1811. The weakness which has come upon me in the course of the last year, if it should not give an entire new turn to my life, is likely to be productive of events in the course of the present year, which I little expected, or at least did not expect so soon. I now pass from India to Arabia, not knowing what things shall befal me there; but assured that an ever-faithful God and Saviour will be with me in all places whithersoever I go, May he guide and protect me, and after prospering me in the thing whereunto I go, bring me back again to my delightful work in India. It would be a painful thought indeed to suppose myself about to return no more. Having succeeded, apparently, through his blessing, in the Hindoostanee New Testament, I feel much encouraged, and could wish to be spared in order to finish the Bible.
January 1. Preached the anniversary sermon for the benefit of the Bible Society.
Calcutta, January 1, 1811.
At the going down of yesterday's sun, I ascended the roof, not doubting but that I should hear some more wisdom from a certain Patriarch; but he was gone. I felt considerable pain; but something within me said, Should I grieve at being left alone with God?
Believe that I was not yesterday at roots. On Sundays I try to let them sleep deep in earth, and regale myself with the fruits and flowers.
I am well enough, but, look so pale that Mr. T-- advises me to stay at home this evening. I see no necessity for it, but I was very willing to be persuaded.
My best love to all the invalids, and best wishes for their speedy recovery.
Yours ever affectionately,
To the Rev. D. Brown.
January 1, 1811.
At last I have a moment's leisure, and nothing shall prevent my employing it in communicating with Cawnpore. You will guess what has occupied me. Mr. Brown foreseeing I should have to stay one new year's day, ordered me to preach for the British and Foreign Bible Society. In consequence, I prepared an unwieldy sermon, which has just been delivered. None of the great were present; none of the clergy, though public notice was given; but it does not much matter, as the sermon is to be printed and sent to beg from Meerut to Cape Comorin. It is to be called the claims of Christian India, or an appeal in behalf of eight hundred thousand native Christians in India. Since writing the above we have received two thousand six hundred rupees in donations. We proceed without delay to form an Auxiliary Bible Society. Why do I say we, for, take notice, you are not likely to see me for two years. After consulting with the Patriarch, I waited this morning on Lord M. and made a statement to Col. C--, for the Commander-in-Chief, respecting my views about going to Persia, and obtained their sanction, so that it strikes me a way is opened, and an intimation given of the will of God. May my journey be for the prosperity of Zion! My ship has dropped down. 5. I have received yours of the 21st, five thousand rupees have been already subscribed to the British and Foreign Bible Society, by the few who were at church. 6. We go to-night. As the time approaches for leaving you, I feel my heart drawn nearer to you than ever.
Adieu from your ever affectionate,
To the Rev. D. Currie.
3. Waited on the Governor-general, Lord Minto, and explained my purposes; as he had no objection to my going on to Syria, nor had the Commander-in-chief, General Hewett; I considered their compliance as indicative of the will of God.
4. Had a long, and I hope useful conversation with Mrs. H--.
6. (Sunday.) Mr. T------- preached in the morning, and I at night, on "The one thing needful." Took leave of Sebastian; saw several respectable Christian merchants of Bagdad and Bussorah there. Obtained from him a list of places in Mesopotamia, &c. where there were Christians, and the number of them. He wished much to go with me, and would have come if I had encouraged him. He proposes printing his Persian version of the New Testament.
7. Without taking leave of my too dear friends in Calcutta, I went on board Mr. Elphinstone's pinnace, and began to drop down the river.
8. Conversation with Mr. E------, and disputes with his Peshwa Mouluwee, left me weak and in pain. At other times much engaged in making out a vocabulary of Hebrew biliteral roots.
9. Reached the ship at Saugur, and began to try my strength with the Arab sailors.
10--12. Sea-sickness incapacitated me for every thing; was, as usual in such cases, very low-spirited; felt perfectly weary of travelling; longed for nothing so much as to be settled quietly at my old station, or still more amongst my kind friends at Calcutta. But it is all folly, my present thoughts arise from my sickness, and form no criterion at all of my real state. When I set myself to invent a case of perfect happiness, a case which shall comprehend every thing that ever appeared desirable to me, in the days of my vanity or since; I cannot by any means persuade myself that I should be happy; true, there appears a change which seems strange to myself. I find it impossible to create even in imagination a terrestrial paradise. After trying this thing and that, I see that there is enjoyment rather in giving than receiving: To deny oneself for the good of others, rather than to have a great number of good things for oneself. It is a greater happiness to obey God than to please self. Thus solid bliss is built on the ruins of selfishness; when I think of marrying, I can reconcile it to myself, more easily from considering that such a step might add to the happiness of another than the hope of gaining any thing for myself.
13. (Sunday.) Was too sick to have divine service, but at night in the cabin, read to, and prayed with the Captain and passengers; the Captain was brought up by Schwartz. Mr. S. with Kohloff and Jcenicke kept a school for native-born children about a mile from Tan-jore, but went in every night to the Tanjore church, where about sixty or seventy of the King's regiment would attend. Service, exposition, singing and prayer; afterwards in Portuguese for their wives and the women. At the school, Schwartz used to read in the morning out of the meditations for every day in the year; at night, family prayer. Jcenicke used to teach them geography. Kohloff, writing and arithmetic; they had masters to teach them Persian and Malabar, or Tamul. Schwartz used to drink tea four or five times a day, and ate no animal food; one glass of wine when he bathed. It was said that he had a warning given him of his death. One clear moonlight night he saw a light, and heard a voice which said to him, Follow me. He got up and went to the door, here the vision vanished. The next day he sent for Dr. Anderson and said, 'An old tree must fall.' On the doctor's perceiving there was nothing the matter with him, Schwartz asked him whether he observed any disorder in his intellect; to which the doctor replied, 'No.' He and General Floyd (now in Ireland) another friend of Schwartz, came and stayed with him. The next fifteen days he was continually engaged in devotion, and attended no more to the school: on the last day he died in his chair. This account the Captain had from one of his schoolfellows.
At the time when the present Rajah was in danger of his life, from the usurper of his uncle's throne, Schwartz used to go and sleep in the same room; this was sufficient protection, for, said the Captain,' Schwartz was considered by the natives as something above a mortal.' The old Rajah on his death-bed, committed his nephew to Schwartz and Mr. Huddlestone; but the Governor of Madras made a natural son Rajah, Schwartz remonstrated, but Sir A. laid his hand upon his sword, and said 'Sir, I am a soldier.' Schwartz lived to see the rightful heir enthroned. The present Rajah riot very submissive. During his confinement under the protection of a sepoy guard, the usurper made a hole through the wall, and was just entering with his sword, when the sepoys told him they would put the bayonet through him if he advanced. 14--17. Generally so sick that T could do nothing but sit on the poop. Mr. E. kindly entertained me with information about India, the politics of which he has had such opportunities of making himself acquainted with. The Affghans to whom he went as ambassador, to negociate a treaty of alliance in case of invasion by the French, possess a tract of country considerably larger than Great Britain, using the Persian and Pushto languages. Their chief tribe is the Durance, from which the king is elected. Shah-zeman was dethroned by his half-brother Mahmood governor of Herat, who put out his eyes. Shah-zeman's younger brother Shoujjah took up arms, and after several defeats, established himself for a time. He was on the throne when Mr. E. visited him, but since that, Mahmood has begun to dispute the sovereignty with him. They trace their descent from Saul, as it has been long known;. if a man dies it is a great affront to his brother if his widow does not marry him. Mr. E--, has been with Holkar and Scindiah, a good deal. Holkar he described as a little spit-fire, his general, Meer Khan, possesses abilities; Scindiah none. The Rajah of Berar, the most politic of the native powers, though the Nizam the most powerful. The influence of residents at Nagpoor and Hydrabad very small. Learnt from the Captain's wife, who is a native of the Pelew islands, and speaks the language, that the Christians about Goa speak the Canarese.
18. The water becoming smoother as we approached the land, my stomach recovered its tone. Blessed be God for his goodness to me! How little have I known the value of health! Thought a little of the text, "Though the outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day;" May it be so with me! In the evening the island of Ceylon came in sight.
19. A canoe came off with pine-apples and plantains. Scarcely ever felt so discouraged in my Hebrew researches. See Memoir, p. 341.
20. The land breeze sent us out of sight of the island; saw some whales.
21. Again made land; a head-ache prevented my doing any thing but read Niebuhr.
22. Came to anchor off Columbo. See Memoir, p. 341. We passed the evening at Captain Rodney's, chief secretary to government, and met many of the Columbo people. Mr. Twisleton was expected, but as he did not come, I wrote to him before my departure, asking information about the state of the Christians.
23. Sailed from Ceylon. Reading Turkish grammar most of the morning, but head-ache prevented my doing much. See Memoir, p. 342.
28. Making extracts from Marracci's Refutation of Koran. Felt much false shame at being obliged to confess my ignorance of many things which I ought to have known. These things are useful to me, they seem to shew me how worldly I still am, how fond of human praise, how loth to part with my reputation.
29-31. See Memoir, p. 342.
February 1,2. Much disordered by sickness and head-ache, and time in consequence all running to waste.
3. (Sunday.) Service morning and evening in the cabin. In general reading word of God with pleasure, but still disordered from the motion of the ship.
4-6. Writing for Sabat.
At sea, Coast of Malabar, Feb. 4, 1811.
The last letter I wrote to you, my dearest Lydia, was dated November 1810. I continued in Calcutta to the end of the year preaching once a week and reading the word in some happy little companies, with whom I enjoyed that sweet communion, which all in this vale of tears have reason to be thankful for, but especially those whose lot is cast in a heathen land. On New-year's day at Mr. Brown's urgent request, I preached a sermon for the Bible Society, recommending an immediate attention to the state of the native Christians. At the time I left Calcutta they talked of forming an auxiliary society. Leaving Calcutta was so much like leaving England, that I went on board my boat without giving them notice, and so escaped the pain of bidding them farewell. In two days I met my ship at the mouth of the river, and we put to sea immediately. Our ship is commanded by a pupil of Schwartz, and manned by Arabians, Abyssinians and others. One of my fellow-passengers is Mr. Elphinstone, who was lately Ambassador at the court of the King of Cabul, and is now going to be resident at Poonah, the capital of the Mahratta Empire. So the group is rather interesting, and I am happy to say not averse to religious instruction; I mean the Europeans. As for the Asiatics they are in language, customs, and religion, as far removed from us as if they were inhabitants of another planet. I speak a little Arabic sometimes to the sailors, but their contempt of the Gospel, and attachment to their own superstition, make their conversion appear impossible. How stupendous that power, which can make these people the followers of the Lamb, when they so nearly resemble Satan in pride and wickedness. The first part of the voyage I was without employment, and almost without thought, suffering as usual so much from sea sickness, that I had not spirits to do any thing but sit upon the poop, surveying the wide-waste of waters blue. This continued all down the bay of Bengal. At length in the neighbourhood of Ceylon we found smooth water, and came to an anchor off Columbo, the principal station in the island. The captain, having proposed to his passengers that they should go ashore and refresh themselves with a walk in the Cinnamon gardens, Mr. E. and myself availed ourselves of the offer, and went off to inhale the cinnamon breeze.
The walk was delightful. The huts of the natives, who are, (in that neighbourhood, at least) most of them Protestants, are built in thick groves of cocoa-nut-tree, with openings here and there, discovering the sea. Every thing bore the appearance of contentment. I contemplated them with delight, and was almost glad that I could not speak with them, lest further acquaintance should have dissipated the pleasing ideas their appearance gave birth to. In the gardens I cut off a piece of the bark for you. It will not be so fragrant as that which is properly prepared; but it will not have lost its fine smell, I hope, when it reaches you.
At Captain R's., the Chief Secretary to Government, we met a good part of the European Society of Columbo. The party was like most mixed parties in England, where much is said that need not be remembered. The next day we stretched across the gulf of Manaan and soon came in sight of Cape Comorin, the great promontory of India. At a distance the green waves seemed to wash the foot of the mountain, but on a nearer approach little churches were seen, apparently on the beach, with a row of little huts on each side. Was it these maritime situations that recalled to my mind Perran church and town in the way to------; or that my thoughts wander too often on the beach to the east of T------? You do not tell me whether you ever walk there, and imagine the billows that break at your feet, to have made their way from India. But why should I wish to know. Had I observed silence on that day and thenceforward, I should have spared you much trouble and myself much pain. Yet I am far from regretting that I spoke; since I am persuaded that all things will work together for good. I sometimes try to put such a number of things together as shall produee the greatest happiness possible, and I find that even in imagination I cannot satisfy myself. I set myself to see what is that "Good for the sons of men, which they should do under heaven all the days of their life," and I find that paradise is not here. Many things are delightful, some things are almost all one could wish; but yet in all beauty there is deformity in the most perfect, something wanting, and there is no hope of its ever being otherwise, "That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered." So that the expectation of happiness on earth seems chimerical to the last degree. In my schemes of happiness I place myself of course with you, blessed with great success in the ministry, and seeing all India turning to the Lord. Yet it is evident that with these joys there would be mingled many sorrows. The care of all the churches was a burden to the mighty mind of St. Paul. As for what we should be together, I judge of it from our friends. Are they quite beyond the vexations of common life? I think not--still I do not say that it is a question, whether they gained or lost by marrying. Their affections will live when ours, (I should rather say mine) are dead. Perhaps it may not be the effect of celibacy; but I certainly begin to feel a wonderful indifference to all but myself. From so seldom seeing a creature that cares for me, and never one that depends at all upon me, I begin to look round upon men with reciprocal apathy. It sometimes calls itself deadness to the world, but I much fear that it is dead-ness of heart. I am exempt from worldly cares myself, and therefore, do not feel for others. Having got out of the stream into still water I go round and round in my own little circle. This supposed deterioration you will ascribe to my humility; therefore I add, that Mr. Brown could not help remarking the difference between what I am and what I was, and observed on seeing my picture, which was taken at Calcutta for Mr. Simeon, and is thought a striking likeness, that it was not Martyn that arrived in India, but Martyn the recluse. 10. To-day my affections seem to have revived a little. I have been often deceived in times past, and erroneously called animal spirits, joy in the Holy Ghost. Yet I trust that I can say with truth, "To them who believe, He is precious!" Yes, thou art precious to my soul, my transport and my trust. No thought now is so sweet as that which those words suggest--" In Christ." Our destinies thus inseparably united with those of the Son of God! What is too great to he expected, all things are yours, for ye are Christ's! We may ask what we will, and it shall be given to us. Now, why do I ever lose sight of him! or fancy myself without him, or try to do any thing without him. Break off a branch from a tree, and how long will it be before it withers? To-day, my beloved sister, I rejoice in you before the Lord, I rejoice in you as a member of the mystic body, I pray that your prayers for one who is unworthy of your remembrance may be heard, and bring down tenfold blessings on yourself. How good is the Lord in giving me grace to rejoice with his chosen, all over the earth; even with those who are at this moment going up with the voice of joy and praise, to tread his courts and sing his praise. There is not an object about me but is depressing. Yet my heart expands with delight at the presence of a gracious God, and the assurance that my separation from his people is only temporary. On the 7th we landed at Goa, the capital of the Portuguese possession in the east. I reckoned much on my visit to Goa, expecting from its being the residence of the Archbishop and many ecclesiastics, that I should obtain such information about the Christians in India as would render it superfluous to make inquiries elsewhere, but I was much disappointed. Perhaps it was owing to our being accompanied by several officers, English and Portuguese, that the Archbishop and his principal agents would not be seen, but so it was, that I scarcely met with a man who could make himself intelligible. We are shewn what strangers are usually shewn, the churches and monasteries, but I wanted to contemplate man, the only thing on earth almost that possesses any interest for me. I beheld the stupendous magnificence of their noble churches without emotion, except to regret that the Gospel was not preached in them. In one of the monasteries we saw the tomb of Francis Xavier, the Apostle of India, most richly ornamented, as well as the room in which it stands, with paintings and figures in bronze,done in Italy. The Friar who shewed us the tomb, happening to speak of the grace of God in the heart, without which, said he, as he held the sacramental wafer, the body of Christ profits nothing. I began a conversation with him, which however came to nothing.
We visited among many other places the convent of Nuns. After a long altercation with the lady porter we were admitted to the anti-chamber, in which was the grate, a window with iron-bars, behind which the poor prisoners make their appearance. While my companions were purchasing their trinkets I was employed in examining their countenances, which I did with great attention. In what possible way, thought I, can you support existence, if you do not find your happiness in God. They all looked ill and discontented, those at least whose countenances expressed anything. One sat by reading as if nothing were going on. I asked to see the book, and it was handed through the grate. Finding that it was a Latin Prayer-book I wrote in Latin something about the love of the world, which seclusion from it would not remove. The Inquisition is still existing at Goa. We were not admitted as far as Dr. Buchanan was, to the Hall of Examination, and that because he printed something against the inquisitors, which came to their knowledge. The priest in waiting acknowledged that they had some prisoners within the walls, and defended the practice of imprisoning and chastising offenders on the ground of its being conformed to the custom of the Primitive Church. We were told that when the officers of the Inquisition touch an individual, and beckon him away, he dares not resist; if he does not come out again, no one must ask about him; if he docs, he must not tell what was done to him.
18. (Bombay.) Thus far I am brought in safety. On this day I complete my 30th year. "Here I raise my Ebenezer; Hither by thy help I'm come." 27. It is sweet to reflect that we shall at last reach our home. I am here amongst men who are indeed aliens to the commonwealth of Israel and without God in the world. I hear many of those amongst whom I live bring idle objections against religion, such as I have answered a hundred times. How insensible are men of the world to all that God is doing! How unconscious of his purposes concerning his church! How incapable, seemingly, of comprehending the existence of it! I feel the meaning of St. Paul's words--" Hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of his will, that he would gather in one all things in Christ." Well! let us bless the Lord--" All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children." In a few days I expect to sail for the gulf of Persia in one of the Company's sloops of war.
Farewell, my beloved Lydia, and believe me to be ever Your's most affectionately,
7. Arrived at Goa, &c. See Memoir 343.
Goa, February 8, 1811.
All down the bay of Bengal I suffered so much from sea-sickness, that I had not spirits to prepare a letter for you. This is the reason you did not hear from Ceylon. We did not touch at Point de Galle, but passed on to Columbo, where we arrived on the 22nd. Mr. Elphinstone and myself went ashore to refresh ourselves with a walk in the cinnamon-garden. In our way thither I did not forget, you maybe sure, to enquire, whether the vine flourished and the pomegranate budded; but I was disappointed in not meeting with any who could give me the information I wanted. Mr. Twisleton was not at home, and General Maitland was ill at Mount Lavinia. From our Cingalese guide, who spoke English very well, Mr. E. was endeavouring to learn something about Boodh and his temples. Sir, said the man, I am a Christian, a Protestant, and do not worship stocks and stones. My heart bounded at hearing this; I got nearer and began to question the sable brother touching the common faith. He did not, however, seem to know much, or to have felt as I hoped he had. One thing I learnt from him, that they had all the Scriptures in Cingalese and Malabar. A Portuguese who attended us, said the same, and told me that the Malabar spoken at Cochin was the high Malabar not understood by the Cingalese of the Tamul; my informants knew nothing.
A little out of the road a funeral party was seen retiring from a church-yard. I went off instantly and accosted the Catechist; he spoke a little English, but so little that I could gain nothing from him. He shewed me the neighbouring church; it was spacious, but low, with a double row of pillars, and at the south end a porch. On our return from the garden to the fort we met some of the Society of Columbo at Captain Rodney's, Chief Secretary to Government. In hopes of seeing Mr. Twisleton there, for they told me he was expected, I staid as long as possible; but as he did not come I wrote to him requesting information about the state of the Christians, the version of the Sacred Scriptures, &c. and added a request that he would communicate with you upon these points. I regretted much that I could not stay a little longer in order to ascertain what this Malabar version is. Whatever it be, my note on Cordiner about its being the Tamul had better be cancelled. It is sufficient for us that it is not the Malayalim. We arrived at Alapan, or Alapee, the 26th. It is a miserable place; all I could learn there, was, that there were 300 Christians who spoke Portuguese, and besides them the caste of Christian fishermen. The distinction is worth observing, as it proves that all Christians are not included under the name of Portuguese. The Padre does not live there.
This place has most miserably disappointed me. I did not care about churches or convents, but I did expect to find men, Bishops and Archbishops, learned friars and scowling inquisitors; but Goa, as I had imagined it, does not exist. Perhaps the train of officers, &c. that attended us deterred many from appearing, but certain it is, that, though we have been shewn all the finery.of the churches, not a person have we seen that was able to give us the smallest particle of information. Wherever we went a black padre was deputed to shew us the church, and if a white one appeared it was only to shew his ignorance. At the Inquisition we were just admitted within the gates and that was all. I intreated the padre to let us see the hall; but no--no Englishman now was allowed to go there.
10. (Sunday.) Somewhat of a happy Sabbath; I enjoyed communion with the saints, though far removed from them; service morning and night in the cabin.
11-16, Mostly employed in writing the Arabic tract, also in reading the Koran; a book of geography in Arabic, and Jami Abbari in Persian.
17. (Sunday.) A tempestuous sea putting us all in disorder we had no service; for myself, having had two nights' rest broken from the same cause, I was fit for nothing during the forenoon; in the afternoon I had an affecting season in prayer, in which I was shewn something of my sinfulness. How desperate were my case without grace, and how impossible to hope even now without such strong and repeated assurances on God's part, of his willingness to save! Indeed it is nothing but his spirit's power that enables me to believe at all the things that are freely given us of God. I feel happy when reading that the enjoyments of heaven consist so much in adoration of God. This is as my heart would have it. I would that all should adore, but especially that I myself should lie prostrate. As for self, contemptible self, I feel myself saying, let it be forgotten for ever, henceforth let Christ live, let Christ reign, let Him be glorified for ever.
18. Came to anchor at Bombay. This day I finish the 30th year of my unprofitable life, an age in which Brainerd had finished his course. He gained about a hundred savages to the gospel, I can scarcely number the twentieth part. If I cannot act, and rejoice, and love with the ardour some did, oh, let me at least be holy, and sober, and wise. I am now at the age, &c. See Mem. 344.
20. Mr. C--, the chaplain for Surat, called on me. I talked very freely with him about the views of the Bible Society, the duty of labouring for the natives, and in short, almost every subject connected with the ministry. He was very candid, and showed a simplicity and gravity that pleased me much. At four went to dine at Mr. B--s. A religious discussion took place at dinner, which lasted the whole time I was there; the Advocate-General chose to express his incredulity respecting eternal punishment, which Mr. B. controverted, but in so prolix a way, though on the whole well-directed, that it did not appear convincing, so I took upon myself to consider the chief points of discussion; freedom of discussion produced great familiarity, insomuch that I ventured to give him advice about the necessity of praying and keeping the sabbath, &c. and acting up to the light that he had received, that he might receive more, proving to him that in the gospel, the apparent severity of God in punishing sin, appeared reconcilable with the exercise of mercy.
21. Most of the day looking over Lord Valentia's tracts, particularly Mr. Salt's visit to Abyssinia. Received a letter from Mr. Brown, which filled me with joy; it happened that the Governor met me in the garden just at the moment, so I told him all that we had been doing, and all that we intended, and begged that he would interest himself to procure us all the information about the native Christians that he could. This he promised to do, and mentioned father Louis, the Bishop's secretary, from whom he would inquire. Just then the said father Louis came, and the Governor accordingly directed him to send an account of all he knew about the Christians. The Padre dined with us; we had some conversation, he did not seem disposed to attend to the translation of the Scriptures; at Bombay there are twenty thousand Christians, at Sabretti twenty-one thousand, so that at this place are forty thousand Christians using the Mahratta. The padre did not at all credit the number at Ceylon.
22. Rose with a fever caught last night by sitting in the garden, but through divine mercy was nearly free from it at night. Called on Dr. Taylor afterwards, at the Courier press, where I saw the Malayalim New Testament in print, as far as the llth of St. John. It appeared very probable, that the two Roman Catholic priests who came to superintend the printing, were dissuaded from going on by Padre Louis; whom I do not at all like. Talked a good deal with the Governor about my intended journey.
23. Went with him to his residence in the country, and at night met a large party, amongst whom were Sir J. Mackintosh, and General Malcolm: with Sir J, I had some conversation on different subjects; he was by no means equal to my expectations.
24. (Sunday.) Came into town to church; Mr. B------read, and I preached on "The one thing needful." I strained myself so much, that I brought on the pain and weakness of the diaphragm again.
25-28. Employed in writing letters to Europe.
February 26, 1811.
I write just now because I am in your neighbourhood, and must say a last farewell before I lose sight of your country and mine, ill-fated India as-------calls it. I long to be with you again at Cawnpore for many reasons. Peacefully preaching the word of life to a people daily edified is the nearest approach to heaven below. But to move from place to place, hurried away without having time to do good, is vexatious to the Spirit as well as harassing to the body. The sea, too, I loath. I was scarcely well any part of the voyage, which was six weeks, and consequently did little but sit the live-long day upon the poop, looking at the flying fish, and surveying the wide waste of waters blue. Under the pressure of sea-sickness I resolved, that if ever I got back safe to India, it should not he a trifle that should move me from it again. We had prayer in the cabin every night, with all the passengers. About the end of the week we sail, if God will, for the Gulf. Had I been a little sooner, Sir J. O. might have taken me in the Lion man-of-war; but what is clearly the appointment of Providence I do not repine at. I went aboard my ship to-day, the Mercury. There are no accommodations for passengers, but I am to have part of the captain's cabin. Though most of the crew are Europeans, twelve artillery men are to be sent to help work the guns, and another cruizer with like complement is to accompany her, and a third is to follow, so strong and desperate are these pestilent Ishmaelites. Hearing last Saturday that some sons of Belial, members of the Bapre Hunt, intended to have a great race the following day,
I informed Mr.------, at whose house I was staying, and recommended the interference of the secular arm. He accordingly sent to forbid it. The messengers of the Bapre hunt were exceedingly exasperated; some came to church expecting to hear a sermon against hunting, but I merely preached to them on "the one thing needful." Finding nothing to lay hold of, they had the race on Monday, and ran Hypocrite against Martha and Mary. And now, dearest brother, may God abundantly bless you in your work, and in your own soul. Keep you in health and strength, that if it be his will, we may have the comfort of meeting once more below.
To the Rev. D. Corrie.
March 1. Called on Sir J. Mackintosh, and found his conversation, as it is generally said to be, very instructive and entertaining. He thought that the world would be soon Europeanized, in order that the gospel might spread over the world. He observed that caste was broken down in Egypt, and the oriental world made Greek, by the successors of Alexander, in order to make way for the religion of Christ. He thought that little was to be apprehended, and little hoped for, from the exertions of missionaries. Called at General Malcolm's, and though I did not find him at home, was very well rewarded for my trouble in getting to his house, by the company of Mr.------, lately from R----. Dined at Parish's, with a party of some very amiable and well-behaved young men. What a remarkable difference between the old inhabitants of India, and the new comers. This is owing to the number of religious families in England.
3. (Sunday.) Mr. C-------preached on "Cast ye the unprofitable servant," &c. Dined at Mr. Burrowes's with the clergyman and some others, who made the conversation so unprofitable, that I came away early with C------. We came to my room, and read the Scriptures together.
4. Dined at General Malcolm's, who gave me a Chaldee missal. Captain Stewart, who had accompanied him as his secretary into Persia, gave me much information about the learned men of Ispahan.
5. Feeroz, an aged Persian, and accounted one of the most learned men here, &c. See Mem. p. 345.
6. 7. See Memoir, p. 346.
8. Spent the first part of the day at General Malcolm's, who gave me letters of introduction and some queries respecting the wandering tribes of Persia.
9. Went to visit Elephanta. Read through Aris-tarchus on Grammar.
10. (Sunday.) Feeroz called this morning before church. He said that the order of priesthood consisted of the descendants of Zoroaster, and were called Mobid; that four times a month they assembled at the atush huder, namely, the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th; strangers are not allowed to see the sacred fire, though, said the old man significantly, I know there is nothing unlawful in it, but the common people do not. He at last professed himself a Deist. 'In my religion,' said he, ' they believe as Zoroaster taught, that the heaven and earth were made, but I believe no such thing. Is it to be credited, that God should have existed from eternity, and have done nothing till he created Adam and Eve. I answered, that it is not said that God did nothing, and that as for the world's having existed from eternity, we had not near so much evidence for it, as we have for the truth of Moses' account.' He asked, why? What evidence have we for the truth of Moses' account? I replied, he appeals to five hundred thousand people for the reality of the miracles. But, said he, that book might have been written many years after Moses. I said, that was impossible, because if another, subsequent to him, attempted to introduce a book of his, they might reply, In this book it is commanded that we read it to our children, &c., and talk of it. If this book therefore be Moses's, he must have given it to our fathers. As he did not, it cannot be Moses's. Well, said the old man, it is a difficult subject, God knows what is the truth. Occasionally, I do not remember how, he made the following remarks: The miracles of dividing the red sea, &c. were only natural events. The Jews and Christians charge the Mahometans with cruelty, in propagating religion with the sword. But what? was not Moses a warrior? Christ, it is true, was meek and lowly, a poor man to his death, but did not the Portuguese here in India, use force to convert the Hindoos. The Christians are all at variance with one another. The Portuguese say that all the English will perish. When I was beginning to explain the difficulty, and to mention the Reformation, he said, yes, I know, this was in the reign of Henry the Eighth. On my mentioning Satan, he said, I believe in no such person; God is all powerful, why does not he destroy him? I replied, why does not he extirpate evil from the world? The objection which he made against religion, would be equally against fact. To his theory of the world's having existed long before Adam, I brought his own objection; if the creation began in time, there must have been an eternity before it. Why was God so long idle? Or, do you make matter eternal, and so make two Gods? He replied, there is a distinction between the eternity of God, and the eternity of matter. One is necessarily eternal, and the other existing indeed eternally, but yet created. I asked whether he could really perceive a distinction between them, for I could not. He attempted to explain this by an illustration, which I did not understand, nor he himself, possibly. He asked for a copy of the Pentateuch in Arabic, and began about the versions of the New Testament, condemning them all. I asked him whether Sabat's Persian was not much superior. He opened upon a chapter, and pointed out several undeniable errors, both in collocation and words, and laughed at some of the Arabic words. When I told him the translator was an Arab, who had lived ten years in Persia, he said, an Arab, if he live there twenty years, will never speak Persian well. All this conversation was before church. I was much exhausted, but through the divine goodness, read my sermon without much additional fatigue.
15-16. Chiefly employed in the Arabic tract, writing letters to Europe, and my Hebrew speculations. The last encroached so much on my time and thoughts, that I lost two nights sleep, and consequently the most of two days, without learning more than I did the first hour. Thus I have always found, that light breaks in, I know not how, but if, stimulated by the discovery, I think of forcing my way forward, I am always disappointed. I can learn no more than what God is pleased to teach me. With pleasure let me acquiesce in the method of my God. Constantly let me be reminded of my helplessness, and my dependence upon him. Walked at night with a Jew of Bussorah, whose name was Ezra, by the sea side. Besides the Hindoos and Mahometans, there were some Persians adoring the setting sun. My companion, though one of the highest order, as I judged from his appearance and complexion, knew next to nothing. He said they expected the restoration to Jerusalem every day.
17. (Sunday.) Mr. B. reproved the people rather sharply, and told them that the society reared its head super-eminent in guilt above the sister establishment.
18. A rope-maker just arrived from London called upon me. He understood from my preaching, that he might open his heart to me. We conversed and prayed together.
24. (Sunday.) Preached on 1 Tim. i. 15. Speaking on the evidence of its truth, I mentioned its constant efficacy in collecting the multitude, and commanding their attention, which moral discourses never did. This was considered as a reflection on the ministers of Bombay, which distressed me not a little.
25. Embarked on board the Benares, &c. See Mem. p. 347.
26--29. Very sick and ill from the sea, more so than I ever remember to have been. At length, through the divine mercy, existence ceased to be a burden, and I began to revive. Read the first volume of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.
Bombay, March 26, 1811.
I have just time to send you a bit of a letter. It is now near six months since I left you, and am not yet delivered from Bombay, when I expected to be on my return from Arabia. I am reconciled to this delay from the consideration that I could do nothing were I at Cawnpore. My breath is not at all stronger, but I have no doubt it would be if I could flee the haunts of men. At this place I am visited from morning to night by the learned natives, who are drawn hither by an Arabic tract, which I was drawing up merely for Sabat, to help him in his book, but which the Scribe I employed has been shewing all about. At church on Sunday some of the 47th appeared; they put me in mind of my dear men at Cawnpore; my kind love to them all. It is said that we are to go immediately, but there is no believing what is said. General Malcolm has given me letters to great men at Bushire, Shiraz, and Ispahan; moreover queries respecting things on which he wants further information. Perhaps I shall be taken up and hanged as a spy. As it is probable, nay almost certain, that I shall be detained at Bushire a month before I can receive the ambassador's permission to enter Persia, you may direct to me there, via Bombay.
To the Rev. D. Carrie.
30. (Sunday.) The European part of the ship's crew, consisting of forty-five sailors, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and twelve artillerymen, were assembled for divine service. I read prayers, and preached on the parable of the pounds. Happening to think this evening on the nature of language, more curiously and deeply than I have yet done, I got bewildered, and fancied I saw some grounds for the opinions of those, who deny the existence of matter. Felt unhappy--what brought sin and misery into the world, but the desire of knowledge? Oh, what folly to be wise, where ignorance is bliss. Truly, the only true philosophy is to be happy. The further I push my inquiries, the more I am distressed. I give my heart to know wisdom, and this also is vexation of spirit. It must be now my prayer, not, Lord, let me obtain the knowledge which I think would be so useful, but oh teach me, just as much as thou seest good for me. Compared with metaphysics, physics and mathematics appear with a kind and friendly aspect, because these seem to lie within the limits in which man can move without danger, but in the other I find myself adrift. Synthesis is the work of God alone. Attempts at it are devilish. Human reasonings, to the degree they are synthetical, are liable to error, but analysis is our province. I bless God for Sir I. Newton, who, beginning with the things next to him, and humbly and quietly moving to the things next to them, enlarged the boundaries of human knowledge, more than the rest of the sons of men. God hath thus given an example of one, who sought knowledge temperately, and rightly, and whom he blessed with success.
April 7. (Sunday.) Preached on "By the law is the knowledge of sin."
8-13. No external charge takes place; we go on and see no land yet. We have prayer and reading Scripture every night in the cabin, and I read sometimes to a sick man below, but my mind is more fixed on the Hebrew than ever it was, insomuch that the subject is hardly ever out of my mind while I am awake.
14. (Easter Sunday.) Came in sight of the Persian coast near Tiz in Mekran. Preached to the ship's company on Psalm xvi., the latter part, and most of the day thinking about this Psalm, but more about the Hebrew of it than any thing else.
15. Still in sight of the Persian coast, but at such a distance that it was not worth looking at. Hardly any outward object indeed would interest me now, while I am so much absorbed in these speculations. This day sometimes about one letter, but generally about language itself. Looked over Jones's Greek Grammar, but soon saw that he was far enough from the bottom of the subject.
16-20. Still about the same letter, but know nothing about it.
21. (Sunday.) Anchored in Muscat cove; the work and confusion which this occasioned, prevented our having divine service.
22. Landed at Muscat with L-------and walked through the bazaar; we wished to ascend one of the hills in the neighbourhood, but on the native guards expressing disapprobation, we desisted.
Muscat, April 22, 1811.
MY DEAREST LYDIA,
I am now in Arabia Felix; to judge from the aspect of the country it has little pretensions to the name, unless burning barren rocks convey an idea of felicity; but perhaps as there is a promise in reserve for the sons of Joktan, their land may one day be blest indeed.
We sailed from Bombay on Lady-day; and on the morning of Easter saw the land of Mekran in Persia. After another week's sail across the mouth of the Gulf, we arrived here, and expect to proceed up the Gulf to Bushire, as soon as we have taken in our water. You will be happy to learn that the murderous pirates against whom we were sent, having received notice of our approach, are all got out of the way, so that I am no longer liable to be shot in a battle, or to decapitation after it, if it be lawful to judge from appearances. These pestilent Ishmaelites indeed, whose hand is against every man's, will escape, and the community suffer, but that selfish friendship of which you once confessed yourself guilty, will think only of the preservation of a friend. This last marine excursion has been the pleasantest I ever made, as I have been able to pursue my studies with less interruption than when ashore. My little congregation of forty or fifty Europeans does not try my strength on Sundays; and my two companions are men who read their bible every day. In addition to all these comforts, I have to bless God for having kept me more than usually free from the sorrowful mind. We must not always say with Watts, "the sorrows of the mind be banished from the place;" but if freedom from trouble be offered us, we may choose it rather. I do not know any thing more delightful than to meet with a Christian brother, where only strangers and foreigners were expected. This pleasure I enjoyed just before leaving Bombay; a ropemaker who had just come from England, understood from my sermon that I was one he might speak to, so he came and opened his heart, and we rejoiced together. In this ship I find another of the household of faith. In another ship which accompanies us there are two Armenians who do nothing hut read the Testament. One of them will I hope accompany me to Shiraz in Persia, which is his native country.
We are likely to be detained here some days, but the ship that will carry our letters to India sails immediately, so that I can send but one letter to England, and one to Calcutta. When will our correspondence be established? I have been trying to effect it these six years, and it is only yet in train. Why there was no letter from you in those dated June and July 1810, I cannot conjecture, except that you had not received any of mine, and would write no more. But I am not yet without hopes that a letter in the beloved hand will yet overtake me somewhere. My kindest and most affectionate remembrances to all the Western circle. Is it because he is your brother that I love-------so much? or because he is the last come into the number? The angels love and wait upon the righteous who need no repentance; but there is joy whenever another heir of salvation is born into the family. Read Eph. i. I cannot wish you all these spiritual blessings, since they already are all yours; but I pray that we may have the spirit of wisdom and knowledge to know that they are ours. It is a chapter I keep in mind every day in prayer. We cannot believe too much or hope too much. Happy our eyes that they see, and our ears that they hear.
As it may be a year or more before I shall be back, you may direct one letter after receiving this, if it be not of a very old date, to Bombay, all after to Bengal, as usual. Believe me to be ever, my dearest Lydia, Your most affectionate,
23. Went ashore at night with the Captain to the Indian broker's, at whose house we met the Arzir. There was an unimportant conference at which I acted as interpreter.
Muscat, April 23, 1811.
I left India on Lady-day, looked at Persia on Easter Sunday, and seven days after found myself in Arabia Felix. In a small cove, surrounded by bare rocks, heated through, out of the reach of air as well as wind, lies the good ship Benares, in the great cabin of which, stretched on a couch, lie I. But though weak I am well--relaxed but not disordered. Praise to his grace who fulfils to me a promise which I have scarcely a right to claim--" I am with thee and will keep thee in all places whether thou goest." My voyage from Bombay hither has been most agreeable. My companions in the cabin, namely the Captain and his cousin a Captain of Artillery, let me expound to them every night, and read the Bible themselves. On Sundays we have 40 or 50 Europeans at church on the quarter-deck. There are just enough to animate me without exhausting my strength. All the wray I have been as usual, Hebraizing, indeed, I must make the same complaint of my mind that Anacreon does of his harp. He struck one string and the harp replied from another. I resolve to read Arabic and Persian, but, or ever I am aware, I am thinking about Hebrew. I have translated Psalm xvi. and but for one part which wants more support than I can yet find for it, I should have sent it to that obstinate lover of antiquity, the Rev. T. Thomason, whose potent touch has dissolved so many of my fabrics heretofore, that I do not like to submit any thing to him which is not proof. With my kindest love to him, tell him that I cannot write now. He directed me to remember first our beloved Daniel in the north, and if I have time I will; but the ship which carries this to Bombay sails immediately.
Last night I went ashore for the first time with Captain Lockett; we walked through the bazaar, and up the hill, but saw nothing but what was Indian or worse. The Imaun or Sultan is about thirty miles off, fighting, it is said, for his kingdom, with the Wahabees. You will be happy to learn that the pirates whom we were to scourge, are got out of our way, so that I may now hope to get safe through the Gulf without being made to witness the bloody scenes of war.
From Bushire, where my land journey commences, you may expect to hear again; till then, believe me to be ever,
Yours most affectionately
To the Rev. D. Brown.
24. Went with one English party, and two Armenians, and an Arab, who served as guard and guide, to see a remarkable pass about a mile from the town, and a garden planted by a Hindoo, in a little valley beyond. There was nothing to see, only the little bit of green in this wilderness seemed to the Arabs a great curiosity. I conversed a good deal with him, but particularly with his African slave, who was very intelligent about religion. The latter knew as much about his religion as most mountaineers, and withal was so interested, that he would not cease from his argument till I left the shore.
Muscat, April 24.
I rejoice that an unexpected detention of the ship going to Bombay enables me to assure you of my unceasing regard, and to make inquiries about the men whom you are taking care of for me. May I hear of their affairs, that they stand fast and have their conversation as becometh the Gospel of Christ! I have now to write to my friends in India. I quitted that country on Lady-day. We stood out directly to the westward, and lost sight of land that night. For the first two or three days I was more than usually ill, but the rest of the passage compensated for the unpleasantness of the beginning. Smooth waters and light airs left me at liberty to pursue my studies as uninterruptedly as if I were on shore; and more so, as my companions in the great cabin being sufficient company for each other, and studious and taciturn withal, seldom break my repose. Every day, all day long, I Hebraize. On Sundays we have had a good congregation, about fifty Europeans; many of whom, however, are foreigners. The carpenter is a methodist, lately from Gosport. My attention was called to him from observing his disrespectful behaviour and extraordinary loquacity. Thinking, I suppose, that there was no one on board who knew what practice became his principles, he gave way to his tempers more freely. Lately he has become more consistent. My captain and his cousin, a captain of artillery, are such sort of men as I have not often met with. They do not seem to feel at all in religion, never speak about it, nor discover any interest in what I say to them. Yet except when they are at their lunars they read their Bible with a paraphrase, and pray at nights, and avoid every thing immoral in conversation. On Easter day we came in sight of Tiz: the whole coast was rock et prseterea nihil: no appearance of animated or vegetable nature. The Sunday after, we entered this cove. So I am now with Sabat's amiable countrymen. Monday night
I went ashore with------, who is going to Bagdad. We went through the bazaar, and mounted a hill to look at it, but saw nothing but what was hideous. The town and houses are more mean and filthy than any in India, and in all the environs of the place, I counted three trees, date-trees I suppose. The Iman or Sultan is about two or three days off, fighting with the Wahabees for his kingdom. About five thousand of them came a few days ago, and sacked one of his towns, which is now in our sight. He is aided by another Arab king, but victory always declares for the Wahabees. The Iman of Muscat murdered his uncle, and sits on the throne in the place of his elder brother, who is here a cypher. Last night the captain went ashore to a council of state, to consider the relations subsisting between the government of Bombay and these mighty chieftains. I attended as interpreter. The Company's agent is an old Hindoo who could not get off his bed. An old man in whom pride and stupidity seemed to contend for empire, sat opposite to him. This was the Wazeer. Between them sat 1, opposite to me the captain. The Wazeer uttered something in Arabic, not one word of which could I understand. The old Hindoo explained in Persian, for he has almost forgot his Hindoo, and I to the captain in English. We are all impatient to get away from this place. Through God's mercy I am tolerably well, but have lost the greatest part of every night's sleep since I have been here; at this time the smoke from the galley is trying to suffocate and blind me, but all shall not prevent me from exerting myself amongst you in the form of a letter.
25. See Mem. p. 348.
26. The weather is again temperate, and we are recovering; the thermometer, which at Muscat was 92° at night has sunk to 84°. Came in sight of the Persian shore.
28. (Sunday.) At anchor in Jasques bay, which was to be surveyed. Preached on 2 Peter iii. 11.
29, 30. May I--4. Still surveying the coast, and scarcely moving on.
5. (Sunday.) Captain and surveyor, with a boatfull of Europeans being ashore, we had but a small congregation. Preached on, "How long halt ye between, two opinions," &c.
6. Weighed, and stood out from this place, where we have been a week; much cast down through a sinful propensity, which I little thought was in me at all, till occasion manifested its existence.
7. Finished a work which I had much at heart, and which from the delight with which I pursued it, took me but a fortnight, namely, making a new arrangement of all the Hebrew roots, classing them according to last letter, last but one, &c. Resumed the consideration of [Hebrew text] and its compounds, and continued at this work many hours, in addition to the many days I have given to the consideration of it, but with little success.
8. Came over to the Arabian shore again.
9-11. From the time we entered the Gulf of Persia, we have had a north-wester. I was sick of course, and could do little or nothing. About my Hebrew studies I am almost in despair; my disappointment at want of success is a real trial to me. But blessed be God, no ignorance in natural things shall disqualify for communion with him here, or the enjoyment of him hereafter.
12. (Sunday.) Preached from "Behold I stand at the door and knock," &c. We were between Pohir island and the coast of Persia.
13-18. Most of the time tossed about by a northwester, in consequence of which, the time passed very heavily and unprofitably. But suffering the will of God is as a necessary part of spiritual discipline, as doing, and much more trying.
19. (Sunday.) Preached to the ship's company on John iii. 3. My thoughts so much on Lydia, whose old letter I had been reading the day before, that I had a sense of guilt for having neglected the proper duties of the day.
20. We have now a fair wind, carrying us gently to Bushire.
22. Finished the syllabus of Ecclesiastical History, which I have been making all the voyage, and extracts from Mosheim concerning the eastern church.
21. Landed at Bushire this morning in good health; how unceasing are the mercies of the Lord: blessed be his goodness, may he still preserve me from danger, and above all, make my journey a source of future good to this kingdom of Persia, into which I am now come. We were hospitably received by the acting resident. In the evening I walked out by the sea-side to recollect myself, to review the past, and look forward to the future.
23. Rode out with a party in the evening, or rather in the afternoon, for the heat of the sun made me ill.
24. The Governor called on us; also the Armenian priest; received an answer from the ambassador, Sir Gore Ouseley, to a letter I sent him from Muscat.
25. I showed Hosyn, an Arab, the most learned man here, a passage in the New Testament, according to the four versions of Erpenius, English, Polyglot, andSabat. He condemned the three first, but said immediately of Sabat's, this is good, very good. He read out a chapter, (Matt, v.) in fine style, quoting parallel passages as he went along; in short, he gave it unqualified commendation. I then showed him Persian of Polyglot, which he condemned of course; then Sabat's Persic, which he said was nearly the same; Sabat's Persian he thought much superior, though there were some parts that betrayed the Indian. I asked him whether there were not too many Arabic words, he said, No, Arabic words were much used, and often more intelligible than the Persian. I asked him to translate a chapter himself into good Persian, which he consented to do, But, said he, give me this version to translate from; laying his hands on Sabat's. In the evening called with the two captains, the Resident, and the captain of his guard, on the Governor. In consequence of a letter I brought for him from General Malcolm, he was very particular in his attentions, seated me on his own seat, and then sat by my side apart from the rest, &c. See Mem. p. 351. I observed that a Christian was not allowed to enter a mosque; he said, ' No,-- do you wish to hear the prayers? ' I said, No, but the preaching, if there is any; he said there were no preachers except at Yazd.
26. (Sunday.) The Europeans assembled for divine service, which was performed at the President's. I preached on 1 Cor. xv. "For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet," &c. In the evening I went, at the Padre's request, to the Armenian church. There was the same disagreeable succession of unmeaning ceremonies, and noisy chants, as at Bombay. I was introduced within the rails, and at the time of incense, I was censed, as the Padre afterwards desired me to observe, four times, whereas the laity have the honour done them but once. I asked the old man what was meant by burning incense. He said, it was in imitation of the wise men of the east, who offered incense to Christ; I told him, why then do you not offer myrrh, and gold; to this he made no reply. Walking afterwards with him by the sea-side, I tried to get into a conversation suitable to our profession as ministers, speaking particularly of the importance of the charge entrusted to us. Nothing could be more vapid and mean than his remarks.
27. Very ill, from head-ache and overpowering sleepiness, arising, as I suppose, from a stroke of the sun. As often as I attempted to read, I fell asleep, and awoke in weakness and pain. How easily may existence be embittered, still I will say, "not my will, but thine be done." In the evening a Jewish goldsmith called with a fine boy, who read the Hebrew fluently. Grief has marked the countenance of the eastern Jews, in a way that makes them indescribably interesting. I could have wept while looking at them. O Lord, how long? Wilt thine anger burn for ever--is not justice yet satisfied? This afflicted people are as much oppressed in Persia as ever. Their women are not allowed to veil, as all others are required to do; hence, if there be one more than ordinarily beautiful, she is soon known, and a Khan or the King sends for her, makes her a Mahometan, and puts her into the harem. As soon as he is tired, she is given to another, and then to another, till she becomes the property of the most menial servant; such is the degradation to which the daughters of Israel are subjected.
28. Through the infinite and unmerited goodness of God, I am again restored, and able to do something in the way of reading. The president gave us some account this evening of the moral state of Persia. It is enough to make one shudder. If God rained down fire upon Sodom and Gomorrha, how is it that this nation is not blotted out from under heaven. I do not remember to have heard such things of the Hindoos, except the Seiks; they seem to rival the Mahometans.
30. Our Persian dresses being ready, we set off this evening for Shiraz. Our kafila consisted of about thirty horses and mules; some carrying things to the ambassador, the rest for our servants and luggage; the animal for my use was a yaboo or riding poney, a mule for my trunks, and one for my servant Zechariah, an Armenian of Ispahan. It was a fine moonlight night, about ten o'clock, when we marched out of the gate of Bushire, and began to make our way over the plain. Mr. B., who accompanied me a little way, soon returned. Captain T. went on, intending to accompany us to Shiraz. This was the first time we had any of us put off the European, and the novelty of our situation supplied us with many subjects for conversation for about two hours; when we began to flag and grow sleepy, and the Kafila was pretty quiet, one of the muleteers on foot began to sing: he sang with a voice so plaintive, that it was impossible not to have one's attention arrested. At the end of the first tune he paused, and nothing was heard but the tinkling of the bells, attached to the necks of the mules, every voice was hushed. The first line was enough for me, and I dare say it set many others thinking of their absent friends. "Without thee my heart can attach itself to none." It is what I have often felt on setting out on a journey. The friends left behind so absorb the thoughts, that the things by the way-side are seen without interest, and the conversation of strangers is insipid. But perhaps the first line, as well as the rest, is only a promise of fidelity, though I did not take it in that sense when I first heard it. The following is perhaps the true translation.
Think not that e'er my heart can dwell,
Contented far from thee,
How can the fresh-caught nightingale
Forsake not then thy friend for might
That slanderous tongues can say.
The heart that fixes where it ought,
No power can rend away.
Thus we went on, and as often as the Kafila by their dulness and sleepiness seemed to require it, or perhaps to keep himself awake, he entertained the company and himself with a song-. We met two or three other Kafilas taking advantage of the night to get on. My loquacious servant Zachary took care to ask every one whence they came, and by that means sometimes got an answer which raised a laugh against him, &c. See Memoir, p. 356-361, for the Journal to June 9.
June 9. (Sunday.) By day-light we found ourselves in the plain of Shiraz. We went to the halting-place outside the walls of the city, but found it occupied; however, after some further delay, we were admitted with our servants into another; as for the Kafila we saw no more of it. The ambassador, Sir Gore Ouseley, was encamped near us; Sir William and Major D'Arcy, and Dr. Sharp, called on us, but I did not see the two first, being asleep at the time. In the evening we dined with his Excellency, who gave us a general invitation to his table. Returned to our garden where we slept.
10. Went this morning to Jaffier Ali Khan's, to whom we had letters from General Malcolm, and with whom we are to take up our abode. After the long and tedious ceremony of coffee and caleans, breakfast made its appearance on two large trays: curry, pilaws, various sweets, cooled with snow, and perfumed with rose-water, were served in great profusion in china plates and basins, a few wooden spoons beautifully carved; but being in a Persian dress, and on the ground, I thought it high time to throw off the European, and so ate with my hands. After breakfast Jaffier took me to a summer-house in his garden, where his brother-in-law met us, for the purpose of a conversazione. From something I had thrown out at breakfast about Sabat, and accident, he was curious to know what were our opinions on these subjects. He then began to explain his own sentiments on Soofeism, of which it appeared he was a passionate admirer. Tie spoke so indistinctly, and with such volubility, that I did not well comprehend him, but gathered from his discourse that we are all parts of the Deity. I observed that we had not these opinions in Europe, but understood that they were parts of the Brahminic system. On my asking him for the foundation of his opinions, he said the first argument he was prepared to bring forward was this, God exists, man also exists, but existence is not two-fold, therefore God and man are of the same nature. The minor I disputed; he defended it with many words. I replied by objecting the consequences, Is there no difference between right and wrong? There appeared a difference, he said, to us, but before God it was nothing. The waves of the sea, are so many aspects and forms, but it is still but one and the same water. In the outset he spoke with great contempt of all revelation. You know, said he, that in the law and Koran, &c. it is said, God created heaven and the earth, &c. Reverting to this, I asked whether these opinions were agreeable to what the prophets had spoken. Perceiving me to be not quite philosophical enough for him, he pretended some little reverence for them, spoke of them as good men, &c. but added that there was no evidence for their truth, but what was traditionary. I asked whether there was any thing unreasonable in God's making a revelation of his will?--he said, No. Whether a miracle for that purpose was not necessary, at least useful, and therefore credible? He granted it. Was not evidence from testimony, rational evidence? Yes. Have you then rational evidence for the religion of Mahomet? He said the division of the moon was generally brought forward, but he saw no sufficient evidence for believing it; he mentioned the Koran with some hesitation, as if conscious that it would not stand as a miracle. I said eloquence depended upon opinion, it was no miracle for any but Arabs, and that some one may yet rise up and write better. He allowed the force of the objection, and said, the Persians were very far from thinking the eloquence of the Koran miraculous, however the Arabs might think so. The last observation he made was, that it was impossible not to think well of one, by whose example and instructions, others had become great and good; though therefore little was known of Mahomet, he must have been something, to have formed such men as Ali. Here the conversation ceased. I told them in the course of our conversation, that according to our histories, the law and gospel had been translated into Persian before the time of Mahomet. He said they were not to be found, because Omar in his ignorant zeal had probably destroyed them. He spoke with great contempt of the ' Arab asses.'
11. Breakfasted at Anius with some of the Embassy, and went with them afterwards to a glass-house and pottery. Afterwards called on Mr. Morier, secretary to the Embassy, Major D'Arcy, and Sir W. Ouseley. Our host, Jaffier Ali Khan, gave us a good deal of information this evening, about this country and government. He used to sit for hours with the king at Tetuan telling him about India and the English.
12. Employed about journal, writing letters, reading Gulistan, but excessively indolent. In the morning I enjoyed much comfort in prayer. What a privilege to have a God to go to, in such a place, and in such company. To read and pray at leisure, seemed like coming home after being long abroad. Psalm Ixxxix. was a rich repast to me. Why is it not always thus with me?
13. Seyd Ali breakfasted with us. Looking at one of the plates in Hutton's Mathematical Dictionary, where there was a figure of a fountain produced by the rarefaction of the air, he inquired into the principle of it, which I explained; he disputed the principle, and argued for the exploded idea that nature abhors a vacuum. We soon got upon religion again. I shewed him some verses in the Koran, in which Mahomet disclaims the power of working miracles. He could not reply. We talked again on the evidence of testimony. The oldest book written by a Mahometan was the sermons of Ali. Allowing these sermons to be really his, I objected to his testimony for Mahomet, because he was interested in the support of that religion. I asked him the meaning of a contested passage; he gave the usual explanation; but as soon as the servants were gone, he turned round and said, it is only to make a rhyme. This conversation seemed to be attended with good. Our amiable host Jaffier Ali, Mirza Jan, and Seyd Ali seemed to be delighted with my arguments against Mahomedanism, and did not at last evince a wish to defend it. In the evening Jaffier Ali came and talked most agreeably on religious subjects, respecting the obvious tendency of piety and impiety, and the end to which they would lead in a future world. One of his remarks was, If I am in love with any one I shall dream of her at night, her image will meet me in my sleep. Now death is but a sleep, if therefore I love God, or Christ, when I fall asleep in death I shall meet him, so also if I love Satan or his works. He could wish, he said, if he had not a wife and children, to go and live on the top of a mountain, so disgusted was he with the world and its concerns. I told him this was the first suggestion in the minds of devotees in all religions, but that in reality it was not the way to escape the pollution of the world, because a man's wicked heart will go with him to the top of a mountain. It is the grace of God changing the heart, which will alone raise us above the world. Christ commands his people to "abide in him;" this is the secret source of fruitfulness, without which they are as branches cut off from the tree. He asked whether there was no mention of a prophet's coming after Christ. I said, No. Why then, said he, was any mention made of Ahmed in the Koran. He said, One day an English gentleman said to me, 'I believe that Christ was no better than myself." Why then, said I, you are worse than a Mahometan.'
Shiraz, June 23, 1811.
MY DEAREST LYDIA,
How continually I think of you, and indeed converse with you, it is impossible to say. But on the Lord's day in particular, I find you much in my thoughts, because it is on that day that I look abroad, and take a view of the universal church, of which I observe that the saints in England form the most conspicuous part. On that day too, I indulge myself with a view of the past, and look over again those happy days, when in company with those I loved, I went up to the house of God with a voice of praise. How then should I fail to remember her who, of all that are dear to me, is the dearest. It is true that I cannot look back upon many days, nor even many hours passed with you;--would they had been more;--but we have insensibly become more acquainted with each other, so that, on my part at least, it may be said that separation has brought us nearer to one another. It was a momentary interview, but the love is lasting, everlasting. Whether we ever meet again or not, I am sure that you will continue to feel an interest in all that befals me.
After the death of my dear sister, you bid me consider that I had one sister left while you remained; and you cannot imagine how consolatory to my mind this assurance is. To know that there is one who is willing to think of me, and has leisure to do so, is soothing to a degree, that none can know but those who have, like me, lost all their relations.
I sent you a letter from Muscat in Arabia, which I hope you received; for if not, report will again erase my name from the catalogue of the living, as I sent no other to Europe. Let me here say with praise to our ever-gracious heavenly Father, that I am in perfect health; of my spirits I cannot say much; I fancy they would be better were ' the beloved Persis' by my side. This name, which I once gave you, occurs to me at this 'moment, I suppose because I am in Persia, entrenched in one of its vallies, separated from Indian friends by chains of mountains and a roaring sea, among a people depraved beyond all belief, in the power of a tyrant guilty of every species of atrocity. Imagine a pale person seated on a Persian carpet, in a room without table or chair, with a pair of formidable mustachios, and habited as a Persian, and you see me.
26. Here I expect to remain six months. The reason is this, I found on my arrival here, that our attempts at Persian translation in India were good for nothing; at the same time they proposed, with my assistance, to make a new translation. It was an offer I could not refuse, as they speak the purest dialect of the Persian. My host is a man of rank, his name Jaffier Ali Khan, who tries to make the period of my captivity as agreeable as possible. His wife, for he has but one, never appears; parties of young ladies come to see her, but though they stay days in the house, he dare not go into the room where they are. Without intending a compliment to your sex, I must say that the society here, from the exclusion of females, is as dull as it can well be. Perhaps, however, to a stranger like myself, the most social circles would be insipid. I am visited by all the great and the learned; the former come out of respect to my country, the latter to my profession. The conversation with the latter is always upon religion, and it would be strange indeed, if with the armour of truth on the right hand and on the left, I were not able to combat with success, the upholders of such a system of absurdity and sin. As the Persians are a far more unprejudiced and inquisitive people than the Indians, and do not stand quite so much in awe of an Englishman, as the timid natives of Hindoostan, I hope they will learn something from me; the hope of this reconciles me to the necessity imposed on me of staying here; about the translation I dare not be sanguine. The prevailing opinion concerning me is, that I have repaired to Shiraz in order to become a Mussulman. Others, more sagacious, say that I shall bring from India some more, under pretence of making them Mussulmans, but in reality, to seize the place. They do not seem to have thought of my wish, to have them converted to my religion; they have been so long accustomed to remain without proselytes to their own. I shall probably have very little to write about, for some months to come, and therefore I reserve the extracts of my journal since I last wrote to you, for some other opportunity, besides that the ambassador, with whose dispatches this will go, is just leaving Shiraz.
July 2. The Mahomedans now come in such numbers to visit me, that I am obliged, for the sake of my translation-work, to decline seeing them. To-day one of the apostate sons of Israel was brought by a party of them, to prove the divine mission of Mahommed from the Hebrew Scriptures, but with all his sophistry he proved nothing. I can almost say with St. Paul, I feel continual pity in my heart for them, and love them for their fathers' sake, and find a pleasure in praying for them. While speaking of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, I observed that the "gospel of the kingdom must first be preached in all the world, and then shall the end come." He replied with a sneer, ' And this event, I suppose you mean to say, is beginning to take place by your bringing the gospel to Persia.'
5. I am so incessantly occupied with visitors and my work, that I have hardly a moment for myself. I have more and more reason to rejoice at my being sent here, there is such an extraordinary stir about religion throughout the city, that some good must come of it. I sometimes sigh for a little Christian communion, yet even from these Mahomedans I hear remarks that do me good; to-day, for instance, my assistant observed, ' how he loved those twelve persons;' yes, said I, and not those twelve only, but all those who shall believe in him, as he said, "I pray not for them alone, but for all them who shall believe on me through their word." Even the enemy is constrained to wonder at the love of Christ. Shall not the object of it say, what manner of love is this? I have learned that I may get letters from England much sooner than by way of India. Be so good as to direct to me, to the care of Sir Gore Ouseley, Bart., Ambassador at Tehran, care of J. Morier, Esq. Constantinople, care of G. Moon, Esq. Malta. I have seen Europe newspapers of only four months date, so that I am delightfully near you. May we live near one another in the unity of the Spirit, having one Lord, one hope, one God and Father. In your prayers for me, pray that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mysteries of the gospel. I often envy my Persian hearers the freedom and eloquence with which they speak to me. Were I but possessed of their powers, I sometimes think that I should win them all; but the work is God's, and the faith of his people does not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Remember me as usual with the most unfeigned affection to all my dear friends. This is now the seventh letter I send you, without having received an answer.
Ever most affectionately,
Shiraz, June 24, 1811.
The poetical region from which I now write will lead you to imagine that I am in extasies, and think and dream only of Gool and Bulbul, (roses and nightingales,) but so it is, that Sir G, O., who is now here, and is a far greater enthusiast in Persian than I ever wish to be, is, as well as myself, completely disgusted with the land of Pars, and with the men thereof. The unfavourable impression which has been made upon my mind prompts me to say nothing of Persia but what is evil, but on farther consideration I am inclined to pity them. As for their wickedness and misery, it is only human nature unveiled, its depravity heightened perhaps by the superstition under which they groan. A few days after my letter to you from Muscat. &c. See Memoir,
Shiraz, June 24, 1811. DEAREST SIR,
I believe I told you that the advanced state of the season rendered it necessary to go to Arabia circuitously by way of Persia. Behold me therefore in the Athens of Fars, the haunt of the Persian man. Beneath are the ashes of Hafir and Sadi; above, green gardens and running waters, roses and nightingales.
Does Mr. Bird envy my lot? Let him solace himself with Aldeen. How gladly would I give him Shiraz for Aldeen; how often while toiling through this miserable country have I sighed for Aldeen. If I am ever permitted to see India again, nothing but dire necessity, or the imperious call of duty, will ever induce me to travel again.
One thing is good here, the fruit; we have apples and apricots, plumbs, nectarines, greengages and cherries, all of which are served up with ice and snow. When I have said this for Shiraz, I have said all.
But to have done with what grows out of the soil, let us come to the men. The Persians are like ourselves immortal; their language has passed a long way beyond the limits of Iran. The men of Shiraz propose to translate the New Testament with me. Can I refuse to stay?
After much deliberation, I have determined to remain here six months. It is sorely against my will, but I feel it to be a duty. From all that I can collect there appears no probability of our ever having a good translation made out of Persia. At Bombay I shewed Moollah Feeroz, the most learned man there, the three Persian translations, viz. the Polyglott, and Sabat's two. He disapproved of them all. At Bushire, which is in Persia, the man of the greatest name was Seid Hosyn. Of the three he liked Sabat's Persian best, but said it seemed written by an Indian. On my arrival at this place I produced my specimens once more. Sabat's Persian was much ridiculed; sarcastic remarks were made on the fondness for fine words so remarkable in the Indians, who seemed to think that hard words made fine writing. His Persic also was presently thrown aside, and to my no small surprise the old despised Polyglott was not only spoken of as superior to the rest, hut it was asked, What fault is found in this?--this is the language we speak. The king has also signified, that it is his wish that as little Arabic as possible may be employed in the papers presented to him. So that simple Persian is likely to become more and more fashionable. This is a change favourable certainly to our glorious cause. To the poor the Gospel will be preached. We began our work with the Gospel of St. John, and five chapters are put out of hand. It is likely to be the simplest thing imaginable; and I dare say the pedantic Arab will turn up his nose at it; but what the men of Shiraz approve who can gainsay? Let Sabat confine himself to the Arabic, and he will accomplish a great work. The fore-mentioned Seid Hosyn of Bushire is an Arab. I shewed him Erpenius's Arabic Testament, the Christian Knowledge Society's, Sabat's, andthePolyglott. After rejecting all but Sabat's, he said this is good, very good, and then read off the 5th of Matthew in a fine style, giving it unqualified commendation as he went along. On my proposing to him to give a specimen of what he thought the best Persian style, he consented; hut, said he, give me this to translate from, laying his hand on Sabat's Arabic. At Muscat an Arab officer who had attended us as guard and guide, one day when we walked into the country, came on board with his slave to take leave of us. The slave, who had argued with me very strenuously in favour of his religion, reminded me of a promise I had made him of giving him the Gospel. On my producing an Arabic New Testament, he seized it and began to read away upon deck, but presently stopped, and said it was not fine Arabic. However, he carried off the book.
The Governor of Shiraz is one of the princes. The ambassador, Sir Gore Ouseley, who is here on his way to Tehran, offered to take me to court a few days ago, but as it was Sunday I declined going. It will be proper however that I should be acknowledged by him, and I shall therefore accompany his suite the next time they pay a visit. Sir Gore said of himself that he should take care to commend me to the prince and his ministers before he went away, offered to assist me in my inquiries by taking a list of queries with him, and promised me a guard if I would let him know my intended route.
Now, good Sir, seeing that I am to remain six months in captivity, comfort me with a letter now and then, a Christian Observer, or an Evangelical Magazine, and direct to the care of------Bruce, Esq. Resident, Bushire. I have nothing to assist me in the translation: no commentator or annotator,--a just judgment upon me, Thomason will say, for my want of respect for that learned body, perhaps you may be able to send me the little French Testament.
My kindest remembrances to Mrs. Brown and her children, Mrs. Thomason and her's; Udneys, Hamptons, Myers, Edmund, Forsythe, Marshman, &c. For the particulars of my journey here I must refer you to a letter I have written to Corrie, if you think it worth while to send for it. My M.S.S. on "Grace Reigns," would be acceptable, for if not I must write on that text again, which takes time.
24. Went early this morning to the Jewish Synagogue with Jaffier AH Khan. At the sight of a Mahometan of such rank, the chief person stopped the service and came to the door to bring us in. He then shewed us the little room where the copies of the law were kept. He said there were no old ones but at Bagdad and Jerusalem; he had a printed copy with the Targum, printed at Leghorn. The only European letters in it were the words "con approbazione" of which he was anxious to know the meaning. The congregation consisted chiefly of little boys, most of whom had the Psalter. I felt much distressed that the worship of the God of Israel was not there, and therefore I did not ask many questions. When he found I could read Hebrew, he was very curious to know who I might be, and asked my name. I told him Ahdool Museeh, in hopes that he would ask more, but he did not, setting me down, I suppose, as a Mahomedan.
25. Every day I hear stories of these bloody Tartars. They allow no Christian, not even a soonnie to enter their country, except in very particular cases, such as merchants with a pass; but never allow one to return to Persia if they catch him; they argue, if we suffer this creature to go back, he will become the father of other infidels, and thus infidelity will spread: so, for the sake of God and his prophet, let us kill him. About 150 years ago, the men of Bokhara made an insidious attempt to obtain a confession from the people of Mushed that they were Shias. · Their Mouluwees begged to know what evidence they had for the Cali-phat of Ali. But the men of Mushed, aware of their purpose, said, We Shias! no, we acknowledge thee for friends. But the Moollahs of Bokhara were not satisfied with this confession, and three of them deliberated together on what ought to be done. One said it is all hypocrisy, they must be killed. The other said, No, if all be killed, we shall kill some soonnies. The third said, if any can prove that their ancestors have ever been soonnies, they shall be saved, but not else. Another rejoined, that from being so long with Shias, their faith could not be pure, and so it was better to kill them. To this another agreed, observing that though it was no sin before men to let them live, he who spared them must be answerable for it to God. When the three bloody inquisitors had determined on the destruction of the Shia city, they gave the signal, and 150,000 Tartars marched down and put all to the sword.
26. We were to-day, according to our expectation, just about setting off for Ispahan, when Mirza Ibrahim returning, gave us information that the Tartars and Curds had made an irruption into Persia, and that the whole Persian army was on its march to Kermanshah to meet them. Thus our road is impassable. I wrote instantly to the Ambassador, to know what he would advise, and the minister sent off an express with it. Mirza Ibrahim, after reading my answer, had nothing to reply, but made such a remark as I did not expect from a man of his character, namely, that he was sufficiently satisfied the Koran was a miracle, though he had failed to convince me. Thus my labour is lost, except it be with the Lord. I have now lost all hope of ever convincing Mahomedans by argument. The most rational, learned, unprejudiced, charitable men confessedly in the whole town, cannot escape from the delusion. I know not what to do but to pray for them. I had some warm conversation with Seid Ali on his infidelity. I asked him what he wanted. Was there any one thing on earth, of the same antiquity, as well attested as the miracles, &c. of Christianity. He confessed not, but he did not know the reason he could not believe: perhaps it was levity and the love of the world, or the power of Satan, but he had no faith at all. He could not believe even in a future state. He asked at the end, Why all this earnestness. I said, For fear you should remain in hell for ever. He was affected, and said no more.
27. The Prime Minister sent me as a present, four mules-load of melons from Carzeroom. Seid Ali reading the second chapter of St. Matthew, where the star is said to go before the wise men, asked; Then what do you say to that, after what you were proving yesterday about the stars. I said, It was not necessary to suppose it was one of those heavenly bodies; any meteor that had the appearance of a star was sufficient for the purpose, and equally miraculous. Then why call it a star? Because the magi called it so, for this account was undoubtedly received from them. Philosophers still talk of a falling star, though every one knows that it is not a star.
September 1. (Sunday.) Expecting to go off at night with L------to Bushire, as he had a mihmander, I had rather a disturbed Sabbath from the calls of different people, but was in general blest with peace of mind and self-possession. I abandoned the design of going with him when I found he meant to travel double stages, so as to be there in five days. This I considered as too great a, trial of my strength, especially as there was no object in view.
2-6. At Mirza Ibrahim's request we are employed in making out a proof of the divine mission of Moses and Jesus. He fancies that my arguments against Mahomedanism are equally applicable against these two: and that as I triumphed when acting on the offensive, I shall be as weak as he when I act on the defensive.
7-11. Employed much the same; daily disputes with Jaffier Ali Khan about the Trinity; if they may be called disputes, in which I bring forward no arguments, but calmly refer them to the Holy Scriptures. They distress and perplex themselves without measure, and I enjoy a peace, as respects these matters, which passeth understanding. There is no passage that so frequently occurs to me now as this: "They shall be all taught of God, and great shall be the peace of thy children." I have this testimony that I have been taught of God.
Shiraz, Sept. 8, 1811.
A courier on his way to the capital, affords me the unexpected pleasure of addressing my most beloved friend. It is now six months since I left India, and in all that time I have not heard from thence. The dear friends there, happy in each other's society, do not enough call to mind my forlorn condition. Here I am still, beset by cavilling infidels, and making very little progress in my translation, and half disposed to give it up, and come away. My kind host, to relieve the tedium of being always within a walled town, pitched a tent for me in a garden a little distance, and there I lived amidst clusters of grapes, by the side of a clear stream, but nothing compensates for the loss of the excellent of the earth. It is my business, however, as you will say, and ought to be my effort, to make saints, where I cannot find them. I do use the means in a certain way, but frigid reasoning with men of perverse minds, seldom brings men to Christ. However, as they require it, I reason, and accordingly challenged them to prove the divine mission of their prophet. In consequence of this, a learned Arabic Treatise was written by one, who was considered as the most able man, and put into my hands; copies of it were also given to the college and the learned. The writer of it said that if I could give a satisfactory answer to it, he would become a Christian, and at all events, would make my reply as public as I pleased. I did answer it, and after some faint efforts on his part to defend himself, he acknowledged the force of my arguments, but was afraid to let them be generally known. He then began to inquire about the gospel, but was not satisfied with my statement. He required me to prove from the very beginning, the divine mission of Moses, as well as of Christ; the truth of the Scriptures, &c. With very little hope that any good will come of it, I am now employed in drawing out the evidences of the truth; but oh, that I could converse and reason, and plead, with power from on high. How powerless are the best-directed arguments, till the Holy Ghost renders them effectual.
A few days ago I was just on the eve of my departure for Ispahan, as I thought, and my translator had consented to accompany me as far as Bagdad, but just as we were setting out, news came that the Persians and Turks were fighting thereabouts, and that the road was in consequence impassable. I do not know what the Lord's purpose may be in keeping me here, but I trust it will be for the furtherance of the gospel of Christ, and in that belief I abide contentedly.
My last letter to you was dated July. I desired you to direct to me at Tehran. As it is uncertain whether I shall pass anywhere near there; you had better direct to the care of S. Morier, Esq. Constantinople, and I can easily get your letters from thence.
I am happy to say that I am quite well, indeed never better; no returns of pain in the chest since I left India. May I soon receive the welcome news, that you also are well, and prospering even as your soul prospers. I read your letters incessantly, and try to find out something new, as I generally do, but I begin to look with pain at the distant date of the last. I cannot tell what to think, but I cast all my care upon him who hath already done wonders for me, and am sure that come what will, it shall be good, it shall be best. How sweet the privilege, that we may lie as little children before him. I find that my wisdom is folly, and my care useless, so that I try to live on from day to day, happy in his love and care. May that God who hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through grace, bless, love, and keep my ever-dearest friend; and dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty, may she enjoy that sweet tranquillity which the world cannot disturb. Dearest Lydia! pray for me, and believe me to be ever most faithfully and affectionately your's,
12-15. (Sunday.) Finished what I had to say on the evidences of religion, and translated it into Persian. Aga Acber sent me his treatise by one of his disciples. Aga Baba, his brother, but a very different person from him, called; he spoke without disguise of his dislike to Mahomedanism and good will to Christianity. For his attachment to Mirza Abel; Cassim, his brother, sets him down as an infidel. Mirza Ibrahim is still in doubt, and thinks that he may be a Christian, and be saved without renouncing Mahomedanism, asks his nephew what is requisite to observe; he said, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Well, said he, what harm is there in doing that. At another time Seid Ali asked me, after a dispute, whether I would baptize any one who did not believe in the divinity of Christ. I said, No. While translating Acts ii. and iii. especially where it is said "all who believed had one heart and one mind, and had all things in common;" he was much affected, and contrasted the beginning of Christianity with that of Mahomedanism, where they began their career with murdering men and robbing caravans; and Oh, said he, that I were sure the Holy Spirit would be given to me, I would become a Christian at once. Alas! both his faith and mine are very weak. Even if he were to desire baptism I should tremble to give it. He spake in a very pleasing way on other parts of the gospel, and seems to have been particularly taken with the idea of a new birth. The state of a new-born child gives him the most striking view of that simplicity which he considers as the height of wisdom. Simplicity is that to which he aspires, he says, above all things. He was once proud of his knowledge, and vain of his superiority to others, but he found that fancied knowledge set him at a greater distance from happiness than any thing else.
Shiraz, Sept. 12, 1811.
I can hardly conceive, or at least am not willing to believe, that you would forget me six successive months; I conclude therefore that you must have written, though I have not seen your hand-writing since I left Calcutta.
The Persian translation goes on but slowly. I and my translator have been engaged in a controversy with his uncle, which has left us little leisure for any thing else. As there is nothing at all in this dull place to take the attention of the people, no trade, manufactures, or news, every event at all novel, is interesting to them. You may conceive therefore what a strong sensation was produced by the stab I aimed at the vitals of Mahommed. Before five people had seen what I wrote, defences of Islam swarmed into ephemeral being from all the Moulwee maggots of the place, but the more judicious men were ashamed to let me see them. One Moollah, called Aga Acber, was determined to distinguish himself. He wrote with great acrimony on the margin of my pamphlet, but passion had blinded his reason, so that he smote the wind. One day I was on a visit of ceremony to the prime minister, and sitting in great state by his side, fifty visitors in the same hall, and five hundred clients without, when who should make his appearance, but my tetric adversary, the said Aga Acber, who came for the express purpose of presenting the minister with a piece he had composed in defence of the prophet, and then sitting down, told me he should present me with a copy that day. There are four answers, said he, to your objection against his using the sword. Very well, said I, I shall be glad to see them, though I made no such objection. Eager to display his attainments in all branches of science, he proceeded to call in question the truth of our European philosophy, and commanded me to show that the earth moved, and not the sun. I told him that in matters of religion, where the salvation of men was concerned, I would give up nothing to them, but as for points in philosophy, they might have it all their own way. This was not what he wanted, so after looking at the minister, to know if it was not a breach of good manners to dispute at such a time, and finding that there was nothing contrary to custom, but that on the contrary, he rather expected an answer, I began, but soon found that he could comprehend nothing without diagrams. A moon-shee in waiting was ordered to produce his implements, so there was I, drawing figures, while hundreds of men were looking on in silence.
But all my trouble was in vain--the Moollah knew nothing whatever of mathematics, and therefore could not understand my proofs. The Persians are far more curious and clever than the Indians. Wherever I go, they ask me questions in philosophy, and are astonished that I do not know everything. One asked me the reason of the properties of the magnet, I told him I knew nothing about it; 'But what do your learned men say? They know nothing about it. This he did not at all credit.
I do not find myself improving in Persian, indeed, I take no pains to speak it well, not perceiving it to be of much consequence. India is the land where we can act at present with most effect. It is true that the Persians are more susceptible, but the terrors of an inquisition are always hanging over them. I can now conceive no greater happiness than to be settled for life in India, superintending native schools, as we did at Patna and Chunar. To preach so as to be readily understood by the poor, is a difficulty that appears to me almost insuperable, besides, that grown-up people are seldom converted. However, why should we despair. If I live to see India again, I shall set to and learn Hindee in order to preach. The day may come, when even our word may be with the Holy Ghost and with power. It is now almost a year since I left Cawnpore, and my journey is but beginning: when shall I ever get back again? I am often tempted to get away from this prison, but again I recollect, that some years hence, I shall say, When I was at Shiraz, why did not I get the New Testament done? What difference would a few months have made? In August I passed some days at a vineyard, about a parasang from the city, where my host pitched a tent for me, but it was so cold at night, that I was glad to get back to the city again. Though I occupy a room in his house, I provide for myself. Victuals are cheap enough, especially fruit; the grapes, pears, and water-melons are delicious; indeed, such a country for fruit I had no conception of. I have a fine horse which I bought for less than a hundred rupees, on which I ride every morning round the walls. My vain servant, Zechariah, anxious that his master should appear like an ameer, furnished him, i. e. the horse, with a saddle, or rather a pillion, which fairly covers his whole back; it has all the colours of the rainbow, but yellow is predominant, and from it hang down four large tassels, also yellow. But all my finery does not defend me from the boys, Some cry out, Ho, Russ; others cry out, Feringee! One day a brickbat was flung at me, and hit me in the hip with such force, that I felt it quite a providential escape. Most of the day I am about the translation, sometimes at a leisure hour trying at Isaiah, in order to get help from the Persian Jews. My Hebrew reveries have quite disappeared, merely for want of leisure. I forgot to say that I have been to visit the ruins of Persepolis, but this, with many other things, must be reserved for a hot afternoon at Cawnpore.
What would I give for a few lines from you, to say how the men come on, and whether their numbers are increasing, whether you meet the S------'s at the evening repast as when I was there. My kindest love to them, your sister, and all that love us in the truth. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, and with your faithful and affectionate brother.
Rev. D. Corrie.
16--19. Abdool Mirzeen, one of Mirza Ibrahim's disciples, called, with a Gunter's scale, and begged me to explain it; which I did. He was greatly disappointed when he found it would be of no use to him. Both he and Seid All seemed much pleased when I explained to them the nature and use of logarithms.
Shiraz, October 21, 1811.
* * * It is, I think, about a month since I wrote to you, and so little has occurred since, that I find scarcely anything in my journal, and nothing worth transcribing. This state of inactivity is becoming very irksome to me. I cannot get these Persians to work, and while they are idle, I am sitting here to no purpose. Sabat's laziness used to provoke me excessively, but Persians I find are as torpid as Arabs, when their salary does not depend on their exertions, and both very inferior to the feeble Indian, whom they affect to despise. My translator comes about sunrise, corrects a little, and is off, and I see no more of him for the day. Meanwhile I sit fretting, or should do so, as I did at first, were it not for a hlessed employment which so beguiles the tediousness of the day, that I hardly perceive it passing. It is the study of the Psalms in the Hebrew. I have long had it in contemplation, in the assurance, from the number of flat and obscure passages that occur in the translations, that the original has not been hitherto perfectly understood. I am delighted to find that many of the most unmeaning verses in the version turn out, on close examination, to contain a direct reference to the Lord our Saviour. The testimony of Jesus is indeed the spirit of prophecy. He is never lost sight of. Let them touch what subject they will, they must always let fall something about him. Such should we be, looking always to him. I have often attempted the 84th Psalm, endeared to me on many accounts, as you know, but have not yet suc-ceedeed. The glorious 16th Psalm I hope I have mastered. I write with the ardour of a student, communicating his discoveries, and describing his difficulties to a fellow student.
I think of you incessantly, too much, I fear, sometimes, yet the recollection of you is generally attended with an exercise of resignation to his will. In prayer I often feel what you described five years ago as having felt,--a particular pleasure in viewing you as with me before the Lord, and intreating our common Father to bless both his children. When I sit and muse, my spirit flies away to you, and attends you at Gurlyn, Pen-zance, Plymouth Dock, and sometimes with your brother in London. If you acknowledge a kindred feeling still, we are not separated, our spirits have met and blended. I still continue without intelligence from India; since last January I have heard nothing of any one person whom I love. My consolation is, that the Lord has you all under his care, and is carrying on his work in the world by your means, and that when I emerge, I shall find that some progress is made in India especially, the country I now regard as my own. Persia is in many respects, a field ripe for the harvest. Vast numbers secretly hate and despise the superstition imposed on them, and as many of them as have heard the gospel, approve it, but they dare not hazard their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus. I am sometimes asked whether the external appearance of Mahomedanism might not be retained with Christianity, and whether I could not baptize them without their believing in the divinity of Christ, I tell them, No.
Though I have complained above of the inactivity of my translation, I have reason to bless the Lord that he thus supplies Gibeonites for the help of his true Israel. They are employed in a work, of the importance of which they are unconscious, and are making provision for future Persian saints, whose time is, I suppose, now near. Roll back, ye crowded years, your thick array! Let the long, long period of darkness and sin at last give way to the brighter hours of light and liberty, which wait on the wings of the Sun of righteousness. Perhaps we witness the dawn of the day of glory, and if not, the desire that we feel, that Jesus may be glorified, and the nations acknowledge his sway, is the earnest of the Spirit, that when he shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory. Kind love to all the saints who are waiting his coming.
Your's with true affection,
My ever dearest Lydia,
It is now determined that we leave Shiraz in a week, and as the road through Persia is impassable through the commotions which are always disturbing some part or other of this unhappy country, I must go back to Bushire.
23. Began to read the gospel to Zechariah. My two friends breakfasted with me, and thus broke their fast, but it was in some trepidation for fear their servants should see them. Had they been conscientious in their fast, I should not have thought it right to be instrumental in an act that would be against their conscience: but it is not so; they said, they fasted merely from the fear of man. My scribe finished the New Testament, in correcting we are no further than the 13th of Acts.
24-26. Resumed my Hebrew studies; on the two first days translated the eight first Psalms into Persian, the last all day long thinking about the word Higgaion in the 9th Psalm.
27-29, Finished Psalm xii. Reading the 5th of St. Matthew to Zachariah my servant. Felt awfully convinced of guilt; how fearlessly do I give way to causeless anger, speaking contemptuously of men as if I had never read this chapter. The Lord deliver me from all my wickedness, and write his holy law upon my heart, that I may walk circumspectly before him all the remaining days of my life.
November 1. Every thing was prepared for our journey to Bagdad by the Persian Gulf, and a large party of Shiraz ladies, chiefly of Mirza Seid Ali's family, had determined to accompany us, partly from a wish to visit the tombs, and partly to have the company of their relations a little longer. But a letter arriving, with the intelligence that Bagdad was all in confusion, our kafila separated, and I resolved to go on through Persia to Armenia, and so to Syria. But the season was too far advanced for me to think of traversing the regions of Caucasus just then, so I made up my mind to winter at Shiraz.
Shiraz, December 12, 1811.
Your letters of January 28 and April 22, have just reached me. After being a whole year without any tidings of you, you may conceive how much they have tended to revive my spirits. Indeed I know not how to be sufficiently thankful to our God and Father for giving me a brother, who is indeed a brother to my soul, and thus follows me with affectionate prayers wherever I go, and more than supplies my place to the precious flock, over whom the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers. There is only one thing in your letters that makes me uneasy, and that is, the oppression you complain of in the hot weather. As you will have to pass another hot season at Cawnpore, and I do not know how many more, I must again urge you to spare yourself. I am endeavouring to learn the true use of time in a new way, hy placing myself in idea twenty or thirty years in advance, and then considering how I ought to have managed twenty or thirty years ago. In racing violently for a year or two and then breaking down? In this way I have reasoned myself into contentment about staying so long at Shiraz. I thought at first, what will the Government in India think of my being away so long, or what will my friends think? Shall I not appear to all a wandering shepherd, leaving the flock and running about for my own pleasure? But placing myself twenty years on in time, I say, Why could not I stay at Shiraz long enough to get a New Testament done there, even if I had been detained there on that account three or six years. What work of equal importance can ever come from me? So that now I am resolved to wait here till the New Testament is finished, though I incur the displeasure of Government or even be dismissed the service. I have been many times on the eve of my departure, as my translator promised to accompany me to Bagdad, but that city being in great confusion he is afraid to trust himself there; so I resolved to go westward through the north of Persia, but found it impossible, on account of the snow which blocks up the roads in winter, to proceed till spring. Here I am therefore, for three months more; our Testament will be finished, please God, in six weeks. I go on as usual, riding round the walls in the morning, and singing hymns at night over my milk and water, for tea I have none, though I much want it. I am with you in Spirit almost every evening, and feel a bliss I cannot describe in being one with the dear saints of God all over the earth, through one Lord and one Spirit.
They continued throwing stones at me every day, till happening one day to tell Jaffir Ali Khan, my host, how one as big as my fist had hit me in the hack, he wrote to the Governor, who sent an order to all the gates, that if any one insulted me, he should be bastinadoed, and the next day came himself in state to pay me a visit. These measures have had the desired effect; they now call me the Feringee Nabob, and very civilly offer me the Calean; but indeed the Persian commonality are very brutes; the Soofies declare themselves unable to account for the fierceness of their countrymen, except it be from the influence of Islam. After speaking in my praise, one of them added, 'and there are the Hindoos too (who have brought the guns) when I saw their gentleness I was quite charmed with them; but as for our Irances, they delight in nothing but tormenting their fellow-creatures.' These Soofies are quite the methodists of the East. They delight in every thing Christian, except in being exclusive. They consider that all will finally return to God from whom they emanated, or rather of whom they are only different forms. The doctrine of the Trinity they admired, but not the atonement, because the Mahommedans, they say, consider Iman Hosyn as also crucified for the sins of men; and to every thing Mahommedan they have a particular aversion. Yet withal they conform externally. From these, however, you will perceive the first Persian church will be formed, judging after the manner of men. The employment of my leisure hours is translating the Psalms into Persian. What will poor Fitrut do when he gets to the poetical books? Job, I hope, you have let him pass over. The Books of Solomon are also in a very sorry condition in the English. The Prophets are all much easier and consequently better done. I hear there is a man at Yezid that has fallen into the same way of thinking as myself about the letters, and professes to have found out all the arts and sciences from them. I should be glad to compare notes with him. It is now time for me to bid you good night. We have had ice on the pools some time, but no snow yet. They build their houses without chimneys, so if we want a fire we must take the smoke along with it. I prefer wrapping myself in my sheepskin.
Your accounts of the progress of the kingdom of God among you are truly refreshing. Tell dear H---- and the men of both regiments that I salute them much in the Lord, and make mention of them in my prayers. May I continue to hear thus of their state, and if I am spared to see them again, may we make it evident that we have grown in grace. Affectionate remembrances to your sister and S------, I hope they continue to prosecute their labours of love. Remember me to the people of Cawnpore who inquire, &c. Why have not I mentioned Col. P------? It is not because he is not in my heart, for there is hardly a man in the world whom I love and honour more. My most Christian salutations to him.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit, dearest brother.
To the Rev. D. Currie.