A college the fourth and perfecting corner-stone of the mission--Carey on the importance of English in 1800--Anticipates Duffs policy of undermining Brahmanism--New educational era begun by the charter of 1813 and Lord Hastings--Plan of the Serampore College in 1818--Anticipates the Anglo-Orientalism of the Punjab University--The building described by John Marshman--Bishop Middleton follows--The Scottish and other colleges--Action of the Danish Government--The royal charter--Visit of Maharaja Serfojee--Death of Ward, Charles Grant and Bentley--Bishop Heber and his catholic letter--Dr. Careys reply--Progress of the college--Cause of its foundation--The college directly and essentially a missionary undertaking--Action of the Brotherhood from the first vindicated--Carey appeals to posterity--The college and the systematic study of English--Carey author of the Grant in Aid system--Economy in administering missions--The Serampore Mission has eighteen stations and fifty missionaries of all kinds--Subsequent history of the Serampore College to 1883.
Back to index
THE first act of Carey and Marshman when their Committee took up a position of hostility to their self-denying independence, was to complete and perpetuate the mission by a college. As planned by Carey in 1793, the constitution had founded the enterprise on these three corner-stones--preaching the Gospel in the mother tongue of the people; translating the Bible into all the languages of Southern and Eastern Asia; teaching the young, both heathen and Christian, both boys and girls, in vernacular schools. But Carey had not been a year in Serampore when, having built well on all three, he began to see that a fourth must be laid some day in the shape of a college. He and his colleagues had founded and supervised, by the year 1818, no fewer than 126 native schools, containing some 10,000 boys, of whom more than 7000 were in and around Serampore. His work among the pundit class, both in Serampore and in the college of Fort William, and the facilities in the mission-house for training natives, Eurasians, and the missionaries sons to be preachers, translators, and teachers, seemed to meet the immediate want. But as every year the mission in all its forms grew and the experience of its leaders developed, the necessity of creating a college staff in a building adapted to the purpose became more urgent. Only thus could the otherwise educated natives be reached, and the Brahmanical class especially be permanently influenced. Only thus could a theological institute be satisfactorily conducted to feed the native Church.
On 10th October 1800 the missionaries had thus written home:--"There appears to be a favourable change in the general temper of the people. Commerce has roused new thoughts and awakened new energies; so that hundreds, if we could skilfully teach them gratis, would crowd to learn the English language. We hope this may be in our power some time, and may be a happy means of diffusing the gospel. At present our hands are quite full." A month after that Carey wrote to Fuller:--"I have long thought whether it would not be desirable for us to set up a school to teach the natives English. I doubt not but a thousand scholars would come. I do not say this because I think it an object to teach them the English tongue; but, query, is not the universal inclination of the Bengalees to learn English a favourable circumstance which may be improved to valuable ends? I only hesitate at the expense." Thirty years after Duff reasoned in the same way, after consulting Carey, and acted at once in Calcutta.
By 1816, when, on 25th June, Carey wrote a letter, for his colleagues and himself, to the Board of the American Baptist General Convention, the great idea, destined slowly to revolutionise not only India, but China, Japan, and the farther East, had taken this form:--
"We know not what your immediate expectations are relative to the Burman empire, but we hope your views are not confined to the immediate conversion of the natives by the preaching of the Word. Could a church of converted natives be obtained at Rangoon, it might exist for a while, and be scattered, or perish for want of additions. From all we have seen hitherto we are ready to think that the dispensations of Providence point to labours that may operate, indeed, more slowly on the population, but more effectually in the end: as knowledge, once put into fermentation, will not only influence the part where it is first deposited, but leaven the whole lump. The slow progress of conversion in such a mode of teaching the natives may not be so encouraging, and may require, in all, more faith and patience; but it appears to have been the process of things, in the progress of the Reformation, during the reigns of Henry, Edward, Elizabeth, James, and Charles. And should the work of evangelising India be thus slow and silently progressive, which, however, considering the age of the world, is not perhaps very likely, still the grand result will amply recompense us, and you, for all our toils. We are sure to take the fortress, if we can but persuade ourselves to sit down long enough before it. We shall reap if we faint not.
"And then, very dear brethren, when it shall be said of the seat of our labours, the infamous swinging-post is no longer erected; the widow burns no more on the funeral pile; the obscene dances and songs are seen and heard no more; the gods are thrown to the moles and to the bats, and Jesus is known as the God of the whole land; the poor Hindoo goes no more to the Ganges to be washed from his filthiness, but to the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness; the temples are forsaken; the crowds say, Let us go up to the house of the Lord, and He shall teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His statutes; the anxious Hindoos no more consume their property, their strength, and their lives, in vain pilgrimages, but they come at once to Him who can save to the uttermost; the sick and the dying are no more dragged to the Ganges, but look to the Lamb of God, and commit their souls into His faithful hands; the children, no more sacrificed to idols, are become the seed of the Lord, that He may be glorified; the public morals are improved; the language of Canaan is learnt; benevolent societies are formed; civilisation and salvation walk arm in arm together; the desert blossoms; the earth yields her increase; angels and glorified spirits hover with joy over India, and carry ten thousand messages of love from the Lamb in the midst of the throne; and redeemed souls from the different villages, towns, and cities of this immense country, constantly add to the number, and swell the chorus of the redeemed, Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, unto HIM be the glory;--when this grand result of the labours of Gods servants in India shall be realised, shall we then think that we have laboured in vain, and spent our strength for nought? Surely not. Well, the decree is gone forth! My word shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it."
India was being prepared for the new missionary policy. On what we may call its literary side Carey had been long busy. On its more strictly educational side, the charter of 1813 had conceded what had been demanded in vain by a too feeble public opinion in the charter of 1793. A clause was inserted at the last moment declaring that a sum of not less than a lakh of rupees (or ten thousand pounds) a year was to be set apart from the surplus revenues, and applied to the revival and improvement of literature and the encouragement of the learned natives of India, and for the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences among the inhabitants of the British territories there. The clause was prompted by an Anglo-Indian of oriental tastes, who hoped that the Brahman and his Veda might thus be made too strong for the Christian missionary and the Bible as at last tolerated under the 13th resolution. For this reason, and because the money was to be paid only out of any surplus, the directors and their friends offered no opposition. For the quarter of a century the grant was given, and was applied in the spirit of its proposer. But the scandals of its application became such that it was made legally by Bentinck and Macaulay, and practically by Duff, the fountain of a river of knowledge and life which is flooding the East.
The first result of the liberalism of the charter of 1813 and the generous views of Lord Hastings was the establishment in Calcutta by the Hindoos themselves, under the influence of English secularists, of the Hindoo, now the Presidency College. Carey and Marshman were not in Calcutta, otherwise they must have realised even then what they left to Duff to act on fourteen years after, the importance of English not only as an educating but as a Christianising instrument. But though not so well adapted to the immediate need of the reformation which they had begun, and though not applied to the very heart of Bengal in Calcutta, the prospectus of their "College for the Instruction of Asiatic, Christian, and Other Youth in Eastern Literature and European Science," which they published on the 15th July 1818, sketched a more perfect and complete system than any since attempted, if we except John Wilsons almost unsupported effort in Bombay. It embraced the classical or learned languages of the Hindoos and Mohammedans, Sanskrit and Arabic; the English language and literature, to enable the senior students "to dive into the deepest recesses of European science, and enrich their own language with its choicest treasures"; the preparation of manuals of science, philosophy, and history in the learned and vernacular languages of the East; a normal department to train native teachers and professors; as the crown of all, a theological institute to equip the Eurasian and native Christian students, by a quite unsectarian course of study, in apologetics, exegetics, and the Bible languages, to be missionaries to the Brahmanical classes. While the Government and the Scottish missionaries have in the university and grant in aid systems since followed too exclusively the English line, happily supplanting the extreme Orientalists, it is the glory of the Serampore Brotherhood that they sought to apply both the Oriental and the European, the one as the form, the other as the substance, so as to evangelise and civilise the people through their mother tongue. They were the Vernacularists in the famous controversy between the Orientalists and the Anglicists raised by Duff. In 1867 the present writer in vain attempted to induce the University of Calcutta to follow them in this. It was left to Sir Charles Aitchison, when he wielded the power and the influence of the Lieutenant-Governor, to do in 1882 what the Serampore College would have accomplished had its founders been young instead of old men, by establishing the Punjab University.
Lord Hastings and even Sir John Malcolm took a personal interest in the Serampore College. The latter, who had visited the missionaries since his timid evidence before the House of Lords in 1813, wrote to them:--"I wish I could be certain that your successors in the serious task you propose would have as much experience as you and your fellow-labourers at Serampore--that they would walk, not run, in the same path--I would not then have to state one reserve." Lord Hastings in Council passed an order encouraging the establishment of a European Medical Professorship in Serampore College, and engaged to assist in meeting the permanent expense of the chair when established. His Excellency "interrupted pressing avocations" to criticise both the architectural plan of the building and the phraseology of the draft of the first report, and his suggestions were followed. Adopting one of the Grecian orders as most suitable to a tropical climate, the Danish Governors colleague, Major Wickedie, planned the noble Ionic building which was then, and is still, the finest edifice of the kind in British India.
"The centre building, intended for the public rooms, was a hundred and thirty feet in length, and a hundred and twenty in depth. The hall on the ground floor, supported on arches, and terminated at the south by a bow, was ninety-five feet in length, sixty-six in breadth, and twenty in height. It was originally intended for the library, but is now occupied by the classes. The hall above, of the same dimensions and twenty-six feet in height, was supported by two rows of Ionic columns; it was intended for the annual examinations. Of the twelve side-rooms above and below, eight were of spacious dimensions, twenty-seven feet by thirty-five. The portico which fronted the river was composed of six columns, more than four feet in diameter at the base. The staircase-room was ninety feet in length, twenty-seven in width, and forty-seven in height, with two staircases of cast-iron, of large size and elegant form, prepared at Birmingham. The spacious grounds were surrounded with iron railing, and the front entrance was adorned with a noble gate, likewise cast at Birmingham...
"The scale on which it was proposed to establish the college, and to which the size of the building was necessarily accommodated, corresponded with the breadth of all the other enterprises of the Serampore missionaries,--the mission, the translations, and the schools. While Mr. Ward was engaged in making collections for the support of the institution in England, he wrote to his brethren, the buildings you must raise in India; and they determined to respond to the call, and, if possible, to augment their donation from £2500 to £8000, and to make a vigorous effort to erect the buildings from their own funds. Neither the ungenerous suspicion, nor the charge of unfaithfulness, with which their character was assailed in England, was allowed to slacken the prosecution of this plan. It was while their reputation was under an eclipse in England, and the benevolent hesitated to subscribe to the society till they were assured that their donations would not be mixed up with the funds of the men at Serampore, that those men were engaged in erecting a noble edifice for the promotion of religion and knowledge, at their
own cost, the expense of which eventually grew under their hands to the sum of £15,000. To the charge of endeavouring to alienate from the society premises of the value of £3000, their own gift, they replied by erecting a building at five times the cost, and vesting it in eleven trustees,--seven besides themselves. It was thus they vindicated the purity of their motives in their differences with the society, and endeavoured to silence the voice of calumny. They were the first who maintained that a college was an indispensable appendage to an Indian mission."
The next to follow Carey in this was Bishop Middleton, who raised funds to erect a chaste Gothic pile beside the Botanic Garden, since to him the time appeared "to have arrived when it is desirable that some missionary endeavours, at least, should have some connection with the Church establishment." That college no longer exists, in spite of the saintly scholarship of such Principals as Mill and Kay; the building is now utilised as a Government engineering college. But in Calcutta the Duff College, with the General Assemblys Institution (now united as the Scottish Churches College), the Cathedral Mission Divinity School, and the Bhowanipore Institution; in Bombay the Wilson College, in Madras the Christian College, in Nagpoor the Hislop College, in Agra St. Johns College, in Lahore the Church Mission Divinity School, in Lucknow the Reid College, and others, bear witness to the fruitfulness of the Alma Mater of Serampore.
The Serampore College began with thirty-seven students, of whom nineteen were native Christians and the rest Hindoos. When the building was occupied in 1821 Carey wrote to his son:--"I pray that the blessing of God may attend it, and that it may be the means of preparing many for an important situation in the Church of God...The King of Denmark has written letters signed with his own hand to Brothers Ward, Marshman, and myself, and has sent each of us a gold medal as a token of his approbation. He has also made over the house in which Major Wickedie resides, between Sarkiess house and ours, to us three in perpetuity for the college. Thus Divine generosity appears for us and supplies our expectations." The missionaries had declined the Order of the Dannebrog. When, in 1826, Dr. Marshman visited Europe, one of his first duties was to acknowledge this gift to Count Moltke, Danish Minister in London and ancestor of the great strategist, and to ask for a royal charter. The Minister and Count Schulin, whose wife had been a warm friend of Mrs. Carey, happened to be on board the steamer in which Dr. Marshman, accompanied by Christopher Anderson, sailed to Copenhagen. Raske, the Orientalist, who had visited Serampore, was a Professor in the University there. The vellum charter was prepared among them, empowering the College Council, consisting of the Governor of Serampore and the Brotherhood, to confer degrees like those of the Universities of Copenhagen and Kiel, but not carrying the rank in the State implied in Danish degrees unless with the sanction of the Crown. The King, in the audience which he gave, informed Dr. Marshman that, having in 1801 promised the mission protection, he had hitherto refused to transfer Serampore to the East India Company, since that would prevent him from keeping his word. When, in 1845, the Company purchased both Tranquebar and Serampore, it could be no longer dangerous to the Christian Mission, but the Treaty expressly provided that the College should retain all its powers, and its Christian character, under the Danish charter, which it does. It was thus the earliest degree-conferring college in Asia, but it has never exercised the power. Christian VIII., then the heir to the throne, showed particular interest in the Bible translation work of Carey. When, in 1884, the Evangelical Alliance held its session in Copenhagen, and was received by Christian IX.,28 it did well, by special resolution, to express the gratitude of Protestant Christendom to Denmark for such courageous and continued services to the first Christian mission from England to India.
How Dr. Carey valued the gift of the King is seen in this writing, on the lining of the case of the gold medal, dated 6th November 1823:--
"It is my desire that this medal, and the letter of the King of Denmark, which accompanied it, be given at my death to my dear son Jonathan, that he may keep it for my sake."
The letter of King Frederic VI. is as follows:--
"MONSIEUR LE DOCTEUR ET PROFESSEUR WILLIAM CAREY--
Cest avec beaucoup dintérêt que nous avons appris le mérite quen qualité de membre dirigeant de la Société de la Mission, vous avez acquis, ainsi que vos co-directeurs, et les effèts salutaires que vos louables travaux ont produits et partout où votre influence a pu atteindre. Particulierement informés quen votre dite qualité vous avez contribué a effectuer bien des choses utiles, dont létablissement à Frédéricsnagore a à se louer, et voulant vous certifier que nous vous en avons gré, nous avons chargé le chef du dit établissement,--notre Lieutenant-Colonel Kraefting, de vous remettre cette lettre; et en même temps une medaille dor, comme une marque de notre bienveillance et de notre protection, que vous assurera toujours une conduite meritoire
"Sur ce nous prions Dieu de vous avoir dans Sa sainte et digne garde.--Votre affectionné FREDERIC.
"Copenhague, ce 7 Juin 1820.
"Au Docteur et Professeur WILLIAM CAREY,
Membre dirigeant de la Société de la Mission à Frédéricsnagore."
The new College formed an additional attraction to visitors to the mission. One of these, in 1821, was the Maharaja Serfojee, the prince of Tanjore, whom Schwartz had tended, but who was on pilgrimage to Benares. Hand in hand with Dr. Carey he walked through the missionary workshop, noticed specially the pundits who were busy with translation to which Lord Hastings had directed his attention, and dilated with affectionate enthusiasm on the deeds and the character of the apostle of South India. In 1823 cholera suddenly cut off Mr. Ward in the midst of his labours. The year after that Charles Grant died, leaving a legacy to the mission. Almost his last act had been to write to Carey urging him to publish a reply to the attack of the Abbé Dubois on all Christian missions. Another friend was removed in Bentley, the scholar who put Hindoo astronomy in its right place. Bishop Heber began his too brief episcopate in 1824, when the college, strengthened by the abilities of the Edinburgh professor, John Mack, was accomplishing all that its founders had projected. The Bishop of all good Christian men never penned a finer production--not even his hymns--than this letter, called forth by a copy of the Report on the College sent to him by Dr. Marshman:--
"I have seldom felt more painfully than while reading your appeal on the subject of Serampore College, the unhappy divisions of those who are the servants of the same Great Master! Would to God, my honoured brethren, the time were arrived when not only in heart and hope, but visibly, we shall be one fold, as well as under one shepherd! In the meantime I have arrived, after some serious considerations, at the conclusion that I shall serve our great cause most effectually by doing all which I can for the rising institutions of those with whom my sentiments agree in all things, rather than by forwarding the labours of those from whom, in some important points, I am conscientiously constrained to differ. After all, why do we differ? Surely the leading points which keep us asunder are capable of explanation or of softening, and I am expressing myself in much sincerity of heart--(though, perhaps, according to the customs of the world, I am taking too great a freedom with men my superiors both in age and in talent), that I should think myself happy to be permitted to explain, to the best of my power, those objections which keep you and your brethren divided from that form of church government which I believe to have been instituted by the apostles, and that admission of infants to the Gospel Covenants which seem to me to be founded on the expressions and practice of Christ himself. If I were writing thus to worldly men I know I should expose myself to the imputation of excessive vanity or impertinent intrusion. But of you and Dr. Carey I am far from judging as of worldly men, and I therefore say that, if we are spared to have any future intercourse, it is my desire, if you permit, to discuss with both of you, in the spirit of meekness and conciliation, the points which now divide us, convinced that, if a reunion of our Churches could be effected, the harvest of the heathen would ere long be reaped, and the work of the Lord would advance among them with a celerity of which we have now no experience.
"I trust, at all events, you will take this hasty note as it is intended, and believe me, with much sincerity, your friend and servant in Christ, REGINALD CALCUTTA.
"3rd June 1824."
This is how Carey reciprocated these sentiments, when writing to Dr. Ryland:--
"SERAMPORE, 6th July 1824.
"I rejoice to say that there is the utmost harmony between all the ministers of all denominations. Bishop Heber is a man of liberal principles and catholic spirit. Soon after his arrival in the country he wrote me a very friendly letter, expressing his wish to maintain all the friendship with us which our respective circumstances would allow. I was then confined, but Brother Marshman called on him. As soon as I could walk without crutches I did the same, and had much free conversation with him. Some time after this he wrote us a very friendly letter, saying that it would highly gratify him to meet Brother Marshman and myself, and discuss in a friendly manner all the points of difference between himself and us, adding that there was every reason to expect much good from a calm and temperate discussion of these things, and that, if we could at any rate come so near to each other as to act together, he thought it would have a greater effect upon the spread of the gospel among the heathen than we could calculate upon. He was then just setting out on a visitation which will in all probability take a year. We, however, wrote him a reply accepting his proposal, and Brother Marshman expressed a wish that the discussion might be carried on by letter, to which in his reply he partly consented. I have such a disinclination to writing, and so little leisure for it, that I wished the discussion to be viva voce; it will, however, make little difference, and all I should have to say would be introduced into the letter."
On the death of Mr. Ward and departure of Dr. Marshman for Great Britain on furlough, after twenty-six years active labours, his son, Mr. John Marshman, was formally taken into the Brotherhood. He united with Dr. Carey in writing to the Committee two letters, dated 21st January 1826 and 15th November 1827, which show the progress of the college and the mission from the first as one independent agency, and closed with Careys appeal to the judgment of posterity.
"About seven years ago we felt convinced of the necessity of erecting a College for native Christian youth, in order to consolidate our plans for the spread of gospel truth in India; and, as we despaired of being able to raise from public subscriptions a sum equal to the expense of the buildings, we determined to erect them from our own private funds. Up to the present date they have cost us nearly £14,000, and the completion of them will require a further sum of about £5000, which, if we are not enabled to advance from our own purse, the undertaking must remain incomplete. With this burden upon our private funds we find it impossible any longer to meet, to the same extent as formerly, the demands of our out-stations. The time is now arrived when they must cease to be wholly dependent on the private donations of three individuals, and must be placed on the strength of public contributions. As two out of three of the members of our body are now beyond the age of fifty-seven, it becomes our duty to place them on a more permanent footing, as it regards their management, their support, and their increase. We have therefore associated with ourselves, in the superintendence of them, the Rev. Messrs. Mack and Swan, the two present professors of the college, with the view of eventually leaving them entirely in the hands of the body of professors, of whom the constitution of the college provides that there shall be an unbroken succession.
"To secure an increase of missionaries in European habits we have formed a class of theological students in the college, under the Divinity Professor. It contains at present six promising youths, of whose piety we have in some cases undoubted evidence, in others considerable ground for hope. The class will shortly be increased to twelve, but none will be continued in it who do not manifest undeniable piety and devotedness to the cause of missions. As we propose to allow each student to remain on an average four years, we may calculate upon the acquisition of two, and perhaps three, additional labourers annually, who will be eminently fitted for active service in the cause of missions by their natural familiarity with the language and their acquisitions at college. This arrangement will, we trust, secure the speedy accomplishment of the plan we have long cherished, that of placing one missionary in each province in Bengal, and eventually, if means be afforded, in Hindostan.
"As the completion of the buildings requires no public contribution, the sole expense left on the generosity of its friends is that of its existing establishment. Our subscriptions in India, with what we receive as the interest of money raised in Britain and America, average £1000 annually; about £500 more from England would cover every charge, and secure the efficiency of the institution. Nor shall we require this aid beyond a limited period.
"Of the three objects connected with the College, the education of non-resident heathen students, the education of resident Christian students, and the preparation of missionaries from those born in the country, the first is not strictly a missionary object, the two latter are intimately connected with the progress of the good cause. The preparation of missionaries in the country was not so much recommended as enforced by the great expense which attends the despatch of missionaries from Europe. That the number of labourers in this country must be greatly augmented, before the work of evangelising the heathen can be said to have effectively commenced, can admit of no doubt.
"The education of the increasing body of Native Christians likewise, necessarily became a matter of anxiety. Nothing could be more distressing than the prospect of their being more backward in mental pursuits than their heathen neighbours. The planting of the gospel in India is not likely to be accomplished by the exertions of a few missionaries in solitary and barren spots in the country, without the aid of some well-digested plan which may consolidate the missionary enterprise, and provide for the mental and religious cultivation of the converts. If the body of native Christians required an educational system, native ministers, who must gradually take the spiritual conduct of that body, demanded pre-eminent attention. They require a knowledge of the ingenious system they will have to combat, of the scheme of Christian theology they are to teach, and a familiarity with the lights of modern science. We cannot discharge the duty we owe as Christians to India, without some plan for combining in the converts of the new religion, and more especially in its ministers, the highest moral refinement of the Christian character, and the highest attainable progress in the pursuits of the mind.
"During the last ten years of entire independence the missionary cause has received from the product of our labour, in the erection of the college buildings, in the support of stations and schools, and in the printing of tracts, much more than £23,000. The unceasing calumny with which we have been assailed, for what has been called our declaration of independence (which, by the bye, Mr. Fuller approved of our issuing almost with his dying breath), it is beneath us to notice, but it has fully convinced us of the propriety of the step. This calumny is so unreasonable that we confidently appeal from the decision of the present age to the judgment of posterity."
Under Carey, as Professor of Divinity and Lecturer on Botany and Zoology, Mack and John Marshman, with pundits and moulavies, the college grew in public favour, even during Dr. Marshmans absence, while Mrs. Marshman continued to conduct the girls school and superintend native female education with a vigorous enthusiasm which advancing years did not abate and misrepresentation in England only fed. The difficulties in which Carey found himself had the happy result of forcing him into the position of being the first to establish practically the principle of the Grant in Aid system. Had his Nonconformist successors followed him in this, with the same breadth of view and clear distinction between the duty of aiding the secular education, while giving absolute liberty to the spiritual, the splendid legacy which he left to India would have been both perpetuated and extended. As it is, it was left to his young colleague, John Marshman, and to Dr. Duff, to induce Parliament, by the charter of 1853, and the first Lord Halifax in the Educational Despatch of 1854, to sanction the system of national education for the multifarious classes and races of our Indian subjects, under which secular instruction is aided by the state on impartial terms according to its efficiency, and Christianity delights to take its place, unfettered and certain of victory, with the Brahmanical and aboriginal cults of every kind.
In 1826 Carey, finding that his favourite Benevolent Institution in Calcutta was getting into debt, and required repair, applied to Government for aid. He had previously joined the Marchioness of Hastings in founding the Calcutta School Book and School Society, and had thus been relieved of some of the schools. Government at once paid the debt, repaired the building, and continued to give an annual grant of £240 for many years. John Marshman did not think it necessary, "to defend Dr. Carey from the charge of treason to the principles of dissent in having thus solicited and accepted aid from the state for an educational establishment; the repudiation of that aid is a modern addition to those principles." He tells us that "when conversation happened to turn upon this subject at Serampore, his father was wont to excuse any warmth which his colleague might exhibit by the humorous remark that renegades always fought hardest. There was one question on which the three were equally strenuous--that it was as much the duty of Government to support education as to abstain from patronising missions.
A letter written in 1818 to his son William, then one of the missionaries, shows with what jealous economy the founder of the great modern enterprise managed the early undertakings.
"MY DEAR WILLIAM--Yours of the 3rd instant I have received, and must say that it has filled me with distress. I do not know what the allowance of 200 rupees includes, nor how much is allotted for particular things; but it appears that Rs. 142:2 is expended upon your private expenses, viz., 78:2 on table expenses, and 64 on servants. Now neither Lawson nor Eustace have more than 140 rupees for their allowance, separate from house rent, for which 80 rupees each is allowed, and I believe all the brethren are on that, or a lower allowance, Brother Yates excepted, who chooses for himself. I cannot therefore make an application for more with any face. Indeed we have no power to add or diminish salaries, though the Society would agree to our doing so if we showed good reasons for it. I believe the allowances of the missionaries from the London Society are about the same, or rather less--viz. £200 sterling, or 132 rupees a month, besides extra expenses; so that your income, taking it at 140 rupees a month, is quite equal to that of any other missionary. I may also mention that neither Eustace nor Lawson can do without a buggy, which is not a small expense.
"I suppose the two articles you have mentioned of table expenses and servants include a number of other things; otherwise I cannot imagine how you can go to that expense. When I was at Mudnabati my income was 200 per month, and during the time I stayed there I had saved near 2000 rupees. My table expenses scarcely ever amounted to 50 rupees, and though I kept a moonshi at 20 rupees and four gardeners, yet my servants wages did not exceed 60 rupees monthly. I kept a horse and a farmyard, and yet my expenses bore no proportion to yours. I merely mention this without any reflection on you, or even a wish to do it; but I sincerely think your expenses upon these two articles are very greater.--I am your affectionate father, W. CAREY."
In 1825 Carey completed his great Dictionary of Bengali and English in three quarto volumes, abridged two years afterwards. No language, not even in Europe, could show a work of such industry, erudition, and philological completeness at that time. Professor H. H. Wilson declared that it must ever be regarded as a standard authority, especially because of its etymological references to the Sanskrit, which supplies more than three-fourths of the words; its full and correct vocabulary of local terms, with which the authors "long domestication amongst the natives" made him familiar, and his unique knowledge of all natural history terms. The first copy which issued from the press he sent to Dr. Ryland, who had passed away at seventy-two, a month before the following letter was written:--
"June 7th, 1825.--On the 17th of August next I shall be sixty-four years of age; and though I feel the enervating influence of the climate, and have lost something of my bodily activity, I labour as closely, and perhaps more so than I have ever done before. My Bengali Dictionary is finished at press. I intend to send you a copy of it by first opportunity, which I request you to accept as a token of my unshaken friendship to you. I am now obliged, in my own defence, to abridge it, and to do it as quickly as possible, to prevent another person from forestalling me and running away with the profits.
"On Lords day I preached a funeral sermon at Calcutta for one of our deacons, who died very happily; administered the Lords Supper, and preached again in the evening. It was a dreadfully hot day, and I was much exhausted. Yesterday the rain set in, and the air is somewhat cooled. It is still uncertain whether Brothers Judson and Price are living. There was a report in the newspaper that they were on their way to meet Sir Archibald Campbell with proposals of peace from the Burman king; but no foundation for the report can be traced out. Living or dead they are secure."
On hearing of the death of Dr. Ryland, he wrote:--"There are now in England very few ministers with whom I was acquainted. Fuller, Sutcliff, Pearce, Fawcett, and Ryland, besides many others whom I knew, are gone to glory. My family connections also, those excepted who were children when I left England, or have since that time been born, are all gone, two sisters only excepted. Wherever I look in England I see a vast blank; and were I ever to revisit that dear country I should have an entirely new set of friendships to form. I, however, never intended to return to England when I left it, and unless something very unexpected were to take place I certainly shall not do it. I am fully convinced I should meet with many who would show me the utmost kindness in their power, but my heart is wedded to India, and though I am of little use I feel a pleasure in doing the little I can, and a very high interest in the spiritual good of this vast country, by whose instrumentality soever it is promoted."
By 1829 the divinity faculty of the College had become so valuable a nursery of Eurasian and Native missionaries, and the importance of attracting more of the new generation of educated Hindoos within its influence had become so apparent that Oriental gave place to English literature in the curriculum. Mr. Rowe, as English tutor, took his place in the staff beside Dr. Carey, Dr. Marshman, Mr. Mack, and Mr. John Marshman. Hundreds of native youths flocked to the classes. Such was the faith, such the zeal of Carey, that he continued to add new missions to the ten of which the College was the life-giving centre; so that when he was taken away he left eighteen, under eleven European, thirteen Eurasian, seventeen Bengali, two Hindostani, one Telugoo, and six Arakanese missionaries. When Mr. David Scott, formerly a student of his own in Fort William College, and in 1828 Commissioner of Assam (then recently annexed to the empire), asked for a missionary, Careys importunity prevailed with his colleagues only when he bound himself to pay half the cost by stinting his personal expenditure. Similarly it was the generous action of Mr. Garrett, when judge of Barisal, that led him to send the best of his Serampore students to found that afterwards famous mission.
Having translated the Gospels into the language of the Khasias in the Assam hills, he determined in 1832 to open a new mission at the village of Cherra, which the Serampore Brotherhood were the first to use as a sanitarium in the hot season. For this he gave up £60 of his Government pension and Mr. Garrett gave a similar sum. He sent another of his students, Mr. Lisk, to found the mission, which prospered until it was transferred to the Welsh Calvinists, who have made it the centre of extensive and successful operations. Thus the influence of his middle age and old age in the Colleges of Fort William and of Serampore combined to make the missionary patriarch the father of two bands--that of the Society and that of the Brotherhood.
Dr. Careys last report, at the close of 1832, was a defence of what has since been called, and outside of India and of Scotland has too often been misunderstood as, educational missions or Christian Colleges. To a purely divinity college for Asiatic Christians he preferred a divinity faculty as part of an Arts and Science College,29 in which the converts study side by side with their inquiring countrymen, the inquirers are influenced by them as well as by the Christian teaching and secular teaching in a Christian spirit, and the Bible consecrates the whole. The United Free Church of Scotland has, alike in India, China and Africa, proved the wisdom, the breadth, and the spiritual advantage of Careys policy. When the Society opposed him, scholars like Mack from Edinburgh and Leechman from Glasgow rejoiced to work out his Paul-like conception. When not only he, but Dr. Marshman, had passed away Mack bravely held aloft the banner they bequeathed, till his death in 1846. Then John Marshman, who in 1835 had begun the Friend of India as a weekly paper to aid the College, transferred the mission to the Society under the learned W. H. Denham. When in 1854 a new generation of the English Baptists accepted the College also as their own, it received a Principal worthy to succeed the giants of those days, the Rev. John Trafford, M.A., a student of Fosters and of Glasgow University. For twenty-six years he carried out the principles of Carey. On his retirement the College as such was suspended in the year 1883, and in the same building a purely native Christian Training Institution took its place. There, however, the many visitors from Christendom still found the library and museum; the Bibles, grammars, and dictionaries; the natural history collections, and the Oriental MSS.; the Danish Charter, the historic portraits, and the British Treaty; as well as the native Christian classes--all of which re-echo William Careys appeal to posterity.
Back to index