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And Will was dead, our brave, bold Will,
The two had taken flight;
They found their home that night.
Went up the heavenly road ;
And brought them back to God.
Led back to wisdom's ways;
R. R. THOM.
William Carey, Botanist and Missionary.
BOUT the middle of last century the schoolmaster
of Paulersbury, a village in Northamptonshire, was Edmund Carey. His father had preceded
him in the post, and, to judge from the character of his eldest boy, a little fellow of six when he undertook the duties, it seemed more than likely he should leave a successor in his own name. In the master's house there was one small room, intended to be a bedroom, but which the young student who occupied it had turned into a kind of museum. Many years afterwards, when his sister tried to recall the fading memories of their common youth, she recollected the little place, "full of insects, stuck in every corner, that he might observe their progress.” Birds and all manner of insects he had numbers of.
" The birds," she says, “were, when he was from home, in general committed to my care; and though I often used to kill them by kindness, yet when he saw my grief for it he always indulged me with the pleasure of serving them again ; and often took me over the dirtiest roads to get at a plant or an insect. He never walked out, I think, when quite a boy, without observations on the hedges as he passed; and
when he took up a plant of any kind he always observed it with care." To add to the young naturalist's enjoyment, his father's brother was an occasional gardener, and, as he had no children of his own, Uncle Peter used to send for his little nephew to aid him in his pleasant employ. One result was to confirm the lad's love of flowers; another was to make the schoolmaster's garden one of the neatest and most carefully cultivated in the whole village.
From these early days let us pass, and at one step, to the end.
More than sixty years afterwards we shall have to look far from Paulersbury to find the master's son. In 1839 the chief and the soul of the Baptist Mission establishment in India, the Professor of Oriental languages in the Government College," the greatest name," as John Foster thought, “ in the Christian world,” was Dr. William Carey, of Serampore. But though a great scholar and a very famous man, the missionary professor is still at heart the developed boy. The charm of his character was always its simplicity; and one of its most marked traits, its permanence of habit and continuance in pursuit. And so we cannot be surprised to find a garden at Serampore, which for its order and arrangement, as well as the richness of its contents, had the reputation of being the finest in the East. When the old man could no longer pace its walks, or tend its flowers with his own hands, he was wheeled by his gardeners round its pleasant haunts; and when, in the last days, even this enjoyment could be indulged in no more, he had the sketch of a favourite plant hung within sight of his darkening eyes. From early manhood to the latest hour of life the passion of his heart was the conversion of India to Christ; and the delight and solace of his intellect was the study of Divine wisdom in the fascinating pursuit of botany.
Between Paulersbury and Serampore lies a varied and noble, as well as a long life. When about seven years of age the little fellow was attacked by a painful and chronic illness, which at once saved him from the rougher out-door work, which was likely to be his lot, and prepared his mind for the spiritual change it afterwards experienced. But, if his own conscientious and sensitive view be taken as correct, his youth was far from godly. He loved to haunt the blacksmith's shop, one of a group of wild lads from the village, to whom neither lying nor theft was anything beyond the very slightest of sins; and the spirit of this careless company seems to have been, at the period, that of his whole life.
At length he was compelled to do something for a livelihood, and the future missionary was apprenticed to a shoemaker. One of his acquaintances in those days was a reader of serious books and an eager disputant. He was, moreover, a dissenter, and as William Carey was a staunch churchman, many a controversy sharpened the wits and tried the tempers of the friends. In the meantime graver thoughts were taking possession of his mind; and at length an awakened and anxious spirit began to ask what could be done to find rest. The churches of the Establishment were to the restless youth chill and uncongenial; and once, when a preacher was explaining and enforcing the text : “Let us go forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach," the lad applied it in his own way to himself, and that evening and for ever left the church of his fathers. And if his new acquaintances were not always the wisest or the best instructed, they were at least hearty and sympathetic; and, as his own views grew clearer and his Christian character ripened, he found himself gaining a more elevating circle of friends. Kettering was not far away, and it was delightful to look in on Andrew Fuller, the great Baptist minister, for an hour's talk on some point of Christian experience; while, in another direction, Thomas Scott, the commentator, was just as accessible ; and both these devout and able men had come to know and appreciate “the consecrated cobbler.” But the cares of the world were already pressing heavily. In his twentieth year he had married, but his wife was very delicate; his business did not prosper. He
had, wherever he lived, a garden ; but it seemed that just as its fascinating plots grew into order and beauty the money matters got into confusion.
Such was the state of affairs about the year 1790, when already for some time he had been preacher among the Baptists, and was trying as he best could, first at one village and then at another, and in the face of sorest poverty, to make a livelihood, with hands and a mind that all the while were longing for far different employment. For, as he paced the lanes of Northamptonshire, selling his shoes, or ministered on Sundays to his little congregation at Moulton, his heart had already conceived the great idea of his life. At a meeting of ministers at Clipstone in 1791, when Dr. Ryland asked some of the younger ones to propose a subject of discussion, and when no one responded, Carey at length propounded the question of the duty of the Church to endeavour to give the gospel to the whole world. These were not the days of missionary meetings, and even the good old President frowned on the young enthusiast; but if Carey had any quality it was resoluteness, and at another meeting, and again another, joining like-minded friends with him, and himself impelled by absorbing longing, he urged the mighty plan, till at length, at a memorable meeting held in Kettering in 1793, the Baptist Missionary Society was formed, and William Carey, along with a Mr. Thomas, a genial and eager, though eccentric man, were appointed its first missionaries.
What follows is a story which has often been told, but never can it grow uninteresting to any mind touched even lightly with the sympathies and the love of Christ. How Mrs. Carey, sadly unfit companion for her husband, refused to go; how Mr. Thomas, enthusiastic but blundering, spoiled their plans; how money failed; how a thousand people criticised and opposed, and only a few generously cheered them on; how they got on board only to be ordered off again, owing to anonymous letters which led the captain to get rid of his suspicious passengers; how at last, when all seemed hopeless, another ship was found; how they sailed down the Channel that memorable summer day of June, 1793, and at length, after more than five months, saw the Indian coast and touched its long-dreamed of strand : how when they embarked, though for a week or two all seemed promising, it was only to be succeeded by a more complete gloom--all this has been told again and again, and may be read in its own place. It a touching story of great suffering and discouragement, borne by one of the bravest of hearts, and all and really for the sake of the Lord Jesus. How little have those good people who live at ease at home, and smile at mission enterprises, to parallel the quiet force and heroism of men like these !
In truth Carey had no accurate knowledge of the country, nor a single helper, nor any adequate support. What scanty means the missionary party possessed were soon lost. The miserable fear of physical want was gathering round them : the Government was hostile ; everything was perplexing. Seldom has there been a more trying task than that which fell to the man who, amid the malarious jungles of the Sunderbunds, strove to make straight paths for his feet while inspiring the failing hearts of his own household, and finding such cheer as he might for his own. At length a devout Englishman, an indigo planter, offered Carey a situation as inspector of his works, with a salary which removed fears of poverty, and with such leisure as gave time for study of the language and evangelistic labour among the natives. And here, some forty miles north of Calcutta, Carey remained for five years. And at the end of this time, after many a difficulty, but with ripening scholarship and enlarged experience—now also with help from England, for Ward and Marshman had joined him—the Baptist Mission removed to its headquarters and now famous home at Serampore.
From this time till his death in 1834, it is a record of the most various and the most unvarying labour. Poor Mrs. Carey, for many years hopelessly ill, at length died. Mr.