The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker & Missionary
George Smith

Part 2 out of 8

"LEICESTER, Jan. 17th, 1793.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Effects of the news in England on the Baptists--On the home
churches--In the foundation of the London and other Missionary
Societies--In Scotland--In Holland and America--The missionary
home--Joshua Marshman, William Ward, and two others sent
out--Landing at the Iona of Southern Asia--Meeting of Ward and
Carey--First attempt to evangelise the non-Aryan hill tribes--Carey
driven by providences to Serampore--Dense population of Hoogli
district--Adapts his communistic plan to the new
conditions--Purchase of the property--Constitution of the
Brotherhood--His relations to Marshman and Ward--Hannah Marshman,
the first woman missionary--Daily life of the Brethren--Form of
Agreement--Carey's ideal system of missionary administration
realised for fifteen years--Spiritual heroism of the Brotherhood.

The first two English missionaries to India seemed to those who sent
them forth to have disappeared for ever. For fourteen months, in
those days of slow Indiamen and French privateers, no tidings of
their welfare reached the poor praying people of the midlands, who
had been emboldened to begin the heroic enterprise. The convoy,
which had seen the Danish vessel fairly beyond the French coast, had
been unable to bring back letters on account of the weather. At
last, on the 29th July 1794, Fuller, the secretary; Pearce, the
beloved personal friend of Carey; Ryland in Bristol; and the
congregation at Leicester, received the journals of the voyage and
letters which told of the first six weeks' experience at Balasore,
in Calcutta, Bandel, and Nuddea, just before Carey knew the worst of
their pecuniary position. The committee at once met. They sang
"with sacred joy" what has ever since been the jubilee hymn of
missions, that by William Williams--

"O'er those gloomy hills of darkness."

They "returned solemn thanks to the everlasting God whose mercy
endureth for ever, for having preserved you from the perils of the
sea, and hitherto made your ways prosperous. In reading the short
account of your labours we feel something of that spirit spoken of
in the prophet, 'Thine heart shall fear and be enlarged.' We
cordially thank you for your assiduity in learning the languages, in
translating, and in every labour of love in which you have engaged.
Under God we cheerfully confide in your wisdom, fidelity, and
prudence, with relation to the seat of your labours or the means to
carry them into effect. If there be one place, however, which
strikes us as of more importance than the rest, it is Nuddea. But
you must follow where the Lord opens a door for you." The same
spirit of generous confidence marked the relations of Carey and the
committee so long as Fuller was secretary. When the news came that
the missionaries had become indigo planters, some of the weaker
brethren, estimating Carey by themselves, sent out a mild warning
against secular temptations, to which he returned a half-amused and
kindly reply. John Newton, then the aged rector of St. Mary
Woolnoth, on being consulted, reassured them: "If the heart be fired
with a zeal for God and love to souls," he said, "such attention to
business as circumstances require will not hurt it." Since Carey,
like the Moravians, meant that the missionaries should live upon a
common stock, and never lay up money, the weakest might have
recognised the Paul-like nobleness, which had marked all his life,
in relinquishing the scanty salary that it might be used for other
missions to Africa and Asia.

The spiritual law which Duff's success afterwards led Chalmers to
formulate, that the relation of foreign to home missions acts not by
exhaustion but by fermentation, now came to be illustrated on a
great scale, and to result in the foundation of the catholic
missionary enterprise of the evangelicals of England, Scotland,
Ireland, America, Germany, and France, which has marked the whole
nineteenth century. We find it first in Fuller himself. In
comforting Thomas during his extremest dejection he quoted to him
from his own journal of 1789 the record of a long period of
spiritual inactivity, which continued till Carey compelled him to
join in the mission. "Before this I did little but pine over my
misery, but since I have betaken myself to greater activity for God,
my strength has been recovered and my soul replenished." "Your work
is a great work, and the eyes of the religious world are upon you.
Your undertaking, with that of your dear colleague, has provoked
many. The spirit of missions is gone forth. I wish it may never
stop till the Gospel is sent unto all the world."

Following the pietist Francke, who in 1710 published the first
missionary reports, and also the Moravians, Fuller and his
coadjutors issued from the press of J. W. Morris at Clipstone,
towards the end of 1794, No. I. of their Periodical Accounts
relative to a Society formed among the Particular Baptists for
Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen. That contained a
narrative of the foundation of the Society and the letters of Carey
up to 15th February 1794 from the Soondarbans. Six of these
Accounts appeared up to the year 1800, when they were published as
one volume with an index and illustrations. The volume closes with
a doggerel translation of one of several Gospel ballads which Carey
had written in Bengali in 1798. He had thus early brought into the
service of Christ the Hindoo love of musical recitative, which was
recently re-discovered--as it were--and now forms an important mode
of evangelistic work when accompanied by native musical instruments.
The original has a curious interest and value in the history of the
Bengali language, as formed by Carey. As to the music he
wrote:--"We sometimes have a melody that cheers my heart, though it
would be discordant upon the ears of an Englishman."

Such was the immediate action of the infant Baptist Society. The
moment Dr. Ryland read his letter from Carey he sent for Dr. Bogue
and Mr. Stephen, who happened to be in Bristol, to rejoice with him.
The three returned thanks to God, and then Bogue and Stephen,
calling on Mr. Hey, a leading minister, took the first step towards
the foundation of a similar organisation of non-Baptists, since
known as the London Missionary Society. Immediately Bogue, the able
Presbyterian, who had presided over a theological school at Gosport
from which missionaries went forth, and who refused the best living
in Edinburgh when offered to him by Dundas, wrote his address, which
appeared in the Evangelical Magazine for September, calling on the
churches to send out at least twenty or thirty missionaries. In the
sermon of lofty eloquence which he preached the year after, he
declared that the missionary movement of that time would form an
epoch in the history of man,--"the time will be ever remembered by
us, and may it be celebrated by future ages as the Ζra of Christian

On the same day the Rev. T. Haweis, rector of All Saints, Aldwinkle,
referring to the hundreds of ministers collected to decide where the
first mission should be sent, thus burst forth: "Methinks I see the
great Angel of the Covenant in the midst of us, pluming his wings,
and ready to fly through the midst of heaven with his own
everlasting Gospel, to every nation and tribe and tongue and
people." In Hindostan "our brethren the Baptists have at present
prevented our wishes...there is room for a thousand missionaries,
and I wish we may be ready with a numerous host for that or any
other part of the earth."

"Scotland10 was the next to take up the challenge sent by Carey.
Greville Ewing, then a young minister of the kirk in Edinburgh,
published in March 1796 the appeal of the Edinburgh or Scottish
Missionary Society, which afterwards sent John Wilson to Bombay, and
that was followed by the Glasgow Society, to which we owe the most
successful of the Kafir missions in South Africa. Robert Haldane
sold all that he had when he read the first number of the Periodical
Accounts, and gave £35,000 to send a Presbyterian mission of six
ministers and laymen, besides himself, to do from Benares what Carey
had planned from Mudnabati; but Pitt as well as Dundas, though his
personal friends, threatened him with the Company's intolerant Act
of Parliament. Evangelical ministers of the Church of England took
their proper place in the new crusade, and a year before the
eighteenth century closed they formed the agency, which has ever
since been in the forefront of the host of the Lord as the Church
Missionary Society, with Carey's friend, Thomas Scott, as its first
secretary. The sacred enthusiasm was caught by the Netherlands on
the one side under the influence of Dr. Van der Kemp, who had
studied at Edinburgh University, and by the divinity students of New
England, of whom Adoniram Judson was even then in training to
receive from Carey the apostolate of Burma. Soon too the Bengali
Bible translations were to unite with the needs of the Welsh at home
to establish the British and Foreign Bible Society.

As news of all this reached Carey amid his troubles and yet triumphs
of faith in the swamps of Dinajpoor, and when he learned that he was
soon to be joined by four colleagues, one of whom was Ward whom he
himself had trysted to print the Bengali Bible for him, he might
well write, in July 1799:--"The success of the Gospel and, among
other things, the hitherto unextinguishable missionary flame in
England and all the western world, give us no little encouragement
and animate our hearts." To Sutcliff he had written eighteen months
before that:--"I rejoice much at the missionary spirit which has
lately gone forth: surely it is a prelude to the universal spread of
the Gospel! Your account of the German Moravian Brethren's
affectionate regard towards me is very pleasing. I am not much
moved by what men in general say of me; yet I cannot be insensible
to the regards of men eminent for godliness...Staying at home is now
become sinful in many cases, and will become so more and more. All
gifts should be encouraged, and spread abroad."

The day was breaking now. Men as well as money were offered for
Carey's work. In Scotland especially Fuller found that he had but
to ask, but to appear in any evangelical pulpit, and he would
receive sums which, in that day of small things, rebuked his little
faith. Till the last Scotland was loyal to Carey and his
colleagues, and with almost a prevision of this he wrote so early as
1797:--"It rejoices my heart much to hear of our brethren in
Scotland having so liberally set themselves to encourage the
mission." They approved of his plans, and prayed for him and his
work. When Fuller called on Cecil for help, the "churchy"
evangelical told him he had a poor opinion of all Baptists except
one, the man who wrote The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation. When
he learned that its author was before him, the hasty offender
apologised and offered a subscription. "Not a farthing, sir!" was
the reply, "you do not give in faith;" but the persistent Cecil
prevailed. Men, however, were a greater want than money at that
early stage of the modern crusade. Thomas and Fountain had each
been a mistake. So were the early African missionaries, with the
exception of the first Scotsman, Peter Greig. Of the thirty sent
out by the London Missionary Society in the Duff only four were fit
for ordination, and not one has left a name of mark. The Church
Mission continued to send out only Germans till 1815. In quick
succession four young men offered themselves to the Baptist Society
to go out as assistants to Carey, in the hope that the Company would
give them a covenant to reside--Brunsdon and Grant, two of Ryland's
Bristol flock; Joshua Marshman with his wife Hannah Marshman, and
William Ward called by Carey himself.

In nine months Fuller had them and their families shipped in an
American vessel, the Criterion, commanded by Captain Wickes, a
Presbyterian elder of Philadelphia, who ever after promoted the
cause in the United States. Charles Grant helped them as he would
have aided Carey alone. Though the most influential of the
Company's directors, he could not obtain a passport for them, but he
gave them the very counsel which was to provide for the young
mission its ark of defence: "Do not land at Calcutta but at
Serampore, and there, under the protection of the Danish flag,
arrange to join Mr. Carey." After five months' prosperous voyage
the party reached the Hoogli. Before arriving within the limits of
the port of Calcutta Captain Wickes sent them off in two boats under
the guidance of a Bengali clerk to Serampore, fifteen miles higher
up on the right bank of the river. They had agreed that he should
boldly enter them, not as assistant planters, but as Christian
missionaries, rightly trusting to Danish protection. Charles Grant
had advised them well, but it is not easy now, as in the case of
their predecessors in 1795 and of their successors up to 1813, to
refrain from indignation that the British Parliament, and the party
led by William Pitt, should have so long lent all the weight of
their power to the East India Company in the vain attempt to keep
Christianity from the Hindoos. Ward's journal thus simply tells the
story of the landing of the missionaries at this Iona, this
Canterbury of Southern Asia:--

"Lord's-day, Oct. 13, 1799.--Brother Brunsdon and I slept in the
open air on our chests. We arrived at Serampore this morning by
daylight, in health and pretty good spirits. We put up at Myerr's,
a Danish tavern to which we had been recommended. No worship
to-day. Nothing but a Portuguese church here.

"Oct. 14.--Mr. Forsyth from Calcutta, missionary belonging to the
London Missionary Society, astonished us by his presence this
afternoon. He was wholly unknown, but soon became well known. He
gave us a deal of interesting information. He had seen brother
Carey, who invited him to his house, offered him the assistance of
his Moonshi, etc.

"Oct. 16--The Captain having been at Calcutta came and informed us
that his ship could not be entered unless we made our appearance.
Brother Brunsdon and I went to Calcutta, and the next day we were
informed that the ship had obtained an entrance, on condition that
we appeared at the Police Office, or would continue at Serampore.
All things considered we preferred the latter, till the arrival of
our friends from Kidderpore to whom we had addressed letters.
Captain Wickes called on Rev. Mr. Brown, who very kindly offered to
do anything for us in his power. Our Instructions with respect to
our conduct towards Civil Government were read to him. He promised
to call at the Police Office afterwards, and to inform the Master
that we intended to stay at Serampore, till we had leave to go up
the country. Captain Wickes called at the office afterwards, and
they seemed quite satisfied with our declaration by him. In the
afternoon we went to Serampore.

"Oct. 19.--I addressed a letter to the Governor to-day begging his
acceptance of the last number of our Periodical Accounts, and
informing him that we proposed having worship to-morrow in our own
house, from which we did not wish to exclude any person.

"Lord's-day, Oct. 20.--This morning the Governor sent to inquire the
hours of our worship. About half-past ten he came to our house with
a number of gentlemen and their retinue. I preached from Acts xx.
24. We had a very attentive congregation of Europeans: several
appeared affected, among whom was the Governor."

The text was well chosen from Paul's words to the elders of Ephesus,
as he turned his face towards the bonds and afflictions that awaited
him--"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear
unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the
ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the
gospel of the grace of God." It proved to be a history of the three
men thenceforth best known as the Serampore Missionaries. Ward,
too, the literary member of the mission, composed the hymn which
thus concluded:--

"Yes, we are safe beneath Thy shade,
And shall be so 'midst India's heat:
What should a missionary dread,
For devils crouch at Jesus' feet.

"There, sweetest Saviour! let Thy cross
Win many Hindoo hearts to Thee;
This shall make up for every loss,
While Thou art ours eternally."

In his first letter to a friend in Hull Ward used language which
unconsciously predicted the future of the mission:--"With a Bible
and a press posterity will see that a missionary will not labour in
vain, even in India." But one of their number, Grant, was meanwhile
removed by death, and, while they waited for a month, Carey failed
to obtain leave for them to settle as his assistants in British
territory. He had appealed to Mr. Brown, and to Dr. Roxburgh, his
friend in charge of the Botanic Garden, to use his influence with
the Government through Colebrooke, the Oriental scholar, then high
in the service. But it was in vain. The police had seen with
annoyance the missionaries slip from their grasp because of the
liberality of the Governor-General of whom Carey had written to
Ryland a year before: "At Calcutta, I saw much dissipation; but yet
I think less than formerly. Lord Mornington has set his face
against sports, gaming, horse-racing, and working on the Lord's-day;
in consequence of which these infamous practices are less common
than formerly." The missionaries, too, had at first been reported
not as Baptist but as "Papist," and the emissaries of France,
believed to be everywhere, must be watched against. The brave
little Governor let it be understood that he would protect to the
last the men who had been committed to his care by the Danish consul
in London. So Ward obtained a Danish passport to enable him to
visit Dinapoor and consult with Carey.

It was Sunday morning when he approached the Mudnabati factory,
"feeling very unusual sensations," greatly excited. "At length I saw
Carey! He is less altered than I expected: has rather more flesh
than when in England, and, blessed be God! he is a young man still."
It was a wrench to sacrifice his own pioneer mission, property
worth £500, the school, the church, the inquirers, but he did not
hesitate. He thus stated the case on the other side:--"At Serampore
we may settle as missionaries, which is not allow here; and the
great ends of the mission, particularly the printing of the
Scriptures, seem much more likely to be answered in that situation
than in this. There also brother Ward can have the inspection of
the press; whereas here we should be deprived of his important
assistance. In that part of the country the inhabitants are far
more numerous than in this; and other missionaries may there be
permitted to join us, which here it seems they will not." On the
way down, during a visit to the Rajmahal Hills, round which the
great Ganges sweeps, Carey and Ward made the first attempt to
evangelise the Santal and other simple aboriginal tribes, whom the
officials Brown and Cleveland had partly tamed. The Paharis are
described, at that time, as without caste, priests, or public
religion, as living on Indian corn and by hunting, for which they
carry bows and arrows. "Brother Carey was able to converse with
them." Again, Ward's comment on the Bengali services on the next
Sunday, from the boats, is "the common sort wonder how brother Carey
can know so much of the Shasters." "I long," wrote Carey from the
spot to his new colleagues, "to stay here and tell these social and
untutored heathen the good news from heaven. I have a strong
persuasion that the doctrine of a dying Saviour would, under the
Holy Spirit's influence, melt their hearts." From Taljheri and
Pokhuria, near that place, to Parisnath, Ranchi, and Orissa,
thousands of Santals and Kols have since been gathered into the

On the 10th January 1800 Carey took up his residence at Serampore,
on the 11th he was presented to the Governor, and "he went out and
preached to the natives." His apprenticeship was over; so began his
full apostolate, instant in season and out of season, to end only
with his life thirty-four years after.

Thus step by step, by a way that he knew not, the shoemaker lad--who
had educated himself to carry the Gospel to Tahiti, had been sent to
Bengal in spite of the Company which cast him out of their ship, had
starved in Calcutta, had built him a wooden hut in the jungles of
the Delta, had become indigo planter in the swamps of Dinapoor that
he might preach Christ without interference, had been forced to
think of seeking the protection of a Buddhist in the Himalaya
morass--was driven to begin anew in the very heart of the most
densely peopled part of the British Empire, under the jealous care
of the foreign European power which had a century before sent
missionaries to Tranquebar and taught Zinzendorf and the Moravians
the divine law of the kingdom; encouraged by a Governor, Colonel
Bie, who was himself a disciple of Schwartz. To complete this
catalogue of special providences we may add that, if Fuller had
delayed only a little longer, even Serampore would have been found
shut against the missionaries. For the year after, when Napoleon's
acts had driven us to war with Denmark, a detachment of British
troops, under Lord Minto's son, took possession of Fredericksnagore,
as Serampore was officially called, and of the Danish East India
Company's ship there, without opposition.

The district or county of Hoogli and Howrah, opposite Calcutta and
Barrackpore, of which Serampore is the central port, swarms with a
population, chiefly Hindoo but partly Mussulman, unmatched for
density in any other part of the world. If, after years of a
decimating fever, each of its 1701 square miles still supports
nearly a thousand human beings or double the proportion of Belgium,
we cannot believe that it was much less dense at the beginning of
the century. From Howrah, the Surrey side of Calcutta, up to Hoogli
the county town, the high ridge of mud between the river and the old
channel of the Ganges to the west, has attracted the wealthiest and
most intellectually active of all the Bengalees. Hence it was here
that Portuguese and Dutch, French and English, and Danish planted
their early factories. The last to obtain a site of twenty acres
from the moribund Mussulman Government at Moorshedabad was Denmark,
two years before Plassey. In the half century the hut of the first
Governor sent from Tranquebar had grown into the "beautiful little
town" which delighted the first Baptist missionaries. Its
inhabitants, under only British administration since 1845, now
number 45,000. Then they were much fewer, but then even more than
now the town was a centre of the Vishnoo-worship of Jagganath,
second only to that of Pooree in all India. Not far off, and now
connected with the port by railway, is the foul shrine of
Tarakeswar, which attracts thousands of pilgrims, many of them
widows, who measure the road with their prostrate bodies dripping
from the bath. Commercially Serampore sometimes distanced Calcutta
itself, for all the foreign European trade was centred in it during
the American and French wars, and the English civilians used its
investments as the best means of remitting their savings home. When
the missionaries landed there was nothing but a Portuguese Catholic
church in the settlement, and the Governor was raising subscriptions
for that pretty building in which Carey preached till he died, and
the spire of which the Governor-General is said to have erected to
improve the view of the town from the windows of his summer palace
at Barrackpore opposite.

Removed from the rural obscurity of a Bengali village, where the
cost of housing, clothing, and living was small, to a town in the
neighbourhood of the capital much frequented by Europeans, Carey at
once adapted the practical details of his communistic brotherhood to
the new circumstances. With such wisdom was he aided in this by the
business experience of Marshman and Ward, that a settlement was
formed which admitted of easy development in correspondence with the
rapid growth of the mission. At first the community consisted of
ten adults and nine children. Grant had been carried off in a fever
caused by the dampness of their first quarters. The promising
Brunsdon was soon after removed by liver complaint caught from
standing on an unmatted floor in the printing-office. Fountain, who
at first continued the mission at Dinapoor, soon died there a happy
death. Thomas had settled at Beerbhoom, but joined the Serampore
brethren in time to do good though brief service before he too was
cut off. But, fortunately as it proved for the future, Carey had to
arrange for five families at the first, and this is how it was done
as described by Ward:--

"The renting of a house, or houses, would ruin us. We hoped
therefore to have been able to purchase land, and build mat houses
upon it; but we can get none properly situated. We have in
consequence purchased of the Governor's nephew a large house in the
middle of the town for Rs.6000, or about £800; the rent in four
years would have amounted to the purchase. It consists of a
spacious verandah (portico) and hall, with two rooms on each side.
Rather more to the front are two other rooms separate, and on one
side is a storehouse, separate also, which will make a
printing-office. It stands by the river-side upon a pretty large
piece of ground, walled round, with a garden at the bottom, and in
the middle a fine tank or pool of water. The price alarmed us, but
we had no alternative; and we hope this will form a comfortable
missionary settlement. Being near to Calcutta, it is of the utmost
importance to our school, our press, and our connection with

"From hence may the Gospel issue and pervade all India," they wrote
to Fuller. "We intend to teach a school, and make what we can of our
press. The paper is all arrived, and the press, with the types,
etc., complete. The Bible is wholly translated, except a few
chapters, so that we intend to begin printing immediately, first the
New and then the Old Testament. We love our work, and will do all
we can to lighten your expenses."

This house-chapel, with two acres of garden land and separate rooms
on either side, continued till 1875 to be the nucleus of the
settlement afterwards celebrated all over South Asia and
Christendom. The chapel is still sacred to the worship of God. The
separate rooms to the left, fronting the Hoogli, became enlarged
into the stately residence of Mr. John Marshman, C.S.I., and his two
successors in the Friend of India, while beyond were the girl's
school, now removed, the residence of Dr. Joshua Marshman before his
death, and the boys' school presented to the mission by the King of
Denmark. The separate rooms to the right grew into the press;
farther down the river was the house of the Lady Rumohr who became
Carey's second wife, with the great paper-mill behind; and, still
farther, the second park in which the Serampore College was built,
with the principal's house in which Carey died, and a hostel for the
Native Christian students behind. The whole settlement finally
formed a block of at least five acres, with almost palatial
buildings, on the right bank of the Hoogli, which, with a breadth of
half a mile when in flood, rolls between it and the
Governor-General's summer house and English-like park of
Barrackpore. The original two acres became Carey's Botanic Garden;
the houses he surrounded and connected by mahogany trees, which grew
to be of umbrageous beauty. His favourite promenade between the
chapel and the mill, and ultimately the college, was under an avenue
of his own planting, long known as "Carey's Walk."

The new colleagues who were to live with him in loving brotherhood
till death removed the last in 1837 were not long in attracting him.
The two were worthy to be associated with him, and so admirably
supplemented his own deficiencies that the brotherhood became the
most potent and permanent force in India. He thus wrote to Fuller
his first impressions of them, with a loving
self-depreciation:--"Brother Ward is the very man we wanted: he
enters into the work with his whole soul. I have much pleasure in
him, and expect much from him. Brother Marshman is a prodigy of
diligence and prudence, as is also his wife in the latter: learning
the language is mere play to him; he has already acquired as much as
I did in double the time." After eight months of study and
evangelising work they are thus described:--"Our brother Marshman,
who is a true missionary, is able to talk a little; he goes out
frequently, nay almost every day, and assaults the fortress of


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