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Title: The Wades: Jonathan Wade, D.D., Deborah B. L. Wade.; A Memorial Author: Walter N Wyeth, D.D. * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0900251h.html Language: English Date first posted: March 2009 Date most recently updated: March 2009 This eBook was produced by: S' Aung Phwa Chit Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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D B L Wade
MISSIONARIES IN BURMAH.
THE FIELD OF THE WADES.
Electrotyped, printed and bound by C. J. KREHBIEL & Co., 248 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, O. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1891, by W. N. WYETH, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
In presenting the fourth of the Missionary Memorials, the author would express thanks for the cordial assistance rendered by the friends of Missions in the effort to make the books effective for good. It is not the aim of this series to promote Foreign Missions alone, but to add to the influences calculated to produce consecration to the cause of Christ, whatever the department of work chosen. Nor is it a special object to extol the several persons memorialized, but rather to exalt the object to which they gave themselves; noting their sacrifices as evidence of missionary conviction, and their successes as evidence of the favor of God upon missionary work. Also, it is aimed in this brief biography to furnish a line of missionary history, preserving our records from loss, and imparting a knowledge of the same to those not familiar with them.
Dr. and Mrs. Wade were among the early and long-time missionaries. They were spared to each other and to the cause for an unusually long period. From the time they were set apart their connection with this service continued until they were called to their heavenly rest; his, for forty-nine years, hers, for more than forty-five. They were active and efficient, well or sick; even in their last illness, both served the cause of the heathen in the death-room. Yet they were averse to applause, and the longer they lived the less they appeared in our denominational periodicals. Mrs. Wade was sensitively fearful that some one might wish to write a memorial of her, and accordingly she besought her friends to destroy all letters and every trace of her. But enough remains to enable the denomination to secure that rightful inheritance to the memory of both and the materials of the history they helped to make, which is adapted to inspire our members and enrich our literature.
The author hopes that, since only fragmentary records of the Wades existed, this volume will be even more welcome than its predecessors. Many yet living remember with great pleasure the persons memorialized, and will derive peculiar satisfaction in reviewing things which they know, while reading much pertaining to missions in the East that may be new to them. And if the youth and the indifferent derive new stimulus for the work of the Lord from these pages, the author will feel amply repaid.
W. N. W.
3920 Fairmount Ave.
PHILADELPHIA, PA., April 1, 1891.
CONTENTS I. BINARY STARS--IN THE HOME SKY II. ABROAD--THE NEW SPHERE III. RANGOON--SIEGE AND CAPTURE IV. WAR--THE CLOUD SHIFTING V. BACK FROM CALCUTTA--SETTING AND UNSETTLING; MEE SHWAY-EE VI. GREAT EXPERIENCES--LANGUAGE WRITTEN; HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE; "FOOTSTEPS IN THE SEA" VII. IN UNITED STATES--NORTH, SOUTH; CASTING IN JEWELRY VIII. TAVOY--"BEAUTIFUL FEET;" "CITY OF LOVE;" "GLORY IN THE JUNGLES" IX. JUNGLE TOURS--FLOODS; EPIDEMICS; GREAT GRACE UPON THE PEOPLE X. THIRD DECADE--CHANGES--MERGUI, ST. HELENA, HOME XI. AFIELD AGAIN--TOILING, ENDURING, DYING. MRS. WADE XII. GATES AJAR--LOOKING HEAVENWARD, AND GOING THITHER. DR. WADE XIII. AFTERGLEAMS--THE WESTERING SUN.
I love to be in the missionary work, because I love to stand in the ranks and march in the footsteps of those who have gone before me in the best work of the world--the work which God most honors, in which He is most pleased, by which He is most praised, and to which He gives the most illustrious promises. We wish to stand with Martyn and Brainard, and Carey and Judson, and Ann Hasseltine and Harriet Newell, and all the others who have given lustre to history by their self-consecration to the work of the Master. We wish to be in the line of those who have marched under the golden triumphs of God, and under that one banner in the world that never goes down, and to feel that their influence descends upon us.
--Dr. R. S. STORRS.
Sweet, o'er the hills that hide my youth, I hear the bells of morning chime; They ring for honor, love and truth, And head and heart are keeping time. C. H. CRANDALL.
Facing the title page of this book is a picture which represents the preachers of fifty years ago--prim, sedate, thoughtful, stilted in manner, and somewhat cumbered with dress. The chop collar, dainty whiskers, and watch-cord, with its dangling key, point to an age of simplicity, while the deep "choker" and the grave countenance identify the clergyman of the high pulpit and lofty-galleried church.
The subject, Jonathan Wade, was, nevertheless, a child once, to whom play was more proper than piety, and in whom a sense of the proprieties so clearly pictured in his face had to be cultivated. Like other men, he was first the "small boy," whose development and destiny may not have been prefigured, but only guessed at, by others. Let the youth of today attentively read the story of his life, that they may see how the cultivation of the better nature enlarges one's sphere, lengthens life, and lays hold upon eternal rewards; and, meantime, learn of the honor God bestows upon man in taking him into a fellowship of service, and of how great things he is thus enabled to accomplish for his fellow-man.
The other picture, that of Deborah B. L. Wade, brings to view a modest, affable, accomplished woman, whom to know was to love, and to associate with whom was to feel an uplifting hand and a power to dispel darkness from the mind and alleviate distresses of heart. She will walk at the side of Mr. Wade throughout these pages; a noble pair, leaving their Eden home in New York to traverse the wild waste of waters and the still wilder moral desert of southern Asia.
Mr. Wade came from the preceding century; was born December 10, 1798. He was a native of central New York, town and county of Otsego, a section that fairly represents the hilly surface, salubrity and resources of the State. It is not without its charms--lovely vales and streams, eminences and lakes that impart exhilaration and delight. The Unadilla and Susquehanna rivers, that hold the county in their embrace as they flow to the south and south-west, give beauty to the scenery and fertility to the soil. The principal lake, Otsego, terminates at the south amid hills it can not surpass and with which it enjoys a celebrity rare and undying. At this point it is gemmed with the village of Cooperstown, known the world over as the home of the author of "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Pioneer," "The Spy," and other standard fiction, and where they severally were written.
The town of Otsego is a few miles north-west of Cooperstown. There Mr. Wade passed his earliest days. When eighteen years of age he was baptized at Hartford, Washington Co., N.Y., east of the Hudson river, and from the church in that place he went to Hamilton to pursue a course of study preparatory to the ministry. The institution at this place was established with the exclusive view of fitting young men for the ministerial calling, though it was not fully organized at the time he entered as a student. The earliest conception of the School, and his thought of seeking such an education as it would naturally furnish, were about simultaneous. In fact, when he had heard of it he made the journey of hundreds of miles, whether by foot or by stage it is not stated, and was on the ground ere it was ready for him. As yet it was not visible.
On the 12th of February, 1818, he was examined for admission. The main point in the report was that he "exhibited a letter of his membership and liberty to preach." Where and what did he enter? It is stated in the same report that a committee had been appointed "on the situation which they may think most proper for a site for locating, permanently, the institution." It had no local habitation. The course of study was that only which some of the leaders had mapped out in their minds. The recitation-room was where the building was--nowhere. Yet the mind that could devise the enterprise could also find temporary expedients, and the founder invited the Lord's foundling to come to his bed-room and make his start. In the silence, seclusion and poverty of that humble apartment was founded "The Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution," Professor Daniel Hascall on one end of the bench and Jonathan Wade on the other.
Meanwhile a young woman near by, of kindred spirit, was maturing for some unknown, important sphere. She was born in Nelson, N.Y., January 10, 1801, thus being younger than Mr. Wade by a little more than two years. While yet a child she experienced that most trying of all changes, the death of her mother. How long she bore the trial of "home without a mother" it is not stated. The loss occurred before she was ten years of age. Ere long her father removed to Hamilton, and married an estimable widow, Mrs. Wheeler; and this daughter continued with the family, a representative of the former home. And thus the reader is introduced to Deborah B. Lapham.
Her providential circumstances from childhood were, thus, such as have tested and tempered character in very many instances. While some daughters have proved unequal to the trial, and have suffered dejection, if not despair, she accepted the situation as a part of life. Though 'twas dreadful to live with a mother's form in the grave, yet 'twas blessed to live with a noble purpose in the mind. It was not her disposition to take occasion from a mother's departure to indulge her depraved tendencies. She kept within the bounds of a proper deportment, and performed the part of a dutiful member of the household. For one so young she was manifestly useful to the rest of the family.
The settlement in Hamilton was an important circumstance to Deborah, because she had a mind to discern the advantages which that center of life furnished, in that early day, and to do so more fully as opportunities improved. She was in sympathy with the best things, and was becoming qualified to appreciate the new institution of learning when it should come into existence, and to seize an occasion on which something of value might be obtained or accomplished.
Life with her was more than mere existence; more than meek supineness under circumstances, content to be led or to be let alone. She had an "active, happy temperament"; was one who might be depended upon to think of something, and to bring the same to pass; happy, also, in having a life to live, and never regretting that she had been born. In person she was attractive, one about whom others clustered, and to whom she was a leader. And in her home, so far from being an annoyance to her stepmother, or holding herself aloof from her, she maintained an active sympathy with domestic affairs; "became to the new mother a valued helper, to the younger sisters a loving companion and counselor."
These young persons met each other at Hamilton; the one a student, the other a resident. They became Christians at about the same period of life, and were baptized at the same age. Hamilton society in those days was small, its habits primitive and its advantages narrow. The piety of the Church was of a simple type; its work such as "God's occasions, drifting by," suggested, and the accomplishment of the same only what the rude conditions of the time admitted. There were three objects prominently before it--the building of the spiritual house by accessions, the establishment of the institution of learning, and the furtherance of missions.
The village church was open to comers; not as in the heyday of after-time, when it was fearful of being encumbered with student members. Evidently it fostered all who committed themselves to it and to the Lord's work. All were needed. Mr. Wade was a precious gift, because rare; there was no chance for divided affection, and the saints were glad of even one in their midst who might be "encouraged to exercise his gifts." It was a day of "nursing mothers" in Israel, and a missionary student was a choice subject; even a "sight." And not less was the infant Seminary, that was designed to train him, also a cherished object. The one drew upon the heart because related to the other, and both together were the leading interests of the Hamilton church in 1818.
In the spiritual work of the church Miss Lapham took an active interest. Her part was voluntary and conspicuous. Though young and untrained, she entered upon the duties of the ordinary Christian, and showed what a girl can do when fully consecrated to the Master. She was baptized at eighteen, and immediately entered upon the active work of persuading her young friends to become Christians, going from house to house, and pleading with them with an all-absorbing earnestness and resistless power. Her father declared that she was converted a missionary, and Hamilton obtained the first fruits of her vital piety in the trophies secured.
For many years, before the opening of the institution, Hamilton had been a recognized center of evangelistic power. It was in advance of the denomination as a whole, in having an organized missionary society for seven years preceding the formation of the Triennial Convention, though the direction of its efforts was westward. The way to the East, the vast realm of Paganism, was yet unopened, but a burden of soul for the known millions of heathen had been rolled upon the plain, pioneer people in the church of the village, and they had been wrestling with God in their behalf.
When Mr. Wade entered Hamilton he found it a life-giving and light-bearing community. Its life was permeating the membership at home, and its light going out through the national convention to heathendom. And as to himself, he states that very soon after he obtained a hope in the divine mercy it seemed to him that the missionary enterprise, which is denounced by some as impiously taking God's work into our own hands, and censured by others as a needless expenditure of life and money, to do that for the heathen which their circumstances do not much demand, was no more nor less than what His command enjoined on the Church. It seemed to him, also, that if this work was obligatory on the Church, it was enjoined on him as a member of the Church.
When Miss Lapham became a Christian, which was almost simultaneously with the above experience, she also found herself in an atmosphere of burning zeal for the salvation of the heathen. It was suited to her newness of life. She found a "church home" in a better than the ordinary sense. Not only were its people her people, but. likewise, its spirit was her spirit. She glowed with zeal for souls. How soon the thought of going to the heathen entered her mind it is not stated; but it is evident that she did not wait for a better opportunity than she already had for saving some, even though it were but to glean in the field after the many experienced reapers. Who knows but that she then gleaned ears of corn after him in whose sight she was to find grace?
The Hamilton church now found the first-best fruition of religious activity--a pair of missionaries. What could have been more opportune? If it had prayed for such a gift from its own number, faith was rewarded. If it had asked, in a vague way, for more laborers, it received a salutary and welcome rebuke in being given something better than it asked or thought. Whatever the case, it now had a new element of inspiration in all its feasts, and the first of the kind in its experience; and those youthful servants, on their part, had Christian nurture, genial to them, and which was a feature of the religion of their time in an eminent degree.
In education their advantages were quite dissimilar and unequal, more so, by far, than the sexes experience at the present day. He had access to the "School," poor as it was, which was started expressly for such as he, and which cherished him in respect to bodily and in spiritual wants. She was "only a girl," and was born in an age when to be a prophet's wife meant, mainly, to dress plain and serve him and the Church. He was granted a provision for his necessities--twenty-seven dollars and twelve cents the first year--which was about two-thirds of the entire amount raised that year for beneficiary aid! She, doubtless, was not presumed to need anything. What her education was can be known only by her general character; and how she came by it is involved in the mysteries of family life. Her good success in after years gives evidence of an active girlhood in securing qualification. It is suggestive of extra books, tallow-dip, still hours.
Mr. Wade pursued his studies in the school for four years, graduating in 1822. He then took up the study of the Burman language and prosecuted it for one year; a kind of post-graduate course not before known in this country. His education in an untried course, and under teaching not tested, was primary and crude, yet fundamental; and in an institution too "sacred" to admit any others than students for the ministry, there would naturally be acquired the sombre visage disclosed in the portrait, with clericalisms that hinder rather than help. Still, the "School" and the student were in advance of their time.
"Commencement Day," with its mystery of name and meaning, was the 4th of June, 1822. Five young men graduated; Jonathan Wade, the middle man of the program, with Eugene Kincaid in the lead, and three others, also men of extended usefulness, occupying other positions. Brother Wade--and for a third of a century students were addressed only as "brother"--spoke "On the Harmony of Gospel Doctrine." It was the day for which other days were made, and it was made for other days. The villagers had a new vision--a graduated class from "The Seminary of the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York." And the noted five, as they walked over the hill, with diploma in one hand and umbrella in the other, looked with a serious face far out into the world.
The same year, on September 25th, another new and significant circumstance was entered in the Baptist annals of this country. Mrs. Ann H. Judson arrived in Boston Harbor, after ten years absence as missionary to foreign lands. She was the first surviving woman to return to America for rest and recital of intelligence concerning the heathen; and though shut in by serious sickness for six months, light and love radiated from her room in Baltimore to all parts of the country. The churches felt her presence. Such a center as Hamilton was peculiarly susceptible to her influence, and Mr. Wade and Miss Lapham more than others of the church.
What were the privacies and gentilities of the Lapham home during the period now closing it is not for any one to inquire. Yet, when the serious thoughts of him who, from the time of his conversion, felt the cause of the heathen resting upon him, came to be compared with those of her who was "converted a missionary," a match was imminent that seemed to have been made in heaven. They had not seen others voluntarily going out of Eden "hand-in-hand, and Providence their guide," with such objective realities as the densest paganism plainly before them. And when to the ordinary Christian experience was added their destination as missionaries to a degraded race, they stood alone in the community, unaffected by the contagion of example. It was to add to the meaning of life that their secret domestic counsels were held.
Here were the circumstances: He had graduated with a zeal of four years' growth for the salvation of the heathen, and was proving his sincerity by striving to acquire the difficult tongue in which they spoke. She had developed, in the church and in his society, with the use of such school facilities as were within her reach. The church was happy in, and the institution proud of, the "gifts" they were enabled to lay upon the altar of missions--a kind of first fruits of their increase. Meantime Mrs. Judson was prodding the followers of Christ with pen and voice, striving by a special address to awaken American women to an interest in heathen women, and by her "History of the Burman Mission" to present a rational basis for sacrifice and encouragement.
God thus planned the right conditions and brought forward the right persons with which to begin the second decade of foreign missions. Sentiments of novelty or of fear were scarcely possible to such persons; and as for romance, it was hardly compatible with such natures as theirs.
There is no near nor far with God! By devious paths he leads his own; Yet is no path so sad, or lone, As that which Christ before us trod. AVANELLE HOLMES REED.
The year of waiting and preparing wore away. They shined here, in the social firmament, with a strong, clear light, magnified in the eyes of others on account of the steadiness and nobility of their aim. With each passing day they appeared to stand nearer to each other, and their shining to become more nearly one. Awaiting their nuptials and departure for the field, they were strengthened with each other and with their friends. The time for the closing scene was not one of impatience; it was only too short.
Events in this year, 1822-23, were marriage, ordination, designation, with the consummation of plans for a life-time, beyond recall, and sealed by putting the sea between themselves and all they had called their own. They had in some way become identified with the town of Edinburgh, N.Y., probably by ministerial service, and they were registered as from there. Mr. Wade was ordained at Broadalbin, N.Y., February 13, 1823. Mrs. Wade had that setting apart of herself, simply, that followed the coming of a secret whisper to the soul, telling her that she was not her own.
On June 6th they passed their test as qualified missionaries. At this time it was the custom of the Board of Foreign Missions to appoint a committee in each state to examine candidates. The committee for New York met on the above date, at Hamilton, and performed its duty, with the most satisfactory results. Although Mrs. Wade was not to be examined in theology, for such an appointment as is now made a part of the missionary system, still there was an extreme sacredness attaching to her position as there was to that of the pastor's wife of her day. The committee, therefore, declared the persuasion that "the prudence, piety and attainments of Mrs. Wade were such as to render her a most suitable companion for a missionary."
Five days thereafter, on June 11, Mr. Wade was set apart at Utica, N.Y., as Missionary to Burmah. How impressive and sweetly solemn the occasion must have been in that day of small things, and especially in view of the dignity of the Council! There was Nathaniel Kendrick, one of the foremost teachers in the denomination, as preacher of the sermon; Alfred Bennett, whose weight of character and intensity of interest in missions was unexcelled, to offer the ordaining prayer; Daniel Hascall, founder of the Seminary, to give the charge to this, the first, missionary jewel of Alma Mater, and Joel W. Clark, a kindred spirit, to give the right hand of fellowship. And by no means the least impressive parts of the service were those performed by the eminent John Peck, who "delivered some appropriate and affectionate remarks to Mrs. Wade," and the not less eminent Elon Galusha, who gave her the hand of Christian fellowship. These were champions of the young missionary cause, who had attained their faith in it and were maintaining it through the tribulations imposed by the anti-missionists. Never have the sent had a stronger sending; never the two parties more fully been one in sympathy and lofty purpose, as well as in prayerful and tearful remembrance of each other.
The event of departure hastened on. On the 22d of the same month they waved their adieu to their native land and spake the word whose sound makes the foot linger. Yet they were not alone. Mrs. Judson was ready to sail with them. Her experience and great strength of character caused her to take the arrangements for passage into her own hands, and Mr. and Mrs. Wade were glad enough to shelter themselves beneath her management, and to enjoy the presence of a woman so supreme. The farewell service at the wharf in Boston was rendered peculiarly impressive by the prayer of Dr. Thomas Baldwin, who had been officially identified with the missionary movement from its origin, and by Mrs. Wade's call for the old hymn, "From whence doth this union arise?" which was sung with much feeling as the boat moved out from the shore to the ship. The vessel was the Edward Newton. Never before had it conveyed so precious freight to the East. This was its best trip, and, as it proved, its last.
During the voyage Mr. and Mrs. Wade were diligent students of the Burmese, under Mrs. Judson's instructions, and they also actively engaged in spiritual work in behalf of the ship's crew. The captain, A. Bertody, who received unqualified praise for the high moral stand he took, as well as for his extraordinary courtesies to the missionaries, desired them to hold public worship on the Sabbath, and to "take frequent opportunities to converse with the sailors on the important concerns of their souls." And Mrs. Wade felt specially favored in having the society of Mrs. Judson, who, as she wrote, was a sister to her, making her very happy, and advising her as to the work and way before her.
The Edward Newton arrived at Calcutta, its destination, October 19, 1823. The whole voyage from America to this place, the emporium of India, was "peculiarly prosperous"; and the missionaries gratefully stepped again upon the solid earth, after four months at sea. Yet the welcome extended to them by the English missionaries, and the atmosphere of civilization imparted to the city by English residents, could not give content to souls enlisted for the war against heathenism, and after an enforced delay of several weeks they improved the first opportunity to take ship for Rangoon, at which place they arrived on December 5th.
The fate of the vessel that had brought them over the sea so safely, and in less time than usual, (the Edward Newton.) was a very sad one. On its return voyage it was burned in latitude 29 S., lon. 10 1/2 E., on February 20, 1824, after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. The crew and passengers escaped to the open boats, and, though finally saved, they suffered for twenty days "all that human nature could endure," principally from thirst. By this disaster, friends in America lost the expected tidings from the missionaries, and it was more than a year from their embarkation before they were heard from.
One source of joy to Mr. and Mrs. Wade, on reaching safely their appointed field, was the reunion of Mr. and Mrs. Judson after a necessary separation of more than two years--August 21, 1821, to December 5, 1823. Such an occasion had thus far been unknown among American missionaries, and there was something in the circumstances to awaken the very finest sympathetic joy--the solitary husband, in a homeless land; the wife, so admirably suited to meet the requirements of his soul and his work, beyond the seas and in precarious condition of health, and a special endeavor upon which his heart was set awaiting her helpful presence, viz., the sad errand to Ava that was providentially delayed until the unsparing heroine was ready.
What wonder that Mr. Judson should write: "I had the inexpressible happiness of welcoming Mrs. Judson once more to the shores of Burmah." Welcome, not "home," but "to the shores of Burmah!"--from tried to untried wanderings, perils and seekings of rest for the foot and fruitful work for the hands. It was a "reception" indeed, and one to be remembered, as a letter of Mrs. Judson's explains: "Mr. J.'s boat was all in readiness, my baggage was immediately taken from the ship to the boat, and in seven days from my arrival we were on our way to the capital"--to "habitations of cruelty."
This domestic circumstance, the first in their observation, was very significant to the new missionaries, and it became sadly so as the months went by and the war cloud gathered and drifted toward the capital. They had experiences for themselves also; hopeful at their entrance upon their mission, and followed by fear as they entered the same cloud that deepened above those who had just gone away. Mr. Wade wrote: "I need not attempt to describe our own feelings upon seeing this place, which we had so often prayed might be the scene of our future labors and sufferings in behalf of the heathen, whose deplorable condition had often drawn from our eyes the tear of Christian sympathy."
The new missionaries had some advantages at the beginning, not enjoyed by those who entered the field before them. Mr. Judson had finished translating the New Testament into Burmese about six months previous to their arrival, and Mr. Geo. H. Hough, a printer, who had entered the mission just before them, was now printing it. Mr. and Mrs. Hough were their associates, making society for them and rendering assistance; and the "smattering" of the language they had obtained in America and on shipboard may have been a help also. There were several converts connected with the mission, though a part of them had gone with the Judsons. Yet, how infantile, even puny, was the mission, considering the immense empire of false religions to be subdued to Christ.
When, however, they came to study the language they met with embarrassment in the want of a suitable dictionary. Mr. Judson's dictionary was better than none, yet it contained only the words beginning with the letters of about two-thirds of the alphabet. Some words, not contained in it, occurred in almost every sentence; sometimes several in one. A Burman teacher could render but little help for want of a knowledge of the English; and Mr. and Mrs. Hough could not give them the time necessary. Dr. Price had been at Ava for some time. They lived at the Mission-house, with Mr. and Mrs. Hough, though in separate families, and ultimately made arrangements to study with them, as it might be mutually advantageous.
Mrs. Wade, after discharging domestic duties, gave much time to the reading of the New Testament, with the aid of a native Christian, to translating Mrs. Judson's Catechism, and in daily accumulating new phrases. The little church, of eighteen members in all, was much scattered by means of the oppressive taxation; many of them, being unable to pay, had fled to the woods.
It will be interesting to the reader, as well as helpful to an understanding of the difficulties under which these early missionaries labored, and by means of which their true characters were revealed, to take a view of the field as they found it. Rangoon at that time (1823) was the second city of the Burman empire. Ava (Burman spelling, Ang-wa or Awa), located in the central part of the empire, was the capital, the seat of the emperor. Rangoon, in the southern part, three hundred and fifty-four miles from Ava, was a subordinate capital, and was occupied by a viceroy, one ruling in the name of a king. Its population was large; variously estimated from eight thousand to fifty thousand, according to the guessing faculty of the visitor. Without a census, a heathen population can not well be known, even approximately.
By reference to the map the empire will lie before the eye in its proper shape, with the course of its mountains and rivers distinctly visible. The chief rivers are the Irrawady (Ah-rah-wah-tee) and the Salwen, having a length of eight hundred to one thousand miles each, and running almost due south, and, therefore, in some degree parallel with each other. The Salwen, the eastern of the two, communicates with the Irrawady by numerous branches, and thus waters the intermediate regions.
At about seventy-five miles from the Bay of Bengal the great Irrawady parts into two streams, sending one in a south-eastward and the other in a south-westward direction, and forming a large delta. These also are parted into numerous branches, which form an extensive network of navigable waters, covering a large area, and which finally enter the bay by fourteen separate channels. These channels are mostly obstructed by sand-bars, and, so, of little use for navigation. On the eastern of the two main branches is situated the city of Rangoon, about twenty-five miles from the bay. The mouth of this stream, called the Rangoon river, is about six miles wide; yet the channel is narrow, changeable, and difficult to find, on account of extensive shoals. A flat shore, scarcely above high tides, gives the mariner no certain landmarks, and pilots in the time under review were not readily obtained.
In the time of the early missionaries Rangoon, notwithstanding its lack of improvement, was the only seaport of consequence in the empire; yet it had scarcely one attractive feature. The land forming the vast delta described, and in which it was located, being almost on a level with the surface of the divisions and subdivisions of the Irrawady, was of a low, marshy character. The city seemed to stand on a wide, un-improved meadow, resembling a swamp. The defenses common to the cities of superstitious people were not better than their ignorance and assumption of superiority would justify us in expecting, and were of little avail as against attacks from disciplined nations. They were merely stockades; rows of timbers standing on end, some eighteen feet high, with a narrow staging running around inside, for musketeers. Add a few disabled cannon lying about the gateways, and the defense is fully described.
There was nothing attractive to the eye of the traveler approaching the city. First, a few wooden houses appear, standing between the river and the fortifications, while back of the same there was a general display of bamboo huts, with only a few shabby brick residences and some small brick houses of worship for foreigners. As homes--one-story buildings, covered with thatch, that was removed during the dry season to prevent fire, floored with split bamboo to permit the dirt to fall through to nature's scavengers, and raised several feet from the ground to give ventilation and to keep clear of vile, voracious and creeping things--they were not very inviting to persons of cultivated tastes. Then the swampy, "dead level" site was not relieved by any elevations, such as the beautiful sites to which the missionaries had been accustomed in their native land, and the narrow, soft-paved streets did not admit of even the cheerful racket of wheeled vehicles. The low inhabitants, lolling about the streets, were not so much a relief as a weariness to the eye.
Says Dr. Malcom, 1836: "There is neither wharf nor quay. In four or five places are wooden stairs at which small boats may land passengers, but even these do not extend within twenty feet of low water mark. Vessels lie in the stream and discharge into boats, from which the packages, slung to a bamboo, are lugged on men's shoulders to the custom house."
There was none of the pride of home and city, so prevalent in enlightened countries. All attempts at architectural display were confined to their idolatries; and in that direction they were excessive. A traveler, like the Apostle Paul, would have been impressed by their squalor and their extravagant superstition at the same time. He would have said, "I perceive that in all things ye are too religious." They wasted much on their religion. They brought the best of animal and mineral productions under contribution to their idolatrous notions and practices, to which they were supremely devoted.
The ways in which their means continuously flowed were the pagoda furnishings and worship. Pagodas were erected all about in accessible and conspicuous places. They were not held as subordinate and secondary to business; business was made subservient to them. The chief highway from the city, and the only one over which a person could ride, seems to have been set apart to them, and was called Pagoda Road. It bristled with their gleaming turrets. Large and small, but of nearly uniform shape, were these many shrines of idolatry.
A pagoda is not occupied with idols as is an idol's temple. It is built in their honor, and for the promotion of their worship; while the real places for offerings and services are built around them. They are not constructed with spacious rooms nor with any chambers, except some small vaults for the deposit of treasures. They are usually of solid masonry, with all the appurtenances on the outside.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade found Rangoon wholly given to idolatry, and without any of the attractions and conveniences that make life enjoyable. Mr. and Mrs. Judson, pioneers who knew how to give lessons to new comers in management and adaptation, went immediately away, leaving them to an unlearned language and a besotted people, as also under a rapacious government, that had no respect for the rights and liberties of citizenship, and only bare toleration for respectable foreigners.
They were confronted by the pomp in which the religion of the country appeared, and which rendered it exceedingly obstinate, as held by its superstitious devotees. Pagoda Road was thronged with false religionists going to and from their vain oblations. It was the broad road to death, and, as yet, they could do nothing to check the travel. They must suffer a while from a sight of the sweeping destruction of souls taking place, and from a sense of their inability to prevent it.
There was one pagoda in the vicinity, centuries old, and of great dimensions and magnificence, that stood as the very buttress of heathenism in the empire. It was the Shway-dagon (Shoo-da-gon). It is still there; celebrated, almost, as one of the wonders of the world. It is located on Pagoda Road, and its site was evidently selected because of its being elevated and comparatively handsome. It is surrounded by many smaller pagodas, some fine zayats (teaching and entertaining places), and kyoungs (priests' houses), and many trees. It has ever been kept in good repair, while others have been permitted to go to decay, or have received but little attention. Some have become mere grass-grown heaps. All are conical, or pyramidal, but very slender in form, and of a graceful appearance, making a very pleasant impression to the eye, with various ornamental juttings and the indispensable cap, collar or umbrella--named according to the fancy of the observer. The latter serves as a musical instrument. Its ribs are tipped with little bells, so hung and adjusted as to tinkle when a breeze passes over them, thus producing a pleasant melody throughout the circuit.
The Shway-dagon was described by Dr. Howard Malcom, who visited it in 1836, in the following minute and graphic manner:
The hill has been graduated into successive terraces, sustained by brick walls; and the summit, which is completely leveled, contains about two acres. The two principal approaches from the city are lined on each side, for a mile, with fine pagodas, some almost vieing for size with Shoo-da-gon itself.
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Passing these on your way from the city you come to a flight of time-worn steps, covered by a curious arcade of little houses, one above another, some in partial decay, others truly beautiful. After crossing some terraces, covered in the same manner, you reach the top, and, passing a great gate, enter at once this sad but imposing theatre of Gaudamas' glory. One's first impressions are--what terrible grandeur! what sickening magnificence! what absurd imagery! what extravagant expenditure! what long successions of devotees to procure this throng of buildings of such various dates! what a poor religion that makes such labors its chief meritoriousness!
Before you stands the huge Shoo-da-gon, its top among the clouds, and its golden sides blazing in the glories of an eastern sun. Around are pompous zayats, noble pavements, gothic mausoleums, uncouth colossal lions, curious stone umbrellas, gracefully cylindrical banners of gold-embroidered muslin hanging from lofty pillars, enormous stone jars in rows to receive offerings, tapers burning before the images, exquisite flowers displayed on every side, filling the air with fragrance, and a multitude of carved figures of idols, worshipers, griffins, guardians, etc.
Always in the morning men and women are seen in every direction kneeling behind their gift, and with uplifted hands reciting their devotions, often with a string of beads counting over each repetition; aged persons sweep out every place, or pick the grass from the crevices; dogs and crows straggle around the altars, and devour the recent offerings; the great bells utter their frequent tones, and the mutter of praying voices makes a hum like the buzzing of an exchange.
In and about Rangoon there were, probably, not less than five hundred inferior pagodas, which, with their environs, were said to occupy as much space as the city itself, if not more. They were situated in groves and amid costly kyoungs and zayats, for the accommodation of the hosts of worshipers who came thither, at certain seasons of the year, from all parts of the country. Cooked food of all sorts was brought--pastry, flesh and fowl--the nicest the natives could produce, as an offering to the gods. When the days or seasons for offering were past, the domestic animals, birds of prey, and any other creatures that sought a chance, were permitted to devour it. After an offering was once made it was no longer regarded. Crows and dogs often snatched a gift ere the offerer had finished his prayers. Priests (Ponghees) were not necessary at the altar. Their office was preaching and teaching, and they lived by carrying a vessel or pouch from door to door, and thus receiving gifts. Their office was little more than a sinecure, and it might be assumed or vacated at their pleasure. They would sometimes vacate it temporarily for the liberty that a suspension of its vows secured.
As the Great Pagoda ever has been and continues to be an object to amaze and appall the missionary--in the experience of the Wades to do more than that--a description of it by a recent traveler is added, showing how it withstands the wear of centuries, and attracts the attention of the world. He says:
The great Shway Dagon Pagoda of Rangoon has a golden spire and jeweled top, which glitters in the sun from every point of the compass. Even the terrace or platform on which the pagoda is built rises over one hundred and sixty feet from the level roads beneath it, and is nine hundred feet long by six hundred and eighty feet wide. The ascent to this platform is by four flights of steps, one opposite the center of each face. The pagoda itself, built on the center of this immense terrace or platform, has a ground circumference of one thousand three hundred and thirty-five feet, and rises to a height of three hundred and seventy feet, which is about that of St. Paul's cathedral in London. It is gilded from top to bottom, and its golden spire (or h-tee, as it is called) contains at least two hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of jewels, with silver bells that are forever tinkling in the breeze. Chapels and shrines, also, of various sizes, are built around this pagoda, on the platform of which thousands of worshipers pace during the days of high festival. Within these hundreds of images of Gautema may be seen, of all sizes, sitting, standing and reclining, before which are continually burning tapers and candles. This building claims to be, and very probably is, more than two thousand years old; it is enriched by the supposed relics of eight hairs from the head of Gautema, besides the bathing garment, the water dippers and walking staff of the three preceding Buddhas.
It was well known by the English soldiers that the pagodas were repositories of curious and valuable things, and whenever they had access to them they did not hesitate to break into them at any vulnerable point, and penetrating to the receptacles of such treasures, carry them away. They enriched themselves in this way, and probably the British Museum also. Shway-dagon did not escape; and the scars, even the holes they made, stand a testimony to the ravishment of war.
The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.--Ps. 74:20. The hues of bliss more brightly glow, Chastised by sabler tints of woe. GRAY.
More than ten years of missionary operations in Burmah had gone by when Mr. and Mrs. Wade reached this land of idolatry; but they were years of preparation mainly, there being but little fruit. Notwithstanding the earnest pleadings for help, there were now (first of January, 1824) only three missionaries in the empire, with their wives, who were able to speak the words of eternal life to the perishing.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade looked down the dark future with all the hopefulness they could command. Mr. Judson and Dr. Price were seeking the source of civil power to secure an influence that would be favorable to missionary effort in the empire. Ava and Rangoon were so far apart and communication between them so difficult that hope of knowing of and sympathizing with each other was well-nigh vain. This circumstance was the more to be regretted because of the unsettled condition of public affairs.
Soon the war-cloud gathered. The British had long occupied some parts of the country, mainly for mercenary purposes, and were under agreements which were of doubtful benefit to them, because the Burmans were unreliable, exceedingly suspicious, and haughty. The peacock was, and ever has been, the national emblem, while, in proper contrast, the lion symbolizes the supremacy of the English. The latter had little reason to regret a breach of faith or of peace, because it afforded them an apology for further conquests, and an occasion for widening their boundaries. They knew whose armies had the discipline, and with whom resided the privilege of dictating terms of peace, while the Burmans had a presumption and vanity that were a continual snare to them, and which filled them with blood-guiltiness. In this case the latter suspected the English of harboring their criminals and interfering with the administration of justice, out of which feuds arose on the confines of Chittagong.
The Burmans did not hesitate to go to war, believing themselves to be superior to all nations, except the French, and fearing them only because of the Napoleonic prowess and dynasty. They began to move. Mr. Judson, on his way to Ava, reported back to Mr. Wade that he passed a body of troops coming down toward Rangoon. The missionaries could but expect them, and they feared that they would not be able to convince the Burmans of the difference between themselves and the English, on account of the general resemblance in dress and color.
Mrs. Wade now found occasion to exhibit some of the elements of character that made her a remarkable woman. With war in full view, in a community of robbers and murderers who only needed a slight provocation to commit the most dastardly of deeds, she calmly entrusts herself to the Great Keeper, assured that He will not only care for her, but likewise overrule all commotion for the speedier introduction of the Gospel to the empire. She says: "A firm confidence that this is the path of duty, marked by Him in whose hand are the hearts of kings, suppresses every rising fear, and we sit down in our study, day after day, with a sweet confidence in the wise directions of our heavenly father, and forget everything but the acquisition of this difficult language.
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I can truly say, the height of my ambition is to be able to speak Burman with ease, and spend all my days in teaching these degraded females."
In a little more than three months from the date of the above writing the gravest fears were more than realized. While the Burmans were coming down the Irrawady river, in pomp and vainglory, expecting to carry the English back in chains, or as many of them as might make good servants to the King, and hostlers, and other profitable menials for those able to support them, the British fleet entered its main outlet, and without molestation proceeded toward Rangoon, the strategic point of lower Burmah. The inhabitants of the city were greatly terrified. Their own troops were to stop and give fight on the borders of Chittagong, hundreds of miles above, hoping, doubtless, to sweep the country before them, and trusting Rangoon to hold out by itself. Possibly they were not aware of the hostile approach to it by the British.
News of the coming of the English from the south, up the river, reached the fated city the night previous to their arrival. It threw the local authorities into consternation and fury. At about seven o'clock in the evening (May 10, 1824), by order of the government, all who were recognized as English, with other foreigners, were summarily arrested. The number included Mr. Wade and Mr. Hough. It being in vain to plead for mercy with officers destitute of humane feelings, appeal was made on the ground of religion. The missionaries expostulated as teachers of religion, claiming that as such they had never intermeddled with political affairs. The Governor replied that it was customary in such cases to examine all foreigners. Every one in Rangoon wearing a hat was ordered to be taken prisoner. Yet they were assured that the examination in their case was a mere formality; that no evil to them was intended, and that they would not be detained more than two or three hours.
The Governor's speech and manner were mild, but they had forebodings of severity, and parted with their families under the apprehension that they should see them no more in this world. They were conducted to prison, where they found six Englishmen, merchants and traders in the place, already confined. Mr. Hough, having some use of the language, spoke to the Tykeso in regard to the entire innocence of the missionaries. The reply was that the truth of the assertions was altogether apparent, but that he (the Tykeso) had no power to release them and could only represent their case to the Yawhoon, on whose will depended life and death, and this he promised to do. Meantime one of the sons of Vulcan had entered the prison, loaded with chains and hammers and other means of fettering his victims, and at about nine o'clock the six Englishmen were put in irons. At daylight the missionaries were fettered in the same way, except that they were chained together. Mr. Wade's journal runs as follows:
We saw our companions in affliction led forward one after another to the anvil, and from thence to the door of an inner apartment, where they were thrust into close confinement. We were allowed to remain unmolested until the pleasure of the Yawhoon concerning us should be more fully expressed. All around us was hurry,and confusion, and every possible preparation was making for the expected attack. The guns were drawn to the battery, muskets collected and examined, together with spears, large knives, ammunition, etc., which were piled together around the spot where we lay. In the course of the evening we heard the Burmans had seized an unfortunate European, who had been sent from the General with messages to the Governor of Rangoon. We could not learn his fate, but he was in all probability sent to Ava.
At length a Burman came in, who, after casting a scowling glance toward us, asked who we were. "The American teachers," answered a bystander. "Put them with the other prisoners," returned he; which was no sooner said than done. However we were not put in irons, and therefore yet cherished the fond hope of release, but our prospects were constantly becoming darker. Our legs were bound together with ropes, and eight or ten Burmans, armed with spears, battle-axes, etc., were placed over us as a guard. An hour or two afterwards the blacksmith came in a second time, bringing a rough, heavy chain. It consisted of three links, each about four inches in length, and pounded together so close as to completely prevent it from bending any more than a straight bar of iron. The parts designed to go round the ankles were bars of iron about two-thirds of an inch thick, partially rounded, and bent together so as just to admit the ankle. This was designed for Mr. H. and myself. He was first seated, his leg laid upon a block, the ring placed upon the ankle and then pounded down close with heavy blows. The other ring was put upon my ankle in the same manner. Our situation afforded no convenience for lying down; and, of course, allowed us no sleep or even rest.
In the course of the night the keys of our rooms, trunks, etc., were demanded, from which we naturally inferred an intention to pillage our houses. They also inquired very particularly if we had any muskets or spears, and how many. We did not fear the loss of property but trembled at the idea of Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough being exposed to the brutal insults and cruelties of unprincipled robbers. They, like ourselves, were unable to get any rest, though they were not particularly molested by the Burmans. Moung Shwa-ba, one of the native Christians, spent the night with them, and very much encouraged them by his prayers and pious conversation. None of the other Burman Christians stayed by them.
The fleet very early in the morning (May 11th) had got under way, and was rapidly advancing upon the town. About three or four thousand armed Burmans were collected together in front of the town, along the shore, to repel any attack which might be made by the approaching enemy. The women and children, as if foreseeing the events of the day, left the town and fled to the jungles, carrying with them as large a portion of their little property as they were able. When it was announced that the fleet was within a few miles of the town, two other Englishmen, chained together, with a Greek and an Armenian chained in the same manner, were added to our miserable number.
Our guard was considerably strengthened, and enjoined strictly to keep us close; all communication with our servants and things without was cut off. One faithful old servant, belonging to Capt. Tench, seized an opportunity, when our door was partially opened, of slipping into the room unperceived. Seeing the situation of his master, and of us all, he wept like a child; and not only wept, but taking a large turban from his head and tearing it into long strips, he bound them round our ankles to prevent our chains from galling, which we afterwards found of essential service to us.
Shortly after, orders from the Yawhoon were communicated to our guard through the grates of the prison, that the instant the shipping should open fire upon the town, they were to massacre all the prisoners without hesitation. This blasted all our hopes. The guards immediately began sharpening their instruments of death with bricks, and brandishing them about our heads, to show with how much dexterity and pleasure they would execute their fatal orders. Upon the place which they intended for the scene of the butchery a large quantity of sand was spread to receive the blood. Among the prisoners reigned the gloom and silence of death--the vast ocean of eternity seemed but a step before us. Mr. H. and myself threw ourselves down upon a mattress, expecting never to rise again, and calmly waited to hear the first gun that should be fired upon the town, as the signal for our certain death. In the meantime an account of our real situation, which we had used various means to conceal, reached the ears of Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough. Their feelings can be better conceived than expressed. Who can tell with what agony of soul they listened to hear the first gun, the messenger which would relate a tale more sad and awful than death itself could relate?
At length the fleet arrived and the attack commenced. The first ball thrown into the town came with a tremendous noise, directly over our heads. Our guards, filled with consternation and amazement, seemingly unable to execute their murderous orders, slunk away into one corner of the prison, where they remained perfectly quiet until a broad-side from the Liffey (English vessel), which made the prison shake and tremble to its very foundations, so effectually frightened them that, like children, they cried out through fear, and openly declared their intention of breaking open the door. We used every argument to prevent their doing so, fearing if the Burmans should find us deserted by the guard they might be induced to despatch us at once, to prevent our making an escape. But they felt the force of no arguments, saying, "The building will certainly be down upon us; we must go." They soon found means to break open the door; which being done, they all went out, but took the precaution to secure the door again, by fastening it with rattans upon the outside.
We were now left alone. About this time the firing ceased upon both sides, and we began to cherish the fond hope of deliverance, inferring from the circumstances just named that the Burmans had either surrendered or fled, and that the English troops were already landing, who would shortly appear to deliver us from our dangerous situation.
All had remained quiet about the space of half an hour; but in a moment the whole scene was changed. About fifty armed Burmans came rushing into the prison like mad men. We were instantly seized, dragged out of the prison, our clothes torn from our bodies and our arms drawn behind us with cords, so tight that it was impossible to move them. I thought mine would have been cut entirely to the bone; indeed, we were treated just as they would treat criminals whom they were about to lead to the place of execution. We were now put in front of several armed men, whose duty it was to goad us along with the points of their spears. Others had hold of the end of the cord which bound our arms; they would pull us first this way, then that, so that it was impossible for us to determine in what direction they would have us go. Sometimes we were impelled forward, then drawn backwards, and again our legs were so entangled with the chains as to quite throw us down. In short, they seemed to study methods of torturing us, but complaints were quite useless.
After making an exhibition of us through almost every street in the town we were at length brought to the Yongdau, or place where all causes are tried and sentences passed. It was the seat of judgment, but not of justice. Here sat the dispenser of life and death, surrounded by other officers of the town. He ordered us to be placed before him in a kneeling posture, with our faces to the ground, to which we submitted in the most respectful manner. On one side of us was a noisy rabble, crying out all together, "That dau, that dau"; that is, "Let them be put to death; let them be put to death." Between us and the Yawhoon were two linguists kneeling, and with tears, begging mercy for us. The cries of the multitude prevailed. The executioner, who stood on one side with a large knife in his hand, waiting the decision, was ordered to proceed; but just as he was lifting the knife to strike off the head of the prisoner nearest him, Mr. H. begged permission to make a proposal to the Yawhoon, who, having beckoned to the executioner to desist a little, demanded what he had to say. The proposal was that one or two of the prisoners should be sent on board the shipping, in which case he would at least promise that the firing upon the town should cease directly. "But," said the Yawhoon, "are you sure of this? Will you positively engage to make peace?" At this moment a broadside from the Liffey occasioned great alarm. The Yawhoon and other officers instantly dispersing, sought refuge under the banks of a neighboring tank.
We were now permitted once more to stand upon our feet, which but a moment ago we never expected to do again. The firing increased and the multitude began to flee with great precipitancy. Though our ankles were already miserably galled with our chains, the cords on our arms intolerably painful, and destitute of any clothes except pantaloons, urged along with spears, we were obliged to keep pace with those whom fear impelled with hasty step. Having passed through the gate of the town they kept close under the walls to prevent being cut down by the cannon balls which were flying in every direction around us. At length they bent their course toward the place of public execution, whither we supposed they intended carrying us. We passed directly by the Portuguese woman's house, where Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough had but a few moments before turned in to ask protection. They saw us as we passed. They knew they were driving us towards the place of execution, and said to each other, "This is the last time we shall ever behold our husbands." They thought till now that we were already dead; it was therefore a little relief to know we were still living. Their first impression, as they have since told me, was to follow us and share our fate; but a moment's reflection convinced them of the impropriety of such a step; it would make the parting intolerable, both to them and to us, to be murdered before their eyes. Fortunately for us we did not know that they saw us until all was over.
We soon after found they did not design to carry us to the place of execution; for having passed by this spot they proceeded in the direction of the Great Pagoda. Looking behind, we saw the Yawhoon and his officers following us upon horseback. When they had overtaken us they alighted, and having seated themselves in a zayat, ordered us to be placed before them a second time, but not in so degrading a posture as before; indeed, their whole treatment of us seemed a little more mild. Our arms were untied, a little water was offered us to drink, also a few plantains and cheroots. After a few moments' consultation upon the proposal made by Mr. H., it was assented to, and his chains were taken off. He asked to have me sent with him, but this was refused.
Mr. Hough being gone, the remaining prisoners were committed to the charge of an inferior officer, with strict orders that if Mr. H. did not succeed, to put us to death; which also was the substance of the message sent by the Yawhoon to the General by Mr. H., on whose success now hung all our hopes of life. The officer directed that we should be deposited in a building standing upon the base of the Great Pagoda, and be treated hospitably until Mr. H.'s return. Four of our number being quite exhausted with fatigue and pain occasioned by the galling of their chains, were unable to go any farther, which the officer perceiving allowed them to remain in a building at the foot of the pagoda. The place in which we were now to be confined was a strong brick building, consisting of four apartments. The first of these was occupied by large images. The second was a kind of hall, and behind this were two small dungeons, or dark, gloomy apartments, apparently designed as repositories for treasure.
We were first confined in the second of these apartments, but shortly after in one of the dungeons just mentioned. We found the place filled with Burman goods of almost every description. There were no windows or anything else comfortable, and they gave us nothing to eat.
Mr. Hough, in his way to the shipping, met a company of troops which had just landed. He communicated his business to one of the officers, and related where and under what circumstances he had left us. They proceeded forward in search of us, but before they reached the spot we had been removed, as before related, and the Yawhoon, with his attendants, being informed that a company of troops was advancing upon him, fled to the jungles.
Mr. Hough delivered his message from the Yawhoon to Sir Archibald Campbell, the General in command, who said in answer, "If the Burmans shed a drop of white blood, we will lay the whole country in ruins, and give no quarter." He returned without delay to the place where he had left the Yawhoon, for the purpose of delivering the General's answer; but not finding him, he proceeded as far as to the Great Pagoda, where he found many Burmans, of whom he inquired after the Yawhoon, and also for the prisoners. Being unable to gain any information of either he returned back to town, where he found Mrs. H. and Mrs. W. safely protected. It is very remarkable that he performed this excursion without being molested by a single Burman.
It was now near eight o'clock, and the firing from the shipping still continuing, gave us reason to apprehend that Mr. Hough had done little good by his message to the General. We, however, remained as quiet as possible, which was now our only hope of safety. Exhausted by hunger and the fatigues of the day we laid our naked bodies upon the ground in hope of gaining a little rest; but our situation was too uncomfortable to admit of sleep. Several times during the night our fears were greatly excited by the Burmans, for there were several hundreds around us, and it was almost impossible to stir without making a noise with our chains loud enough to be heard at a considerable distance.
Very early in the morning (May 12th) a party of Burmans came, evidently with the design of putting us to death, or carrying us with them into the jungle, which to me seemed more terrible than death. Having entered that part of the building in which they had probably seen us deposited on the preceding evening, and not finding us, they fell into a great rage, if we might judge from their language. This room being contiguous to the place where we were, and the door not shutting perfectly tight, they came to examine it; and finding it locked were about to burst it open, when some person from the outside cried out that the English were coming, by which they were alarmed and fled with great precipitancy. But a moment before we said to ourselves, "It is all over with us." Death, or something worse, seemed inevitable, but now the most sanguine hopes had succeeded to fear.
All the Burmans had fled, and the English troops were near; we even heard some of their voices distinctly. But we were very soon again plunged from the pinnacle of hope into the depths of despair. The English troops passed by, and the Burmans again took possession of the Pagoda, and we frequently heard them in the adjoining room. Thus "hope and fear alternate swayed our breast." At length the moment of deliverance came. Another party of troops, headed by Sir Archibald himself advanced. The Burmans, seeing them at some distance, fired two guns, which they had planted upon the Pagoda, which was the first intimation we had of their approach. These guns were no sooner discharged than all the Burmans took to their heels as fast as possible; and about ten minutes after we had the opportunity and unspeakable pleasure of discovering to the troops the place of our confinement. It was about noon.
It was General Campbell, I believe, who burst open the door. We crawled out of our dungeon naked, dirty, and almost suffocated. The General welcomed us to his protection, and ordered our chains immediately to be taken off; but they were so large and stiff that all attempts were quite ineffectual, and we were obliged to walk two miles into the town still in irons. Clothes, victuals, etc., were immediately given us. The prisoners who had been confined at the foot of the Pagoda had been released and had returned to town early in the morning. Mrs. Wade was informed that I was among the number; and how great the disappointment when she learned that, instead of being released, no information could be given concerning me or those with me. All they knew was, they had been separated from us the night before; and indeed, Mrs. Wade had no intelligence of me until I returned to the Mission-house.
Three days later Mr. Wade wrote: "The Yawhoon orders every person to be put to death who betrays the least desire to return to Rangoon. Numbers of Siamese, Persees, Portuguese, Musselmans and even Burmans have been found in the jungles, who have been murdered by the Burmans themselves."
Five days afterward, on the 17th, he adds: "The army has penetrated the country for several miles around us. The result of every engagement, as yet, has been in favor of the English. May God prosper their arms!"
"I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed Full radiance here; Give but a ray of peace that I may tread Without a fear. "I do not ask my cross to understand, My way to see; Better in darkness just to feel thy hand. And follow thee."
The clear and exciting narrative just given naturally awakens the desire for further particulars concerning the wives of the prisoners. The proper and the reliable source of information is the same as that from which the preceding was derived--the journal of Mr. Wade. It speaks of their trying situation as follows:
"Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough heard the firing commence, under the impression that at that moment the merciless Burmans were imbruing their hands in our blood. They also had much reason to fear that a few moments more would bring them to the same fate. Moung Shwa-ba still remained with them, declaring that he would do all in his power to protect them and our property; which he did, even at the risk of his own life. He told them plainly that the Burmans would come in search of them, it being an invariable custom among them, when they put a man to death under our circumstances, to sacrifice also his wife, children and all his relatives, even to the sixth generation. (Mr. Hough's young son, George, was with them also.) Finding, therefore, that they could not remain in the house with the least prospect of escape, they secreted their most valuable articles of furniture, and, having taken a few clothes, a pillow and a Bible, they sought refuge within the walls of a Portuguese church, a little distance off. They begged the priest to open the doors of the church to them; but the holy father would not suffer a place so sacred to be polluted by the unhallowed feet of heretics. He drove them from the church, from his own house, and even out of his veranda.
"They then conceived the project of disguising themselves, as they were obliged to go out into the streets, which were completely filled with Burmans. For this purpose they obtained clothes of the servants who attended them, which they put on over their own, dressed their heads in Burman style, and, lastly, blacked their hands and faces. In this disguise they mixed with the multitude and passed along undiscovered, while they frequently heard Burmans inquiring for the teachers' wives, which kept them in constant fear lest they should be known. After going some distance they came to the house of a Portuguese woman, into which they entered and begged protection. But the unfeeling wretch refused them, saying, if she gave them protection she should endanger her own life. But being entirely exhausted with fatigue and distress of mind, they threw themselves down upon a mat, feeling that they were unable to go any farther.
"The same detachment of English troops that sought for their husbands also sought for them. They, having been driven out of the house of the Portuguese woman, had at length taken refuge in a small bamboo house, together with a number of other females, wives of foreigners, whose husbands were also prisoners. This place merely hid them from the eyes of the passing multitude, though they were in most imminent danger from cannon balls which were every moment falling around them. And even here they were sought by the Burmans; but a young man who stood at the door told the inquirers that the wives of the teachers were not there, and that he knew nothing of them.
"Here they remained in a state of great anxiety and danger, till at length they heard the sound of the bugle. Assured by this that English troops must be near, they threw aside their Burman costume and ran out to meet them, their hands and faces still black, and their whole appearance that of persons in great distress. Their first words to the kind officer who took them under his protection, Major Sale, were: 'Our husbands! our husbands!' 'Where are your husbands?' said the officer. They could only answer that but a little while ago they saw us led by in chains, and almost naked, towards the place of execution. He immediately dispatched two or three of his men to the spot to see if our bodies could be found, not doubting but we had been put to death. They returned without intelligence.
"Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough were then conducted into town (it being unsafe to spend the night at the Mission-house), and placed under the protection of Mr. Sarkies, whose family was very kind and used every possible exertion to accommodate and console them."
This scene, one of the most dramatic in missionary annals, gives occasion to consider anew what the Lord's cause in the East cost those who went to lay the foundations. That they "took their lives in their hands" is not poetic imagery, nor mere prayer-phrase. And had it not been that their lives were also in the hand of Him who turns the hearts of kings as the rivulets of water are turned, preventing them from doing even what they "set themselves" to do, many a time might His people have seen the end of missions. But as often as the rulers have taken counsel together against the Lord, so often have the trembling saints seen them fall into the grave that they dug for Him.
That the native disciples should have fled was altogether excusable; there was not the occasion for remaining that existed in the case of the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here everybody fled, and to save life. Gen. Campbell, in his official statement, declared that he did not think one hundred men were found in the town on the English taking possession of it. But Moung Shwa-ba remained--the Lord's guard to the suffering women. The cowardice of the heathen was equaled only by their wickedness and superstition, which were the fruitful cause of it. Possibly the scenes in Rangoon were a verification of the proverb: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion." Mr. Hough gave the number of the fugitives from town and suburbs as "probably amounting to 25,000." They betook themselves to morasses and bushes, carrying what they could on their shoulders and heads. The victors' reconnoitering parties searched up their captured countrymen, and released them from their different places of confinement, filing off their fetters. The Burmans were too panic-stricken to think of seizing the missionary families or of plundering their houses.
Mr. Wade speaks of the outcome of the affray as follows: "I need not attempt to describe the feelings produced by meeting again, after we had passed through so many and so great dangers; but at length we found ourselves again all together, well, and beyond the power of barbarous and unmerciful Burmans. For my own part I was rendered almost delirious by so sudden a transition from the deepest distress to the highest pitch of joy."
Mr. Hough, after his ineffectual intervention, and the general flight, had returned to the Mission-house, and was there on Mr. Wade's arrival. It is not likely that he much desired the success of his errand, nor that he strove to persuade the English to desist hostilities.
Mr. and Mrs. Judson had been in Ava a little more than three months when this beginning of the war occurred. They were settling, and, with Dr. Price, were seeking for recognition at court. Mrs. Judson, in a letter to her parents, said: "After two years and a half wandering, you will be pleased to hear that I have at last arrived at home, so far as this life is concerned, and am once more quietly and happily settled with Mr. Judson." How delusive the hopes of earth! The war-wave pulsed northward. Victory was exhilarating to the mind of the English, and vengeance too much of a fire to die readily in the bosom of the Burmese. Never were two nations more thoroughly filled with the belligerent spirit.
In time the victors were far up the Irrawady, threatening the capital. A drama was, consequently, preparing for Ava, similar to that which had been enacted at Rangoon. The Wades first at Rangoon, the Judsons afterward at Ava, were real persons in the real occurrences. In less than a month from the first occurred the second and greatly protracted imprisonment which has excited the sympathetic interest, and, with other events in missions, affected the affairs of the civilized world.
Before events at Ava, and a few days after the capture of Rangoon, a bloody engagement took place at Ramoo, a large village near Cox's Bazaar, a considerable distance to the north. The place of the beloved Colman's labors and death became a place of blood. The Burmans, to the number of ten thousand, made a surprising attack upon a party of English consisting of only five hundred. The latter fought bravely until all their ammunition was exhausted, and then the most of those who had not already fallen were cut off in endeavoring to escape.
The sanguinary nature of the conflicts of this time, and the brutal conduct of the heathen toward enemies, is variously represented in the following letter of an English officer to the London Times, dated May 21:
In the affair of Ramoo the Burmese fought well, and lost about seventy or eighty, killed; for no quarter was given, nor do I think it will be given during the war, on either side; for if you save a Burman's life, it is ten to one that he returns the favor by taking yours. From all appearances this will be a bloody and protracted warfare.
We are about to send an expedition against Syriani and the ancient city of Pegu, in a few days. It is seventy miles up the river, and we shall have bush-fighting all the way. We are now busy in preparing fire-booms, and arranging for the boats to go up the river. I do not think we shall be ready for the expedition up the Irrawady river to Prome in less than a month. The Captain of the Larne will then hoist his pennant on board of the steamboat. Sir A. Campbell, with the major part of the forces, will join him, and only a sufficient garrison will be left to protect Rangoon. If we reach Prome, all will be well; but it is an extremely difficult undertaking to transport in open boats a force of six thousand or seven thousand men up a rapid river within a stone's throw of the beach, and a determined enemy annoying us the whole way. It must, however, be done; and if they do not come to terms, we must go up Ummerapoora. The mode of annoyance on the part of the enemy is by fire-rafts and war-boats; and as the heavy-rain season is now coming on, they will have the advantage of the dark nights. With these they oblige us to keep a sharp lookout. They also sink large boats to the gunwale, and turn them adrift upon us. The force with which they come down, aided by the current, is very great. One nearly came on board of us the other night; it caught a rope, and the rope cut off a boy's leg as clean as if it had been amputated. We are going to send twelve of the Madras vessels for three thousand men, and for provisions.
The British were now in possession of the principal, indeed, almost the only seaport of the empire, and whatever they gained in the East they proposed to keep. It, Rangoon, commanded the trade of the whole country, and could easily be protected. It was the great market for teak wood, the best timber for ship building to be found in the East Indies.
This conquest by the English was a source of gratification to the missionaries, and to the friends of missions as well. The intolerance of the Burman powers to all except the national religion was now broken, while the East India Company would no longer feel bound to abide by its agreement to protect heathenism. There would be toleration to the "new religion," very evidently; and so the missionaries rejoiced in the success of the British arms, the answer to their prayers.
And yet the mission was in the midst of great tumult. It was surrounded by ten thousand British troops, while two or three times as many natives, enraged at the capture of their city, and thirsting for the blood of every "white face," and even for that of one another, were lurking in the jungles. Only the two missionaries and their wives, and a single convert, to represent the work of more than ten years, remained in the "hold." All communication was cut off, so that no intelligence from the missionaries at Ava and from friends beyond the sea was to be expected.
In this situation Mr. and Mrs. Wade sat down to their studies, diligently working and patiently waiting, though fully aware that should they, by a sudden irruption, fall into the hands of the Burmans, there would be "no human probability on which to hope for safety." But they felt quite secure under the shelter of the English. They had often said that they would be willing to suffer anything but death to see a change of government, so that the Burmans might have freedom to investigate the "new religion," as many of them desired to do; yet they did not anticipate such frightful scenes as they had passed through.
After the commencement of hostilities in the taking of Rangoon, the usual accompaniments of war came upon them--famine and pestilence. The markets, always dependent upon the inhabitants, were swept away with the evacuation of the city, and provisions could scarcely be obtained at any price, as agricultural operations were suspended during the war. For four months Mr. and Mrs. Wade lived almost entirely upon poor salt beef, rice and sea biscuit. Finally they were compelled to deny themselves the beef, it was so indigestible. Often did they go to their table faint for want of dinner, and get nothing but rice boiled in water. Consequently they became very feeble. Mrs. Wade became so weak that she could seldom sit up all day, and often was confined to her bed for hours by faintness. Mr. Wade was taken suddenly and severely ill of fever, and she broke down entirely in the anxiety and care bestowed upon him, and suffered an attack of the same disease. A violent fever broke out in the army, and before a step had been taken into the interior, thousands of the soldiers were in their graves.
It was the beginning of the rainy season, and this circumstance, with the scarcity of food and the fatal character of the prevalent fever, determined the removal of the troops to Ava. The same reasons were sufficient to induce the missionaries to quit Rangoon, when to these was added the fact that there would be nothing to secure them from the inhumanity of the Burmans an hour after the English troops should withdraw. So they began to make preparations for going to Calcutta, in Bengal, the only suitable place in all the East as a resort for civilized people desiring health, society and safety, and after about two weeks they had sufficiently recovered to take ship. They left about the middle of September. Mr. Hough and family followed early in November.
In breaking up so soon, leaving their beginnings when but just through their initiation by war, and again trying the sea, at a season, too, when violent storms and great danger were to be expected--this was a trial of which Mrs. Wade speaks as beyond others' conceptions. They now felt that they had no home on earth; an experience that must come to every missionary. However, they were favored with a pleasant voyage, and were but three weeks in reaching Calcutta.
The voyage greatly improved the health of both. The brethren at Calcutta received them with kindness and gave them a house free of expense. It was five miles out of the city, at Doorgapore, a former residence of Eustace Carey, who had gone to America to awaken interest in Hindoo women's schools. It was built of a coarse kind of mat, with bamboo basket work for windows and a mat tied up with tow strings for the door. Everything within corresponded in rudeness. Yet it was situated in a "sweet rural spot," preferable to any in Calcutta for health and opportunity for study.
The year 1824, so eventful to the missionaries, was now near to its close. The British troops had taken (besides Rangoon) Mergui, Tavoy, Martaban and the island of Cheduba (with its king and queen), and were now in great force at Chittagong and Silhet, on the eve of marching toward the capital. Still the Burmans held out with ferocity and infatuation. Little could be learned at Calcutta concerning the progress of the war, except as intimated. Reports were in the air, but they were of the air. It was believed at one time that the king and queen and others had been murdered by their own people. From the known character of the people and government such a tragedy was possible at any time; and if actual, then the inference as to the perilous situation of Mr. and Mrs. Judson, if not already massacred, was easily drawn.
But though all the missionaries were distressed with anxiety on account of the state of public affairs, Mr. and Mrs. Wade sat down to their books with great diligence. They pursued the study of the language, and Mr. Wade undertook, in addition, the compilation of a Burmese Dictionary, from the partial collections by Messrs. Judson, Carey and Colman. He carried the work on to a point of utility that caused it to be honorably recognized. The Supreme Government at Bengal offered it so liberal a patronage that the printing of it occasioned no expense to the Mission; it subscribed for one hundred copies of the first edition, at twenty rupees (nearly $10) a copy.
Mrs. Colman, remembered as the widow of Rev. James Colman, who died of cholera at Cox's Bazaar, had settled in Bengal, and was carrying on schools at this time, near to Mr. Wade's. Two days in the week she spent with the missionaries, adding greatly to their social enjoyment, and assisting them in their studies. She furnished a Sanscrit and Burman dictionary, the product of her husband's toil, which Mr. W. found to be invaluable in studying the Burman language. She afterwards married Rev. Amos Sutton, D.D., an English missionary, and so continued her beneficent work in the East.
There was nothing for the missionaries from America to do except to "labor and to wait"--to labor while waiting for an opportunity to return to Burmah; and this they did with the utmost fidelity. In fact, with the help brought with them, they could prosecute their studies in the language, and in making up the dictionary, with as much facility as it could be done in Burmah.
But, ah! the hard part of the waiting consisted in the dreadful suspense as to affairs at Ava; not on their own account, except as they were bound up in heart with the missionaries there, for they were in safety and among friends. Nine months pass by, yes, more than twelve, since Mr. and Mrs. Judson left Rangoon for Ava. Messages from them had long since ceased to come, while letters and parcels for them were accumulating at Calcutta. The only report to be credited was that the foreigners, generally, were in prison. This, judging from their own experience with the Burmans, included the teachers of religion, for whom the traditional respect was withheld when such teachers were not heathen. The cloud of doubt hung dark over Bengal. The aspect of the English-American society was that of a protracted funeral. All minds were heavy with it. How suggestive the fact that during all this time, according to subsequent testimony, the heroine of the Ava prison-pen did not, could not, think of friends beyond the immediate circle of sufferers for whom she was caring! It was true that some were praying for her and them, yet without knowledge; the fact, however, did not reach her mind to lighten the load she constantly carried. The thoughtfulness was on the side of those who did not know.
Meantime, Sir Archibald Campbell, Commander-in-Chief, used all proper means to induce the Burmans to return to their former occupations under the protection of the British. But the deluded creatures, supposing themselves to be unconquerable, held out in the face of repeated and crushing disasters, and so kept back the end of the war and the entrance of the Gospel into their domains. Rangoon was easily held by a small army of occupation, while two other armies, one from Chittagong and the other from Assam, penetrated the heart of the territory.
The disciplined forces of the English moved steadily northward, conquering as they went, yet constantly making overtures for a cessation of hostilities. Every proposition was haughtily rejected by the Burmans. Prome, an important strategic point, was wisely sought and readily taken. This opened the way to the upper part of the empire.
The year 1826 had opened, and the conquest was approaching its consummation, with vast results to the cause of American missions. Decisive battles were fought, after which Sir Archibald Campbell moved forward with all the confidence of a Napoleon Bonaparte, knowing that while the foe was active and vengeful, he was also cowardly and undisciplined. He proceeded to Iatnago, one hundred and twenty miles north of Prome. He passed through a country fortified with the strongest stockades, but which had been deserted. The Burmans had suffered severe loss by cholera, and the ground was strewed with the dead in groups of twenty and forty.
On arriving at Iatnago, Sir Archibald was met by the first of the Zootoo, sent expressly from Ava to sue for peace; and after several conferences the boon was granted on condition that the following provinces be ceded to the British:--Mergui, Tavoy, Ye and Arracan, with the payment of ten millions of rupees, the release of the prisoners, and the acceptance of an English Minister of State at Ava and a Consul at Rangoon. This humiliation was indeed great, but demanded, and to it the deputy acceded, subject to ratification.
So panic-stricken were the Burmans, that when Sir James Brisbane moved up the river from Prome, with the flotilla, several large batteries, mounting fifteen to twenty guns, of heavy calibre, were passed without molestation. There was a dread of further provoking English vengeance.
In a few weeks, however, rejoicing in Bengal gave way to sad depression. News from Ava had been slow in coming and equally slow in being confirmed or corrected, and when the explanation came it appeared that the terms of peace had not been ratified. It was dangerous to report bad news to the Golden Ears; for anything that tended to mortify his vanity also aroused his wrath, and caused him to satiate the same on the one who brought the tidings. To intimate that he was not omnipotent, though it were only by stating a fact, exposed the speaker to instant death. One in high repute had been induced to suggest to His Majesty the propriety of making peace, and it cost him his life; and now those who had the terms of peace in their custody dared not say "peace" to the Golden Ears, and he may not have heard of the conditions or the actual state of the negotiations.
Fifteen days were granted the Burmese authorities to make answer, and the assurance was given on the one side that it would be favorable, and on the other that if not favorable, or if delayed beyond the limit, hostilities would be renewed. Sir Archibald became suspicious that duplicity was being practiced, and he prepared to make his word good in a way that would not be misunderstood. Two days before the expiration of the armistice the chief of the Burmese Commissioners, cajoling with honeyed words and offers of presents, besought him to extend the time another fortnight; but "they had a Scotchman to deal with." He peremptorily refused, and notified them that unless the terms of the treaty were wholly fulfilled before ten o'clock of the fifteenth day, he should open fire on Maloun, (or Malloon--Burmese, Male-looan,) the town before which, probably, he lay.
The Commander "made ready," and did not delay the fulfillment of his promise an instant. "The cannonade began precisely at ten o'clock, January 19th; was continued with great effect, particularly the rocket fire, through the day, and at the close of it the city was taken by assault, the Burmese leaving five hundred dead on the field, eighty pieces of artillery, one hundred and twenty gingals (large muskets), eighteen hundred stands of muskets, twenty tons of powder, a large quantity of munitions, and the military chest containing thirty-six thousand rupees. Among the trophies taken was the trunk of the chief negotiator, and in it the original preliminary treaty, which had never been sent to the King for ratification. The craft of the negotiator being thus confirmed, Sir Archibald immediately sent the treaty after him."
The British, who lost but fourteen men, pushed on toward the capital, with no expectation of further negotiating before reaching it. Their advances, which seem to have surprised the King, by reason of the fear of telling him the facts, were bold and irresistible, and soon produced consternation throughout the court.
The ending of the war and of the tragic scenes of Ava and Oung-pen-la is familiar to the world. When the news reached Calcutta there was rejoicing in the city, as there must have been among the angels in heaven; not because of the success of the British arms as a military triumph, but because of what it did for the prisoners and the cause of missions. The painful anxieties of Mr. and Mrs. Wade, running through two years, were now mitigated, and they could pursue their studies with more pleasure, and with more certainty that their acquisitions would avail for the propagation of the Gospel in Burmah.
While hostilities were yet continuing, Rev. Geo. D. Boardman and wife reached Calcutta from the United States, and were met by the missionaries with the greatest gladness. Mrs. Colman came down from Chitpore with a carriage and took them up to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wade, where they remained, happily and in profitable study, for about two months, waiting entrance to Burmah with the word of life. Then all moved into Calcutta, renting a house of three rooms, at fifty rupees a month. The reasons for this change were: to be conveniently near to the chapel; to obtain with less difficulty an outfit for Rangoon, in case the way there should be opened, and, if it should not, to avoid exposure of health, during the hot or rainy season, in the poor bungalow (an East India one-story house), which they were occupying at Chitpore. Also, the business relating to the publication of the Dictionary and the study of the language could be conducted with greater facility there. The Dictionary was carried through the press, and the Government gave it a liberal patronage.
Faithfulness can feed on suffering, And knows no disappointment. GEORGE ELIOT. If there be light upon my being's cloud, I'll cast o'er other hearts its cheering ray; 'Twill add new brightness to my toilsome way. EMILY C. JUDSON.
The war-cloud passed away for the time being, and the mouth of the cannon was still. To the missionaries, therefore, the question of returning to Burmah was practically settled; yet their permanent settlement in Rangoon now seemed unwise, because the Burmans were permitted by the treaty to retain control of the city. By an almost spontaneous movement the Judsons, Houghs and Prices, rendezvoused at the forlorn city, the place for which none of them cherished much feeling except that of horror mingled with compassion. It was the place of their entrance to the empire and of their initiation by suffering to the missionary work in the East. Mr. Hough went back first; Mr. and Mrs. Judson returned from Ava immediately after their release from captivity, while Mr. and Mrs. Wade, anxious also to return, were diverted only by the expressed conviction of their associates that better advantages for missionary work existed elsewhere.
Dr. Judson took the forward steps in exploration. On April 1, 1826, before recovered from prison tortures, he set out with Commissioner Crawford and party to explore the provinces lately ceded by the Burmans to the British; they "aspiring to the honor of founding a town which should rival the most celebrated ports of the East and extend the interest and honor of their king and country," and he "animated by higher hopes and more extended prospects." Though attended with difficulties, the excursion was inspiring to both body and soul of the worn prisoner. At length they landed on a beach, under a bold cliff, which had a rough and wild appearance, and there the British flag was hoisted under fire of a royal salute and discharge of musketry, and the place taken in the name of the King; the ceremonies concluding with the reading of the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah and an appropriate prayer. It was named Amherst, for the Governor-General.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade, with Mr. and Mrs. Boardman, were still in Calcutta, impatiently waiting intimations from Dr. Judson as to a point of entry to Burmah. But they were busy, both in preparing for their prospective field and in direct, sympathetic interest in the work of conversion in progress at Calcutta, and in the native female schools. They (with the Boardmans) were the recipients of fifty rupees from a gentleman about to go from the country, which they decided to appropriate to the purchase of an orrery and some mathematical instruments, for the better introduction and performance of their work.
When it was learned that Amherst was to be their place of abode, a town as yet only in name, they were filled with concern as to what they should have for a shelter and how it might be obtained. There were but three kinds of houses common in the country: brick, mud with thatched roof, and bamboo with thatched roof. Neither sort was obtainable at this time in the new settlement. The fertile mind of Dr. Judson had reached the expedient, on his own behalf, of taking down the zayat erected on Pagoda Road at Rangoon, on which the earliest blessings of God had rested, and removing the boards to Amherst to be formed into a temporary shelter.
Time passed slowly, yet how rapidly, as the Wades contemplated their chosen field on the one hand, and labored with a will in personal evangelizing work on the other. Their stay at Calcutta had been protracted far more than they anticipated. After more than two years of what seemed to them to be detention, but which proved to be a period of important service of preparation for still greater labor for the heathen, they were permitted to leave the wealthy, Anglo-Indian capital of Bengal for hand to hand work among the besotted Burmans. Mr. and Mrs. Boardman remained. From them they parted September 22, 1826, taking the ship Ferguson for Rangoon. The vessel was detained in the river some days, before getting out to sea, and when once fairly afloat on the Bay of Bengal, it was practically adrift also.
The voyage proved to be long, tedious and dangerous. It was not unlike the memorable one in the life of Dr. and Mrs. Judson, and, in some particulars, that of Dr. Judson alone in 1818, on the same treacherous waters and bound for the same port. Once they were near being aground, having no more than three fathoms of water, the depth the ship drew; and had there not been a perfect calm it would have struck. A strong current set across its course and for days it drifted, being well-nigh unmanageable. When hope revived a gale arose, and it was driven within a short distance of the Andaman islands, the abode of voracious cannibals, from whose maw the Judsons likewise barely escaped. Tacking for Cape Negrais, it was driven leeward by both wind and current, and, quite disappointingly, was soon in sight of land a long way up the Arracan coast, on the way back toward Calcutta. A projecting rock, and afterwards the coast, appearing, it behooved to stand away from shore with all diligence. This course was followed during the night, which soon shut in, yet owing to a strong tide it was seen in the morning that the vessel was nearer the rock than on the preceding day. The experience was repeated for several successive days, and with increasing peril. A whole group of rocks came to view, rising almost perpendicularly forty or fifty feet above water, and no anchorage in the offing. A strong current setting toward them would have dashed the ship upon them, but it succeeded in stemming the current, in a persistent contest with the elements. After two or three days it had rounded the cape and was proceeding up the gulf toward Rangoon. Yet here, with but a light breeze or none at all, it was unable to make headway for about two weeks. During this time the passengers were put on allowance in respect to water, and their provisions also were reduced.
On November 9 the missionaries landed in Rangoon, after being on shipboard for about seven weeks, to compass a distance of a few hundreds of miles. Sickness and perils of waters were their lot. The evening on which they stepped ashore was one of moral night. The city was completely in confusion, owing to the fact that in a few days it was to be delivered to the Burman authorities. Amherst was the center of attraction, and the Europeans and great numbers of the Burmans, with the elements of an incipient civilization, were departing thither with all speed. Rangoon was well-nigh wrecked by the war, and, morally viewed, was more unpromising as a field for missionary exertion than when first entered by Dr. Judson, twelve years before. Its "very time" had not yet come.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade necessarily stopped at Rangoon on their way southward, but they remained there only a few days. They took their chance with the multitude who were pressing their way toward Amherst, and embarked on a schooner that was completely filled with cargo, from deck to deck, with crowds of men and women above. Their situation was very uncomfortable, particularly in the want of air. Besides, like the Georgiana, it was a "crazy old vessel," in a leaky condition, and had a heavy wind arisen the end would have been the loss of the ship and all on board. The still, suffocating air was preferable to gale and destruction.
On November 23, 1826, a little before sunset, the missionaries arrived in the harbor of Amherst, to begin their life-work. Immediately upon anchoring, Mr. Wade went ashore to find a house. There was the bustle incident to a rising town, yet with Dr. Judson absent at Ava, and his good wife lying beneath the Hopia tree, and their desolated home unoccupied, it was a town in which to be lonely and heavy of heart. What, then, must have been his relief on meeting Moung Shwa-ba, the faithful disciple who had protected Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Hough during the cannonading at Rangoon, and from whom he had been separated since that frightful event. He says, "I scarcely ever felt greater pleasure in meeting a friend from whom I had long been separated." Moung Ing, the devoted helper of Mrs. Judson, in her tribulations, was also there. These brethren proceeded at once to give him an account of Mrs. Judson's death, and in a manner which showed how much they loved her, and how deeply they mourned her death. He visited her vacant house with them, and then returned to the ship for the night.
The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Wade left the ship and took up their abode in the new house built by Mrs. Judson, and from which she had been borne to her grave just one month before. The four native Christians of the place spent nearly the whole day with them, assisting in procuring things necessary for immediate use. They also gave account of their experience from the taking of Rangoon, two and a half years previous, showing their unmistaken trust in Providence in their scattered and dependent condition. How cheering to the new missionaries to learn of their steadfastness, and, especially, of the fact that it had been their daily prayer that the disciples and teachers might meet again.
After another day the Sabbath dawned and worship was held in the missionaries' home; fourteen present. Moung Shwa-ba read a portion of the Scriptures and offered prayer; then Moung Ing read a chapter, and gave an exposition of it, closing with prayer. It was the first occasion of public worship enjoyed by Mr. and Mrs. Wade since leaving Calcutta, and one that might incite angels to rejoice. In a few days the wife of Moung Shwa-ba died, and the funeral service was conducted by Moung Ing, with decorum and solemnity on the part of all. Thus were the Christian rites of sepulture, instead of the foul orgies of heathenism, introduced to the new town.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade were at once fully occupied with cares and toils. They had found the little daughter that Mrs. Judson left, in the hands of Mrs. Whitlock, the wife of a military officer, and the only European lady in the place, and had taken her upon their own hands and hearts. Mr. Wade began his distinctive labors, seeking access to the Burmans by means of the orrery; believing that if they were convinced that their ideas of astronomy were false, their whole system would stand a confessed system of false-hood. And in this the missionaries agreed. Dr. Judson, while at Amherst, prepared two catechisms for the use of Burman schools; the one astronomical, in thirty-eight questions and answers, the other geographical, in eighty-nine, accompanied by a map of the world. Dr. Price, better versed in science, perhaps, than any other of them, made much effort to correct the popular view. Becoming intimate with a brilliant young native who had been initiated with special care into all Burman science, and who might have been called "the Daniel of Burmah," he spent midnight hours explaining to him the principles of astronomy, with the use of telescope; and having listened with great interest he declared that, if true, "their religion must inevitably fall." Another "agreed to the fact of the sun's course in the polar regions, and allowed that their mountain of bliss was overturned by it." Thus early it appeared that science is a handmaid of religion, and that there is a demand for education in the missionary.
After the confusion of settling, and enlarging their quarters to provide a room for Dr. Judson, the missionaries were prepared to give exclusive attention to their proper work. While Mr. Wade was occupied in preparing facilities, including a Burman concordance, Mrs. Wade was organizing and starting free day schools. It became more and more apparent that direct instruction, not omitting the religious, was to be her occupation, and she undertook it with a willing mind and cheerful heart. Mrs. Judson, it will be remembered, had built two small school-houses here, one for boys and one for girls; and she had succeeded in obtaining about ten scholars for each; but her death and the unsettled state of the population had well-nigh defeated the original plan, and Mrs. Wade worked under great difficulties. Little Maria Judson became extremely ill, and she was not prepared to care for more than six pupils. When the natives came to realize that they were not conferring a favor by furnishing pupils, but were themselves deriving the advantage of the school, they became anxious for their children to be admitted. This encouraged Mrs. Wade greatly.
Mr. and Mrs. Boardman were expected from Rangoon, and their accession to the mission was another source of bright anticipations. But the way soon was crossed. The new helpers had been in Amherst only a few days when they were called upon to aid in laying little Maria in her earthy bed, and, at the same time to give attention to their own afflictions. Mrs. Boardman became very ill. Then, as soon as practicable, Mr. and Mrs. Boardman, acquiescing in the opinions of the brethren, determined to form a new station at a point up the river.
Circumstances now underwent an entire change. The English at once became dissatisfied with the location of their new capital, and Sir Archibald Campbell again surveyed his provinces, deciding upon a point on the Martaban river, twenty-five miles above. It was Mau-la-mying, later, Maulmain, or Maulmein. Attention, therefore, was drawn from Amherst as quickly and as fully as it had been given to it. The fragile tenements erected there were neither very valuable nor homelike. In a few months from the time of its establishment it was nearly deserted. The people followed the Government, knowing where their interests lay.
The prospects of Amherst as a missionary station, therefore, constantly declined, and it was decided to be better to sacrifice the little property there than to spend time in such a place while there were inviting prospects in a number of neighboring fields. Accordingly, Dr. Judson going some time in advance, the mission was removed to Maulmein in just one year from the settlement of the Wades at Amherst. All the Burman missionaries were now there together. The city had grown with a rapidity that might daze even the founders of the ambitious towns of modern times. In one year it had sprung from a thick jungle to a place of twenty thousand inhabitants.
The settlement and labors at Amherst were quite fruitful in good. Although it was their first year of work in Burmah, the Wades made a good record in actual results. They and their work became popular with the Burmese, who literally crowded upon them for school privileges, and some of whom were brought to the Savior. On removing to Maulmein they took fourteen of their pupils with them; eleven of them girls. Of the latter were the native girls Mary and Abby Hasseltine, who had been received as a sacred memorial of the saint with whom they abode through the experiences of Rangoon, Ava and Oung-pen-la, and who parted from them only because she was called to go into the presence of the King of Kings. The nine were bound to the missionaries by a written agreement entered into by their parents, that they should remain a specified number of years; during which time no one should have authority over any one to take her away. Mrs. Boardman shared the labor of teaching, giving to Mrs. Wade an opportunity to receive and instruct the women that visited her.
One circumstance in the life at Amherst is quite memorable in mission annals. It was the rescue by Mr. and Mrs. Wade, Dr. Judson assisting, of two little slave girls from their inhuman masters. Of one Mrs. Wade wrote in her journal:
"She is about five years of age, and was by her parents made a slave to one of the magistrate's interpreters, who is a Moorman, and from the situation he fills, keeps the Burmans in great fear of him, so that we never heard of this poor child until it was almost too late. The case was then represented to us with the greatest precaution through fear of suffering the vengeance of the wicked interpreter. As the English magistrate was absent at the time, Dr. Judson immediately called the man before him, told him that he knew all about the poor child, and that if he would bring her to us without the least delay he would not inform the magistrate against him; but if not, he would do it immediately. He seemed perfectly astonished that any one should inform against him; but there being no alternative, he promised to bring the child. He had, however, a little hope that we did not really know the worst, and therefore sent his wife to use all her influence with me to get permission for the child to remain two or three days. But as we had every reason to fear that a few days only were wanting to close the dreadful scene, we did not listen to anything she had to say, but again demanded the child instantly.
"The child was then brought to us; but my blood chills at even this distant recollection of what an object was presented. Her little body was wasted to a skeleton, and covered from head to foot with the marks of a large rattan; and blows from some sharp-edged thing which left a deep scar. Her forehead, one of her ears, and a finger were still suffering from his blows, and did not heal for some time. Her master, in a rage one day, caught her by the arm and gave it such a twist as to break the bone, from which her sufferings were dreadful. Besides, she had a large and very dreadful burn on her body, recently inflicted. Of this last horrid deed, delicacy forbids my attempting any description. Whether the wretch intended to put an end to her life this time, is uncertain; but he no doubt concluded that the event would prove fatal, for he shut her up in a close, hot room, where no one was allowed to see her, and told his neighbors that she was very ill in a fever. She had been tortured so long that her naturally smiling countenance was the picture of grief and despair. Oh, is it possible that man, made in the likeness of his divine Creator, and endowed with such high intellectual capacities and a sensibility so refined, can have fallen thus low!
"Almost the first word which this poor little sufferer said to me was, 'Please to give your slave a little rice, for I am very hungry.' She was asked if she had not had her breakfast, to which she replied, 'Yes; but I get but very little, so that I am hungry all day long.' I was happy to find that she had no fever; but notwithstanding all that could be done, she cried almost incessantly for forty-eight hours, and had at times symptoms of convulsions. The inflammation then began to subside; and after nursing her with unremitting care by night and by day myself, for two weeks, I had the inexpressible satisfaction of seeing her begin to play with the other little girls. Although we did not inform against the Moorman interpreter, the Burmans ventured to do so, and the result was a pair of chains and imprisonment, where he is waiting his final sentence from the Supreme Government of Bengal."
A few months after Mrs. Wade's writing as above, Dr. Judson added the following information, which appeared as a postscript to the account of Mee Shway-ee, that excited so much attention in this country at the time of its publication:
"The mystery that enveloped Mee Shway-ee's birth is, at length, unfolded; and it turns out that her tormentor, Moung Shway-ike, was no other than her brother! The father of Moung Shway-ike is now living in this place, and has confessed to us that Mee Shway-ee was his own daughter, by a second wife, now in Rangoon. It seems that the father and son were ashamed of the child, and disowned the relationship; and the son, being of a diabolical disposition, and having some authority, determined to put her to death by inches. The father is of Musselman descent, a man of considerable mind but shattered by intemperance. His confession is confirmed by the testimony of another person, now living in this place, (Mau-la-mying,) who declares from her own personal knowledge in Rangoon, that such was the birth and parentage of the poor tortured slave girl,
"Whom now we hope in heaven to see,
A sainted seraph, Mee Shway-ee."
At that early day in missions the conversion of a heathen to a "seraph" was a notable circumstance; and the American Baptist Magazine contained full accounts of the little victim of the "human osprey." She survived, it seems, for a few years, during which time she yielded not only to love's arms, but also to love's entreaties, and became a child of grace; then she fell asleep, and Mrs. Wade wrote as follows concerning her: "She recovered and enjoyed pretty good health till she was taken down with her last illness, which terminated in about six weeks. About a month before her departure she gave pleasing evidence of a work of grace upon her heart, and died enjoying in an eminent degree all the sweet consolations of a hope in Christ. But it is only those who heard her from day to day lisp her prayers and praises to God; who caught, with a joy unfelt before, the first dawn of light which beamed upon her dark mind; who watched, with hearts raised to God, its gentle progress, that can realize what a precious and heavenly scene the death-bed of little Mee Shway-ee presented."
Such, in brief, is the pathetic story of Mee Shway-ee, so touchingly memorialized in verse by Mrs. Emily C. Judson. (See Memorial of Mrs. E. C. Judson, page 157.) It was Mrs. Wade's privilege to increase the credit and influence of missions in the East by doing this kind of work. To many "a wild and woe-marked slave-child" she must have proved "a messenger of Jesus."
Note.--The author stops in the midst of his narrative to note the significance of two items, compared, which have met his eye simultaneously. The one, found in the report of the Board of the Triennial Convention in 1829, shows that there were in the East at that time only Messrs. Judson, Price, Wade and Boardman, with the wives of the last three, as missionaries from America. The other, published in the Public Ledger, of Philadelphia, states that fifty-seven missionaries had just sailed from Boston in one day--October 4, 1890. The first company was the product of sixteen years of missionary culture in American churches; the second was but one of several similar gifts to the cause of the heathen in a single year. Truly, there is a growth of missionary conviction.
What though thy gold may prove but dross! Rich gain ensues to sorest loss; And glory gilds the dreariest cross. Joy keeps with sorrow even pace, Or wins the trembling, toiling race; And honor crowns the lowliest place. L. E. L.--"Stepping Heavenward."
A period of eighteen months passes, during which life in the mission at Maulmein assumes uniformity, and the laborers become accustomed to their lot. Mr. Wade writes at the time: "As it regards the manner of my spending my time, there is such a similarity in the work of one day with that of another that it would be quite uninteresting to keep a daily journal. I have therefore only put down occasional notices."
While such uniformity is not uncommon in any part of the world, it must be tedious in a land where communication is imperfect and the sources of social good are narrowed to the walls of one bamboo cottage, or, at best, to a cluster of two or three; and those in America who tire of beaten paths should feel sympathetic toward beginners in other climes, who, having almost no path, are shut in to a little round of endeavors. The work acquires variety as it widens, and, in time, fully engages the mind.
One feature of their lives, while now becoming common, was nevertheless, like ever-recurring Spring in their hearts. It was the conversion of the natives to Christ, attended by the customary "diversity of operations" seen wherever the Spirit works. Mr. Wade recorded the remark of one of the converts, that no anxiety need be felt about the sincerity of those who asked for baptism, since the opposition and the reproach were so great that they could not possibly be persuaded or even hired to profess this religion unless they were truly converted. It is always a joy to see persons come out on the Lord's side after tribulation has taken its course.
Mr. Boardman and family, at about this time, went to Tavoy and established a mission there, leaving the other missionaries and native helpers to carry on the work in Maulmein. Here for about two years Mr. and Mrs. Wade performed some of their best work. They were young, and they had acquired considerable knowledge of the Burmans and their language, and also had become quite familiar with the Karens and their dialect. Mr. Wade labored on translations and tracts, and preached and taught, while Mrs. Wade continued her school-work with great delight and efficiency. It became apparent to Mrs. Wade, however, that there was a more urgent work than that of the school, and such as had grown out of faithful service in the school. By "knowing Christ and him crucified" in her daily rounds among the natives, she had impressed and inspired them with a desire to know him for themselves. Inquirers increased and attention to them was the supreme demand of the hour, and of all the hours she could command for public work. Accordingly she could do little more than to keep an oversight of the schools. She did much personal hand-to-hand work in leading the women to Christ.
The time came for another change. A gracious event, signified in the following paragraph in Gammell's History, called for their removal to Rangoon:
In the year 1829, Ko Thah-a, a Burman convert of Rangoon, who, since the close of the war, in the absence of all the teachers, had kept alive the little church amidst innumerable perils, came to Maulmein to represent the condition of his fellow-disciples. The missionaries were delighted with his intelligence, his fidelity and his judicious and persevering zeal, and they immediately decided to ordain him as pastor of the church at Rangoon. He returned to his friends, the first Burman who was fully commissioned to preach the Gospel and administer its ordinances. Moung Ing, who, on the decline of Amherst, was withdrawn from the station there, was soon afterwards ordained and associated with Ko Thah-a. Their united labors were highly serviceable to the nearly prostrate cause in that deluded city. Many native Christians, who had been scattered by the tumults of war and the rigors of persecution, returned to the city, and in the course of the year twenty were baptized and added to the church.
What a support to faith and impulse to labor was this new state of things at old Rangoon! There the feet of the pioneer American missionary first touched Burman soil. There small success and much defeat had been experienced for fifteen years; and now that a few persecuted converts should so persevere and so present Christ as to sustain the cause, without guide or assistant, was an occasion of much rejoicing at Maulmein. And though Dr. Judson would have been only too glad to go back to the scene of his tenderest memories, it seemed good that Mr. and Mrs. Wade should go there, to counsel and instruct the newly-ordained ministers and strengthen the hold of Christianity upon the people. They went early in the year 1830, and remained several months. Many listened, and books about the eternal God were in great demand. Many days the press was so great that they were obliged to shut the door and hand the books out at the window. Mr. Wade was in poor health, and fearing that he might not have long to labor, he wrote a tract called "Awakener," that by it he might continue to preach after his death.
Returning to Maulmein, he found that all the responsibilities of the mission there were coming upon him. Dr. Judson had gone to the relief of the brethren at Rangoon, and thence on an exploring tour northward, while Mr. Boardman, in constant decline, was reduced to utter prostration, and was performing service only from his couch. Mr. Wade rose to the occasion. "He preached six times a week in Burman, and three in English, read all the proof-sheets, and corrected the works of two Burman copyists, besides performing many occasional duties."
This strain continued until near the end of the year, when there was a sudden and great joy in the mission--Messrs. Kincaid and Mason had arrived from America. Arrangements were made to relieve Mr. Wade of the work in the English department, and to put the work of tract distribution and inculcation of primary Gospel truths into the hands of the native disciples. Very soon the news came that this evangelical effort had taken hold of the Karens up the Dah-Gyaing, or Gyne, river, and he thus found occasion to visit that interesting people, and to take with him Mr. Bennett, of the printing department; both of them needing the relaxation that such a tour was calculated to give.
Taking Ko Myat Kyau as interpreter, they proceeded up the river for more than one hundred miles, and did a wayside and village work. In some places the natives invited them to tarry, and prepared a temporary zayat for preaching. The spirit of inquiry and readiness for the Gospel cheered their hearts to the farthest limit of their journey. On approaching the first village they found all the houses empty. The people were frightened to see a white foreigner coming among them. They thought he was a government officer, and they feared oppression, a thing to which they had been thoroughly accustomed under the Burmans, and all had hid among the bushes. At length one man appeared, and on being called he approached, trembling. After being told who the visitors were, and what was their object, his countenance brightened, and, disappearing for a few moments, he brought the villagers, who soon ventured to come near, sit down and listen to the Gospel. After a short discourse the chief said, "Teacher, give us the Karen books." "Karen books!" said Mr. Wade, "What do you mean? The Karens have no books: they have no written language." "Ah!" said he, "the Karens once had books. God gave them his word, written on leather, and the Karens lost it; but our ancestors have told us that the white foreigner also had God's word, and would come and give it to the Karens. The white foreigners have come, but where are the books? Give us God's book, that happiness may return to the Karens, for our ancestors said, 'When the white foreigners come and restore God's book to the Karens, they will again be prosperous.'"
Thus "The Book" was the "Desire" of this down-trodden people, and the merest glimpse of evidence that it had come filled them with hope and joy. Mr. Wade's mind was at once awakened to the situation, and to the opening for a new line of service to this poor race. It was then and there that he resolved to commence the work of reducing the Karen language to writing; a work which he prosecuted with great zeal and scholarly ability, and which is thought to be the most important achievement of his life. "With divine aid," he says, "I succeeded, and in about two years afterward a spelling-book was completed, a tract translated, and schools began to be established." The alphabet employed was the Burmese; all but two of the Burman characters being found available for reaching the understanding of the Karens, owing to resemblances in the dialects of the two peoples.
At one point in this journey, where tracts had been distributed and where there was not a sufficient number for even the few that could read, the tracts were cut in pieces that there might be a few lines of the "sacred writings" for each of their homes. The missionaries were absent fifteen days, and returned with renewed vigor of body and spirit, rejoicing in the provision of nature and of grace for the dwellers along the Gyne.
The eminent, though short-lived missionary, John Taylor Jones, arrived at about this time. The pleasure felt in welcoming new missionaries to the field at that day can hardly be conceived in this day. Mr. Jones undertook the acquisition of the language and the conduct of the English services, and Mr. Wade, obeying the impulses of his heart, planned another trip among the Karens. The second tour was more interesting than the first. Taking three native catechists. and Mr. Kincaid, whose after career among the same people was so signalized for its heroism and trophies of conquest to the Cross, he penetrated to the upper villages, not less than two hundred miles from Maulmein. The two tours resulted in the formation of one Karen church, of fourteen members. It was located at a place called Wadesville, in honor of the missionary who first preached there the glad tidings of salvation and baptized the first converts.
Cheered by the prospects, Mr. Wade now took steps for direct evangelization in Maulmein. Beginning with the erection of a zayat on the mission premises, and with worship in it, he aroused the people and gathered them about him in large numbers. Some were impressed; some hopefully converted. He did much more; as he says: "The mission premises were in the center. Dr. Judson had a preaching zayat at the north and I one at the south end of the town, where we went and sat daily to preach Christ to all who would come in to listen. At four in the afternoon we returned and related to each other the encouragements and discouragements each had met with during the day. At evening we had public worship on the mission premises. Mrs. Wade had a boarding and a day school under her charge. Every now and then Mrs. Wade and myself made excursions to the surrounding villages to preach Christ there also. God blessed these efforts, and the result was thirty to sixty converts each year."
This hopeful and happy state of things was not to be uninterrupted. Not so is the life of a missionary. Mrs. Wade's health declined from the beginning of the year, and during the month of May its condition became alarming. Agreeably to the opinions of that day and country a voyage at sea was declared to be imperatively necessary to her restoration. With great reluctance she consented to the measure, and Mr. Wade, being indisposed, agreed to accompany her. Those who have laid down a loved and prosperous work to go into the hands of a nurse know the trial of soul it causes.
They embarked the first opportunity, July 9, 1831, for Calcutta. He who controls the winds and the waves, knowing what means were best, permitted the elements to rise in their fury and play upon the vessel--the Caledonia. After two days of fine sailing, only, the wind headed the ship at every tack, preventing progress for several days. It became violent. "The power of God was terrible in the storm," wrote Mr. Wade. "Every squall we hoped would be the last, for it seemed as if we could not sustain another; yet they continued day after day. After we got outside the islands the wind was more steady, but very strong, and finally increased to a gale, which lasted three days. At the commencement of the gale the vessel sprung a leak, and the sand ballast washed down into the hold, so that it was impossible to work the pumps. Our only alternative was bailing, and in this we were able to employ but one bucket at a time. The water and sand increased in the hold during the gale, until it was announced to be five feet deep."
The captain now saw that the emergency was of the gravest character, and straightway decided that the safety of the ship and of those on board required him to steer for the nearest port. Accordingly an attempt, continuing through one night, was made to reach the coast of Chittagong. In the morning a vessel that had been driven out of her course in the same gale, and had lost the greater part of her sail, was hailed by the signal of distress. Taking counsel of her commander it was determined to run into a place called Kyouk Phyoo, the same officer proffering his aid as pilot. Meantime the weather moderated, and by constant bailing the ship was saved from sinking and brought to land.
The place so unexpectedly found was a town of two years' existence, a military station, on the island of Ramree, Arracan. The commander of the forces, Col. Wood, with the people, supplied the sufferers with all necessary comforts, he inviting the missionaries to become his most welcome guests. A month had sped away by the time they were rested from the terrible rack received at sea, and were able to indite the first letter of information to their friends. In these brief weeks Mrs. Wade gave signs of recuperation. What if the Great Restorer had used the remedies of wind and wave and excitement, with the balmy breezes of an unthought-of shore, to prove that He "restoreth the soul" whensoever and wheresoever he will! His trusted servants attentively considered the interposition, and readily surrendered their plans to His disposing. They relinquished the thought of going to Calcutta and to America, as advised by the physician, and remained at Kyouk Phyoo two months. After an absence from Maulmein of three months, without being heard of, and the ship being supposed to be lost, the distress on their account was changed to rapture by the news that they were on board a steam vessel at Amherst. And this joy was twofold when, one morning shortly afterward, they stepped into the home of the missionaries at Maulmein.
At Kyouk Phyoo they gave themselves to evangelical effort in behalf of the natives, as they were able, and found that their labor was not in vain. The inhabitants, known as Mugs, were quite susceptible to the truths of the Gospel. The two brethren who accompanied the missionaries went among them eagerly, and reported that they were "eager to hear." They spoke the Burman language, and thus were immediately accessible by the native disciples.
The unexpected finding of this open door, and the good results attending the event, were the "providence" in the storm at sea. But disease is delusive, and when its power seems broken it may be only in abeyance. Mrs. Wade's health was not fully restored, yet it was thought that a return to America would not be necessary. It was felt, also, that a voyage southward, to Mergui, and a residence there of a few months might result in its recovery, and, possibly, in the establishment of a church in that region. With the concurrence of all, therefore, Mr. and Mrs. Wade left Maulmein, hastily, the second day after their return, in order to rejoin the vessel at Amherst which they had just left and which was bound for Mergui. Moung Ing (Ko-Ing), through the urgency of the brethren, went on from Tavoy to be their assistant.
Here they had joyful evidence, also, that God would give the heathen to his Son for an inheritance. A Karen chief made their acquaintance and earnestly invited them to visit his home in the jungle. They went. His people came together and listened attentively, day after day, and day and night. They seized the truth with eagerness. It reached their understanding and very quickly assumed control of their conduct. Thus the chief, being told on the Lord's Day that a wild hog had invaded his inclosure and was eating his vegetables, took his musket and went out to kill it. On raising his gun to fire he recalled what had been said to him concerning the observance of the day, and desisted. Again the desire to bring down the rapacious brute seemed likely to predominate, and again he felt the restraining force of the precept. A third time the temptation arose, as he considered how rare was the opportunity to shoot a hog, and began to think that he could observe Monday for the Sabbath; but he reflected that no day could be substituted for that on which the Lord arose, and so left the hog in peaceable possession of the garden, while he returned to his house with a peaceful heart and a satisfied mind.
The missionaries continued there about two weeks, and on the evening before their departure were honored with a "reception"--the thing without the name. Nearly all the Karens in the place came to worship, and at the close they had much familiar conversation and singing of praise. They sang a few lines and then interpreted them in Burman, that Mr. and Mrs. Wade might understand the sentiment; and what was their surprise and delight to find that the composition was entirely extemporaneous. At their request the chief called on two or three young women for a performance, who responded at once by composing and singing the following, as rendered into English:
"The Lord his messenger hath sent, And he himself will shortly come; The priests of Boodh, whose day is spent, Must quit the place to make Him room."
While the Burmese had no conception of song, the Karens were noted for it; and this disposition and culture of the latter has strengthened the conviction that they are descendants of the ancient Hebrews. From the first they have seemed more ready for the truth than the Christian world to give it to them. The chief (called "the Karen Oke") and many of his people subsequently became Christians.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade had become very active and were making frequent excursions to different points, particularly to such as could be reached by boat. They found access to the inhabitants at nearly all places, and usually an avidity for oral teaching and for tracts. Conversions and baptisms were now of common occurrence, and the hearts of the missionaries were continually in a state of joy. At the same time their lives were frequently in jeopardy. "Perils of waters" ceased to be surprising, yet the fear of destruction at sea and the strain of body and mind caused thereby were to be avoided. The vessels of the period were very indifferent and rickety craft, and depended for their safety more upon the disposition of the winds than upon the skill of the crew. Missionaries were thus not only imperiled, but likewise defeated in their purposes.
An instance of these dangers and defeats is found in Mr. Wade's account of the endeavor to go from Mergui to Rangoon in the spring of 1832. On the first day out the boat sprung aleak. The men bailed the water with a jar, holding nearly three pailfuls, as fast as it could be done. There was a small island about two miles to leeward, and for it the boatmen stood and made all possible sail, intending, if it could be kept above water long enough, to run the boat ashore at the nearest point; itself an extremely dangerous course on account of the rocks and surf. Meantime the leak was discovered and stopped, so far as to enable them to go round the point of the island and run ashore at a safe place. It was felt that the Lord was in the event, since day-time, fair wind, proximity of the shore and two Chinese passengers to help the boatmen (of whom there were but four), all seemed necessary to assure the rescue.
Repairing the boat, they put out again as far as to Pyenboo, twenty miles, where they made further repairs, and next day to Kauman, ten miles, where they passed one night. Early the following morning they put to sea again, and soon after sunrise encountered a northerly gale, which raised a tremendous sea. The boat labored hard. Mr. Wade describes the scenes in his journal, at the time, as follows:
We kept on until we came nearly abreast of Tavoy point. Here, on the eastern shore, is a long reef of rocks, where many, many boats have been destroyed. These were to the leeward of us, and we found the wind would not allow us to clear them. The boatmen began to consult on what to do. Some said, "cast anchor and wait for a change." The rest said, "by no means; we are scarcely able to keep above water while under way; how do you think we could ride at anchor?" They soon concluded to put back, and get in some place of shelter as soon as possible. But to do this we had a long, long way to run, and the wind and sea were continually increasing. The boat was dashed from wave to wave with great violence, the sea sometimes breaking over into the boat, which being without a deck, it seemed, every moment, as if we must be swallowed up.
When we came back to Kauman and Pyenboo we found it impossible to put into either of those places without great hazard, on account of sandbanks; on which, if we had struck, the first dash must have stove the boat. So we still kept out, wishing to get round a point of land some miles ahead, where we could put in with safety. Our boatmen were much alarmed and more than once proposed running the boat ashore. They also proposed making more sail, in consequence of fear and an anxiety to get to a place of shelter as soon as possible. In this I interfered, knowing that a greater press of sail would only drive her under the sea and hasten our destruction.
When we were several miles from any land, they thought from the appearance of the sea that the water was shallow; and, putting down a pole, to our great astonishment, found only two cubits. It seemed then that the last moment had come; I gave up all hope. However, we instantly hauled up as close as we could to the wind (without knowing whether it was right or wrong), and for some moments were in awful suspense, expecting every instant to strike. But, directed by Providence, we soon deepened our water; still we kept close on the wind, and stood for the western shore. This was many miles distant; but we seemed to go ahead with amazing rapidity, and got under the lee of the western shore so soon that I was much impressed with the passage in John's Gospel: "Immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."
The next morning it was thought best to return to Mergui, the nearest good point, and wait for some vessel. At evening they were there, the place whence they sailed several days before; nothing accomplished except the preservation of life, and with a severe strain from which to recover.
Such was the disappointment of the missionaries, oft repeated as the years went by, but not without a compensation of some kind. Who, in reading of this instance, will not think of the first missionary to the Gentiles, in his shipwrecks, and see in the character and conduct of Mr. Wade the elements of manhood possessed by Paul? As the "man of Tarsus," by his stability of mind and self-poise stood on deck in the midst of the storm, and, though unacquainted with seamanship, counseled and commanded in the emergency to which the sailors were unequal, so the man of New York, trusting to Him that stilleth the Seas, was calm amid the gales, and able to calm and control his superiors in knowledge of the deep. He saved them from rash doing, and so all came safely to land. And his good wife was equally composed, and proved her strength and submission by singing words of triumph, even in the time of greatest danger. Was not this experience timed by the God of missions, not only as a discipline to the missionaries, but also for their more immediate and greater influence over the benighted Burmans?
Mr. and Mrs. Wade continued at Mergui for a little more than five months, or until the last of March, 1832. Though they went there through motives of health, principally, they were very active during their stay; he in preaching and she in teaching, while both went together into the jungles and to neighboring villages to evangelize the natives. They were called for, and the people heard them gladly. Before leaving Mergui a small church was established, and Moung Ing appointed as pastor.
As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.--Prov. 25:12. Yet, having nothing, the whole is ours; No thorns can pierce us, who have no flowers. ROSE TERRY COOKE.
Leaving Mergui March 29th, and touching at Maulmein, they arrived in Rangoon April 3, 1832. Not long after, Mr. Wade had a severe and protracted attack of neuralgia of the stomach, which, there being no physician in Rangoon, made necessary their return to Maulmein, where medical aid could be obtained. After some improvement he resumed the work of reducing the Karen language to writing, which had been interrupted from the time they started for home, and on account of their unexpected detention in Arracan. This employment was the ideal achievement of his missionary life at this period. So intensely did he apply himself to it, and so exclusively did it occupy his mind, that laying aside his writing for rest was not discontinuing the toil of his brain. Hard work induced repeated attacks of the disease, increasing in frequency and severity until they became continuous. Then a relinquishment of all study, with a change to a cold climate gave the only hope of recovery, and that was but a slight one. Mrs. Wade, likewise, had been so afflicted that, though holding up bravely under her ills, and for most of the time performing her full share of the duties of the mission, it seemed but humane and just that she also should be granted a respite.
In the autumn of 1832 they embarked for the United States. At a time when missionaries were still few, the event was a noted one among the "wan reapers," many of whom would have been glad to have done the same; a somewhat sad one, too, because it gave intimation as to the decline of health almost inevitable to all. In the United States the return of missionaries was regarded as a great event--greater than the outgoing of the same, since it meant information concerning the East, the exhibition of strange things, and, not the least, a "sight" of somebody who had been down into the Hades of heathenism and bore marks of the place.
Since the visit of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, ten years before, no one had returned to America to tell in person the tales of sin and salvation in Burmah, and the coming of these prominent representatives was hailed with peculiar satisfaction. To render their visit still more entertaining, and as a means to increased interest in the heathen, they brought two native Christians, the first that had appeared in this country--Moung Shway Moung, a Burman, and Ko Chet-thing, a Karen. All arrived in May, 1833, just after the annual meeting of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions.
How this interesting group should spend the time in America, compatibly with health-seeking, and so as to gratify friends and promote the cause of missions, was a question that solved itself as the weeks went by. The curiosity to see and hear them, exceeding all disposition of that sort at the present day, was utilized for the benefit of the heathen. Mr. Wade's health had materially improved by the voyage home, and the Board was very anxious that he remain a year for its confirmation, and to do what was then of very great importance--aid in cultivating a missionary spirit in this country. Mrs. Wade, with her great good sense and deep interest in the same object, was well calculated to co-operate most effectively, while the new spectacle of converted heathens in company would assure an outpouring of people anywhere.
Very soon, therefore, these angels of missions were on wheels; but not the fast wheels of today. Important places were visited and large assemblies addressed. The young Asiatics were introduced to sights and scenes in a civilized land; with what amazement to themselves it can only be faintly conjectured. It was time now for Mr. and Mrs. Wade to be interpreters. After the foreigners had spoken in their own tongue, the audiences were permitted to know the singular thought that was expressed in such singular speech.
But there was another, an unheard-of project that very early occurred to the Board; one in which these visitors from the East were to perform the principal part. A number of persons were under appointment as missionaries, and why should not they improve a present opportunity to begin the study of the languages of the people to whom they were designated? And why not experiment on the feasibility of a general arrangement for learning the heathen tongues before going abroad? It was agreed to at once, and on the 20th of June, in less than six weeks from the day of their arrival in Boston, and after much touring had been done, the missionaries and their native assistants began with eight pupils (males and females) the strange thing of inculcating the rudiments of Asiatic dialects in the heart of America, and at the seat of a leading theological seminary. Hamilton, N.Y., the nursery of missionaries, was naturally and fitly selected as the place for the school. It continued for nine months, and the Board in its report stated that the "success in acquiring the Burman and Karen is regarded as triumphant proof of the wisdom that dictated the enterprise." The arrangement, however, did not become permanent.
In addition to their duties in the school the missionaries made occasional excursions among the churches, and with the best of results. They traveled in several of the states, north and south, awakening interest in the salvation of the heathen, and appealing to Christians to cultivate self-denial for their sakes, in imitation of Him who died for them. A notable occasion was a Convention of Western Baptists, occurring at Cincinnati, Ohio, in November, which they attended, accompanied by such representatives of the Board as Rev. Alfred Bennett and Dea. Heman Lincoln, treasurer.
In this life-story it is fitting to refer to the fact that at this period "great objections existed in the minds of many of our western brethren against what are (were) denominated 'The Benevolent Efforts of the Age'"; also, "against the pecuniary support of the regular ministry of the Gospel." So serious a matter was this that a few individuals in Cincinnati carried on a very extensive correspondence, east and west, resulting in calling a general meeting of the Baptists of the Western States, "for the purpose of mutual prayer, deliberation, counsel and effort." The presence of the missionaries and of Messrs. Bennett and Lincoln, all of them grand illustrations of consecrated lives, imparted a holy, delightful atmosphere to the Convention. The question of ministerial support was quickly settled, and with "entire unanimity." The cause of foreign missions was next considered, and as Jonathan Wade stood forth in advocacy of its claims he caused his hearers to feel that it was a serious yet a grand thing to live under the King of Kings and be pledged to His service in saving the nations of the earth. They could not resist the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. "One after another spoke in its support, till the Convention itself became perfectly missionary, and every member was led to inquire, if the missionary cause did not come from heaven, whence its origin." All the leading, agitating questions of the time were discussed, in a meeting continuing six days, and the most harmonious action taken favoring all benevolent efforts. The first recorded steps were taken here for beginning missionary work in China, and two brethren "were ordained evangelists, with particular reference to their location among the Cherokee and Creek Indians."
Equally influential with her husband was Mrs. Wade; a strong character anywhere, and especially in a meeting designed to enlist the hearts of Christians in behalf of the perishing. On the last day she addressed a meeting in the Sixth Street Baptist Church, which was "thronged to overflowing with ladies, every one anxious to hear from her lips of God's grace to the Burmans and Karens." Her modesty and simplicity enabled her to appeal to the women with irresistible power. Following her example of self-denial they cast their ornaments as well as their money into the mission treasury. In immediate connection with an account of the meeting is found the treasurer's statement, containing the following entries: "Chains, rings, etc., from Mrs. Shays, Cin., O.; cost $50." "Various articles, gold beads, rings, etc., contributed for the personal benefit of Mr. and Mrs. Wade, sold for $23.52." "Sundry articles, gold necklaces, etc., contributed for the Burman Mission, $19.37." Many items of this kind appear in months following.
In the following spring this "quaternion," accompanied by the Corresponding Secretary, Dr. Lucius Bolles, made a tour in the South, visiting many of the cities of the Atlantic States. At Augusta, Ga., they met two converted Cherokees, who were there introduced to the Burman and the Karen. "The spectacle," says Prof. Gammell, "was one of rare and extraordinary interest. It was the first time in the history of the world that representatives of these ancient aboriginal races, dwelling on opposite sides of the globe, had met together in the sympathies of a common faith, and joined in common acts of Christian worship."
Referring to their visit in the United States, especially to the part that Mrs. Wade took in addressing meetings of ladies, a writer very appropriately says:
In neat but inexpensive attire, she stood before these audiences of the gay and fashionable, "with pleasant voice and a face beaming with Christian affection," and won all hearts by the simple story of her own heart-felt experiences. She spoke to them of the character of heathen worship, the degradation of heathen women, the marvelous change wrought in them by the power of the Gospel, the increasing facilities for reaching them by the press, also of the pain of refusing the call for books or tracts (from lack of means to print them) that would show them the way to be saved. This was followed by a plea to American women to lay aside all superfluities in dress and living, that they might share in this blessed work for Christ. These appeals, sustained by her own consecrated life, could not be fruitless. Useless jewelry, and other adornings, often, in those years, found place in missionary collections, and many learned from her lips lessons that never were forgotten.
Mrs. Dr. Binney in a just and loving tribute to Mrs. Wade, written from personal knowledge of her in America and the East, speaks of first meeting her during this visit and under circumstances never to be forgotten: "Charlestown Female Seminary was then taught by a corps of five Christian women, led by that indefatigable worker for the cause of female education and for the cause of Christ, to which everything besides was subservient. Miss Martha Whiting. They were educating two hundred young ladies from nearly every state in New England, and several other states, the larger number of whom were from Baptist families and professing Christians. Miss Whiting brought Mrs. Wade to visit the Seminary, and suspended the usual exercises that she might address the young ladies. Probably no one hour's labor ever expended on that institution has told so largely on the character and usefulness of its pupils. Some yet live (1870) to testify that her earnest, touching appeal led them with great humiliation, and with heart-searchings, to consecrate themselves anew to the dear Redeemer, whether at home or called to toil in heathen lands. Many have gone home before her, whose lives have borne testimony to the fidelity with which they have kept those early vows of consecration."
The time for returning to Burmah hastened on. In a little more than thirteen months from the day of arrival here, native land was again left for alien-life amid the deep moral shades of the East. The heart had been cast on the side of the heathen, and there was no disposition to restrain its affections; no, not for friends, nor for an extra hour.
The farewell services at Boston, continuing for several days, and consisting largely of addresses by Mr. and Mrs. Wade and the natives of the Orient, were scenes of surpassing interest. Mrs. Wade's address to the ladies, in particular, was felt to be more impressive than anything of the kind ever before uttered. Designation services for the new missionaries were also held. Dr. Francis Wayland delivered the main address, a "lofty, bold, beautiful and emphatically Scriptural delineation of the objects, qualifications and duties of a Christian missionary."
Mrs. Sigourney contributed the closing hymn, in which appears the following strain:
Burmah! We would soothe thy weeping; Take us to thy sultry breast. Where thy sainted dust is sleeping, Let us share a kindred rest. Friends! this span of life is fleeting. Hark! the harps of angels swell. Think of that eternal meeting Where no voice shall say Farewell!
Those thus "separated" for the work to which the Spirit had called them were a noble company, fifteen in number, and conspicuous for great usefulness in heathen lands. On the same ship the American Board of Commissioners sent out three, and the officers of that Board participated in the deeply solemn yet joyful scenes at the departure--scenes more tearful to the staying than to the departing.
In the report of the Board, prepared and presented by Dr. Baron Stow, there appears a very full account of the home work of the missionaries, closing with the following emphatic words: "The salutary effects of their visit will long be seen in the enlarged contributions to our treasury, in the multiplication of candidates for missionary service, and in the deepened interest which shall be excited in behalf, not only of Burmah, but of a world lying in the wicked one; and as they shall return to their field of toil and sacrifice, to be seen no more till we shall meet them in heaven, they and their enterprise will be enshrined in thousands of breasts which, but for their past year's labors, would have remained indifferent and inert, and thousands of the 'sacramental host' will be concerned for their success, who else would have lived and died unto themselves."
To this testimony add the expressive words of a writer before quoted:
Their presence and earnest words had given an impulse to missionary zeal that appeared in larger contributions, and in a more confident faith in the results of missionary labor. In the mission stations their absence had been keenly felt, and from beyond the sea Mr. Judson wrote: "May the Lord bring safely back my dearest, best beloved brother and sister Wade." To them, the romance of mission life was past. The morning mists had long since been lifted, and before their unclouded vision the rugged outline of their field of toil lay stretched out before them. Yet, with unswerving purpose and unfaltering step, aye, with great longing of heart, they girded themselves anew for the service, "counting it all joy" to bear Christ's message to the ends of the earth.
The favored vessel was the Cashmere. It weighed anchor in Boston harbor July 2, 1834, with the largest number of missionaries that had at any time been sent out by American Baptists. It never had done so great service to the world. The products it conveyed to the East were an important contribution to the temporal wants of man, but how vastly greater the present provision for giving the Bread of Life to souls dying the death that never dies.
The voyage was a pleasant one. How could the social feature be otherwise--so many of one heart and one soul! And there was a spiritual element in the company, of a very decided character. Besides regular service on the Sabbath, two weekly prayer meetings, a Bible class and evening worship were held, all public, and attended by officers and crew. Special influence was imparted by the missionaries to the unconverted aboard. A nightly "protracted" meeting was held, and several of them were brought to Christ. Likewise, the studies commenced in the little Burman-Karen school at Hamilton were here resumed. Messrs. Wade, Howard and Vinton, and their wives, gave attention to the Karen language; Messrs. Comstock, Dean and Osgood, with their wives, and Miss Gardner, to the Burman. In all these things who were the master spirits, if not Mr. and Mrs. Wade, of ten years' experience in Burmah, and of strong natural character? Yet who less disposed to make themselves prominent?
The Cashmere arrived in safety at Amherst, Burmah, on December 6, after a voyage of one hundred and fifty-seven days, exceeding by forty days the time anticipated. Although belated, the ship experienced no accidents and only slight gales, and the passengers were shut in their cabins very little.
Go, worlds! said God, but learn ere ye depart, My favored temple is an humble heart; Therein to dwell I leave my loftiest skies. There shall my holy of all holies rise. PHILIP JAMES BAILEY.
A new era in the history of the Wades now begins. The first decade was fraught with much sickness and repeated vicissitudes on land and on sea. A year at home had restored their health and inspired them with the hope that now they might endure the climate, while their experience with the natives had acquainted them with the best and the worst to be expected from them.
There was occasion for a new division of labor. While the recruits imparted joy throughout the lines, their coming also caused the older missionaries to lift up their eyes anew, and to be more fully aroused to the demands of the whitened fields.
Mr. Mason, after the death of Mr. Boardman, had toiled alone at Tavoy, and Mr. Wade now went to his assistance. "He had seen," says Mr. Wade, "the harvest ripening around him much faster than he, single-handed, could reap and gather in the sheaves. He had uttered, long and loud, the Macedonian cry, yet no help came. He had despairingly concluded that he must continue to toil alone, when he heard that we had arrived in Maulmein and were coming to Tavoy. He came out several miles to meet us, and welcomed us with the bursting of a full heart, like one who finds help when the last lingering hope has died away; and for weeks he ceased not, in his prayers, to thank God with tears for our coming."
The region of country which had been entered by those valiant missionaries, Boardman and Mason, and which now was to become the arena of the Wades, is a tract of indefinite measurement, extending many hundred miles along the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. It touches Burmah on the north and reaches the sea on the south, and embraces many heathen tribes, among which are the Karens--Sgau and Pwo Karens, for whose salvation the best of the days of Mr. and Mrs. Wade were devoted. Mr. Mason, a man of searching mind and tireless energy, took pains to learn the antecedents of the people, the geographical features of the country, and the elements of its animate nature, and concerning these he wrote extensively. Referring to his writings, a few paragraphs will aid the reader to an understanding of the character of the region which became the field in which the Wades sowed and reaped. He says:
An unbroken range of mountains east of Tavoy runs north and south from Maulmein to Mergui. On the east side of this water-shed I found a large river running southward, but no one could tell where it emptied. It is formed by two considerable streams, one coming from the north, and the other from the south, uniting a few miles north of the latitude of Tavoy. Here at their junction were the remains of an old fortified town, but when built or by whom inhabited the Karens had no traditions to relate. The locality being high and healthful, and access to the country in every direction, by water, being easy, I induced a large number of the Christian Karens to come and form a village here, which we named Matah "love." It is still a considerable village, with rows of fruit-bearing cocoa-nut trees, the seeds of which I planted with my own hands.
The river descending from Matah, which I found to be the Tenasserim, I traced from near its source in the highest mountain of Tavoy, some five thousand feet high, to its mouth, where it falls into the sea south of Mergui. The latitude of the head waters is south of the mouth of Tavoy river, but it runs northerly for forty miles to Matah, and thereafter, being joined by its branch from the north, turns round to the south-east, and descending southerly it reaches the old city of Tenasserim, where it turns westward and falls into the sea by several mouths south of Mergui, and one north of the town, forming Mergui island I went down it all the way on bamboo rafts, and the descent occupied three weeks. I sat on the raft with a pocket-compass that some kind friend had given me, whose name I have forgotten--but the deed is immortal--and marked on paper every bend of the river from its source to its mouth, and it is almost as crooked as the Jordan.
The Tenasserim is a beautiful river, with numerous rapids, on descending some of which we took our baggage off the rafts, and carried it down to the foot of the falls by land, sending the rafts over empty. Weary of this slow process, I tried the experiment, once, of going over without unloading, but I did not try it twice. When we got among the rocks and foaming waters the raft rolled over, upside down, and threw us all off. However, we contrived to seize the bamboos and were all carried down safely to the deep eddies below, from which, having extricated ourselves, we reached shallow water and righted the raft, and having taken the precaution to tie all the baggage on, nothing was lost.
In three weeks after their arrival in the country, Mr. and Mrs. Wade, with Miss Gardner, were at Tavoy, preparing to work. By the close of another week Mr. Mason, who had been preparing for his annual tour through the Karen jungle, together with Mr. and Mrs. Wade, set out to accomplish a journey full of promise to the natives and of great gratification to themselves. It was made on foot, and all the clothes, bedding, eatables, dishes and cooking utensils were carried in baskets, on men's shoulders. Provision was made for carrying Mrs. Wade in a chair, when she could no longer walk, by tying poles to its arms.
The first night was spent at a small Christian village, on the Tavoy side of the mountains, where, though greatly fatigued, they were much refreshed by the cordiality of the villagers, nearly all of whom were professedly Christians, and with whom, joined by some from a neighboring village, they had a most delightful evening service. Here, also, they passed the next day, the Sabbath, all remaining to enjoy the worship.
Resuming their journey on the third day, they arrived at noon at the memorable spot where Mr. Boardman performed his last missionary labor. It was in the midst of a howling wilderness; yet, as they rested near, the spirit of the departed seemed to come back and to urge and encourage them, by the rewards he had already attained, to work while the day lasted and not be weary in well doing. Toward sunset they resumed their march and continued it until nightfall, when they encamped beside a precipitous stream, a full day's journey from the dwellings of men. The porters set up their small tent, spread the beds on the ground beneath it, and cooked the food. For themselves, having no cooking pots or dishes, they cut joints of bamboo and in them boiled their rice, roasted their dried fish on the fire, and ate from large leaves as plates.
Supper ended, they gathered dry wood and placed it in piles around the encampment and fired it, as a protection from tigers and other ferocious beasts. During the night the yell of a tiger occasionally startled the sleepers, but the Karen disciples said, "Don't be afraid, mamma; we are sleeping all around the tent, and if the tigers take any they will take us." Then they said among themselves: "We have often traveled with teacher Mason in the jungle, and the tigers have never taken any one yet. It is not so with other companies sleeping in the jungle. No doubt God sends the angels to watch around the camp of the teachers. No doubt they are around us now, though we can't see them." "Yes," said another, "and ever since the English have governed the country the tigers do not seem so ferocious as they were when the Burmans governed it. Then the tigers would catch people traveling through the jungle in the daytime. They fear the English because they are upright and worship the true God."
Next morning, striking tent, they proceeded toward Matah, their destination. At mid-day they tented from the scorching sun, more than half a day's journey from Matah; and while resting were visited by a large number of Christian Karens from that village, who had come out to meet them. They remained with the missionaries through the day and night, and next morning escorted them into the town, carrying part of their luggage. They were reinforced at intervals all the way from their lodging place of the night previous, by company after company of Karens, both men and women; so that by noon, the time of arrival, more than a hundred, or nearly all the inhabitants, composed the escort. Their artless affection, expressed by words and actions, the melody of their Christian songs, as they wended their way, single file, through the jungle, charmed away the fatigue of a three days' journey. It was a joyous prophecy of the time when one song shall employ all nations.
Matah (originally Matamya), signifying "city of love," is situated in a picturesque valley, or mountain cut, and Mr. Mason said concerning it, "If it be worth a voyage across the Atlantic to see the Shenandoah run through the Blue Ridge, surely a voyage round the world would be amply repaid by a Sabbath spent in this valley." And speaking of the moral renovation that had taken place (1835), he says: "What wonders God has wrought for this region in five or six short years. When brother Boardman came out hither there was not a sober individual, male or female, in the jungle, or one who was not in the habit of making offerings to nats--demons. Now I sit with a hundred consistent Christians within call, that have not drunk spirituous liquors for years. Then the idea that they would have books in their own language was associated with tigers laying aside their fierceness. Now I have a Sabbath-school of thirty-nine children and youth, able to read their own books and give intelligent answers in respect to their contents."
Mr. Mason following Mr. Boardman, had broken ground and planted seed in this moral wilderness, and the fruits of his toil were now appearing. Into his labors Mr. and Mrs. Wade were permitted to enter, and all were now rejoicing together; no one more heartily glad than Mrs. Wade. To her, possessed of all womanly instincts and fineness of nature, it was a severe tax to scale mountains and thread by-paths--the only woman in the company, and frequently ill. The journey was made on foot because a horse could not travel the jungles through which it lay, and only where the path was a little better than usual could the natives carry her in the chair. Much of the way the company proceeded single file. It was a day of romance, as it now appears, but one of flesh-and-bone reality to those who passed through it. Sometimes there was no path at all. For a long way they were obliged to step from one stone to another, in a stream of water. Then, in ascending mountains, they must proceed slowly and stop frequently, having not only to climb sleep places but often to walk on the very edges of awful precipices, two or three hundred feet high. What must this have been to a woman of Mrs. Wade's sensibilities!
The reception at Matah, by the disciples, compensated for the weariness of travel by its whole-souled cordiality. As soon as they had exchanged salutations and seen the missionaries comfortably seated in the rude bungalow, and on the mats provided for them, they dispersed, and on every side was heard the sound of rice mortars. After a time they returned, bringing rice, eggs, sweet potatoes (or yams), wood, water--everything they had that was supposed to be of use to their guests. Then those having ailments came for medicine; others to talk about religion, and tell of their joys and sorrows, temptations and deliverances, delinquencies and reforms since the last visit from the teacher. At evening, at the beating of the gong, all came together for public worship; and after that the voice of praise and prayer was heard in their houses until midnight.
Now that the end of their outward trip has been reached, shall not the missionaries have a rest? They have found a village of Christians--"first fruits of Asia unto Christ" (this part of it)--may they not build a tabernacle here and sit together in heavenly places with them for a while? Ah! there are unnumbered places in heathendom as degraded as was this before Boardman and Mason lifted up their voices in the wilderness, and they must not stop to drink the sweets of Christian fellowship when there is so much to be done. They will provide watchcare and training for the disciples in Matah, and also for special evangelization in other parts. But this course involved division of labor, which meant division of their small forces.
Only three days for communing together, for rest, counsel and preparation, and Mr. and Mrs. Wade separate for a season, for the furtherance of the Gospel. They are now at the confluence of the two streams that form the picturesque Tenasserim, which flows nearly southward. It was planned that brethren Mason and Wade should descend this river, some days' journey, and undertake a work similar to that which had been so successful in this region, and on the morning of the third day after arriving at Matah they were in readiness to depart. The missionaries had "a solemn season of prayer by themselves, and then again with the Karens," after which, all went down to the river, where Mr. Wade and Mr. Mason, with about twenty Karens from the village, embarked on their bamboo rafts. They expected to preach the Gospel in all the Karen villages between Matah and Mergui, the Karens assisting.
Mrs. Wade was to perform missionary duty at Matah alone. No sooner were the men gone than was she performing the functions of teacher, expounder and leader. The Karens built a large zayat near her dwelling, and on one side of it hung a little gong, which was beat every evening soon after sunset, when about one hundred men, women and children assembled to listen to her instructions. Taking her seat in the midst of them, she would read from the Bible, explaining the connection and drawing the practical lessons. Then they would sing one of their hymns and offer prayer. They asked her to preach to them; she replied that "God had not appointed women to preach," but that she would sit down with them and would explain the precious words of the Savior. Next morning an unusually large number assembled, and many followed her home and kept her engaged in answering questions on the New Testament until four o'clock, when the young came together for Sunday-school. How beautiful the feet of her who brought the good tidings!
Mrs. Wade administered to their bodies as well as to their souls. It was a very sickly time when they came to Matah, and in less than one week she had ten to fifteen patients requiring daily treatment; yet, in the midst of her efforts to save them she was disposed to reproach herself for "fearing to have them leave this world of sin and temptation and go to the bosom of their Savior." She fought the drink demon, which appeared in visitors from other villages, and at the same time led the victims to Christ.
A fall through an old broken bamboo floor crippled her for a time, so that she was obliged to send to the sick or to receive them at her home. Meantime the work at the zayat went on, the services being attended by one hundred and fifty and more. The Lord provided helpers. One of the most influential native Christians, for example, voluntarily spent a whole day in going from house to house, warning the impenitent and stirring up his brethren to more zeal and diligence. Three others went out on a hunting excursion, taking tracts and seeking opportunities to impress Gospel truth upon the natives, amidst opposition and contempt. They were joined by some who ridiculed them for asking a blessing at meals, and reviled them for carrying books which, as they declared, prevented the finding of game. The disciples proved faithful, however, declaring that if God did not send game they were content to go home without it. Very soon they discovered and shot a rhinoceros, and before night another. The revilers were impressed and promised to visit the Christians at Matah.
After one month of toil Mrs. Wade felt compelled to exclaim, "What hath God wrought!" Temperance sentiment had become universal; no one would dare to distill a drop of spirits, or to bring any to the village for sale, the penalty being immediate expulsion from the precinct. There was also a reformation in house-keeping, peculiarly gratifying to her, as she said: "None but those acquainted with the miserable, filthy habits of these heathen nations can sympathize in the joy with which we witness improvements of this kind."
After six weeks of separation Mr. Wade returned to the "city of love." The itinerant came in from his tour of tract distribution and preaching along the Tenasserim, and by way of Tavoy, and found what few men are permitted to find, that evangelizing and other good work had been performed in his absence by his good wife, and with decided success. He "arrived in fine health, notwithstanding the fatigues and hardships to which he had been exposed, sleeping on the ground almost every night, and often traveling all day on foot under the hot sun." His soul had prospered still more, and now he reaches the acme of joy as he finds a large number of rejoicing converts, ready to profess Christ. The work of examination is begun, and the notes of the missionaries show that there was a painstaking conscientiousness worthy of imitation. Mr. Wade says:
"Every evening we had meetings for this purpose. The voting was by ballot. None were received except by a unanimous vote, and no young person who had not learned to read, no one who would not promise total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, no one who would not promise to observe all the rules of Bible morality, no one who could not give a reason of his hope according to the principles of grace through Christ Jesus. After the examination of the candidates for baptism came the examination of the church members preparatory to the Lord's Supper. This took several evenings. Every one was questioned personally, and his conduct since the last communion thoroughly investigated. If any delinquency appeared that could not be rectified at the time, he must sit aside until he could bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
* * *
The church members seem to feel that coming to the table of the Lord is a peculiar privilege. If they have not been able to attend the preparatory meetings, they beg leave to speak on the Sabbath before they come to the table. On Saturday before the Communion, or, if detained, on Sabbath morning, they all, young and old, male and female, brought forward their mites to aid the missionary cause."
Alluding to the Sabbath, Mrs. Wade says, in her journal:
"This has been one of the happiest days of my whole life. The morning was spent in examining candidates; the afternoon in a kind of church conference, until the cool of the day, when we had a short service. We then repaired to the beautiful banks of the Tenasserim, where twenty-five lovely converts were buried with Christ in its crystal waters. The assembly was large, the singing animated and melodious, and the scenery around most romantic and delightful. Surely it was one of those scenes in which angels love to mingle.
* * *
At early candle-light we came together around the table of our Lord, to commemorate his dying love. We had but one case of discipline, and she seemed so sincerely penitent she was most cordially forgiven. The season was one of uncommon interest and tenderness of soul, as we were tomorrow to leave these dearly beloved brethren and sisters."
The next day, after a farewell meeting with the church, at daybreak, at which provisions for the march were presented and many tears were shed, the missionaries set out on their return to Tavoy, accompanied by about fifty Karens, men and women. After a fatiguing journey, and much suffering from a burning sun and want of water by the way, they arrived safely and in good health at Tavoy. The wet season was approaching, and they must do their work in town.
Ah! Genius burns like a blazing star, And Fame has a honeyed urn to fill; But the good deed done for love, not fame, Like the water-cup in the Master's name, Is something more precious still. SUSAN COOLIDGE.
It is now midsummer, and the missionaries are water-bound at Tavoy; yet the work they find there is plentiful, and promises great gains to the Karens and the cause of missions. The children at Matah had promised to come to town and learn to read during the wet season, and within six weeks from the time of separating from them they appear in numbers that exceeded the highest anticipations. They crowded the accommodations provided. Setting out from home for the first time in their lives, and without any conveyance whatsoever, they travel on foot a distance of thirty to forty miles, through a wilderness infested by tigers and other wild beasts, ford the swollen streams, carry their provision of food and lodging, and spend one night in the forest without shelter. "When they arrived it was near night," wrote Mr. Wade, "and they had endured the fatigue of a long day's walk. They came up in Indian file, each one having a basket slung from the shoulders like a knapsack, or from the head. Their limbs were indeed weary, but their countenances glowed with delight when they saw the missionaries whom they had sometimes seen in their native jungle." They together comprised all the children of Matah; some of them inquirers of the way to eternal life.
With what supreme delight Mrs. Wade pursued the avocation of teacher can be learned only from reading her letters and diaries. The custom of supporting pupils had already arisen in this country, and she had no small task in assigning names to them. She protests, and in a way to cause American Christians to inquire whether the motive justifies the effort to write their own names on the foreheads of heathen children. She says: "Our patrons ought to know that naming children causes a great deal of trouble and perplexity, and takes much precious time which we wish to devote to the poor perishing souls around us." She gives a large number of names, embracing distinguished men and women of the denomination fifty years ago, adding: "I wish our friends in America to understand that the naming is merely nominal, as we never call them by their English names, nor do they even know that they have received such names."
While Mrs. Wade's time was altogether taken up in the school, Mr. Wade applied himself to the study of the Karen, and in preparing and revising books in that language; and yet neither of them for a moment overlooked the spiritual interests of the pupils and people. All work was made subsidiary to the Gospel, and during the entire summer the Karens were taught the way of life in a direct manner, and often was there great joy in Tavoy as the result of the conversion of souls.
In November of same year (1835) Mr. and Mrs. Wade, with some Burman and Karen assistants, made another evangelizing tour along the Tavoy river, southward, distributing tracts and preaching and teaching from the boat at all the villages on the east side. They occupied the boat for lodging, and on the fifth day came their old obstacle--bad weather. "How little do our friends, in their quiet homes in our dear native land," runs his journal, "know what it is to traverse this wide and dreary world, through raging seas, or the tiger-haunted jungle, to proclaim a Savior to these poor, dark heathen!"
Being compelled to return to Tavoy, in a few days they started again in the same direction, designing to work on the west side of the river. They had some difficulty, but returned in a little less than a week, quite well satisfied with their tour of visitation, having visited twelve villages, and found a general readiness for the Gospel, and in many cases great eagerness for tracts.
Early in December, the rains being past, they went again to the well-remembered field at Matah. The journey was a most fatiguing one. Mr. Wade, as usual, walked all the way, while Mrs. Wade was carried part of the way on a litter, by four men. In crossing the mountains she was obliged to walk eight or ten consecutive miles. As before, the Christians, learning of their coming, came out three or four miles to meet them, in large companies; and their joy caused the weary almost to forget their weariness. A new bamboo cottage had been erected for them in the center of the town. The zayat was at once crowded with worshipers, and in a few days the leading members brought in the names of eighteen candidates for baptism, and they received the ordinance. The Karen Christians met in the new cottage to consecrate it to the Lord, saying that they built it for no worldly purpose but to receive their teachers, and that they might learn more about the Savior who died for them.
The year at Tavoy closed with a record of sixty baptisms, and a Karen boarding-school of sixty scholars for five months, under Mrs. Wade, with a number of schools under others. The home station and all the outstations had received marked tokens of God's favor. They therefore had the exhilaration that comes from success when they went again to Matah.
The year 1836 opened most auspiciously to the missionaries. On the first Sabbath, after a succession of ten meetings, in which all the members gave "the state of their minds" and received instructions, baptism was again administered, and the Lord's Supper observed by two hundred native Christians. Then Mr. Wade and several of the Karen disciples left for Tavoy, with a view to visiting the Yeh, or Ya Karens, below that city. Mrs. Wade was left alone at Matah, with all and much more than the duties usual to a mission resting upon her; worship to conduct, maternal association to manage, assistants to advise--"Christian Endeavor" members who were about to set out for distant villages, "two and two"--evening Bible study to direct, sickness and funerals claiming her attention as physician, nurse and spiritual guide, and large prayer-meetings before daylight in her care. Such responsibilities were borne in her husband's absence, which continued for five weeks. She entertained the deepest sympathy with her work and the subjects of it. Though sensitive to filth, she conceived an affection for the filthy, and often speaks of them as "lovely."
After Mr. Wade's return to Matah they continued their excessive labors there until the 10th of March; held a "protracted meeting," and carried forward the instruction of young men who were to become assistant preachers, as a part of their work. Finally, after more than three months' sojourn, they go back to Tavoy, leaving in Matah a membership of two hundred and thirty, all in good standing. They fought the drink demon in order to secure conversions, but were not troubled with it afterward. All the Karens, before becoming Christians, make and drink ardent spirits, but they renounce it entirely on being baptized, so that the churches were all strictly temperance churches.
The arrival of Rev. Howard Malcom, as deputy of the Board in America, required the attention of the missionaries, particularly as a Conference was called at Maulmein to consider some questions of work and policy. This meeting required the presence of Mr. Wade. Meantime, and very soon after the return from Matah, Mrs. Wade organized some itinerary work for the parts adjacent to Tavoy; Mr. Abbott, a recent recruit of the missionary force, consenting to accompany her. The first point to be visited was Toung Byouk, about three days' journey south and east. Proceeding down the Tavoy river, across the little bay and up the Toung Byouk river, they passed the second night in a little village, and told its inhabitants about Jesus. Next day, after contending with rocks and rapids, encountering peril, they reached their landing place, and at evening made known the way of salvation to the people. The following morning they set out on foot for the Karen villages, and after a fatiguing walk over a high and cragged mountain they reached Toung Byouk at about noon.
There were a few disciples here, and they were kind-hearted and glad to welcome their visitors. Two families had come three days' journey to meet them, the wives desiring instruction and baptism; and a young woman had come eight or ten miles for the same purpose. The duty of examining them rested mainly upon Mrs. Wade; she deemed them fit subjects, and they were received and baptized. Mr. Abbott left soon, in order to attend the Maulmein Conference. Mrs. Wade remained, with the assistants that came with her, and who made excursions to various villages and sowed the seed of the Kingdom. As before, she gained the affections of the Christians and was accompanied by them as far as to the river, on returning to Tavoy.
Another dry season comes, and another scattering of the missionary force takes place. Matah was too important an interest to be neglected, and the districts south and east were presenting a great, open field for renewed and new work. Mr. and Mrs. Wade were such important workers, and so needful to every movement, that it seemed like sparing one of them from a needy cause to unite them anywhere. Either of them could "man" a department of the field, hence they generally operated separately during the dry season, when the outposts were to be occupied. Miss Gardner, too, who came over the ocean with them, had become of great value to the cause at Tavoy, and thus was qualified also to go abroad and do special service.
Late in November Mr. Wade visits Ya, on the south-west, accompanied by Miss Gardner, who was to instruct the Burmans and Talings while he should labor with the Karens. The town was a walled city, built on high land, giving an extended and a delightful view of the semicircular chain of mountains beyond, on three sides, and of the sea on the west. The moral aspects of the place, only, were dark and cheerless. It was true of it, as of other heathen localities, that
"Every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile."
But the pagodas were going to decay, and, notwithstanding the claims of their votaries to the contrary, the idolatry thus symbolized was declining also. A neighboring town gave him a hearty welcome, and several were received and baptized. Returning to Ya, another but ineffectual attempt was made to reach the hearts of the people, when the embassadors of Christ retraced their steps to Tavoy. A few days later, taking Mrs. Mason for an assistant, Mr. Wade made a trip to Toung Byouk, three days' journey, where he found a few devout Christians and was much refreshed by their interest in the cause.
Meantime Mrs. Wade, with Mr. Mason's assistance, was carrying on the work at Matah, in the usual way and with the usual results, and thus closed the year 1836 with the laborers of the Tavoy mission. They had much to rejoice over, for prosperity had crowned their efforts.
The new year opened auspiciously. It being the dry season, the itinerant and other work could go forward at all the points. Mrs. Wade was still busy at Matah, and was gladdened by the coming of Mr. Wade and Miss Gardner from their circuit among the hills; and all the village rejoiced to see them and to hear the good news they brought from other and distant villages. After two months of constant traveling it was very refreshing to Mr. Wade to meet his wife and the dear Christians at Matah. But he was obliged soon to go to Tavoy, and while there to renew the thatch on his house and the school-houses, preparatory to the rains; also, to open the theological school there.
Mrs. Wade had made much advance in her department. A new zayat was found to be necessary, for the old one, though holding about five hundred, was entirely inadequate. The members at first thought of hiring Burmans from Tavoy to build it, as they could finish it handsomely, but finally concluded that it would be more pleasing to God to have it built by Christians. They set up the corner-post with special prayer, and performed the work of erection with feelings of consecration and continuous supplication. Assistants had been sent out with Mr. Mason, while eight from her Bible class, one of the deacons and two others had been appointed as preachers and school teachers for distant villages. A similar provision for the home work, during the rainy season, was also made. There had been thirty-four baptisms at Matah during the year, and some at other places adjacent.
And now--middle of March--the time had come for the return to Tavoy. All assembled to commemorate the Savior's dying love; there being "three hundred dear Karen converts." "It was a season to be remembered," says Mrs. Wade--"a little foretaste of the blessed 'thousand years.' In the evening all the inhabitants of Matah, together with many from the surrounding villages, assembled to receive our parting counsel and bid us farewell. The large, new zayat was nearly full, and the expression of sorrow for our departure, on every countenance, was deeply affecting to our hearts."
The hearts of the missionaries lingered at Matah. There was better success, more cordiality and complete Christian friendship there than at Tavoy. The assembly there contained hundreds, to tens here; yet the Tavoyers had received more means of grace, more books, more access to missionaries than the Karens.
When, at the close of this year, 1837, the favorable season had come, Mrs. Wade returned to her "love"--the work in the "city of love." As heretofore, the urgency of the case required husband and wife to leave their home and go apart. But she was accompanied in her long and dreary walk, made specially difficult by illness, by the faithful Christians at Matah; on the last day one party after another came out to meet and welcome her. She found the mission-house refitted, according to the highest ideal of the Karen mind, with a little garden enclosed; the school-house fitted up also, and the chapel clean, and occupied every night for meeting.
The school had been left during the rains in the hands of two pious young Karens, who had done their work exceedingly well. The Pwo Karens were obliged to learn from manuscript, there being no printed books in their dialect. The Sgau Karens had new books in their language. The meetings had increased in interest, and a number were awaiting baptism. But, on the other hand, there was much sickness, and Mrs. Wade had twenty to thirty of the sick to attend daily.
After being on the ground for a month, performing double and treble duty, as teacher, physician and nurse, Mr. Wade arrived. The fever, at first prevailing, raged for a time, and then the cholera, with equally sweeping and fatal ravages, removing many of the disciples to the painless and sinless land.
Mr. Wade gave his time to ministering to the suffering, not going away on his usual work, even for a day. His own health was not very good, inasmuch as his old disease was still lingering, yet he hoped for improvement. He had given up the charge of the theological school at Tavoy and it was removed to Maulmein. He had, however, just made a tour of visitation to the villages on the Tavoy river, above and below Tavoy, with the intrepid Kincaid as a companion. He was in such danger of helpless prostration from his old malady that he did not venture on a journey alone.
Toward the first of April, but not until the cholera had begun to abate and the rains already had commenced, the missionaries returned to Tavoy. The season at Matah was filled with more arduous labors and more distressing anxieties than any yet spent there. The natives could not treat the cholera, and as the most prompt attention was the only hope of saving the patients, the missionaries required the attendants to call for them at any time of day or night. Such assiduity, in view of the number of the sufferers, almost wore them out, yet they were happy in the precious opportunity of thus serving Christ in the persons of his members.
The summer was a most delightful one at Tavoy, the laborers being in unusual health, and the school being unusually prosperous. Mr. Wade put to press portions of the Scriptures in Pwo and Sgau Karen, and Mrs. Wade wrote a Biblical Catechism. The number of Karen pupils was unprecedented--eighty; of whom twenty were preparing to be teachers or preachers. Instruction was given in the truths of religion, and Mrs. Wade wrote: "Never before have we had a school which gave us equal pleasure."
At the cessation of the rains the school at Tavoy closed, and after the customary vacation, or about the first of December, Mr. and Mrs. Wade again go up to Matah. The families had been scattered by the cholera, yet the church was in fair condition, and the school re-assembled on the approach of Mrs. Wade, with a full attendance. She now had better qualified aids than previously. The parents of the scholars provided the school-house and outfit, and the Tavoy Missionary Society paid the teachers and the native pastor most cheerfully; while the numerous accessions from neighboring villages were supported by families in Matah. With these supports her mind was more free for distinctively spiritual work. It was her practice to call one class after another to her room, daily, where she catechised and conversed with them concerning the interests of their souls, and then prayed for their immediate conversion. When the time came for the return to Tavoy the most of the pupils followed, and there the same course of soul-winning was pursued, and with cheering success.
With the dawn of the year 1840 the missionaries began to consider questions of location and health with more thoroughness than at any former time; and with these, the matter of improved facilities for cultivating the soil and doing general handiwork. Matah, with its pleasant associations, natural and religious, was regarded as an unhealthy place; and to urge the Christians to remain there excited their distrust. In case special medical aid was demanded in the rainy season, no one could go to or come out from Tavoy. And it seemed exceedingly desirable to have the Karen settlement removed to a place which might be reached in any season, wet or dry. So few were the people's belongings, they could make or unmake a town in a day.
The Christians at Ya, receiving the spirit of enterprise from the missionaries, had formed a new village at the head waters of the Tavoy river, and many of them during this year had removed thither. These had tasted of knowledge in their old home, and naturally desired a continuance of instruction in the new, and it was furnished them. When Mr. and Mrs. Wade visited the place, those still residing in the former village, hearing of them, hastened across the mountains to meet them. Their number, twenty-two, was increased by baptisms; and subsequently all the Christian families of Ya were added to the new settlement.
The next year Mrs. Wade took charge of all the interests at Matah, as before, teaching and holding meetings for conference and prayer with the women. Inquirers, conversions and baptisms was the record of the fruits. Mr, Wade, meantime, perambulated the jungles in the work of evangelization; and in addition to this familiar labor he spent a part of the dry season in looking out a location for a new Christian village. It was no part of the project to exclude those not Christians. It was merely intended to give the converts the advantages of a healthful situation; then, with school privileges and stated labors in the Gospel they would be in a physical, mental and spiritual condition to apply themselves to the work of saving souls. A place was desired in which the missionaries might spend the rainy season without serious exposure to jungle fever.
The point decided upon was on the Tavoy river, a few miles above the city. A few families early moved to the place, and in a short time had proofs of its healthfulness, above that of Burman villages above and below. It was named Newburg--a distinctively American name. In order to effect a beginning, Mr. Wade was obliged to assist the families in moving, building materials, paddy, various seeds for their plantations, farming utensils, cattle, etc. He says: "Without such assistance no beginning could be made, because their former residence was beyond the mountains, and having to carry everything on their own backs, the transportation of necessary supplies was quite out of the question. This assistance I have rendered out of my own allowance."
This movement for a new village, and the experiences following, gave some diversity to the annual changes, which had become quite uniform. It altered the old and added some new paths. It shortened and cheapened the routes, and gave variety to work, even though among the same people. Thus, in 1841, at the close of the rains, Mr. and Mrs. Wade went up to the new village, and, after a short time, continued to ascend the river to the settlement of the Ya Karens, with whom they passed two Sabbaths, baptizing twelve. On returning to Newburg, Mrs. Wade took charge of the school there and Mr. Wade proceeded to Matah, by way of Tavoy, stopping on the way to visit a branch of that church. He received the usual evidences of cordiality and affection; the members not only coming out miles to meet him, but, likewise, on his arrival, furnishing him eatables, drawing water, bringing wood, and doing other thoughtful kindnesses. Both of the ordinances would have been administered had the health of Mr. Wade admitted of the service.
The state of health of these laborious servants of Christ had not been established since the diseases before mentioned first attacked them. They sometimes were quite well, but not for long periods. Affection of the liver seemed confirmed, and, hence, various disorders were expected and experienced. Fever also was one of the institutions of the country, and to it they were constantly subject. On account of it, Mrs. Wade could not accompany her husband in the fatiguing overland journey just mentioned. He, feeling better than usual, was prostrated on reaching his work, and became so extremely ill as to alarm the Karens, who carried him home on a litter.
The church at Matah in 1842 numbered three hundred and twenty in good standing, besides all who had died, and about a dozen accepted for baptism and awaiting an administrator. Mrs. Wade, in alluding to it at the time, wrote: "Many of the members of this church have not seen a missionary's face for about two years, nor has the church enjoyed the blessed ordinance of the Lord's Supper during that long period; but it is extremely uncertain with regard to my being able to visit them this season; and there is no question with regard to Mr. Wade's duty in traveling alone. The churches which have entered into this good work among the Karens ought to recollect that we have been now nearly twenty years employed as their missionaries, and that ours has been a long life for India; that we are now (though in the prime of life) almost worn out, and looking for our summons to the home of the weary pilgrim."
It did seem that, held under the relentless grip of disease, they might expect an early release in some way; yet could they have forecasted the future they would have seen the larger part of their term of service to the heathen still before them. How weary the sight of the long way might have made them! How wise in the Father to hide their burdens from their view!
One of the trying circumstances of their work was the uncertainty attending the settlements of the Karens. These people were volatile creatures, easily moved. Various causes of change existed almost continually; particularly the annoyance occasioned by the proximity of the Burmans, or the breaking out of an epidemic. The town of Matah had elements of permanence, yet the cholera frightened away many of its inhabitants, and gave rise to other ephemeral hamlets. The settlers of Newburg were distressed by fear of the Burmans living about Tavoy, and they moved up the river and formed a part of New Village, or Wathau, where they were joined by some from Matah and Toung Byouk. Placing little value on property, the Karens would sell gardens and orchards for mere nothing in their anxiety to remove; sometimes the object being to go where bamboo and thatch were more plenty, or some relative lived.
On visiting Wathau, Mr. and Mrs. Wade found a temporary zayat erected for them. There they continued a week, holding evening meetings for lectures and for examination of candidates, preparatory to the Lord's Supper; and there they baptized. Going thence to Ya, they spent two weeks in daily meetings, examining and instructing members and administering the ordinances. The Christians at Wathau held their membership here. The liberality of the church was such as to call forth special commendation. Had American Baptists been equally liberal they would have contributed two millions of dollars annually; or, at the present time, eight millions. According to means, much more. And so it has ever been to this day.
A visit to Matah, just after the above, was equally gratifying. Ten were baptized, and the entire membership examined as to their walk since last visited. Then came the same gratifying evidence of benevolence shown by the Ya church. If any people ever were justified in devoting their means to the support of religion in their own midst, and were entitled to praise for benevolence in so doing, certainly the Karens were; yet they seemed to understand the claims of the cause, and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. "A contribution to the funds of the Tavoy Mission Society, established in 1835, having been proposed, nearly all the members of the Matah church, several not members, and numbers of children, some in their mother's arms, threw their respective mites into the box. In almost every instance each member of a family contributed his or her mite separately; as it showed that the parents had instructed their children upon the duty of benevolence, and had furnished them the means of carrying their instruction into practice." Such an exhibition of cultivated charity was rare in America at that day, and it is still rare.
At Matah the congregation numbered two hundred and fifty at this visit; the communicants, one hundred and fifty, notwithstanding that the body of the church was scattered over an area whose extremities were at least twelve miles apart. At Tavoy, in 1842, was established The Morning Star, the oldest native newspaper in Farther India; a product of missionary culture, and an instrumentality to its further promotion. Thus we have a chapter recounting the grace of God upon the people, and full of promise of still greater things.
I thank thee, Lord, for every saddest cross; Gain comes to us through loss. The while we go, Blind travelers holding by the wall of time, And seeking out through woe The things that are eternal and sublime. ALICE CARY.
Another year brings its vicissitudes. The health of the missionaries becomes more and more precarious. Some one looking on speaks of Mrs. Wade as being in steady and unalterable decline, and of the end as near. She, however, was hoping for improvement, and using the strength that remained in prosecuting her work. She is taken elsewhere for a change of air, and by this diversion she and her husband become useful in new circumstances and in unexpected ways.
In the winter of 1843-4 they left Tavoy with the intention of going to Maulmein. On reaching Mergui, their first destination, (the vessel being obliged to go to that port,) they found a condition of things that was both critical and interesting. The Karens of the province were there in large numbers, on account of their connection with several cases in the Court, which were being investigated by the English officer. A great number of them were chiefs, and all of them persons of some importance among their countrymen. The missionaries of the place did not understand their dialect, and they persuaded Mr. Wade to remain a while and preach to them, it being found possible to bring them together daily for such a service. For more than a month he and the other missionaries had as much evangelistic work as they had strength to perform, while the circumstances in which these Karens were placed were peculiarly favorable for such labor, and nearly all of them "became decidedly favorable to Christianity." Some were converted; also many of the English.
The Commissioner having in charge the public business just mentioned needed an interpreter for the Karens in Court, and, as an inducement to Mr. Wade to remain, gave Mrs. Wade a passage to Maulmein and return, in his own vessel. Both felt that they might be most usefully employed here for a considerable period, and they were urged to stay, but the little churches in Tavoy demanded their care during the dry season, and with free transportation, provided also by the Commissioner, they return to that city and to their work in the jungles. And yet the time seemed to have come for a discontinuance of those jungle tours, especially by Mrs. Wade, for after illnesses repeated until they became constant, she could not climb mountains and spend nights on the ground as she had done. Nor was it essentially different with the husband; still, being a man, he would be expected to protract his endurance beyond hers.
The year 1846, and the twenty-third of their appointment, was drawing to a close. On Christmas Day Mr. Wade wrote a letter which, as reciting briefly the state of the outwork of the Tavoy Mission, and as foreshowing a change in his relations to it, and the shadow that might come upon it, marks a period somewhat new, and should be introduced here:
Yours of June 12th found me in the Karen jungle, visiting the churches on the headwaters of Tavoy river--Yaville and Newville. We enjoyed, as last year, a season of peculiar refreshing from the presence of the Lord at both places. Indeed, at the former the disciples seemed to have cherished the influences of the Holy Spirit then poured out upon them, and to have continued to feel his presence in their meetings during the whole year. No petty quarreling, one with another, no breaking of the Sabbath, no absenting themselves from worship, no foul language, (sins to which Karens are particularly addicted,) and no disorder of any kind was reported at our examination of the church members. At Newville they had not been so persevering in their attendance on public worship--some on account of illness, others because they lived at a distance, and some, no doubt, from a want of a warm Christian feeling--but God graciously poured out upon them his Holy Spirit, giving them contrite hearts, and they confessed and deplored those delinquencies with many tears. I held fifteen meetings at Yaville, and eighteen at Newville. At the former place nine were baptized, at the latter, seven.
These seasons were refreshing to my soul; but my physical system is no longer adequate to the fatigues and exposures connected with these jungle tours. Once I could endure it; I enjoyed it; my constitution was comparatively firm; but that day is now past; repeated attacks of disease, attended with excruciating pain, as the Board are aware, have broken my constitution and unfitted me for that kind of service which requires the strength and vigor of youth. What, then, is to be done? Must these churches be left as sheep in the wilderness without a shepherd?
"He knows it all"--an epigram that expresses a fact concerning God's watchful eye and disposing hand then, as in the recent day when it was penned. Mr. Wade had other work in hand, not less important nor less noble than direct soul-saving in the wilderness, and which led towards that. It was the compilation of a Karen dictionary, for which he had peculiar qualifications. Should he be frustrated in this, being variously and evenly gifted, there would still be a sphere for him. Service is not all nor always on the open field, nor is it necessarily limited to the alternative of the study.
Six months pass away and another and very serious cause of apprehension appears. He had complained of the condition of his eyes for quite a long time, and now his physician decides that he is suffering from a disease of the optic nerve that bodes total blindness. He is advised to take entire rest of mind, as well as of the eyes, and to seek a cold climate as the only course assuring recovery.
These were heavy orders to a captain of the Lord's host, who saw no substitute within command, while the land was full of enemies. And, then, which way should he turn for relief? The Himalaya mountains were suggested; but a flight to them would not take him out of India, nor be less expensive than a voyage home. Mrs. Wade, in her great love for the work, after recovering from frequent attacks of jungle fever, "indulged the fond hope of being permitted to spend their few remaining days in the midst of the eight hundred precious Karen disciples," a large part of whom were the fruit of their toils and prayers. But, discerning the signs and taking warning, must they not flee the country? Neither of them could do and endure as they had in the past.
His last journey to Matah was made by being borne in a chair, and the physician forbade her undertaking the tour. He had the usual glad reception by the Karens, who came out from the village to salute him by the way and to help him along. But where was she whom they, in simplicity and affection, called "Mamma"? "They bore the disappointment in silence, but their looks showed better than words could express, how truly and sincerely they loved her who had taken those long, wearisome journeys and climbed those rugged mountains eight years in succession, to teach them and their children the way to heaven."
Meantime the God of Missions was preparing a compensation for the disability of the missionaries. The jungles had yielded precious fruit as the reward of their toil, the best of which now appeared in the person of some extraordinary helpers. Two natives came forward, not obtrusively, but led of the Spirit and seemingly endued with power from on high--Aitee and Kaulapau, who prayed and preached in a most impressive manner. Then there was Paukootee, an assistant in the schools, who supplied the place that Mrs. Wade was unable now to fill, and who gave great satisfaction as a teacher. Mr. Wade, in mentioning the situation, supposing that he was about to take his final leave, said of the precious little band of disciples, "Ye are my joy and my crown."
Under Mr. Mason's labors a preacher had been raised up, who became noted in America as well as in Burmah for his extraordinary power and success. It was Sau Quala. His ordination was the first that took place among the Tavoy Karens; that of Kaulapau occurring the same year. The latter was left an orphan, when a child, and became a slave to a Burman. Sau Quala was first found in the niche of a pagoda, where he had been two days fasting and praying, as the priests had told him, that he might be happy after death. He heard of Christ; his heart was touched; he came down, followed the missionary home, stayed and listened till he found hope and peace in Christ, and then went forth to tell what great things the Lord had done for him. It is stated that he was "led to Christ by Ko Thah-byu's first sermon"; and, so, that flaming spirit and intrepid soldier of the Cross is credited with this trophy of divine grace. It was like him to find a man in a hole, for he was "a mighty hunter before the Lord."
The occasion to which all foreign missionaries of much experience must come was now reached by the Wades--the occasion for relinquishment of their labors and for return to their native land. The hope of rejoining the mission, in this as in other cases, was attended with some uncertainty of mind; the doubt being according to the virulence of disease and their time of life.
The homeward look is attended always with pain. There is in it a reversal of thought and feeling which is painful in proportion to the attachments formed in the East, the cost of heart required in first consenting to be a missionary, and the dislike of surrendering an espoused and progressing work. No plans are deeper laid than are his; and no surrender of work so thoroughly affects the whole being. Above all, the few sheep left in the wilderness--ah! they strain the very heart-strings.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade had been abroad nearly twenty-five years. Their only visit to America in 1833-4 was shortened when they saw the necessity for protracting it becoming less, and they gladly hastened from friends of their birth to foreigners made one with them in Christ. Scarcely had they re-entered the eastern clime ere the diseases of the country again began to prey upon them; nor would they relax their grip except for a season. One complaint made another possible; and though these missionaries held up bravely against every renewal of attack, consenting to be carried to the field when they could not march afoot, still there came a time when special discretion was the better part of valor and the chief assurance of ultimate success.
So long had both endured disease, and so enfeebled were they, that they hesitated to enter upon the fatigues of the long voyage to America. They doubted, too, as to the promised improvement of health, at their time of life, by the change of country and climate. Then, if they could not return, who would "take care of the sheep and lambs of the flock in the Karen wilds?" "Will it not be very discouraging to the friends of the mission to see us return a second time?" was the reflection of Mr. W., as he thought of meeting congregations composed very largely of persons of "weak hands," needing to be strengthened, and "feeble knees," needing to be confirmed.
However, the question was hardly debatable; so, laying aside sentiments of regret and misgivings, and that "confusion of face" which every truly sensitive person experiences in circumstances like the above, they made ready for embarkation to the United States. Not a small part of the preparation was the soothing of the minds of the native disciples, who could scarcely become reconciled to the event. Says Mr. Wade: "It was a mourning time. We mourned. Many of the Karen disciples came into town and mourned with us. Those who could not come in sent us mournful letters. We told them if we did not live, or were not able to come back, one or two new missionaries would be sent in our place. 'Ah,' said they, 'new missionaries will not understand our language; they will be strangers to us; they will not love us and care for us as you have done; you are our father and mother; if our father and mother go away, shall we ever see them again? Pray for us, that though separated on earth we may meet and live together in heaven.'"
It was a discouraging time as respects laborers, the number of whom was decreasing while the demand was increasing. Still, there was but one course for the Wades; so, giving the tremulous farewell hand, they turned their faces toward the setting sun.
The first stage of the journey was northward to Maulmein. Here they were detained four weeks for want of an opportunity to proceed; and though this detention will occasion a sigh in the present reader, in the days of the founders of missions travelers could not make haste, and patience had its perfect work. Besides, Mr. and Mrs. Wade had such an attachment for their chosen work that they were not very greatly lured by the pleasures of home; they "loved to linger on the missionary field." They left Maulmein December 22, 1847, via St. Helena.
In trying to depart they encountered difficulties as to transportation. There was the same old hatred of missionaries and the dislike to taking them as passengers. They wrote to Calcutta in regard to obtaining passage direct to the United States, and though two American passenger vessels were preparing to sail, their captains utterly refused to take invalid missionaries on any consideration; "for," it was alleged, "they should be annoyed all the voyage with efforts for their conversion!"
They finally engaged passage in an English ship, then loading in Maulmein with timber. Timber vessels were generally old and leaky, being unfit for other cargo, and though they were informed that this one was an exception, they soon found that it came under the rule. After a few days their customary experience at sea came on--storm, leakage, perils. Mr. Wade became fearfully depressed, feeling that the Lord was against the departure, and that he should certainly die at sea. But though the weather continued rough until they had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, it became fine thereafter, and by using the pumps day and night they reached the island of St. Helena with little or no loss.
A new and unexpected experience is here met, while they are waiting for a vessel direct to America. They brought letters of introduction from Dr. Judson to the American consul, and to Mr. Bertram, a Baptist minister, both of whom had so tenderly and fully ministered to him during the obsequies of Mrs. Judson, two years and over before. The home and help of the consul were at once placed at their command. Mr. Bertram not only welcomed them heartily, but also insisted that they must remain a while and aid in harvesting the souls for whom God was pouring out his Spirit. A place of worship had been purchased and fitted up, and a baptistery was being constructed, and in a few days the rite of baptism, as understood by the denomination, would be administered on the island for the first time. There was no choice to be made in the case, because they could not find a vessel going to America. They went on shore the day following their arrival; sent, Mr. Bertram declared, in answer to prayer.
Here they continued for three months, not being able to secure a passage, and being led of the Spirit, as it seemed, to engage, as they did most heartily, in the work of saving souls. They received courtesies and hospitalities from those favorable to religion, and enjoyed much Christian intercourse with those truly pious. Six weeks were spent in the country, with a pious American lady, in whose house, while they remained, a number were converted. It was a delightful spot, several hundred feet above the level of the sea, called "Fairy Land." Thus, with health improved and zeal strengthened--ample compensation for delay in meeting their friends, and no loss of time while realizing improvement of health; and with memories of the island never to be lost; of the disappointed and heart-broken Napoleon, whose empty tomb still remained to testify to the vanity of human greatness; of the gentle and triumphant Sarah Boardman Judson, whose grave beneath the banyan was destined to be forever guarded from violation, and a center of Christian affection, and of the oneness and blessedness of Christian fellowship in any and every part of the world, they once more encounter the sea and come safely to the arms of their friends. They reach Boston July 31, 1848.
The little Baptist Church at St. Helena became so attached to them, and was so grateful for their services, that it took action expressive of its appreciation of them and their work, addressing the Board as follows:
We, the pastor and elders of the Baptist Church, St. Helena, can not allow this opportunity to pass without expressing our deep sense of gratitude to the Great Governor of the Universe and Head of the Church for sending amongst us, in the order of his providence, your missionary, the Rev. Mr. Wade, and his good wife, particularly at the very time he did. Their presence and labors greatly encouraged the timorous, and strengthened the faith of the weak converts; making them bold to come out, in the face of a gainsaying world, to put on the Lord Jesus Christ in the solemn act of baptism. This Christian ordinance met with the greatest opposition from the members of the Church of England, this being the first Baptist and only dissenting church ever established in this island.
It is impossible to speak too highly of the piety and labors of both Mr. and Mrs. Wade, while sojourning amongst us. Though in great bodily weakness, still they ever manifested that it was more than their meat and drink to do the will of their Heavenly Father. Their names will be ever embalmed in our memories and written in our hearts. We hold such in reputation, who have counted not their lives dear unto themselves, so that they might win Christ and testify the gospel of the grace of God. As a church, we part with them with deep regret; and we can say, indeed and of a truth, that they go away from this island leaving a savor of grace behind them, and not without seals to their ministry and souls for their hire. The Baptist Board of Missions have indeed been greatly honored by such a father in Christ and such a mother in Israel; and we pray that God may send forth many more such laborers into his vineyard. We are happy to say, also, that God has also made their visit a blessing to themselves in greatly restoring their health.
They spent two years in the United States--July 31, 1848, to July 25, 1850. This time has its record of them, but it is not found in print; it is deeply engraved upon the hearts of many Christians, and especially those who rank as personal friends. Rest was more necessary than on the former visit, for fifteen added years of toil after maturity, after a supposed breakdown also, and an Oriental climatization, had left them in a condition demanding self-care. Still they could not be hid. Christians possessing such rare attainments, and fraught with such rich experiences, contain an aroma that attracts more really and more largely than other types of character. From official mention we gather that they commended themselves and the cause of missions very widely to the friends of Christ.
Just before the return to India the Missionary Union held its anniversary in Buffalo, which is spoken of as a meeting of wondrous power, never to be forgotten. One secret of its preciousness, if not the principal one, was the presence of these servants of the churches, recruited for another period of field service. Their appearance and addresses were such as visiting angels might be assumed to present, if on their first visit to the many and their last to all. In the meeting there was a heavenly joy and solemnity, made peculiarly precious by the mercy of God in granting repentance and remission of sins to the Gentiles of the East.
Mr. and Mrs. Wade were at this time about fifty years of age. In view of what they had done and endured during the twenty-five years just preceding, it may be concluded that their characters were fully matured, and the reader may be glad to get a new view of them ere they leave our shores for the last time. Their home, while here, appears to have been with their friends at Eaton, Madison county, New York, near the "school of the prophets" and the village whence they first went out. In the hilly and cold atmosphere of that locality, and in the perfect home-life which they there enjoyed, health revived. Their only care was their health, excepting always the cause of the perishing on the other side of the globe, who were ever near, though so far away.
In this state of joyous freedom they appear in their naturalness. They are not frivolous, neither are they demure. They make no complaints, unless the one common to missionaries, that more interest is not taken in the great object of their lives. They strive to entertain their friends while being entertained by them. Their personal peculiarities and differences of temperament come to light, and we are permitted to see them.
A personal letter to the author, from a niece of Mrs. Wade, Mrs. Ella J. Benjamin, gives a peep into a trait that can not be "read" from the frontispiece. Writing from Eaton, N.Y., July 8, 1890, she says:
* * *
The last time they went to Burmah I was a child of eight years. I remember Uncle Wade as a very jovial man; he was always ready to enter into childish sports; and I remember so well how he used to get my sister, older, and myself up early in the morning to slide down hill. And he would laugh until the tears would run down his cheeks. He was such a kind-hearted man, and so thoroughly good. I believe every one loved him. Auntie was more sedate, and would at times reprove uncle for being so boisterous with the children. He was extremely fond of children, and knew just how to make them love him. Never will I forget him.
Visiting becomes tedious, especially when protracted for two years; and in that time the elements of the visitor's disposition will become apparent. It begets ennui, with its train of mental states not common to active persons. It is a test of disposition, especially when done by rule, as in the case of missionaries taking an enforced rest. And thus the inner life of Mr. and Mrs. Wade is manifested. But only slight intimations can be gathered, as from above note, because their correspondence is only partially preserved. Mrs. Wade was very anxious that the traces of her career should be obliterated, desiring only a final acceptance and approval of God. The letters that remain are quite uniform in style and matter, and in giving the following the reader will readily infer, and justly, what was the general tenor of her mind. It was addressed to Mrs. O'Brien:
EATON, N.Y., November 24, 1849.
My own very dearly beloved Sister:
I often long for such refreshing intercourse as I enjoyed in your pleasant chamber, and hope to be indulged once more before bidding a final adieu to my native land. How I need to learn to lean entirely on Jesus. Pray for me that I may do so. I was enabled to do so entirely during my illness in Philadelphia. I then needed nothing from man.
You ask if I have no fear of death. I have not for many years suffered from such fear, with the exception of a temptation to dread being lost in a storm at sea. Even a common storm at sea always causes such a painful, nervous excitement as I never feel in any situation of danger on land. And Satan always tries to trouble me upon this point, so that I have dreaded the voyage at sea far more than sickness and death on land.
When taken suddenly and dangerously ill in Philadelphia, I found myself all ready to welcome the call to go and be with my Savior and behold his glory. Not a fear, not a doubt, nor a cloud was permitted to dim, even for a moment, the delightful prospect of heavenly glory, into which I thought I was just entering. I thought it right to long for the moment of full release from this body of sin and death. Now all this victory over the "King of Terrors" was nothing less than the rich, free grace of Christ, and a precious gift, too, which nothing could have purchased but his own precious blood. How is it possible that he could stoop to purchase such a blessing, and at such a fearful price, too, for me, such an unworthy worm of the dust. And I now feel that I love my Savior enough to offer myself willingly and cheerfully for the long voyage before me, and for a grave in the ocean, too, if he sees best. I can trust his care and his dying love to order all.
Brother and sister Benjamin (Rev. Judson Benjamin and wife) are much liked in Tavoy, my dear old home. The writing the name brings tears to my eyes. It is now just the time in the year to set off for Matah, where I have seen such glorious work of the blessed Spirit in the conversion of souls, and where I have felt such a fullness of the promised blessing. How I long to be spending the good health and strength I now enjoy in laboring there among my spiritual children. God has blessed Burmah with a devoted and most excellent band of laborers. I love every one of them dearly. And you would love to see what kind letters we receive; all so full of desire to have us with them again.
Mr. Wade is sitting by my side and will keep talking, so you must attribute all mistakes and half-expressed ideas to him. On the other side of me stands his sweet-toned, little, portable melodeon, which has kept him from using his eyes too much, and soothes his nervous depression astonishingly. I wish your brother could play on such an instrument and sing away his cares, as Mr. Wade does.
I am very happy in my dear sister's family, and with my dear, good mother, and enjoy the quiet of this cold, rainy weather more than I can express. Have visited and attended a great many female meetings since I wrote you, and think the right missionary spirit is increasing. Mr. Wade says: "Send my love to them all," and he anticipates much pleasure in visiting Mr. Flanders and you all. Much love to your dear Mary (and Mr. F. too), and with my heart full of the very best kind of love to you and yours, I remain, as ever,
Your affectionate sister,
D. B. L. WADE.
In another letter of about the same date, addressed to one in whom she confided, and with whom she held constant correspondence--Mrs. Dea. Heman Lincoln, Boston--she says: "My husband improves slowly, and his sight improves accordingly, and I see no reason why we may not hope for another term of ten years' labor in Burmah, and with better prospect of living that time, too, than new missionaries. I quite long to be among the Karens, and use the little strength I have acquired for them. God grant that the fond hope be realized!"
She writes in a similar vein to another of her most cherished friends--Mrs. Rev. C. W. Flanders, of Beverly, Mass.
EATON, N.Y., December 18, 1848.
My very dear Sister Mary:
All the days since my pleasant visit with you have I loved to look back to your sweet home and that interesting circle of sisters around you; and, oh, how I do long to hear how you are all getting on! Have you any new manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your midst? Is that Missionary Society moving onward? Did you know that your beloved Aunt Haven and I spent an hour in her chamber in prayer, the afternoon your society was formed? We prayed the Lord to bless your efforts and to bless your souls; and, oh, I do hope to meet those dear sisters again before we sail for Burmah!
From my letters to your precious mother you will learn all about our sweet, retired home, away here, among the beautiful farms of this delightful country. My sister and her husband know how to make a home most delightful, and our dear mother is so affectionate, so cheerful, so heavenly-minded that it seems as if we were in a little Paradise. And yet I feel not the least reluctance to going to sea again, and long, indeed, to be among our beloved Karens, to labor and die with them. I am trying, depending on the blessed Holy Spirit, to give myself more unreservedly to God, on the last days of this year, than ever before. Will not you and Brother Flanders do the same? I shall pray for you. Give my kindest Christian love to your husband, and with a large share for yourself, in which Mr. Wade unites, I am ever
Your affectionate sister,
D. B. L. WADE.
Her piety, thus manifested, is seen to lack no element essential to a perfect type. Her fitness to be a foreign missionary is fully proven by her zeal for the conversion of souls in the home field. Likeness to Jesus and crowns for his head--this was her theme, and this the ambition of her life.
It is the battle, not the prize, That fills the hero's breast with joy; And industry the bliss supplies Which mere possession might destroy. R. M. MILNES. And though our paths no more should meet, Should home no more our faces know, Beyond his love we can not go. Oh, thought sublime! oh, refuge sweet! AVANELLE HOLMES REED.
The winter was over, and Dr. Wade's coasting with the children was ended, forever. The spring, not less positive in central New York than is the winter, came on, crowned with flowers. Activity among the husbandmen was sharply suggestive of the noblest husbandry of all, that which sows and reaps in foreign climes. And the brevity of the New York summer was typical of the harvest that passes and the summer that ends, fatally, with millions of human souls. The Wades, though resting, were not "at rest." The vessel was making ready. A large number of tried and untried laborers were girding for the field, Mr. and Mrs. Wade the most experienced of all.
The day came--the 25th of July. Three returning and four new missionaries, with their wives, accompanied them to the sea and the East. The cries of lone and wan reapers were being heeded, and we but need to know the Wades to be convinced that they had an appreciation of the recruiting thus being done for the service which no one else on ship was prepared to experience. The contrast of the numbers on board the Edward Newton in 1823, with those now sailing on the Washington Allston, in 1850, three to sixteen, was something to be remembered. They were passengers on both; and though Mrs. Ann H. Judson was the third on the former, yet on the latter were such Christian noblemen as Justus H. Vinton, Eugenio Kincaid, B. C. Thomas, and others. It was the year of Dr. Judson's death. The pleasant anticipations of being welcomed by him at the ship's landing, according to his custom, served to cheer the voyage, but only to disappoint. At the time they embarked he had lain already more than three months beneath the ocean's waves, and the news awaited them at the Cape of Good Hope. It required several to compensate for such a loss, and this ship-load went none too soon.
On reaching the field, January, 1851, a new adjustment was made, which took Dr. and Mrs. Wade from their loved work at Tavoy to a new service at Maulmein. The changes were occasioned by the death of Dr. Judson, who left the Burmese dictionary incomplete, and had requested that Dr. E. A. Stevens, pastor at Maulmein, should carry it on to completion. Dr. Wade was now to give himself wholly to the vacant pastorate, a work ordinarily the choice of a missionary, but in this case beset with peculiar difficulties. He found discipline needed, owing partly to an excess of labors laid upon his predecessors, and while he would have preferred to continue his own line of labor, in translating and making books for the Karens, it was impossible for him to do so on account of the condition of his eyes; and the new arrangement was expedient for other reasons also.
The Maulmein Mission consisted of two parts--Burman and Karen. He assumed the Burmese preaching department, having seven native assistants, who occupied stations within and without the city. The church was constituted in 1827; about two hundred and forty had been added to it, and it now consisted of one hundred and forty-five. There was a branch of thirty or forty at Amherst, twenty-five miles south, which was also under his care. He held seven meetings a week.
As to Mrs. Wade, and her work at this time, she shall speak, having had a few months' experience:
The work here is not so trying to health as traveling in the jungles, and we feel that a kind Providence has marked our lot. My health has improved very much since the rainy season closed. I am happy to be able to do more now than at any time since our return. I have a female prayer-meeting every Wednesday, a Bible class on the Sabbath, enquirers every forenoon, visiting the sick, etc., and every morning I rise just as the day begins to dawn, and, with my little lantern, walk some distance to the Burman chapel, where I meet a band of Burmese sisters for prayer. After we had offered our united prayers about a month, enquirers began to come in. I am very happy in my work, and have now four in my morning meetings that I feel the Lord has given me as my spiritual children. I have already my hundred-fold for coming back to Burmah. We both see the hand of the Lord helping us through our trials as a church. Our last communion was a blessed season.
Other than pastoral work here awaited Dr. Wade. His excellent education, superior judgment and twenty-five years' experience with the natives were sufficient to justify confidence in his qualification to instruct the rising ministry of the nation. Converts had multiplied as the drops of the morning, and a large number of them were desirous of preaching Christ to others. At the close of the year 1847 there were more than six thousand Christian Karens folded in the churches at Maulmein, Tavoy and Sandoway--a wonderful showing for the time and the circumstances--and more pastors were needed than the American churches were furnishing, and some to whom the dialects of the country were vernacular. Schools had already been opened at Tavoy and Maulmein, and the subject of ministerial education had become one of absorbing interest. The school at Maulmein, begun by Dr. J. G. Binney, was now given to Dr. Wade, who continued in charge of it for about ten years. It increased in importance and usefulness with the rapid growth of the Karen missions.
The above decade was one of the most important in the long and useful life of Dr. Wade, yet very little has been recorded concerning his trials and triumphs while engaged in instilling the principles of the Bible into the minds of an ignorant and down-trodden race. His reports, had he been disposed to make any, might not have excited the interest in this country that reports of baptisms would have done, but they would have contained a record of patience and plodding in preparing natives to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to their countrymen--work reaching farther and embracing more than any personal evangelism on his part, however successful. And his good wife was there, with her busy brain, as always, able and active in forwarding the work of instruction quietly and effectively.
Still another decade of labor in heathendom must be passed, for the end is not yet. Their natural force is abating, but their spiritual power and zeal continue at high mark. Silently, yet steadfastly, they toil on in their loved employ, careful for nothing, except that they may finish their course as they began it, serving the eternal interests of idolatrous Burmah. They can now look back nearly half a century as residents of the East, and with pleasure, if not with astonishment, note the marks of progress. When they first went out the mails were from six to eight months in reaching them from America; now the news from home comes in about one month. They had passed their home life in huts of bamboo for such a long period, what wonder that Mrs. Wade should feel that she deserved congratulation on being enabled to have a board house and glass windows in their old age; also a roof of timber and shingles in place of one of bamboo and leaves--"such a nice roof over our heads," she says, "as we never had before in this country."
Important changes in the mission take place at the opening of this, the last decade of their career. Dr. Binney returns from America, and the theological school is removed from Maulmein to Rangoon and placed under his care. Dr. Wade resumes the work of preparing books for the use of the mission; commentaries and theological works in the Karen language being in pressing demand among the rapidly growing churches and by the native ministers. A deputation of the Missionary Union had made a thorough investigation of the methods of the missionaries, and had decided in favor of great modification in their school-work, and this, with other matters, produced general disaffection among them. Dr. Wade stood loyally with the Union, yet could but feel the adverse effects of the turmoil upon his own labors in this the crowning period of his life. Equanimity was characteristic of both Dr. and Mrs. Wade, and with remarkable self-poise they continued their loved employments under the new rules.
Thirteen years go by, and as Mrs. Wade is about to close her teaching-work forever, and to receive the great reward, she is permitted to rejoice in the verdict of time and testing upon the vocation that had been imbedded in her affections as well as dictated by her judgment for more than forty years--the calling of teacher as subservient to personal work in soul-saving. It was only a year or two previous to her death that "greater latitude was permitted in establishing and maintaining schools, as the best judgment might show to be most beneficial in the various stations"; and this was followed by the appointment of two ladies for the special work of teaching. As early as 1823 Mrs. Hannah More, so celebrated as a literary and religious writer, bequeathed two hundred pounds sterling for the support of female schools in Burmah.
In 1867, one year before Mrs. Wade's death, the Karen churches had a membership of 18,254; a three-fold increase since 1847, and an increase from eighteen in all the missions at the time Dr. Judson welcomed them to the shores of Burmah, with such rejoicing that the Lord had spared that number of the trophies of ten years' patient conflict with the powers of darkness. There were signs of good in all parts of the field; the only detriment being the loss of some excellent workers, through illness. A few years afterward, nearly all the alienated Karen churches were reconciled to the Missionary Union. About the same time the Women's Foreign Missionary Societies were formed, with headquarters at Boston and Chicago, having special bearing upon school-work in the Karen missions. Thus Dr. Wade was privileged to witness these significant circumstances before being called home, while the partner of his life may have entered into his joy from her place in the Heavenly Mansions. Other achievements also testified to their faithfulness in praying and planning for enlargement of the work so dear to their hearts.
With the opening of the year 1868 the life of Mrs. Wade seemed to be drawing to its close. Being inclined to think much concerning death, she had often felt that its approach was near. At the end of the first ten years as missionary she thought her work was about finished, but by a visit to the United States her conviction was changed. On reaching the twenty-fifth year of service, both Dr. and Mrs. Wade felt that their missionary life had been a long one, and that, in view of their illnesses, it must soon terminate. Another visit to America, continuing for two years, resulted in recruiting their health, and they returned for their final term of service. When fifteen years more had passed they were still living and still at work, but their age and feebleness admonished them that they must soon cease from earth.
At the beginning of 1868 Mrs. Wade gave signs of a decline that seemed irresistible and likely to terminate in death within a short time. Attempts to check it were only temporarily successful. A trial of sea-going did not essentially help. The rains were late in coming and, therefore, the temperature continued hot, and aggravating to her disease. On June 9th she seemed to be dying, yet revived. Her mind, so peaceful and trustful, was disturbed only by the sadness of her husband who, she said, should be cheerful. She remarked that "there seemed above her and on every side, and gradually coming together, a brightness and glory that were very delightful to the mind." There was little to be done preparatory to meeting her Lord. Her lamp was trimmed and burning. She had likewise prepared her grave clothes, and made every other arrangement for her last sleep, and for the comfort of her husband after her departure should take place. Loyalty to the cause for which she had toiled and suffered rose above all other considerations, even in this hour of distress; and she urged Dr. Wade to guard against depression, and to perform his usual labors, feed Christ's sheep and lambs, and maintain a cheerful trust in God. She deemed it an undeserved blessing that, though greatly debilitated by long residence in that hot climate, and by disease, her illness did not dim the fair prospect of heavenly glory. "As I approach nearer and nearer the dark waters," she says, "the mild light from the other side falls more and more upon my pathway."
The attending physician was stricken down, and there being no Europeans in the place, all responsibility for help and all sympathy were reposed in Dr. Wade, except as the natives could render some tributes of their great love. Mrs. Wade rallied after some days, and then rallied and declined at intervals until late in autumn, when she reached the limit of life. On the evening of October 4th, while sitting in her chair, she gave a sign of distress, calling, "Water, water!" and a moment later saying, "It is dark," and settling back into her chair, she looked into the face of her husband and remarked, "I am going!--Bed, bed!" It was death. She soon became unconscious, but continued in life until about six o'clock in the morning, when, with a slight spasm of the chest, she ceased to breathe--October 5, 1868, at Tavoy.
At the time of her decease there were in the place some Europeans, and they were very attentive to every want, and only too glad to bestow honors upon both the living and the dead. The Deputy Commissioner and the physician superintended the funeral rites, which, from custom and necessity, took place the same day as the death. "All the officials and government servants, European and native, followed her remains to their resting place in the burial ground of the English Church. She was borne by the police in uniform."
The reader can not have failed to get a most favorable impression of Mrs. Wade's character. While entertaining modest views of herself and her deserts, she was never, as she affirmed, troubled with doubts and fears as to her adoption. "She had been one of the weak ones whom the Good Shepherd had always carried in his arms"; and this confiding disposition freed her, during all her life, from the trammels of low spirits and much anxious inquiry as to herself, and thus enabled her to use all her powers for the good of the heathen. She was also a beam of light to her husband, who was nearly overthrown by her death. As he had reached his three score and ten he became lonely and dejected, and needed constant company after she had gone. A lone sparrow upon the house-top, he desired to fly away and be also at rest.
The care of the Karen Christians came upon her. She cherished the greatest desire that they might walk in the truth; and when one of the most useful of them all fell into sin she, though almost through with earth, had him called immediately to her bedside and there talked with him alone, warning and advising him with as much calmness and ability as if in health. Thus, to the last, she showed devotedness and fidelity to the work to which she gave herself in early life. Her life was pre-eminently one of prayer and feasting upon the Word of God. Many times in the day, besides stated seasons for its reading, she turned to the sacred pages to get "a momentary look; one precious sentence to dwell upon." Humility and self-denial were prominent traits, and these gave her great power over the minds of American Christians, while sojourning among them. Renouncing all luxuries, wearing only the plainest clothing, and reducing the furniture of her room even below things necessary, she felt better qualified to be an advocate of and an example to the poor. She desired no posthumous fame, and undertook to put it out of the power of others to write about her, by giving very peremptory instructions to her friends to destroy all her letters and papers in their possession. The sentiment of a poet of our day would have suited her mind:
"Remember not when I am gone
The deeds I did or would have done."
But it was felt by her friends that this disposition, due in part to infirmities, should not be allowed to prevent the Christian world from obtaining the full benefit of her noble example.
An associate missionary, in a few sentences, voices the judgment of all who at any time in her long and eminent career were conversant with her character and service, viz.:
"Her missionary life embraced a period of forty-five years. She was a woman of marked ability, and a missionary whose zeal, diligence and fidelity constitute a worthy example to all who are engaged in similar services. She was a true yoke-fellow to her now aged and infirm husband, who still lingers on the field, waiting for the summons to join his sainted companion and helper in the better land. There are few names in the increasing list of missionary heroines deserving of greater honor than that of Deborah B. L. Wade."
The Executive Committee of the Missionary Union, in its report of 1869, puts on permanent record an emphatic testimony to her great worth. She was such a woman as would create no fear of ill, but rather an expectation of good only, and a great measure of it. The committee says:
"Mrs. Wade went out to Burmah in 1823, and was therefore a personal witness of our missions in that country from their feeble beginnings to their present large growth. Indeed, it may be said with truth that, far as human elements mingled with that growth, she bore no mean part in contributing to it. She was a woman of sound discretion, of a genial spirit, and of a steady faith. During all her missionary life of forty-five years she was the comforter and the helper of her honored husband. Her life was eventful, though unostentatious; and her place in evangelistic history will be among the noblest and most worthy of her sex."
Dr. and Mrs. Wade cultivated the fullest and tenderest sympathy for each other. In respect to all the toils and illnesses of the way, their mutual helpfulness was indispensable and very sympathetic. Being of about equal capacities, they were many times substitutes, the one for the other, and were qualified co-workers in almost all missionary services. As life drew towards its close their mutual love seemed to ripen, but likewise to renew its youth. Separation by death was anticipated with painfulness; they wanted to die together. Earth was loosed from their affections, and their native Skies filled their hearts.
In his reminiscences Dr. Wade makes the following reference to his wife: "I should like to tell you of a woman who, while at home with kind parents she was not allowed to walk two miles on foot, constrained by the love of Christ and pity for the perishing, walked, year after year, three days' journey over rocks and mountains, through ravines and marshes, with no road except a foot-path through the dangerous wilds. By day a tropical sun pours upon her his scalding rays. At night she lays her aching limbs upon the hard ground, with no shelter. She is too tired to sleep; or, if exhausted nature sink her into a dreamy slumber, she is soon aroused by the yell of a tiger or other dangerous beast. The night is past in anxiety, restlessness and pain; the morning renews the toil."
Referring to the women's meeting, conducted by Mrs. Wade, he says: "I should like to tell you of the female prayer-meeting, every Wednesday, which was attended so scrupulously that we had to change the day to prevent its being called the female Sabbath."
Not otherwise than as the prisoned bird, We here dwell careless of our captive state, Until light dwindles and the year grows late. And answering note to note no more is heard; Then, our loved fellows flown, the soul is stirred To follow them where summer has no date. EDITH M. THOMAS.
That is a beautiful conceit which we find in "My Angel Guide," a poem by Mrs. Emily C. Judson, written soon after the death of her husband. Dr. Judson. After versifying with exquisite imagery the delightful, dependent relation of marriage, she conceives the thought that though parted from her, he has but gone before to open the way for her to the heavenly mansions. The following is the closing stanza:
"Yet firm my foot, for well I know The goal can not be far, And ever, through the rifted clouds, Shines out one steady star,-- For when my guide went up, he left The pearly gates ajar."
By transposition, for present use, we see the husband following the wife, in mind and heart, and impatiently awaiting the summons to enter through the gates into the city. In fact, Dr. Wade was quite dependent upon Mrs. Wade, and after her departure he was disconsolate for much of the time; was like a man with one hand missing, a mind divided between heaven and earth and the completion of an important work before him.
The transition came gradually but unmistakenly. First, his home is broken up, for the queenly wife is no more. Though but an Indian hut, and "homely," there was no place like it, and no woman that might be compared to her, who chose slight furnishing and fare that she might the better recommend the home on High. There was no child to offer him sympathy and shelter, and he was without a certain dwelling-place. He must go wherever there should be an open door and a welcome. These were not wanting among the missionaries, though it was a tax to assume the duty of soothing the anguish of one in his circumstances, and a risk to invite to permanent hospitality one so enfeebled by age and disease. It seemed best that he go to Rangoon and accept the cordial care extended to him by Mr. and Mrs. Cephas Bennett. After living with them for a time, they were compelled to leave, temporarily, on account of ill health; then Dr. Binney, of the same city, most cordially invited him to come and make his home at the Seminary. Of his subsequent experience, a late biography, "Twenty-six Years in Burmah," thus speaks:
Dr. Wade had previously expressed a desire to "identify his last days with the educational work at Rangoon." From the first acquaintance of these two men there had been mutual respect, confidence and affection; and now, in Dr. Wade's solitary old age, Dr. Binney felt very tenderly toward him, and anxious to alleviate his solitude as far as possible.
He had been hardly a month in the family when it was ascertained that a cancer had fastened itself upon a part of the lower jaw, caused by irritation, produced by wearing a plate improperly fitted. Both Dr. and Mrs. Binney, in inviting Dr. Wade, anticipated a considerable addition to their already exhausting cares and labor, but they also looked forward to great happiness in the society of one so ripe for the better land; but when the suffering, protracted and intense, through which he must pass, came up so unexpectedly before them, their hearts melted within them. Mrs. Binney's memorandum shows how they were afflicted:
Dr. Maynard has pronounced the soreness in Dr. Wade's mouth to be a cancer, which must eventually prove fatal. Dr. Wade seems to have anticipated the decision, and received it calmly, only saying, after the doctor left, "My dear sister, I would not have dared to come to you had I known what I was bringing." I was taken so entirely by surprise I could not reply, but stepped into my husband's room and told him all. He at once arose and followed me out, and in the most quiet, tender manner, took Dr. Wade's hand, saying, "This, my dear brother, is a very serious thing to you and to us, but I am glad you are here. The Lord has ordered it wisely, and in great mercy. He will help us all through with it. He will not forsake us in this our time of need. We will try and help you to bear it, and afford every alleviation in our power. You believe me when I tell you that I am glad you are with us, don't you?" All shed a few tears of mutual sympathy, and went to our rooms to cast our sorrows on the great "Burden-bearer." Dear, dear Dr. Wade, how he misses his wife now.
He lived fifteen months longer, each month increasing the intensity of his suffering and his helplessness, until nature could hold out no longer, and he "fell asleep." For a twelve month before he died Dr. Binney gave an hour, between eight and nine o'clock, every evening to him. With what interest did the dear sufferer look forward to that hour! The very moment the clock struck, he would go into the study, a room adjoining his own, and, though they may have met several times during the day, twice always, yet they would shake hands, and make a few kind inquiries before beginning the subject of the evening. In this, Dr. Wade always led, unless there was a special reason for reversing the order. He kept little memorandums for these subjects, often days in advance. They were sometimes experimental, sometimes doctrinal; not infrequently would they dwell upon the employments of heaven, bordering perhaps upon the imaginative, but both clung with great tenacity to the necessity of a "thus saith the Lord" in matters of belief. Mrs. Binney usually spent this hour upon a little couch in the room, often as an interested listener; though broken rest and freedom from the necessity of doing anything for the dear invalid made an hour's sleep more refreshing, sometimes, than even such rich converse.
When the clock struck nine, then again would come the hand-shakings, the good-nights, and earnest wishes for refreshing sleep, for freedom from pain, for the presence of Jesus in the weary, wakeful hours, if such were to be. These were every night repeated, with no manifestation of fatigue or formality, but with the same fervor as if it were the first night of care. This was a great tax upon Dr. Binney's powers after a hard day's work in a tropical climate, but the occasions were very rare when he was obliged to disappoint Dr. Wade; no personal gratification led him to do it.
At last there came a night when the beloved sufferer was brought in upon a chair, his feet so swollen as to be useless, and his breathing so difficult that he could converse but little.
"Talk to me to-night, brother Binney," he said, "I can not talk."
"What shall I talk about, my dear brother?"
"Tell me of the wonderful love--tell me of the ground of hope."
And he did tell him "the old, old story of Jesus and his love." He told it to him "slowly," that he might take it in, and commended him to his Lord in prayer. As the clock struck nine the dying saint, sensitive to the last lest he should intrude, beckoned his attendants to take him back to his room. Dr. Binney, as usual, assisted. When they reached the door he bade them stop; then looking around, said, in broken sentences, "I shall never enter this room again; all these precious seasons are past; I can not leave without thanking you for all the time and for all the comfort you have given me here." He wept, and this distressed Mrs. Binney, which he perceived: "Oh, but these are not tears of sorrow, but of joy. What mercy is this that one so unworthy should have such perfect confidence and sympathy in this hour when heart and flesh fail! May God reward you both when your turn shall come!"
Then he was carried to his room, prepared for bed, and placed tenderly in it, never to leave it again long enough to be dressed. A few days after, Dr. Binney stood by him for the last time, holding his hand and praying with him; and when he left him for a moment's relief, the patient sufferer said: "Bear with me, if you can, till I pass this dark valley. I see the light beyond; the way is very sharp, but it will soon be over. Stay with me."
From his couch, so long "quite on the verge of heaven," this good man passed to his eternal rest, June 10, 1872. The burdens of senility fell away and he entered upon perpetual youth. His experience while an inmate of Dr. Binney's home is one of the most touching in missionary biography; it will ever affect the heart, and remain an example of the way in which a good man is taught to die. Why should not the Light have led him thus "kindly" through the deepening gloom! "Loving His own He loved them unto the end." Dr. Wade did not desire to return to America; he desired to go home. Where the first missionaries landed, there he launched his bark for the Shining Shore. He had been schooled for Heaven during almost fifty years in mission lands, far from home, and now, as his term is expiring, he reviews the way in which he has been led, the doctrines he has learned and has taught to others, and, also, the ground of hope for the future; and finding the foundation sure, as he had always believed it to be, he walks into the valley of the shadow of death with unwavering tread, and returns to God who gave him for a light to the Gentiles. His was a real case of ripening for Heaven, amid needed and desired influences. He died in the morning, and was buried towards evening of the same day, greatly loved and lamented.
In such a noble army of missionaries as the denomination has had, comparisons are out of place, and complimentary mention seems unnecessary. Yet, that the reader may be re-assured that this biography is a merited honor, a few testimonials from first sources are here presented.
Dr. Binney writes, two days after Dr. Wade's decease:
"Our dear brother Wade has left us for his heavenly home: he died on the morning of the 10th inst., and was buried in the evening, as is necessarily done; certainly not more than twenty-four hours can elapse from the time of death to that of the burial, in this country. He has had a long life of faithful labor for his divine Master, full of usefulness and honor.
Since he has resided with me, now fifteen months, he has been a daily, I may say without intermission, a sufferer, often with the most acute pain. Still he has not for a day omitted to work, until about six days before his death. His mind was clear to the last, and strong until within a few days of his decease. In our mission there was no clearer, more discriminating, or sounder judgment than that of Dr. Wade. For the first eight or ten months I was accustomed to give him all my leisure hours, from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 P.M., and from 8 to 9 P.M. I left him to select such topics for conversation as he preferred. He seemed to be at home with all classes of knowledge, and to have forgotten little that he ever knew. But after that time, until within a few days of his death, on account of his failing strength, he was able to sit with me only for the hour between eight and nine in the evening. The time then spent was upon religious and theological subjects, or upon the interests and prospects of Christ's cause in the world, especially in Burmah. They were to me hours never to be forgotten. I have learned the strength of his intellect, the sober and safe character of his theological views, the soundness of his judgment, and the goodness of his heart. I shall indeed be guilty if I am not a wiser man and a better Christian for his precious society."
Dr. Murdock renders a very emphatic tribute to his character and services in the following statement:
"His literary labors have been of the greatest importance. It was by him that the Karen dialects, both Sgau and Pwo, were reduced to writing, and several important works, literary, theological and educational, are the fruit of his industry and skill. Of these works the Karen Thesaurus (dictionary), a work in five volumes, is a monument to his patient study and knowledge of the language, and will be an important help to missionaries and others in all coming time. The last volume was completed in 1850. The revision and perfecting of this lexicon was designed by Dr. Wade to be the crowning literary work of his life; and it was to this that he devoted his powers until he was no longer able to labor. His purpose was to make this thesaurus of the same value for the Karen language as Dr. Judson's is for the Burman. He had finished the words under the letter O, and on rising to the labors of another morning, six days before his death, he called for his slate that he might proceed with the work--preparing his material with great care, to be afterwards copied by a Karen assistant. Mrs. Binney remonstrated with him, saying that he was unable to labor. He yielded to her remonstrance, and never took up the work again."
So deeply was he interested in this work that he called Mrs. Binney to him and asked her to take it from his hand and complete it. She, a daughter of the Rev. R. E. Pattison, D.D., was a woman of fine attainments, yet she hesitated to assume so great a task. He, anxious that his labors upon it might not be lost, secured her promise, and placed funds at her disposal for a copyist and for the printing.
Like Dr. Judson, in giving himself to the cause of Missions he gave his means. The following items, gleaned from authentic records, indicate the benevolence of his nature and the carefulness with which he remembered the objects for which he had labored and still believed to be of the greatest importance to the evangelization of Burmah:
Missionary Magazine, December, 1872: "The late Dr. Wade made a bequest of four thousand dollars to the Missionary Union, and two thousand rupees, the interest of which is to be devoted to the support of two students in the Karen Theological seminary."
The Fifty-ninth Annual Report (1873) states that he willed the sum of 11,238 rupees, to be called "The Printing Fund," the income to be used for printing Karen books, or such other books in Karen and English as may be approved by the Faculties of the Rangoon College and Theological Seminary.
From same Report: "Dr. Wade spent almost half a century among the heathen, interrupted only by two brief visits to this country, in both of which he gave powerful impulse to the missionary work in the churches. His labors were incessant and arduous. As a preacher, he was marked by clearness, power and spirituality. As a counselor and guide of native churches his sound, discriminating judgment was invaluable. In literary work his labors were abundant. He gave to the Karens a written language, he prepared a Karen Dictionary and aided in the translation of the Karen Scriptures, besides publishing numerous books and tracts in the Burman and Karen languages."
Dr. Wade's recognition in this country was without the shadow of detraction from any source. He was eminently trustworthy and true, and while a scholar, a preacher, and a commentator of high character, he was also a man of affairs, wise in counsel and reliable in emergencies. He was chosen by his brother missionaries to preside over their conventions. There were no peculiarities in his composition that rendered it uncertain what he would do in critical circumstances. It was on account of the fine combination of his manly qualities, taken with his ability as a theologian, that he was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity by one of our prominent Universities--an honor the greater because not bestowed by his Alma Mater, as a token of affection.
But you! your hour Is now:--your hour to win the deathless love Of souls immortal as your own,--to win The smile and share the joy of Him whose smile Is heaven, whose joy is joy in saving souls From death, and eyes from tears, and feet that touch The brink of soundless depths of rayless gloom. J. CLARK.
The independent narrative contained in the preceding pages will be fitly supplemented by selections from the letters of Dr. and Mrs. Wade, written in mission lands, or when visiting in this country. They add to the reader's conception of the characters of the writers, and serve as side-lights upon their work. The personal religious experience revealed, also, will be regarded as helpful, suggesting, as it does, the cause and cure of disquietude of soul, and the source of that firmness of purpose that carries the Christian through emergencies, and, with divine help, brings him off victorious. It will be seen, too, how persons who are exact counterparts to each other make up the sum of domestic life in the best way. Dr. Wade's tendency to depression was counter-balanced by Mrs. Wade's cheerful and hopeful disposition. He declared that she was to him "more than all the earth beside," and she regarded him, not an oak, on which to cling, but as the strong ox in the yoke, always ready, always true. The selections are made from different periods of missionary life.
The following is furnished for this Memorial by the kindness of Mrs. Dr. William R. Williams, of New York. It reveals one feature of Mrs. Wade's missionary service:
TAVOY KIVEN, (new Karen village,) January 15, 1842.
To the Maternal Association of the Amity St. Baptist Church, New York City.
MY BELOVED SISTERS IN CHRIST: Your kind and most welcome communication, through Mrs. Tallmadge, together with the valuable parcel of books, magazines, etc., were waiting to welcome my return from Matah in March last, and seldom has a token of Christian kindness been so acceptable or so much needed; for I had been suffering from fever and felt entirely unfit for my duties, and like sinking into my grave.
I made, however, a strong effort to accompany Mr. Wade to another village, but a return of fever compelled me soon to return, and finally to go to Maulmein for the benefit of the sea air; and being detained there for some time before being able to get a passage back, my health was quite restored, and I have been able to prosecute my labors since, with new energy and comfort. I mention these circumstances to show you how very highly your kindness was appreciated, and how it cheered a desolate, lonely spirit when oppressed with disease; and you, my beloved sisters, shall surely receive "your reward."
My absence at Maulmein, and feeble health for some time before, had left upon my hands such a load of cares as compelled me to deny myself of writing letters almost entirely for a long time, and now with a fine Karen school conning their lessons around me; with the care of the little church (as Mr. Wade is journeying far away); and twelve precious enquirers to instruct and bear on my heart before the mercy seat all day long, I employ my leisure moments in sweet communion of spirit with you, my dear, absent sisters.
As you express a wish to hear something more minute respecting the Karen Maternal Association at Matah, I would observe that it was formed in January, 1835, during my first visit to that place. It then numbered about sixty mothers, and they agreed to meet every week and pray together, and try to assist each other. Every sister speaks a few words at least in every meeting, and several prayers are offered, and no sister ever refuses to pray in her turn, or when called upon. The only reason for not leading in prayer at these meetings is the commission of sin which has not been confessed and repented of.
The number of our Association increased every year until the cholera scattered the Christians so much that the mothers have not been able to attend the meetings so regularly; but by changing the day of weekly meeting to the Sabbath, our number was seldom below fifty while I was at Matah last season; and where a few of the sisters are unable to go to Matah, they are accustomed to have a little meeting among themselves.
Although a great proportion of these mothers are unable to read, and all so exceedingly deficient, not only in giving religious instruction, but in any kind of government over their children, yet we have often witnessed that ardent desire, that weeping, heart-subduing importunity which the Holy Spirit excites in the hearts of mothers for the conversion of their children; and then such prayers have been answered in a manner most impressive and affecting to our hearts.
I think that more than one hundred of the children of this Maternal Association have been baptized since the formation of the Association, but then we consider the daily personal instruction they have received in the Karen Boarding School the primary means, and the labors of the Maternal Association but secondary, though invaluable. Fifteen of the children of those praying mothers were hopefully "born again" while in my school at Matah last season.
Two or three years ago at one of our weekly meetings it was proposed that every member should choose some one child for whose conversion she should labor and pray, and in due time report the result. Many reported after some time that they had labored and prayed in vain, while others rejoiced in the blessing of God on their humble efforts. The one chosen by myself was a poor, motherless girl, who had lived far away among her ungodly relations, and was not only wicked, but very disagreeable. She had, however, taken a fancy to come to my school, and my heart seemed drawn out in prayer for her. Not liking, however, the confinement and restraints of school, she soon ran off privately to her old home, and I heard nothing more from her until a few weeks since, when one of our best Karen preachers wrote me that the poor girl had lately returned to the Christians, giving very pleasing evidence of a change of heart, and wished to be admitted again to my school. Don't you think, dear sisters, this case encouraged my weak faith? Many precious answers to prayers which have been inexpressibly affecting to my heart might be mentioned, but my time will not permit.
Not being a mother myself, I have not heretofore received from friends such works as I have needed to show me the best methods of training the numbers of Karen children I have almost constantly under my care, and though I have written to the Board to subscribe for the Mothers' Monthly Journal, sending it constantly, and charging the same to Mr. Wade, yet I have written in vain; so that your present was exceedingly acceptable, and I trust we shall soon have something translated and prepared for the Association for whose benefit the books were designed.
I should be much gratified to hear again from you, my dear sisters, and I want a particular account of the number of children converted, and what means have been most blessed. This will help me. I want to know, likewise, whether you find God a prayer-answering God. If not, what you think the reason you do not receive the fulfillment of the rich promises which are given us. It seems to me that an entire consecration of all dearest to us, even our body, soul and spirit, to be disposed of according to His good pleasure for time and eternity is necessary to enjoy that spirit of prayer which may claim the sure promises of God. And can we exercise true faith without this entire consecration? Can we offer "effectual, fervent" prayer without having the Holy Spirit in our hearts? And will the blessed Holy Spirit abide with us, unless we give up our own interest, and submit our wills unreservedly to the will of God? Should any church, or association, or individual come forward, willing to forsake all for Christ's sake, and trusting, in simple faith, all the rich promises of God, do you think, dear sisters, God's word would fail? Are any of you "abiding in Christ"? If so, you can answer these questions and tell me a rich, a joyful experience of God's faithfulness. And if we abide not in Christ, if we still "love the world" so that we grieve away the blessed Holy Spirit, how can we expect God will hear our prayers, or convert the precious children committed to our charge? And are we authorized from the Bible to suppose that he will even save our souls, unless we repent and do our first works?
January 16th. Dear Sisters: I had hoped to fill this sheet, but as an opportunity offers for sending letters in a steamer, I hasten to close. We heard last evening of dear brother and sister Bennett's arrival in Maulmein with the new missionaries, all in good health, so I hope you may have written me again, though I have so long delayed an answer to this. I have just heard of Mr. Wade's being sick, and suffering extremely for want of the common necessaries of a sick-room, in a distant jungle. Who can tell, but He who laid down His precious life for us, what it costs to bring a revolted world back to God!
Remember how much we always need your prayers, dear sisters, and believe me ever
Your affectionate sister in Christ,
D. B. L. WADE.
* * *
To a firm friend of Missions:
MAULMEIN, November 16, 1847.
MY VERY DEARLY BELOVED SISTER: I am feeling sadly the want of your precious letters of late, but, considering that I have been so unfaithful myself in keeping up the correspondence, I can not complain. I now think of you in the sweet home of your beloved daughter, very useful and very happy in seeing how much your dear children are doing to promote the precious cause of Him we love; and that you may all be more and more useful and happy is the prayer of my heart.
You will have heard from others of the failure of Mr. Wade's sight, and the prospect of his being utterly blind. At the time we concluded that it was our duty to return to America and try the last possible means to save him from the horrors of total blindness. His sight was failing so fearfully fast that I had very little hope of his ever seeing the shores of our dear native country. Had Mr. Wade's health been good, he would have remained among his "flock," though entirely blind; but his general health has been failing for two or three years, so that with the failure of sight he is quite laid aside from all labor. He is now able to read two or three verses at a time, of the coarsest, plainest print; but the doctor does not allow him to read or write at all. He often says, "If my health was good, so that I could be carried into the jungles, I would not leave my dear Karen children," and I feel so, too. I would lead him about, to tell the precious story of a Savior's love, though he could not see at all. But, independently of his eyes, he is a dreadful sufferer; often says that he seldom knows an hour's freedom from pain, and frequently suffers such agonizing pain in his head and eyes that he can not lay his head upon the pillow for a whole night. And then I too am prohibited from going into the jungles by our physician, who says it would be fatal to me. So we are preparing to return again to our dear native land, and know not what is before us. The doctors here, however, encourage us to hope that a change to a cold climate will restore the tone to his whole nervous system, and with that his sight, so that we entertain the fond hope of again returning to our beloved and bereaved flock and to our sorrowing brethren.
We have tried to learn the will of our Heavenly Father in this movement, and now we would "lie passive in His hands, and know no will but His." We feel that we are now cast out of our "Lord's vineyard," where we had hoped to finish our work and die, and all before us is dark; but we wait to know the will of Him whose love is better than life, and I feel sweetly content to wait and see what are His designs with regard to us. I fully believe they are changeless and eternal love, so I wait in peace.
We left our dear Tavoy home, our bereft brethren and sisters, and our weeping, sorrowing children whom the Lord has given us in this dark land, the fourth of this month, arrived here on the eve of the sixth, and are staying with our dearly beloved brother Judson and his amiable and talented wife [Emily C. Judson], whom we are beginning to love dearly. We have also had pleasant visits with the other missionaries, particularly your sweet niece and her interesting family. We hope to arrive in America as early as June next, but in our worn-out state it is very uncertain whether we both live to see the shores of our native country.
After receiving this, will you not pray fervently for us, that we may not only have a safe and comfortable passage, but that our hearts may be prepared to glorify the Savior in all things, when we arrive again in our dear native land. A fine lad of eleven years (not of the mission) is to sail with us under our protection. Pray that our efforts for his conversion may be blest.
We hope to sail about the end of this year. Mr. Wade unites in kindest love to yourself, your daughter and son, to your precious sister and her family, and our beloved brother and sister Lincoln, and with warmest love believe me ever Your own affectionate sister, D. B. L. WADE.
P.S. Nothing could exceed the kindness and sympathy manifested toward us since we have been in trouble. In Tavoy, the gentleman who acts in the capacity of Governor used to send us a carriage to take the air, daily, and besides valuable presents from himself and his lady, invited us to his house on the "hill," for a month, for a change of air, which was a great benefit to us both. From the dear brothers and sisters in the Mission comes the sweetest sympathy, and kindness most precious. How can we leave them, toiling in this dark land?
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To Mrs. O'Brien:
EATON, MADISON CO., N.Y., March 2, 1850.
MY DEAR SISTER: I have now but just returned from a visit of nearly three weeks to three of the dear sisters of my own beloved mother who has long been with the Savior. My aunts and cousins live about one hundred miles north of us, and I went without my husband, as journeying in the winter is injurious to him. I enjoyed my visit very highly, especially as it was emphatically a missionary excursion, attending and speaking in conference meetings, addressing juvenile societies, and talking constantly with friends about our missions. My friends opened their doors "to every lady" who wished to talk about missions, and thought the visit would secure support for the missionaries.
On my return I visited the parents of sister Lilybridge, who went to Burmah with brother and sister Judson, and enjoyed very much making them so happy. They are good, humble Christians, and three of their children have been hopefully converted since their daughter left them.
When I returned to Eaton I found that brother and sister Kincaid had made their promised visit and left. I felt the disappointment most keenly. I could not learn beforehand when they would come. We expect to sail together. Mr. Wade's health and eyes continue to improve, and we shall probably sail in June.
We fear we shall have little time in Boston if we attend the great meeting of the Union in Buffalo in May. I have been much gratified by the interest manifested in my friend, Mrs. Aylesworth. We spent two months of the time we were on the island of St. Helena with her. We were invited in a most cordial manner (first by her husband) to spend a couple of weeks with her and the children at their beautiful country-seat, far up on the mountain of rock, where the nice stone house was surrounded by a delightful garden of fruits and flowers. As Mr. Aylesworth was considered a rich merchant, we did not hesitate to accept the invitation, especially as he was obliged to be in Jamestown most of the time, which left Mrs. A. rather lonely. In that beautiful, retired spot, called "Fairy Land," she used to assemble the poor neighbors, and hold little meetings, where several were, we trust, truly born again. We found Mrs. Aylesworth a lovely Christian, and became much attached to her. I might add, we were waiting here until we should get a passage to America.
I was told at St. Helena that both Mr. and Mrs. Aylesworth had been kind to poor, sick missionaries, who called at the island, and frequently entertained them for a long time without any remuneration, and I know they have done much for their minister.
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I am always glad to hear of the welfare of your dear Mary and brother Flanders. Give much love to them for me. When I am tired out here, I often think of their sweet home, and wish I could fly to you all for a day, to rest. I can only add, your letter was most precious, cheering to my heart. With a heart full of love of the choice kind, I am ever
Your most affectionate sister,
D. B. L. WADE.
To Hon. Heman Lincoln, officially connected with the Missionary Union for forty years: for twenty-two years its treasurer, serving gratuitously;
MAULMEIN, April 17, 1862.
MY DEAR DEACON LINCOLN: Please accept my hearty thanks for the very great and unexpected pleasure which you conferred on me by your letter of January 20, 1862, which came to hand by the last mail. Considering your very advanced age, and your often infirmities, I hardly thought you would feel able to write us again. Thank God that He still prolongs your life, ever efficiently devoted to His cause, at home and abroad. It gives me much comfort to remember that one of the main pillars of our missionary structure, as originally built, is still standing;--that one, personally acquainted with the mission, and its missionaries, from the beginning, hitherto, still lives to counsel, sympathize, and pray on our behalf.
You speak in words of high commendation of the missionary life and labors of Mrs. Wade and myself, and, though by her, the commendation is deserved, I can only say of myself that I feel exceedingly humbled and rebuked by an internal monitor which tells me that I have ever been an unfaithful and unprofitable servant. You say you would rather be Jonathan and D. B. L. Wade than to share the glories of all the crowned heads of Europe. So would I; but (in reference to the future) I would rather be Heman Lincoln than either J. Wade or a crowned head. I indeed hope to be saved through the all-sufficient atonement and righteousness of Christ, but I expect to be found among those who are least in the Kingdom of Heaven; yet, thank God, that will be unspeakably better than my best works deserve. My dear, aged brother, let us rejoice; our weary pilgrimage is almost ended.
In March we ordained a Karen over on the Martaban side of the Salwen river. He was educated in Dr. Binney's school before the Doctor returned to America, and has been a licensed preacher ever since. He seems during the last year to have been spiritually revived, and we hope he has now made a true consecration of himself to the work of the ministry. There are among our licensed Karen preachers two other candidates for ordination. We hope they are worthy.
Mrs. Wade and myself have comfortable health with care, but our powers of endurance are very much less than formerly. Please accept our united and very affectionate regards to yourself and dear Mrs. Lincoln; also to your sisters, Mrs. Haven and Mrs. O'Brien. Soon, through grace, we shall all meet in Heaven.
Most truly yours,
TAVOY, April 13, 1868.
MY OWN MOST DEARLY BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD: I wish you could know how inexpressibly sweet and precious to me was your letter of December, which reached me by the last mail. I did not know that your eyesight had so failed as to prevent your writing me little notes as formerly, but I could read all your sweet, precious words with ease. From our dear sister Stevens I have enjoyed the luxury of hearing continually of our precious brother Lincoln and yourself, as well as of her own dear mother, and truly I have not any friends on earth who are dearer to my heart than those whom the Lord gave me forty-four years ago, to comfort my bleeding heart after my last farewell to beloved family friends, a few days before sailing first for Burmah. O, what an indescribable comfort and blessing has been the true, the never-failing Christian love of each, during these long, eventful years! My mind and heart are much with each of you in these days of your physical weakness and suffering, especially since dear sister Lincoln was called home. These trials and sufferings are sure pledges of the Savior's love, and are no doubt the final polishing necessary to fit each one for the distinguished place He is preparing for you in His kingdom of glory. I do not ask that your sufferings should be less, but that your strength may be sufficient, for it is but for a "little moment," and then your bright and glorious eternity will commence. O to be "ever with the Lord!" To appear in His righteousness! To be like Him! In that inconceivable union with Him!!
I, too, beloved sister, am nearing the "waters of the Jordan." For the last few months my health has been declining, so that I am now extremely emaciated, and scarcely able to walk about the house. I suffer very little pain, but the powers of nature seem failing, and no medicine seems of any benefit. My kind husband took me out for a short sea-voyage and visit to Maulmein, which seemed refreshing at the time, but produced no permanent benefit.
After returning to Tavoy, three years ago, our minds became deeply impressed with Christ's charge to Peter, "Feed my sheep," "Feed my lambs," and in all our missionary life have we never so sensibly felt the presence of Jesus leading and blessing our poor labors for His beloved "sheep and lambs," gathered from these mountains and valleys, (nearly one thousand in the communion of the churches,) besides the few Burman converts. Thus you will readily believe that these are the happiest, the most blessed, days of our whole lives.
It is true, we feel keenly at times, in our advancing age and feeble health, the deprivation of all civilized society since the dear Colburns were obliged to leave Tavoy, or it would seem trying were it not that we have strength given us to feel that the Savior gives us, from day to day, just what is best for us, so that we are satisfied, and were never more cheerful.
I think of your poor, dear eyes, as you sit by the couch of your suffering brother, unable to enjoy reading. I read a great deal, which prevents my feeling the loss of society very much.
Our beloved brother, Qua La, is now here in pretty good health, one heart and soul with Mr. Wade, and resolved together to make a bold stand against the enemy until reinforcements shall arrive. Dear Qua La is just now finishing his visitation of all the Karen churches, feels strong in the Lord in settling difficulties and setting things in order, with Mr. Wade's advice; and finds much that is encouraging and hopeful, though they have suffered so much for want of a resident missionary in Tavoy.
Our brother Colburn had poor health during his stay in Tavoy, but we hope his fine talents may be spared to the mission, by his going to a dryer and cooler climate in Toungoo.
We have constant visits from the Karen pastors and disciples, so that our hands and hearts are full of work, besides this large, dark city, and a few precious Burman Christians, who seem revived since the "Week of Prayer;" and a few have been added to them.
But I am feeling faint from the effort to write these few lines, and must stop. With a heart full of love for dear sister Haven, your dear son and daughter, and all the loved nieces, I wait until we are permitted to sit together on Watts' "green and flowery mount," with the Savior's throne of glory in full view, to hold full and sweet communion. Your more than ever loving sister, D. B. L. WADE.
Rev. Thomas Allen, once a missionary, and for many years a faithful District Secretary of the Missionary Union, in the following letter gives an insight of the pleasant things in the character and home of the Wades:
DEAR BROTHER WYETH: About nine o'clock in the evening of February 2, 1853, the passengers of the good ship Edward landed in Maulmein, Burmah. We first proceeded to the house of brother Ranney, that being the nearest to the landing. Messengers were at once sent to the residences of the other missionaries to announce the fact that the new missionary party, eleven in all, had arrived. Very soon Dr. Wade came with a lantern to conduct myself and wife to his hospitable home. Mrs. Wade received us with such a hearty welcome that she at once endeared herself to us. We lived in their family four months, and during all this time not an unkind word was spoken, nor an unkind look given. They were of a remarkably even temper, the secret of which soon revealed itself. Mrs. Wade was in the habit of rising with the first ray of light and spending an hour in prayer and reading God's word, thus fitting herself for any emergency that might arise. If ever a person lived near to God it was Mrs. Wade; hence she ever maintained an even and cheerful temper. She had great power over the natives, especially the women. They would come to her to consult on almost every subject. Nothing could be done without the consent and approval of Mamma Wade.
Brother Wade was also a consecrated and devout man. When we first arrived in Burmah he had charge of the Burman church of Maulmein, and of four or six native missionaries, who were employed by the church to preach in different parts of the city. He would have them come once a week and report their success. Such meetings were very interesting. They met in his study for prayer and a rehearsal of their labors. After their departure he would relate any interesting cases they had met with during the week. Dr. Wade secured for us a teacher, Ko Shway Doke, one who had assisted Dr. Judson in the translation of the Burmese Bible, and aided us in various ways in acquiring the language.
We were living with the Wades when the Deputation, Rev. Drs. Peck and Granger, arrived, and also during the Maulmein Convention.
The following unpublished journal may not be uninteresting:
"Maulmein, March 22, 1853. This evening had a happy gathering of the native Christians at Mrs. Wade's. It was a meeting appointed at their own suggestion and expense to express their gratitude to the new Teachers and Deputation, or 'Great Teachers,' as they call them. During yesterday and to-day they were bringing dishes and provisions, and consulting with Mrs. Wade how they should have things arranged, that all might be done decently and in order. A little before sundown they began to gather around the house. Soon arrangements were made for them to come in and be seated. Mats were placed along on each side of the large dining-room, and they were seated--the men on one side, the women and children on the other. A row of lamps was placed along in front of each. Lamps were also placed on the table, which illuminated the room most beautifully. All were dressed in their Burmese costumes, which were clean and comely. Among the number was Mah Doke, an old Christian, one of the first converts of the first Mrs. Judson, Mah Boke, an old Taling disciple, who assisted Mr. Haswell in the translation of the New Testament into the Peguan language, and many others of the old disciples, bent over with age, and now nearing the grave, but rejoicing in the hope of a glorious immortality. Among the servants in attendance was an old Bengali, who was with Mrs. Judson during her husband's imprisonment, and who was so faithful during all her trials.
"After all had become seated. Dr. Wade led Drs. Peck and Granger into the room, and went around the whole room giving them an introduction to each. Then we younger missionaries followed, shaking hands with all, even to the smallest infant. We could talk but little of their language; could only ask their names, if they were well, their age, and a few simple questions. They all seemed highly pleased with the notice taken of them.
"Dr. Peck then made some touching and appropriate remarks, which were interpreted to them by Dr. Wade. He expressed his joy at meeting them, mentioned the great and inestimable blessings they had received through the Gospel, and reminded them of what they could do for their countrymen. Then all joined in singing a Burmese hymn, composed by Dr. Judson, the first ever composed in their language. One of the native assistants then led in prayer. After this, we sang, in English, Dr. Baldwin's beautiful hymn, "From whence doth this union arise," when we united in prayer with brother Granger. Refreshments were then served, and before nine the Burmans retired. All seemed highly pleased with the entertainment.
"As I looked over the assembly, I thought, could some of our good brethren and sisters in America, who for years have been supporting the missions, look in upon us, and hear the sweet songs of praise and listen to the voice of prayer, they would feel repaid for all they have done. Some of the Burman women remarked to Mrs. Wade that it made them think of heaven. I do not wonder, for it was a heavenly place."
In closing this narrative, the author feels that his readers will share most fully the rare gratification of contemplating the noble characters brought before them. The aroma of their piety is indeed delightful, while the influence of their exalted lives abides with us to lift our own to a higher plane. These binary stars, so long adorning a heathen sky, will ever be admired for their steady shining, and should be gratefully memorialized, in some way, in every church. The value of their protracted and self-denying labors can not be computed by human minds.
They went to the foreign field at the beginning of the age of Missions, when the slight tinge of romance was scarcely discernible on the dark cloud of realities before them. The people were commencing to recognize this great cause, but more as a religious phenomenon than as a reasonable service. Public approbation, as well as the benediction of the churches, would have been as bread to a hungry soul; but instead of it there came dissertations on the madness of the enterprise. With the pain of separation from loved friends, they were obliged to bear the disapprobation of unsympathetic hearts. But their unreserved committal to the work, and their absolute trust in God, enabled them to rise above all depressing influences, and to live in a sphere of exalted service.
Their long absence from America caused them to become aliens to it; they being no longer residents, enjoying its liberties and immunities. In time, such a course against nature produces a change in mind and habits, bringing one into complete affiliation with his new circumstances, and obliterating his connection with the old. These missionaries continued to love their native land, but only with a suppressed heart. They finally lost all desire to return to it. And herein we discover a crucial point in missionary sacrifice. Only the grace of God and a growing love for perishing souls can enable one who foresees the result to enter the way that leads to it.
Dr. and Mrs. Wade were one with those whom they were instrumental in saving, and with all whom they had in any way benefited. In doing them good they became attached to them, and deemed it sufficient honor that they should be permitted to live with them in glory. And having turned many to righteousness, they will shine as the stars forever and ever.
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