On the right bank of the river Hugli, sixteen miles above Calcutta, is the town of Serampore. Here the Danes for trading purposes, acquired by purchase from the native owners, twenty acres of land, and on the 8th of October, 1755, Danish officers bearing a commission from Tranquebar, raised the Danish flag over the newly acquired possession, and there for ninety years it continued to float. One of the early governors of this new settlement was Colonel Bie, who while an official of the Danish Government at Tranquebar, had enjoyed the ministry of Christian Frederick Schwartz, and had imbibed so much of the missionary spirit that when the British East India Company absolutely refused to permit missionary work in their domains he did not hesitate to receive under his protection the men whom during those very years God had been raising up to do valiant service for Him in India. Thus the work of that early Danish Tamil mission furnished the basis for the commencement of what are often known as Modern Missions in the East. To Ziegenbalg and Schwartz, Carey, Marshman and Ward owed their home at Serampore.
While these preparations were being made in India, God was raising up in three rural homes in England the men whose names have been associated with Serampore. William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward were born in the same decade that placed Colonel Bie as governor of Serampore.
William Carey, who was both the oldest in years and the first to enter the field, was born on the 17th of August, 1761, in the village of Pury, or Paulerspury, in Northamptonshire, [England], where his father was parish clerk and village school-master; and the boy, who at a very early age evinced a taste for learning was a diligent pupil in his father's school. The family was poor and at the age of fourteen, William, who was the eldest of five children, was apprenticed to a shoemaker in the neighboring village of Hackleton. He was delighted to find in the shop of his master a small collection of books among which was a commentary on the New Testament interspersed with Greek words. These the young apprentice copied out with great care and whenever he paid a visit to his father, carried the list to a journeyman weaver living in the vicinity who had received a classical education, and from him learned the letters of the Greek alphabet and the translation of the words. In the same way he began the study of Latin; while from a neighboring parish minister he took his first lessons in Hebrew.
Two years after the beginning of young Carey's apprenticeship, his master died and he then engaged himself as a journeyman shoemaker to a Mr. Old. As son of the parish clerk he was brought up as a Churchman and was in due time confirmed, but through the teaching of a pious fellow-workman he was led to feel that he had not been converted and began to study the Scriptures diligently and to pray for a new heart. When filled himself with joy and peace in believing, he desired to be used in bringing others to a knowledge of the Saviour and to help in preparation for such a work he began a systematic reading of the Bible in Greek, Hebrew and Latin as well as English.
At eighteen years of age, Mr. Carey made his first appearance in the pulpit, although, as he afterwards acknowledged, he felt himself "very poorly furnished for such a service." On the death of Mr. Old, he succeeded to the business and married the sister of his former master before he was twenty years of age. The marriage was an uncongenial one as Mrs. Carey had no sympathy with the aspirations of her husband. Soon after his marriage, Mr. Carey was invited to preach regularly to a small congregation at Earl's Barton, and in this place for three and a half years he preached on the Sabbath and worked diligently at his cobbler's stall during the week. At the same time he neglected no opportunity for the improvement of his mind. At the age of twenty-four he accepted the ministerial charge of a small Baptist church at Moulton. The salary promised was quite insufficient for the support of his family but he hoped to supplement this by teaching a small school. The school however did not prove a success and he was obliged to return to "his last and his leather."
Cook's "Voyages Around the World," about this time came into the possession of the young minister and possessed for him a marvelous fascination. He learned to dwell more and more on the spiritual degradation of a large part of the world's inhabitants. The Rev. Andrew Fuller, destined to be closely associated with Mr. Carey in the cause of missions, has related that on one occasion, entering the little shop, he saw, hanging on the wall, a large map composed of several sheets pasted together, on which Mr. Carey had written against each country whatever information he had been able to collect in reference to the population, religion and government.
To his disappointment Carey found few ready to share his convictions that it was the duty of Christians to send the Gospel to the unevangelised. At a ministerial meeting in Northampton, Mr. Ryland, senior, invited the young men in the audience to propose some subject for discussion. Mr. Carey rose and proposed, "the duty of Christians to attempt the spread of the Gospel among heathen nations."
As soon as he had sufficiently recovered from his astonishment, Mr. Ryland rose and in an agitated voice said, "young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen He will do it without your aid or mine."
When twenty-eight years of age Mr. Carey removed to Leicester, to take charge of a small church in that place. While in Leicester he prepared a treatise entitled "An Inquiry on Missions." A friend contributed £10 for the printing of this paper which still holds a high rank as a missionary treatise.
On the 31st of May, 1792, at a minister's meeting in Nottingham, Mr. Carey preached a sermon which doubtless laid the foundation of the Baptist Mission in India. Announcing Isaiah 54:2,3 as his text, he drew from this portion of Scripture these two great lessons, which have since become missionary maxims: "Expect Great Things from God. Attempt Great Things for God." At the close of this very impressive service, as Mr. Carey saw the audience about to disperse, he grasped the hand of Mr. Fuller and in a tone of great concern, asked if they "were again going away without doing anything."
The result of this anxious appeal was the following resolution: "That a plan be proposed against the next minister's meeting in Kettering for the establishment of a society for propagating the Gospel among the heathen." The meeting at Kettering was held on the 2nd of October, 1792. At its close a committee of five was appointed of which Mr. Carey was one. The Rev. Andrew Fuller was appointed Secretary. The collection taken up on this occasion in aid of the cause of Foreign Missions amounted to £13. 2s. and 6d. Mr. Carey at once offered to go at the earliest opportunity to any country designated by the committee.
Outside the infant society, the project, with few exceptions was treated with contempt. Referring to the feeling manifested at this period, Arch-deacon Farrar in an address on the subject of Missions in Westminster Abbey in March, 1887, said, "those who in that day sneered that England had sent a cobbler to convert the world were the direct lineal descendants of those who sneered in Palestine, 2,000 years ago, 'is not this the carpenter?'"
The minds of the committee were turned to India by the return to England of Mr. John Thomas, who had gone out to Calcutta several years before as a surgeon. Being a good man, his heart had been stirred within him when he saw the land wholly given to idolatry, and he had tried to make Christ known. The infant society decided to invite Mr. Thomas to unite with them and if possible to procure a companion in labour to accompany him to India. Mr. Carey at once offered himself as a fellow-worker. "We saw," said Mr. Fuller, "that there was a gold mine in India, but it was deep as the centre of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?" "I will venture to go down," said Mr. Carey, "but remember that you," turning to Mr. Fuller and other members of the committee, "must hold the ropes."
On the 10th of January, 1793, Messrs. Carey and Thomas were appointed missionaries to the East Indies. Mrs. Carey declined to accompany her husband but unwilling to relinquish the project, Mr. Carey resolved to take with him one of their sons and to return for his family as soon as the mission was established. While waiting to complete necessary arrangements, Mr. Carey met at Hull, Mr. William Ward, printer and newspaper editor. "If the Lord bless us," Mr. Carey said to his new acquaintance, "we shall want a person of your business to enable us to print the Scriptures. I hope you will come after us."
At this time all Europeans not in public service were forbidden to set foot in the Company's territories in India without special license; but a ship's captain with whom Mr. Thomas had twice sailed as surgeon, offered to take the party without license. The passage money had been paid and the two missionaries were actually on board when the captain received a letter warning him against taking out passengers without the required permission. With eyes filled with tears Mr. Carey saw the Indian fleet sail away without him. But feeling a strong confidence that the Lord would yet open the way for the departure of His servants, he left his luggage at Portsmouth, and accompanied Mr. Thomas to London. Going into a coffee-house for some needed refreshments, one of the waiters put into the hands of Mr. Thomas, a card bearing the announcement that a Danish East Indiaman was about to sail for India. Hastening at once to the office they learned that the terms were £100 for each adult and £50 for each child.
Another attempt was now made to persuade Mrs. Carey to accompany her husband. This she finally consented to do, but stipulated that her sister, Miss Old should accompany her. The party would therefore consist of four adults and five children. The captain, on being made acquainted with the circumstances, agreed to receive the entire party for £300.
They embarked on the 13th of June, 1793, and the voyage lasted five months. On their arrival in Calcutta a house was secured and Mr. Carey at once began the study of the language. But ere long it was decided that he with his family should move to the Sunderbunds, the name given to the marshy jungles facing the Bay of Bengal and there cultivate a tract of land which he could obtain free of rent. Mr. Carey hoped thus to provide for his family while pursuing his studies. The place selected for the new home was on the river Hugli, about forty miles from Calcutta. A hospitable English gentleman in charge of the Government salt manufactory in this wild spot received the entire party into his own bungalow until the bamboo structure which Mr. Carey at once commenced to build was ready for occupancy. Their kind host was a deist and professed to feel no sympathy with Mr. Carey in his desire to give religious instruction to the people. He, however, eventually renounced his infidel views, embraced Christianity and married Miss Old.
Mr. Carey was not long in learning that the place he had selected was not favourable for missionary enterprise. Relief came to him from an unexpected quarter in the midst of great perplexity. Mr. George Udney, a man of decided Christian character offered Mr. Carey the superintendence of his indigo factory at Mudnabutty. The superintendence of a second factory was offered to Mr. Thomas, each to receive a salary of £250 a year. The proposal was gratefully accepted. Mr. Carey reached his new field of labour on the 15th of June, 1794, and remained there a little more than five years.
About ninety native workmen were employed in the factory, to whom he gave Christian instruction. Mr. Udney fully understood that Mr. Carey was before all a Christian missionary and was himself deeply interested in the prosecution of this work. From the factory about two hundred villages could be reached and Mr. Carey went from village to village preaching the Gospel, recruiting his Sabbath congregations from them.
The situation of the factory proved unhealthy and the family suffered much from sickness. One of the sons died of fever. Grief at her loss unbalanced the mind of the mother and from this time until her death in December, 1807, it was necessary to keep her under restraint. In the midst of circumstances so afflictive Mr. Carey continued his labours. Side by side with his public ministrations and private instruction, in conjunction with his oversight of the indigo factory, the work of translating the Scriptures into Bengali, was carried on. When it was so far advanced that printing could be commenced, he made a visit to Calcutta to obtain estimates for printing and learned that a wooden printing-press was for sale. He decided to purchase it, but Mr. Udney asked to be allowed to pay for it and presented it to the mission. When it was set up in one of the rooms of the factory at Mudnabutty, the natives declared that this must be the idol of the Europeans.
It was in March, 1799, as Mr. Carey was returning from Calcutta, that he saw for the first time a widow burned alive with the dead body of her husband, and from this time he ceased not to use every possible influence, by appeals in India and in England, until the horrid rite was abolished by law.
Near the end of 1799, Mr. Udney was forced to abandon the manufacture of indigo as the enterprise had proved financially a failure, and Mr. Carey was therefore obliged to seek another residence and occupation. Perhaps the prospect, momentarily seemed dark, but succour was near. In quick succession, four young men in England had offered themselves to the Baptist Missionary Society to go out to India. They were William Ward, whom Carey himself had called, Joshua Marshman and Messrs. Brunsdon and Grant.
William Ward was born in Derby on the 20th of October, 1769. He was early left without a father, and on his mother, a woman of rare intelligence and ardent piety, devolved the care and education of the boy. He was thoughtful beyond his years and no opportunity for mental improvement was neglected. On leaving school he was apprenticed to a Mr. Drury who was at the head of a large printing establishment. William began now to write as well as read and soon acquired great facility of expression. At the close of his apprenticeship, on behalf of Mr. Drury, he edited the "Derby Mercury" so successfully that this journal soon became one of the most influential papers in the county and six years were spent in the keenest editorial excitement. In 1797, Mr. Ward laid aside journalism and began to make diligent preparation for the work of making known the Gospel to his fellowmen. The following year a member of the Baptist Missionary Society visited Ewood Hall, where he was pursuing his studies, in search of labourers to join Mr. Carey in India. Mr. Ward offered himself to the society in the hope that he might be employed in printing the Scriptures and was at once accepted.
Joshua Marshman was born in Westbury Leigh, in Williston, on the 20th of April, 1768. His father, John Marshman, was a weaver, a man of fervent piety and his mother was a woman of superior mental gifts as well as of deep spirituality. When fifteen years old, a bookseller in Holborn, who had formerly resided in Westbury Leigh, proposed to Mr. Marshman that his son should come to the metropolis and help in his shop. Joshua, who was passionately fond of reading was now in a congenial atmosphere, but he soon found that his duties left him little leisure. The drudgery of walking the streets several hours each day, carrying heavy packages of books soon became intolerable. On one occasion, weary and discouraged, as he reached Westminster Abbey, he laid down his load, buried his face in his hands and burst into passionate weeping as he thought that perhaps there was before him no brighter future than that of a bookseller's apprentice. Then raising his tear-stained face he saw within the portals of the venerable pile, the monuments rising in solemn beauty there and he said to himself "the men who have found a resting-place here, fought bravely the battle of life and won, and so will I." He then took up the burden he had laid down with so heavy a heart and walked on with new courage. At the end of five months he returned to his rural home and took his place at his father's loom. He had now leisure for reading and before he was eighteen years of age, he had read more than five hundred books. Among his acquaintances he found little sympathy with his aspirations after knowledge. When he sought admission to the church he was met with the objection that he had too much head knowledge of religion to have much heart-knowledge of its truths.
In the year 1791, Mr. Marshman was married to Hannah Shephard, a lady who possessed in an eminent degree those qualities of heart and mind which fitted her to be a help-meet to her husband. Three years after his marriage he accepted the position of master of a school in Broadmead, Bristol, and here he laboured successfully for five years. Reading with ever-increasing interest the accounts of the mission work in India and the spiritual needs of that vast field, he resolved to offer his services to the Baptist Society. He was accepted and made hasty preparations to join the party about to sail for India, Messrs. Ward, Grant and Brunsdon. After a voyage of five months, the vessel came to anchor on the 5th of October, 1799. Captain Wickes sent the mission party in his boats to Serampore. Two members of this party, Messrs. Grant and Brunsdon, men of great zeal and much promise, were early removed by death.
On their arrival the Danish Governor, Colonel Bie, gave to the strangers all the help in his power and gladly consented to the establishment of a mission in the settlement of Serampore. It was accordingly decided that Mr. Ward with a Danish passport should visit Mr. Carey at Mudnabutty and confer with him upon the subject of his removal to Serampore and the establishment of a mission there embracing various departments of work. The proposal met with Mr. Carey's approval; on the 10th of January, 1800, he took up his residence in Serampore, and the work of Ziegenbalg and Schwartz received a new impulse.
The missionaries determined to form a common stock and to dine at a common table. A house was purchased near the river side with a plot of ground walled around. In the centre of the house was a spacious hall which was devoted to public worship, while a large storehouse within the inclosure was fitted up for a printing-office, and the wooden press brought from Mudnabutty was set up. With the exception of two books of the Old Testament, Mr. Carey had completed the translation of the entire Bible in Bengali, and it was resolved to begin with the printing of the New Testament. The 24th of April was appointed as a day of thanksgiving for the establishment of the mission under circumstances so favourable. On the same day a church was organised. In May Mr. and Mrs. Marshman opened two boarding-schools, having in view not only the education of the children and youth around them, but the earning of means to assist in the support of the mission. These schools soon became the most popular and remunerative establishments of the kind in the Presidency. Mrs. Marshman, who has been called "the first woman missionary to India," gave not only invaluable aid in the schools, in the home and among the little band of Christians, but exerted an influence for good in non-Christian circles also.
During a visit made by Mr. Thomas to Serampore, a carpenter belonging to the town was brought to the mission-house with a dislocated arm. After the physical suffering had been relieved by Mr. Thomas, the ever zealous physician began to discourse on the way of life through Christ. The man appeared much interested and came again and again for instruction and eventually with his brother and two of the women of the household, renounced Hinduism and embraced Christianity. Mr. Thomas was so overjoyed that for a time his mind lost its balance and it became necessary to confine him. The native mob manifested violent opposition when it became known that some members of the Hindu community had embraced Christianity and on this account the brother of Krishna and the two women decided to postpone for a time a public profession of their faith in Christ.
On Sunday, the 28th of December, 1800, Mr. Carey walked down to the river that flowed past the mission-house, his son Felix on one side and Krishna on the other, prepared to administer the rite of baptism to the two candidates. At the steps leading down to the water, Governor Bie waited with several other Europeans. A dense crowd of Hindus and Mohammedan's were assembled but there was no disorder. A feeling of deep solemnity seemed to pervade the whole assembly and Governor Bie shed tears.
On the 7th of February, 1801, the last sheet of the Bengali New Testament issued from the press. The type of the greater part of the sacred volume had been set up by Mr. Ward and the work had been completed within a year though prosecuted under great difficulties. As soon as the first copy was bound, it was placed on the communion-table in the chapel and a meeting was held which was attended by the entire mission family and the recently baptized converts to give thanks to God for the completion of so important a work.
Lord Wellesley, Governor-General of India, having made arrangements for the establishment of a college at Fort William, Calcutta, for the training of young English civilians in a knowledge of the vernaculars of the country, its laws and its customs, invited Mr. Carey to accept the post of teacher of Bengali in the new institution. With the approval of his colleagues he assented, but stipulated that he should be left entirely free to discharge his duties as a Christian missionary. He entered upon his new post in May, 1801, receiving for his service, a salary of 500 rupees a month. In a letter to the Rev. Andrew Fuller, he said, "our school has increased, and together with my allowance from the college, will, we trust, support us without further help from England." In October of this year Mr. Thomas died and there remained now of the mission band, only the three with whose names the Christian world has long since grown familiar.
With the appointment of Mr. Carey to the college began the publication of books in the Bengali language for use in the classes. The compilation of a Bengali grammar was at once undertaken and other books rapidly followed. When Mr. Carey was appointed a teacher of Sanskrit in the college, he immediately began the compilation of a Sanskrit grammar for use in his classes.
After a residence of two years in Serampore the missionaries began to make tours in the surrounding country, and Krishna, the first convert, who had proved himself admirably fitted for such work, accompanied the missionaries on these evangelistic tours. One of the first tracts issued by the Serampore press fell into the hands of Pertumber Singh, a man of the writer caste. This man eventually embraced Christianity and furnished just what was required, a superior schoolmaster for the vernacular schools which had been established. He afterwards became a most acceptable and useful preacher of the Gospel. The first Brahmin convert came from the Sunderbunds where Mr. Carey began life as a missionary farmer.
In April, 1803, the first Christian marriage among the converts was solemnized, the bride being the daughter of Krishna, the carpenter, and the bridegroom the son of the first Brahmin convert. In October of this year the missionaries purchased an acre of ground where they might bury their dead. Four days after this purchase the first death in the Christian community occurred. Mr. Marshman was at the time alone in Serampore and he determined to improve the opportunity to help in loosening the bonds of caste. A plain coffin was made and covered with white muslin. When all was in readiness, Mr. Marshman, Felix Carey, a Christian who before his conversion had been a Brahmin and a Christian who had come from the ranks of the Mohammedan's, lifted the coffin and bore it to the cemetery. The deceased before his conversion had been a man of low caste and to see him thus honoured in his burial, was a lesson not readily forgotten.
The appointment of Mr. Carey to the College of Fort William opened the way for securing the assistance required for the translation of the Scriptures into a large number of the languages of the East as there were associated with him in the college a great number of accomplished Oriental scholars. In the beginning of 1804 and three months before the establishment of the Bible Society in England, the Serampore missionaries sent home a plan which they had arranged for the translation of the Scriptures, or portions of them, into seven of the languages of the East, explaining that Mr. Carey's connection with the college would enable them to avail themselves of the services of learned men from various parts of India. A valuable library of critical works had been collected, and they had in Serampore a large printing establishment capable of expansion.
Mr. Fuller was deeply interested in these plans and succeeded in raising for the proposed object £1300 ($6,500). From America £700 ($3,500) were sent. It was even proposed that a translation of the Bible into the Chinese language be added to the translations attempted and that with this object in view, Mr. Marshman should enter upon the study of this language. For fifteen years he devoted to the furtherance of this object all the time that could be secured from other occupations and actually carried through the press the first Chinese translation of the Scriptures. The work was necessarily very imperfect, but was "a monument of diligence and perseverance almost without a parallel."
In May, 1805, Colonel Bie who had filled the office of Governor for forty years with conspicuous ability was removed by death, a great loss not only to the Danish settlement of Serampore, but to the cause of missions. Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General, who had aided the missionaries by every means in his power, retired from office in the summer of the same year. Before his retirement the first official communication on the subject of female immolation was placed on the records of Government. This paper had been most carefully prepared by the Serampore missionaries, but on the eve of retirement of the Governor-General a subject involving great questions of public policy could not receive proper consideration.
Lord Wellesley was succeeded in office by Lord Cornwallis who died only two months after his arrival in Calcutta, and he by Sir John Barlow. During his eight years' tenure of office, the missionaries encountered more or less opposition.
In May, 1806 the first sheet of the Sanskrit New Testament was printed at Serampore. Little aggressive missionary work could be done among non-Christians, as stringent orders had been issued prohibiting the doing of anything whatever that might be regarded as interference with the religious prejudices of the people. The missionaries therefore improved the time by keeping the presses in Serampore fully occupied. The Marathi, the Ooriya, the Persian and the Hindustani versions of the New Testament were put to press. The completed Sanskrit Grammar was also published. Mr. Ward during this time of enforced inactivity in evangelistic labours outside of the Danish settlement, published the first volume of his work on "The Habits, Manners and Religion of the Hindus," for which he had for many years been collecting and arranging the material.
When by changes in the College of Fort William, Mr. Carey was made a full professor and his salary increased from 500 to 1,000 rupees per month, he wrote to Mr. Fuller in England, "this will be a great help to the mission."
In March, 1807, Mr. Carey received the honorary title of Doctor of Divinity from Brown University, [United States], an illustration of the interest just awakening among the Baptists of America even before the establishment of a regular missionary society.
Not long after the establishment of the mission at Serampore, Lady Rumohr, only child of Chevalier de Rumohr, a woman of wealth and education came to India in the hope that the climate would give relief after years of invalidism. The Danish ship in which she sailed brought her to Serampore and there she decided to remain. She built a house near the mission families and soon became deeply interested in their work. In the summer of 1808 she became the wife of Dr. Carey and until her death, thirteen years later, he had a true home and a congenial companion.
In July, 1807, Lord Minto succeeded Sir George Barlow as Governor-General. He was at first inclined to follow the anti-missionary policy of his predecessor, but on personal acquaintance with the missionaries he treated them with both consideration and esteem and before he left India in 1813 paid a generous and public tribute to their personal worth and exalted labours.
Not long after the establishment of the mission in Serampore, through the efforts of the European residents, a church was erected in which to hold English services. The missionaries were invited to hold divine service in it and here for more than forty years, Dr. Carey, his colleagues and their successors preached the Gospel "without fee or reward."
In June 1811, Brown University followed its compliment to Dr. Carey by conferring upon Mr. Marshman the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. The cold season of this year was sadly memorable, for death entered the home of each of the mission families. In March, 1812, the printing house was destroyed by fire. The fire was discovered at six o'clock in the evening before Mr. Ward had left the office, and every effort was made to check the progress of the flames, but at midnight the roof fell in. The value of the property destroyed was estimated at £7000, but the loss of the great number of copies of the Scriptures, and of valuable manuscripts far out-weighed the monetary loss. Early on the morning following the fire, Dr. Marshman went to Calcutta to break to Dr. Carey as gently as he could, the news of the great disaster. When the two returned to Serampore on the evening of the same day, they were rejoiced to learn from Mr. Ward that the printing-press had been saved and that the punches and matrices were uninjured; and this discovery led the undaunted missionaries to attempt an early renewal of their labours in this department.
A building on the premises more spacious than the one that had been destroyed had just been vacated and this they resolved to occupy as their printing-house. The melted lead gathered from the ruins was turned over to the type-casters who worked in relays night and day, and at the end of thirty days, two editions of the New Testament were put to press. At the end of the year the printing establishment was in a more efficient state than at any former period. Christian friends in India manifested their sympathy by prompt and generous contributions, and when the news of the disaster reached England, so generous was the response that the entire monetary loss was made up in sixty days.
In May, 1815, the cause of missions sustained a great loss in the death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society in England. To the Serampore band his loss seemed irreparable, but its full significance appeared later in the train of circumstances that eventually resulted in their entire separation from the Society.
In the summer of 1818 an English monthly periodical was begun by Dr. Marshman, to which he gave the name of the "Friend of India." The very first issue of this new periodical contained an essay on the burning of widows, and it was urgent for every reform. No class of sufferers appealed more to Dr. Carey's sympathies than the lepers. In 1812 he had witnessed at Cutwa, the burning alive of one of these unfortunates. His soul was filled with horror, and he did not rest until through his influence and exertions a leper hospital had been established in Calcutta.
For many years the missionaries had felt the need of an institution in which a higher and more complete education could be given to the native students and in July, 1818, they issued the prospectus of a college "for the instruction of Asiatic Christians and other youth, in Eastern literature and European science." A suitable edifice was to be erected and properly equipped, the three missionaries offering to subscribe from their own resources the sum of £2,500 for the purpose. The college eventually cost a much larger sum but the whole expense was borne by the three missionaries. The same year Mr. Ward paid a visit to England because of seriously impaired health, but as soon as he was able to labour, his services were in requisition on the platform and in the pulpit, and he succeeded in raising in England and Scotland, £3,000 ($15,000) for the support of the college. This was followed by a visit to America where $10,000 more were raised for the same purpose.
In the beginning of 1820, Mrs. Marshman, much shattered in health, was obliged to return to England. For twenty years she had toiled incessantly, allowing herself no respite from exacting cares and duties. In one of the letters sent to Mrs. Marshman while in England, Dr. Marshman wrote, "in a recent examination of our affairs, we found that we had been able to contribute more than £40,000 (nearly $200,000), to the work of the Serampore mission, besides supporting our families. This filled me with joy."
While at home, Mr. Ward secured as professor for the Serampore College, Mr. John Mack, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, a man of earnest piety, brilliant in intellect and distinguished for his eloquence. In 1821, Mr. Ward, Mrs. Marshman and Mr. Mack returned to India to find on their arrival, that Dr. Carey had been deprived by death of his second wife.
Meanwhile, the college, a fine edifice in the Grecian style of architecture, had been completed, and Mr. Mack entered with great enthusiasm on the discharge of his duties in connection with it and soon became a brother beloved. Mr. Ward assumed charge of the printing establishment, and the business department of the mission, but gave his chief attention to the training for missionary duties of the advanced youth in the college.
Not long after Mr. Ward's return from England, Serfojee, the Rajah of Tanjore, paid a visit to Serampore. He was received on his arrival by Dr. Carey and Dr. Marshman and conducted through the college and the printing-establishment. The Prince, still a young man, manifested much interest in all departments of labour. With his hand in the hand of Dr. Carey, Serfojee talked with reverent enthusiasm of the work and virtues of the great missionary Schwartz to whom he felt that he was deeply indebted.
In March, 1823, sixteen months after his return to India, Mr. Ward was stricken with cholera and died after an illness of thirty-six hours. After his death Dr. Marshman wrote, "This is to me a most awful and tremendous stroke and I have no way left but that of looking upward for help. I feel the loss of Mr. Ward as a counselor beyond everything."
In 1823, Dr. Carey accepted the post of translator to Government in the Bengali language, because of the increased means which he would thus be able to devote to the carrying on of the mission work in Serampore and its out-stations. During this year the river Damooda overflowed its embankments and the whole country between it and the Hugli was inundated. The embankment in front of the mission premises gave way and the river came in like a flood. Dr. Carey was ill at the time. He was removed from his dwelling-house and carried to one of the houses on the college premises just before his own house was swept away.
In the beginning of 1826, Dr. Marshman made his first and only visit to England. He reached his native village on the morning of the Sabbath and made his way at once to the old meetinghouse, feeling almost a boy again when he heard himself addressed as Joshua.
The anniversary of the Baptist Missionary Society was held in London not long after his arrival. This was the first meeting of the kind which he had ever attended and he mentally compared the great gathering on this occasion with the very humble beginnings of this Society. In the interests of the Mission cause, Dr. Marshman visited the principal cities of England and Scotland and was everywhere cordially received; but he was homesick for India and rejoiced when his health was in such a measure restored as to permit him to return. He embarked for India on the 19th of February, 1829, and reached Serampore on the 19th of May, taking three months for a journey now made in a few weeks.
The year 1829 is a memorable one in India as it marked the abolition of suttee [sati], or widow-burning in Bengal. The subject had for the first time been brought officially to the notice of Government at the close of Lord Wellesley's administration, but Lord Amherst before his retirement from office put on record "That while the diminution of the rite was desirable, to prohibit it entirely, was inexpedient at the time." He was succeeded in office by Lord William Bentinck, who, twenty years before had been Governor of Madras and was therefore not a novice in Indian affairs. He brought with him to his exalted office a firm determination that this horrid rite should cease absolutely and immediately. The regulation prohibiting suttee [sati] in the Bengal Presidency was passed on the 4th of December, 1829. The Secretary to Government sent the order to Dr. Carey at Serampore on the afternoon of Saturday. The paper came into his hands on the morning of the Sabbath. Knowing that every day's delay might cost the lives of two or three victims, he sent at once for his pundit and completed the translation before the sun went down.
The year 1830 brought heavy financial trouble to the missionaries. Great commercial firms failed for large amounts and as the support of many of the children in the schools conducted by Dr. and Mrs. Marshman was derived from funds deposited with these firms, the schools suffered in consequence. It was about this time proposed in the interests of economy to abolish the professorships in the college of Fort William and to appoint examiners on a reduced salary. Dr. Carey received in consequence, 500 instead of 1000 rupees per month. The office of Government translator was also abolished thus further reducing his income. This he regretted only because he was deprived of the privilege of contributing to the mission cause as before. The number of outstations had increased to thirteen, and European, Eurasian and Hindustani labourers to the number of thirty-two, looked to the missionaries for support. There were widows and orphans connected with the mission for whose support they had made themselves responsible and they had found it necessary to aid in the support of the college. An appeal was sent to Christian friends in England and this met with a cheerful and liberal response. "No succour was ever more seasonable," wrote the missionaries in response.
The eighth edition of the Bengali New Testament appeared in 1832. As Dr. Carey corrected the last sheet of this edition, he said: "My work is done. I have nothing more to do but to wait the will of God." The Old Testament in Bengali had passed through the fifth edition, each edition of which Dr. Carey had himself revised. When in the summer of 1832 he presided at the ordination of Mr. Mack, as co-pastor with Dr. Marshman and himself over the Bengali congregation in Serampore, he took with him into the pulpit the first copy of the sacred volume which came from the hands of the printer and addressed the converts and their children from the words of Simeon: "Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." The veteran saint did not, however, relinquish the labours until compelled to take to his couch. During the months of gradually failing strength many distinguished visitors sought the chamber of the dying missionary. The Bishop of Calcutta paid him several visits and on one of his last visits craved his benediction. Alexander Duff, recently arrived in India, found his way to the chamber where the good and great man was spending his last earthly days and received from him much wise counsel.
On the morning of the 9th of June, 1834, the aged saint entered into rest. On the morning of the following day he was carried to his burial. Rain was falling heavily and this intensified the general gloom. The Danish Governor and his wife and the members of the Council joined the long procession of mourners, and the Danish flag hung at half mast as on the occasion of the death of a Governor. The road was lined with poor Hindus and Mohammedan's who felt that they had lost a true friend. When the cemetery was reached and a halt was made at the open grave, the sun burst forth in splendour. A resurrection hymn was sung and the mortal remains were laid to rest.
Dr. Carey died possessed of little worldly wealth, but he had contributed to the work of evangelisation and civilisation in India, £46,000. The three mission families from their earnings had contributed the munificent sum of £90,000. His valuable museum was bequeathed to the college, together with his collection of Bibles, and he directed that his only memorial should be the following inscription, cut on the stone above the grave of his second wife:
Born August 17, 1761;
Died — June 9, 1834.
A wretched, poor, and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall.
The death of his beloved colleague was a heavy blow to Dr. Marshman who about this time was visited with another heavy affliction. His youngest daughter had married Lieutenant Havelock who became afterwards the well-known Sir Henry Havelock. Mrs. Havelock was with her children in the hill-station of Landour, when the bungalow she occupied took fire in the night. Mrs. Havelock and her two older children were with difficulty rescued from the burning building, but the youngest perished in the flames. For a few days little hope was entertained that Mrs. Havelock would survive the shock. The news of the awful disaster so affected Dr. Marshman in his enfeebled condition that he was seldom afterward seen to smile and his feebleness from this time continued to increase.
A few days before his death he requested his bearers to carry him in his chair to the chapel at the hour of the weekly prayer-meeting and to place him in the midst of the congregation. He then gave out in a firm voice the hymn that had often been used by his colleagues and himself in seasons of trial and difficulty.
O! Lord our God, arise;
he cause of truth maintain,
And wide o'er all the peopled world,
Extend Thy blessed reign.
Dr. Marshman passed away on the morning of the fifth of December, 1837, and nine years later Mr. Mack's career was suddenly cut short by cholera after twenty-three years of splendid service. Another year and Mrs. Marshman was removed by death in March, 1847, at the advanced age of eighty. The first in the army of noble women who have consecrated their lives to the work of the Lord in India, she has perhaps had no superior and few equals. Both were buried in that consecrated acre in Serampore which encloses the mortal remains of that devoted band who have made that Station famous in the annals of Missions. It is said that on one occasion one of the dignitaries of the Church of England remarked that there had been but few men at Serampore but they were all giants.
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Men of Might in India Missions... by Helen H. Holcomb. New York: Young People's Missionary Movement, 1901.
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