Project Canterbury

Forty Years in Burma

By John Ebenezer Marks

London: Hutchinson and Co., 1917.


JOHN EBENEZER MARKS was born in London on the 4th of June, 1832. He was of Jewish extraction, and the remarkable vitality which, despite persistent ill-health, exacting work and a trying climate, enabled him to live a life of uninterrupted activity until the age of eighty-three, was doubtless an heritage from the hardy stock to which he belonged.

His early education was received at a school in the East End of London which has long since disappeared. He remained as an unpaid pupil teacher at the school in which he was educated until he received appointments successively at Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Evesham.

From Evesham he was invited by the Rev. T. O. Goodchild to become master of the Hackney Free and Parochial Schools in Mare Street. His pupils were notorious for their roughness, and were locally known as the Hackney Bulldogs. He had desperate struggles with them, but his unique sympathy with boys, coupled with his genius for teaching, won the day, and the boys soon became attached to him.

After spending all the day in school, he used to devote his evenings to ragged-school work and evening classes for lads. In such work as this he gave material assistance to the parish of St. George's in the East, and also to Father Lowder.

He went out to Burma in 1859 as a layman for educational work in connection with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at the school which it had opened at Maulmein.

After working with great success for three years as a layman, he was accepted as a candidate for Ordination by Bishop Cotton of Calcutta, and was invited to undergo a special course of preparation at Bishop's College, Calcutta. He was there for a few months in 1863, and was ordained Deacon on All Saints' Day in Calcutta Cathedral. After a short furlough in England, necessitated by an attack of abscess on the liver, he was ordained Priest in Calcutta in 1866.

The story of his educational work in Maul-mein, Mandalay and Rangoon is told at length in his memoirs, and it would be superfluous to tell it again here. The main facts are enumerated in the following resolution which was adopted by the S. P. G. on his death:

"It is with no ordinary feelings that the Society, assembled in its Monthly meeting in the Society's House on Friday, October i5th, 1915, places on the list of those who have departed this life the name of the Rev. Dr. J. E. Marks, assured that posterity will accord him a place among the great educational missionaries of this age. There are few also who have led a life so full of romance, and in situations which brought him into touch with some of the great political movements within the Empire. . . .

"Burma was the scene of his missionary labours, and he leaves a name in that land educationally, as great as that of Judson on the evangelistic side. In the region of romance there are few missionary episodes more fascinating than the history of Dr. Marks' association with Mindôn Min and King Thibaw. The former, though a non-Christian, built a church and a school and a residence for Dr. Marks, and sent the royal Princes to the school.

"But the monumental work of Dr. Marks was the creation and development of St. John's College, Rangoon, which, under his auspices, became the leading educational establishment in Burma. Not less than 15,000 pupils passed through his hands, composed of almost every nationality in the East. . . .

"He was presented with the Lambeth Degree of D.D. in 1879 by Archbishop Tait, in recognition of his eminent services to the Church, and retired in 1900, but not to idleness. Dr. Marks has been one of the most indefatigable of helpers for the Society's cause, and his presence had become known from one end of the Kingdom to the other. The Society never had a more devoted supporter, and is proud of having had the name of this remarkable man and missionary on its lists."

The last fifteen years of his life were spent in constant deputation work on behalf of the Society, and during that period he must have preached in almost every Cathedral and important parish church in England. Failing health, aggravated by a motor accident, interfered with, but did not put a stop to, his activities. He was preaching constantly to within a few days of his death, and was actually engaged to preach in Chelmsford Cathedral on the Sunday after he passed away.

The story which Dr. Marks tells in the following pages needs supplementing in some respects if the character of the writer is to be properly understood. There were so many interesting events in Marks' life, that the reader is in danger of forgetting that the most interesting thing in the whole story is the writer himself. It is no exaggeration to say that for many years the personality of Dr. Marks was quite an important factor in Burmese life.

It was not so much his educational or missionary activity that secured him this prominence. It was the influence of his own personality. He had a perfect genius for forming and keeping friendships. Humble Eurasian orphans, Burmese and Indian schoolboys, and high Government officials were all attracted to him by his boundless affection, his open-handed generosity and his unstinted hospitality. His geniality broke down all the barriers of race, religion and social position, and won for him friends wherever he went.

Even his faults served to endear him to those with whom he had to deal. His impulsive nature compelled him to champion the cause of anyone who appealed to him for assistance, and in such cases he did not hesitate to tackle the highest in the land. He was often at fault in the causes which he championed, but the engaging frankness with which he acknowledged it often ended in drawing still more closely to himself the person whom he had attacked.

His account-keeping was the despair of his friends. He would give away his last rupee, and then wonder where on earth all his money had gone to. His generosity often got him into trouble with the authorities in charge of the finances of the Mission, and it was at last decided, on his own suggestion, to make one of his colleagues responsible for the keeping of the school accounts. But it was just this generosity and complete indifference to financial matters which endeared him to his numerous proteges.

During his residence at Mandalay, and afterwards at St. John's College, Rangoon, Marks kept open house. The hospitality of St. John's College was for many years a feature in the social life of Rangoon. From the Chief Commissioner downwards, civil and military officials, wealthy merchants, and all the leading lights of Rangoon society constantly accepted the hospitality which Marks so unstintingly offered.

It was not so much the good fare that was provided as the extraordinary genius for entertainment possessed by the host, which attracted his many visitors. Marks was a first-rate raconteur. His supply of anecdotes was limitless, and he narrated them with a quiet restraint which added immensely to their effect. Some of his stories were a little inclined to be Rabelaisian, and very much shocked those who expected missionaries to indulge in nothing but edifying conversation. But his missionary zeal was unquestioned even by those who would have liked to see it accompanied with a more puritanical spirit.

His hospitality and geniality did no harm to his missionary work; rather, they attracted the assistance of many who otherwise would not have been disposed to sympathize with such objects.

No account of Marks' life would be complete which failed to give some information about his ability in this direction. Unfortunately the present writer is ill-equipped for the purpose, as he only met Dr. Marks on three several occasions. One such story must suffice, and that, alas! will only be appreciated by those familiar with the Burmese language.

When I visited Dr. Marks on my first furlough, I was rather proud of my knowledge of Burmese, and tried, I suppose, to make an impression upon him. By way of testing me he suddenly asked: "What does Nè nè ma sa hnin mean?" "It means, 'Don't eat a little,'" I replied. "No, it does not," said the Doctor. "It means, 'Eat a good lot.' I always used that expression when I went round the dining-room to inspect the boys at their meals."

My own translation was literal enough, but Burmese is pre-eminently a language of double entendre, and the interpretation put upon the words by the Doctor would certainly be the one which would be understood by the boys. At the same time, there would be sufficient trace of the opposite meaning for the boys to appreciate the joke.

It would be a great pity if the numerous stories which Dr. Marks used to tell in Burma were permanently lost. Perhaps one of his many friends will some day give us an account of his table-talk.

A word must be said here about Dr. Marks' relations with the high officers of the Government. From the time of Sir Arthur Phayre, the first Chief Commissioner of British Burma, until he finally left Rangoon, Marks was on terms of intimacy with the successive rulers of the Province. The first efforts of the Government to establish English schools had proved miserable failures for lack of the right kind of teachers. The High School in Rangoon had to be shut up for a time. Marks tells in his diary of a visit to the Government school at Prome. The pupils were all there, but there was no teacher, so he set about giving the boys their lesson himself.

Marks' astonishing success with the schools which he established attracted all the more attention because of the comparative failure of the Government in the same direction; and though the educational authorities were naturally a little jealous, the other officials constantly turned to Marks for advice on educational affairs, and showed their appreciation of his success by lavish grants in aid for his work.

Of all the successive Heads of the Province, Sir Charles Bernard seems to have been the one who was most intimate with Marks; and the little glimpses into the character of this magnificent administrator which the memoir gives us will serve to heighten the admiration in which he is already held by those who know Burma.

His successor, Sir Charles Crosthwaite, speaks of the heroic energy and devotion displayed by Sir Charles Bernard. After the annexation of Upper Burma, Sir Charles Bernard had to administer the newly-acquired territory without adequate machinery, in addition to bearing his previous burden of governing the Lower Province. The Upper Burma Secretariat was at Mandalay. "When Sir Charles was in Rangoon, he relied to a great extent on his memory. Letters and telegrams received from Mandalay were dealt with and returned with his orders, no copies for reference being kept." Anyone familiar with the work of the Administration of India will realize what an intolerable burden Sir Charles Bernard was attempting to carry.

His relations with Dr. Marks confirm the impression left on our minds by the above quotation of the tremendous energy of Sir Charles Bernard. When Marks was suffering from one of his periodic attacks of ill-health, the Chief Commissioner came personally to visit him in his little room at St. John's College, and carried him off to Government House. During the last Burmese war Sir Charles copied out all the official communiqués, as they were received from the field force, with his own hand, and sent them to Marks at St. John's College.

This series of notes terminated with the following laconic communication, dated Government House, Rangoon, December 2nd, 1885: "There seems a chance of your soon seeing your long-lost and much-cherished pupil. Ex-King Thibaw was to-day at Minhla on board the Thooria on his way down the river. I can't help feeling some sympathy for the poor creature in the plight to which he has come.--Yours sincerely, C. BERNARD."

Was it desirable that a missionary, engaged in the propagation of his own particular religious opinions, should be on terms of such intimacy with Government officials, whose supreme duty it was to administer the Province with absolute impartiality, and without showing any favour to any religious body?

The question is one of perennial interest in India, where a professedly Christian Government has to administer the affairs of people who are for the most part non-Christian. Shall the Government show preferential treatment to Christian or non-Christian institutions? In the past, the Government has answered this question by asking another: Which kind of institution is the more efficient? In Marks' time it was the Christian institution which was demonstrably the more efficient, and which received preferential treatment from Sir Charles Bernard and other wise rulers.

But in the future this is by no means likely to be the case, and if missionaries should be inclined to lament the change, they will find much in Dr. Marks' memoirs which will tend to console them.

The favours shown to Marks by King Mindôn did little to encourage the spread of Christianity in Mandalay. The help given by Government to St. John's College, while it enabled it to develop into an important educational foundation, did not succeed, in any appreciable measure, in commending Christianity to the Burmese. Dr. Marks' experience tends to prove that Government patronage can do no more now than it did in the time of Constantine to inculcate essential Christianity.

Marks did not lose his power of making and keeping friends after his retirement from active service in Burma. Many will recall the hospitality dispensed by his sister at their house in Croydon, especially the gatherings which took place annually on the Doctor's birthday. The event was made the occasion for the reunion of friends old and new, and became--what he called his house--a veritable "Burma" in England.

All who were privileged to enjoy the hospitality of the Croydon "Burma" will recall the way in which the Doctor beamed round on his guests; how untiring he was in relating stories of his work in Burma; how naive was the pleasure with which he displayed the magnificent rubies and other jewels which had been presented to him by King Mindôn and his numerous Burmese pupils and friends. He showed himself there in his true character as the most genial, the most entertaining, the most generous of egoists!

There remain three aspects of Marks' work which must be dealt with at some little length in order that the reader may understand and appreciate the significance of the story which he tells. These are: (i) His relations with King Mindôn; (2) his work as an educationalist; (3) his connection with public affairs.

There is no doubt that the most romantic part of Dr. Marks' life was the period 1868-1874, which was spent in Mandalay, and during which he experienced, in varying degrees, the patronage of the King of Burma. It is important to realize that Dr. Marks was riot the only Christian Priest to enjoy that fickle monarch's friendship. As he himself points out, the Roman Catholic Priest and the Armenian Bishop were both receiving help from the King before his own arrival in Mandalay.

It will help the reader to understand the true position of things if I quote the Roman Catholic version of the matter as set down by that most distinguished Prelate, Dr. Bigandet, in his book, "A History of the Catholic Burmese Mission."

"When the Bishop was in Mandalay in 1859, the King urgently pressed him to give him the Rev. Father Lecomte for the education of his children and those of his brother, the heir-apparent. The request was granted, though with a certain amount of reluctance, based upon the little hope entertained of the realization of the plan.

"Father Lecomte came to Rangoon to purchase what was necessary for the future establishment, and after completing his purchases, he returned to Mandalay in all haste.

But the mind of the King had already undergone some changes, owing to the influence of the Hpongyis, and perhaps of the women of the Palace. He would send to the school only some of the boys who were loitering day and night in the Palace. As the missionary had positive orders not to hold a school except for the benefit of the King's sons, he declined His Majesty's offer.

"In 1867 His Majesty placed under the charge of Father Lecomte twelve or fourteen boys belonging to some officers of the Palace. The boys were to learn the English language and the rudiments of those sciences which are taught in European schools. The excellent father has devoted himself to that task with great zeal and courage, and has succeeded as well as it was possible with boys of that country.

"Ever since his accession to the throne in 1852, King Mindôn has shown a real disposition to help the missionary residing in the royal city. Father Abbona had known him well before his accession to the throne. He was fond of conversations on religion, and appeared much pleased with hearing particulars concerning the creed of the foreigners--i.e., the Catholics.

"But this fondness was with him, as with all Burmese, the offspring of mere curiosity, and that even of a very superficial kind. Before His Majesty's mind was so much taken up with mercantile speculations, the writer often had the opportunity of discussing religious matters with him; but he soon found that the King looked upon such discussions as matters of amusement, or, at the most, intended them merely to make a display of his knowledge of the Buddhist books, and particularly of the metaphysical parts of them. Never has he exhibited, even for a moment, the least inclination to reflect upon the capital truths fundamental to every rational being, viz., God, Creation, Providence, etc. With a childish sneer he laughed at the idea of a creating power, and now that his mind is entirely engrossed with the gains and profits which he desires to make, he cares no longer for religious topics.

"It may be, too, that he has found it impossible to maintain his footing in carrying on a fair discussion, and that he has given it up in despair. Certain it is that, notwithstanding what has been asserted to the contrary by persons who ought to know better, the King has never had the remotest idea of studying carefully and seriously the tenets of Christianity, and that he has always been a staunch and fervent supporter of Buddhism. Is he led to this line of conduct by political motives? Does he hope thereby to obtain a greater and stronger influence over his people? I believe that his acute and cunning mind can easily reach so far and make religion a means to carry out his plans.

"Be that as it may, it is certain that he has been liberal in assisting the Mission of Upper Burma. When the Capital was transferred from Amarapoora to the present site of Mandalay, the King gave a fine piece of land, both for the church and the dwelling of the missionary, and bore almost all the expense of building the house. Whenever the Bishop has visited the city, the King has liberally given him money to defray his travelling expenses.

"The writer is delighted herein to acknowledge the many tokens of kindness which the King has conferred upon the Catholic Mission. But, at the same time, to avoid misunderstanding, it ought to be admitted that the liberality of the King extends also to the ministers of other denominations, though to different degrees. He has lately contributed most liberally in setting up a school and a church for an English minister belonging to the Protestant association for the propagation of the Gospel. It is true that the said minister was backed by the powerful and active influence of the Chief Commissioner of British Burma, as well as by the incessant interference of the English Resident at the Court of Mandalay. The King, as a true and clever politician, never does anything without expecting some return in one way or another. By favouring the English minister he expects to ingratiate himself with the English Governor, and hopes to find in his protégé an individual who, in case of difficulty arising, will be able to lend him important support.

"Moreover, the King, in the kindness which he vouchsafes to foreign ministers of religion, is influenced to a great extent by an ill-disguised vanity and a love of having his name honourably mentioned et late et circum, with praises and acclamations for his incomparable generosity.

"After the death of the Crown Prince and the almost total destruction of his family, followed by the revolt of his two sons, the King grew fearful and timorous. He thought his position fraught with perils and dangers. Thence his settled idea of concentrating all the power in his own hands. Contrary to the immemorial custom of having always a member of the royal family designated heir-apparent, with a suitable amount of power, influence and retinue, the King would never allow one of his sons to be designated as his successor. He feared lest he might plot against him and hurl him from his throne.

"The head of the Buddhist religion, called the Thathana-baing, happened to die two years after the heir-apparent, but the King would not suffer another to be appointed in his stead.

"He told the writer, in the course of one conversation, that he himself, assisted by four dignitaries, would manage all the affairs of a religious character. He is a true Czar in his dominions. His greed of influence and power is so great, that he wishes to be the only trader in his dominions, and the only man who has a right to grasp profits. But withal he is not a miser. He is fond of money, but not for the sake of hoarding it as his predecessors did. He wished to have it to spend it as he liked.

"His Majesty did all in his power to induce the writer to fix his residence in the Capital. He promised him a monthly allowance for personal support. He gave him a very fine and extensive piece of ground whereupon a spacious brick building was erected for his residence. The writer expressed to the King his grateful acknowledgments for this act of kindness. He took possession of the place, but never dwelt therein. He devoted the building for a school, and up to this day it has been used for that purpose."

I have taken the liberty of quoting Bishop Bigandet at such length because his book is not easily accessible to the general public, because of the high authority of any statement made by so careful and profound a student of Burmese affairs, and because of the light thrown by this particular statement upon the relationship which existed between Dr. Marks and Mindôn Min. It is important to remember that Dr. Marks was not the first, much less the only, missionary who enjoyed the Burmese King's favour.

The whole episode appears to be nothing less than a deliberate, if somewhat childish, plot on the part of King Mindôn. He was well aware of the powers of the priesthood. He fully comprehended the influence wielded by the Buddhist monastic order from the Thathana-baing down to the humblest novice, and, as is indicated in the above quotation, he had deliberately exploited that influence for his own purposes. Could he not influence the French and British Governments through the French Roman Catholics and the English missionaries?

Dr. Bigandet was in a far more difficult position than Dr. Marks, for what the King expected of him was to connive at, perhaps even aid and abet, a treasonable agitation against the British Government. Those were the days when the French and the English were rivals, and when it was still undecided as to which should be the paramount Power in Upper Burma. It is greatly to the credit both of the wisdom and the integrity of the good Bishop that he immediately perceived this and refused to become the King's agent.

Dr. Marks well knew what the King expected of him, and set himself from the very first against allowing the King to exploit his influence with the Government. He knew that he took grave risks of compromising himself by accepting the King's bounty, but he trusted to his own transparent bona fides to save himself from the difficulties that might arise. In his zeal for missionary education he was prepared to face the risks involved in being the protégé of a Buddhist monarch, but the position was an impossible one from the first. The King was alternately gracious and overbearing, according as he approximated to the realization of his ambitions. Time and again only Dr. Marks' extraordinary tact and ready wit saved him from forfeiting the royal favour.

It must be remembered that in those days Burma was in the Metropolitical See, so that Dr. Marks' Diocesan was the Bishop of Calcutta. It was through him that the King hoped to influence the Viceroy, and to get back once more into his own hands the Provinces which had been annexed by England. Dr. Marks' memoir and his letters clearly indicate the eagerness with which the King looked forward to the visit of Bishop Milman to Mandalay for the consecration of the church, and the disgust which he showed when he found that the Bishop had returned to Calcutta without even granting him an interview. He took care that this should not happen on the Bishop's second visit.

The Bishop went to the Palace with Dr. Marks and was graciously received, but when he steadily refused to be drawn into any conversation about political matters, the King, realizing that his ambitions in that quarter were doomed to disappointment, showed his disgust by bringing the interview to an abrupt conclusion. We are told by Dr. Marks that the King's sons never again attended school after the Bishop's first visit to Mandalay.

The King did not immediately withdraw his support to Dr. Marks, but there is no doubt that his favours were bestowed more and more grudgingly; and after experiencing all the bitterness of those who put their trust in princes, Dr. Marks was at length recalled from Mandalay.


From first to last Marks' work in Burma was educational. Although he came out to Burma as a missionary, he definitely took the position, from the very outset, that the Burmese could only be influenced by Christianity through educational work. Christianity, as a religion, provoked the Burman to nothing more useful than barren controversy. But Christianity as English custom inspired him with all the respect which he paid to the British civil and military administration. Hence Dr. Marks' lifelong work in establishing English missionary schools all over the country.

In attempting to appraise the value of such work, it must not be forgotten that those were early days, and that Dr. Marks was a pioneer. Some of the schools which he established have disappeared. Some of the principles for which he contended, as, e.g., the co-education of Europeans and Burmans, have been definitely decided against him. Many of the questions which agitated him and his contemporaries no longer awaken any enthusiasm one side or the other. Has Dr. Marks, then, any right to be considered an educationalist in any real sense?

To anyone who knows Burma it would be a sufficient answer to this question to point to St. John's College and other smaller educational institutions up and down the country which remain as permanent results of his work. But I do not think that we of a later generation can do credit to his work without reference to one of his contemporaries. I therefore take the liberty of quoting in full a letter written to Dr. Marks by Sir John Jar dine in 1913.

Sir John says: "I write to announce the coming of an event which you have long desired, I mean the establishment of a University at Rangoon. In reply to a recent question of mine in the House of Commons, I was informed that although details have not been settled, the Government of India are making provision of funds for the establishment of the University.

"You will remember that some of us in the very early days of the Educational Syndicate had a vision that this was to come, and that we did our work in anticipation thereof, keeping debates on a high level, providing a library, honouring scholars and scholarship both European and Oriental, protecting and superintending teachers, creating public opinion, trusting the people and winning public confidence, fixing standards of all sorts, making examinations in all kinds of learning, and enlarging jurisdiction in spite of some opposition of officials.

"Apparently we laid the foundations well; the Syndicate has lasted till now, and soon, I hope, will be merged in the greater institution. Not many of our colleagues, perhaps, looked so far ahead. Bishop Bigandet did, but he has passed away before seeing the University he wished for come into being. You are a survivor; a generation has passed away, but I write in fullness of heart to you, as I shall never forget how thoroughly you worked in this great cause, and how constantly and warmly you supported our early efforts in the spirit in which Sir Charles Bernard created and trusted that important Board.

"You and I had to frame a policy and to fight for it, and to spend many weary hours over it. I hope that our labours and honest hopes have been blessed, and that we have done something for the public welfare and in the spirit of the Author of our Faith."

No higher praise of Dr. Marks' educational work could be desired than this, and there are few who can speak with greater authority on the subject than Sir John Jardine. The Educational Syndicate referred to by Sir John was an attempt to co-ordinate the various societies interested in educational work in the country, and, in spite of all its obvious defects, it has been of inestimable service to the cause of education in Burma. That success has been due in large measure to the enthusiasm of the early members, and though Dr. Marks is by no means the only one of these who is entitled to praise, his claim must not be overlooked.

Marks was too strong a personality to work harmoniously on a Board with others. As he himself has told us, he was strongly in favour of a committee of one, and if he fell into disfavour in later years with the educational authorities in Burma, it must be attributed rather to this defect in his character than to a deficiency in his educational principles.

It is not, however, as an educationalist, in the wider sense, that Dr. Marks can lay claim to distinction. It was rather in the more restricted sense as a schoolmaster that his work commends itself to us. His genius in this direction is unquestioned. As early as 1861, when he had only been little over twelve months in the country, it was already recognized by his colleagues. The Chaplain of Maulmein in his report to the S. P. G. stated that Mr. Marks was a first-rate schoolmaster, zealous and most fond of his particular work, and that "He has such a happy way with him in the treatment and management of boys, that they soon become strongly attached to him, and his personal influence is very great."

The writer of this report succinctly states at the very outset of his career what was the secret of Dr. Marks' success. It was due, not to his knowledge of high educational principles, or of extraordinary powers of organization. It was due simply to the power of his own personality.

He had a passionate love for boys and an extraordinary way of winning their affection. He was ready to give anything in his power to help his "sons," as he affectionately called his pupils. His time, his money, his health, were all given without stint for their welfare. In the diaries there are frequent entries like the following:

"29-1-69. Having sat up all night with Kyay Hmin, who for a long time was delirious, I slept a little this morning."

"30-1-69. Went to bed at 4.30 a.m. Up at 8.30."

These are just little indications of what all his old boys say, that he would sit up night after night with sick boys, and yet go on quite cheerfully with his teaching work the next day.

There is another entry in the diaries, on June 2ist, 1869, about the time of the opening of the Royal School at Mandalay, which again illustrates the affection which he had for his pupils: "Give me, O Father, wisdom and earnestness to work for Thee and Thy glory in teaching these dear boys. Bring them to the Good Shepherd of their souls and keep them as Thine, now and ever."

It is not to be wondered at that affection shown in so real and practical a form was reciprocated by his Burmese and Eurasian pupils. Devotion to "The Doctor" amounted almost to a cult, which, after his retirement from active service in Burma, showed itself in the formation of the "Marks' Memorial Fund."

Two little incidents will serve to illustrate the relations which existed between Marks and his pupils. The first is told by the writer of the obituary notice in the Rangoon Gazette. It was on the eve of Marks' return to England after his last visit to Burma. All his packing had been done, and he was to go on board the following day. He had been desperately ill, and was only allowed to see privileged visitors. One of these, on saying good-bye, ventured to ask him how his finances stood. "After a brief spell the truth came out: the sum that had been put aside for personal expenses had gone; it had been given to a Burman protégé who had come to him with a tale of domestic distress." One solitary rupee remained to carry him back to England!

The other story was told me in Rangoon by one of the staff of St. John's College. In the early days of that institution some of the teachers were returning from Rangoon in the small hours of the morning after a somewhat riotous evening. They had been coming along the road in a very noisy manner, until one of them suddenly recognized in the distance the little tiny room which for many years served the "Doctor" as bedroom and sitting-room. He at once put up his hand and said: "Hush, the Hpôngyi!" There was immediate silence, and all of the party, Eurasians and Burmese, sat down solemnly in the road and took off their boots before entering the compound, just as they would have done if they had been going into a Buddhist monastery, and then proceeded silently to bed.

Marks tell us in his memoir that his educational text-book was "Tom Brown's School Days." Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, was the model upon which he tried to fashion himself. It must have been of very great interest to him to find that his first Bishop, Dr. Cotton of Calcutta, was the "New Master" of that great book. If Arnold's system was founded on the establishment of a relationship of mutual affection and regard between master and pupil, then it can be affirmed without any danger of contradiction that Marks was successful in introducing that system into the schools which he founded in Burma.

Allusion has been made above to the foundation of the "Marks' Memorial Fund." It began its existence in 1898, when Marks retired from active work in Burma. It was virtually an old boys' club, of which the members were the "sons" of Dr. Marks whom he had educated at one or other of the schools which he had founded. But the fund was founded, not primarily for the encouragement of esprit de corps in St. John's College, though that undoubtedly was one of the results of its establishment, but for the provision of a pension for their superannuated principal.

Gratitude is not a virtue which is very prominent in the Eastern character. In fact, most Englishmen who have spent their lives and given their best years to the amelioration of the lot of their fellow-subjects in India, frequently complain that their work is but little appreciated by those who have chiefly benefited from it. They are "as the remembrance of a guest that tarrieth but for a day."

Dr. Marks had no such experience. He was remembered by his "sons" to his dying day, and the gratitude of those whom he had worked for was shown, not in empty expressions of regard, but in the practical form of a pension fund. The fund was sustained all the seventeen years which lapsed between Marks' retirement and his death, and the affection which prompted it was demonstrated by the fact that it included a constant supply of the cheroots for which Burma is famous, and which the Doctor never lost his liking for. The "Marks' Memorial Fund" did not cease even with his death. It is still maintained, and the proceeds are being devoted to the erection of a memorial chapel in connection with St. John's College, and to the foundation of scholarships for poor Burmese students.


Dr. Marks took a lifelong interest in public affairs, especially during his residence in Rangoon. When the atrocities in Upper Burma were perpetrated by King Thibaw, it was a letter from his pen to the Rangoon press which first called for the vigorous protest which was expressed in a magnificent mass meeting in Rangoon, at which he was one of the speakers, and which ended in the intervention of the British Government.

But it was mainly in connection with the volunteer movement and with the Rangoon Municipality that his activities in this direction manifested themselves. How far it is desirable for an educational missionary to take an active part in such affairs is a matter of opinion, and, unfortunately, Dr. Marks did not always see eye to eye with his colleagues on this point. Bishop Strachan considered it his duty to make a protest, and it was one of the causes for the strained relations which existed for a long time between these two zealous missionaries.

His activities in connection with the volunteer movement were less open to question, and in this, as in so many other matters, Marks was the pioneer in Burma. St. John's College Cadet Corps was the first volunteer detachment connected with any school in Burma.

For many years it enjoyed the reputation of being the most efficient of all the volunteer corps in the Province. During the last Burmese war all the members, with a few insignificant exceptions, volunteered for active service, and though Sir Harry Prendergast did not see his way clear to accept the offer, the corps was placed under active service conditions, and became, for the time being, part of the garrison of Rangoon.

Since that time several other schools in Burma have started cadet corps, and the movement has passed beyond the experimental stage. It is certain to become more and more important in the future as the duty of national service for all the citizens of the British Empire becomes more clearly recognized. During the present war many of the various races of Burma have asked for permission to serve in the British army, and although the authorities naturally hesitate to enrol all the men of righting age, or to put arms in the hands of those who might misuse them, there seems little to be said against, and much to be said in favour of, training to arms the small minority of students who have had the advantage of an English education, and who realize the privileges and responsibilities they enjoy as citizens of the British Empire.

In this connection it may be of value to quote the Orders passed by the Government with regard to St. John's College Cadet Corps in 1885:

"The Cadet Company of St. John's College, Rangoon, has for several years past contained more than ten per cent, of Burmese lads, and this Company has at repeated inspections acquitted itself well under the circumstances. I am to say that St. John's College Company can retain its Burmese Cadets who are already efficient, even though they exceed ten per cent, of the whole Company. But for the future, no more Burmese Cadets should be enrolled until the proper proportion of non-European Cadets is brought down to ten per cent, of the Cadet Company. When once the proportion of such Cadets has been reduced to ten per cent., it must not be allowed to exceed that proportion in future."

Dr. Marks was for many years honorary chaplain of the Rangoon volunteers, and he was awarded the Volunteer Decoration for his long and devoted service. He was very proud of his decoration, and always wore the insignia pinned to his scarf when he conducted or assisted at divine service.

Of his other activities in public life, it is sufficient to remark that he was for many years an active and zealous Freemason.

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