The Life of William Carey, Shoemaker & Missionary
George Smith

Part 4 out of 8

enjoyed the most entire oneness of mind, never having a single
circumstance which either of them wished to conceal from the other.
Her solicitude for her husband's health and comfort was unceasing.
They prayed and conversed together on those things which form the
life of personal religion, without the least reserve; and enjoyed a
degree of conjugal happiness while thus continued to each other,
which can only arise from a union of mind grounded on real religion.
On the whole, her lot in India was altogether a scene of mercy.
Here she was found of the Saviour, gradually ripened for glory, and
after having her life prolonged beyond the expectation of herself
and all who knew her, she was released from this mortal state almost
without the consciousness of pain, and, as we most assuredly
believe, had 'an abundant entrance ministered unto her into the
kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.'"

When, on 24th June 1809, Carey announced at the dinner table that he
had that morning finished the Bengali translation of the whole
Bible, and he was asked how much more he thought of doing, he
answered: "The work I have allotted to myself, in translating, will
take me about twenty years." But he had kept the bow too long and
too tightly bent, and it threatened to snap. That evening he was
seized with bilious fever, and on the eighteenth day thereafter his
life was despaired of. "The goodness of God is eminently conspicuous
in raising up our beloved brother Carey," wrote Marshman. "God has
raised him up again and restored him to his labours; may he live to
accomplish all that is in his heart," wrote Rowe. He was at once at
his desk again, in college and in his study. "I am this day
forty-eight years old," he wrote to Ryland on the 17th August, and
sent him the following letters, every line of which reveals the
inner soul of the writer:--

"CALCUTTA, 16th August 1809.--I did not expect, about a month ago,
ever to write to you again. I was then ill of a severe fever, and
for a week together scarcely any hopes were entertained of my life.
One or two days I was supposed to be dying, but the Lord has
graciously restored me; may it be that I may live more than ever to
His glory. Whilst I was ill I had scarcely any such thing as
thought belonging to me, but, excepting seasons of delirium, seemed
to be nearly stupid; perhaps some of this arose from the weak state
to which I was reduced, which was so great that Dr. Hare, one of the
most eminent physicians in Calcutta, who was consulted about it,
apprehended more danger from that than from the fever. I, however,
had scarcely a thought of death or eternity, or of life, or anything
belonging thereto. In my delirium, greatest part of which I
perfectly remember, I was busily employed in carrying a commission
from God to all the princes and governments in the world, requiring
them instantly to abolish every political establishment of religion,
and to sell the parish and other churches to the first body of
Christians that would purchase them. Also to declare war infamous,
to esteem all military officers as men who had sold themselves to
destroy the human race, to extend this to all those dead men called
heroes, defenders of their country, meritorious officers, etc.13 I
was attended by angels in all my excursions, and was universally
successful. A few princes in Germany were refractory, but my
attendants struck them dead instantly. I pronounced the doom of
Rome to the Pope, and soon afterwards all the territory about Rome,
the March of Ancona, the great city and all its riches sank into
that vast bed of burning lava which heats Nero's bath. These two
considerations were the delirious wanderings of the mind, but I hope
to feel their force, to pray and strive for their accomplishment to
the end of my life. But it is now time to attend to something not
merely ideal.

"The state of the world occupied my thoughts more and more; I mean
as it relates to the spread of the Gospel. The harvest truly is
great, and labourers bear scarcely any proportion thereto. I was
forcibly struck this morning with reading our Lord's reply to His
disciples, John iv. When He had told them that He had meat to eat
the world knew not of, and that His meat was to do the will of His
Father and to finish His work, He said, 'Say not ye there are three
months and then cometh harvest?' He by this plainly intended to
call their attention to the conduct of men when harvest was
approaching, for that being the season upon which all the hopes of
men hang for temporal supplies, they provide men and measures in
time for securing it. Afterwards directing their attention to that
which so occupied His own as to be His meat and drink, He said,
'Lift up your eyes and look upon the fields (of souls to be gathered
in), for they are white already to harvest.' After so many
centuries have elapsed and so many fields full of this harvest have
been lost for want of labourers to gather it in, shall we not at
last reflect seriously on our duty? Hindostan requires ten thousand
ministers of the Gospel, at the lowest calculation, China as many,
and you may easily calculate for the rest of the world. I trust
that many will eventually be raised up here, but be that as it may
the demands for missionaries are pressing to a degree seldom
realised. England has done much, but not the hundredth part of what
she is bound to do. In so great a want of ministers ought not every
church to turn its attention chiefly to the raising up and maturing
of spiritual gifts with the express design of sending them abroad?
Should not this be a specific matter of prayer, and is there not
reason to labour hard to infuse this spirit into the churches?

"A mission into Siam would be comparatively easy of introduction and
support on account of its vicinity to Prince of Wales Island, from
which vessels can often go in a few hours. A mission to Pegu and
another to Arakan would not be difficult of introduction, they being
both within the Burman dominions, Missions to Assam and Nepal should
be speedily tried. Brother Robinson is going to Bhootan. I do not
know anything about the facility with which missions could be
introduced into Cochin China, Cambodia, and Laos, but were the trial
made I believe difficulties would remove. It is also very desirable
that the Burman mission should be strengthened. There is no full
liberty of conscience, and several stations might be occupied; even
the borders of China might be visited from that country if an easier
entrance into the heart of the country could not be found. I have
not mentioned Sumatra, Java, the Moluccas, the Philippines, or
Japan, but all these countries must be supplied with missionaries.
This is a very imperfect sketch of the wants of Asia only, without
including the Mahometan countries; but Africa and South America call
as loudly for help, and the greatest part of Europe must also be
holpen by the Protestant churches, being nearly as destitute of real
godliness as any heathen country on the earth. What a pressing
call, then, is here for labourers in the spiritual harvest, and what
need that the attention of all the churches in England and America
should be drawn to this very object!"

Two years after the establishment of the mission at Serampore, David
Brown, the senior chaplain and provost of Fort William College, took
possession of Aldeen House, which he occupied till the year of his
death in 1812. The house is the first in the settlement reached by
boat from Calcutta. Aldeen is five minutes' walk south of the
Serampore Mission House, and a century ago there was only a park
between them. The garden slopes down to the noble river, and
commands the beautiful country seat of Barrackpore, which Lord
Wellesley had just built. The house itself is embosomed in trees,
the mango, the teak, and the graceful bamboo. Just below it, but
outside of Serampore, are the deserted temple of Bullubpoor and the
Ghat of the same name, a fine flight of steps up which thousands of
pilgrims flock every June to the adjoining shrine and monstrous car
of Jagganath. David Brown had not been long in Aldeen when he
secured the deserted temple and converted it into a Christian
oratory, ever since known as Henry Martyn's Pagoda. For ten years
Aldeen and the pagoda became the meeting-place of Carey and his
Nonconformist friends, with Claudius Buchanan, Martyn, Bishop
Corrie, Thomason, and the little band of evangelical Anglicans who,
under the protection of Lords Wellesley and Hastings, sweetened
Anglo-Indian society, and made the names of "missionary" and of
"chaplain" synonymous. Here too there gathered, as also to the
Mission House higher up, many a civilian and officer who sought the
charms of that Christian family life which they had left behind. A
young lieutenant commemorated these years when Brown was removed, in
a pleasing elegy, which Charles Simeon published in the Memorials of
his friend. Many a traveller from the far West still visits the
spot, and recalls the memories of William Carey and Henry Martyn, of
Marshman and Buchanan, of Ward and Corrie, which linger around the
fair scene. When first we saw it the now mutilated ruin was
perfect, and under the wide-spreading banian tree behind a Brahman
was reciting, for a day and a night, the verses of the Mahabharata
epic to thousands of listening Hindoos.

"Long, Hoogli, has thy sullen stream
Been doomed the cheerless shores to lave;
Long has the Suttee's baneful gleam
Pale glimmered o'er thy midnight wave.

"Yet gladdened seemed to flow thy tide
Where opens on the view--Aldeen;
For there to grace thy palmy side
Loved England's purest joys were seen.

"Yon dome, 'neath which in former days
Grim idols marked the pagan shrine,
Has swelled the notes of pious praise,
Attuned to themes of love divine."

We find this allusion to the place in Carey's correspondence with
Dr. Ryland:--"20th January 1807.--It would have done your heart good
to have joined us at our meetings at the pagoda. From that place we
have successively recommended Dr. Taylor to the work of the Lord at
Bombay, Mr. Martyn to his at Dinapoor, Mr. Corrie to his at Chunar,
Mr. Parsons to his at Burhampore, Mr. Des Granges to his at
Vizagapatam, and our two brethren to theirs at Rangoon, and from
thence we soon expect to commend Mr. Thomason to his at Madras. In
these meetings the utmost harmony prevails and a union of hearts
unknown between persons of different denominations in England." Dr.
Taylor and Mr. Des Granges were early missionaries of the London
Society; the Rangoon brethren were Baptists; the others were Church
of England chaplains. Sacramentarianism and sacerdotalism had not
then begun to afflict the Church of India. There were giants in
those days, in Bengal, worthy of Carey and of the one work in which
all were the servants of one Master.

Let us look a little more closely at Henry Martyn's Pagoda. It is
now a picturesque ruin, which the peepul tree that is entwined among
its fine brick masonry, and the crumbling river-bank, may soon cause
to disappear for ever. The exquisite tracery of the moulded bricks
may be seen, but not the few figures that are left of the popular
Hindoo idols just where the two still perfect arches begin to
spring. The side to the river has already fallen down, and with it
the open platform overhanging the bank on which the missionary sat
in the cool of the morning and evening, and where he knelt to pray
for the people. We have accompanied many a visitor there, from Dr.
Duff to Bishop Cotton, and John Lawrence, and have rarely seen one
unmoved. This pagoda had been abandoned long before by the priests
of Radhabullub, because the river had encroached to a point within
300 feet of it, the limit within which no Brahman is allowed to
receive a gift or take his food. The little black doll of an idol,
which is famous among Hindoos alike for its sanctity and as a work
of art--for had it not been miraculously wafted to this spot like
the Santa Casa to Loretto?--was removed with great pomp to a new
temple after it had paid a visit to Clive's moonshi, the wealthy
Raja Nobokissen in Calcutta, who sought to purchase it outright.

In this cool old pagoda Henry Martyn, on one of his earliest visits
to Aldeen after his arrival as a chaplain in 1806, found an
appropriate residence. Under the vaulted roof of the shrine a place
of prayer and praise was fitted up with an organ, so that, as he
wrote, "the place where once devils were worshipped has now become a
Christian oratory." Here, too, he laid his plans for the
evangelisation of the people. When suffering from one of his moods
of depression as to his own state, he thus writes of this place:--"I
began to pray as on the verge of eternity; and the Lord was pleased
to break my hard heart. I lay in tears, interceding for the
unfortunate natives of this country; thinking within myself that the
most despicable soodra of India was of as much value in the sight of
God as the King of Great Britain." It was from such supplication
that he was once roused by the blaze of a Suttee's funeral pyre, on
which he found that the living widow had been consumed with the dead
before he could interfere. He could hear the hideous drums and
gongs and conch-shells of the temple to which Radhabullub had been
removed. There he often tried to turn his fellow-creatures to the
worship of the one God, from their prostrations "before a black
image placed in a pagoda, with lights burning around it," whilst, he
says, he "shivered as if standing, as it were, in the neighbourhood
of hell." It was in the deserted pagoda that Brown, Corrie, and
Parsons met with him to commend him to God before he set out for his
new duties at Dinapoor. "My soul," he writes of this occasion,
"never yet had such divine enjoyment. I felt a desire to break from
the body, and join the high praises of the saints above. May I go
'in the strength of this many days.' Amen." "I found my heaven
begun on earth. No work so sweet as that of praying and living
wholly to the service of God." And as he passed by the Mission House
on his upward voyage, with true catholicity "Dr. Marshman could not
resist joining the party: and after going a little way, left them
with prayer." Do we wonder that these men have left their mark on

As years went by, the temple, thus consecrated as a Christian
oratory, became degraded in other hands. The brand "pagoda
distillery" for a time came to be known as marking the rum
manufactured there. The visits of so many Christian pilgrims to the
spot, and above all, the desire expressed by Lord Lawrence when
Governor-General to see it, led the Hindoo family who own the pagoda
to leave it at least as a simple ruin.

Corrie, afterwards the first bishop of Madras, describes the
marriage of Des Granges in the oratory, and gives us a glimpse of
life in the Serampore Mission House:--

"1806.--Calcutta strikes me as the most magnificent city in the
world; and I am made most happy by the hope of being instrumental to
the eternal good of many. A great opposition, I find, is raised
against Martyn and the principles he preaches...Went up to Serampore
yesterday, and in the evening was present at the marriage of Mr. Des
Granges. Mr. Brown entered into the concern with much interest.
The pagoda was fixed on, and lighted up for the celebration of the
wedding; at eight o'clock the parties came from the Mission House
[at Serampore], attended by most of the family. Mr. Brown commenced
with the hymn, 'Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly dove!' A divine
influence seemed to attend us, and most delightful were my
sensations. The circumstance of so many being engaged in spreading
the glad tidings of salvation,--the temple of an idol converted to
the purpose of Christian worship, and the Divine presence felt among
us,--filled me with joy unspeakable. After the marriage service of
the Church of England, Mr. Brown gave out 'the Wedding Hymn'; and
after signing certificates of the marriage we adjourned to the
house, where Mr. Brown had provided supper. Two hymns given out by
Mr. Marshman were felt very powerfully. He is a most lively,
sanguine missionary; his conversation made my heart burn within me,
and I find desires of spreading the Gospel growing stronger daily,
and my zeal in the cause more ardent...I went to the Mission House,
and supped at the same table with about fifty native converts. The
triumph of the Cross was most evident in breaking down their
prejudices, and uniting them with those who formerly were an
abomination in their eyes. After supper they sang a Bengali hymn,
many of them with tears of joy; and they concluded with prayer in
Bengali, with evident earnestness and emotion. My own feelings were
too big for utterance. O may the time be hastened when every tongue
shall confess Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father!

"On Friday evening [Oct. 10th], we had a meeting in the pagoda, at
which almost all the missionaries, some of their wives, and Captain
Wickes attended, with a view to commend Martyn to the favour and
protection of God in his work. The Divine presence was with us. I
felt more than it would have been proper to express. Mr. Brown
commenced with a hymn and prayer, Mr. Des Granges succeeded him,
with much devotion and sweetness of expression: Mr. Marshman
followed, and dwelt particularly on the promising appearance of
things; and, with much humility, pleaded God's promises for the
enlargement of Zion; with many petitions for Mr. Brown and his
family. The service was concluded by Mr. Carey, who was earnest in
prayer for Mr. Brown: the petition that 'having laboured for many
years without encouragement or support, in the evening it might be
light,' seemed much to affect his own mind, and greatly impressed us
all. Afterwards we supped together at Mr. Brown's...

"13th Oct.--I came to Serampore to dinner. Had a pleasant sail up
the river: the time passed agreeably in conversation. In the
evening a fire was kindled on the opposite bank; and we soon
perceived that it was a funeral pile, on which the wife was burning
with the dead body of her husband. It was too dark to distinguish
the miserable victim...On going out to walk with Martyn to the
pagoda, the noise so unnatural, and so little calculated to excite
joy, raised in my mind an awful sense of the presence and influence
of evil spirits."

Corrie married the daughter of Mrs. Ellerton, who knew Serampore and
Carey well. It was Mr. Ellerton who, when an indigo-planter at
Malda, opened the first Bengali school, and made the first attempt
at translating the Bible into that vernacular. His young wife,
early made a widow, witnessed accidentally the duel in which Warren
Hastings shot Philip Francis. She was an occasional visitor at
Aldeen, and took part in the pagoda services. Fifty years
afterwards, not long before her death at eighty-seven, Bishop
Wilson, whose guest she was, wrote of her: "She made me take her to
Henry Martyn's pagoda. She remembers the neighbourhood, and
Gharetty Ghat and House in Sir Eyre Coote's time (1783). The
ancient Governor of Chinsurah and his fat Dutch wife are still in
her mind. When she visited him with her first husband (she was then
sixteen) the old Dutchman cried out, 'Oh, if you would find me such
a nice little wife I would give you ten thousand rupees.'"

It was in Martyn's pagoda that Claudius Buchanan first broached his
plan of an ecclesiastical establishment for India, and invited the
discussion of it by Carey and his colleagues. Such a scheme came
naturally from one who was the grandson of a Presbyterian elder of
the Church of Scotland, converted in the Whitefield revival at
Cambuslang. It had been suggested first by Bishop Porteous when he
reviewed the Company's acquisitions in Asia. It was encouraged by
Lord Wellesley, who was scandalised on his arrival in India by the
godlessness of the civil servants and the absence of practically any
provision for the Christian worship and instruction of its officers
and soldiers, who were all their lives without religion, not a tenth
of them ever returning home. Carey thus wrote, at Ryland's request,
of the proposal, which resulted in the arrival in Calcutta of Bishop
Middleton and Dr. Bryce in 1814:--"I have no opinion of Dr.
Buchanan's scheme for a religious establishment here, nor could I
from memory point out what is exceptionable in his memoir. All his
representations must be taken with some grains of allowance." When,
in the Aldeen discussions, Dr. Buchanan told Marshman that the
temple lands would eventually answer for the established churches
and the Brahmans' lands for the chaplains, the stout Nonconformist
replied with emphasis, "You will never obtain them." We may all
accept the conversion of the idol shrine into a place of prayer--as
Gregory I. taught Augustine of Canterbury to transform heathen
temples into Christian churches--as presaging the time when the vast
temple and mosque endowments will be devoted by the people
themselves to their own moral if not spiritual good through
education, both religious and secular.

The change wrought in seventeen years by Carey and such associates
as these on society in Bengal, both rich and poor, became marked by
the year 1810. We find him writing of it thus:--"When I arrived I
knew of no person who cared about the Gospel except Mr. Brown, Mr.
Udny, Mr. Creighton, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Brown an indigo-planter,
besides Brother Thomas and myself. There might be more, and
probably were, though unknown to me. There are now in India
thirty-two ministers of the Gospel. Indeed, the Lord is doing great
things for Calcutta; and though infidelity abounds, yet religion is
the theme of conversation or dispute in almost every house. A few
weeks ago (October 1810), I called upon one of the Judges to take
breakfast with him, and going rather abruptly upstairs, as I had
been accustomed to do, I found the family just going to engage in
morning worship. I was of course asked to engage in prayer, which I
did. I afterwards told him that I had scarcely witnessed anything
since I had been in Calcutta which gave me more pleasure than what I
had seen that morning. The change in this family was an effect of
Mr. Thomason's ministry...About ten days ago I had a conversation
with one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, Sir John Boyd, upon
religious subjects. Indeed there is now scarcely a place where you
can pay a visit without having an opportunity of saying something
about true religion."

Carey's friendly intercourse, by person and letter, was not confined
to those who were aggressively Christian or to Christian and
ecclesiastical questions. As we shall soon see, his literary and
scientific pursuits led him to constant and familiar converse with
scholars like Colebrooke and Leyden, with savants like Roxburgh, the
astronomer Bentley, and Dr. Hare, with publicists like Sir James
Mackintosh and Robert Hall, with such travellers and administrators
as Manning, the friend of Charles Lamb, and Raffles.

In Great Britain the name of William Carey had, by 1812, become
familiar as a household word in all evangelical circles. The men
who had known him in the days before 1793 were few and old, were
soon to pass away for ever. The new generation had fed their
Christian zeal on his achievements, and had learned to look on him,
in spite of all his humility which only inflamed that zeal, as the
pioneer, the father, the founder of foreign missions, English,
Scottish, and American. They had never seen him; they were not
likely to see him in the flesh. The desire for a portrait of him
became irresistible. The burning of the press, to be hereafter
described, which led even bitter enemies of the mission like Major
Scott Waring to subscribe for its restoration, gave the desired
sympathetic voice, so that Fuller wrote to the missionaries:--"The
public is now giving us their praises. Eight hundred guineas have
been offered for Dr. Carey's likeness...When you pitched your tents
at Serampore you said, 'We will not accumulate riches but devote all
to God for the salvation of the heathen.' God has given you what
you desired and what you desired not. Blessed men, God will bless
you and make you a blessing. I and others of us may die, but God
will surely visit you...Expect to be highly applauded, bitterly
reproached, greatly moved, and much tried in every way. Oh that,
having done all, you may stand!"

Carey was, fortunately for posterity, not rebellious in the matter
of the portrait; he was passive. As he sat in his room in the
college of Fort William, his pen in hand, his Sanskrit Bible before
him, and his Brahman pundit at his left hand, the saint and the
scholar in the ripeness of his powers at fifty was transferred to
the canvas which has since adorned the walls of Regent's Park
College. A line engraving of the portrait was published in England
the year after at a guinea, and widely purchased, the profit going
to the mission. The painter was Home, famous in his day as the
artist whom Lord Cornwallis had engaged during the first war with
Tipoo to prepare those Select Views in Mysore, the Country of Tipoo
Sultaun, from Drawings taken on the Spot, which appeared in 1794.

Of his four sons, Felix, William, Jabez, and Jonathan, Carey's
correspondence was most frequent at this period with William, who
went forth in 1807 to Dinapoor to begin his independent career as a
missionary by the side of Fernandez.

"2nd April 1807.--We have the greatest encouragement to go forward
in the work of our Lord Jesus, because we have every reason to
conclude that it will be successful at last. It is the cause which
God has had in His mind from eternity, the cause for which Christ
shed His blood, that for which the Spirit and word of God were
given, that which is the subject of many great promises, that for
which the saints have been always praying, and which God Himself
bears an infinite regard to in His dispensations of Providence and
Grace. The success thereof is therefore certain. Be encouraged,
therefore, my dear son, to devote yourself entirely to it, and to
pursue it as a matter of the very first importance even to your
dying day.

"Give my love to Mr. and Mrs. Creighton and to Mr. Ellerton, Mr.
Grant, or any other who knows me about Malda, also to our native

"CALCUTTA, 29th September 1808.--A ship is just arrived which brings
the account that Buonaparte has taken possession of the whole
kingdom of Spain, and that the Royal family of that country are in
prison at Bayonne. It is likely that Turkey is fallen before now,
and what will be the end of these wonders we cannot tell. I see the
wrath of God poured out on the nations which have so long persecuted
His Gospel, and prevented the spread of His truth. Buonaparte is
but the minister of the Divine vengeance, the public executioner now
employed to execute the sentence of God upon criminal men. He,
however, has no end in view but the gratifying his own ambition."

"22nd December 1808.--DEAR WILLIAM--Be steadfast...Walk worthy of
your high calling, and so as to be a pattern to others who may
engage in similar undertakings. Much depends upon us who go first
to the work of the Lord in this country; and we have reason to
believe that succeeding Ministers of the Gospel in this country will
be more or less influenced by our example...All, even the best of
men, are more likely to be influenced by evil example than benefited
by good: let it, therefore, be your business and mine to live and
act for God in all things and at all times.

"I am very glad you wrote to Jabez and Jonathan. O that I could see
them converted!"

"30th May 1809.--When you come down take a little pains to bring
down a few plants of some sort. There is one grows plentifully
about Sadamahal which grows about as high as one's knee, and
produces a large red flower. Put half a dozen plants in pots (with
a hole in the bottom). There is at Sadamahal (for I found it there)
a plant which produces a flower like Bhayt, of a pale bluish colour,
almost white; and indeed several other things there. Try and bring
something. Can't you bring the grasshopper which has a saddle on
its back, or the bird which has a large crest which he opens when he
settles on the ground? I want to give you a little taste for
natural objects. Felix is very good indeed in this respect."

"26th April 1809.--You, my dear William, are situated in a post
which is very dear to my remembrance because the first years of my
residence in India were spent in that neighbourhood. I therefore
greatly rejoice in any exertions which you are enabled to make for
the cause of our Redeemer...Should you, after many years' labour, be
instrumental in the conversion of only one soul, it would be worth
the work of a whole life...I am not sure that I have been of real
use to any one person since I have been in this country, yet I dare
not give up the work in which I am engaged. Indeed, notwithstanding
all the discouragements which I feel from my own unfitness for any
part of it, I prefer it to everything else, and consider that in the
work of my Redeemer I have a rich reward. If you are enabled to
persevere you will feel the same, and will say with the great
Apostle--'I count not my life dear to me that I may fulfil the
ministry which I have received of the Lord.' 'Unto me is this grace
(favour) given that I should preach among the Gentiles the
unsearchable riches of Christ.' Hold on, therefore, be steady in
your work, and leave the result with God.

"I have been thinking of a mission to the Ten Tribes of Israel, I
mean the Afghans, who inhabit Cabul...I leave the other side for
your mother to write a few lines to Mary, to whom give my love."

"CALCUTTA, 1st November 1809.--Yesterday was the day for the Chinese
examination, at which Jabez acquitted himself with much honour. I
wish his heart were truly set on God. One of the greatest blessings
which I am now anxious to see before my death is the conversion of
him and Jonathan, and their being employed in the work of the Lord.

"Now, dear William, what do we live for but to promote the cause of
our dear Redeemer in the world? If that be carried on we need not
wish for anything more; and if our poor labours are at all blessed
to the promotion of that desirable end, our lives will not be in
vain. Let this, therefore, be the great object of your life, and if
you should be made the instrument of turning only one soul from
darkness to marvellous light, who can say how many more may be
converted by his instrumentality, and what a tribute of glory may
arise to God from that one conversion. Indeed, were you never to be
blessed to the conversion of one soul, still the pleasure of
labouring in the work of the Lord is greater than that of any other
undertaking in the world, and is of itself sufficient to make it the
work of our choice. I hope Sebuk Ram is arrived before now, and
that you will find him to be a blessing to you in your work. Try
your utmost to make him well acquainted with the Bible, labour to
correct his mistakes, and to establish him in the knowledge of the

"You may always enclose a pinch of seeds in a letter."

"17th January 1810.--Felix went with Captain Canning, the English
ambassador to the Burman Empire, to the city of Pegu. On his way
thither he observed to Captain Canning that he should be greatly
gratified in accompanying the Minister to the mountains of Martaban
and the country beyond them. Captain Canning at his next interview
with the Minister mentioned this to him, which he was much pleased
with, and immediately ordered several buffalo-carts to be made
ready, and gave him a war-boat to return to Rangoon to bring his
baggage, medicines, etc. He had no time to consult Brother Chater
before he determined on the journey, and wrote to me when at
Rangoon, where he stayed only one night, and returned to Pegu the
next morning. He says the Minister has now nearly the whole
dominion over the Empire, and is going to war. He will accompany
the army to Martaban, when he expects to stay with the Minister
there. He goes in great spirits to explore those countries where no
European has been before him, and where he goes with advantages and
accommodations such as a traveller seldom can obtain. Brother and
Sister Chater do not approve of his undertaking, perhaps through
fear for his safety. I feel as much for that as any one can do, yet
I, and indeed Brethren Marshman, Ward, and Rowe, rejoice that he has
undertaken the journey. It will assist him in acquiring the
language; it will gratify the Minister, it will serve the interests
of literature, and perhaps answer many other important purposes, as
it respects the mission; and as much of the way will be through
uninhabited forests, it could not have been safely undertaken except
with an army. He expects to be absent three months. I shall feel a
great desire to hear from him when he returns, and I doubt not but
you will join me in prayer for his safety both of mind and body...

"One or two words about natural history. Can you not get me a male
and female khokora--I mean the great bird like a kite, which makes
so great a noise, and often carries off a duck or a kid? I believe
it is an eagle, and want to examine it. Send me also all the sorts
of ducks and waterfowls you can get, and, in short, every sort of
bird you can obtain which is not common here. Send their Bengali
names. Collect me all the sorts of insects, and serpents, and
lizards you can get which are not common here. Put all the insects
together into a bottle of rum, except butterflies, which you may dry
between two papers, and the serpents and lizards the same. I will
send you a small quantity of rum for that purpose. Send all the
country names. Let me have the birds alive; and when you have got a
good boat-load send a small boat down with them under charge of a
careful person, and I will pay the expenses. Spare no pains to get
me seeds and roots, and get Brother Robinson to procure what he can
from Bhootan or other parts.

"Remember me affectionately to Sebuk Ram and his wife, and to all
the native brethren and sisters."

"5th February 1810.--Were you hunting the buffalo, or did it charge
you without provocation? I advise you to abstain from hunting
buffaloes or other animals, because, though I think it lawful to
kill noxious animals, or to kill animals for food, yet the
unnecessary killing of animals, and especially the spending much
time in the pursuit of them, is wrong, and your life is too valuable
to be thrown away by exposing it to such furious animals as
buffaloes and tigers. If you can kill them without running any risk
'tis very well, but it is wrong to expose yourself to danger for an
end so much below that to which you are devoted...

"I believe the cause of our Redeemer increases in the earth, and
look forward to more decided appearances of divine power. The
destruction of the temporal power of the Pope is a glorious
circumstance, and an answer to the prayers of the Church for
centuries past...

"I send you a small cask of rum to preserve curiosities in, and a
few bottles; but your best way will be to draw off a couple of
gallons of the rum, which you may keep for your own use, and then
put the snakes, frogs, toads, lizards, etc., into the cask, and send
them down. I can easily put them into proper bottles, etc.,
afterwards. You may, however, send one or two of the bottles filled
with beetles, grasshoppers, and other insects."

In the absence of Mr. Fernandez, the pastor, William had excluded
two members of the Church.

"4th April 1810.--A very little knowledge of human nature will
convince you that this would have been thought an affront in five
instances out of six. You would have done better to have advised
them, or even to have required them to have kept from the Lord's
table till Mr. Fernandez's return, and to have left it to him to
preside over the discipline of the church. You, no doubt, did it
without thinking of the consequences, and in the simplicity of your
heart, and I think Mr. Fernandez is wrong in treating you with
coolness, when a little conversation might have put everything to
rights. Of that, however, I shall say no more to you, but one of us
shall write to him upon the subject as soon as we can.

"The great thing to be done now is the effecting of a reconciliation
between you, and whether you leave Sadamahal, or stay there, this is
absolutely necessary. In order to this you both must be willing to
make some sacrifice of your feelings; and as those feelings, which
prevent either of you from making concessions where you have acted
amiss, are wrong, the sooner they are sacrificed the better. I
advise you to write to Mr. Fernandez immediately, and acknowledge
that you did wrong in proceeding to the exclusion of the members
without having first consulted with him, and state that you had no
intention of hurting his feelings, but acted from what you thought
the urgency of the case, and request of him a cordial
reconciliation. I should like much to see a copy of the letter you
send to him. I have no object in view but the good of the Church,
and would therefore rather see you stoop as low as you can to effect
a reconciliation, than avoid it through any little punctilio of
honour or feeling of pride. You will never repent of having humbled
yourself to the dust that peace may be restored, nothing will be a
more instructive example to the heathen around you, nothing will so
completely subdue Brother Fernandez's dissatisfaction, and nothing
will make you more respected in the Church of God.

"It is highly probable that you will some time or other be removed
to another situation, but it cannot be done till you are perfectly
reconciled to each other, nor can it possibly be done till some time
after your reconciliation, as such a step would be considered by all
as an effect of resentment or dissatisfaction, and would be
condemned by every thinking person. We shall keep our minds
steadily on the object, and look out for a proper station; but both
we and you must act with great caution and tenderness in this
affair. For this reason also I entreat you not to withdraw yourself
from the church, or from any part of your labours, but go on
steadily in the path of duty, suppress and pray against every
feeling of resentment, and bear anything rather than be accessory to
a misunderstanding, or the perpetuating of one. 'Let that mind be in
you which was also in Christ, who made himself of no reputation.' I
hope what I have said will induce you to set in earnest about a
reconciliation with Brother Fernandez, and to spare no pains or
concession (consistent with truth) to effect it."

William had applied to be transferred to Serampore.

"3rd August 1811.--The necessities of the mission must be consulted
before every other consideration. Native brethren can itinerate,
but Europeans must be employed to open new missions and found new
stations. For were we to go upon the plan of sending Europeans
where natives could possibly be employed, no subscriptions or
profits could support them. We intend to commence a new station at
Dacca, and if you prefer that to Cutwa you may go thither. One of
the first things to be done there will be to open a charity school,
and to overlook it. Dacca itself is a very large place, where you
may often communicate religious instructions without leaving the
town. There are also a number of Europeans there, so that Mary
would not be so much alone, and at any rate help would be near. We
can obtain the permission of Government for you to settle there.

"I ought, however, to say that I think there is much guilt in your
fears. You and Mary will be a thousand times more safe in
committing yourselves to God in the way of duty than in neglecting
obvious duty to take care of yourselves. You see what hardships and
dangers a soldier meets in the wicked trade of war. They are forced
to leave home and expose themselves to a thousand dangers, yet they
never think of objecting, and in this the officers are in the same
situation as the men. I will engage to say that no military officer
would ever refuse to go any whither on service because his family
must be exposed to danger in his absence; and yet I doubt not but
many of them are men who have great tenderness for their wives and
families. However, they must be men and their wives must be women.
Your undertaking is infinitely superior to theirs in importance.
They go to kill men, you to save them. If they leave their
families to chance for the sake of war, surely you can leave yours
to the God of providence while you go about His work. I speak thus
because I am much distressed to see you thus waste away the flower
of your life in inactivity, and only plead for it what would not
excuse a child. Were you in any secular employment you must go out
quite as much as we expect you to do in the Mission. I did so when
at Mudnabati, which was as lonesome a place as could have been
thought of, and when I well knew that many of our own ryots were
dakoits (robbers)."

William finally settled at Cutwa, higher up the Hoogli than
Serampore, and did good service there.

"1st December 1813.--I have now an assistant at College,
notwithstanding which my duties are quite as heavy as they ever
were, for we are to receive a number of military students--I suppose
thirty at least. The translation, and printing also, is now so much
enlarged that I am scarcely able to get through the necessary labour
of correcting proofs and learning the necessary languages. All
these things are causes of rejoicing more than of regret, for they
are the very things for which I came into the country, and to which
I wish to devote my latest breath...Jabez has offered himself to the
Mission, a circumstance which gives me more pleasure than if he had
been appointed Chief Judge of the Supreme Court...Your mother has
long been confined to her couch, I believe about six months."

The following was written evidently in reply to loving letters on
the death of his wife, Charlotte Emilia:--

"4th June 1821.--MY DEAR JONATHAN--I feel your affectionate care for
me very tenderly. I have just received very affectionate letters
from William and Brother Sutton (Orissa). Lord and Lady Hastings
wrote to Brother Marshman, thinking it would oppress my feelings to
write to me directly, to offer their kind condolence to me through
him. Will you have the goodness to send five rupees to William for
the Cutwa school, which your dear mother supported. I will repay
you soon, but am now very short of money.--I am your very
affectionate father, W. CAREY."

Of the many descendants of Dr. Carey, one great grandson is now an
ordained missionary in Bengal, another a medical missionary in
Delhi, and a third is a member of the Civil Service, who has
distinguished himself by travels in Northern Tibet and Chinese
Turkestan, which promise to unveil much of the unexplored regions of
Asia to the scholar and the missionary.

Thus far we have confined our study of William Carey to his purely
missionary career, and that in its earlier half. We have now to see
him as the scholar, the Bible translator, the philanthropist, the
agriculturist, and the founder of a University.




Carey the only Sanskrit scholar in India besides Colebrooke--The
motive of the missionary scholar--Plans translation of the sacred
books of the East--Comparative philology from Leibniz to
Carey--Hindoo and Mohammedan codes and colleges of Warren
Hastings--The Marquis Wellesley--The College of Fort William
founded--Character of the Company's civil and military
servants--Curriculum of study, professors and teachers--The
vernacular languages--Carey's account of the college and his
appointment--How he studied Sanskrit--College Disputation Day in the
new Government House--Carey's Sanskrit speech--Lord Wellesley's
eulogy--Sir James Mackintosh--Carey's pundits--He projects the
Bibliotheca Asiatica--On the Committee of the Bengal Asiatic
Society--Edition and translation of the Ramayana epic--The
Hitopadesa--His Universal Dictionary--Influence of Carey on the
civil and military services--W. B. Bayley; B. H. Hodgson; R.
Jenkins; R. M. and W. Bird; John Lawrence.

When, in the opening days of the nineteenth century, William Carey
was driven to settle in Danish Serampore, he was the only member of
the governing race in North India who knew the language of the
people so as to teach it; the only scholar, with the exception of
Colebrooke, who could speak Sanskrit as fluently as the Brahmans.
The Bengali language he had made the vehicle of the teaching of
Christ, of the thought of Paul, of the revelation of John. Of the
Sanskrit, hitherto concealed from alien eyes or diluted only through
the Persian, he had prepared a grammar and begun a dictionary, while
he had continually used its great epics in preaching to the
Brahmans, as Paul had quoted the Greek poets on the Areopagus. And
all this he had done as the missionary of Christ and the scholar
afterwards. Reporting to Ryland, in August 1800, the publication of
the Gospels and of "several small pieces" in Bengali, he excused his
irregularity in keeping a journal, "for in the printing I have to
look over the copy and correct the press, which is much more
laborious than it would be in England, because spelling, writing,
printing, etc., in Bengali is almost a new thing, and we have in a
manner to fix the orthography." A little later, in a letter to
Sutcliff, he used language regarding the sacred books of the Hindoos
which finds a parallel more than eighty years after in Professor Max
Müller's preface to his series of the sacred books of the East, the
translation of which Carey was the first to plan and to begin from
the highest of all motives. Mr. Max Müller calls attention to the
"real mischief that has been and is still being done by the
enthusiasm of those pioneers who have opened the first avenues
through the bewildering forests of the sacred literature of the
East." He declares that "Eastern nations themselves would not
tolerate, in any of their classical literary compositions, such
violations of the simplest rules of taste as they have accustomed
themselves to tolerate, if not to admire, in their sacred books."
And he is compelled to leave untranslated, while he apologises for
them, the frequent allusions to the sexual aspects of nature,
"particularly in religious books." The revelations of the Maharaj
trial in Bombay are the practical fruit of all this.

"CALCUTTA, 17th March 1802.--I have been much astonished lately at
the malignity of some of the infidel opposers of the Gospel, to see
how ready they are to pick every flaw they can in the inspired
writings, and even to distort the meaning, that they may make it
appear inconsistent; while these very persons will labour to
reconcile the grossest contradictions in the writings accounted
sacred by the Hindoos, and will stoop to the meanest artifices in
order to apologise for the numerous glaring falsehoods and horrid
violations of all decency and decorum, which abound in almost every
page. Any thing, it seems, will do with these men but the word of
God. They ridicule the figurative language of Scripture, but will
run allegory-mad in support of the most worthless productions that
ever were published. I should think it time lost to translate any
of them; and only a sense of duty excites me to read them. An idea,
however, of the advantage which the friends of Christianity may
obtain by having these mysterious sacred nothings (which have
maintained their celebrity so long merely by being kept from the
inspection of any but interested Brahmans) exposed to view, has
induced me, among other things, to write the Sanskrit grammar, and
to begin a dictionary of that language. I sincerely pity the poor
people, who are held by the chains of an implicit faith in the
grossest of lies; and can scarcely help despising the wretched
infidel who pleads in their favour and tries to vindicate them. I
have long wished to obtain a copy of the Veda; and am now in hopes I
shall be able to procure all that are extant. A Brahman this
morning offered to get them for me for the sake of money. If I
succeed, I shall be strongly tempted to publish them with a
translation, pro bono publico."

It was not surprising that the Governor-General, even if he had been
less enlightened than Lord Wellesley, found in this missionary
interloper, as the East India Company officially termed the class to
which he belonged, the only man fit to be Professor of Bengali,
Sanskrit, and Marathi in the College of Fort William, and also
translator of the laws and regulations of the Government.

In a memoir read before the Berlin Academy of Sciences, which he had
founded in the first year of the eighteenth century, Leibniz first
sowed the seed of the twin sciences of comparative philology and
ethnology, to which we owe the fruitful results of the historical
and critical school. That century was passed in the necessary
collection of facts, of data. Carey introduced the second period,
so far as the learned and vernacular languages of North India are
concerned--of developing from the body of facts which his industry
enormously extended, the principles upon which these languages were
constructed, besides applying these principles, in the shape of
grammars, dictionaries, and translations, to the instruction and
Christian civilisation alike of the learned and of the millions of
the people. To the last, as at the first, he was undoubtedly only
what he called himself, a pioneer to prepare the way for more
successful civilisers and scholars. But his pioneering was
acknowledged by contemporary14 and later Orientalists, like
Colebrooke and H. H. Wilson, to be of unexampled value in the
history of scientific research and industry, while the succeeding
pages will show that in its practical results the pioneering came as
nearly to victory as is possible, until native India lives its own
national Christian life.

When India first became a united British Empire under one
Governor-General and the Regulating Act of Parliament of 1773,
Warren Hastings had at once carried out the provision he himself had
suggested for using the moulavies and pundits in the administration
of Mussulman and Hindoo law. Besides colleges in Calcutta and
Benares to train such, he caused those codes of Mohammedan and
Brahmanical law to be prepared which afterwards appeared as The
Hedaya and The Code of Gentoo Laws. The last was compiled in
Sanskrit by pundits summoned from all Bengal and maintained in
Calcutta at the public cost, each at a rupee a day. It was
translated through the Persian, the language of the courts, by the
elder Halhed into English in 1776. That was the first step in
English Orientalism. The second was taken by Sir William Jones, a
predecessor worthy of Carey, but cut off all too soon while still a
young man of thirty-four, when he founded the Bengal Asiatic Society
in 1784 on the model of Boyle's Royal Society. The code of Warren
Hastings had to be arranged and supplemented into a reliable digest
of the original texts, and the translation of this work, as done by
pundit Jaganatha, was left, by the death of Jones, to Colebrooke,
who completed it in 1797. Charles Wilkins had made the first direct
translation from the Sanskrit into English in 1785, when he
published in London The Bhagavat-Geeta or Dialogue of Krishna and
Arjoon, and his is the imperishable honour thus chronicled by a
contemporary poetaster:--

"But he performed a yet more noble part,
He gave to Asia typographic art."

In Bengali Halhed had printed at Hoogli in 1783, with types cut by
Wilkins, the first grammar, but it had become obsolete and was
imperfect. Such had been the tentative efforts of the civilians and
officials of the Company when Carey began anew the work from the
only secure foundation, the level of daily sympathetic intercourse
with the people and their Brahmans, with the young as well as the

The Marquis Wellesley was of nearly the same age as Carey, whom he
soon learned to appreciate and to use for the highest good of the
empire. Of the same name and original English descent as John and
Charles Wesley, the Governor-General was the eldest and not the
least brilliant of the Irish family which, besides him, gave to the
country the Duke of Wellington and Lord Cowley. While Carey was
cobbling shoes in an unknown hamlet of the Midlands and was aspiring
to convert the world, young Wellesley was at Eton and Christ Church,
Oxford, acquiring the classical scholarship which, as we find its
fruits in his Primitiœ et Reliquiœ, extorted the praise of De
Quincey. When Carey was starving in Calcutta unknown the young lord
was making his mark in the House of Commons by a speech against the
Jacobins of France in the style of Burke. The friend of Pitt, he
served his apprenticeship to Indian affairs in the Board of Control,
where he learned to fight the directors of the East India Company,
and he landed at Calcutta in 1798, just in time to save the nascent
empire from ruin by the second Mysore war and the fall of Tipoo at
Seringapatam. Like that other marquis who most closely resembled
him half a century after, the Scottish Dalhousie, his hands were no
sooner freed from the uncongenial bonds of war than he became even
more illustrious by his devotion to the progress which peace makes
possible. He created the College of Fort William, dating the
foundation of what was fitted and intended to be the greatest seat
of learning in the East from the first anniversary of the victory of
Seringapatam. So splendidly did he plan, so wisely did he organise,
and with such lofty aims did he select the teachers of the college,
that long after his death he won from De Quincey the impartial
eulogy, that of his three services to his country and India this was
the "first, to pave the way for the propagation of
Christianity--mighty service, stretching to the clouds, and which in
the hour of death must have given him consolation."

When Wellesley arrived at Calcutta he had been shocked by the
sensual ignorance of the Company's servants. Sunday was universally
given up to horse-racing and gambling. Boys of sixteen were removed
from the English public schools where they had hardly mastered the
rudiments of education to become the magistrates, judges, revenue
collectors, and governors of millions of natives recently brought
under British sway. At a time when the passions most need
regulation and the conscience training, these lads found themselves
in India with large incomes, flattered by native subordinates,
encouraged by their superiors to lead lives of dissipation, and
without the moral control even of the weakest public opinion. The
Eton boy and Oxford man was himself still young, and he knew the
world, but he saw that all this meant ruin to both the civil and
military services, and to the Company's system. The directors
addressed in a public letter, dated 25th May 1798, "an objurgation
on the character and conduct" of their servants. They re-echoed the
words of the new Governor-General in their condemnation of a state
of things, "highly discreditable to our Government, and totally
incompatible with the religion we profess." Such a service as this,
preceding the creation of the college, led Pitt's other friend,
Wilberforce, in the discussions on the charter of 1813, to ascribe
to Lord Wellesley, when summoning him to confirm and revise it, the
system of diffusing useful knowledge of all sorts as the true foe
not only of ignorance but of vice and of political and social decay.

Called upon to prevent the evils he had been the first to denounce
officially, Lord Wellesley wrote his magnificent state paper of
1800, which he simply termed Notes on the necessity of a special
collegiate training of Civil Servants. The Company's factories had
grown into the Indian Empire of Great Britain. The tradesmen and
clerks, whom the Company still called "writer," "factor," and
"merchant," in their several grades, had, since Clive obtained a
military commission in disgust at such duties, become the judges and
rulers of millions, responsible to Parliament. They must be
educated in India itself, and trained to be equal to the
responsibilities and temptations of their position. If appointed by
patronage at home when still at school, they must be tested after
training in India so that promotion shall depend on degrees of
merit. Lord Wellesley anticipated the modified system of
competition which Macaulay offered to the Company in 1853, and the
refusal of which led to the unrestricted system which has prevailed
with varying results since that time. Nor was the college only for
the young civilians as they arrived. Those already at work were to
be encouraged to study. Military officers were to he invited to
take advantage of an institution which was intended to be "the
university of Calcutta," "a light amid the darkness of Asia," and
that at a time when in all England there was not a military college.
Finally, the college was designed to be a centre of Western
learning in an Eastern dress for the natives of India and Southern
Asia, alike as students and teachers. A noble site was marked out
for it on the stately sweep of Garden Reach, where every East
Indiaman first dropped its anchor, and the building was to be worthy
of the founder who erected Government House.

The curriculum of study included Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit;
Bengali, Marathi, Hindostani (Hindi), Telugoo, Tamil, and Kanarese;
English, the Company's, Mohammedan and Hindoo law, civil
jurisprudence, and the law of nations; ethics; political economy,
history, geography, and mathematics; the Greek, Latin, and English
classics, and the modern languages of Europe; the history and
antiquities of India; natural history, botany, chemistry, and
astronomy. The discipline was that of the English universities as
they then were, under the Governor-General himself, his colleagues,
and the appellate judges. The senior chaplain, the Rev. David
Brown, was provost in charge of the discipline; and Dr. Claudius
Buchanan was vice-provost in charge of the studies, as well as
professor of Greek, Latin, and English. Dr. Gilchrist was professor
of Hindostani, in teaching which he had already made a fortune;
Lieutenant J. Baillie of Arabic; and Mr. H. B. Edmonstone of
Persian. Sir George Barlow expounded the laws or regulations of the
British Government in India. The Church of England constitution of
the college at first, to which Buchanan had applied the English Test
Act, and his own modesty, led Carey to accept of his appointment,
which was thus gazetted:--"The Rev. William Carey, teacher of the
Bengali and Sanskrit languages."

The first notice of the new college which we find in Carey's
correspondence is this, in a letter to Sutcliff dated 27th November
1800:--"There is a college erected at Fort William, of which the
Rev. D. Brown is appointed provost, and C. Buchanan classical tutor:
all the Eastern languages are to be taught in it." "All" the
languages of India were to be taught, the vernacular as well as the
classical and purely official. This was a reform not less radical
and beneficial in its far-reaching influence, and not less
honourable to the scholarly foresight of Lord Wellesley, than Lord
William Bentinck's new era of the English language thirty-five years
after. The rulers and administrators of the new empire were to
begin their career by a three years' study of the mother tongue of
the people, to whom justice was administered in a language foreign
alike to them and their governors, and of the Persian language of
their foreign Mohammedan conquerors. That the peoples of India,
"every man in his own language," might hear and read the story of
what the one true and living God had done for us men and our
salvation, Carey had nine years before given himself to acquire
Bengali and the Sanskrit of which it is one of a numerous family of
daughters, as the tongues of the Latin nations of Europe and South
America are of the offspring of the speech of Caesar and Cicero.
Now, following the missionary pioneer, as educational, scientific,
and even political progress has ever since done in the India which
would have kept him out, Lord Wellesley decreed that, like the
missionary, the administrator and the military officer shall master
the language of the people. The five great vernaculars of India
were accordingly named, and the greatest of all, the Hindi, which
was not scientifically elaborated till long after, was provided for
under the mixed dialect or lingua franca known as Hindostani.

When Carey and his colleagues were congratulating themselves on a
reform which has already proved as fruitful of results as the first
century of the Renascence of Europe, he little thought, in his
modesty, that he would be recognised as the only man who was fit to
carry it out. Having guarded the college, as they thought, by a
test, Brown and Buchanan urged Carey to take charge of the Bengali
and Sanskrit classes as "teacher" on Rs. 500 a month or £700 a year.
Such an office was entirely in the line of the constitution of the
missionary brotherhood. But would the Government which had banished
it to Serampore recognise the aggressively missionary character of
Carey, who would not degrade his high calling by even the suspicion
of a compromise? To be called and paid as a teacher rather than as
the professor whose double work he was asked to do, was nothing to
the modesty of the scholar who pleaded his sense of unfitness for
the duties. His Master, not himself, was ever Carey's first
thought, and the full professorship, rising to £1800 a year, was
soon conferred on the man who proved himself to be almost as much
the college in his own person as were the other professors put
together. A month after his appointment he thus told the story to
Dr. Ryland in the course of a long letter devoted chiefly to the
first native converts:--

"SERAMPORE, 15th June 1801...We sent you some time ago a box full of
gods and butterflies, etc., and another box containing a hundred
copies of the New Testament in Bengali...Mr. Lang is studying
Bengali, under me, in the college. What I have last mentioned
requires some explanation, though you will probably hear of it
before this reaches you. You must know, then, that a college was
founded last year in Fort William, for the instruction of the junior
civil servants of the Company, who are obliged to study in it three
years after their arrival. I always highly approved of the
institution, but never entertained a thought that I should be called
to fill a station in it. To my great surprise I was asked to
undertake the Bengali professorship. One morning a letter from Mr.
Brown came, inviting me to cross the water, to have some
conversation with him upon this subject. I had but just time to
call our brethren together, who were of opinion that, for several
reasons, I ought to accept it, provided it did not interfere with
the work of the mission. I also knew myself to be incapable of
filling such a station with reputation and propriety. I, however,
went over, and honestly proposed all my fears and objections. Both
Mr. Brown and Mr. Buchanan were of opinion that the cause of the
mission would be furthered by it; and I was not able to reply to
their arguments. I was convinced that it might. As to my ability,
they could not satisfy me; but they insisted upon it that they must
be the judges of that. I therefore consented, with fear and
trembling. They proposed me that day, or the next, to the
Governor-General, who is patron and visitor of the college. They
told him that I had been a missionary in the country for seven years
or more; and as a missionary I was appointed to the office. A
clause had been inserted in the statutes to accommodate those who
are not of the Church of England (for all professors are to take
certain oaths, and make declarations); but, for the accommodation of
such, two other names were inserted, viz., lecturers and teachers,
who are not included under that obligation. When I was proposed,
his lordship asked if I was well affected to the state, and capable
of fulfilling the duties of the station; to which Mr. B. replied
that he should never have proposed me if he had had the smallest
doubt on those heads. I wonder how people can have such favourable
ideas of me. I certainly am not disaffected to the state; but the
other is not clear to me.

"When the appointment was made, I saw that I had a very important
charge committed to me, and no books or helps of any kind to assist
me. I therefore set about compiling a grammar, which is now half
printed. I got Ram Basu to compose a history of one of their kings,
the first prose book ever written in the Bengali language; which we
are also printing. Our pundit has also nearly translated the
Sanskrit fables, one or two of which Brother Thomas sent you, which
we are also going to publish, These, with Mr. Foster's vocabulary,
will prepare the way to reading their poetical books; so that I hope
this difficulty will be gotten through. But my ignorance of the way
of conducting collegiate exercises is a great weight upon my mind.
I have thirteen students in my class; I lecture twice a week, and
have nearly gone through one term, not quite two months. It began
4th May. Most of the students have gotten through the accidents,
and some have begun to translate Bengali into English. The
examination begins this week. I am also appointed teacher of the
Sanskrit language; and though no students have yet entered in that
class, yet I must prepare for it. I am, therefore, writing a
grammar of that language, which I must also print, if I should be
able to get through with it, and perhaps a dictionary, which I began
some years ago. I say all this, my dear brother, to induce you to
give me your advice about the best manner of conducting myself in
this station, and to induce you to pray much for me, that God may,
in all things, be glorified by me. We presented a copy of the
Bengali New Testament to Lord Wellesley, after the appointment,
through the medium of the Rev. D. Brown, which was graciously
received. We also presented Governor Bie with one.

"Serampore is now in the hands of the English. It was taken while
we were in bed and asleep; you may therefore suppose that it was
done without bloodshed. You may be perfectly easy about us: we are
equally secure under the English or Danish Government, and I am sure
well disposed to both."

For seven years, since his first settlement in the Dinapoor
district, Carey had given one-third of his long working day to the
study of Sanskrit. In 1796 he reported:--"I am now learning the
Sanskrit language, that I may be able to read their Shasters for
myself; and I have acquired so much of the Hindi or Hindostani as to
converse in it and speak for some time intelligibly...Even the
language of Ceylon has so much affinity with that of Bengal that out
of twelve words, with the little Sanskrit that I know, I can
understand five or six." In 1798 he wrote:--"I constantly employ
the forenoon in temporal affairs; the afternoon in reading, writing,
learning Sanskrit, etc.; and the evening by candle light in
translating the Scriptures...Except I go out to preach, which is
often the case, I never deviate from this rule." Three years before
that he had been able to confute the Brahmans from their own
writings; in 1798 he quoted and translated the Rig Veda and the
Purana in reply to a request for an account of the beliefs of the
priesthood, apologising, however, with his usual
self-depreciation:--"I am just beginning to see for myself by
reading the original Shasters." In 1799 we find him reading the
Mahabharata epic with the hope of finding some allusion or fact
which might enable him to equate Hindoo chronology with reliable
history, as Dr. John Wilson of Bombay and James Prinsep did a
generation later, by the discovery of the name of Antiochus the
Great in two of the edicts of Asoka, written on the Girnar rock.

By September 1804 Carey had completed the first three years' course
of collegiate training in Sanskrit. The Governor-General summoned a
brilliant assembly to listen to the disputations and declamations of
the students who were passing out, and of their professors, in the
various Oriental languages. The new Government House, as it was
still called, having been completed only the year before at a cost
of £140,000, was the scene, in "the southern room on the marble
floor," where, ever since, all through the century, the Sovereign's
Viceroys have received the homage of the tributary kings of our
Indian empire. There, from Dalhousie and Canning to Lawrence and
Mayo, and their still surviving successors, we have seen pageants
and durbars more splendid, and representing a wider extent of
territory, from Yarkand to Bangkok, than even the Sultanised
Englishman as Sir James Mackintosh called Wellesley, ever dreamed of
in his most imperial aspirations. There councils have ever since
been held, and laws have been passed affecting the weal of from two
to three hundred millions of our fellow-subjects. There, too, we
have stood with Duff and Cotton, Ritchie and Outram, representing
the later University of Calcutta which Wellesley would have
anticipated. But we question if, ever since, the marble hall of the
Governor-General's palace has witnessed a sight more profoundly
significant than that of William Carey addressing the Marquis
Wellesley in Sanskrit, and in the presence of the future Duke of
Wellington, in such words as follow.

The seventy students, their governors, officers, and professors,
rose to their feet, when, at ten o'clock on Thursday the 20th of
September 1804, His Excellency the Visitor entered the room,
accompanied, as the official gazette duly chronicles, by "the
Honourable the Chief Justice, the judges of the Supreme Court, the
members of the Supreme Council, the members of the Council of the
College, Major-General Cameron, Major-General the Honourable Arthur
Wellesley, Major-General Dowdeswell, and Solyman Aga, the envoy from
Baghdad. All the principal civil and military officers at the
Presidency, and many of the British inhabitants, were present on
this occasion; and also many learned natives."

After Romer had defended, in Hindostani, the thesis that the
Sanskrit is the parent language in India, and Swinton, in Persian,
that the poems of Hafiz are to be understood in a figurative or
mystical sense, there came a Bengali declamation by Tod senior on
the position that the translations of the best works extant in the
Sanskrit with the popular languages of India would promote the
extension of science and civilisation, opposed by Hayes; then Carey,
as moderator, made an appropriate Bengali speech. A similar
disputation in Arabic and a Sanskrit declamation followed, when
Carey was called on to conclude with a speech in Sanskrit. Two days
after, at a second assemblage of the same kind, followed by a state
dinner. Lord Wellesley presented the best students with degrees of
merit inscribed on vellum in Oriental characters, and delivered an
oration, in which he specially complimented the Sanskrit classes,
urged more general attention to the Bengali language, and expressed
satisfaction that a successful beginning had been made in the study
of Marathi.

It was considered a dangerous experiment for a missionary, speaking
in Sanskrit, to avow himself such not only before the
Governor-General in official state but before the Hindoo and
Mohammedan nobles who surrounded him. We may be sure that Carey
would not show less of his Master's charity and wisdom than he had
always striven to do. But the necessity was the more laid on him
that he should openly confess his great calling, for he had told
Fuller on Lord Wellesley's arrival he would do so if it were
possible. Buchanan, being quite as anxious to bring the mission
forward on this occasion, added much to the English draft--"the
whole of the flattery is his," wrote Carey to Fuller--and sent it on
to Lord Wellesley with apprehension. This answer came back from the
great Proconsul:--"I am much pleased with Mr. Carey's truly original
and excellent speech. I would not wish to have a word altered. I
esteem such a testimony from such a man a greater honour than the
applause of Courts and Parliaments."

"MY LORD, it is just that the language which has been first
cultivated under your auspices should primarily be employed in
gratefully acknowledging the benefit, and in speaking your praise.
This ancient language, which refused to disclose itself to the
former Governors of India, unlocks its treasures at your command,
and enriches the world with the history, learning, and science of a
distant age. The rising importance of our collegiate institution
has never been more clearly demonstrated than on the present
occasion; and thousands of the learned in distant nations will exult
in this triumph of literature.

"What a singular exhibition has been this day presented to us! In
presence of the supreme Governor of India, and of its most learned
and illustrious characters, Asiatic and European, an assembly is
convened, in which no word of our native tongue is spoken, but
public discourse is maintained on interesting subjects in the
languages of Asia. The colloquial Hindostani, the classic Persian,
the commercial Bengali, the learned Arabic, and the primæval
Sanskrit are spoken fluently, after having been studied
grammatically, by English youth. Did ever any university in Europe,
or any literary institution in any other age or country, exhibit a
scene so interesting as this? And what are the circumstances of
these youth? They are not students who prosecute a dead language
with uncertain purpose, impelled only by natural genius or love of
fame. But having been appointed to the important offices of
administering the government of the country in which these languages
are spoken, they apply their acquisitions immediately to useful
purpose; in distributing justice to the inhabitants; in transacting
the business of the state, revenual and commercial; and in
maintaining official intercourse with the people, in their own
tongue, and not, as hitherto, by an interpreter. The acquisitions
of our students may be appreciated by their affording to the
suppliant native immediate access to his principal; and by their
elucidating the spirit of the regulations of our Government by oral
communication, and by written explanations, varied according to the
circumstances and capacities of the people.

"The acquisitions of our students are appreciated at this moment by
those learned Asiatics now present in this assembly, some of them
strangers from distant provinces; who wonder every man to hear in
his own tongue important subjects discussed, and new and noble
principles asserted, by the youth of a foreign land. The literary
proceedings of this day amply repay all the solicitude, labour, and
expense that have been bestowed on this institution. If the expense
had been a thousand times greater, it would not have equalled the
immensity of the advantage, moral and political, that will ensue.

"I, now an old man, have lived for a long series of years among the
Hindoos. I have been in the habit of preaching to multitudes daily,
of discoursing with the Brahmans on every subject, and of
superintending schools for the instruction of the Hindoo youth.
Their language is nearly as familiar to me as my own. This close
intercourse with the natives for so long a period, and in different
parts of our empire, has afforded me opportunities of information
not inferior to those which have hitherto been presented to any
other person. I may say indeed that their manners, customs, habits,
and sentiments are as obvious to me as if I was myself a native.
And knowing them as I do, and hearing as I do their daily
observations on our government, character, and principles, I am
warranted to say (and I deem it my duty to embrace the public
opportunity now afforded me of saying it) that the institution of
this college was wanting to complete the happiness of the natives
under our dominion; for this institution will break down that
barrier (our ignorance of their language) which has ever opposed the
influence of our laws and principles, and has despoiled our
administration of its energy and effect.

"Were the institution to cease from this moment, its salutary
effects would yet remain. Good has been done, which cannot be
undone. Sources of useful knowledge, moral instruction, and
political utility have been opened to the natives of India which can
never be closed; and their civil improvement, like the gradual
civilisation of our own country, will advance in progression for
ages to come.

"One hundred original volumes in the Oriental languages and
literature will preserve for ever in Asia the name of the founder of
this institution. Nor are the examples frequent of a renown,
possessing such utility for its basis, or pervading such a vast
portion of the habitable globe. My lord, you have raised a monument
of fame which no length of time or reverse of fortune is able to
destroy; not chiefly because it is inscribed with Maratha and
Mysore, with the trophies of war and the emblems of victory, but
because there are inscribed on it the names of those learned youth
who have obtained degrees of honour for high proficiency in the
Oriental tongues.

"These youth will rise in regular succession to the Government of
this country. They will extend the domain of British civilisation,
security, and happiness, by enlarging the bounds of Oriental
literature and thereby diffusing the spirit of Christian principles
throughout the nations of Asia. These youth, who have lived so long
amongst us, whose unwearied application to their studies we have all
witnessed, whose moral and exemplary conduct has, in so solemn a
manner, been publicly declared before this august assembly, on this
day; and who, at the moment of entering on the public service, enjoy
the fame of possessing qualities (rarely combined) constituting a
reputation of threefold strength for public men, genius, industry,
and virtue;--these illustrious scholars, my lord, the pride of their
country, and the pillars of this empire, will record your name in
many a language and secure your fame for ever. Your fame is already
recorded in their hearts. The whole body of youth of this service
hail you as their father and their friend. Your honour will ever be
safe in their hands. No revolution of opinion or change of
circumstances can rob you of the solid glory derived from the
humane, just, liberal, and magnanimous principles which have been
embodied by your administration.

"To whatever situation the course of future events may call you, the
youth of this service will ever remain the pledges of the wisdom and
purity of your government. Your evening of life will be constantly
cheered with new testimonies of their reverence and affection, with
new proofs of the advantages of the education you have afforded
them, and with a demonstration of the numerous benefits, moral,
religious, and political, resulting from this institution;--benefits
which will consolidate the happiness of millions of Asia, with the
glory and welfare of our country."

The Court of Directors had never liked Lord Wellesley, and he had,
in common with Colebrooke, keenly wounded them by proposing a free
trade movement against their monopoly. They ordered that his
favourite college should be immediately abolished. He took good
care so to protract the operation as to give him time to call in the
aid of the Board of Control, which saved the institution, but
confined it to the teaching of languages to the civilians of the
Bengal Presidency only. The Directors, when thus overruled chiefly
by Pitt, created a similar college at Haileybury, which continued
till the open competitive system of 1854 swept that also away; and
the Company itself soon followed, as the march of events had made it
an anachronism.

The first law professor at Haileybury was James Mackintosh, an
Aberdeen student who had leaped into the front rank of publicists
and scholars by his answer to Burke, in the Vindiciœ Gallicœ, and
his famous defence of M. Peltier accused of a libel on Napoleon
Buonaparte. Knighted and sent out to Bombay as its first recorder,
Sir James Mackintosh became the centre of scholarly society in
Western India, as Sir William Jones had been in Bengal. He was the
friend of Robert Hall, the younger, who was filling Carey's pulpit
in Leicester, and he soon became the admiring correspondent of Carey
himself. His first act during his seven years' residence in Bombay
was to establish the "Literary Society." He drew up a "Plan of a
comparative vocabulary of Indian languages," to be filled up by the
officials of every district, like that which Carey had long been
elaborating for his own use as a philologist and Bible translator.
In his first address to the Literary Society he thus eulogised the
College of Fort William, though fresh from a chair in its English
rival, Haileybury:--"The original plan was the most magnificent
attempt ever made for the promotion of learning in the East...Even
in its present mutilated state we have seen, at the last public
exhibition, Sanskrit declamation by English youth, a circumstance so
extraordinary, that if it be followed by suitable advances it will
mark an epoch in the history of learning."

Carey continued till 1831 to be the most notable figure in the
College of Fort William. He was the centre of the learned natives
whom it attracted, as pundits and moonshees, as inquirers and
visitors. His own special pundit was the chief one, Mrityunjaya
Vidyalankar, whom Home has immortalised in Carey's portrait. In the
college for more than half the week, as in his study at Serampore,
Carey exhausted three pundits daily. His college-room was the
centre of incessant literary work, as his Serampore study was of
Bible translation. When he declared that the college staff had sent
forth one hundred original volumes in the Oriental languages and
literature, he referred to the grammars and dictionaries, the
reading-books, compilations, and editions prepared for the students
by the professors and their native assistants. But he contributed
the largest share, and of all his contributions the most laborious
and valuable was this project of the Bibliotheca Asiatica.

"24th July, 1805.--By the enclosed Gazette you will see that the
Asiatic Society and the College have agreed to allow us a yearly
stipend for translating Sanskrit works: this will maintain three
missionary stations, and we intend to apply it to that purpose. An
augmentation of my salary has been warmly recommended by the College
Council, but has not yet taken place, and as Lord Cornwallis is now
arrived and Lord Wellesley going away, it may not take place. If it
should, it will be a further assistance. The business of the
translation of Sanskrit works is as follows: About two years ago I
presented proposals (to the Council of the College) to print the
Sanskrit books at a fixed price, with a certain indemnity for 100
copies. The plan was thought too extensive by some, and was
therefore laid by. A few months ago Dr. Francis Buchanan came to
me, by desire of Marquis Wellesley, about the translation of his
manuscripts. In the course of conversation I mentioned the proposal
I had made, of which he much approved, and immediately communicated
the matter to Sir John Anstruther, who is president of the Asiatic
Society. Sir John had then been drawing out a proposal to Lord
Wellesley to form a catalogue raisonnè of the ancient Hindoo books,
which he sent to me, and entering warmly into my plan, desired that
I would send in a set of proposals. After some amendments it was
agreed that the College of Fort William and the Asiatic Society
should subscribe in equal shares 300 rupees a month to defray the
current expenses, that we should undertake any work approved of by
them, and print the original with an English translation on such
paper and with such a type as they shall approve; the copy to be
ours. They have agreed to recommend the work to all the learned
bodies in Europe. I have recommended the Ramayana to begin with, it
being one of the most popular of all the Hindoo books accounted
sacred. The Veda are so excessively insipid that, had we begun with
them, we should have sickened the public at the outset. The
Ramayana will furnish the best account of Hindoo mythology that any
one book will, and has extravagancy enough to excite a wish to read
it through."

In 1807 Carey became one of the most active members of the Bengal
Asiatic Society. His name at once appears as one of the Committee
of Papers. In the ninth volume of the Asiatic Researches for that
year, scholars were invited to communicate translations and
descriptive accounts of Asiatic books. Carey's edition of The
Ramayana of Valmeeki, in the original Sanskrit, with a prose
translation and explanatory notes, appeared from the Serampore press
in three successive quartos from 1806 to 1810. The translation was
done by "Dr. Carey and Joshua Marshman." Until Gorresio published
his edition and Italian translation of the whole poem this was the
first and only attempt to open the seal of the second great Sankrit
epic to the European world. In 1802 Carey had encouraged the
publication at his own press of translations of both the Mahabharata
and the Ramayana into Bengali. Carey's Ramayana excited a keen
interest not only among the learned of Europe, but among poetical
students. Southey eagerly turned to it for materials for his Curse
of Kehama, in the notes to which he makes long quotations from "the
excellent and learned Baptist missionaries of Serampore." Dean
Milman, when professor of poetry in Oxford, drew from the same
storehouse many of the notes with which he enriched his verse
translations from both epics. A. W. von Schlegel, the death of
whose eldest brother at Madras early led him to Oriental studies,
published two books with a Latin translation. Mr. Ralph T. H.
Griffith most pleasantly opened the treasures of this epic to
English readers in his verse translations published since 1868.
Carey's translation has always been the more rare that the edition
despatched for sale in England was lost at sea, and only a few
presentation copies are extant, one of which is in the British

Carey's contributions to Sanskrit scholarship were not confined to
what he published or to what appeared under his own name. We are
told by H. H. Wilson that he had prepared for the press translations
of treatises on the metaphysical system called Sankhya. "It was not
in Dr. Carey's nature to volunteer a display of his erudition, and
the literary labours already adverted to arose in a great measure
out of his connection with the college of Calcutta, or were
suggested to him by those whose authority he respected, and to whose
wishes he thought it incumbent upon him to attend. It may be added
that Dr. Carey spoke Sanskrit with fluency and correctness."

He edited for the college the Sanskrit text of the Hitopadesa, from
six MSS. recensions of this the first revelation to Europe of the
fountain of Aryan folk-tales, of the original of Pilpay's Fables.15
H. H. Wilson remarks that the errors are not more than might have
been expected from the variations and defects of the manuscripts and
the novelty of the task, for this was the first Sanskrit book ever
printed in the Devanagari character. To this famous work Carey
added an abridgment of the prose Adventures of Ten Princes (the Dasa
Kumara Carita), and of Bhartri-hari's Apophthegms. Colebrooke
records his debt to Carey for carrying through the Serampore press
the Sanskrit dictionary of Amara Sinha, the oldest native
lexicographer, with an English interpretation and annotations. But
the magnum opus of Carey was what in 1811 he described as A
Universal Dictionary of the Oriental Languages, derived from the
Sanskrit, of which that language is to be the groundwork. The
object for which he had been long collecting the materials of this
mighty work was the assisting of "Biblical students to correct the
translation of the Bible in the Oriental languages after we are

Through the College of Fort William during thirty long years Carey
influenced the ablest men in the Bengal Civil Service, and not a few
in Madras and Bombay. "The college must stand or the empire must
fall," its founder had written to his friends in the Government, so
convinced was he that only thus could proper men be trained for the
public service and the welfare of our native subjects be secured.
How right he was Carey's experience proved. The young civilians
turned out after the first three years' course introduced that new
era in the administration of India which has converted traders into
statesmen and filibusters into soldier-politicals, so that the East
Indian services stand alone in the history of the administration of
imperial dependencies for spotless integrity and high average
ability. Contrast with the work of these men, from the days of
Wellesley, the first Minto, and Dalhousie, from the time of Canning
to Lawrence and the second Minto, the provincial administration of
imperial Rome, of Spain and Portugal at their best, of even the
Netherlands and France. For a whole generation of thirty years the
civilians who studied Sanskrit, Bengali, and Marathi came daily
under the gentle spell of Carey, who, though he had failed to keep
the village school of Moulton in order, manifested the learning and
the modesty, the efficiency and the geniality, which won the
affectionate admiration of his students in Calcutta.

A glance at the register of the college for its first five years
reveals such men as these among his best students. The first
Bengali prizeman of Carey was W. Butterworth Bayley, whose long
career of blameless uprightness and marked ability culminated in the
temporary seat of Governor-General, and who was followed in the
service by a son worthy of him. The second was that Brian H.
Hodgson who, when Resident of Nepal, of all his contemporaries won
for himself the greatest reputation as a scholar, who fought side by
side with the Serampore brotherhood the battle of the vernaculars of
the people. Charles, afterwards Lord Metcalfe, had been the first
student to enter the college. He was on its Persian side, and he
learned while still under its discipline that "humility, patience,
and obedience to the divine will" which unostentatiously marked his
brilliant life and soothed his spirit in the agonies of a fatal
disease. He and Bayley were inseparable. Of the first set, too,
were Richard Jenkins, who was to leave his mark on history as
Nagpoor Resident and author of the Report of 1826; and Romer, who
rose to be Governor of Bombay for a time. In those early years the
two Birds passed through the classes--Robert Mertins Bird, who was
to found the great land revenue school of Hindostan; and Wilberforce
Bird, who governed India while Lord Ellenborough played at soldiers,
and to whom the legal suppression of slavery in Southern Asia is
due. Names of men second to those, such as Elliot and Thackeray,
Hamilton and Martin, the Shakespeares and Plowdens, the Moneys, the
Rosses and Keenes, crowd the honour lists. One of the last to enjoy
the advantages of the college before its abolition was John
Lawrence, who used to confess that he was never good at languages,
but whose vigorous Hindostani made many an ill-doing Raja tremble,
while his homely conversation, interspersed with jokes, encouraged
the toiling ryot.

These, and men like these, sat at the feet of Carey, where they
learned not only to be scholars but to treat the natives kindly,
and--some of them--even as brethren in Christ. Then from teaching
the future rulers of the East, the missionary-professor turned to
his Bengali preaching and his Benevolent Institution, to his visits
to the prisoners and his intercourse with the British soldiers in
Fort William. And when the four days' work in Calcutta was over,
the early tide bore him swiftly up the Hoogli to the study where,
for the rest of the week, he gave himself to the translation of the
Bible into the languages of the people and of their leaders.




The Bible Carey's missionary weapon--Other vernacular
translators--Carey's modest but just description of his labours--His
philological key--Type-cutting and type-casting by a Hindoo
blacksmith--The first manufacture of paper and steam-engines in the
East--Carey takes stock of the translation work at the opening of
1808--In his workshop--A seminary of Bible translators--William
Yates, shoemaker, the Coverdale of the Bengali Bible--Wenger--A
Bengali Luther wanted--Carey's Bengali Bible--How the New Testament
was printed--The first copy offered to God--Reception of the volume
by Lord Spencer and George III.--Self-evidencing power of the first
edition--The Bible in Ooriya--In Maghadi, Assamese, Khasi, and
Manipoori--Marathi, Konkani, and Goojarati versions--The translation
into Hindi and its many dialects--The Dravidian translations--Tale
of the Pushtoo Bible--The Sikhs and the Bible--The first Burman
version and press--The British and Foreign Bible Society--Deaths,
earthquake, and fire in 1812--Destruction of the press--Thomason's
description of the smoking ruins--Carey's heroism as to his
manuscripts--Enthusiastic sympathy of India and Christendom--The
phœnix and its feathers.

Every great reform in the world has been, in the first instance, the
work of one man, who, however much he may have been the product of
his time, has conceived and begun to execute the movement which
transforms society. This is true alike of the moral and the
physical forces of history, of contemporaries so apparently opposite
in character and aims as Carey and Clarkson on the one side and
Napoleon and Wellington on the other. Carey stood alone in his
persistent determination that the Church should evangelise the
world. He was no less singular in the means which he insisted on as
the first essential condition of its evangelisation--the vernacular
translation of the Bible. From the Scriptures alone, while yet a
journeyman shoemaker of eighteen, "he had formed his own system,"
and had been filled with the divine missionary idea. That was a
year before the first Bible Society was formed in 1780 to circulate
the English Bible among soldiers and sailors; and, a quarter of a
century before his own success led to the formation in 1804 of the
British and Foreign Bible Society. From the time of his youth, when
he realised the self-evidencing power of the Bible, Carey's unbroken
habit was to begin every morning by reading one chapter of the
Bible, first in English, and then in each of the languages, soon,
numbering six, which he had himself learned.

Hence the translation of the Bible into all the languages and
principal dialects of India and Eastern Asia was the work above all
others to which Carey set himself from the time, in 1793, when he
acquired the Bengali. He preached, he taught, he "discipled" in
every form then reasonable and possible, and in the fullest sense of
his Master's missionary charge. But the one form of most pressing
and abiding importance, the condition without which neither true
faith, nor true science, nor true civilisation could exist or be
propagated outside of the narrow circle to be reached by the one
herald's voice, was the publishing of the divine message in the
mother tongues of the millions of Asiatic men and women, boys and
girls, and in the learned tongues also of their leaders and priests.
Wyclif had first done this for the English-reading races of all
time, translating from the Latin, and so had begun the Reformation,
religious and political, not only in Britain but in Western
Christendom. Erasmus and Luther had followed him--the former in his
Greek and Latin New Testament and in his Paraphrase of the Word for
"women and cobblers, clowns, mechanics, and even the Turks"; the
latter in his great vernacular translation of the edition of
Erasmus, who had never ceased to urge his contemporaries to
translate the Scriptures "into all tongues." Tyndale had first
given England the Bible from the Hebrew and the Greek. And now one
of these cobblers was prompted and enabled by the Spirit who is the
author of the truth in the Scriptures, to give to South and Eastern
Asia the sacred books which its Syrian sons, from Moses and Ezra to
Paul and John, had been inspired to write for all races and all
ages. Emphatically, Carey and his later coadjutors deserve the
language of the British and Foreign Bible Society, when, in 1827, it
made to Serampore a last grant of money for translation--"Future
generations will apply to them the words of the translators of the
English Bible--'Therefore blessed be they and most honoured their
names that break the ice and give the onset in that which helped
them forward to the saving of souls. Now what can be more available
thereto than to deliver God's book unto God's people in a tongue
which they understand?'" Carey might tolerate interruption when
engaged in other work, but for forty years he never allowed anything
to shorten the time allotted to the Bible work. "You, madam," he
wrote in 1797 to a lady as to many a correspondent, "will excuse my
brevity when I inform you that all my time for writting letters is
stolen from the work of transcribing the Scriptures into the Bengali

>From no mere humility, but with an accurate judgment in the state of
scholarship and criticism at the opening of last century, Carey
always insisted that he was a forerunner, breaking up the way for
successors like Yates, Wenger, and Rouse, who, in their turn, must
be superseded by purely native Tyndales and Luthers in the Church of
India. He more than once deprecated the talk of his having
translated the Bible into forty languages and dialects.16 As we
proceed that will be a apparent which he did with his own hand, that
which his colleagues accomplished, that which he revised and edited
both of their work and of the pundits', and that which he corrected
and printed for others at the Serampore press under the care of
Ward. It is to these four lines of work, which centred in him, as
most of them originally proceeded from his conception and advocacy,
that the assertion as to the forty translations is strictly
applicable. The Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, and Sanskrit translations
were his own. The Chinese was similarly the work of Marshman. The
Hindi versions, in their many dialects, and the Ooriya, were blocked
out by his colleagues and the pundits. He saw through the press the
Hindostani, Persian, Malay, Tamil, and other versions of the whole
or portions of the Scriptures. He ceased not, night and day, if by
any means, with a loving catholicity, the Word of God might be given
to the millions.

Writing in 1904 on the centenary of the British and Foreign Bible
Society, Mr. George A. Grierson, C.I.E., Ph.D., D.Litt., the head of
the Linguistic Survey of India, sums up authoritatively the work of
Carey and his assistants. "The great-hearted band of Serampore
missionaries issued translations of the Bible or of the New
Testament in more than forty languages. Before them the number of
Protestant versions of the Bible in the speeches of India could be
counted on the fingers of one hand. The Dutch of Ceylon undertook a
Tamil New Testament in 1688, which was followed in 1715 by another
version from the pen of Ziegenbalg. The famous missionary,
Schultze, between 1727 and 1732 made a Telugu version which was
never printed, and later, between 1745 and 1758, he published at
Halle a Hindostani translation of the New Testament and of a portion
of Genesis. A manuscript version of portions of the Bible in
Bengali was made by Thomas in 1791; and then the great Serampore
series began with Carey's Bengali New Testament published in 1801.
Most of these Serampore versions were, it is true, first attempts
and have been superseded by more accurate versions, but the first
step is always the most important one, and this was taken by Carey
and his brethren."

Carey's correspondent in this and purely scholarly subjects was Dr.
Ryland, an accomplished Hebraist and Biblical critic for that day,
at the head of the Bristol College. Carey's letters, plentifully
sprinkled with Hebrew and Greek, show the jealousy with which he
sought to convey the divine message accurately, and the unwearied
sense of responsibility under which he worked. Biblical criticism,
alike as to the original text and to the exegesis of the sacred
writings, is so very modern a science, that these letters have now
only a historical interest. But this communication to Ryland shows
how he worked from the first:--

"CALCUTTA, 14th Dec. 1803.--We some time ago engaged in an
undertaking, of which we intended to say nothing until it was
accomplished; but an unforeseen providence made it necessary for us
to disclose it. It is as follows: About a year and a half ago, some
attempts were made to engage Mr. Gilchrist in the translation of the
Scriptures into the Hindostani language. By something or other it
was put by. The Persian was also at the same time much talked of,
but given up, or rather not engaged in. At this time several
considerations prevailed on us to set ourselves silently upon a
translation into these languages. We accordingly hired two
moonshees to assist us in it, and each of us took our share; Brother
Marshman took Matthew and Luke; Brother Ward, Mark and John; and
myself the remaining part of the New Testament into Hindostani. I
undertook no part of the Persian; but, instead thereof, engaged in
translating it into Maharastra, commonly called the Mahratta
language, the person who assists me in the Hindostani being a
Mahratta. Brother Marshman has finished Matthew, and, instead of
Luke, has begun the Acts. Brother Ward has done part of John, and I
have done the Epistles, and about six chapters of the Revelation;
and have proceeded as far as the second epistle of the Corinthians
in the revisal: they have done a few chapters into Persian, and I a
few into Mahratta. Thus the matter stood, till a few days ago Mr.
Buchanan informed me that a military gentleman had translated the
Gospels into Hindostani and Persian, and had made a present of them
to the College, and that the College Council had voted the printing
of them. This made it necessary for me to say what we had been
about; and had it not been for this circumstance we should not have
said anything till we had got the New Testament at least pretty
forward in printing. I am very glad that Major Colebrooke has done
it. We will gladly do what others do not do, and wish all speed to
those who do anything in this way. We have it in our power, if our
means would do for it, in the space of about fifteen years to have
the word of God translated and printed in all the languages of the
East. Our situation is such as to furnish us with the best
assistance from natives of the different countries. We can have
types of all the different characters cast here; and about 700
rupees per month, part of which I hope we shall be able to furnish,
would complete the work. The languages are the Hindostani (Hindi),
Maharastra, Ooriya, Telinga, Bhotan, Burman, Chinese, Cochin
Chinese, Tongkinese, and Malay. On this great work we have fixed
our eyes. Whether God will enable us to accomplish it, or any
considerable part of it, is uncertain."

But all these advantages, his own genius for languages, his
unconquerable plodding directed by a divine motive, his colleagues'
co-operation, the encouragement of learned societies and the public,
and the number of pundits and moonshees increased by the College of
Fort William, would have failed to open the door of the East to the
sacred Scriptures had the philological key of the Sanskrit been
wanting or undiscovered. In the preface to his Sanskrit grammar,
quoted by the Quarterly Review with high approbation, Carey wrote
that it gave him the meaning of four out of every five words of the
principal languages of the whole people of India:--"The peculiar
grammar of any one of these may be acquired in a couple of months,
and then the language lies open to the student. The knowledge of
four words in five enables him to read with pleasure, and renders
the acquisition of the few new words, as well as the idiomatic
expressions, a matter of delight rather than of labour. Thus the
Ooriya, though possessing a separate grammar and character, is so
much like the Bengali in the very expression that a Bengali pundit
is almost equal to the correction of an Orissa proof sheet; and the
first time that I read a page of Goojarati the meaning appeared so
obvious as to render it unnecessary to ask the pundit questions."

The mechanical apparatus of types, paper, and printing seem to have
been provided by the same providential foresight as the intellectual
and the spiritual. We have seen how, when he was far enough
advanced in his translation, Carey amid the swamps of Dinapoor
looked to England for press, type, paper, and printer. He got the
last, William Ward, a man of his own selection, worthy to be his
colleague. But he had hardly despatched his letter when he found or
made all the rest in Bengal itself. It was from the old press
bought in Calcutta, set up in Mudnabati, and removed to Serampore,
that the first edition of the Bengali New Testament was printed.
The few rare and venerable copies have now a peculiar bibliographic
interest; the type and the paper alike are coarse and blurred.

Sir Charles Wilkins, the Caxton of India, had with his own hands cut
the punches and cast the types from which Halhed's Bengali grammar
was printed at Hoogli in 1778. He taught the art to a native
blacksmith, Panchanan, who went to Serampore in search of work just
when Carey was in despair for a fount of the sacred Devanagari type
for his Sanskirt grammar, and for founts of the other languages
besides Bengali which had never been printed. They thus tell the
story in a Memoir Relative to the Translations, published in 1807:--

"It will be obvious that in the present state of things in India it
was in many instances necessary to cast new founts of types in
several of these languages. Happily for us and India at large
Wilkins had led the way in this department; and by persevering
industry, the value of which can scarcely be appreciated, under the
greatest disadvantages with respect to materials and workmen, had
brought the Bengali to a high degree of perfection. Soon after our
settling at Serampore the providence of God brought to us the very
artist who had wrought with Wilkins in that work, and in a great
measure imbibed his ideas. By his assistance we erected a
letter-foundry; and although he is now dead, he had so fully
communicated his art to a number of others, that they carry forward
the work of type-casting, and even of cutting the matrices, with a
degree of accuracy which would not disgrace European artists. These
have cast for us two or three founts of Bengali; and we are now
employing them in casting a fount on a construction which bids fair
to diminish the expense of paper, and the size of the book at least
one-fourth, without affecting the legibility of the character. Of
the Devanagari character we have also cast an entire new fount,
which is esteemed the most beautiful of the kind in India. It
consists of nearly 1000 different combinations of characters, so
that the expense of cutting the patterns only amounted to 1500
rupees, exclusive of metal and casting.

"In the Orissa we have been compelled also to cast a new fount of
types, as none before existed in that character. The fount consists
of about 300 separate combinations, and the whole expense of cutting
and casting has amounted to at least 1000 rupees. The character,
though distinct, is of a moderate size, and will comprise the whole
New Testament in about 700 pages octavo, which is about a fourth
less than the Bengali. Although in the Mahratta country the
Devanagari character is well known to men of education, yet a
character is current among the men of business which is much
smaller, and varies considerably in form from the Nagari, though the
number and power of the letters nearly correspond. We have cast a
fount in this character, in which we have begun to print the
Mahratta New Testament, as well as a Mahratta dictionary. This
character is moderate in size, distinct and beautiful. It will
comprise the New Testament in perhaps a less number of pages than
the Orissa. The expense of casting, etc., has been much the same.
We stand in need of three more founts; one in the Burman, another
in the Telinga and Kernata, and a third in the Seek's character.
These, with the Chinese characters, will enable us to go through
the work. An excellent and extensive fount of Persian we received
from you, dear brethren, last year."

Panchanan's apprentice, Monohur, continued to make elegant founts of
type in all Eastern languages for the mission and for sale to others
for more than forty years, becoming a benefactor not only to
literature but to Christian civilisation to an extent of which he
was unconscious, for he remained a Hindoo of the blacksmith caste.
In 1839, when he first went to India as a young missionary, the
Rev. James Kennedy17 saw him, as the present writer has often since
seen his successor, cutting the matrices or casting the type for the
Bibles, while he squatted below his favourite idol, under the
auspices of which alone he would work. Serampore continued down
till 1860 to be the principal Oriental typefoundry of the East.18

Hardly less service did the mission come to render to the
manufacture of paper in course of time, giving the name of Serampore
to a variety known all over India. At first Carey was compelled to
print his Bengali Testament on a dingy, porous, rough substance
called Patna paper. Then he began to depend on supplies from
England, which in those days reached the press at irregular times,
often impeding the work, and was most costly. This was not all.
Native paper, whether mill or hand-made, being sized with rice
paste, attracted the bookworm and white ant, so that the first
sheets of a work which lingered in the press were sometimes devoured
by these insects before the last sheets were printed off. Carey
used to preserve his most valuable manuscripts by writing on
arsenicated paper, which became of a hideous yellow colour, though
it is to this alone we owe the preservation in the library of
Serampore College of five colossal volumes of his polyglot
dictionary prepared for the Bible translation work. Many and long
were the experiments of the missionaries to solve the paper
difficulty, ending in the erection of a tread-mill on which relays
of forty natives reduced the raw material in the paper-engine, until
one was accidentally killed.

The enterprise of Mr. William Jones, who first worked the Raneegunj
coal-field, suggested the remedy in the employment of a
steam-engine. One of twelve-horse power was ordered from Messrs.
Thwaites and Rothwell of Bolton. This was the first ever erected in
India, and it was a purely missionary locomotive. The "machine of
fire," as they called it, brought crowds of natives to the mission,
whose curiosity tried the patience of the engineman imported to work
it; while many a European who had never seen machinery driven by
steam came to study and to copy it. The date was the 27th of March
1820, when "the engine went in reality this day." From that time
till 1865 Serampore became the one source of supply for local as
distinguished from imported and purely native hand-made paper. Even
the cartridges of Mutiny notoriety in 1857 were from this factory,
though it had long ceased to be connected with the mission.

Dr. Carey thus took stock of the translating enterprise in a letter
to Dr. Ryland:--

"22nd January 1808.--Last year may be reckoned among the most
important which this mission has seen--not for the numbers converted
among the natives, for they have been fewer than in some preceding
years, but for the gracious care which God has exercised towards us.
We have been enabled to carry on the translation and printing of
the Word of God in several languages. The printing is now going on
in six and the translation into six more. The Bengali is all
printed except from Judges vii. to the end of Esther; Sanskrit New
Testament to Acts xxvii.; Orissa to John xxi.; Mahratta, second
edition, to the end of Matthew; Hindostani (new version) to Mark v.,
and Matthew is begun in Goojarati. The translation is nearly
carried on to the end of John in Chinese, Telinga Kurnata, and the
language of the Seeks. It is carried on to a pretty large extent in
Persian and begun in Burman. The whole Bible was printed in Malay
at Batavia some years ago. The whole is printed in Tamil, and the
Syrian Bishop at Travancore is now superintending a translation from
Syriac into Malayala. I learnt this week that the language of
Kashmeer is a distinct language.

"I have this day been to visit the most learned Hindoo now living;
he speaks only Sanskrit, is more than eighty years old, is
acquainted with the writings and has studied the sentiments of all
their schools of philosophy (usually called the Darshunas of the
Veda). He tells me that this is the sixteenth time that he has
travelled from Rameshwaram to Harhu (viz. from the extreme cape of
the Peninsula to Benares). He was, he says, near Madras when the
English first took possession of it. This man has given his opinion
against the burning of women."

Four years later, in another letter to Ryland, he takes us into his
confidence more fully, showing us not only his sacred workshop, but
ingenuously revealing his own humility and self-sacrifice:--"10th
December 1811.--I have of late been much impressed with the vast
importance of laying a foundation for Biblical criticism in the
East, by preparing grammars of the different languages into which we
have translated or may translate the Bible. Without some such step,
they who follow us will have to wade through the same labour that I
have, in order to stand merely upon the same ground that I now stand
upon. If, however, elementary books are provided, the labour will
be greatly contracted; and a person will be able in a short time to
acquire that which has cost me years of study and toil.

"The necessity which lies upon me of acquiring so many languages,
obliges me to study and write out the grammar of each of them, and
to attend closely to their irregularities and peculiarities. I have
therefore already published grammars of three of them; namely, the
Sanskrit, the Bengali, and the Mahratta. To these I have resolved
to add grammars of the Telinga, Kurnata, Orissa, Punjabi, Kashmeeri,
Goojarati, Nepalese, and Assam languages. Two of these are now in
the press, and I hope to have two or three more of them out by the
end of the next year.

"This may not only be useful in the way I have stated, but may serve
to furnish an answer to a question which has been more than once
repeated, 'How can these men translate into so great a number of
languages?' Few people know what may be done till they try, and
persevere in what they undertake.

"I am now printing a dictionary of the Bengali, which will be pretty
large, for I have got to page 256, quarto, and am not near through
the first letter. That letter, however, begins more words than any
two others.

"To secure the gradual perfection of the translations, I have also
in my mind, and indeed have been long collecting materials for, An
Universal Dictionary of the Oriental languages derived from the
Sanskrit. I mean to take the Sanskrit, of course, as the
groundwork, and to give the different acceptations of every word,
with examples of their application, in the manner of Johnson, and
then to give the synonyms in the different languages derived from
the Sanskrit, with the Hebrew and Greek terms answering thereto;
always putting the word derived from the Sanskrit term first, and
then those derived from other sources. I intend always to give the
etymology of the Sanskrit term, so that that of the terms deduced
from it in the cognate languages will be evident. This work will be
great, and it is doubtful whether I shall live to complete it; but I
mean to begin to arrange the materials, which I have been some years
collecting for this purpose, as soon as my Bengali dictionary is
finished. Should I live to accomplish this, and the translations in
hand, I think I can then say, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant
depart in peace.'"

The ardent scholar had twenty-three years of toil before him in this
happy work. But he did not know this, while each year the labour
increased, and the apprehension grew that he and his colleagues
might at any time be removed without leaving a trained successor.
They naturally looked first to the sons of the mission for
translators as they had already done for preachers.

To Dr. Carey personally, however, the education of a young
missionary specially fitted to be his successor, as translator and
editor of the translations, was even more important. Such a man was
found in William Yates, born in 1792, and in the county,
Leicestershire, in which Carey brought the Baptist mission to the
birth. Yates was in his early years also a shoemaker, and member of
Carey's old church in Harvey Lane, when under the great Robert Hall,
who said to the youth's father, "Your son, sir, will be a great
scholar and a good preacher, and he is a holy young man." In 1814
he became the last of the young missionaries devoted to the cause by
Fuller, soon to pass away, Ryland, and Hall. Yates had not been many
months at Serampore when, with the approval of his brethren, Carey
wrote to Fuller, on 17th May 1815:--"I am much inclined to associate
him with myself in the translations. My labour is greater than at
any former period. We have now translations of the Bible going
forward in twenty-seven languages, all of which are in the press
except two or three. The labour of correcting and revising all of
them lies on me." By September we find Yates writing:--"Dr. Carey
sends all the Bengali proofs to me to review. I read them over, and
if there is anything I do not understand, or think to be wrong, I
mark it. We then converse over it, and if it is wrong, he alters
it; but if not, he shows me the reason why it is right, and thus
will initiate me into the languages as fast as I can learn them. He
wishes me to begin the Hindi very soon. Since I have been here I
have read three volumes in Bengali, and they have but six of
consequence in prose. There are abundance in Sanskrit." "Dr. Carey


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