« PreviousContinue »
MISSION TO BURMAH.
It will be recollected that in the Report of the Board, last year, some account was given of the Burman empire, and the providential manner in which brother and sister Judson were conveyed to Rangoon: and also that Mr. Felix Carey was about to remove from that place to Ava, the capital of the country. The following extracts from letters and journals, which have arrived subsequently to that publication, will contribute to disclose still more the state of things in that dark region, and to deepen a conviction of the importance of making known there the GLORIOUS GOSPEL, which alone reveals that power and grace of the Almighty which can redeem from the degradations and miseries of vice, a people laden with iniquity.
The latest communication from brother Judson published in the former Report, bears date 7th January, 1814. About the same time, he wrote thus to Mr. Ward at Serampore:
It is a subject of daily thanksgiving with us, that we have been brought hither. But we dare not boast of to-morrow. We feel, that it is infinitely easy for God to leave us to be discontented, and forsake our post. We, therefore, beg your prayers, that when tribulation or persecution arises, we may not fall away."
“ Brother Felix Carey, in a late interview with his Burman majesty and the prince, was received with inuch kindness. He sat with the king and prince several hours, conversing on different topics, and took the liberty of suggesting, in a cautious manner, several things by which the empire might be improved. His majesty asked why the christians in connexion with us did not worship images like the Portuguese. Brother F. quoted a sentence from the Burman writings, and binted the impossibility of forming an image of an invisible spirit. His majesty, addressing himself to his courtiers, said, “ He is right.” He gave our brother a gold medal, with an honourable title, and suggested, that if brother Felix would wear ihe Burman dress, he would present him with several suits of ricis apparel : this he declined, assuring his majesty that he was ready to serve him on all occasions, but that he could not change his dress, nor his religion."
Mr. Judson, in February following, thus writes :-“ The Dalahmyoo-Thoogyce was lately beheaded in the streets by an assassin, who, it appears, was employed by his steward. All concerned in the conspiracy have been taken. Instances of robbery frequently occur ; some very daring. Seven robbers were lately cut in pieces at the place of execution. What a world sin has made! How precious is the gospel of peace!"
The horrible condition of society in that quarter presents a still more frightful, and appalling aspect, in the following account of “ Punishments practised by the Burmans, communicated by a gentleman resident there,” extracted from the “ Periodical Accounts.' But while such a deplorable state of things should awaken pity, and excite every possible effort to diffuse the mild influence of the gospel there, it is consoling and animating to learn that the Missionaries, in the midst of such terrifying wretchedness, ARE NOT DISCOURAGED.
“ Every species of punishment of which the human mind can possibly conceive, is continually practised in this country. The nature"
and degree of the punishment depends entirely upon the whim and caprice of the ruling power who issues the mandate. However, there are some punishments more common than others; but these again vary both in degree and kind, according to the crime, and the character and sex of the criminal ; except a departure from the general rule be made from anger or revenge, which is not unfrequently the case.
“ The following are some which frequently occur, and may be divided into three classes
capital, severe, and trivial punishments. Among the first class may be placed-beheading; crucifying ; starvation; ripping open the body; sawing; piercing through ; Aogging upon the breast to death ; scorching to death by the rays of the sun; blowing up with gun-powder or some other combustible materials ; pouring hot lead down the throat; scalding to death by plunging into hot oil; shooting with fire-arms or arrows; spearing to death ; squeezing to death by pressing a nut of the beetle tree on each temple between two bamboos until the eyes and brains start out of the head; drowning; beating to death on the head with a large cudgel; giving to wild beasts ; and roasting on a slow or quick fire.
“ Severe punishments are such as cutting off the 'hands, feet, ears, nose, tongue, &c.; extracting the eyes ; flogging upon the breast; lying the arms with a thin cord until it cuts down to the bone ; hanging up by the heels; hanging up by the tip of the fingers; exposing to the rays of the sun; and banishment into forests, from which it is almost impossible to escape.
“ Among trivial punishments may be reckoned flogging ; marking the crime in legible characters upon the face or breast of the criminal, and condemning him to perform the office of public executioner for life; squeezing the legs or arms between two bamboos ; confinement in the stocks with the legs and arms extended as far as possible. Such punishments as hanging, shooting, exposing in the pillory, burning the hands, condemning to a long confinement, and hard labour, are seldom practised: banishment is not often heard of.
“ It often happens that several of the severe or trivial punishments, above-mentioned, are inflicted on a criminal previous to his being finally executed. Instances not unfrequently occur that a person, after being nailed by the hands and feet to a cross, has most of the members amputated, one by one, before he receives his mortal wound. Sometimes the punishment, though small in its kind, is continued as long as life remains; and frequently so many various punishments of a trivial nature are inflicted, that death is the inevitable consequence: united together, they form capital punishments, severe in the extreme, and horrid to reflect upon; and yet these are the most
** Frequently the innocent suffer with the guilty; as a wife for the fault of her husband, and children for the crime of their parents : even a whole family is extirpated for the fault of a single individual, and servants are cut off for the crimes of their masters. These kind of punishments, however, seldom occur but froin sudden anger or revenge; except in the case of deserters, and persons guilty of treason.
" When a person of royal extraction is to receive a capital punish
mont, it is generally done by drowning. In the first place the person is tied hands and feet, then sewed up in a red bag, which again is sometimes put into a jar, and thus the culprit is put into the water with a weight sufficient to sink him. This practice is resorted to because it is reckoned a sin to spill royal blood.
“ Women, comparatively speaking, are seldom the subjects of capital punishments. When an instance occurs, it is generally for some great crime. When they are executed, it is generally done by knocking their brains out with a large cudgel; but sometimes they are ripped open, or blown up, or given to a tiger or some other wild beast.
The bodies of criminals are always exposed to public view for three days ; after which they are shovelled into a hole and covered with carth, not being permitted the honour of being burnt.
“ Criminal causes are frequently tried by ordeal before the judgment is passed.
“ I will now just relate what punishments have been inflicted merely in the town of Rangoon, since my residence in this country, a period of not more than four years. I witnessed the execution of some of the criminals, and others I saw immediately after.
« One man had boiling lead poured down his throat, which immediately burst out from his neck and other parts of his body.
“ Four or five persons, after being nailed through their hands and feet to a scaffold, had their tongues cut out, their mouths slit open from ear to ear, then their cars cut off, and finally their bodies ripped open,
“ Six persons were crucified. Their hands and feet were nailed to a scaffold; their eyes were then extracted with a blunt hook; and in this condition they were left to expire : two died in the course of four days; the rest were liberated, but died of mortification on the sixth or seventh day.
“ Four other persons were crucified; but instead of being nailed they were tied with their hands and feet stretched at full length in an erect posture. In this position they were to remain till death, and food was given them in order to prolong their miserable existence, In these kinds of punishment, the legs and feet swell and mortify at the expiration of three or four days. Some are said to live in this state for a fortnight, and expire from Latigue and mortification. The four persons I saw were liberated at the end of three or four days.
" Another man had a large bamboo run through his body, which killed him instantly.
“ Two men had their bodies ripped up suficient to admit the protrusion of a small part of the intestines ; and after being secured by cords, in an erect posture, upon bamboo rafters, with the hands and feet at full stretch, were set adrift in the river, to float up and down for public inspection.
“I do not exactly recollect how many have been beheaded; but there must have been upwards of twenty.
One man was sawn from the shoulder-bone downwards till his Izowels gushed out. 5 One woman was beat to death with a large cudgel.
Five persons, consisting of a man, bis wife, (far advanced in preg.
nancy,) his child, about five years of age, and two other men were led to the place of execution; the men were sentenced to be crucified and opened. Every thing was prepared, and the executioner was standing by ready to perform his bloody office, and even boasting that he was able to perform it neatly ; but a reprieve arriving, the execution was prevented.
“ Several amputations of hands and feet have taken place: some have died from the loss of blood, but the greater part survived.
“ These are most of the punishments I have seen or heard of during my residence in Rangoon; but many other instances happened while I was occasionally absent, of which I have not given a relation. As for the crimes for which these punishments were inflicted, some appeared to deserve death; others were of a trivial nature, and some of the victims were completely innocent.”
Extract from Mrs. Judson's Journal, and Letter to her sisters,
dated at Rangoon, began September 1813, and continued till September 1814. DEAR SISTERS,
“ Nor more refreshing to the thirsty sons of Afric is the cooling stream; nor more luxurious to the meagre, half-starved native Andaman, is a morsel of food, than your letters to our weary and almost famished feelings. Two long years and a half had elapsed since we left our native country without our hearing one word from any of our American friends. Thirteen months of this have been spent in the cruel, avaricious, benighted country of Burmah, without a single christian friend or female companion of any kind.
“Our home is in the Mission house built by the English Baptist Society, on the first arrival of Messrs. Chater and Carey in this country. It is large and convenient, situated in a rural place about half a mile from the walls of the town. We have gardens enclosed, containing about two acres of ground, full of fruit trees of various kinds. In the dry season, our situation is very agreeable. We often enjoy a pleasant walk, within our own enclosure, or in some of the adjoining villages.
“ September 20th.—This is the first Sabbath that we have united in commemorating the dying love of Christ at his table. Though but two in number, we feel the command as binding, and the privilege as great as if there were more, and we have indeed found it refreshing to our souls.
“December 11. To-day for the first time, I have visited the wife of the viceroy. I was introduced to her by a French lady, who has frequently visited her. When we first arrived at the government house, she was not up, consequently, we had to wait some time. But the inferior wives of the viceroy diverted us much by their curiosity, in minutely examining every thing we had on, and by trying on our gloves, bonnets, &c. At last her highness made her appearance, dressed richiy in the Burman fashion, with a long silver pipe at her mouth smoking. At her appearance, all the other wives took their seats at a respectful distance, and sat in a crouching posture without speaking. She received me very politely, took me by the land, seated me upon a mat, and herself by me. She excused her
self for not coming in sooner, saying she was unwell. One of the women brought her abunch of flowers, of which she took several and ornamented her cap. She was very inquisitive whether I had a husband and children, whether I was my husband's first wife, meaning by this, whether I was the highest among them, supposing that my husband like the Burmans had many wives; and whether I intended tarrying long in the country.
“ When the viceroy came in, I really trembled; for I never before beheld such a savage looking creature. His long robe and enormous spear not a little increased my dread. He spoke to me, how. ever, very condescendingly, and asked if I would drink some rum or wine. When I arose to go, her highness again took my hand, told me she was happy to see me, that I must come to see her every day, for I was like a sister to her. She led me to the door, and I made my salam and departed. My only 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 get access to the viceroy. One can obtain almost any favour from her, by making a small present. We intend to have as little to do with government people as possible, as our usefulness will probably be among the common people. Mr. Judson lately visited the viceroy, when he scarcely deigned to look at him, as English men are no uncommon sight in this country; but an English female is quite a curiosity.
January 11, 1815. Yesterday we left the Mission house, and moved into one in town, partly through fear of robbers, and partly for the sake of being more with the nati and learning more of their habits and manners. We shall also be in a way of getting the language much quicker, as we shall hear it spoken much more frequently than we could in the other house.
“ January 18. Our ears are continually filled with the intelligence of robberies and murders. Last night a band of fifteen or twenty attacked a house very near the one we had just left; and after stabbing the owner, robbed the house of every thing they could find. The robbers were armed with large knives, spears, and guns, which put all the people around in such fear that none dared to go to the assistance of the sufferers.
“ This evening Mr. Judson and myself went to see the poor man who was stabbed We found him lying in his bed in great distress, surrounded by his Burman friends, who appeared to sympathise in bis affliction. The poor man was anxious to know if Mr. Judson could tell whether he would live by feeling his pulse ; but Mr. Judson told him he was not a doctor. The viceroy is very much enraged at this daring attempt, and has sent o'ie of his principal officers with three hundred men, in search of them. All these things teach us the great need of the gospel among this poor people. They also teach us the need of being constantly prepared for a sudden violent death. O that the time may soon come when this people will be able to read the scriptures of truth in their own language, and believe in that Saviour who is not only able to save them from such dreadful crimes, but to save their immortal souls from eternal misery!