Project Canterbury

Forty Years in Burma

By John Ebenezer Marks

London: Hutchinson and Co., 1917.


THE text of Dr. Marks' memoirs came to me in a somewhat confused state. It consisted of three documents. The first was made up of some articles published in one of the magazines of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in the year 1900. Dr. Marks concluded those articles by stating that he intended in the near future to publish in book form the story of his life. It is a great pity that he allowed this intention to be frustrated by his constant activity in deputation work on behalf of the Society. His health did not improve with advancing years, and it soon became obvious that in spite of the magnificent memory which he retained to the last, he no longer had physical strength sufficient to fulfil his original purpose.

In this difficulty his devoted sister came to the rescue with the suggestion that she should write out at his dictation the story which he had to tell, so as to save him the fatigue of sitting up to a table. Increasing cardiac trouble had already caused his medical adviser to prohibit Dr. Marks from sitting at, or bending over, a writing table for any protracted period. In this way the second document was produced. It was intended, as far as I have been able to ascertain, to supplement at different points the original story which had already been published, so as to fill in details which had been previously omitted.

It has been very difficult to find out exactly the points at which this supplementary matter was intended to be fitted in, and I have only been able to do so by diligent reference to the diaries and reports which have bean placed at my disposal.

The third document consisted of the recollections of Mr. David Marks, the only surviving brother, of his numerous and lengthy conversations with Dr. Marks. This document I have found of considerable assistance, especially with regard to Dr. Marks' reminiscences of King Thibaw and Queen Supayalat.

A narrative prepared in this manner cannot but betray traces of its composite character, especially as I have considered it my duty as editor to preserve the authenticity of the narrative at the expense of literary finish. There was a certain amount of redundancy in the narratives as they came into my hands, which I have tried to remedy; but apart from that, the story as it stands is substantially as it came from the pen of Dr. Marks.

I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to the staff of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for the invaluable assistance which they have given me in my work. Dr. Marks' official reports to the Society have all been placed at my disposal, and I have been allowed to select from among the large number of photographs in the possession of the Society those which I considered of interest.

W. C. B. P.
Feb. 1917.

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