ADONIRAM JUDSON was a descendant, in the sixth generation, of William Judson, who came from Yorkshire, England, to this country, in 1634, and settled first at Concord, Mass. He was the eldest son of the Rev. Adoniram and Abigail (Brown) Judson, and was born in Maiden, Mass., on the 9th of August, 1788. His father was a Congregational minister successively at Maiden, Weiiham, and Plymouth, Mass.; and was dismissed from the latter place in 1817, on account of a change in his views on the subject of Baptism. He died at Scituate, Mass., November 25, 1826, aged seventy-six.
Adoniram, the son, was unusually precocious in his intellectual developments, insomuch that, at the age of three years, he was able to read in the Bible. Even as a child he was remarkable for self-reliance, and was generally the acknowledged leader in the little circles of his friends and playmates. In August, 1804, when he was in his sixteenth year, he joined the Sophomore class in Brown University. Here he was distinguished for diligent and successful study, and, at the close of his collegiate
* Wayland's Memoir. - Conant's Earnest Man. - Missionary Heroes and Martyrs.
course, in 1807, received the highest honours of his class; and that, notwithstanding he was absent from College, a part of the time, - engaged in teaching a school in Plymouth. Immediately after his graduation, Mr. Judson opened a private school in Plymouth, where his parents then resided. Early the next year, (1808, he published a work, entitled "Elements of English Grammar;" and, in the course of the following summer, another, entitled " The Young Ladies" Arithmetic." Both these were prepared in a few months, and in connection with his labours as a teacher.
During his college course, he formed an unfortunate intimacy with a young man in the class before him, by the name of E_____, who was distinguished for amiable qualities and fine talents and accomplishments, but was a skeptic in religion. Judson, under his influence, became an infidel: and when, at the close of his college course, he revealed the fact to his parents, they were both overwhelmed with distress; but he found it easier to dispose of his father's arguments than of his mother's expostulations and tears. Shortly after making this disclosure, - having closed his school at Plymouth, - he set out, in August, 1808, on a tour through the Northern States. On his way, he stopped at the house of his uncle, the Rev. Ephraim Judson, of Sheffield, and, though his uncle was absent, he found his place occupied by a very pious young man, whose conversation, showing at once great sincerity and a solemn and gentle earnestness, did not help to make his infidelity set the more easily upon him.
The first night after he left Sheffield, he stopped at a country inn, and was told by the landlord, as he lighted him to his chamber, that there was in the adjoining room a young man dangerously ill, who probably would not survive the night; but that he hoped that it would not occasion him any uneasiness. Judson, however, was kept awake, not merely by the movements of the watchers, or the groans of the sufferer, but especially by his own reflections on the condition of the dying man. He could not but ask himself, - "Is he prepared to die?" - and the urgency with which this question kept, returning upon his conscience, revealed to him the utter shallowness of his philosophy. He tried to persuade himself that it was only a sickly imagination that could suggest such an inquiry; and he asked himself what his late companions, especially his gifted and witty friend E_____, would say of such weakness; but still the one great question whether the sick man was prepared to encounter the unknown and awful future kept him restless and unhappy. But, after a night which had brought little or no repose to him, the morning came, and its bright and cheerful sun dispelled all his superstitious illusions. As soon as he saw the landlord, he inquired concerning the sick man, and was told that he was dead. " Do you know who he was?" - said Judson - "Oh yes," replied the landlord, "he was a young man from Providence College, - a very fine fellow - his name was E_____." Judson was completely stunned by the discovery. He could turn his thoughts to no other subject; and the words "Dead! lost! lost!" were ringing in his ears continually. His infidelity had now gone to the winds. He felt that religion was a momentous reality, and that he differed from his friend only in that he was yet among the living. In a state not only of deep gloom, but of absolute
despair, he abandoned the idea of continuing bis journey, and directed his course toward his father's house.
On his return to Plymouth, in September, though he had not found rest to his troubled spirit, his mind was still deeply impressed with the necessity of personal religion. The idea of becoming a student in the Andover Theological Seminary was now suggested to him, and he was at first half inclined to fall in with it; but, upon reflection, he dismissed it, at least for the time, and engaged as an assistant teacher in Boston. This situation, however, he soon relinquished, and proceeded to Andover to connect himself with the infant Seminary. He entered, not as a professor of religion and candidate for the ministry, but as one earnestly seeking to come to a knowledge of the truth. As he entered at once upon the studies of the second year, he must have already made considerable proficiency in the original languages of the Scriptures.
At this period, Mr. Judson's mind was far from being settled on the great question of the evidences of Divine Revelation. His deistical prejudices still clung to him, and his mind did not open readily to the light of truth. But, after the diligent inquiries and painful struggles of a few weeks, - amidst the important helps which Andover afforded, he gradually emerged from his state of doubt and perplexity, and not only gave an intelligent assent to the Divine authority of the Scriptures, but, as he believed, devoted himself, with full purpose of heart, to the service and glory of his Redeemer. On the 28th of May, 1809, he made a public profession of religion, and joined the Third Congregational Church in Plymouth, of which his father was then Pastor.
In June, 1809, he received and declined an appointment to a Tutorship in Brown University. In September following, he met with Dr. Buchanan's celebrated Sermon, entitled "The Star in the East;" and this suggested to him the inquiry whether it was not his duty to devote his life to the missionary work. The result of his mature reflection on the subject was that, in February, 1810, he resolved to become a missionary to the heathen. Those to whom he first communicated his purpose, discouraged him, but he at length found several of his fellow-students, who not only sympathized in his general views of the importance of the missionary enterprise, but were willing to become associated with him in the mission he was contemplating. As there was then no Foreign Missionary Society in this country, under whose auspices he could engage in the work upon which his heart was fixed, he conceived the design of offering himself for the patronage of the London Missionary Society. He, accordingly, wrote to the Directors of that Society on the subject, and, in reply, received an invitation to visit England, that he might obtain in person the desired information, with reference to ulterior arrangements.
But circumstances now occurred at home, that were thought to supersede the necessity of carrying out this project. Having learned from his associates at Andover, who had mutually pledged themselves to the missionary work while in Williams College, something of the character and views of Gordon Hall, then at Woodbury, Conn., Mr. Judson addressed a letter to him, which brought him soon after to Andover. The result of a
conference which then took place between Judson, Nott, Newell, Hall, Richards, and Rice, was that they resolved to make known their wishes to the General Association of Massachusetts, at its next meeting, at Bradford, in June, 1810. Judson drew up a paper setting forth their wishes, and requesting advice as to the propriety of cherishing them, and the proper means of carrying them into effect. This was the incipient step towards the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
In September, 1810, Mr. Judson completed his course of study in the Theological Seminary at Andover. On the 17th of May preceding, while on a visit to Vermont, he was licensed to preach by the Orange Congregational Association of that State.
Mr. Judson had expected that he and his associates would immediately receive an appointment as Missionaries; but the Board, being without the requisite funds to send them forth, contented themselves with merely approving and recommending their project. Mr. Judson, not satisfied with the delay which seemed likely to ensue, if they were to wait for the further action of the American Board, fell back upon the invitation he had received from England, and suggested the expediency of making an attempt to secure the co-operation of the London Missionary Society. He was, accordingly, authorized to visit London, and ascertain how far a joint management of missions by the two Societies would be practicable. He embarked for England in January, 1811, and three weeks after was captured by a French privateer, from which he was removed, after several weeks, only to be confined in a prison at Bayonne. By the interposition of an American gentleman, he was released, on his parole, obtained a passport, and reached London early in May. Here he was received with every mark of Christian kindness; and, though he found that the plan he had in view was impracticable, yet the Directors of the London Society expressed a willingness to accept him and his associates as their own missionaries, to be employed in India. After this, he visited the Missionary Seminary at Gosport, under the care of the venerable Dr. Bogue, to confer with him on the great subject which then chiefly occupied his thoughts. After remaining in England for about six weeks, he embarked, on the 18th of June, 1811, at Gravesend, in the ship Augustus, bound to New York. He arrived in New York on the 17th of August following.
At the next meeting of the Board of Commissioners, held at Worcester, in September, there were some indications that the enterprise might be subjected to still further delay; but Mr. Judson, who was present, urged that there should be no time lost, especially as the impending war with England might otherwise occasion a protracted postponement, if not an utter abandonment, of the mission. The result of their deliberations on the subject was that Messrs. Judson, Hall, Newell, and Nott were appointed by the Board as its Missionaries to the Burman Empire.
A short time before the meeting of the Board at Worcester, Mr. Judson, being on a visit to Salem, was introduced to the late Rev. Dr. Bolles; and, in conversation with him, he accidentally expressed the wish that the American Baptists might follow the good example of their brethren in England in engaging in the work of Foreign Missions. Dr. Bolles was
deeply impressed by the remark, and did not fail to turn it to good account. Though the Baptists of this country were then weak, the Salem Bible Translation and Foreign Missionary Society was at once formed, with the immediate view of assisting the Baptist Mission at Serampore, but with the ulterior purpose of sending missionaries to the heathen from this country as soon as circumstances should render it practicable.
While Mr. Judson was attending the meeting of the General Association at Bradford, the preceding year, he made the acquaintance of Ann Hazeltine, - who afterwards became his wife. She was a lady of the most amiable dispositions, and of fine talents and accomplishments, and was fitted to grace an elevated position in refined society ; but her earnest attachment to the cause of Christ, and her deep interest in the salvation of the heathen, reconciled her prospectivcly to all the sacrifices involved in missionary life; and she, accordingly, accepted Mr. Judson's proposals of marriage. They were married on the 5th of February, 1812; and, on the day following, Mr. Judson and his four * colleagues were ordained at Salem, - Dr. Woods, of Andover, preaching the Ordination Sermon.
Messrs. Judson and Newell, with their wives, sailed from Salem on the 19th of February, in the bark Caravan, for Calcutta, and the rest of the company from Philadelphia, on the 18th, for the same destination. The Caravan arrived at Calcutta on the 18th of June. While they waited a few days at Serampore, by invitation of Dr. Carey, for the arrival of their associates, they received a summons to Calcutta, where a Government order was served upon them to return immediately to America. This seemed almost like a death-blow to their fondest hopes. To establish a mission in the Burman Empire, their original destination, was at that time quite impossible; and to leave Calcutta seemed like giving up their whole enterprise. They finally obtained leave to find a refuge in the Isle of France. There was a vessel then in the river about to sail thither, but as only two persons could be accommodated, Mr. and Mrs. Newell embarked in her, while the rest were to follow by the first opportunity. Mr. Judson remained in Calcutta about two months, and during this period his mind underwent an important change on the subject of Baptism, which brought him into other relations as a missionary, and was the occasion of enlisting a new and distinct agency in the great cause of the world's renovation.
Mr. Judson, while on his voyage, had had his attention directed particularly to the subject of Baptism, as he thought it not improbable that he might have occasion to meet the Baptist missionaries in an argument on that subject. He continued his investigation after his arrival at Calcutta, and it resulted, as it would seem, very unexpectedly to himself, in his adoption of the views of the Baptists. When his wife was made acquainted with the result of his inquiries, she was at first greatly distressed, but subsequently became satisfied that he had reached the truth. They were both baptized by immersion on the 6th of September. Mr. Rice, another of the company, soon after followed their example. In consequence of this change, they immediately resigned their commission from the American Board, and, through letters addressed to Dr. Baldwin, of Boston, and Dr. Bolles, of Salem, appealed to American Baptists for sympathy and aid.
* Mr. Rice had been subsequently appointed.
The East India Company having, by this time, become jealous of their protracted stay at Calcutta, they were ordered to take passage immediately for England; and the best they could do, in the emergency, was to embark in a vessel, then lying in the river, that was about to sail for the Isle of France. But, after they had been two days on their passage, an order came, arresting the vessel, on the ground that she had on board passengers ordered to England. After remaining on shore three days, however, they received a pass from some unknown hand, authorizing them to return to the ship they had left; and, after rowing a distance of seventy miles, they succeeded in overtaking her at Saugur, where she was lying at anchor. They reached the Isle of France on the 17th of January.
Here they were treated with great kindness by the Governor, and were assured of his protection and favour, if they chose to remain aud prosecute their work; and that, notwithstanding he had received a notice from the East Indian Government to keep an eye upon them as suspicious persons. They did not, however, regard that as a desirable field; and, after some deliberation, they determined to attempt a mission on Pinang, or Prince of Wales' Island, and with this view Mr. and Mrs. Judson embarked for Madras. Meanwhile, Mr. Rice returned to America to secure, if possible, some permanent arrangement for their support. The result was the formation of the Baptist General Convention, since reorganized as the American Baptist Missionary Union. Mr. and Mrs. Judson were adopted as their missionaries, while Mr. Rice was retained in this country as the domestic agent of the Convention.
When the missionaries reached Madras, they were met by the intelligence that an order had been issued for the transportation of the American missionaries from Bombay to England; and, apprehending a similar order in respect to themselves, they determined to escape from the British dominions with as little delay as possible. They, therefore, sailed for Rangoon, the principal fort in the Burman Empire, and arrived there, under most disheartening, not to say appalling, circumstances, in July, 1813. Mrs. Judson's health had suffered severely from the fatigues and perils to which she had been exposed, so that she was barely able to get on shore. They found shelter in the mission-house, which had been occupied for about five years by English missionaries.
Mr. Judson devoted himself to the study of the Burmese language for three years; and, though he was obliged to study without grammar, dictionary, or a teacher speaking English, he so thoroughly mastered the language that even a native would scarcely have suspected that it was not his mother tongue. A printing press having been received as a gift from the Serampore Mission, he issued a Tract entitled "A Summary of the Christian Religion," and a Catechism, and, shortly after, a translation of ithe Gospel by Matthew.
In 1817, it was resolved to commence public preaching; and, in December of that year, Mr. Judson sailed for Chittagong, in Arraean, to obtain the services of a native Christian as an assistant. This enterprise was attended with many embarrassments and perils, and did not, after all accomplish the desired end; but Mr. Judson still went forward with his design to attempt public preaching. In April, 1819, - a small building
for the purpose Laving been erected, - the public worship of the living and true God was held, for the first time, in the Burmese language. The first Burman converted to the Christian faith was Moung Nau, who received Baptism at the hands of Mr. Judson, on the 27th of June following. Two additional converts were received to the fellowship of the Church in November. Soon after this, a highly intelligent man, by the name of Moung Shwa Gnong, avowed his belief in Christianity; and this attracted the attention of the Viceroy in a way that seemed to threaten the very existence of the Mission. It was deemed expedient, in these circumstances, to make an appeal to the King; and Mr. Judson and Mr. Colman, another missionary who had gone out in 1818, made a journey to Amarapoora, the capital of the Empire, with a view to make explanations to His Majesty, and, if possible, to secure his favour. The mission, however, proved abortive; for, though the King allowed them to appear before him, he gave them anything but a gracious reception.
They returned to Rangoon with an intention to remove to the border of Arracan, to a Burman population under British protection; but, by the earnest request of the three or four converts, whose courage and zeal had now become equal to any emergency, they determined that they would not, for the present, change their residence; though Mr. Colman fixed his abode at Chittagong, to provide a retreat for them in case of danger.
In the summer of 1820, Mrs. Judson's health being in a precarious state, it was judged proper that she should try the effect of a voyage to Bengal; and this she did, - her husband accompanying her. They were absent about six months, and returned to Rangoon, in January, 1821, to the great joy of the little company of disciples, who had continued steadfast in the faith, amidst all the annoyances and discouragements to which they had been subjected.
As Mrs. Judson's health was only temporarily improved by the visit to Bengal, she returned to this country in the summer of 1821, and remained for about a year: she came unaccompanied, by her husband, as he did not feel at liberty, at that time, to suspend his missionary labours. Mr. and Mrs. Wade accompanied her, on her return, as a reinforcement of the Mission. During her absence, Mr. Judson had made good progress in his translation of the New Testament; had gathered several new converts, making the whole number eighteen; and had been joined in the Mission by Dr. Price, in whom he recognised an efficient auxiliary.
This latter circumstance gave occasion for his making another visit to the capital, - which had now been removed to Ava, - as the King, hearing of Dr. Price's medical skill, required his attendance at Court, and Mr. Judson accompanied him as an interpreter. The King was pleased to direct that the missionaries should remain at Ava, and land was given them for the erection of dwellings. Mr. Judson now returned to Rangoon, completed his translation of the New Testament, and formed an epitome of the Old, that might serve the converts till they could have the Scriptures in their own language entire. On the 5th of December, 1823. Dr. Judson (for he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity this year from Brown University) had the pleasure to welcome Mrs. Judson and Mr. and Mrs. Wade, and immediately removed with his wife to Ava, leaving
Mr. Hough, who had been his associate for several years, and the new missionaries, at Rangoon. He was allowed, for a short time, to prosecute his labours in the imperial city, unmolested; but the commencement of a war with the British East Indian Government suddenly cast a deep shadow over his prospects. In May, 1824. Rangoon was attacked by a force of six thousand men, under command of Sir Archibald Campbell; and the Viceroy forthwith ordered the arrest of every person in town "who wore a hat." Messrs. Hough and Wade were condemned to die; but were reprieved, and ultimately released by the English, whereupon they removed to Bengal, where Mr. Wade superintended the printing of Dr. Judson's Burman Dictionary.
The intelligence that Rangoon was taken caused a great sensation at Avi; and the King began to suspect that there were spies in the country, who reported his movements to the enemy. Dr. Judson and Dr. Price having become objects of suspicion, were arrested, cast into prison, and placed in irons, - their houses meanwhile being searched and their property confiscated, though Mrs. Judson succeeded, partly by concealment, and partly by importunity, in saving a quantity of silver and a few articles of furniture.
Mrs. Judson, with the heroic devotion of a wife and a martyr, now set herself to effect the liberation of the prisoners - she appealed in the most earnest and pathetic strain to every one who could be supposed to have influence iu the case; but the utmost she could accomplish was to procure the transfer of her husband from the pestilential atmosphere of a crowded dungeon to a little bamboo apartment in the prison yard, where she could do something to alleviate his sufferings. No food was supplied to the prisoners by the jailors; and they were kept from starvation only by her daily visits to the prison, which she made on foot, from a distance of two miles. "The acme of my distress," she wrote, "consisted in the awful uncertainty of our final fate. My prevailing opinion was that my husband would suffer violent death; and that I should of course become a slave, and languish out a miserable, though short, existence, in the tyrannic hands of some unfeeling monster. Sometimes, for a moment or two, my thoughts would glance towards America, and my beloved friends there; - but, for nearly a year and a half, so entirely engrossed was every thought with present scenes and sufferings, that I seldom reflected on a single occurrence of my former life, or recollected that I had a friend in existence out of Ava."
But, though the cup of these devoted missionaries now seemed full, there were yet other worse things in store for them. When the hot season commenced, the prisoners were loaded with additional chains, and thrust back into the dungeon from which they had been temporarily delivered. The atmosphere was intolerable; and Dr. Judson was very soon attacked by fever. His wife forced her way to the presence of the Governor, notwithstanding he had forbidden her admission, and made an appeal to him which set the tears to flowing down his cheeks. "I knew you would wake me feel," said the old man, "and therefore I forbade your application." He then informed her that he had been repeatedly directed to execute the missionaries secretly, but that he had declined doing it, though it was impossible for him to do anything in mitigation of their sufferings, and he
must not be asked to attempt it. That she might be near her husband, and in a situation to know the worst, she occupied a low bamboo hut near the prison gate, and, finally, by her unceasing importunity, obtained an order for his removal there.
But another scene of yet deeper horror was now about to open. In three days, the prisoners were ordered for Ava; and, that she might be saved the awful pang of witnessing the removal, the Governor sent for her, and detained her in conversation till it was over. Dr. Judson, having been stripped of nearly all his clothing, was driven on foot, with his fellow sufferers, towards the "death prison" of Oung-pen-la, four miles from Amarapoora. Thus walking in burning sand, beneath an intensely hot sun, without hat or shoes, his feet became blistered till the skin was actually worn off; and, but for the humanity of a Bengali servant of an English prisoner, who took part of his head-dress to wrap his bleeding feet, and then actually bore him on his shoulders, he must have fallen dead by the way. The officer who had them in charge quickly found that it was impossible for them to proceed; and the rest of the journey was performed in carts.
Mrs. Judson, meanwhile, found that they were gone, but sought in vain to find any trace of them. At length, the Governor told her that they were removed to Amarapoora; and added that he could do nothing for her husband, and advised her earnestly to look out for her own safety. But she instantly obtained a passport, and, with her infant child, born in the midst of these deep sorrows, and a faithful Bengali servant, set out to find her husband, and actually reached him at evening. She found him perfectly exhausted by the tortures to which lie had been subjected on the way, and, with the other prisoners, occupying a narrow projection of a dilapidated hovel. When he saw her, he said, - "Why have you come? you cannot live here."
The next morning, a little Burman girl, adopted by Mrs. Judson, was attacked by the small-pox; and, though she immediately inoculated her infant, the precaution did not avail, and the little one had the disease so severely that it did not recover for three months. The mother was now completely worn out by toil and anxiety, and had only strength enough to go to Ava and bring their medicine chest; and when, on her return, she reached the jailor's hut, she fainted upon her mat, and, for two months, was too feeble to rise from it. As she was unable to give nourishment to her babe, the jailor was bribed to release Dr. Judson from close confinement, who daily bore the child round the city, soliciting sustenance for it from such Burman mothers as were in a situation to furnish it.
While they were thus in constant expectation of the execution of the sentence of death, a circumstance occurred that suddenly reversed their prospects. The officer, by whose advice the sentence had been passed, had proposed that they should be executed on occasion of his taking command against the English; but it turned out that, before he was able to accomplish his purpose, he was himself executed for treason. The English forces, though greatly retarded by different causes, were steadily approaching the capital, and the King began to tremble for his safety. An order forthwith came that the prisoners should return to Ava, and Mr.
Judson was immediately put in requisition at the English camp, as translator and interpreter to an embassy of peace. While the negotiation, which was a very protracted and tedious one, was going forward, Mrs. Judson was attacked by the fever of the country, and brought so low that there was, for a time, little prospect of her recovery. The treaty, which was humiliating enough to the King, was finally concluded, involving this among other provisions, - that the missionaries should be allowed to find a refuge in the British Provinces, - a step to which their diversified and terrible sufferings, under his tyrannical reign, had more than reconciled them.
Dr. Judson hoped now to devote himself to the missionary work at Amherst, - a new town near the mouth of the Salwen, in British Burmah, whither those who survived of the little flock at Rangoon had removed, with their teachers, in the summer of 1826. But, at the solicitation of Mr. Crawford, Commissioner of the British East Indian Government, he accompanied an embassy to Ava for negotiating a commercial treaty, in the hope of being able to secure a guaranty for religious freedom in the King's dominions. The object, however, utterly failed, and, after an absence of several months, he returned to Amherst. only to be overwhelmed by the sorrows of bereavement. Mrs. Judson, soon after his departure, had been attacked with a violent fever, which terminated fatally in eighteen days. But he was privileged to know that her death was a most edifying scene of Christian submission and triumph. His only child soon followed her mother, and his house was left to him desolate. The character of Mrs. Judson combined the most heroic with the most gentle and lovely qualities, and the history of her life is an enduring monument to the riches and power of Divine grace.
But Dr. Judson, though well-nigh overwhelmed with a sense of his loss, did not relax his efforts in the service of his Master. The Government being, shortly after this, transferred to Maulmein, a town on the East bank of the Salwen, the mission followed in 1827, and Dr. Judson continued there till the summer of 1830. During this time, besides teaching and preaching, he thoroughly revised the New Testament, and prepared twelve smaller books in Burmese. Circumstances now occurred that seemed to render it desirable that he should return to Rangoon; and he, accordingly, repaired thither in May. Finding a prevalent spirit of inquiry, he resolved to make a tour into the interior; and, stopping at a place called Prome, he commenced his labours there, and continued them for some time; but the occurrence of some adverse circumstances led him to return to Rangoon in the succeeding autumn. Here, while engaged in the translation of the Scriptures, he was obliged to devote not a small part of his time to the instruction of those who were inquiring on the subject of religion. The demand for tracts became so great that the press at Maulmein, though constantly employed, could not supply it.
The next summer, Dr. Judson moved back to Maulmein, where he continued to prosecute his work of translation, at the same time preaching in the city and the jungles. On the last day of January, 1834, he had the pleasure to see, as the result of his labours, the entire Bible in Burmese.
In April of this year, Dr. Judson was united in marriage with Mrs. Boardman; whose husband's brief history on Pagan ground will be found in another part of this volume.
For several years, his time was divided between the revision of his translation of the Scriptures, and the superintendence of the native church at Maulmein. His heart was now greatly encouraged by the rapid progress of the work around him; and he could couut not less than a thousand souls redeemed from the bondage of idolatry, as the result, under God, of the enterprise which he had commenced, more than twenty years before.
In 1838, he visited Bengal for the benefit of his health, but returned without any essential improvement. The Board invited him to come to the United States, but he felt constrained to decline their invitation. In 1840, he completed the revision of his translation of the Bible, and a second edition appeared shortly after. In the summer of 1841, he made another voyage to Bengal, with his family, and while there was called to bury his youngest child. They then proceeded to the Isle of France, and thence returned to Maulmein, where they arrived, in invigorated health, about the close of the year.
The next year, he undertook another arduous task, - the compilation of a complete Dictionary of the Burmese language, consisting of two vocabularies, - Burmese and English, and English and Burmese. In this he was interrupted by the illness of Mrs. Judson. After employing many ineffectual means for her recovery, he resolved, in the spring of 1845, to try the effect of a voyage to the United States. Accordingly, he embarked for Boston, towards the close of April, taking with him his family, and two native assistants, to carry forward his Dictionary during his visit. On arriving at Mauritius, Mrs. Judson was so far revived that it was thought she might proceed safely on the voyage without her husband; and, accordingly, the assistants were sent back, and he was just about to follow them, when she suffered a relapse which determined him not to leave her. She grew weaker till they reached St. Helena, and there went off triumphantly to her Heavenly home.
After committing the remains of his wife to the dust, on the 1st of September, he proceeded, with his motherless children, toward his native land, and arrived at Boston on the 15th of October. On the evening of the third day after he landed, the Rev. Dr. Sharp, the venerable President of the Board, in the presence of a large and deeply interested assembly, addressed him in appropriate and hearty words of welcome. There, too, was his early associate in the missionary cause, the Rev. Samuel Nott, Jr., who, pressing through the congregation, greeted him with a cordiality even more than fraternal. But this was only the first of a long succession of meetings, held in our cities and larger towns, to greet this honoured and beloved missionary, and to catch from him a fresh impulse in favour of the cause to which his life had been devoted. On the 2d of June, 1846, he was married to Emily Chebbuck, of Utica, N. Y., a lady distinguished not only for a beautiful mind, a gentle and lovely spirit, and an elevated Christian character, but for many highly creditable contributions to our American literature. On the 11th of July, they embarked for their distant
home, accompanied by several new missionaries, and reached Maulmein safely, in December.
Dr. Judson now removed to Rangoon, the only city in the King's dominions where foreigners were at this time permitted to reside. Finding himself, from certain causes, embarrassed in his labours here, he went back to Maulmein, and, there, besides devoting much of his time to his Dictionary, he took the pastoral charge of the Burman Church, and preached once on the Sabbath. Thus he continued diligently employed, till he was arrested by disease in the autumn of 1849. He had finished the English and Burmese Dictionary, and had made considerable progress in the Burmese and English Dictionary, the manuscripts of which were afterwards placed in the hands of one of his younger colleagues for completion.
In the month of September, he took a severe cold, which was followed by a fever, and a great reduction of his strength. He took a short voyage, and tried the effect of sea-bathing, but returned to Maulmein in an evidently declining state. His bodily suffering was great, but his heart reposed calmly upon his Saviour; and, though it was his desire to live to do more for Burmah, it was delightful to him to reflect that his times were in God's hands. In April, 1850, when all hope of his recovery, if he continued at Maulmein, was gone, he took leave of his anxious wife, whose feeble health forbade her to follow him, and, with a single attendant, set out on a voyage to the Isle of France. It soon became manifest that this last resort would prove unavailing; and, after a few days, his bodily pain became so intense as, on one occasion, to extort from him the exclamation, - "Oh that I could die at once, and go directly to Paradise, where there is no pain!" This extreme suffering continued till a few minutes before he expired, when he became perfectly quiet. He died on the 12th of April, 1850, and his mortal remains were committed to the deep.
Wonderful was the change which he was permitted to witness on the field of his labours. He who baptized, by twilight, the first Burmau convert, lived to see twenty-six churches gathered, with nearly five thonsand communicants, the entire Bible in one vernacular and the New Testament in others; a native ministry actively engaged, and the Gospel extending on every side. Well might the venerable man, as his dying eye fastened upon the monuments of his own activity, and self-denial, and suffering in his Master's cause, bless God that he had been permitted to spend his life among the heathen!
Mrs. Judson returned to this country after the death of her husband, but soon followed him to his final rest.
From the Rev. William Hague, D. D. Albany, June 30,1855.
Dear Sir: Although it is not probable that any reminiscence of Dr. Judson which I may be able to furnish will impart any additional value to the sketch of him which you have prepared, yet it gives me pleasure to comply with your request, because it is always an agreeable employment of my mind, to recall the image of one whose name will be ever fragrant, and whose memory is so worthy to be cherished.
At the period of his return to his native land, after an absence of thirty-three years, it was my fortune to be residing in Boston, and never shalll
forget the day on which his arrival was announced. It was on the 15th of October, 1845 - his coming had been long anticipated, and the intelligence flew rapidly through the city. His friends were invited to meet him on the evening of the second following day, at the Bowdoin Square Church; and that large edifice was crowded with men and women, eager to behold his form and countenance, and to hail him as a warrior returned from the held of strife and victory.
My introduction to him was on that public occasion. You desire to learn what were my impressions of him, as a man, derived from frequent interviews, and the scenes of social intercourse in which I was permitted to meet him.
The first feeling of which I was conscious in his presence was that of a very agreeable disappointment in regard to his personal appearance, his air and manner, and the style of character, denoted by that expressive word, address. The engraved portraits of him, which had met my eye, represented him as rather thin and pale, in the attitude which he would naturally assume while inclined towards his table, engaged in the work of translation. I had been led to conceive of him, therefore, as having somewhat the aspect of a careworn student, with a contour indicating the habitudes of one who is isolated from general society, bearing the impress, not exactly of a cloistered recluse, but of the secluded scholar; and not at all suggestive of that happy aptitude for becoming in the best sense "all things to all men," which distinguished the apostle Paul, and which forms a leading feature of a cosmopolitan character. A few moments sufficed to dispel that association of ideas concerning him with which I had been long prepossessed. His well proportioned form, his penetrating eye, his benignant countenance, his every movement, was expressive of that dignity, ease, and grace which usually accompany a high degree of natural self-reliance, and are essential elements in our conception of a finished diplomatist. So far from realizing one's idea of a man of predominantly scholastic habits, he appeared rathier like an educated and accomplished man of the world, who had been called by the Divine Spirit, like the great "Apostle of the Gentiles," set apart and qualified for his great life-work of preaching the Gospel to the nations.
At the meeting to which I have just referred, some degree of embarrassment was experienced, on its opening, from the fact that Dr. Judson's voice was too weak, on account of an affection of his throat, to allow him to address the large assembly before him. As I had often observed that missionaries, who had returned to this country, with native converts unable to speak our language, would stand near them in a pulpit, receive their communications, and interpret them to the people, it occurred to me that a similar course might be adapted to this emergency. I ventured, therefore, to suggest to Dr. Judson that he might communicate his thoughts to me in a low tone, and that I would report them aloud to the assembly. He accepted this suggestion, and I officiated for him in this capacity, on several occasions. I could not but remark that his sentences were constructed extemporaneously with great simplicity, that they were easily remembered and easily repeated. They always breathed the spirit of humility, and were admirably suited to the time, the circumstances, and the audience. They were often eloquent, and touched the deepest chords of sensibility in the hearts of those who listened to them. We naturally judge of character from the trivial incidents as well as the great events of life; and when we take within our view the whole scope of Dr. Judson's history, we may safely affirm that, in every situation in which he was placed, his style of thought, of speech or action was beautifully apposite, and even to the most critical eye, rarely, if ever, susceptible of great improvement.
During the latter part of Dr. Judson's sojourn in the United States, my opportunities of seeing him in social and domestic circles became more frequent. And I assure you, it was always interesting to me to notice how entirely every development of his mind and heart, in connection with the most trivial things of ordinary life, were in keeping with those views of his character which I have just expressed. In large gatherings of admiring friends, he seemed quite unconscious of being the chief object of attraction. He was all alive to what was ahout him, and nothing seemed to he too great or too minute to minister to his mental activity and his happiness. He was perfectly accessible to all, and was equally at ease and at home in conversing with grave men on the gravest topics, and in engaging the attention or promoting the enjoyment of a little child. How often have I been reminded of his likeness to his adorable Master, considered as a man, in regard to this fulness of his nature, in the fine balance of his intellectual faculties and his social affections!
As I have it in my power to furnish you with a record of the last few words which Dr. Judson uttered before a public assembly in America, I will take the opportunity of presenting it to you, because I presume that you will regard it as apposite to the purpose of this communication. They were spoken to an immense assembly in Boston, at the farewell meeting which was held just before his final departure from the country. "My friends are aware that it is quite impossible for me, without serious injury to myself, to sustain my voice at such a height as to reach this large assembly, - except for a few sentences. I have, therefore, taken the liberty of putting some thoughts on paper, which the Rev. Mr. Hague will do me the honour of reading to you.
"I wish, however, in my own voice, to praise God for the deep interest in the cause of Missions manifested by the friends of the Redeemer in this city and the vicinity, and to thank them all for their expressions and acts of kindness toward me during my brief sojourn among them. I regret that circumstances have prevented my spending more time in this city, and forming a more intimate acquaintance with those whom a slight acquaintance has taught me so much to love.
"The greatest favour we can bestow on our absent friends is to bear them on our hearts at the throne of grace. I pray you, dear friends, remember me there, and my missionary associates, our infant churches, and the poor heathen among whom we go to live. And though we do meet no more on earth, I trust that our next meeting will be in that blessed world where the loved and the parted meet ne'er to part again."
The attentive throng, bending forward to listen to these valedictory words, exhibited an affecting spectacle. They were aware that they were listening to that voice for the last time, and they "sorrowed because they would see his face no more." It was a memorable hour. The moral impression of that scene can never be erased from the hearts of those who were gathered there. Since then, the beloved Missionary has been called from the field of his toil, to a higher sphere of service, but his spirit still lives amongst us.
"The good begun by him shall onward flow, "In many a branching stream and wider grow."
I am, with great regard,
Dear Sir, yours truly, William Hague. ===================
[From Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860, pp. 607-620. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall]
The best current bio of Judson is: To the Golden Shore, by Courtney Anderson.
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