, had subsided like Puritan and Covenanter when the Revolution of 1688 brought persecution to an end. The section who held the doctrine of “general” redemption, and are now honourably known as General Baptists, preached ordinary Arminianism, and even Socinianism. The more earnest and educated among them clung to Calvinism, but, by adopting the unhappy term of “particular” Baptists, gradually fell under a fatalistic and antinomian spell. This false Calvinism, which the French theologian of Geneva would have been the first to denounce, proved all the more hostile to the preaching of the Gospel of salvation to the heathen abroad, as well as the sinner at home, that it professed to be an orthodox evangel while either emasculating the Gospel or turning the grace of God into licentiousness. From such “particular” preachers as young Fuller and Carey listened to, at first with bewilderment, then impatience, and then denunciation, missions of no kind could come. Fuller exposed and pursued the delusion with a native shrewdness, a masculine sagacity, and a fine English style, which have won for him the apt name of the Franklin of Theology. For more than twenty years Fullerism, as it was called, raised a controversy like that of the Marrow of Divinity in Scotland, and cleared the ground sufficiently at least to allow of the foundation of foreign missions in both countries. It now seems incredible that the only class who a century ago represented evangelicalism should have opposed missions to the heathen on the ground that the Gospel is meant only for the elect, whether at home or abroad; that nothing spiritually good is the duty of the unregenerate, therefore “nothing must be addressed to them in a way of exhortation excepting what relates to external obedience.”

The same year, 1784, in which the Baptist concert for prayer was begun, saw the publication of Fuller’s Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation. Seven years later he preached at Clipstone a famous sermon, in which he applied the dealing of the Lord of Hosts (in Haggai) to the Jewish apathy--“The time is not come that the Lord’s house should be built”--with a power and directness which nevertheless failed practically to convince himself. The men who listened to him had been praying for seven years, yet had opposed Carey’s pleas for a foreign mission, and had treated him as a visionary or a madman. When Fuller had published his treatise, Carey had drawn the practical deduction--“If it be the duty of all men, when the Gospel comes, to believe unto salvation, then it is the duty of those who are entrusted with the Gospel to endeavour to make it known among all nations for the obedience of faith.” Now, after seven more years of waiting, and remembering the manuscript Enquiry, Carey thought action cannot be longer delayed. Hardly was the usual discussion that followed the meeting over when, as the story is told by the son of Ryland, who had silenced him, in a former ministers’ meeting, Carey appealed to his brethren to put their preaching into practice and begin a missionary society that very day. Fuller’s sermon bore the title of The Evil Nature and the Dangerous Tendency of Delay in the Concerns of Religion, and it had been preceded by one on being very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, in which Sutcliff cried for the divine passion, the celestial fire that burned in the bosom and blazed in the life of Elijah. The Elijah of their own church and day was among them, burning and blazing for years, and all that he could induce them to promise was vaguely that, “something should be done,” and to throw to his importunity the easy request that he would publish his manuscript and preach next year’s sermon.

Meanwhile, in 1789, Carey had left Moulton6 for Leicester; whither he was summoned to build up a congregation, ruined by antinomianism, in the mean brick chapel of the obscure quarter of Harvey Lane. This chapel his genius and Robert Hall’s eloquence made so famous in time that the Baptists sent off a vigorous hive to the fine new church. In an equally humble house opposite the chapel the poverty of the pastor compelled him to keep a school from nine in the morning till four in winter and five in summer. Between this and the hours for sleep and food he had little leisure; but that he spent, as he had done all his life before and did all his life after, with a method and zeal which doubled his working days. “I have seen him at work,” writes Gardiner in his Music and Friends, “his books beside him, and his beautiful flowers in the windows.” In a letter to his father we have this division of his leisure--Monday, “the learned languages;” Tuesday, “the study of science, history, composition, etc;” Wednesday, “I preach a lecture, and have been for more than twelve months on the Book of Revelation;” Thursday, “I visit my friends;” Friday and Saturday, “preparing for the Lord’s Day.” He preached three times every Sunday in his own chapel or the surrounding villages, with such results that in one case he added hundreds to its Wesleyan congregation. He was secretary to the local committee of dissenters. “Add to this occasional journeys, ministers’ meetings, etc., and you will rather wonder that I have any time, than that I have so little. I am not my own, nor would I choose for myself. Let God employ me where he thinks fit, and give me patience and discretion to fill up my station to his honour and glory.”

“After I had been probationer in this place a year and ten months, on the 24th of May 1791 I was solemnly set apart to the office of pastor. About twenty ministers of different denominations were witnesses to the transactions of the day. After prayer Brother Hopper of Nottingham addressed the congregation upon the nature of an ordination, after which he proposed the usual questions to the church, and required my Confession of Faith; which being delivered, Brother Ryland prayed the ordination prayer, with laying on of hands. Brother Sutcliff delivered a very solemn charge from Acts VI. 4--‘But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.’ And Brother Fuller delivered an excellent address to the people from Eph. v. 2--‘Walk in love.’ In the evening Brother Pearce of Birmingham preached from Gal. VI. 14--‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.’ The day was a day of pleasure, and I hope of profit to the greatest part of the Assembly.”

Carey became the friend of his neighbour, Thomas Robinson, evangelical rector of St. Mary’s, to whom he said on one occasion when indirectly charged in humorous fashion with “sheep-stealing:” “Mr. Robinson, I am a dissenter, and you are a churchman; we must each endeavour to do good according to our light. At the same time, you may be assured that I had rather be the instrument of converting a scavenger that sweeps the streets than of merely proselyte the richest and best characters in your congregation.” Dr. Arnold and Mr. R. Brewin, a botanist, opened to him their libraries, and all good men in Leicester soon learned to be proud of the new Baptist minister. In the two chapels, as in that of Moulton, enlarged since his time, memorial tablets tell succeeding generations of the virtues and the deeds of “the illustrious W. Carey, D.D.”

The ministers’ meeting of 1792 came round, and on 31st May Carey seized his opportunity. The place was Nottingham, from which the 1784 invitation to prayer had gone forth. Was the answer to come just there after nine years’ waiting? His Enquiry had been published; had it prepared the brethren? Ryland had been always loyal to the journeyman shoemaker he had baptised in the river, and he gives us this record:--“If all the people had lifted up their voices and wept, as the children of Israel did at Bochim, I should not have wondered at the effect. It would only have seemed proportionate to the cause, so clearly did he prove the criminality of our supineness in the cause of God.” The text was Isaiah’s (liv. 2, 3) vision of the widowed church’s tent stretching forth till her children inherited the nations and peopled the desolate cities, and the application to the reluctant brethren was couched in these two great maxims written ever since on the banners of the missionary host of the kingdom--

EXPECT GREAT THINGS FROM GOD.
ATTEMPT GREAT THINGS FOR GOD.

The service was over; even Fuller was afraid, even Ryland made no sign, and the ministers were leaving the meeting. Seizing Fuller’s arm with an imploring look, the preacher, whom despair emboldened to act alone for his Master, exclaimed: “And are you, after all, going again to do nothing?” What Fuller describes as the “much fear and trembling” of these inexperienced, poor, and ignorant village preachers gave way to the appeal of one who had gained both knowledge and courage, and who, as to funds and men, was ready to give himself. They entered on their minutes this much:--“That a plan be prepared against the next ministers’ meeting at Kettering for forming a Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.” There was more delay, but only for four months. The first purely English Missionary Society, which sent forth its own English founder, was thus constituted as described in the minutes of the Northampton ministers’ meeting.

“At the ministers’ meeting at Kettering, October 2, 1792, after the public services of the day were ended, the ministers retired to consult further on the matter, and to lay a foundation at least for a society, when the following resolutions were proposed, and unanimously agreed to: --

“1. Desirous of making an effort for the propagation of the gospel among the heathen, agreeably to what is recommended in brother Carey’s late publication on that subject, we, whose names appear to the subsequent subscription, do solemnly agree to act in society together for that purpose.

“2. As in the present divided state of Christendom, it seems that each denomination, by exerting itself separately, is most likely to accomplish the great ends of a mission, it is agreed that this society be called The Particular [Calvinistic] Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen.

“3. As such an undertaking must needs be attended with expense, we agree immediately to open a subscription for the above purpose, and to recommend it to others.

“4. Every person who shall subscribe ten pounds at once, or ten shillings and sixpence annually shall be considered a member of the society.

“5. That the Rev. John Ryland, Reynold Hogg, William Carey, John Sutcliff, and Andrew Fuller, be appointed a committee, three of whom shall be empowered to act in carrying into effect the purposes of this society.
“6. That the Rev. Reynold Hogg be appointed treasurer, and the Rev. Andrew Fuller secretary.

“7. That the subscriptions be paid in at the Northampton ministers’ meeting, October 31, 1792, at which time the subject shall be considered more particularly by the committee, and other subscribers who may be present.

“Signed, John Ryland, Reynold Hogg, John Sutcliff, Andrew Fuller, Abraham Greenwood, Edward Sherman, Joshua Burton, Samuel Pearce, Thomas Blundel, William Heighton, John Eayres, Joseph Timms; whose subscriptions in all amounted to £13:2:6.”

The procedure suggested in “brother Carey’s late publication” was strictly followed--a society of subscribers, 2d. a week, or 10s. 6d. a year as a compromise between the tithes and the penny a week of the Enquiry. The secretary was the courageous Fuller, who once said to Ryland and Sutcliff: “You excel me in wisdom, especially in foreseeing difficulties. I therefore want to advise with you both, but to execute without you.” The frequent chairman was Ryland, who was soon to train missionaries for the work at Bristol College. The treasurer was the only rich man of the twelve, who soon resigned his office into a layman’s hands, as was right. Of the others we need now point only to Samuel Pearce, the seraphic preacher of Birmingham, who went home and sent £70 to the collection, and who, since he desired to give himself like Carey, became to him dearer than even Fuller was. The place was a low-roofed parlour in the house of Widow Wallis, looking on to a back garden, which many a pilgrim still visits, and around which there gathered thousands in 1842 to hold the first jubilee of modern missions, when commemorative medals were struck. There in 1892 the centenary witnessed a still vaster assemblage.

Can any good come out of Kettering? Was the conclusion of the Baptist ministers of London with the one exception of Booth, when they met formally to decide whether, like those of Birmingham and other places, they should join the primary society? Benjamin Beddome, a venerable scholar whom Robert Hall declared to be chief among his brethren, replied to Fuller in language which is far from unusual even at the present day, but showing the position which the Leicester minister had won for himself even then: --

“I think your scheme, considering the paucity of well-qualified ministers, hath a very unfavourable aspect with respect to destitute churches at home, where charity ought to begin. I had the pleasure once to see and hear Mr. Carey; it struck me he was the most suitable person in the kingdom, at least whom I knew, to supply my place, and make up my great deficiencies when either disabled or removed. A different plan is formed and pursued, and I fear that the great and good man, though influenced by the most excellent motives, will meet with a disappointment. However, God hath his ends, and whoever is disappointed He cannot be so. My unbelieving heart is ready to suggest that the time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”

The other Congregationalists made no sign. The Presbyterians, with a few noble exceptions like Dr. Erskine, whose Dutch volume Carey had translated, denounced such movements as revolutionary in a General Assembly of Socinianised “moderates.” The Church of England kept haughtily or timidly aloof, though king and archbishop were pressed to send a mission. “Those who in that day sneered that England had sent a cobbler to convert the world were the direct lineal descendants of those who sneered in Palestine 2000 years ago, ‘Is not this the carpenter?’” said Archdeacon Farrar in Westminster Abbey on 6th March 1887. Hence Fuller’s reference to this time:--“When we began in 1792 there was little or no respectability among us, not so much as a squire to sit in the chair or an orator to address him with speeches. Hence good Dr. Stennett advised the London ministers to stand aloof and not commit themselves.”

One man in India had striven to rouse the Church to its duty as Carey had done at home. Charles Grant had in 1787 written from Malda to Charles Simeon and Wilberforce for eight missionaries, but not one Church of England clergyman could be found to go. Thirty years after, when chairman of the Court of Directors and father of Lord Glenelg and Sir Robert Grant, he wrote: --“I had formed the design of a mission to Bengal: Providence reserved that honour for the Baptists.” After all, the twelve village pastors in the back parlour of Kettering were the more really the successors of the twelve apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem.

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Chapter III.

3. India As Carey Found It. 1793.Tahiti v. Bengal--Carey and Thomas appointed missionaries to Bengal--The farewell at Leicester--John Thomas, first medical missionary--Carey’s letter to his father--The Company’s “abominable monopoly”--The voyage--Carey’s aspirations for world-wide missions--Lands at Calcutta--His description of Bengal in 1793--Contrast presented by Carey to Clive, Hastings, and Cornwallis--The spiritual founder of an Indian Empire of Christian Britain--Bengal and the famine of 1769-70--The Decennial Settlement declared permanent--Effects on the landed classes--Obstacles to Carey’s work--East India Company at its worst--Hindooism and the Bengalees in 1793--Position of Hindoo women--Missionary attempts before Carey’s--Ziegenbalg and Schwartz--Kiernander and the chaplains--Hindooised state of Anglo-Indian society and its reaction on England--Guneshan Dass, the first caste Hindoo to visit England--William Carey had no predecessor.

CAREY had desired to go first to Tahiti or Western Africa. The natives of North America, and the Negroes of the West Indies and Sierra Leone, were being cared for by Moravian, and Wesleyan evangelists. The narrative of Captain Cook’s two first voyages to the Pacific and discovery of Tahiti had appeared in the same year in which the Northampton churches began their seven years’ concert of prayer, just after his own second baptism. From the map, and a leather globe which also he is said to have made, he had been teaching the children of Piddington, Moulton, and Leicester the great outlines and thrilling details of expeditions round the world which roused both the scientific and the simple of England as much as the discoveries of Columbus had excited Europe. When the childlike ignorance and natural grace of the Hawaiians, which had at first fired him with the longing to tell them the good news of God, were seen turned into the wild justice of revenge, which made Cook its first victim, Carey became all the more eager to anticipate the disasters of later days. That was work for which others were to be found. It was not amid the scattered and decimated savages of the Pacific or of America that the citadel of heathenism was found, nor by them that the world, old and new, was to be made the kingdom of Christ. With the cautious wisdom that marked all Fuller’s action, though perhaps with the ignorance that was due to Carey’s absence, the third meeting of the new society recorded this among other articles “to be examined and discussed in the most diligent and impartial manner -- In what part of the heathen world do there seem to be the most promising openings?”

The answer, big with consequence for the future of the East, was in their hands, in the form of a letter from Carey, who stated that “Mr. Thomas, the Bengal missionary,” was trying to raise a fund for that province, and asked “whether it would not be worthy of the Society to try to make that and ours unite with one fund for the purpose of sending the gospel to the heathen indefinitely.” Tahiti was not to be neglected, nor Africa, nor Bengal, in “our larger plan,” which included above four hundred millions of our fellowmen, among whom it was an object “worthy of the most ardent and persevering pursuit to disseminate the humane and saving principles of the Christian Religion.” If this Mr. Thomas were worthy, his experience made it desirable to begin with Bengal. Thomas answered for himself at the next meeting, when Carey fell upon his neck and wept, having previously preached from the words--“Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me.” “We saw,” said Fuller afterwards, “there was a gold mine in India, but it was as deep as the centre of the earth. Who will venture to explore it? ‘I will venture to go down,’ said Carey, ‘but remember that you (addressing Fuller, Sutcliff, and Ryland) must hold the ropes.’ We solemnly engaged to him to do so, nor while we live shall we desert him.”

Carey and Thomas, an ordained minister and a medical evangelist, were at this meeting in Kettering, on 10th January 1793, appointed missionaries to “the East Indies for preaching the gospel to the heathen,” on “£100 or £150 a year between them all,”--that is, for two missionaries, their wives, and four children, --until they should be able to support themselves like the Moravians. As a matter of fact they received just £200 in all for the first three years when self-support and mission extension fairly began. The whole sum at credit of the Society for outfit, passage, and salaries was £130, so that Fuller’s prudence was not without justification when supported by Thomas’s assurances that the amount was enough, and Carey’s modest self-sacrifice. “We advised Mr. Carey,” wrote Fuller to Ryland, “to give up his school this quarter, for we must make up the loss to him.” The more serious cost of the passage was raised by Fuller and by the preaching tours of the two missionaries. During one of these, at Hull, Carey met the printer and newspaper editor, William Ward, and cast his mantle over him thus--“If the Lord bless us, we shall want a person of your business to enable us to print the Scriptures; I hope you will come after us.” Ward did so in five years.

The 20th March 1793 was a high day in the Leicester chapel, Harvey Lane, when the missionaries were set apart like Barnabas and Paul--a forenoon of prayer; an afternoon of preaching by Thomas from Psalm xvi. 4; “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God;” an evening of preaching by the treasurer from Acts XXI 14, “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done;” and the parting charge by Fuller the secretary, from the risen Lord’s own benediction and forth sending of His disciples, “Peace be unto you, as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” Often in after days of solitude and reproach did Carey quicken his faith by reading the brave and loving words of Fuller on “the objects you must keep in view, the directions you must observe, the difficulties you must encounter, and the reward you may expect.”

Under date four days after we find this entry in the Church Book--“Mr. Carey, our minister, left Leicester to go on a mission to the East Indies, to take and propagate the Gospel among those idolatrous and superstitious heathens. This is inserted to show his love to his poor miserable fellow-creatures. In this we concurred with him, though it is at the expense of losing one whom we love as our own souls.” When Carey’s preaching had so filled the church that it became necessary to build a front gallery at a cost of £98, and they had applied to several other churches for assistance in vain, he thus taught them to help themselves. The minister and many of the members agreed to pay off the debt “among ourselves” by weekly subscriptions,--a process, however, which covered five years, so poor were they. Carey left this as a parting lesson to home congregations, while his people found it the easier to pay the debt that they had sacrificed their best, their own minister, to the work of missions for which he had taught them to pray.

John Thomas, four years older than Carey, was a surgeon, who had made two voyages to Calcutta in the Oxford Indiaman, had been of spiritual service to Charles Grant, Mr. George Udny, and the Bengal civilian circle at Malda, and had been supported by Mr. Grant as a missionary for a time until his eccentricities and debts outraged his friends and drove him home at the time of the Kettering meetings. Full justice has been done to a character and a career somewhat resembling those of John Newton, by his patient and able biographer the Rev. C. B. Lewis. John Thomas has the merit of being the first medical missionary, at a time when no other Englishman cared for either the bodies or souls of our recently acquired subjects in North India, outside of Charles Grant’s circle. He has more; he was used by God to direct Carey to the dense Hindoo population of Bengal--to the people and to the centre, that is, where Brahmanism had its seat, and whence Buddhism had been carried by thousands of missionaries all over Southern, Eastern, and Central Asia. But there our ascription of merit to Thomas must stop. However well he might speak the uncultured Bengali, he never could write the language or translate the Bible into a literary style so that the people could understand it or influence their leaders. His temper kept Charles Grant back from helping the infant mission, though anxious to see Mr. Carey and to aid him and any other companion. The debts of Thomas caused him and Carey to be excluded from the Oxford, in which his friend the commander had agreed to take them and their party without a licence; clouded the early years of the enterprise with their shadow, and formed the heaviest of the many burdens Carey had to bear at starting. If, afterwards, the old association of Thomas with Mr. Udny at Malda gave Carey a home during his Indian apprenticeship, this was a small atonement for the loss of the direct help of Mr. Grant. If Carey proved to be the John among the men who began to make Serampore illustrious, Thomas was the Peter, so far as we know Peter in the Gospels only.

Just before being ejected from the Oxford, as he had been deprived of the effectual help of Charles Grant through his unhappy companion, when with only his eldest son Felix beside him, how did Carey view his God-given mission? The very different nature of his wife, who had announced to him the birth of a child, clung anew to the hope that this might cause him to turn back. Writing from Ryde on the 6th May he thus replied with sweet delicacy of human affection, but with true loyalty to his Master’s call: -

“Received yours, giving me an account of your safe delivery. This is pleasant news indeed to me; surely goodness and mercy follow me all my days. My stay here was very painful and unpleasant, but now I see the goodness of God in it. It was that I might hear the most pleasing accounts that I possibly could hear respecting earthly things. You wish to know in what state my mind is. I answer; it is much as when I left you. If I had the entire world, I would freely give it all to have you and my dear children with me; but the sense of duty is so strong as to overpower all other considerations; I could not turn back without guilt on my soul. I find a longing desire to enjoy more of God; but, now I am among the people of the world, I think I see more beauties in godliness than ever, and, I hope, enjoy more of God in retirement than I have done for some time past. You want to know what Mrs. Thomas thinks, and how she likes the voyage. She would rather stay in England than go to India; but thinks it right to go with her husband. Tell my dear children I love them dearly, and pray for them constantly. Felix sends his love. I look upon this mercy as an answer to prayer indeed. Trust in God. Love to Kitty, brothers, sisters, etc. Be assured I love you most affectionately. Let me know my dear little child’s name. --I am, forever, your faithful and affectionate husband,

“WILLIAM CAREY.

“My health never was so well. I believe the sea makes Felix and me both as hungry as hunters. I can eat a monstrous meat supper, and drink a couple of glasses of wine after it, without hurting me at all. Farewell.”

She was woman and wife enough, in the end, to do as Mrs. Thomas had done, but she stipulated that her sister should accompany her.

By a series of specially providential events, as it seemed, such as marked the whole early history of this first missionary enterprise of modern England, Carey and Thomas secured a passage on board the Danish Indiaman Kron Princessa Maria, bound from Copenhagen to Serampore. At Dover, where they had been waiting for days, the eight were roused from sleep by the news that the ship was off the harbour. Sunrise on the 13th June saw them on board. Carey had had other troubles besides his colleague and his wife. His father, then fifty-eight years old, had not given him up without a struggle. “Is William mad?” he had said when he received the letter in which his son thus offered himself up on the missionary altar. His mother had died six years before:--

“LEICESTER, Jan. 17th, 1793.
“DEAR AND HONOURED FATHER, --The importance of spending our time for God alone, is the principal theme of the gospel. I beseech you, brethren, says Paul, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable service. To be devoted like a sacrifice to holy uses is the great business of a Christian, pursuant to these requisitions. I consider myself as devoted to the service of God alone, and now I am to realise my professions. I am appointed to go to Bengal, in the East Indies, a missionary to the Hindoos. I shall have a colleague who has been there five or six years already, and who understands their language. They are the most mild and inoffensive people in all the world, but are enveloped in the greatest superstition, and in the grossest ignorance...I hope, dear father, you may be enabled to surrender me up to the Lord for the most arduous, honourable, and important work that ever any of the sons of men were called to engage in. I have many sacrifices to make. I must part with a beloved family, and a number of most affectionate friends. Never did I see such sorrow manifested as reigned through our place of worship last Lord’s-day. But I have set my hand to the plough. --I remain, your dutiful son,

“WILLIAM CAREY.”

When in London Carey had asked John Newton, “What if the Company should send us home on our arrival in Bengal?” “Then conclude,” was the reply, “that your Lord has nothing there for you to accomplish. But if He have, no power on earth can hinder you.” By Act of Parliament not ten years old, every subject of the King going to or found in the East Indies without a licence from the Company, was guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour, and liable to fine and imprisonment. Only four years previously a regulation had compelled every commander to deliver to the Hoogli pilot a return of the passengers on board that the Act might be enforced. The Danish nationality of the ship and crew saved the missionary party. So grievously do unjust laws demoralise contemporary opinion, that Fuller was constrained to meet the objections of many to the “illegality” of the missionaries’ action by reasoning, unanswerable indeed, but not now required: “The apostles and primitive ministers were commanded to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; nor were they to stop for the permission of any power upon earth, but to go, and take the consequences. If a man of God, conscious of having nothing in his heart unfriendly to any civil government whatever, but determined in all civil matters to obey and teach obedience to the powers that are, put his life in his hand, saying, I will go, and if I am persecuted in one city I will flee to another’...whatever the wisdom of this world may decide upon his conduct, he will assuredly be acquitted, and more than acquitted, at a higher tribunal.”

Carey’s journal of the voyage begins with an allusion to “the abominable East Indian monopoly,” which he was to do more than any other man to break down by weapons not of man’s warfare. The second week found him at Bengali, and for his companion the poems of Cowper. Of the four fellow-passengers one was a French deist, with whom he had many a debate.

“Aug. 2. - I feel myself to be much declined, upon the whole, in the more spiritual exercises of religion; yet have had some pleasant exercises of soul, and feel my heart set upon the great work upon which I am going. Sometimes I am quite dejected when I see the impenetrability of the hearts of those with us. They hear us preach on the Lord’s-day, but we are forced to witness their disregard to God all the week. O may God give us greater success among the heathen. I am very desirous that my children may pursue the same work; and now intend to bring up one in the study of Sanskrit, and another of Persian. O may God give them grace to fit them for the work! I have been much concerned for fear the power of the Company should oppose us.

“Aug. 20. --I have reason to lament over a barrenness of soul, and am sometimes much discouraged; for if I am so dead and stupid, how can I expect to be of any use among the heathen? Yet I have of late felt some very lively desires after the success of our undertaking. If there is anything that engages my heart in prayer to God, it is that the heathen may be converted, and that the society which has so generously exerted itself may be encouraged, and excited to go on with greater vigour in the important undertaking...

“Nov. 9. --I think that I have had more liberty in prayer, and more converse with God, than for some time before; but have, notwithstanding, been a very unfruitful creature, and so remain. For near a month we have been within two hundred miles of Bengal, but the violence of the currents set us back when we have been at the very door. I hope I have learned the necessity of bearing up in the things of God against wind and tide, when there is occasion, as we have done in our voyage.”

To the Society he writes for a Polyglot Bible, the Gospels in Malay, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, and Sowerby’s English Botany, at his own cost, and thus plans the conquest of the world: --“I hope the Society will go on and increase, and that the multitudes of heathen in the world may hear the glorious words of truth. Africa is but a little way from England; Madagascar but a little way farther; South America, and all the numerous and large islands in the Indian and Chinese seas, I hope will not be passed over. A large field opens on every side, and millions of perishing heathens, tormented in this life by idolatry, superstition, and ignorance, and exposed to eternal miseries in the world to come, are pleading; yea, all their miseries plead as soon as they are known, with every heart that loves God, and with all the churches of the living God. Oh, that many labourers may be thrust out into the vineyard of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that the gentiles may come to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Him!”

On the 7th November, as the ship lay in the roads of Balasore, he and Thomas landed and “began our labours.” For three hours the people of the bazaar listened with great attention to Thomas, and one prepared for them a native dinner with plantain leaf for dish, and fingers for knives and forks. Balasore--name of Krishna--was one of the first settlements of the English in North India in 1642, and there the American Baptist successors of Carey have since carried on his work. On the 11th November, after a five months’ voyage, they landed at Calcutta unmolested. The first fortnight’s experience of the city, whose native population he estimated at 200,000, and of the surrounding country, he thus condenses: --“I feel something of what Paul felt when he beheld Athens, and ‘his spirit was stirred within him.’ I see one of the finest countries in the world, full of industrious inhabitants; yet three-fifths of it are an uncultivated jungle, abandoned to wild beasts and serpents. If the gospel flourishes here, ‘the wilderness will in every respect become a fruitful field.’”

Clive, Hastings (McPherson during an interregnum of twenty-two months), and Cornwallis, were the men who had founded and administered the empire of British India up to this time. Carey passed the last Governor-General in the Bay of Bengal as he retired with the honours of seven years’ successful general ship and government to atone for the not unhappy surrender of York Town, which had resulted in the independence of the United States. Sir John Shore, afterwards Lord Teignmouth, who had been selected by Pitt to carry out the reforms, which he had elaborated along with his predecessor, had entered on his high office just a fortnight before. What a contrast was presented, as man judges, by the shy shoemaker, schoolmaster, and Baptist preacher, who found not a place in which to lay his head save a hovel lent to him by a Hindoo, to Clive, whose suicide he might have heard of when a child; to Hastings, who for seventeen years had stood before his country impeached. They were men described by Macaulay as of ancient, even illustrious lineage, and they had brought into existence an empire more extensive than that of Rome. He was a peasant craftsman, who had taught himself with a skill which Lord Wellesley, their successor almost as great as themselves, delighted publicly to acknowledge - a man of the people, of the class who had used the Roman Empire to build out of it a universal Christendom, who were even then turning France upside down, creating the Republic of America, and giving new life to Great Britain itself. The little Englishman was about to do in Calcutta and from Serampore what the little Jew, Paul, had done in Antioch and Ephesus, from Corinth and Rome. England might send its nobly born to erect the material and the secular fabric of empire, but it was only, in the providence of God, that they might prepare for the poor village preacher to convert the empire into a spiritual force which should in time do for Asia what Rome had done for Western Christendom. But till the last, as from the first, Carey was as unconscious of the part which he had been called to play as he was un-resting in the work which it involved. It is no fanatical criticism, but the true philosophy of history, which places Carey over against Clive, the spiritual and secular founders, and Duff beside Hastings, the spiritual and secular consolidators of our Indian Empire.

Carey’s work for India underlay the first period of forty years of transition from Cornwallis to Bentinck, as Duff’s covered the second of thirty years to the close of Lord Canning’s administration, which introduced the new era of full toleration and partial but increasing self-government directed by the Viceroy and Parliament.

Carey had been sent not only to the one people outside of Christendom whose conversion would tell most powerfully on all Asia, Africa, and their islands--the Hindoos; but to the one province which was almost entirely British, and could be used as it had been employed to assimilate the rest of India--Bengal. Territorially the East India Company possessed, when he landed, nothing outside of the Ganges valley of Bengal, Bihar, and Benares, save a few spots on the Madras and Malabar coasts and the portion just before taken in the Mysore war. The rest was desolated by the Marathas, the Nizam, Tipoo, and other Mohammedan adventurers. On the Gangetic delta and right up to Allahabad, but not beyond, the Company ruled and raised revenue, leaving the other functions of the state to Mohammedans of the type of Turkish pashas under the titular superiority of the effete Emperor of Delhi. The Bengali and Hindi-speaking millions of the Ganges and the simpler aborigines of the hills had been devastated by the famine of 1769-70, which the Company’s officials, who were powerless where they did not intensify it by interference with trade, confessed to have cut off from ten to twelve millions of human beings. Over three-fifths of the area the soil was left without a cultivator. The whole young of that generation perished, so that, even twenty years after, Lord Cornwallis officially described one-third of Bengal as a jungle inhabited only by wild beasts. A quarter of a century after Carey’s language was, as we have seen, “three-fifths of it are an uncultivated jungle abandoned to wild beasts and serpents.”

But the British peace, in Bengal at least, had allowed abundant crops to work their natural result on the population. The local experience of Shore, who had witnessed the horrors he could do so little to relieve, had united with the statesmanship of Cornwallis to initiate a series of administrative reforms that worked some evil, but more good, all through Carey’s time. First of all, as affecting the very existence and the social development of the people, or their capacity for being educated, Christianised, civilised in the highest sense, there was the relation of the Government to the ryots (“protected ones”) and the Zameendars (“landholders”). In India, as nearly all over the world except in feudalised Britain, the state is the common landlord in the interests of all classes who hold the soil subject to the payment of customary rents, directly or through middlemen, to the Government. For thirty years after Plassey the Government of India had been learning its business, and in the process had injured both itself and the landed classes, as much as has been done in Ireland. From a mere trader it had been, more or less consciously, becoming a ruler. In 1786 the Court of Directors, in a famous letter, tried to arrest the ruin which the famine had only hastened by ordering that a settlement of the land-tax or revenue or rent be made, not with mere farmers like the pashas of Turkey, but with the old Zameendars, and that the rate be fixed for ten years. Cornwallis and Shore took three years to make the detailed investigations, and in 1789 the state rent-roll of Bengal proper was fixed at £2,858,772 a year. The English peer, who was Governor-General, at once jumped to the conclusion that this rate should be fixed not only for ten years, but also forever. The experienced Bengal civilian protested that to do that would be madness when a third of the rich province was out of cultivation, and as to the rest its value was but little known, and its estates were without reliable survey or boundaries.

We can now see that, as usual, both were right in what they asserted and wrong in what they denied. The principle of fixity of tenure and tax cannot be over-estimated in its economic, social, and political value, but it should have been applied to the village communities and cultivating peasants without the intervention of middlemen other than the large ancestral landholders with hereditary rights, and that on the standard of corn rents. Cornwallis had it in his power thus to do what some years afterwards Stein did in Prussia, with the result seen in the present German people and empire. The dispute as to a permanent or a decennial settlement was referred home, and Pitt, aided by Dundas and Charles Grant, took a week to consider it. His verdict was given in favour of feudalism. Eight months before Carey landed at Calcutta the settlement had been declared perpetual; in 1795 it was extended to Benares also.

During the next twenty years mismanagement and debt revolutionised the landed interest, as in France at the same time, but in a very different direction. The customary rights of the peasant proprietors had been legislatively secured by reserving to the Governor-General the power “to enact such regulations as he may think necessary for the protection and welfare of the dependent talookdars, ryots, and other cultivators of the soil.” The peasants continued long to be so few that there was competition for them; the process of extortion with the aid of the courts had hardly begun when they were many, and the Zameendars were burdened with charges for the police. But in 1799 and again in 1812 the state, trembling for its rent, gave the Zameendars further authority. The principle of permanence of assessment so far co-operated with the splendid fertility of the Ganges valley and the peaceful multiplication of the people and spread of cultivation, that all through the wars and annexations, up to the close of the Mutiny, it was Bengal which enabled England to extend the empire up to its natural limits from the two seas to the Himalayas. But in 1859 the first attempt was made by the famous Act X. to check the rack-renting power of the Zameendars. And now, more than a century since the first step was taken to arrest the ruin of the peasantry, the legislature of India has again tried to solve for the whole country these four difficulties which all past landed regulations have intensified--to give the state tenants a guarantee against uncertain enhancements of rent, and against taxation of improvements; to minimise the evil of taking rent in cash instead of in kind by arranging the dates on which rent is paid; and to mitigate if not prevent famine by allowing relief for failure of crops. As pioneering, the work of Carey and his colleagues all through was distinctly hindered by the treatment of the land question, which at once ground down the mass of the people and created a class of oppressive landlords destitute for the most part of public spirit and the higher culture. Both were disinclined by their circumstances to lend an ear to the Gospel, but these circumstances made it the more imperative on the missionaries to tell them, to teach their children, to print for all the glad tidings. Carey, himself of peasant extraction, cared for the millions of the people above all; but his work in the classical as well as the vernacular languages was equally addressed to their twenty thousand landlords. The time of his work--before Bentinck; and the centre of it--outside the metropolis, left the use of the English weapon against Brahmanism largely for Duff.

When Cornwallis, following Warren Hastings, completed the substitution of the British for the Mohammedan civil administration by a system of courts and police and a code of regulations, he was guilty of one omission and one mistake that it took years of discussion and action to rectify. He did not abolish from the courts the use of Persian, the language of the old Mussulman invaders, now foreign to all parties; and he excluded from all offices above £30 a year the natives of the country, contrary to their fair and politic practice. Bengal and its millions, in truth, were nominally governed in detail by three hundred white and upright civilians, with the inevitable result in abuses which they could not prevent, and oppression of native by native which they would not check, and the delay or development of reforms which the few missionaries long called for in vain. In a word, after making the most generous allowance for the good intentions of Cornwallis, and conscientiousness of Shore, his successor, we must admit that Carey was called to become the reformer of a state of society which the worst evils of Asiatic and English rule combined to prevent him and other self-sacrificing or disinterested philanthropists from purifying. The East India Company, at home and in India, had reached that depth of opposition to light and freedom in any form, which justifies Burke’s extremist passages--the period between its triumph on the exclusion of “the pious clauses” from the Charter of 1793 and its defeat in the Charter of 1813. We shall reproduce some outlines of the picture, which Ward drew: --7

“On landing in Bengal, in the year 1793, our brethren found themselves surrounded with a population of heathens (not including the Mahometans) amounting to at least one hundred millions of souls.

“On the subject of the divine nature, with the verbal admission of the doctrine of the divine unity, they heard these idolaters speak of 330,000,000 of gods. Amidst innumerable idol temples they found none erected for the worship of the one living and true God. Services without end they saw performed in honour of the elements and deified heroes, but heard not one voice tuned to the praise or employed in the service of the one God. Unacquainted with the moral perfections of Jehovah, they saw this immense population prostrate before dead matter, before the monkey, the serpent, before idols the very personifications of sin; and they found this animal, this reptile, and the lecher Krishnu {u with inverted ^ like š} and his concubine Radha, among the favourite deities of the Hindoos.

“Respecting the real nature of the present state, the missionaries perceived that the Hindoos laboured under the most fatal misapprehensions; that they believed the good or evil actions of this birth were not produced as the volitions of their own wills, but arose from, and were the unavoidable results of, the actions of the past birth; that their present actions would inevitably give rise to the whole complexion of their characters and conduct in the following birth; and that thus they were doomed to interminable transmigrations, to float as some light substance upon the bosom of an irresistible torrent.

“Amongst these idolaters no Bibles were found; no Sabbaths; no congregating for religious instruction in any form; no house for God; no God but a log of wood, or a monkey; no Saviour but the Ganges; no worship but that paid to abominable idols, and that connected with dances, songs, and unutterable impurities; so that what should have been divine worship, purifying, elevating, and carrying the heart to heaven, was a corrupt but rapid torrent, poisoning the soul and carrying it down to perdition; no morality, for how should a people be moral whose gods are monsters of vice; whose priests are their ringleaders in crime; whose scriptures encourage pride, impurity, falsehood, revenge, and murder; whose worship is connected with indescribable abominations, and whose heaven is a brothel? As might be expected, they found that men died here without indulging the smallest vestige of hope, except what can arise from transmigration, the hope, instead of plunging into some place of misery, of passing into the body of some reptile. To carry to such a people the divine word, to call them together for sacred instruction, to introduce amongst them a pure and heavenly worship, and to lead them to the observance of a Sabbath on earth, as the preparative and prelude to a state of endless perfection, was surely a work worthy for a Saviour to command, and becoming a Christian people to attempt.”

The condition of women, who were then estimated at “seventy-five millions of minds,” and whom the census shows to be now above 144,000,000, is thus described after an account of female infanticide: --

“To the Hindoo female all education is denied by the positive injunction of the shastru {u with inverted ^ like š}, and by the general voice of the population. Not a single school for girls, therefore, all over the country! With knitting, sewing, embroidery, painting, music, and drawing, they have no more to do than with letters; the washing is done by men of a particular tribe. The Hindoo girl, therefore, spends the ten first years of her life in sheer idleness, immured in the house of her father.

“Before she has attained to this age, however, she is sought after by the ghutuks, men employed by parents to seek wives for their sons. She is betrothed without her consent; a legal agreement, which binds her for life, being made by the parents on both sides while she is yet a child. At a time most convenient to the parents, this boy and girl are brought together for the first time, and the marriage ceremony is performed; after which she returns to the house of her father.

“Before the marriage is consummated, in many instances, the boy dies, and this girl becomes a widow; and as the law prohibits the marriage of widows, she is doomed to remain in this state as long as she lives. The greater number of these unfortunate beings becomes a prey to the seducer, and a disgrace to their families. Not long since a bride, on the day the marriage ceremony was to have been performed, was burnt on the funeral pile with the dead body of the bridegroom, at Chandernagore, a few miles north of Calcutta. Concubinage, to a most awful extent, is the fruit of these marriages without choice. What a sum of misery is attached to the lot of woman in India before she has attained even her fifteenth year!

“In some cases as many as fifty females, the daughters of so many Hindoos, are given in marriage to one bramhun {u with inverted ^ like š}, in order to make these families something more respectable, and that the parents may be able to say, we are allied by marriage to the kooleens.

“But the awful state of female society in this miserable country appears in nothing so much as in dooming the female, the widow, to be burnt alive with the putrid carcase of her husband. The Hindoo legislators have sanctioned this immolation, showing herein a studied determination to insult and degrade woman. She is, therefore, in the first instance, deluded into this act by the writings of these bramhuns {u with inverted ^ like š}; in which also she is promised, that if she will offer herself, for the benefit of her husband, on the funeral pile, she shall, by the extraordinary merit of this action, rescue her husband from misery, and take him and fourteen generations of his and her family with her to heaven, where she shall enjoy with them celestial happiness until fourteen kings of the gods shall have succeeded to the throne of heaven (that is, millions of years!) Thus ensnared, she embraces this dreadful death. I have seen three widows, at different times, burnt alive; and had repeated opportunities of being present at similar immolations, but my courage failed me.

“The burying alive of widows manifests, if that were possible, a still more abominable state of feeling towards women than the burning them alive. The weavers bury their dead. When, therefore, a widow of this tribe is deluded into the determination not to survive her husband, she is buried alive with the dead body. In this kind of immolation the children and relations dig the grave. After certain ceremonies have been attended to, the poor widow arrives, and is let down into the pit. She sits in the centre, taking the dead body on her lap and encircling it with her arms. These relations now begin to throw in the soil; and after a short space, two of them descend into the grave, and tread the earth firmly round the body of the widow. She sits a calm and un-remonstrating spectator of the horrid process. She sees the earth rising higher and higher around her, without upbraiding her murderers, or making the least effort to arise and make her escape. At length the earth reaches her lips--covers her head. The rest of the earth is then hastily thrown in, and these children and relations mount the grave, and tread down the earth upon the head of the suffocating widow - the mother!”

Before Carey, what had been done to turn the millions of North India from such darkness as that? Nothing beyond the brief, and impulsive efforts of Thomas. There does not seem to have been there one genuine convert from any of the Asiatic faiths; there had never been even the nucleus of a native church.

In South India, for the greater part of the century, the Coast Mission, as it was called, had been carried on from Tranquebar, as a centre by the Lutherans whom, from Ziegenbalg to Schwartz, Francke had trained at Halle and Friedrich IV. Of Denmark had sent forth to its East India Company’s settlement. From the baptism of the first convert in 1707 and translation of the New Testament into Tamil, to the death in 1798 of Schwartz, with whom Carey sought to begin a correspondence then taken up by Guericke, the foundations were laid around Madras, in Tanjore, and in Tinnevelli of a native church which now includes nearly a million. But, when Carey landed, rationalism in Germany and Denmark, and the Carnatic wars between the English and French, had reduced the Coast Mission to a state of inanition. Nor was Southern India the true or ultimate battlefield against Brahmanism; the triumphs of Christianity there were rather among the demon-worshipping tribes of Dravidian origin than among the Aryan races till Dr. W. Miller developed the Christian College. But the German Ziegenbalg and Schwartz prepared the way for the harvest now being reaped, by the Evangelicals and Anglicans of the Church of England, by the Independents of the London Missionary Society, the Wesleyans, and the Presbyterians of Scotland and America, under Danish protection. The English Propagation and Christian Knowledge Societies sent them occasional aid, the first two Georges under the influence of their German chaplains wrote to them encouraging letters, and the East India Company even gave them a free passage in its ships, and employed the sculptor Bacon to prepare the noble group of marble which, in St. Mary’s Church, Madras, expresses its gratitude to Schwartz for his political services.

It was Clive himself who brought to Calcutta the first missionary, Kiernander the Swede, but he was rather a chaplain, or a missionary to the Portuguese, who were nominal Christians of the lowest Romanist type. The French had closed the Danish mission at Cuddalore, and in 1758 Calcutta was without a Protestant clergyman to bury the dead or baptise or marry the living. Two years before one of the two chaplains had perished in the tragedy of the Black Hole, where he was found lying hand in hand with his son, a young lieutenant. The other had escaped down the river only to die of fever along with many more. The victory of Plassey and the large compensation paid for the destruction of Old Calcutta and its church induced thousands of natives to flock to the new capital, while the number of the European troops and officials was about 2000. When chaplains were sent out, the Governor-General officially wrote of them to the Court of Directors so late as 1795:--“Our clergy in Bengal, with some exceptions, are not respectable characters.” From the general relaxation of morals, he added, “a black coat is no security.” They were so badly paid--from £50 to £230 a year, increased by £120 to meet the cost of living in Calcutta after 1764--that they traded. Preaching was the least of the chaplains’ duties; burying was the most onerous. Anglo-Indian society, cut off from London, itself not much better, by a six months’ voyage, was corrupt. Warren Hastings and Philip Francis, his hostile colleague in Council, lived in open adultery. The majority of the officials had native women, and the increase of their children, who lived in a state worse than that of the heathen, became so alarming that the compensation paid by the Mohammedan Government of Moorshedabad for the destruction of the church was applied to the foundation of the useful charity still known as the Free School. The fathers not infrequently adopted the Hindoo pantheon along with the zanana. The pollution, springing from England originally, was rolled back into it in an increasing volume, when the survivors retired as nabobs with fortunes, to corrupt social and political life, till Pitt cried out; and it became possible for Burke almost to succeed in his eighteen years’ impeachment of Hastings. The literature of the close of the eighteenth century is full of alarm lest the English character should be corrupted, and lest the balance of the constitution should be upset.

Kiernander is said to have been the means of converting 209 heathens and 380 Romanists, of whom three were priests, during the twenty-eight years of his Calcutta career. Claudius Buchanan declares that Christian tracts had been translated into Bengali--one written by the Bishop of Sodor and Man--and that in the time of Warren Hastings Hindoo Christians had preached to their countrymen in the city. The “heathen” were probably Portuguese descendants, in whose language Kiernander preached as the lingua franca of the time. He could not even converse in Bengali or Hindostani, and when Charles Grant went to him for information as to the way of a sinner’s salvation this happened--“My anxious inquiries as to what I should do to be saved appeared to embarrass and confuse him exceedingly. He could not answer my questions, but he gave me some good instructive books.” On Kiernander’s bankruptcy, caused by his son when the father was blind, the “Mission Church” was bought by Grant, who wrote that its labours “have been confined to the descendants of Europeans, and have hardly ever embraced a single heathen, so that a mission to the Hindoos and Mohammedans would be a new thing.” The Rev. David Brown, who had been sent out the year after as master and chaplain of the Military Orphan Society, for the education of the children of officers and soldiers, and was to become one of the Serampore circle of friends, preached to Europeans only in the Mission Church. Carey could find no trace of Kiernander’s work among the natives six years after his death.8 The only converted Hindoo known of in Northern India up to that time was Guneshan Dass, of Delhi, who when a boy joined Clive’s army, who was the first man of caste to visit England, and who, on his return with the Calcutta Supreme Court Judges in 1774 as Persian interpreter and translator, was baptised by Kiernander, Mr. justice Chambers being sponsor.

William Carey had no predecessor in India as the first ordained Englishman who was sent to it as a missionary; he had no predecessor in Bengal and Hindostan proper as the first missionary from any land to the people. Even the Moravians, who in 1777 had sent two brethren to Serampore, Calcutta, and Patna, had soon withdrawn them, and one of them became the Company’s botanist in Madras--Dr. Heyne. Carey practically stood alone at the first, while he unconsciously set in motion the double revolution, which was to convert the Anglo-Indian influence on England from corrupting heathenism to aggressive missionary zeal, and to change the Bengal of Cornwallis into the India of Bentinck, with all the possibilities that have made it grow, thus far, into the India of the Lawrence’s.

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Chapter IV.

4. Six Years In North Bengal--Missionary and Indigo Planter. 1794-1799.Carey’s two missionary principles--Destitute in Calcutta--Bandel and Nuddea--Applies in vain to be under-superintendent of the Botanic Garden--Housed by a native usurer--Translation and preaching work in Calcutta--Secures a grant of waste land at Hasnabad--Estimate of the Bengali language, and appeal to the Society to work in Asia and Africa rather than in America--The Udny family--Carey’s summary of his first year’s experience--Superintends the indigo factory of Mudnabati--Indigo and the East India Company’s monopolies--Carey’s first nearly fatal sickness--Death of his child and chronic madness of his wife--Formation of first Baptist church in India--Early progress of Bible translation--Sanskrit studies; the Mahabarata--The wooden printing-press set up at Mudnabati--His educational ideal; school-work--The medical mission--Lord Wellesley--Carey seeks a mission centre among the Bhooteas--Describes his first sight of a Sati--Projects a mission settlement at Kidderpore.

CAREY was in his thirty-third year when he landed in Bengal. Two principles regulated the conception, the foundation, and the whole course of the mission, which he now began. He had been led to these by the very genius of Christianity itself, by the example and teaching of Christ and of Paul, and by the experience of the Moravian brethren. He had laid them down in his Enquiry, and every month’s residence during forty years in India confirmed him in his adhesion to them. These principles are that (1) a missionary must be one of the companions and equals of the people to whom he is sent; and (2) a missionary must as soon as possible become indigenous, self-supporting, self-propagating, and alike by the labours of the mission and of the converts. Himself a man of the people yet a scholar, a shoemaker and a schoolmaster yet a preacher and pastor to whom the great Robert Hall gloried in being a successor, Carey had led the two lives as Paul had done. Now that he was fairly in Calcutta he resumed the divine toil, and ceased it not till he entered on the eternal rest. He prepared to go up country to Malda to till the ground among the natives of the rich district around the ruined capital of Gour. He engaged as his pundit and interpreter Ram Basu, one of the professing inquirers whom Thomas had attracted in former days. Experience soon taught him that, however correct his principle; Malda is not a land where the white man can be a farmer. So he became, in the different stages of his career, a captain of labour as an indigo planter, a teacher of Bengali, and professor of Sanskrit and Marathi, and the Government translator of Bengali. Nor did he or his associates ever make the mistake--or commit the fraud--of the Jesuit missionaries, whose idea of equality with the people was not that of brotherhood in Christ, but that of dragging down Christian doctrine, worship and civilisation, to the level of idolatrous heathenism, and deluding the ignorant into accepting the blasphemous compromise.

Alas! Carey could not manage to get out of Calcutta and its neighbourhood for five months. As he thought to live by farming, Thomas was to practise his profession; and their first year’s income of £150 had, in those days when the foreign exchanges were unknown, to be realised by the sale of the goods in which it had been invested. As usual, Thomas had again blundered, so that even his gentle colleague himself half-condemned, half-apologised for him by the shrewd reflection that he was only fit to live at sea, where his daily business would be before him, and daily provision would be made for him. Carey found himself penniless. Even had he received the whole of his £75, as he really did in one way or other, what was that for such a family as his at the beginning of their undertaking? The expense of living at all in Calcutta drove the whole party thirty miles up the river to Bandel, an Old Portuguese suburb of the Hoogli factory. There they rented a small house from the German hotelkeeper, beside the Augustinian priory and oldest church in North India, which dates from 1599 and is still in good order. There they met Kiernander, then at the great age of eighty-four. Daily they preached or talked to the people. They purchased a boat for regular visitation of the hamlets, markets, and towns, which line both banks of the river. With sure instinct Carey soon fixed on Nuddea, as the centre of Brahmanical superstition and Sanskrit learning, where “to build me a hut and live like the natives,” language recalled to us by the words of the dying Livingstone in the swamps of Central Africa. There, in the capital of the last of the Hindoo kings, beside the leafy tols or colleges of a river port, which rivals Benares, Poona, and Conjeeveram in sanctity, where Chaitanya the Vaishnaiva reformer was born, Carey might have attacked Brahmanism in its stronghold. A passage in his journal shows how he realised the position. Thomas, the pundit, and he “sought the Lord by prayer for direction,” and this much was the result--“Several of the most learned Pundits and Brahmans wished us to settle there; and, as that is the great place for Eastern learning, we seemed inclined, especially as it is the bulwark of heathenism, which, if once carried, all the rest of the country must be laid open to us.” But there was no available land there for an Englishman’s cultivation. From Bandel he wrote home these impressions of Anglo-Indian life and missionary duty:--

“26th Dec. 1793. - A missionary must be one of the companions and equals of the people to whom he is sent, and many dangers and temptations will be in his way. One or two pieces of advice I may venture to give. The first is to be exceedingly cautious lest the voyage prove a great snare. All the discourse is about high life, and every circumstance will contribute to unfit the mind for the work and prejudice the soul against the people to whom he goes; and in a country like this, settled by Europeans, the grandeur, the customs, and prejudices of the Europeans are exceeding dangerous. They are very kind and hospitable, but even to visit them, if a man keeps no table of his own, would more than ten times exceed the allowance of a mission; and all their discourse is about the vices of the natives, so that a missionary must see thousands of people treating him with the greatest kindness, but whom he must be entirely different from in his life, his appearance in everything, or it is impossible for him to stand their profuse way of living, being so contrary to his character and so much above his ability. This is a snare to dear Mr. Thomas, which will be felt by us both in some measure. It will be very important to missionaries to be men of calmness and evenness of temper, and rather inclined to suffer hardships than to court the favour of men, and such who will be indefatigably employed in the work set before them, an inconstancy of mind being quite injurious to it.”

He had need of such faith and patience. Hearing of wasteland in Calcutta, he returned there only to be disappointed. The Danish captain, knowing that he had written a botanical work, advised him to take it to the doctor in charge of the Company’s Botanic Garden, and offer himself for a vacant appointment to superintend part of it. The doctor, who and whose successors were soon to be proud of his assistance on equal terms, had to tell him that the office had been filled up, but invited the weary man to dine with him. Houseless, with his maddened wife, and her sister and two of his four children down with dysentery, due to the bad food and exposure of six weeks in the interior, Carey found a friend, appropriately enough, in a Bengali moneylender. 9 Nelu Dutt, a banker who had lent money to Thomas, offered the destitute family his garden house in the north-eastern quarter of Manicktolla until they could do better. The place was mean enough, but Carey never forgot the deed, and he had it in his power long after to help Nelu Dutt when in poverty. Such, on the other hand, was the dislike of the Rev. David Brown to Thomas, that when Carey had walked five miles in the heat of the sun to visit the comparatively prosperous evangelical preacher, “I left him without his having so much as asked me to take any refreshment.”

Carey would not have been allowed to live in Calcutta as a missionary. Forty years were to pass before that could be possible without a Company’s passport. But no one was aware of the existence of the obscure vagrant, as he seemed, although he was hard at work. All around him was a Mohammedan community whom he addressed with the greatest freedom, and with whom he discussed the relative merits of the Koran and the Bible in a kindly spirit, “to recommend the Gospel and the way of life by Christ.” He had helped Thomas with a translation of the book of Genesis during the voyage, and now we find this in his journal two months and a half after he had landed: --

“Through the delays of my companion I have spent another month, and done scarcely anything, except that I have added to my knowledge of the language, and had opportunity of seeing much more of the genius and disposition of the natives than I otherwise could have known. This day finished the correction of the first chapter of Genesis, which moonshi says is rendered into very good Bengali. Just as we had finished it, a pundit and another man from Nuddea came to see me. I showed it to them; and the pundit seemed much pleased with the account of the creation; only they have an imaginary place somewhere beneath the earth, and he thought that should have been mentioned likewise.

“Was very weary, having walked in the sun about fifteen or sixteen miles, yet had the satisfaction of discoursing with some money-changers at Calcutta, who could speak English, about the importance and absolute necessity of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them was a very crafty man, and tried much to entangle me with hard questions; but at last, finding himself entangled, he desisted, and went to his old occupation of money-changing again. If once God would by his Spirit convince them of sin, a Saviour would be a blessing indeed to them: but human nature is the same all the world over, and all conviction fails except it is produced by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.”

Ram Basu was himself in debt, was indeed all along a self-interested inquirer. But the next gleam of hope came from him, that the Carey family should move to the waste jungles of the Soondarbans, the tiger-haunted swamps south-east of Calcutta, and there cultivate a grant of land. With a sum of £16 borrowed from a native at twelve per cent by Mr. Thomas, a boat was hired, and on the fourth day, when only one more meal remained, the miserable family and their stouthearted father saw an English-built house. As they walked up to it the owner met them, and with Anglo-Indian hospitality invited them all to become his guests. He proved to be Mr. Charles Short, in charge of the Company’s salt manufacture there. As a deist he had no sympathy with Carey’s enterprise, but he helped the missionary none the less, and the reward came to him in due time in the opening of his heart to the love of Christ. He afterwards married Mrs. Carey’s sister, and in England the two survived the great missionary, to tell this and much more regarding him. Here, at the place appropriately named Hasnabad, or the “smiling spot,” Carey took a few acres on the Jamoona arm of the united Ganges and Brahmapootra, and built him a bamboo house, forty miles east of Calcutta. Knowing that the sahib’s gun would keep off the tigers, natives squatted around to the number of three or four thousand. Such was the faith, the industry, and the modesty of the brave little man that, after just three months, he wrote thus: --“When I know the language well enough to preach in it, I have no doubt of having a stated congregation, and I much hope to send you pleasing accounts. I can so far converse in the language as to be understood in most things belonging to eating and drinking, buying and selling, etc. My ear is somewhat familiarised to the Bengali sounds. It is a language of a very singular construction, having no plural except for pronouns, and not a single preposition in it: but the cases of nouns and pronouns are almost endless, all the words answering to our prepositions being put after the word, and forming a new case. Except these singularities, I find it an easy language. I feel myself happy in my present undertaking; for, though I never felt the loss of social religion so much as now, yet a consciousness of having given up all for God is a support; and the work, with all its attendant inconveniences, is to me a rich reward. I think the Society would do well to keep their eye towards Africa or Asia, countries which are not like the wilds of America, where long labour will scarcely collect sixty people to hear the Word: for here it is almost impossible to get out of the way of hundreds, and preachers are wanted a thousand times more than people to preach to. Within India are the Maratha country and the northern parts to Cashmere, in which, as far as I can learn, there is not one soul that thinks of God aright. My health was never better. The climate, though hot, is tolerable; but attended as I am with difficulties, I would not renounce my undertaking for all the world.”

It was at this time that he drew his strength often from the experience of the first missionary, described by Isaiah, in all his solitude: --“Look unto Abraham your father, for I called him alone and blessed him and increased him. For the Lord shall comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places.” The sun of His comfort shone forth at last.

Carey’s original intention to begin his mission near Malda was now to be carried out. In the opening week of 1794 the small English community in Bengal were saddened by the news that, when crossing the Hoogli at Calcutta, a boat containing three of its principal merchants and the wife of one of them, had been upset, and all had been drowned. It turned out that two of the men recovered, but Mr. R. Udny and his young wife perished. His aged mother had been one of the godly circle in the Residency at Malda to whom Thomas had ministered; and Mr. G. Udny, her other son, was still the Company’s commercial Resident there. A letter of sympathy, which Thomas sent to them, restored the old relations, and resulted in Mr. G. Udny inviting first the writer and then Carey to become his assistants in charge of new indigo factories which he was building on his own account. Each received a salary equivalent to £250 a year, with the prospect of a commission on the out-turn, and even a proprietary share. Carey’s remark in his journal on the day he received the offer was: --“This appearing to be a remarkable opening in divine providence for our comfortable support, I accepted it...I shall likewise be joined with my colleague again, and we shall unitedly engage in our work.” Again: - “The conversion of the heathen is the object which above all others I wish to pursue. If my situation at Malda should be tolerable, I most certainly will publish the Bible in numbers.” On receiving the rejoinder to his acceptance of the offer he set this down:--“I am resolved to write to the Society that my circumstances are such that I do not need future help from them, and to devote a sum monthly for the printing of the Bengali Bible.” This he did, adding that it would be his glory and joy to stand in the same relation to the Society as if he needed support from them. He hoped they would be the sooner able to send another mission somewhere--to Sumatra or some of the Indian Islands. From the first he lived with such simplicity that he gave from one-fourth to one-third of his little income to his own mission at Mudnabati.

Carey thus sums up his first year’s experience before leaving his jungle home on a three weeks’ voyage up the Ganges, and records his first deliberate and regular attempt to preach in Bengali on the way.

“8th April 1794. --All my hope is in, and all my comfort arises from, God; without His power no European could possibly be converted, and His power can convert any Indian; and when I reflect that He has stirred me up to the work, and wrought wonders to prepare the way, I can hope in His promises, and am encouraged and strengthened.

“19th April. - O how glorious are the ways of God! ‘My soul longeth and fainteth for God, for the living God, to see His glory and beauty as I have seen them in the sanctuary.’ When I first left England, my hope of the conversion of the heathen was very strong; but, among so many obstacles, it would entirely die away unless upheld by God. Nothing to exercise it, but plenty to obstruct it, for now a year and nineteen days, which is the space since I left my dear charge at Leicester. Since that I have had hurrying up and down; a five months’ imprisonment with carnal men on board the ship; five more learning the language; my moonshi not understanding English sufficiently to interpret my preaching; my colleague separated from me; long delays and few opportunities for social worship; no woods to retire to, like Brainerd, for fear of tigers (no less than twenty men in the department of Deharta, where I am, have been carried away by them this season from the salt-works); no earthly thing to depend upon, or earthly comfort, except food and raiment. Well, I have God, and His Word is sure; and though the superstitions of the heathen were a million times worse than they are, if I were deserted by all, and persecuted by all, yet my hope, fixed on that sure Word, will rise superior to all obstructions, and triumph over all trials. God’s cause will triumph, and I shall come out of all trials as gold purified by fire. I was much humbled to day by reading Brainerd. O what a disparity betwixt me and him, he always constant, I as inconstant as the wind!

“22nd April. --Bless God for a continuance of the happy frame of yesterday. I think the hope of soon acquiring the language puts fresh life into my soul; for a long time my mouth has been shut, and my days have been beclouded with heaviness; but now I begin to be something like a traveller who has been almost beaten out in a violent storm, and who, with all his clothes about him dripping wet, sees the sky begin to clear: so I, with only the prospect of a more pleasant season at hand, scarcely feel the sorrows of the present.

“23rd.--With all the cares of life, and all its sorrows, yet I find that a life of communion with God is sufficient to yield consolation in the midst of all, and even to produce a holy joy in the soul, which shall make it to triumph over all affliction. I have never yet repented of any sacrifice that I have made for the Gospel, but find that consolation of mind, which can come from God alone.

“26th May. --This day kept Sabbath at Chandureea; had a pleasant day. In the morning and afternoon addressed my family, and in the evening began my work of publishing the Word of God to the heathen. Though imperfect in the knowledge of the language, yet, with the help of moonshi, I conversed with two Brahmans in the presence of about two hundred people, about the things of God. I had been to see a temple, in which were the images of Dukkinroy, the god of the woods, riding on a tiger; Sheetulla, goddess of the smallpox, without a head, riding on a horse without a head; Punchanon, with large ears; and Colloroy, riding on a horse. In another apartment was Seeb, which was only a smooth post of wood, with two or three mouldings in it, like the base of a Tuscan pillar. I therefore discoursed with them upon the vanity of idols, the folly and wickedness of idolatry, the nature and attributes of God, and the way of salvation by Christ. One Brahman was quite confounded, and a number of people were all at once crying out to him, ‘Why do you not answer him? Why do you not answer him?’ He replied, ‘I have no words.’ Just at this time a very learned Brahman came up, who was desired to talk with me, which he did, and so acceded to what I said, that he at last said images had been used of late years, but not from the beginning. I inquired what I must do to be saved; he said I must repeat the name of God a great many times. I replied, would you, if your son had offended you, be so pleased with him as to forgive him if he were to repeat the word ‘father’ a thousand times? This might please children or fools, but God is wise. He told me that I must get faith; I asked what faith was, to which he gave me no intelligible reply, but said I must obey God. I answered, what are His commands? What is His will? They said God was a great light, and as no one could see him, he became incarnate, under the threefold character of Brhumma, Bishno, and Seeb, and that either of them must be worshipped in order to life. I told them of the sure Word of the Gospel, and the way of life by Christ; and, night coming on left them. I cannot tell what effect it may have, as I may never see them again.”

At the beginning of the great rains in the middle of June Carey joined Mr. Udny and his mother at the chief factory. On each of the next two Sabbaths he preached twice in the hall of the Residency of the Company, which excluded all Christian missionaries by Act of Parliament. As an indigo planter he received the Company’s licence to reside for at least five years. So on 26th June he began his secular duties by completing for the season of indigo manufacture the buildings at Mudnabati, and making the acquaintance of the ninety natives under his charge. Both Mr. Udny and he knew well that he was above all things a Christian missionary. “These will furnish a congregation immediately, and, added to the extensive engagements which I must necessarily have with the natives, will open a very wide door for activity. God grant that it may not only be large but effectual.”

These were the days, which continued till the next charter, when the East India Company was still not only a body of merchants but of manufacturers. Of all the old monopolies only the most evil one is left, that of the growth, manufacture, and sale of opium. The civil servants, who were termed Residents, had not political duties with tributary sovereigns as now, but from great factory-like palaces, and on large salaries, made advances of money to contractors, native and European, who induced the ryots to weave cloth, to breed and feed the silkworm, and to grow and make the blue dye to which India had long given the name of “indigo.” Mr. Carey was already familiar with the system of advances for salt, and the opium monopoly was then in its infancy. The European contractors were “interlopers,” who introduced the most valuable cultivation and processes into India, and yet with whom the “covenanted” Residents were often at war. The Residents had themselves liberty of private trade, and unscrupulous men abused it. Clive had been hurried out thirty years before to check the abuse, which was ruining not only the Company’s investments but also the people. It had so spread on his departure that even judges and chaplains shared in the spoils till Cornwallis interfered. In the case of Mr. G. Udny and purely commercial agents the evil was reduced to a minimum, and the practice had been deliberately sanctioned by Sir John Shore on the ground that it was desirable to make the interests of the Company and of individuals go hand in hand.

The days when Europe got its cotton cloth from India, calling it “calico,” from Calicut, and its rich yellow silks, have long since passed, although the latter are still supplied in an inferior form, and the former is once more raising its head, from the combination of machinery and cheap labour. For the old abuses of the Company the Government by Parliament has to some extent atoned by fostering the new cultures of tea, coffee, and cinchona, jute and wheat. The system of inducing the ryots to cultivate by advances, protected by a stringent contract law, still exists in the case of opium. The indigo culture system of Carey’s time broke down in 1860 in the lower districts, where, following the Company itself, the planter made cash advances to the peasant, who was required to sow indigo on land which he held as a tenant but often as a proprietor, to deliver it at a fixed rate, and to bear the risk of the crop as well as the exactions of the factory servants. It still exists in the upper districts of Bihar, especially in Tirhoot, on a system comparatively free from economic objections.

The plant known as “Indigofera Tinctoria” is sown in March in soil carefully prepared, grows to about 5 feet, is cut down early in July, is fermented in vats, and the liquor is beaten till it precipitates the precious blue dye, which is boiled, drained, cut in small cakes, and dried. From first to last the growth and the manufacture are even more precarious than most tropical crops. An even rainfall, rigorous weeding, the most careful superintendence of the chemical processes, and conscientious packing, are necessary. One good crop in three years will pay where the factory is not burdened by severe interest on capital; one every other year will pay very well. Personally Carey had more than the usual qualifications of a successful planter, scientific knowledge, scrupulous conscientiousness and industry, and familiarity with the native character, so soon as he acquired the special experience necessary for superintending the manufacture. That experience he spared no effort to gain at once.

“1st, 2nd, and 3rd July. --Much engaged in the necessary business of preparing our works for the approaching season of indigo making, which will commence in about a fortnight. I had on the evening of each of these days’ very precious seasons of fervent prayer to God. I have been on these evenings much drawn out in prayer for my dear friends at Leicester, and for the Society that it may be prosperous; likewise for the ministers of my acquaintance, not only of the Baptist but other denominations. I was engaged for the churches in America and Holland, as well as England, and much concerned for the success of the Gospel among the Hindoos. At present I know not of any success since I have been here. Many say that the Gospel is the word of truth; but they abound so much in flattery and encomiums, which are mere words of course, that little can be said respecting their sincerity. The very common sins of lying and avarice are so universal also, that no European who has not witnessed it can form any idea of their various appearances: they will stoop to anything whatsoever to get a few cowries, and lie on every occasion. O how desirable is the spread of the Gospel!

“4th July. --Rather more flat, perhaps owing to the excessive heat; for in the rainy season, if there be a fine day, it is very hot indeed. Such has been this day, and I was necessitated to be out in it from morning till evening, giving necessary directions. I felt very much fatigued indeed, and had no spirits left in the evening, and in prayer was very barren...

“9th July to 4th Aug.--Employed in visiting several factories to learn the process of indigo-making. Had some very pleasant seasons at Malda, where I preached several times, and the people seemed much affected with the Word. One day, as Mr. Thomas and I were riding out, we saw a basket hung in a tree, in which an infant had been exposed; the skull remained, the rest having been devoured by ants.”

Success in the indigo culture was indeed never possible in Mudnabati. The factory stood on the river Tangan, within what is now the district of Dinajpoor, thirty miles north of Malda. To this day the revenue surveyors of Government describe it as low and marshy, subject to inundation during the rains, and considered very unhealthy. Carey had not been there a fortnight when he had to make this record: --

“5th, 6th, 7th July. --Much employed in settling the affairs of the buildings, etc., having been absent so long, and several of our managing and principal people being sick. It is indeed an awful time here with us now, scarcely a day but some are seized with fevers. It is, I believe, owing to the abundance of water, there being rice-fields all around us, in which they dam up the water, so that all the country hereabouts is about a foot deep in water; and as we have rain, though moderate to what I expected the rainy season to be, yet the continual moisture occasions fevers in such situations where rice is cultivated. Felt at home and thankful these days. O that I may be very useful! I must soon learn the language tolerably well, for I am obliged to converse with the natives every day, having no other persons here except my family.”

Soon in September, the worst of all the months in Bengal, he himself was brought near to the grave by a fever, one of the paroxysms continuing for twenty-six hours without intermission, “when providentially Mr. Udny came to visit us, not knowing that I was ill, and brought a bottle of bark with him.” He slowly recovered, but the second youngest child, Peter, a boy of five, was removed by dysentery, and caste made it long difficult to find any native to dig his grave. But of this time the faithful sufferer could write: --

“Sometimes I enjoyed sweet seasons of self-examination and prayer, as I lay upon my bed. Many hours together I sweetly spent in contemplating subjects for preaching, and in musing over discourses in Bengali; and when my animal spirits were somewhat raised by the fever, I found myself able to reason and discourse in Bengali for some hours together, and words and phrases occurred much more readily than when I was in health. When my dear child was ill I was enabled to attend upon him night and day, though very dangerously ill myself, without much fatigue; and now, I bless God that I feel a sweet resignation to his will.”

A still harder fate befell him. The monomania of his wife became chronic. A letter which she wrote and sent by special messenger called forth from Thomas this loving sympathy: --“You must endeavour to consider it a disease. The eyes and ears of many are upon you, to whom your conduct is unimpeachable with respect to all her charges; but if you show resentment, they have ears, and others have tongues set on fire. Were I in your case, I should be violent; but blessed be God, who suits our burdens to our backs. Sometimes I pray earnestly for you, and I always feel for you. Think of Job, Think of Jesus. Think of those who were ‘destitute, afflicted, tormented.’”

A voyage up the Tangan in Mr. Udny’s pinnace as far as the north frontier, at a spot now passed by the railway to Darjeeling, restored the invalid. “I am no hunter,” he wrote, while Thomas was shooting wild buffaloes, but he was ever adding to his store of observations of the people, the customs and language. Meanwhile he was longing for letters from Fuller and Pearce and Ryland. At the end of January 1795 the missionary exile thus talks of himself in his journal:--“Much engaged in writing, having begun to write letters to Europe; but having received none, I feel that hope deferred makes the heart sick. However, I am so fully satisfied of the firmness of their friendship that I feel a sweet pleasure in writing to them, though rather of a forlorn kind; and having nothing but myself to write about, feel the awkwardness of being an egotist. I feel a social spirit though barred from society. I sometimes walk in my garden, and try to pray to God; and if I pray at all it is in the solitude of a walk. I thought my soul a little drawn out to day, but soon gross darkness returned. Spoke a word or two to a Mohammedan upon the things of God, but I feel to be as bad as they...9th May. I have added nothing to these memoirs since the 19th of April. Now I observe that for the last three Sabbaths my soul has been much comforted in seeing so large a congregation, and more especially as many who are not our own workmen come from the parts adjacent, whose attendance must be wholly disinterested. I therefore now rejoice in seeing a regular congregation of from two to six hundred people of all descriptions--Mussulmans, Brahmans and other classes of Hindus, which I look upon as a favourable token from God...Blessed be God, I have at last received letters and other articles from our friends in England...from dear brethren Fuller, Morris, Pearce, and Rippon, but why not from others? 14th June I have had very sore trials in my own family, from a quarter, which I forbear to mention. Have greater need for faith and patience than ever I had, and I bless God that I have not been altogether without supplies of these graces. Mr. Thomas and his family spent one Lord’s Day with us, May 23rd. We spent Wednesday, 26th, in prayer, and for a convenient place assembled in a temple of Seeb, which was near to our house. I was from that day seized with dysentery, which continued nearly a week with fearful violence; but then I recovered, through abundant mercy. That day of prayer was a good day to our souls. We concerted measures for forming a Baptist church.”

To his sister he wrote, on the 11th March, of the church, which was duly formed of Europeans and Eurasians. No native convert was made in this Dinapoor mission till 1806, after Carey had removed to Serampore. “We have in the neighbourhood about fifteen or sixteen serious persons, or those I have good hopes of, all Europeans. With the natives I have very large concerns; almost all the farmers for nearly twenty miles round cultivate indigo for us, and the labouring people working here to the number of about five hundred, so that I have considerable opportunity of publishing the Gospel to them. I have so much knowledge of the language as to be able to preach to them for about half an hour, so as to be understood, but am not able to vary my subjects much. I tell them of the evil and universality of sin, the sins of a natural state, the justice of God, the incarnation of Christ and his sufferings in our stead, and of the necessity of conversion, holiness, and faith, in order to salvation. They hear with attention in general, and some come to me for instruction in the things of God.”

“It was always my opinion that missionaries may and must support themselves after having been sent out and received a little support at first, and in consequence I pursue a very little worldly employment which requires three months’ closish attendance in the year; but this is in the rains--the most unfavourable season for exertion. I have a district of about twenty miles square, where I am continually going from village to village to publish the Gospel; and in this space are about two hundred villages, whose inhabitants from time to time hear the Word. My manner of travelling is with two small boats; one serves me to live in, and the other for cooking my food. I carry all my furniture and food with me from place to place--viz. a chair, a table, a bed, and a lamp. I walk from village to village, but repair to my boat for lodging and eating. There are several rivers in this extent of country, which is very convenient for travelling.”

Carey’s first convert seems to have been Ignatius Fernandez, a Portuguese descendant who had prospered as a trader in Dinapoor station. The first Protestant place of worship in Bengal, outside of Calcutta, was built by him, in 1797, next to his own house. There he conducted service both in English and Bengali, whenever Carey and Thomas, and Fountain afterwards, were unable to go out to the station, and in his house Thomas and Fountain died. He remained there as a missionary till his own death, four years before Carey’s, when he left all his property to the mission. The mission-house, as it is now, is a typical example of the bungalow of one story, which afterwards formed the first chapel in Serampore, and is still common as officers’ quarters in Barrackpore and other military stations.

Side by side with his daily public preaching and more private conversations with inquirers in Bengali, Carey carried on the work of Bible translation. As each new portion was prepared, it was tested, by being read to hundreds of natives. The difficulty was that he had at once to give a literary form to the rich materials of the language, and to find in these or adapt from them terms sufficiently pure and accurate to express the divine ideas and facts revealed through the Hebrew and the Greek of the original. He gives us this unconscious glimpse of himself at work on this loftiest and most fruitful of tasks, which Jerome had first accomplished for Latin Christendom, Ulfila for our Scandinavian forefathers, Wiclif for the English, and Luther for the Germans of the time.

“Now I must mention some of the difficulties under which we labour, particularly myself. The language spoken by the natives of this part, though Bengali, is yet so different from the language itself, that, though I can preach an hour with tolerable freedom so as that all who speak the language well, or can write or read, perfectly understand me, yet the poor labouring people can understand but little; and though the language is rich, beautiful, and expressive, yet the poor people, whose whole concern has been to get a little rice to satisfy their wants, or to cheat their oppressive merchants and Zameendars, have scarcely a word in use about religion. They have no word for love, for repent, and a thousand other things; and every idea is expressed either by quaint phrases or tedious circumlocutions. A native who speaks the language well finds it a year’s work to obtain their idiom. This sometimes discourages me much; but blessed be God I feel a growing desire to be always abounding in the work of the Lord, and I know that my labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. I am much encouraged by our Lord’s expression, ‘He who reapeth’ (in the harvest) ‘receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto eternal life.’ If I, like David, only am an instrument of gathering materials, and another build the house, I trust my joy will not be the less.” This was written to the well-beloved Pearce, whom he would fain have had beside him at Mudnabati. To guide the two missionaries whom the Society were about to send to Africa on the salaries which he and Thomas had set free for this extension, Carey adds:--“They will do well to associate as much as possible with the natives, and to write down every word they can catch, with its meaning. But if they have children with them, it is by far the readiest way of learning to listen to them, for they will catch up every idiom in a little time. My children can speak nearly as well as the natives, and know many things in Bengali, which they do not know in English. I should also recommend to your consideration a very large country, perhaps un-thought of: I mean Bhootan or Tibet. Were two missionaries sent to that country, we should have it in our power to afford them much help...The day I received your letter I set about composing a grammar and dictionary of the Bengal language to send to you. The best account of Hindu mythology extant, and which is pretty exact, is Sonnerat’s Voyage, undertaken by order of the king of France.”

Without Sanskrit Carey found that he could neither master its Bengali offshoot nor enrich that vernacular with the words and combinations necessary for his translations of Scripture. Accordingly, with his usual rapidity and industry, we find that he had by April 1796 so worked his way through the intricate difficulties of the mother language of the Aryans that he could thus write to Ryland, with more than a mere scholar’s enthusiasm, of one of the two great Vedic epics: --“I have read a considerable part of the Mahabarata, an epic poem written in most beautiful language, and much upon a par with Homer; and it was, like his Iliad, only considered as a great effort of human genius, I should think it one of the first productions in the world; but alas! It is the ground of faith to millions of the simple sons of men, and as such must be held in the utmost abhorrence.” At the beginning of 1798 he wrote to Sutcliff:--“I am learning the Sanskrit language, which, with only the helps to be procured here, is perhaps the hardest language in the world. To accomplish this, I have nearly translated the Sanskrit grammar and dictionary into English, and have made considerable progress in compiling a dictionary, Sanskrit, including Bengali and English.”

By this year he had completed his first translation of the Bible except the historical books from Joshua to Job, and had gone to Calcutta to obtain estimates for printing the New Testament, of which he had reported to Mr. Fuller: --“It has undergone one correction, but must undergo several more. I employ a pundit merely for this purpose, with whom I go through the whole in as exact a manner as I can. He judges of the style and syntax, and I of the faithfulness of the translation. I have, however, translated several chapters together, which have not required any alteration in the syntax whatever: yet I always submit this article entirely to his judgment. I can also, by hearing him read, judge whether he understands his subject by his accenting his reading properly and laying the emphasis on the right words. If he fails in this, I immediately suspect the translation; though it is not an easy matter for an ordinary reader to lay the emphasis properly in reading Bengali, in which there is no pointing at all. The mode of printing, i.e. whether a printing-press, etc., shall be sent from England, or whether it shall be printed here, or whether it shall be printed at all, now rests with the Society.”

Fuller was willing, but the ardent scholar anticipated him. Seeing a wooden printing press advertised in Calcutta for £40, Carey at once ordered it. On its arrival in 1798, “after worship” he “retired and thanked God for furnishing us with a press.” When set up in the Mudnabati house it’s working was explained to the natives, on whom the delighted missionary’s enthusiasm produced only the impression that it must be the idol of the English.

But Carey’s missionary organisation would not have been complete without schools, and in planning these from the very first he gives us the germs which blossomed into the Serampore College of 1818 on the one hand, and the primary school circles under native Christian inspectors on the other, a system carried out since the Mutiny of 1857 by the Christian Literature Society, and adopted by the state departments of public instruction.

“MUDNABATI, 27th January 1795. --Mr. Thomas and I (between whom the utmost harmony prevails) have formed a plan for erecting two colleges (Chowparis, Bengali), one here and the other at his residence, where we intend to educate twelve lads, viz. six Mussulmans and six Hindoos at each place. A pundit is to have the charge of them, and they are to be taught Sanskrit, Bengali, and Persian; the Bible is to be introduced, and perhaps a little philosophy and geography. The time of their education is to be seven years, and we find them meat, clothing, lodging, etc. We are now inquiring for children proper for the purpose. We have also determined to require that the Society will advance money for types to print the Bengali Bible, and make us their debtors for the sum, which we hope to be able to pay off in one year: and it will also be requisite to send a printing-press from England. We will, if our lives are spared, repay the whole, and print the Bible at our own expense, and I hope the Society will become our creditors by paying for them when delivered. Mr. Thomas is now preparing letters for specimens, which I hope will be sent by this conveyance.

“We are under great obligation to Mr. G. Udny for putting us in these stations. He is a very friendly man and a true Christian. I have no spirit for politics here; for whatever the East India Company may be in England, their servants and officers here are very different; we have a few laws, and nothing to do but to obey.” Of his own school he wrote in 1799 that it consisted of forty boys. “The school would have been much larger, had we been able to have borne the expense; but, as among the scholars there are several orphans whom we wholly maintain, we could not prudently venture on any further expense. The boys have hitherto learned to read and write, especially parts of the Scriptures, and to keep accounts. We may now be able to introduce some other useful branches of knowledge among them...I trust these schools may tend to promote curiosity and inquisitiveness among the rising generation; qualities which are seldom found in the natives of Bengal.”

The Medical Mission completed the equipment. “I submit it to the consideration of the Society whether we should not be furnished with medicines gratis. No medicines will be sold by us, yet the cost of them enters very deeply into our allowance. The whole supply sent in the Earl Howe, amounting to £35, besides charges amounting to thirty per cent, falls on me; but the whole will either be administered to sick poor, or given to any neighbour who is in want, or used in our own families. Neighbouring gentlemen have often supplied us. Indeed, considering the distance we are from medical assistance, the great expensiveness of it far beyond our ability, and the number of wretched, afflicted objects whom we continually see and who continually apply for help, we ought never to sell a pennyworth. Brother Thomas has been the instrument of saving numbers of lives. His house is constantly surrounded with the afflicted; and the cures wrought by him would have gained any physician or surgeon in Europe the most extensive reputation. We ought to be furnished yearly with at least half a hundredweight of Jesuit’s bark.”

Around and as the fruit of the completely organised mission, thus conducted by the ordained preacher, teacher, scholar, scientist, printer, and licensed indigo planter in one station, and by his medical colleague sixteen miles to the north of him at Mahipal, there gathered many native inquirers. Besides the planters, civil officials, and military officers, to whom he ministered in Malda and Dinapoor stations, there was added the most able and consistent convert, Mr. Cunninghame of Lainshaw, the assistant judge, who afterwards in England fought the battle of missions, and from his Ayrshire estate, where he built a church, became famous as an expounder of prophecy. Carey looked upon this as “the greatest event that has occurred since our coming to this country.” The appointment of Lord Mornington, soon to be known as the Marquis Wellesley, “the glorious little man,” as Metcalfe called him, and hardly second to his younger brother Wellington, having led Fuller to recommend that Carey should wait upon his Excellency at Calcutta, this reply was received:--“I would not, however, have you suppose that we are obliged to conceal ourselves, or our work: no such thing. We preach before magistrates and judges; and were I to be in the company with Lord Mornington, I should not hesitate to declare myself a missionary to the heathen, though I would not on any account return myself as such to the Governor-General in Council.”

Two years before this, in 1797, Carey had written: - “This mission should be strengthened as much as possible, as its situation is such as may put it in our power, eventually, to spread the Gospel through the greatest part of Asia, and almost all the necessary languages may be learned here.” He had just returned from his first long missionary tour among the Bhooteas, who from Tibet had overrun the eastern Himalaya from Darjeeling to Assam. Carey and Thomas were received as Christian Lamas by the Soobah or lieutenant governor of the country below the hills, which in 1865 we were compelled to annex and now administer as Jalpaigori District. They seemed to have been the first Englishmen who had entered the territory since the political and commercial missions of Bogle and Buchanan-Hamilton sent by Warren Hastings.

“The genuine politeness and gentleman-like behaviour of the Soobah exceeded everything that can be imagined, and his generosity was astonishing. He insisted on supplying all our people with everything they wanted; and if we did but cast our eyes to any object in the room, he immediately presented us with one of the same sort. Indeed he seemed to interpret our looks before we were aware; and in this manner he presented each of us that night with a sword, shield, helmet, and cup, made of a very light beautiful wood, and used by all the Bhooteas for drinking in. We admiring the wood, he gave us a large log of it; which appears to be like fir, with a very dark beautiful grain: it is full of a resin or turpentine, and burns like a candle if cut into thin pieces, and serves for that use. In eating, the Soobah imitated our manners so quickly and exactly, that though he had never seen a European before, yet he appeared as free as if he had spent his life with them. We ate his food, though I confess the thoughts of the Jinkof’s bacon made me eat rather sparingly. We had much talk about Bhootan, and about the Gospel.

“We found that he had determined to give all the country a testimony of his friendship for us in a public manner; and the next day was fixed on to perform the ceremony in our tent on the market-place. Accordingly we got instructed in the necessary etiquette; and informed him we were only coming a short journey to see the country, were not provided with English cloth, etc., for presents. The time being come, we were waited on by the Soobah, followed by all his servants, both Bhooteas and Hindus. Being seated, we exchanged each five rupees and five pieces of betel, in the sight of the whole town; and having chewed betel for the first time in our lives, we embraced three times in the Eastern manner, and then shook hands in the English manner; after which, he made us a present of a piece of rich debang wrought with gold, each a Bhootan blanket, and the tail of an animal called the cheer cow, as bushy as a horse’s, and used in the Hindu worship. In the morning, the Soobah came with his usual friendship, and brought more presents, which we received, and took our leave. He sent us away with every honour he could heap upon us; as a band of music before us, guides to show us the way, etc. The Soobah is to pay us a visit in a little time, which I hope to improve for the great end of settling a mission in that country.”

Carey applied his unusual powers of detailed observation and memory in noting the physical and mental characteristics of these little Buddhists, the structure of the language and nature of their books, beliefs, and government, all of which he afterwards utilised. He was often in sight of snowy Kinchinjinga (28,156 feet), behind Darjeeling, and when the Soobah, being sick, afterwards sent messengers with gifts to induce him to return, he wrote: --“I hope to ascend those stupendous mountains, which are so high as to be seen at a distance of 200 or 250 miles. One of these distant mountains, which is seen at Mahipal, is concealed from view by the tops of a nearer range of hills, when you approach within sixty miles of them. The distant range forms an angle of about ten degrees with the horizon.” But the time did not come for a mission to that region till the sanitarium of Darjeeling became the centre of another British district opened up by railway from Calcutta, and now the aboriginal Lepchas are coming in large numbers into the church. Subsequent communications from the Soobah informed them of the Garos of Assam.

On his last visit to Calcutta, in 1799, “to get types cast for printing the Bible,” Carey witnessed that sight of widow-burning which was to continue to disgrace alike the Hindoos and the Company’s Government until his incessant appeals in India and in England led to its prevention in 1829. In a letter to Dr. Ryland he thus describes the horrid rite:--

“MUDNABATI, 1st April 1799. --As I was returning from Calcutta I saw the Sahamaranam, or, a woman burning herself with the corpse of her husband, for the first time in my life. We were near the village of Noya Serai, or, as Rennell calls it in his chart of the Hoogli River, Niaverai. Being evening, we got out of the boat to walk, when we saw a number of people assembled on the riverside. I asked them what they were met for, and they told me to burn the body of a dead man. I inquired if his wife would die with him; they answered yes, and pointed to the woman. She was standing by the pile, which was made of large billets of wood, about two and a half feet high, four feet long, and two wide, on the top of which lay the dead body of her husband. Her nearest relation stood by her, and near her was a small basket of sweetmeats called Thioy. I asked them if this was the woman’s choice, or if she were brought to it by any improper influence? They answered that it was perfectly voluntary. I talked till reasoning was of no use, and then began to exclaim with all my might against what they were doing, telling them that it was a shocking murder. They told me it was a great act of holiness, and added in a very surly manner, that if I did not like to see it I might go farther off, and desired me to go. I told them that I would not go, that I was determined to stay and see the murder, and that I should certainly bear witness of it at the tribunal of God. I exhorted the woman not to throw away her life; to fear nothing, for no evil would follow her refusal to burn. But she in the calmest manner mounted the pile, and danced on it with her hands extended, as if in the utmost tranquillity of spirit. Previous to her mounting the pile the relation, whose office it was to set fire to the pile, led her six times round it, at two intervals - that is, thrice at each circumambulation. As she went round she scattered the sweetmeat above mentioned among the people, who picked it up and ate it as a very holy thing. This being ended, and she having mounted the pile and danced as above mentioned (N.B.--The dancing only appeared to be to show us her contempt of death, and prove to us that her dying was voluntary), she lay down by the corpse, and put one arm under its neck and the other over it, when a quantity of dry cocoa-leaves and other substances were heaped over them to a considerable height, and then Ghee, or melted preserved butter, poured on the top. Two bamboos were then put over them and held fast down, and fire put to the pile, which immediately blazed very fiercely, owing to the dry and combustible materials of which it was composed. No sooner was the fire kindled than all the people set up a great shout--Hurree-Bol, Hurree-Bol, which is a common shout of joy, and an invocation of Hurree, or Seeb. It was impossible to have heard the woman had she groaned, or even cried aloud, on account of the mad noise of the people, and it was impossible for her to stir or struggle on account of the bamboos which were held down on her like the levers of a press. We made much objection to their using these bamboos, and insisted that it was using force to prevent the woman from getting up when the fire burned her. But they declared that it was only done to keep the pile from falling down. We could not bear to see more, but left them, exclaiming loudly against the murder, and full of horror at what we had seen.” In the same letter Carey communicates the information he had collected regarding the Jews and Syrian Christians of the Malabar Coast.

Mr. G. Udny had now found his private indigo enterprise to be disastrous. He resolved to give it up and retire to England. Thomas had left his factory, and was urging his colleague to try the sugar trade, which at that time meant the distillation of rum. Carey rather took over from Mr. Udny the out-factory of Kidderpore, twelve miles distant, and there resolved to prepare for the arrival of colleagues, the communistic missionary settlement on the Moravian plan, which he had advocated in his Enquiry. Mr. John Fountain had been sent out as the first reinforcement, but he proved to be almost as dangerous to the infant mission from his outspoken political radicalism as Thomas had been from his debts. Carey seriously contemplated the setting up of his mission centre among the Bhooteas, so as to be free from the East India Company. The authorities would not license Fountain as his assistant. Would they allow future missionaries to settle with him? Would they always renew his own licence? And what if he must cease altogether to work with his hands, and give himself wholly to the work of the mission as seemed necessary?

Four new colleagues and their families were already on the sea, but God had provided a better refuge for His servants till the public conscience, which they were about to quicken and enlighten, should cause the persecution to cease.

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Contents

Chapter 1. Carey's College 1761-1785. The Heart of England--The Weaver Carey who Became a Peer, and the Weaver who was Father of William Carey--Early Training in Paulerspury--Impressions Made by him on His Sister--On his Companions and...

Chapter 2. The Birth Of England's Foreign Missions. 1785-1792. Moulton the Mission's birthplace--Carey's Fever and Poverty--His Moulton School--Fired with the Missionary idea--His Very Large Missionary Map--Fuller's Confession of the...

Chapter 3. India As Carey Found It. 1793. Tahiti v Bengal--Carey and Thomas Appointed Missionaries to Bengal--The Farewell at Leicester--John Thomas, First Medical Missionary--Carey's Letter to his Father--The Company's...

Chapter 4. Six Years In North Bengal--Missionary and Indigo Planter. 1794-1799. Carey's Two Missionary Principles--Destitute in Calcutta--Bandel and Nuddea--Applies in Vain to be Under-Superintendent of the Botanic Garden--Housed by a...

All remaining on the CD ROM

Chapter 5.
Chapter 6.
Chapter 7.
Chapter 8.
Chapter 9.
Chapter 10.
Chapter 11.
Chapter 12.
Chapter 13.
Chapter 14.
Chapter 15.
Chapter 16.


Appendix I Charter of Incorporation of Serampore College
Appendix II Statutes And Regulations Of Serampore College
Appendix III Article VI., Clause 2, of the Treaty of Purchase, Transferring Serampore to the British Government

 

 

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