Woman: Man's Equal Part 8

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Woman: Man’s Equal is a Webnovel created by Thomas Webster.
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By what some would perhaps call a mere accidental circ.u.mstance, Miss Crosby found herself, upon an occasion, in a position where she must speak to a congregation or send them home disappointed, and be guilty of what she deemed an omission of a duty clearly pointed out to her by Providence. She had given no intimation of any intention, on her part, of doing more than she usually did at this place–simply leading her ordinary cla.s.s–and had designed doing nothing more, when, on her arrival there, she found nearly two hundred persons present anxious for instruction. To lead the cla.s.s in the customary manner was impossible.

She, therefore, after conducting the preliminary services, delivered a general address, dwelling particularly on the necessity of repentance, and presenting Christ as a compa.s.sionate Redeemer. This extempore address was attended with such beneficial results, that her friends insisted upon her exercising her very evident talent in this direction, and, though averse to any thing like forwardness, she did not feel that she was justified in refusing to comply with the wishes of those on whose judgment she relied. Wherever she went, success attended her efforts, and she traveled extensively throughout the kingdom, speaking sometimes to very large audiences.

Dr. Stevens, the celebrated American Methodist historian, thus sums up the work of a single year. “In that time,” says he, “she traveled nine hundred and sixty miles to hold two hundred and twenty public meetings, and about six hundred select meetings, besides writing one hundred and sixteen letters, many of them long ones, and holding many conversations in private with individuals who wished to consult her on religious subjects.” In this latter department of the Christian ministry she particularly excelled.

Like her friend, Mrs. Fletcher, she lived to a very old age; and at seventy-five, or nearly that, calmly composed herself for death, by a vigorous effort of the will closing her own eyes and mouth. Her demise occurred October 24, 1804.

ANN Ha.s.sELTINE.

The first wife of the Rev. Adoniram Judson was a brilliant exemplification of the truth of the position we have advanced–namely, that a woman may be endowed with intellectual powers of a high order; that she may a.s.siduously cultivate those powers and employ them in advancing objects that commend themselves to her judgment outside of her own family circle; that she may become an active and efficient partic.i.p.ator in affairs of a public nature, requiring of her wisdom, eloquence, and courage; and all this without her deteriorating in the slightest degree in any of the valuable qualities or attractive graces that characterize a truly womanly woman.

Mrs. Judson’s history, as connected with the Burmese Mission, which her husband and herself were instruments in the hand of G.o.d in establishing, is too well known to require extended notice here. A few points, however, may be glanced at. Throughout the difficulties which beset them during the first year after their arrival at Calcutta, when there seemed to be no open door through which they might enter upon their destined work, and all their hopes of usefulness seemed doomed to disappointment, Mrs. Judson was as little disposed to succ.u.mb to these adverse circ.u.mstances as her husband.

The British East India Company did not favor Christian missions, and were at that time (1812) particularly unfriendly to American missionaries. They had spent but a few days in the congenial society of the venerable Dr. Carey’s hospitable home, when they were ordered, by the Government, to leave the country and return to America. Hoping to be allowed to prosecute their work in some country not under the Company’s jurisdiction, they solicited and obtained permission to go to the Isle of France. But before Mr. and Mrs. Judson were able to secure a pa.s.sage there, they received a new order from the Government commanding them to embark on a vessel bound for England.

Just then they heard of a vessel about to sail for the Isle of France, and applied for a pa.s.sport to go on her, but were refused. The captain, however, though knowing of the refusal, allowed them to embark. The vessel was overtaken by a Government dispatch, forbidding the pilot to conduct it further seaward, because there were persons on board who had been ordered to England. They were obliged to land; but finally the captain was induced to disregard orders so far as to allow Mrs. Judson to return to the vessel, and to convey her and their baggage to a point opposite a tavern, a number of miles down the river, Mr. Judson being left to make his way as best he could.

Let us imagine that refined and tenderly reared lady, landing from the pilot’s boat, which he had kindly sent to take her ash.o.r.e, alone, a stranger in a foreign land, uncertain of the character of the place in which she was obliged to seek shelter, and not knowing what might occur to prevent her husband rejoining her. Instead of weakly yielding to despondency, she promptly engaged a boat to go out after the vessel, to bring their effects ash.o.r.e. Then, though impenetrable darkness so shrouded their future that she could not see how the next step was to be taken, she looked for light upon their pathway, and deliverance from their perplexities, to Him whom they served, and calmly trusted the issue to Him. Before night, Mr. Judson arrived at the place where his wife waited, in safety, as did also their baggage.

For three days they could see no way out of their difficulty. Then they received, from an unknown friend, the necessary pa.s.s. Hastening down the river at a point seventy miles distant, they found the vessel they had left, were received on board, and allowed to continue their voyage.

When they dropped anchor at the Isle of France, the dangers of the voyage, and the trials that had preceded it over, they were looking forward to a season of enjoyment in the society of their a.s.sociate missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Newell, who had accompanied them on the voyage from America, and had preceded them from Calcutta to the Isle of France. But disappointment deeper, sadder than any that had gone before, awaited them. Mrs. Judson says: “Have at last arrived in port; but O, what news–what distressing news! Harriet (Mrs. Newell) is dead.

Harriet, my dear friend, my earliest a.s.sociate in the mission, is no more. O death, could not this wide world afford thee victims enough, but thou must enter the family of a solitary few, whose comfort and happiness depended so much on the society of each other? Could not this infant mission be shielded from thy shafts?” “But be still, my heart, and know that G.o.d has done it. Just and true are thy ways, O thou King of saints!”

To her sorrow for her friend and her anxiety at the uncertainties of their situation, was added, while on the island, a severe attack of illness. But when a field supposed to be accessible to missionaries was determined upon, though only partially recovered, she cheerfully prepared to brave new dangers and the repet.i.tion of former trials. They sailed for Madras; and, on their arrival there, found but one ship in the harbor ready for sea, and that not bound for their desired port, but for Burma. They had intended going to Burma when they first arrived in India, but had been dissuaded from so doing by the representations of their friends that the country was altogether inaccessible to missionaries. They dared not remain long in Madras, lest the officials of the East India Company should send them back to America. Thus, every other way being closed up against them, they were obliged to turn their faces toward that country in which they became so eminently useful.

The voyage was one of discomfort and peril. When they arrived at Rangoon, then the capital of Burma, Mrs. Judson was so weak that she had to be carried in an arm-chair from the landing. Thankful to have at last found a resting-place, they as quickly as possible established themselves in the house they were to occupy.

As soon as Mrs. Judson’s health was sufficiently restored, they gave their attention to the study of the Burmese language. It is worthy of remark, that although Mrs. Judson charged herself with the entire management of family affairs, in order that Mr. Judson might not be interrupted in prosecuting the study of the language, yet she made more rapid progress in acquiring it than he did. Subsequently, she studied the Siamese language also, and translated a Catechism and one of the Gospels into that tongue. As soon as she was able to make herself understood, she diligently endeavored to impart the knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus, to those who would listen to her instructions.

Though they were attentive and inquisitive, it was long before fruit appeared; but undiscouraged, she, with prayer and faith, continued to sow beside all waters.

Mrs. Judson was surprised at the native intelligence and reflecting minds possessed by some of the Burmese women. The case of a woman named May-Meulah is given as an instance of this:

“Previous to the arrival of the missionaries in her country, her active mind was led to inquire the origin of all things. Who created all that her eyes beheld? she inquired of all she met, and visited priests and teachers in vain; and such was her anxiety, that her friends feared for her reason. She resolved to learn to read, that she might consult the sacred books. Her husband, willing to gratify her curiosity, taught her to read, himself. In their sacred literature she found nothing satisfactory. For ten years she prosecuted her inquiries, when G.o.d in his providence brought to her notice a tract written by Mr. Judson in the Burmese language, which so far solved her difficulties, that she was led to seek out its author. From him she learned the truths of the Gospel, and, by the Holy Spirit, those truths were made the means of her conversion.”

Mrs. Judson’s politic mind seeing the probable importance to the mission of making friends in high places, she procured an introduction to the wife of the viceroy, and, while visiting her, met the viceroy also.

After giving an interesting account of the visit, she adds: “My object in visiting her was, that if we should get into any difficulty with the Burmans, I could have access to her, when perhaps it would not be possible for Mr. Judson to have an audience with the viceroy.”

Thus studying, teaching, and planning; laboring with her hands, and enduring pain, sickness, and sorrow; unsolaced by Christian society, except her husband’s,–three anxious years pa.s.sed.

In their course, her first-born had come to warm her heart with a new love, and, for a few brief months, to delight them with the unfolding of his baby graces. Then death entered, and bore away their darling, and left hearts and home more lonely than before.

The arrival of additional missionaries from America–Mr. and Mrs.

Hough–in the Autumn of 1816, for a time greatly cheered and encouraged them. But fresh trials were in store for them. Mr. Judson had embarked for the province of Arracan; and when they were daily looking for his return, a vessel arrived from the port to which he had sailed, bringing the disheartening tidings that neither he nor the vessel in which he had sailed had been heard of there. While, tortured by suspense on Mr.

Judson’s account, new terrors alarmed the mission family. Mr. Hough was ordered to the court-house, and detained there for days under a threat that “if he did not tell all the truth in relation to the foreigners, they would write with his heart’s blood.” Not understanding the language of his accusers, he was unable to plead his own cause, and he had no male friend to do it for him. Had Mrs. Judson, in this extremity, allowed herself to be absorbed in her own sorrow, or yielded to timidity, Mr. Hough would probably have suffered a long and rigorous confinement, if indeed he had escaped with his life. But undaunted by the odium, or even danger, that might accrue to herself, she, in violation of court etiquette, presented herself at the palace with a pet.i.tion in Mr. Hough’s behalf. The viceroy, without manifesting any displeasure at the breach of etiquette, ordered Mr. Hough to be set at liberty.

Six months of painful suspense pa.s.sed, and yet no tidings of Mr.

Judson. That dreadful scourge, the cholera, was raging, and they were alarmed by rumors of war. Mr. Hough resolved to remove his family to Bengal, and urged Mrs. Judson to accompany them. She says: “I have ever felt resolved not to make any movement till I hear from Mr. Judson.

Within a few days, however, some circ.u.mstances have occurred which have induced me to make preparations for a voyage. There is but one remaining ship in the river; and if an embargo is laid on English ships, it will be impossible for Mr. Judson–if he is yet alive–to return to this place.” Therefore she yielded to the solicitations of Mr. and Mrs.

Hough, and embarked with them. But, reviewing all the conditions of the case as the vessel slowly made its way down the river, it became clear to her mind that whatever were the dangers of her position at Rangoon, yet there was her post of duty. Once convinced of what was duty, this heroic woman was not to be deterred from it by dangers, however formidable. Her resolution was taken; and, having prevailed upon the captain to send a boat up the river with her, she returned alone to the mission-house. The wisdom of her decision was proved in a short time by the safe return of Mr. Judson. Later, when failing health necessitated a change of climate, Mrs. Judson showed herself as well adapted to moving gracefully in cultivated and refined society as she was to contending with adversity and danger in a heathen land.

Her eloquent appeals, both in England and America, in behalf of the perishing millions of the East, and her history of the Burmese Mission, prepared during her visit to the United States, stirred up missionary zeal in the heart of Protestant Christendom, and gave an impetus to the cause of missions that has gone on accelerating to the present time.

In the mean time, other missionaries had arrived in Burma, among whom was Dr. Price, the fame of whose skill in medicine reached the ears of the king; and Dr. Price was ordered to Ava, then the capital. Dr. Price obeyed the summons; and Mr. Judson, anxious to make another effort to procure toleration for the Christians, accompanied him. The king received them kindly, determined to retain Dr. Price at Ava, and urgently insisted upon Mr. Judson’s remaining also. Rejoiced to find the king so favorably disposed toward the Christians, Mr. Judson resolved to accept the invitation, but represented that he must return to Rangoon for his wife.

A few days after Mrs. Judson arrived from America, they therefore left Rangoon, and commenced a mission at Ava; which soon became to them the theater of such martyr-like sufferings and exalted heroism as to do justice to which would require a volume. Erelong, the war so long feared between the British and the Burmese actually broke out. The Englishmen at Ava were all seized and imprisoned, and with them Mr. Judson and Dr.

Price. In vain the missionaries protested that they were not Englishmen.

Identical with the latter in language, religion, manners, dress, etc., and receiving their funds through an English house, the Burmese could not, or would not, understand that they belonged to another nation.

Mrs. Judson was not allowed to leave her own house till the third day; a guard having been placed around it, and no one allowed to enter or leave it but at the penalty of life. She obtained egress at last, by causing the governor to be informed that she wished to visit him with a present.

The guard were then ordered to allow her to pa.s.s. Her plea for their release was without effect; but she was directed to an officer with whom she might arrange with regard to making them more comfortable. By paying a considerable sum of money to this man, she obtained a promise that their sufferings should be mitigated.

The Governor gave her an order for her admittance to the prison, but she was not allowed to enter. She saw Mr. Judson at the door, whither he crawled to speak with her. But even this sad communing was cut short by a rude order to Mrs. Judson to “depart, or they would pull her out.” She was, however, allowed to supply the prisoners with food, and mats to lie upon.

This was the beginning of a long series of such visits to the prison–of efforts for the comfort of the prisoners, and appeals in their behalf to jailers, petty officers, magistrates, governors, or members of the royal family.

She was subjected to all manner of extortion and annoyance, being repeatedly brought before the authorities on the most absurd charges.

The fear that her husband would be put to death so haunted her, that she was willing to meet the most exorbitant demands, hoping thereby to conciliate his persecutors.

After she had succeeded in effecting some slight improvement in their condition, all was reversed by a disastrous battle; the success of the British being visited upon the prisoners, by the withdrawal of all the little comforts Mrs. Judson had at so much cost and trouble obtained for them. When they were dragged from one city to another, she followed, renewing the same wearing round of toiling, pleading, paying, to procure some alleviation of their misery.

The estimation in which she was held by those acquainted with the facts, may be seen by the following, written by one of Mr. Judson’s fellow-prisoners:

“Mrs. Judson was the author of those eloquent and forcible appeals to the Government which prepared them by degrees for submission to terms of peace, never expected by any who knew the haughtiness and inflexible pride of the Burmese Court.

“And while on this subject, the overflowings of grateful feelings, on behalf of myself and fellow-prisoners, compel me to add a tribute of public thanks to that amiable and humane female, who, though living at a distance of two miles from our prison, without any means of conveyance, and very feeble in health, forgot her own comfort and infirmity, and almost every day visited us, sought out and administered to our wants, and contributed in every way to alleviate our misery.

“When we were all left by the Government dest.i.tute of food, she, with unwearied perseverance, by some means or other, obtained for us a constant supply.

” … When the unfeeling avarice of our keepers confined us inside, or made our feet fast in the stocks, she, like a ministering angel, never ceased her applications to the Government until she was authorized to communicate to us the grateful news of our enlargement, or of a respite from our galling oppressions.

“Besides all this, it was unquestionably owing in a chief degree to the repeated eloquence and forcible appeals of Mrs. Judson, that the untutored Burman was finally made willing to secure the welfare of his country by a sincere peace.”

The war being over, Mr. Judson determined to remove into one of the provinces ceded to the British; and the new town of Amherst was selected as their place of residence.

The natives converted to Christianity through the instrumentality of the missionaries, had been dispersed during the war; and many of them now gathered to Amherst, to enjoy again the instructions of their beloved teachers. Their prospects now seemed highly encouraging; and Mr. Judson departed on a journey by which he hoped to advance the interests of the mission, leaving Mrs. Judson engaged with her characteristic energy in carrying forward arrangements to facilitate their work.

But never more were that clear head, ready hand, and sympathetic heart to aid or encourage him in his labors, or succor him in the hour of calamity. Her work was done.

A fever seized her, and her const.i.tution, undermined by the exhausting sufferings, mental and physical, through which she had pa.s.sed during the war, was not able to withstand the violence of the disease. There, without husband or kindred to receive her frail infant from her paralyzing arms, or to speak words of love or comfort in her dying ears, she battled with the last enemy, and terminated her singularly eventful and useful life.

In 1848, more than twenty years after her death, a writer in the _Calcutta Review_ thus speaks of her:

“Of Mrs. Judson, little is known in the noisy world. Few, comparatively, are acquainted with her name–few with her actions; but if any woman, since the first arrival of the white strangers on the sh.o.r.es of India, has, on that great theater of war stretching between the mouth of the Irrawaddy and the borders of Hindoo Koosh, rightly earned for herself the t.i.tle of a heroine, Mrs. Judson has, by her doings and sufferings, fairly earned the distinction–a distinction, be it said, which her true woman’s nature would have very little appreciated. Still, it is right that she should be honored by the world.

Her sufferings were far more unendurable, her heroism far more n.o.ble, than any which in more recent times have been so much pitied and so much applauded…. She was the real heroine. The annals in the East present us with no parallel.”

SARAH HALL BOARDMAN JUDSON.

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