Samuel J. Mills, when a student in Williams College, gathered
about him a group of fellow students, all feeling the burden of
the great heathen world. One day in 1806 four of them, overtaken
by a thunderstorm, took refuge in the shelter of a haystack.
They passed the time in prayer for the salvation of the world,
and resolved, if opportunity offered, to go themselves as missionaries.
This "haystack prayer meeting" has become historic.
These young men went later to Andover Theological Seminary, where
Adoniram Judson joined them. Four of these sent a petition to
the Massachusetts Congregational Association at Bradford, June
29, 1810, offering themselves as missionaries and asking whether
they might expect support from a society in this country, or whether
they must apply to a British society. In response to this appeal
the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was formed.
When a charter for the Board was applied for, an unbelieving soul
objected upon the floor of the legislature, alleging in opposition
to the petition that the country contained so limited a supply
of Christianity that none could be spared for export, but was
aptly reminded by another, who was blessed with a more optimistic
make, that this was a commodity such that the more of it was sent
abroad the more remained at home. There was much perplexity concerning
plans and finances, so Judson was dispatched to England to confer
with the London Society as to the feasibility of the two organizations
cooperating in sending and sustaining the candidates, but this
scheme came to nothing. At last sufficient money was raised,
and in February, 1812, the first missionaries of the American
Board sailed for the Orient. Mr. Judson was accompanied by his
wife, having married Ann Hasseltine shortly before sailing.
On the long voyage out, in some way Mr. and Mrs. Judson and Mr.
Rice were led to revise their convictions with reference to the
proper mode of baptism, reached the conclusion that only immersion
was valid, and were reabptized by Carey soon after their arrival
in Calcutta. This step necessarily sundered their connection
with the body which had sent them forth, and left them wholly
destitute of support. Mr. Rice returned to America to report
this condition of affairs to the Baptist brethren. They looked
upon the situation as the result of an act of Providence, and
eagerly planned to accept the responsibility thrust upon them.
Accordingly the Baptist Missionary Union was formed. So Mr.
Judson was the occasion of the organization of two great missionary
The Persecution of Doctor Judson
After laboring for some time in Hindustan Dr. and Mrs.
Judson finally established themselves at Rangoon in the Burman
Empire, in 1813. In 1824 war broke out between the British East
India Company and the emperor of Burma. Dr. and Mrs. Judson and
Dr. Price, who were at Ava, the capital of the Burman Empire,
when the war commenced, were immediately arrested and confined
for several months. The account of the sufferings of the missionaries
was written by Mrs. Judson, and is given in her own words.
"Rangoon, May 26, 1826.
"My beloved Brother,
"I commence this letter with the intention of giving you
the particulars of our captivity and sufferings at Ava. How long
my patience will allow my reviewing scenes of disgust and horror,
the conclusion of this letter will determine. I had kept a journal
of everything that had transpired from our arrival at Ava, but
destroyed it at the c ommencement of our difficulties.
"The first certain intelligence we received of the declaration
of war by the Burmese, was on our arrival at Tsenpyoo-kywon, about
a hundred miles this side of Ava, where part of the troops, under
the command of the celebrated Bandoola, had encamped. As we proceeded
on our journey, we met Bandoola himself, with the remainder of
his troops, gaily equipped, seated on his golden barge, and surrounded
by a fleet of gold war boats, one of which was instantly despatched
the other side of the river to hail us, and make all necessary
inquiries. We were allowed to proceed quietly on, when he had
informed the messenger that we were Americans, not English, and
were going to Ava in obedience to the command of his Majesty.
"On our arrival at the capital, we found that Dr. Price was
out of favor at court, and that suspicion rested on most of the
foreigners then at Ava. Your brother visited at the palace two
or three times, but found the king's manner toward him very different
from what it formerly had been; and the queen, who had hitherto
expressed wishes for my speedy arrival, now made no inquiries
after me, nor intimated a wish to see me. Consequently, I made
no effort to visit at the palace, though almost daily invited
to visit some of the branches of the royal family, who were living
in their own houses, out of the palace enclosure. Under these
circumstances, we thought our most prudent course lay in prosecuting
our original intention of building a house, and commencing missionary
operations as occasion offered, thus endeavoring to convince the
government that we had really nothing to do with the present war.
"In two or three weeks after our arrival, the king, queen,
all the members of the royal family, and most of the officers
of government, returned to Amarapora, in order to come and take
possession of the new palace in the customary style.
"I dare not attempt a description of that splendid day, when
majesty with all its attendant glory entered the gates of the
golden city, and amid the acclamations of millions, I may say,
took possession of the palace. The saupwars of the provinces
bordering on China, all the viceroys and high officers of the
kingdom were assembled on the occasion, dressed in their robes
of state, and ornamented with the insignia of their office. The
white elephant, richly adorned with gold and jewels, was one of
the most beautiful objects in the procession. The king and queen
alone were unadorned, dressed in the simple garb of the country;
they, hand in hand, entered the garden in which we had taken our
seats, and where a banquet was prepared for their refreshment.
All the riches and glory of the empire were on this day exhibited
to view. The number and immense size of the elephants, the numerous
horses, and great variety of vehicles of all descriptions, far
surpassed anything I have ever seen or imagined. Soon after his
majesty had taken possession of the new palace, an order was issued
that no foreigner should be allowed to enter, excepting Lansago.
We were a little alarmed at this, but concluded it was from political
motives, and would not, perhaps, essentially affect us.
"For several weeks nothing took place to alarm us, and we
wnt on with our school. Mr. J. preached every Sabbath, all the
materials for building a brick house were procured, and the masons
had made considerable progress in raising the building.
"On the twenty-third of May, 1824, just as we had concluded
worship at the Doctor's house, the other side of the river, a
messenger came to inform us that Rangoon was taken by the English.
The intelligence produced a shock, in which was a mixture of
fear and joy. Mr. Gouger, a young merchant residing at Ava, was
then with us, and had much more reason to fear than the rest of
us. We all, however, immediately returned to our house, and began
to consider what was to be done. Mr. G. went to Prince Thar-yar-wadee,
the king's most influential brother, who informed him he need
not give himself any uneasiness, as he had mentioned the subject
to his majesty, who had replied, that 'the few foreigners residing
at Ava had nothing to do with the war, and should not be molested.'
"The government were now all in motion. An army of ten or
twelve thousand men, under the command of the Kyee-woon-gyee,
were sent off in three or four days, and were to be joined by
the Sakyer-woon-gyee, who had previously been appointed viceroy
of Rangoon, and who was on his way thither, when the news of its
attack reached him. No doubt was entertained of the defeat of
the English; the only fear of the king was that the foreigners
hearing of the advance of the Burmese troops, would be so alarmed
as to flee on board their ships and depart, before there would
be time to secure them as slaves. 'Bring for me,' said a wild
young buck of the palace, 'six kala pyoo, (white strangers,) to
row my boat;' and 'to me,' said the lady of Woon-gyee, 'send four
white strangers to manage the affairs of my house, as I understand
they are trusty servants.' The war boats, in high glee, passed
our house, the soldiers singing and dancing, and exhibiting gestures
of the most joyful kind. Poor fellows! said we, you will probably
never dance again. And so it proved, for few if any ever saw
again their native home.
"At length Mr. Judson and Dr. Price were summoned to a court
of examination, where strict inquiry was made relative to all
they knew. The great point seemed to be whether they had been
in the habit of making communications to foreigners, of the state
of the country, etc. They answered that they had always written
to their friends in America, but had no correspondence with English
officers, or the Bengal government. After their examination,
they were not put in confinement as the Englishmen had been, but
were allowed to return to their houses. In examining the accounts
of Mr. G it was found that Mr. J. and Dr. Price had taken money
of him to a considerable amount. Ignorant, as were the Burmese,
of our mode of receiving money, by orders on Bengal, this circumstance,
to their suspicious minds, was a sufficient evidence that the
missionaries were in the pay of the English, and very probably
spies. It was thus represented to the king, who, in an angry
tone, ordered the immediate arrest of the 'two teachers.'
"On the eighth of June, just as we were prearing for dinner,
in rushed an officer, holding a black book, with a dozen Burmans,
accompanied by one, whom, from his spotted face, we knew to be
an executioner, and a 'son of the prison.' 'Where is the teacher?'
was the first inquiry. Mr. Judson presented himself. 'You are
called by the king,' said the officer; a form of speech always
used when about to arrest a criminal. The spotted man instantly
seized Mr. Judson, threw him on the floor, and produced the small
cord, the instrument of torture. I caught hold of his arm;
'Stay, (said I,) I will give you money.' 'Take her too,' said
the officer; 'she also is a foreigner.' Mr. Judson, with an imploring
look, begged they would let me remain until further orders. The
scene was now shocking beyond description.
"The whole neighborhood had collected-the masons at work
on the brick house threw down their tools, and ran-the little
Burman children were screaming and crying-the Bengalee servants
stood in amazement at the indignities offered their master-and
the hardened executioner, with a hellish joy, drew tight the cords,
bound Mr. Judson fast, and dragged him off, I knew not whither.
In vain I begged and entreated the spotted face to take the silver,
and loosen the ropes, but he spurned my offers, and immediately
departed. I gave the money, however, to Moung Ing to follow after,
to make some further attempt to mitigate the torture of Mr. Judson;
but instead of succeeding, when a few rods from the house, the
unfeeling wretches again threw their prisoner on the ground, and
drew the cords still tighter, so as almost to prevent respiration.
"The officer and his gang proceeded on to the courthouse,
where the governor of the city and the officers were collected,
one of whom read the order of the king, to commit Mr. Judson to
the death prison, into which he was soon hurled, the door closed-and
Moung Ing saw no more. What a night was now before me! I retired
into my room, and endeavored to obtain consolation from committing
my case to God, and imploring fortitude and strength to suffer
whatever awaited me. But the consolation of retirement was not
long allowed me, for the magistrate of the place had come into
the veranda, and continually called me to come out, and submit
to his examination. But previously to going out, I destroyed
all my letters, journals, and writings of every kind, lest they
should disclose the fact that we had correspondents in England,
and had minuted down every occurrence since our arrival in the
country. When this work of destruction was finished, I went out
and submitted to the examination of the magistrate, who inquired
very minutely of everything I knew; then ordered the gates of
the compound to be shut, no person be allowed to go in or out,
placed a guard of ten ruffians, to whom he gave a strict charge
to keep me safe, and departed.
"It was now dark. I retired to an inner room with my four
little Burman girls, and barred the doors. The guard instantly
ordered me to unbar the doors and come out, or they would break
the house down. I obstinately refused to obey, and endeavored
to intimidate them by threatening to complain of their conduct
to higher authorities on the morrow. Finding me resolved in disregarding
their orders, they took the two Bengalee servants, and confined
them in the stocks in a very painful position. I could not endure
this; but called the head man to the window, and promised to make
them all a present in the morning, if they would release the servants.
After much debate, and many severe threatenings, they consented,
but seemed resolved to annoy me as much as possible. My unprotected,
desolate state, my entire uncertainty of the fate of Mr. Judson,
and the dreadful carousings and almost diabolical language of
the guard, all conspired to make it by far the most distressing
night I had ever passed. You may well imagine, my dear brother,
that sleep was a stranger to my eyes, and peace and composure
to my mind.
"The next morning, I sent Moung Ing to ascertain the situation
of your brother, and give him food, if still living. He soon
returned, with the intelligence that Mr. Judson, and all the white
foreigners, were confined in the death prison, with three pairs
of iron fetters each, and fastened to a long pole, to prevent
their moving! The point of my anguish now was that I was a prisoner
myself, and could make no efforts for the release of the missionaries.
I begged and entreated the magistrate to allow me to go to some
member of government to state my case; but he said he did not
dare to consent, for fear I should make my escape. I next wrote
a note to one of the king's sisters, with whom I had been intimate,
requesting her to use her influence for the release of the teachers.
The note was returned with this message-She 'did not understand
it'-which was a polite refusal to interfere; though I afterwards
ascertained that she had an anxious desire to assist us, but dared
not on account of the queen. The day dragged heavily away, and
another dreadful night was before me. I endeavored to soften
the feelings of the guard by giving them tea and cigars for the
night; so that they allowed me to remain inside of my room, without
threatening as they did the night before. But the idea of your
brother being stretched on the bare floor in irons and confinement,
haunted my mind like a spectre, and prevented my obtaining any
quiet sleep, though nature was almost exhausted.
"On the third day, I sent a message to the governor of the
city, who has the entire direction of prison affairs, to allow
me to visit him with a present. This had the desired effect;
and he immediately sent orders to the guards, to permit my going
into town. The governor received me pleasantly, and asked me
what I wanted. I stated to him the situation of the foreigners,
and particularly that of the teachers, who were Americans, and
had nothing to do with the war. He told me it was not in his
power to release them from prison or irons, but that he could
make their situation more comfortable; there was his head officer,
with whom I must consult, relative to the means. The officer,
who proved to be one of the city writers, and whose countenance
at the first glance presented the most perfect assemblage of all
the evil passions attached to human nature, took me aside, and
endeavored to convince me, that myself, as well as the prisoners,
was entirely at his disposal-that our future comfort must depend
on my liberality in regard to presents-and that these must be
made in a private way and unknown to any officer in the government!
'What must I do,' said I, 'to obtain a mitigation of the present
sufferings of the two teachers?' 'Pay to me,' said he, 'two hundred
tickals, (about a hundred dollars,) two pieces of fine cloth,
and two pieces of handkerchiefs.' I had taken money with me in
the morning, our house being two miles from the prison-I could
not easily return. This I offered to the writer, and begged he
would not insist on the other articles, as they were not in my
possession. He hesitated for some time, but fearing to lose the
sight of so much money, he concluded to take it, promising to
relieve the teachers from their most painful situation.
"I then procured an order from the governor, for my admittance
into prison; but the sensations, produced by meeting your brother
in that wretched, horrid situation-and the affecting scene which
ensued, I will not attempt to describe. Mr. Judson crawled to
the door of the prison-for I was never allowed to enter-gave me
some directions relative to his release; but before we could make
any arrangement, I was ordered to depart, by those iron-hearted
jailers, who could not endure to see us enjoy the poor consolation
of meeting in that miserable place. In vain I pleaded the order
of the governor for my admittance; they again, harshly repeated,
'Depart, or we will pull you out.' The same evening, the missionaries,
together with the other foreigners, who had paid an equal sum,
were taken out of the common prison, and confined in an open shed
in the prison inclosure. Here I was allowed to send them food,
and mats to sleep on; but was not permitted to enter again for
"My next object was to get a petition presented to the queen;
but no person being admitted into the palace, who was in disgrace
with his majesty, I sought to present it through the medium of
her brother's wife. I had visited her in better days, and received
particular marks of her favor. But now times were altered: Mr.
Judson was in prison, and I in distress, which was a sufficient
reason for giving me a cold reception. I took a present of considerable
value. She was lolling on her carpet as I entered, with her attendants
around her. I waited not for the usual question to a suppliant,
'What do you want?' but in a bold, earnest, yet respectful manner,
stated our distresses and our wrongs, and begged her assistance.
She partly raised her head, opened the present I had brought,
and coolly replied, 'Your case is not singular; all the foreigners
are treated alike.' 'But it is singular,' said I, 'the teachers
are Americans; they are ministers of religion, have nothing to
do with war or politics, and came to Ava in obedience to the king's
command. They have never done any thing to deserve such treatment;
and is it right they should be treated thus?' 'The king does
as he pleases,' said she; 'I am not the king, what can I do?'
'You can state their case to the queen, and obtain their release,'
replied I. 'Place yourself in my situation-were you in America,
your husband, innocent of crime, thrown into prison, in irons,
and you a solitary, unprotected female-what would you do?' With
a slight degree of feeling, she said, 'I will present your petition,
come again to-morrow.' I returned to the house, with considerable
hope, that the speedy release of the missionaries was at hand.
But the next day Mr. Gouger's property, to the amount of fifty
thousand dollars, was taken and carried to the palace. The officers,
on their return, politely informed me, they should visit our house
on the morrow. I felt obliged for this information, and accordingly
made preparations to receive them, by secreting as many little
articles as possible; together with considerable silver, as I
knew, if the war should be protracted, we should be in a state
of starvation without it. But my mind in a dreadful state of
agitation, lest it should be discovered, and cause my being thrown
into prison. And had it been possible to procure money from any
other quarter, I should not have ventured on such a step.
"The following morning, the royal treasurer, Prince Tharyawadees,
Chief Woon, and Koung-tone Myoo-tsa, who was in future our steady
friend, attended by forty or fifty followers, came to take possession
of all we had. I treated them civilly, gave them chairs to sit
on, tea and sweetmeats for their refreshment; and justice obliges
me to say that they conducted the business of confiscation with
more regard to my feelings than I should have thought it possible
for Burmese officers to exhibit. The three officers, with one
of the royal secretaries, alone entered the house; their attendants
were ordered to remain outside. They saw I was deeply affected,
and apologized for what they were about to do, by saying that
it was painful for them to take possession of property not their
own, but they were compelled thus to do by order of the king.
"'Where is your silver, gold, and jewels?' said the royal
treasurer. 'I have no gold or jewels; but here is the key of
a trunk which contains the silver-do with it as you please.'
The trunk was produced, and the silver weighed. 'This money,'
said I, 'was collected in America, by the disciples of Christ,
and sent here for the purpose of building a kyoung, (the name
of a priest's dwelling) and for our support while teaching the
religion of Christ. Is it suitable that you should take it?
(The Burmans are averse to taking what is offered in a religious
point of view, which was the cause of my making the inquiry.)
'We will state this circumstance to the king,' said one of them,
'and perhaps he will restore it. But this is all the silver you
have?' I could not tell a falsehood: 'The house is in your possession,'
I replied, 'search for yourselves.' 'Have you not deposited silver
with some person of your acquaintaince?' 'My acquaintances are
all in prison, with whom should I deposit silver?'
"They next ordered my trunk and drawers to be examined.
The secretary only was allowed to accompany me in this search.
Everything nice or curious, which met hjis view, was presented
to the officers, for their decision, whether it should be taken
or retained. I begged they would not take our wearing apparel,
as it would be disgraceful to take clothes partly worn into the
possession of his majesty, and to us they were of unspeakable
value. They assented, and took a list only, and did the same
with the books, medicines, etc. My little work table and rocking
chair, presents from my beloved brother, I rescued from their
grasp, partly by artifice, and partly through their ignorance.
They left also many articles, which were of inestimable value,
during our long imprisonment.
"As soon as they had finished their search and departed,
I hastened to the queen's brother, to hear what had been the fate
of my petition; when, alas! all my hopes were dashed, by his wife's
coolly saying, 'I stated your case to the queen; but her majesty
replied, The teachers will not die: let them remain as they are.'
My expectations had been so much excited that this sentence was
like a thunderbolt to my feelings. For the truth at one glance
assured me that if the queen refused assistance, who would dare
to intercede for me? With a heavy heart I departed, and on my
way home, attempted to enter the prison gate, to communicate the
sad tidings to your brother, but was harshly refused admittance;
and for the ten days following notwithstanding my daily efforts,
I was not allowed to enter. We attempted to communicate by writing,
and after being successful for a few days, it was discovered;
the poor fellow who carried the communications was beaten and
put in the stocks; and the circumstance cost me about ten dollars,
besides two or three days of agony, for fear of the consequences.
"The officers who had taken possession of our property, presented
it to his majesty, saying, 'Judson is a true teacher; we found
nothing in his house, but what belongs to priests. In addition
to this money, there are an immense number of books, medicines,
trunks of wearing apparel, of which we have only taken a list.
Shall we take them, or let them remain?' 'Let them remain,'
said the king, 'and put this property by itself, for it shall
be restored to him again, if he is found innocent.' This was
an allusion to the idea of his being a spy.
"For two or three months following, I was subject to continual
harassments, partly through my ignorance of police management
and partly through the insatiable desire of every petty officer
to enrich himself through our misfortunes.
"You, my dear brother, who know my strong attachment to my
friends, and how much pleasure I have hitherto experienced from
retrospect, can judge from the above circumstances, how intense
were my sufferings. But the point, the acme of my distresses,
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. But the consolations of religion, in these trying circumstances,
were neither 'few nor small.' It taught me to look beyond this
world, to that rest, that peaceful, happy rest, where Jesus reigns,
and oppression never enters.
"Some months after your brother's imprisonment, I was permitted
to make a little bamboo room in the prison inclosures, where he
could be much by himself, and where I was sometimes allowed to
spend two or three hours. It so happened that the two months
he occupied this place, was the coldest part of the year, when
he would have suffered much in the open shed he had previously
occupied. After the birth of your little niece, I was unable
to visit the prison and the governor as before, and found I had
lost ocnsiderable influence, previously gained; for he was not
so forward to hear my petitions when any difficulty occurred,
as he formerly had been. When Maria was nearly two months old,
her father one morning sent me word that he and all the white
prisoners were put into the inner prison, in five pairs of fetters
each, that his little room had been torn down, and his mat, pillow,
etc., been taken by the jailers. This was to me a dreadful shock,
as I thought at once it was only a prelude to greater evils.
"The situation of the prisoners was now distressing beyond
description. It was at the commencement of the hot season. There
were above a hundred prisoners shut up in one room, without a
breath of air excepting from the cracks in the boards. I sometimes
obtained permission to go to the door for five minutes, when my
heart sickened at the wretchedness exhibited. The white prisoners,
from incessant perspiration and loss of appetite, looked more
like the dead than the living. I made daily applications to the
governor, offering him money, which he refused; but all that I
gained was permission for the foreigners to eat their food outside,
and this continued but a short time.
"After continuing in the inner prison for more than a month,
your brother was taken with a fever. I felt assured he would
not live long, unless removed from that noisome place. To effect
this, and in order to be near the prison, I removed from our house
and put up a small bamboo room in the governor's inclosure, which
was nearly opposite the prison gate. Here I incessantly begged
the governor to give me an order to take Mr. J. out of the large
prison, and place him in a more comfortable situation; and the
old man, being worn out with my entreaties at length gave me the
order in an official form; and also gave orders to the head jailer,
to allow me to go in and out, all times of the day, to administer
medicines. I now felt happy, indeed, and had Mr. J. instantly
removed into a little bamboo hovel, so low, that neither of us
could stand upright-but a palace in comparison with the place
he had left.
Removal of the Prisoners to Oung-pen-la-Mrs. Judson Follows
"Notwithstanding the order the governor had given for my
admittance into prison, it was with the greatest difficulty that
I could persuade the under jailer to open the gate. I used to
carry Mr. J's food myself, for the sake of getting in, and would
then remain an hour or two, unless driven out. We had been in
this comfortable situation but two or three days, when one morning,
having carried in Mr. Judson's breakfast, which, in consequence
of fever, he was unable to take, I remained longer than usual,
when the governor in great haste sent for me. I promised him
to return as soon as I had ascertained the governor's will, he
being much alarmed at this unusual message. I was very agreeably
disappointed, when the governor informed, that he only wished
to consult me about his watch, and seemed unusually pleasant and
conversable. I found afterwards, that his only object was, to
detain me until the dreadful scene, about to take place in the
prison, was over. For when I left him to go to my room, one of
the servants came running, and with a ghastly countenance informed
me, that all the white prisoners were carried away.
"I would not believe the report, but instantly went back
to the governor, who said he had just heard of it, but did not
wish to tell me. I hastily ran into the street, hoping to get
a glimpse of them before they were out of sight, but in this was
disappointed. I ran first into one street, then another, inquiring
of all I met, but none would answer me. At length an old woman
told me the white prisoners had gone towards the little river;
for they were to be carried to Amarapora. I then ran to the banks
of the little river, about half a mile, but saw them not, and
concluded the old woman had deceived me. Some of the friends
of the foreigners went to the place of execution, but found them
not. I then returned to the governor to try to discover the cause
of their removal, and the probability of their future fate. The
old man assured me that he was ignorant of the intention of government
to remove the foreigners until that morning. That since I went
out, he had learned that the prisoners had been sent to Amarapora;
but for what purpose, he knew not. 'I will send off a man immediately,'
said he, 'to see what is to be done with them. You can do nothing
more for your husband,' continued he, Take care of yourself.
"Never before had I suffered so much from fear in traversing
the streets of Ava. The last words of the governor, 'Take care
of yourself,' made me suspect there was some design with which
I was unacquainted. I saw, also, he was afraid to have me go
into the streets, and advised me to wait until dark, when he would
send me in a cart, and a man to open the gates. I took two or
three trunks of the most valuable articles, together with the
medicine chest, to deposit in the house of the governor; and after
committing the house and premises to our faithful Moung Ing and
a Bengalee servant, who continued with us, (though we were unable
to pay his wages,) I took leave, as I then thought probable, of
our house in Ava forever.
"The day was dreadfully hot; but we obtained a covered boat,
in which we were tolerably comfortable, until within two miles
of the government house. I then procured a cart; but the violent
motion, together with the dreadful heat and dust, made me almost
distracted. But what was my disappointment on my arriving at
the courthouse, to find that the prisoners had been sent on two
hours before, and that I must go in that uncomfortable mode four
miles further with little Maria in my arms, whom I held all the
way from Ava. The cart man refused to go any further; and after
waiting an hour in the burning sun, I procured another, and set
off for that never to be forgotten place, Oung-pen-la. I obtained
a guide from the governor and was conducted directly to the prison-yard.
"But what a scene of wretchedness was presented to my view!
The prison was an old shattered building, without a roof; the
fence was entirely destroyed; eight or ten Burmese were on the
top of the building, trying to make something like a shelter with
the leaves; while under a little low protection outside of the
prison sat the foreigners, chained together two and two, almost
dead with suffering and fatigue. The first words of your brother
were: 'Why have you come? I hoped you would not follow, for you
cannot live here.'
"It was now dark. I had no refreshment for the suffering
prisoners, or for myself, as I had expected to procure all that
was necessary at the market in Amarapora, and I had no shelter
for the night. I asked one of the jailers if I might put up a
little bamboo house near the prisoners; he said 'No, it was not
customary.' I then begged he would procure me a shelter for the
night, when on the morrow I could find some place to live in.
He took me to his house, in which there were only two small rooms-one
in which he and his family lived-the other, which was then half
full of grain, he offered to me; and in that little filthy place,
I spent the next six months of wretchedness. I procured some
half boiled water, instead of my tea, and, worn out with fatigue,
laid myself down on a mat spread over the paddy, and endeavored
to obtain a little refreshment from sleep. The next morning your
brother gave me the following account of the brutal treatment
he had received on being taken out of prison.
"As soon as I had gone out at the call of the governor, one
of the jailers rushed into Mr. J's little room-roughly seized
him by the arm-pulled him out-stripped of all his clothes, excepting
shirt and pantaloons-took his shoes, hat, and all his bedding-tore
off his chains-tied a rope round his waist, dragged him to the
courthouse, where the other prisoners had previously been taken.
They were then tied two and two, and delivered into the hands
of the Lamine Woon, who went on before them on horseback, while
his slaves drove the prisoners, one of the slaves holding the
rope which connected two of them together. It was in May, one
of the hottest months in the year, and eleven o'clock in the day,
so that the sun was intolerable indeed.
"They had proceeded only half a mile, when your brother's
feet became blistered, and so great was his agony, even at this
early period, that as they were crossing the little river, he
longed to throw himself into the water to be free from misery.
But the sin attached to such an act alone prevented. They had
then eight miles to walk. The sand and gravel were like burning
coals to the feet of the prisoners, which soon became perfectly
destitute of skin; and in this wretched state they were goaded
on by their unfeeling drivers. Mr. J's debilitated state, in
consequence of the fever, and having taken no food that morning,
rendered him less capable of bearing such hardships than the other
"When about halfway on their journey, as they stopped for
water, your brother begged the Lamine Woon to allow him to ride
his horse a mile or two, as he could proceed no farther in that
dreadful state. But a scornful, malignant look was all the reply
that was made. He then requested Captain Laird, who was tied
with him, and who was a strong, healthy man, to allow him to take
hold of his shoulder, as he was fast sinking. This the kind-hearted
man granted for a mile or two, but then found the additional burden
insupportable. Just at that period, Mr. Gouger's Bengalee servant
came up to them, and seeing the distresses of your brother, took
off his headdress, which was made of cloth, tore it in two, gave
half to his master, and half to Mr. Judson, which he instantly
wrapped round his wounded feet, as they were not allowed to rest
even for a moment. The servant then offered his shoulder to Mr.
J. and was almost carried by him the remainder of the way.
"The Lamine Woon, seeing the distressing state of the prisoners,
and that one of their number was dead, concluded they should go
no farther that night, otherwise they would have been driven on
until they reached Oung-pen-la the same day. An old shed was
appointed for their abode during the night, but without even a
mat or pillow, or anything to cover them. The curiosity of the
Lamine Woon's wife, induced her to make a visit to the prisoners,
whose wretchedness considerably excited her compassion, and she
ordered some fruit, sugar, and tamarinds, for their refreshment;
and the next morning rice was prepared for them, and as poor
as it was, it was refreshing to the prisoners, who had been almost
destitute of food the day before. Carts were also provided for
their conveyance, as none of them were able to walk. All this
time the foreigners were entirely ignorant of what was to become
of them; and when they arrived at Oung-pen-la, and saw the dilapidated
state of the prison, they immediately, all as one, concluded that
they were there to be burned, agreeably to the report which had
previously been in circulation at Ava. They all endeavored to
prepare themselves for the awful scene anticipated, and it was
not until they saw preparations making for repairing the prison
that they had the least doubt that a cruel lingering death awaited
them. My arrival was an hour or two after this.
"The next morning I arose and endeavored to find something
like food. But there was no market, and nothing to be procured.
One of Dr. Price's friends, however, brought some cold rice and
vegetable curry, from Amarapora, which, together with a cup of
tea from Mr. Lansago, answered for the breakfast of the prisoners;
and for dinner, we made a curry of dried salt fish, which a servant
of Mr. Gouger had brought. All the money I could command in the
world I had brought with me, secreted about my person; so you
may judge what our prospects were, in case the war should continue
long. But our heavenly Father was better to us than our fears;
for notwithstanding the constant extortions of the jailers, during
the whole six months we were at Oung-pen-la, and the frequent
straits to which we were brought, we never really suffered for
the want of money, though frequently for want of provisions, which
were not procurable.
"Here at this place my personal bodily sufferings commenced.
While your brother was confined in the city prison, I had been
allowed to remain in our house, in which I had many conveniences
left, and my health continued good beyond all expectations. But
now I had not a single article of convenience-not even a chair
or seat of any kind, excepting a bamboo floor. The very morning
after my arrival, Mary Hasseltine was taken with the smallpox,
the natural way. She, though very young, was the only assistant
I had in taking care of little Maria. But she now required all
the time I could spare from Mr. Judson whose fever still continued
in prison, and whose feet were so dreadfully mangled that for
several days he was unable to move.
"I knew not what to do, for I could procure no assistance
from the neighborhood, or medicine for the sufferers, but was
all day long going backwards and forwards from the house to the
prison, with little Maria in my arms. Sometimes I was greatly
relieved by leaving her, for an hour, when asleep, by the side
of her father, while I returned to the house to look after Mary,
whose fever ran so high as to produce delirium. She was so completely
covered with the smallpox that there was no distinction in the
pustules. As she was in the same little room with myself, I knew
Maria would take it; I therefore inoculated her from another child,
before Mary's had arrived at such a state to be infectious. At
the same time, I inoculated Abby, and the jailer's children, who
all had it so lightly as hardly to interrupt their play. But
the inoculation in the arm of my poor little Maria did not take-she
caught it of Mary, and had it the natural way. She was then only
three months and a half old, and had been a most healthy child;
but it was above three months before she perfectly recovered from
the effects of this dreadful disorder.
"You will recollect I never had the smallpox, but was vaccinated
previously to leaving America. In consequence of being for so
long a time constantly exposed, I had nearly a hundred pustules
formed, though no previous symptoms of fever, etc. The jailer's
children having had the smallpox so lightly, in consequence of
inoculation, my fame was spread all over the village, and every
child, young and old, who had not previously had it, was brought
for inoculation. And although I knew nothing about the disorder,
or the mode of treating it, I inoculated them all with a needle,
and told them to take care of their diet-all the instructions
I could give them. Mr. Judson's health was gradually restored,
and he found himself much more comfortably situated than when
in the city prison.
"The prisoners were at first chained two and two; but as
soon as the jailers could obtain chains sufficient, they were
separated, and each prisoner had but one pair. The prison was
repaired, a new fence made, and a large airy shed erected in front
of the prison, where the prisoners were allowed to remain during
the day, though locked up in the little close prison at night.
All the children recovered from the smallpox; but my watchings
and fatigue, together with my miserable food, and more miserable
lodgings, brought on one of the diseases of the country, which
is almost always fatal to foreigners.
"My constitution seemed destroyed, and in a few days I became
so weak as to be hardly able to walk to Mr. Judson's prison.
In this debilitated state, I set off in a cart for Ava, to procure
medicines, and some suitable food, leaving the cook to supply
my place. I reached the house in safety, and for two or three
days the disorder seemed at a stand; after which it attacked me
violently, that I had no hopes of recovery left-and my anxiety
now was, to return to Oung-pen-la to die near the prison. It
was with the greatest difficulty that I obtained the medicine
chest from the governor, and then had no one to administer medicine.
I however got at the laundanum, and by taking two drops at a
time for several hours, it so far checked the disorder as to enable
me to get on board a boat, though so weak that I could not stand,
and again set off for Oung-pen-la. The last four miles were in
that painful conveyance, the cart, and in the midst of the rainy
season, when the mud almost buries the oxen. You may form some
idea of a Burmese cart, when I tell you their wheels are not constructed
like ours, but are simply round thick planks with a hole in the
middle, through which a pole that supports the body is thrust.
"I just reached Oung-pen-la when my strength seemed entirely
exhausted. The good native cook came out to help me into the
house but so altered and emaciated was my appearance that the
poor fellow burst into tears at the first sight. I crawled on
the mat in the little room, to which I was confined for more than
two months, and never perfectly recovered, until I came to the
English camp. At this period when I was unable to take care of
myself, or look after Mr. Judson we must both have died, had it
not been for the faithful and affectionate care of our Bengalee
cook. A common Bengalee cook will do nothing but the simple business
of cooking; but he seemed to forget his caste, and almost his
own wants, in his efforts to serve us. He would provide, cook,
and carry your brother's food, and then return and take care of
me. I have frequently known him not to taste of food until near
night, in consequence of having to go so far for wood and water,
and in order to have Mr. Judson's dinner ready at the usual hour.
He never complained, never asked for his wages, and never f or
a moment hesitated to go anywhere, or to perform any act we required.
I take great pleasure in speaking of the faithful conduct of
this servant, who is still with us, and I trust has been well
rewarded for his services.
"Our dear little Maria was the greatest sufferer at this
time, my illness depriving her of her usual nourishment, and neither
a nurse nor a drop of milk could be procured in the village.
By making presents to the jailers, I obtained leave for Mr. Judson
to come out of prison, and take the emaciated creature around
the village, to beg a little nourishment from those mothers who
had young children. Her cries in the night were heartrending,
when it was impossible to supply her wants. I now began to think
the very affliction of Job had come upon me. When in health,
I could bear the various trials and vicissitudes through which
I was called to pass. But to be confined with sickness, and unable
to assist those who were so dear to me, when in distress, was
almost too much for me to bear; and had it not been for the consolations
of religion, and an assured conviction that every additional trial
was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I must have sunk under
my accumulated sufferings. Sometimes our jailers seemed a little
softened at our distress, and for several days together allowed
Mr. Judson to come to the house, which was to me an unspeakable
consolation. Then again they would be as iron-hearted in their
demands as though we were free from sufferings, and in affluent
circumstances. The annoyance, the extortions, and oppressions,
to which we were subject, during our six months residence in Oung-pen-la,
are beyond enumeration or description.
"The time at length arrived for our release from that detested
place, the Oung-pen-la prison. A messenger from our friend, the
governor of the north gate of the palace, who was formerly Koung-tone,
Myoo-tsa, informed us that an order had been given, the vening
before, in the palace, for Mr. Judson's release. On the same
evening an official order arrived; and with a joyful heart I set
about preparing for our departure early the following morning.
But an unexpected obstacle occurred, which made us fear that
I should still retained as a prisoner. The avaricious jailers,
unwilling to lose their prey, insisted that as my name was not
included in the order, I should not go. In vain I urged that
I was not sent there as a prisoner, and that they had no authority
over me-they still determined I should not go, and forbade the
villagers from letting me a cart. Mr. Judson was then taken out
of prison, and brought to the jailer's house, where, by promises
and threatenings, he finally gained their consent, on condition
that we would leave the remaining part of our provisions we had
recently received from Ava.
"It was noon before we were allowed to depart. When we reached
Amarapora, Mr. Judson was obliged to follow the guidance of the
jailer, who conducted him to the governor of the city. Having
made all necessary inquiries, the governor appointed another guard,
which conveyed Mr. Judson to the courthouse in Ava, to which place
he arrived some time in the night. I took my own course, procured
a boat, and reached our house before dark.
"My first object the next morning was to go in search of
our brother, and I had the mortification to meet him again in
prison, though not the death prison. I went immediately to my
old friend the governor of the city, who was now raised to the
rank of a Woon-gyee. He informed me that Mr. Judson was to be
sent to the Burmese camp, to act as translator and interpreter;
and that he was put in confinement for a short time only, until
his affairs were settled. Early the following morning I went
to this officer again, who told me that Mr. Judson had that moment
received twenty tickals from government, with orders to go immediately
on board a boat for Maloun, and that he had given him permission
to stop a few moments at the house, it being on his way. I hastened
back to the house, where Mr. Judson soon arrived; but was allowed
to remain only a short time, while I could prepare food and clothing
for future use. He was crowded into a little boat, where he had
not room sufficient to lie down, and where his exposure to the
cold, damp nights threw him into a violent fever, which had nearly
ended all his sufferings. He arrived at Maloun on the third day,
where, ill as he was, he was obliged to enter immediately on the
work of translating. He remained at Maloun six weeks, suffering
as much as he had at any time in prison, excepting that he was
not in irons, nor exposed to the insults of those cruel jailers.
"For the first fortnight after his departure, my anxiety
was less than it had been at any time previous, since the commencement
of our difficulties. I knew the Burmese officers at the camp
would feel the value of Mr. Judson's services too much to allow
their using any measures threatening his life. I thought his
situation, also, would be much more comfortable than it really
was-hence my anxiety was less. But my health, which had never
been restored, since that violent attack at Oung-pen-la, now daily
declined, until I was seized with the spotted fever, with all
its attendant horrors. I knew the nature of the fever from its
commencement; and from the shattered state of my constitution,
together with the want of medical attendants, I concluded it must
be fatal. The day I was taken, a Burmese nurse came and offered
her services for Maria. This circumstance filled me with gratitude
and confidence in God; for though I had so long and so constantly
made efforts to obtain a person of this description, I had never
been able; when at the very time I most needed one, and without
any exertion, a voluntary offer was made.
"My fever raged violently and without any intermission.
I began to think of settling my worldly affairs, and of committing
my dear little Maria to the care of the Portuguese woman, when
I lost my reason, and was insensible to all around me. At this
dreadful period Dr. Price was released from prison; and hearing
of my illness, obtained permission to come and see me. He has
since told me that my situation was the most distressing he had
ever witnessed, and that he did not then think I should survive
many hours. My hair was shaved, my head and feet covered with
blisters, and Dr. Price ordered the Bengalee servant who took
care of me to endeavor to persuade me to take a little nourishment,
which I had obstinately refused for several days. One of the
first things I recollect was, seeing this faithful servant standing
by me, trying to induce me to take a little wine and water. I
was in fact so far gone that the Burmese neighbors who had come
in to see me expire said, 'She is dead; and if the king of angels
should come in, he could not recover her.'
"The fever, I afterwards understood, had run seventeen days
when the blisters were applied. I now began to recover slowly;
but it was more than a month after this before I had strength
to stand. While in this weak, debilitated state, the servant
who had followed your brother to the Burmese camp came in and
informed me that his master had arrived, and was conducted to
the courthouse in town. I sent off a Burman to watch the movements
of government, and to ascertain, if possible, in what way Mr.
Judson was to be disposed of. He soon returned with the sad
intelligence that he saw Mr. Judson go out of the palace yard,
accompanied by two or three Burmans, who conducted him to one
of the prisons; and that it was reported in town, that he was
to be sent back to the Oung-pen-la prison. I was too weak to
bear ill tidings of any kind; but a shock as dreadful as this
almost annihilated me. For some time, I could hardly breathe;
but at last gained sufficient composure to dispatch Moung Ing
to our friend, the governor of the north gate, and begged him
to make one more effort for the release of Mr. Judson, and prevent
his being sent back to the country prison, where I knew he must
suffer much, as I could not follow. Moung Ing then went in search
of Mr. Judson; and it was nearly dark when he found him in the
interior of an obscure prison. I had sent food early in the afternoon,
but being unable to find him, the bearer had returned with it,
which added another pang to my distresses, as I feared he was
already sent to Oung-pen-la.
"If I ever felt the value and efficacy of prayer, I did at
this time. I could not rise from my couch; I could make no efforts
to secure my husband; I could only plead with that great and powerful
Being who has said, 'Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I
will hear, and thou shalt glorify Me;' and who made me at this
time feel so powerfully this promise that I became quite composed,
feeling assured that my prayers would be answered.
"When Mr. Judson was sent from Maloun to Ava, it was within
five minutes' notice, and without his knowledge of the cause.
On his way up the river he accidentally saw the communication
made to government respecting him, which was simply this: 'We
have no further use for Yoodathan, we therefore return him to
the golden city.' On arriving at the courthouse, there happened
to be no one present who was acquainted with Mr. J. The presiding
officer inquired from what place he had been sent to Maloun.
He was answered from Oung-pen-la. 'Let him then,' said the officer,
'be returned thither'-when he was delivered to a guard and conducted
to the place above-mentioned, there to remain until he could be
conveyed to Oung-pen-la. In the meantime the governor of the
north gate presented a petition to the high court of the empire,
offered himself as Mr. Judson's security, obtained his release,
and took him to his house, where he treated him with every possible
kindness, and to which I was removed as soon as returning health
"It was on a cool, moonlight evening, in the month of March,
that with hearts filled with gratitude to God, and overflowing
with joy at our prospects, we passed down the Irrawaddy, surrounded
by six or eight golden boats, and accompanied by all we had on
"We now, for the first time, for more than a year and a half,
felt that we were free, and no longer subject to the oppressive
yoke of the Burmese. And with what sensations of delight, on
the next morning, did I behold the masts of the steamboat, the
sure presage of being within the bounds of civilized life. As
soon as our boat reached the shore, Brigadier A. and another officer
came on board, congreatulated us on our arrival, and invited us
on board the steamboat, where I passed the remainder of the day;
while your brother went on to meet the general, who, with a detachment
of the army, had encamped at Yandaboo, a few miles farther down
the river. Mr. Judson returned in the evening, with an invitation
from Sir Archibald, to come immediately to his quarters, where
I was the next morning introduced, and received with the greatest
kindness by the general, who had a tent pitched for us near his
own-took us to his own table, and treated us with the kindness
of a father, rather than as strangers of another country.
"For several days, this single idea wholly occupied my mind,
that we were out of the power of the Burmese government, and once
more under the protection of the English. Our feelings continually
dictated expressions like these: What shall we render to the Lord
for all His benefits toward us.
"The treaty of peace was soon concluded, signed by both parties,
and a termination of hostilities publicly declared. We left Yandaboo,
after a fortnight's residence, and safely reached the mission
house in Rangoon, after an absence of two years and three months."
Through all this suffering the precious manuscript of the Burmese
New Testament was guarded. It was put into a bag and made into
a hard pillow for Dr. Judson's prison. Yet he was forced to be
apparently careless about it, lest the Burmans should think it
contained something valuable and take it away. But with the assistance
of a faithful Burmese convert, the manuscript, representing so
many long days of labor, was kept in safety.
At the close of this long and melancholy narrative, we may appropriately
introduce the following tribute to the benevolence and talents
of Mrs. Judson, written by one of the English prisoners, who were
confined at Ava with Mr. Judson. It was published in a Calcutta
paper after the conclusion of the war:
"Mrs. Judson was the author of those eloquent and forceful
appeals to the government which prepared them by degrees for submission
to terms of peace, never expected by any, who knew the hauteur
and inflexible pride of the Burman court.
"And while on this subject, the overflowings of grateful
feelings, on behalf of myself and fellow prisoners, compel me
to add a tribute of public thanks to that amiable and humane female,
who, though living at a distance of two miles from our prison,
without any means of conveyance, and very feeble in health, forgot
her own comfort and infirmity, and almost every day visited us,
sought out and administered to our wants, and contributed in every
way to alleviate our misery.
"While we were left by the government destitute of food,
she, with unwearied perseverance, by some means or3 another, obtained
for us a constant supply.
"When the tattered state of our clothes evinced the extremity
of our distress, she was ever ready to replenish our scanty wardrobe.
"When the unfeeling avarice of our keepers confined us inside,
or made our feet fast in the stocks, she, like a ministering angel,
never ceased her applications to the government, until she was
authorized to communicate to us the grateful news of our enlargement,
or of a respite from our galling oppressions.
"Besides all this, it was unquestionably owing, in a chief
degree, to the repeated eloquence, and forcible appeals of Mrs.
Judson, that the untutored Burman was finally made willing to
secure the welfare and happiness of his country, by a sincere
Epilogue to the Original Edition
And now to conclude, good Christian readers, this present tractation,
not for the lack of matter, but to shorten rather the matter for
largeness of the volume. In the meantime the grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ work with thee, gentle reader, in all thy studious
readings. And when thou hast faith, so employ thyself to read,
that by reading thou mayest learn daily to know that which may
profit thy soul, may teach thee experience, may arm thee with
patience, and instruct thee in all spiritual knowledge more and
more, to thy perfect comfort and salvation in Christ Jesus, our
Lord, to whom be glory in secula seculorum. Amen.