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Title: Among the Burmans - A Record of Fifteen Years of Work and its Fruitage
Author: Cochrane, Henry Park
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among the Burmans - A Record of Fifteen Years of Work and its Fruitage" ***


[Illustration: A TYPICAL SHAN]

[Illustration: (titlepage)]

Among the Burmans

A record of fifteen years
of work and its fruitage



Fleming H. Revell Company

Copyright, 1904, by

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 63 Washington Street
Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 30 St. Mary Street


The aim of this book is to give a true picture of life and conditions
in Burma. Heathen religions, superstitions, and native customs
are described as seen in the daily life of the people. Concrete
illustrations are freely used to make the picture more vivid. Truth
is stronger than fiction. In matters of personal experience and
observation I have used the "Perpendicular Pronoun" as more direct
and graphic. In matters of history I have read nearly everything
available, and drawn my own conclusions, as others have done before
me. If interest in "The Land of Judson" is stimulated by reading this
little volume, its object will have been accomplished.

            H. P. C.


I. FIRST EXPERIENCES                   9



IV. CHIEF RACES OF BURMA              70

V. BUDDHISM AS IT IS                 113

VI. BURMA'S OUTCASTS                 146



IX. "WITH PERSECUTIONS"              208

X. HEROES AND HEROINES               224


XII. OBSTACLES                       250



                              FACING PAGE

A TYPICAL SHAN                      Title

RAW MATERIAL (KACHINS)                 30


POUNDING RICE                          40

DANCING GIRLS                          48

TATTOOING                              56

BUDDHIST SHRINES                       78

BURMESE WOMAN WEAVING                  90

WORSHIPERS                            116

A KAREN FAMILY                        128

BUDDHIST IDOL                         128

THE LAST KING OF BURMA                158



TRANSPLANTING RICE                    180

DORIAN SELLERS                        180


ELEPHANTS AT WORK                     222

BAPTIST CHURCH, RANGOON               268

Among the Burmans



The _Chanda_ was slowly making her way with the tide up the Rangoon
River. Two young missionaries, myself and wife, were leaning on the
rail, deeply interested in the scene before us. The rising sun,
sending its rays over the land, seemed to us a pledge of the Master's
presence in the work to which we had consecrated our lives. On every
hand were strange sights and sounds, strange scenery, strange craft,
strange people; everything far and near so unlike the old life that
we had left behind. But it was something more than new sights and
sounds that stirred in us the deep emotion expressed in moistened eye
and trembling lip. Thoughts were going back to the time when we heard
the call, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And now that
we were about to enter upon the realization of that to which we had
so long looked forward, hearts too full for utterance, were stirred
with gratitude and praise. But not long were we permitted to indulge
in either retrospect or prospect. As the steamer drew near the dock
all was turmoil and excitement,--officers shouting their orders;
sailors dragging the great ropes into place; passengers getting their
luggage ready for quick removal; friends on ship and shore eagerly
seeking to recognize a familiar face; waving of handkerchiefs; sudden
exclamations when an acquaintance or loved one was recognized.

At last the gangplank is in place, and on they come,--officials,
coolies, business men, hotel-runners, representatives of many races,
and conditions, energy for once superseding rank; missionaries well to
the front to extend a welcome to the newcomers.

What a power there is in the hearty hand-shake and cordial
greeting! To the newcomer, who has everything to learn and much to
unlearn,--this warm reception by the veterans is a link to reconnect
him with the world from which he seemed to have been separated during
the long voyage; a bridge to span the gulf of his own inexperience; a
magic-rite of adoption into the great missionary family; a pledge of
fellowship and cooperation for all the years to come.

It was Sunday morning,--though few in that motley crowd either knew or
cared. Mohammedan, Hindu, Parsee, Buddhist, and "Christian" jostled
one another, each intent on his own affairs, and all combining to
make this the farthest possible extreme from a "day of holy rest."
Little wonder that this first Oriental Sunday was a distinct shock
to the new missionaries. They had yet to learn that on many such
Sundays they would long for the "Sabbath- and Sanctuary-privileges"
of the home-land. But soon it became evident that the missionaries at
least, were about the "Father's business," each hurrying away to be
in time for the morning service in his own department of mission-work
among many races. To the eye of one who has just landed in Rangoon
each individual in the throng of natives on the street seems to have
arrayed himself as fantastically as possible, or to have gone to
the other extreme and failed to array himself at all. But at these
Christian services one sees the natives classified according to race,
and learns to distinguish certain racial characteristics,--of feature,
costume, and custom. A congregation of Burmese is a beautiful sight,
their showy skirts, turbans, and scarfs presenting the appearance of a
flower garden in full bloom, but especially beautiful as a company of
precious souls turned from their idols to the "True and living God."

Among our first experiences was a warm appreciation of the kind
attempts on the part of the missionaries to initiate us, by means of
good advice, into life in the tropics. "Now _do_ be careful about
exposing yourself to this tropical sun. Remember, you are not in
America now."

"That solar tope of yours is not thick enough for one who is not used
to this climate." "Flannel next to the skin is absolutely necessary,
as a safeguard against malaria, dysentery, and other complaints so
common here." "Now dear brother and sister, you must look out and not
let your zeal run away with your judgment. Yankee hustle won't do in

Dear souls, we thought, you mean well, but we are not subject to these
troubles of which you speak. Their warnings sink about as deep as the
remark of one of our party who ran down the gangplank just ahead of
us: "When you have been in the country as long as I have, etc.,"--an
old expression, now under the ban. A few months later we began to take
their advice. Experiences leading to such action will be described
further on. Two days afterwards we reached our mission station, just
as the sun was going down. While picking out our "luggage" (it was
baggage when it left America) we received our first impressions as to
the British Indian system of checking, or "booking," as it is called.

A luggage receipt given at the starting point, called for so many
pieces. Then we found that to each article was glued a patch of paper
on which its destination was marked, and also a number corresponding
to the number on the receipt. All well so far. The luggage clerk
seemed neither to know nor care, but left each passenger to claim his

We noticed too that everything imaginable was allowed to be booked, a
certain number of _viss_ in weight being allowed free on each ticket.

To our observing eyes, each passenger's luggage indicated about how
long he had been in the country, or how much he had travelled.

Some evil spirit seems to possess the luggage clerk's assistant to
glue the label in a new place each time, cancelling other bookings
by tearing off loose corners of old labels. This custom is specially
trying to spirituality when applied to bicycles, the railroad glue
having such affinity for enamel that they stay or come off together.
Another thing that impressed us was the suddenness with which the
darkness of night came on, as if "darkness rather than light" reigned
over this heathen land, and could hardly wait for the usurping sun to
disappear behind the horizon. First impressions of our new home we
gained late that night, by the dim light of a lantern. Home, did I
say? As we peered through the shadows it did not strike us as being
a place that could ever, by any stretch of imagination, seem like
home. Bare, unpainted walls dingy with age; huge round posts, some
of them running up through the rooms; no furniture except a teak
bedstead, and a large round table so rickety that it actually bowed
to us when we stepped into the room; lizards crawling on walls and
ceiling,--interesting and harmless things, as we afterwards found,
but not specially attractive to a newcomer. Oh, no,--it was not
homesickness, only just lack of power to appreciate a good thing after
the weary experiences of our long journey. In the night I was roused
from sleep by hearing some one calling. Half awake, I was getting
out from under the mosquito net, when my wife remarked, "Better get
back into bed. It is only that _taukteh_, that Mrs. ---- told us
about." The taukteh is the "crowing," or "trout-spotted lizard." The
English call it the tuctoo, from the sound it makes. The Burmans call
it taukteh, for the same reason. Some declare that it says "doctor,
doctor," as plain as day. Alarming stories are told of this terrible
creature; how it loses its hold on the ceiling to alight in a lady's
hair, and that nothing short of removing scalp and all will dislodge
it. The worst thing we have known it to do was to wake the baby in the
dead of the night, when we had got fairly settled to sleep after hours
of sweltering. I have shot several for this unpardonable offense. The
taukteh's sudden call in the night causes some children to suffer much
from fright, though no harm is intended.

Our house was situated on a narrow strip of land with streets on three
sides, and school dormitory in the rear. Just across one street
was a native Police Guard, but we did not know what it was until
next morning. We had come into our possessions after dark, so knew
nothing of our environment. These were dacoit times. Disturbances were
frequent. Of course our ears had been filled with exciting stories of
dacoit atrocities. The incessant and unintelligible jabbering of the
Paunjabby policemen, sometimes sounding as though they were on the
verge of a fight, and the sharp call of the sentry as he challenged
passers-by were anything but conducive to sleep through that first
night in our mission bungalow.

The new missionary has many trying experiences while becoming
accustomed to the changed conditions of life in the tropics. Judging
from our own experience and observation, covering many years, it seems
utterly impossible for the returned missionary to transmit to the new
missionary, while yet in the home-land, anything like true conceptions
of the life upon which he is about to enter, and how to prepare for
it. Either the new missionary has theories of his own which he fondly
imagines never have been tried, or he considers himself so unlike
other mortals that rules of living, developed by long experience,
do not apply to one of his own peculiar physical make-up. But
whatever his attitude of mind towards the new life and work, the
fact remains that he has dropped down in the midst of conditions so
unlike anything in his past experience that he must learn to adapt
himself to life as he finds it. The first place to apply his gift of
adaptation is in the household. First experiences with native servants
are decidedly interesting, to say the least. Our cook "Naraswamy,"
"Sammy" for short,--came to us highly recommended, and neatly clothed.
We had not yet learned that the poorer the cook, the better his
recommendations (often borrowed from some other cook), and the neater
his clothing,--also borrowed for the purpose of securing a place, but
never seen after the first day or two.

One day when "Missis" was giving directions about the dinner she
called Sammy and said, "Sammy, how many eggs have you?" "Two egg,
missis." "Very well, you make a pudding the best you can, with the
two eggs." At dinner no pudding appeared. "Sammy, where is the
pudding?" Putting on a sorrowful look Sammy replied, "I done break
egg" (spreading out his hands to indicate the two eggs), "one got
child, one got child." When Sammy felt fairly sure of keeping his
place, his two little boys began to spend much of their time in and
around the cook house. One of our first rules was that no child should
be allowed to go naked on the mission compound. These two dusky
youngsters had not a thread of clothing. Sammy was called up and
instructed that if his children were coming to the mission premises,
they must be properly clothed, at the same time presenting him with
a suit for one child. The next day they came again, with smiles of
satisfaction, one wearing the trousers, the other the jacket. Many
of these Madrassi cooks are professing Christians, merely to secure
a place in a missionary family. A small minority are Christians in
fact. But whether a heathen cook sneaks off with a stuffed turban, or
a professed Christian appropriates our food quietly humming "I love to
steal,----" the resulting loss to commissariat and spirituality is the

Madrassi cooks, almost without exception, are dishonest. They will
jealously guard "Master's" property against the depredations of all
comers, but help themselves to a liberal commission from the daily
Bazar money,--and catch them if you can. This has been their custom
for many generations, and is their right, from their point of view.

When engaging a cook it may as well be kept in mind that his pay is so
much a month, and ----. He will fill out the blank to suit himself.

Take his Bazar-account every day, and make him show the articles
charged for, but do not congratulate yourself that he has made nothing
by the transaction. And yet his prices may be quite as low as his
employer could get. Find fault with the quality of the meat, and
he will bring a better article, but short weight. A stranger might
conjecture that the meat was selected for its wearing qualities, as
one would buy leather; or that they had heard of the mummified beef
found with one of the Pharaohs, and decided that only such was kingly

The cook is supposed to board himself. He does, and all his family
connections. Just how he does it may never be known, but "Master" pays
the bill, in "cash or kind." Bengalee cooks are much more desirable,
but hard to get. Mrs. Judson's testimony to the faithfulness of her
Bengalee cook may well be repeated here.

"I just reached Aungpenla when my strength seemed entirely exhausted.
The good native cook came out to help me into the house; but so
altered and emaciated was my appearance that the poor fellow burst
into tears at the first sight. I crawled on to the mat in the
little room, to which I was confined for more than two months, and
never perfectly recovered until I came to the English camp. At this
period, when I was unable to take care of myself, or look after Mr.
Judson, we must both have died had it not been for the faithful and
affectionate care of our Bengalee cook. A common Bengalee cook will do
nothing but the simple business of cooking; but he seemed to forget
caste, and almost all his own wants in his efforts to serve us, ...
I have frequently known him not to taste food until near night, in
consequence of having to go so far for wood and water, and in order to
have Mr. Judson's dinner ready at the usual hour. He never complained,
never asked for his wages, and never for a moment hesitated to go
anywhere, or perform any act that we required."

The dhoby (washerman) is always a source of much distraction. He takes
away the soiled linen on Monday, _promising_ to bring it back on
Saturday; carries it to the riverside, stands in the water facing the
shore, pounds it out on a flat stone with swinging blows, and,--brings
back what is left. Garments worn perhaps but once, are found on
spreading out, to be spoiled by long rents or mildew. Socks that have
been filled with sand in order to strike a harder blow, still retain
enough sand to cause much discomfort. One or two pieces are missing
altogether. He promises to bring them the next time. In the meantime
he has probably hired them out to some person of mixed blood and
principles, or native aping European habits. The sweeper, waterman,
and other native helpers slight their work, or perchance, with the
poorest excuse, and that not made known until afterwards,--absent
themselves altogether. "But why"--some will ask "is it necessary to
employ these native cooks, washermen, etc.?

"Many of these women who go to the foreign field as missionaries'
wives were accustomed to do much of their own work here at home,--why
not do the same over there, and so avoid the expense,--as many of
us who support them have to do?" In the first place, many of the
missionaries have only one servant who is paid for full time, that
is the cook. All others do a little work night and morning, their
wages being made up by serving several different families. Again, it
would be a physical impossibility for the missionary's wife to do the
cooking and washing, adding the heat and smoke of an open fire to the
tropical heat of the atmosphere. Some have tried it, only to give it
up as utterly impracticable. Others have persisted in it, only to be
laid away in a cemetery in a foreign land, or to return hopelessly
broken in health, to the home-land.

_It cannot be done._ Moreover, it would be the height of folly for the
wife to spend her time and strength over cooking utensils, dish-pans
and wash-tubs. The wife, as truly as the husband, has consecrated
her life to the Master's service. There is work for her to do, among
the women and children, that he cannot touch. The missionary's wife
whether touring with him among jungle-villages; visiting from house
to house in the town; working in the school; making her influence
felt in the church; or even when prevented by family cares or failing
health--from engaging in active service,--she furnishes the object
lesson of a well-ordered Christian home, her life is of just as much
worth to the cause of Christ as is that of the missionary whose
helpmate she is. I can do no better than quote Dr. Herrick's beautiful
tribute to her worth: "I never yet saw a missionary's wife whose
companionship did not double her husband's usefulness. I have known
more than one whose face, as the years of life increase took on that
charm, that wondrous beauty that youthful features never wear, the
beauty of character, disciplined by suffering, of a life unselfishly
devoted to the highest ends. One of the choicest things of missionary
work is the unwritten heroism of missionary homes. It is the
missionary's wife who, by years of endurance and acquired experience
in the foreign field, has made it possible, in these later years, for
unmarried women to go abroad and live and work among the people of
eastern lands."

When a young man or woman has once settled the burning question: Is
it my duty and privilege to go as a missionary? and has become fully
pledged to that service, there is an intense desire to get to the
scene of action as soon as possible; to enter upon the grand work of
proclaiming Christ where He has not been named.

We had not long been in our new home before Burmans, both Christian
and heathen, began to call to see the new teachers. They evidently
wanted to welcome us as their missionaries; and we, in turn, wanted
them to know that love for them, for whom Christ died, had brought
us among them. But how helpless we felt! An exchange of smiles, a
hand-shake, a few words that neither party could understand,--that was

We found ourselves utterly powerless to communicate to them one word
of all that was burning,--had been burning for years, in our hearts.
Then it was that the fact fully dawned upon us that before we could
hope to do effectively the work to which we had consecrated our lives,
a difficult foreign language must be mastered; that we must keep our
consecration warm, from the A B C of a strange tongue until the time
when, through the medium of that tongue we could tell "the story of
Jesus and His love." First in order then, is to get right down to hard
boning on the language of the people among whom the missionary is to
labour. He who fails to gain a strong hold on the language during the
first year, will labour under a disadvantage through all the years of
missionary service. Burdens are thrust upon him more than enough to
consume all his time and strength. Hundreds of villages in his large
district furnish a strong appeal to postpone study.

The climate soon begins to effect him so that he seems to lose the
power to study. Inheriting a large organized work he is forced at
once into service as a full-fledged missionary, before a pin-feather
of experience has had time to start. Interruptions are frequent and
unavoidable. How to find time for language study is indeed a serious
problem,--_but he must find it_, if his life is to tell for Christ,
at its best. Moreover, the missionary must master practically two
languages before he is fully equipped for service,--the language
of the book, and the language of the people. The formal style of
classical Burmese would be as out of place in the jungle as the
colloquial Burmese would be in the pulpit. In the one case it would
not be understood, in the other it would give offense,--for one may
not "talk down" to even a native audience. Hence, to be effective the
missionary must at the same time be faithful to study, and to real
contact with the people. It is no easy matter, after one has struggled
through all the years of training in the home-land, thumbing Latin,
Greek, and Hebrew Lexicons until he fondly thinks that his training
has been completed,--to get right down again to the A B C of a new
language. Here he meets something, that will test the soundness of
his consecration and of his _staying_ qualities. From first to last
our great missionaries have been men who have thoroughly mastered
the language of their people. But it is perfectly wonderful how the
natives will listen respectfully to the most laborious attempts to
speak to them in their own tongue. Not a smile at the most ridiculous
mistakes, not a word or sign to indicate that they are not really
understanding what you are driving at. This excessive respect
sometimes leads to serious consequences. The missionary, thinking
that he has made himself understood, is disappointed and hindered
because things do not come to pass. The native is not wanting a sense
of humour, and if he feels sure that you will enjoy the joke, he will
point out the mistake, and join in the laugh over it.

Unlike other languages of Burma, the construction of a Burmese
sentence is the reverse of the English order. Many sentences may be
translated backward, word for word, certain connective particles
becoming relative pronouns, with a perfect idiomatic English sentence
as the result. The eye can soon be trained to take in a printed
sentence as a whole, and grasp its meaning, without stopping to render
it into English in the reversed order. But to keep this order in mind,
in conversation, with the word expressing action left for the last,
like the snapper to a whip, is not so easy. In acquiring the language
by ear a difficulty arises from the universal habit of _kun_-chewing.
Never careful about enunciating his words, a wad of _kun_ in a
Burman's cheek adds to the confusion of sounds. With mouth half full
of saliva, chin protruding to keep it from slopping over,--a mumbled
jargon is what the ear must be trained to interpret as human speech.

By this time the newcomer has seen enough of the climate, and of
the side of society in which he will move, to convince him that his
Prince Albert coat, in which he has been accustomed to array himself
"every day in the week, and twice on Sunday" must be folded away in
his trunk until such a time as he takes a furlough in the home-land. A
fellow-missionary consoles him with the remark that he once wore back
to America the same coat that he wore to Burma eight years before.
Missionaries usually arrive in November, the beginning of the "cold
season." After that comes the "hot season,"--but it is difficult to
tell just where the one leaves off and the other begins.

In any event, the newcomer soon "warms to his work." First the
waistcoat is discarded, then the long thick coat gives place to a
short thin one. For underwear, gauze flannel and singlets are in
demand. Starched shirts and linen collars are reserved for special
occasions. High-top shoes are relegated to the corner-closet. Even
his watch hangs as an uncomfortable weight in his light clothing.
In the old life he hardly perspired once in the year. Now there is
hardly once in the year when he is not perspiring. The drinking-water
is so warm that it seems to have lost much of its wetness. What would
he not give to feel cool again. But he has not long to wait for his
wish to be more than realized. Some night, after fanning himself into
a restless sleep, he will wake up in a chill, to find himself in the
throes of the Burma fever, to which he was "not subject." Then he
will recall the lightly-regarded advice, repeatedly violated in every
particular, and now---- As this is the first attack he will get his
wife to treat him the first day with the homeopathic remedies in his
morocco medicine case,--his last misguided purchase before sailing.

There is nothing better to perpetuate a fever. On the second day,
having recalled some more advice, his head will be buzzing with
quinine, the only thing that will really help him,--as every man in
the tropics knows.



Much has been said and written about "living like the natives."

Many have maintained that the missionaries should abandon their former
mode of living, and adopt the customs and costume of the people among
whom they labour. It is said that old maids know the most about the
proper way to bring up children. It is interesting to note that
advocates of this theory of missionary methods are men who never have
been out of their native land, and have spent but little of their
time in informing themselves as to the habits of uncivilized peoples.
Prospective missionaries will do well to provide themselves with the
customary outfit,--to meet their needs while finding an answer to the
many-sided question,--how _do_ the natives live?

For the present we will confine our investigations to Burma. Let us
visit one of the native houses, and see for ourselves. Running the
gauntlet of several snarling pariah dogs, we pass through the muddy
door-yard, littered with banana leaves, munched sugar-cane, and
waste from various sources. The house is set up on posts, several
feet from the ground, affording a shady place below, to be shared by
the family and the domestic animals. The floor overhead is of split
bamboo or thin boards, with wide cracks through which all sweepings
fall, and _kun_-chewers lazily spit without troubling themselves to
get up. At the back part of the house a corner is partitioned off
for the cook-room, the stove being a very shallow box filled with
earth. The cooking is done in earthen chatties over the smoky open
fires. Near the cook-room is an open space where household utensils
are washed and the babies bathed, the water falling through the open
floor to the ground below. Month after month and year after year this
filthy habit goes on, forming a cesspool from which a foul stench
arises, offensive to nostrils and dangerous to health. This foul
pool is a paradise for their ducks, its slime being tracked all over
the place. The house is small, its thatched roof coming down so low
as hardly to leave room for a full-sized door. Many of these homes
have no out-buildings whatever, trusting to the pariah dogs and the
crows,--the village scavengers,--to keep the premises in a sanitary
condition. Some of the well-to-do Burmans live in larger better
houses; showing that not only is it impracticable for Europeans to
live like the natives, but that natives when able, find it wise to
live like Europeans. This is a tropical climate, with the temperature
at 112° in the shade on the day these words were written. It would be
almost suicidal for Europeans to attempt to live in such houses, even
under the best sanitary conditions possible. Missionaries have lived
for a time in such houses, from force of circumstances, but always to
the detriment of health, sometimes with very serious consequences.
To a stranger, European "bungalows" in the tropics seem needlessly
large. "Globe-trotters" in general, and sometimes representatives of
missionary societies, it is to be feared, visiting the tropics in the
coolest season,--carry away this impression with them. In New England
there is a saying "You must summer him and winter him" to find out
the real worth of a man or beast. Could all who visit the tropics,
or presume to write of conditions in the tropics,--spend a whole
year in such a climate critics would be few, and funds for seemingly
expensive, though necessary buildings less grudgingly given.

They who urge that Europeans should _clothe_ like the natives would
surely allow exceptions to the rule, on closer study of native habits.

Among some of the tribes of Burma the question of wardrobe and latest
style would be easily solved. Clothing like such natives would greatly
reduce the expense for "outfit." Two strips of cotton cloth, one for
the head, the other for the loins, would meet all requirements even
on state occasions. But apart from all questions of common decency, it
is to be seriously doubted whether the European would enjoy "sailing
under bare poles" in a tropical sun.

The railway trains are provided with first, second, and third-class
compartments. Officials and wealthy business men travel first-class.
Less fortunate Europeans, and people of mixed race but with European
habits travel second-class. Natives, as a rule, go third-class,--but
the rule has many exceptions. Not to speak of well-to-do Burmans
and Chinese, who, though unobjectionable in dress,--are inveterate
smokers, the "chetties," or money-lenders invariably travel
second-class. They are the wealthiest men in the county, but with
the exception of coolies,--they wear the least clothing and are the
most offensive in their habits. The missionaries, whether on private
or mission business, being unable to bear the expense of the higher
class, and striving to save for the society which they represent,
travel second-class. Now that many very objectionable natives have
taken to riding second-class, it is no longer respectable for
Europeans, except on rare occasions when the train is not crowded.
For my own part, I seriously doubt whether this habit, on the part of
American missionaries, of taking an inferior place among so-called
"Europeans," is a wise policy.

[Illustration: RAW MATERIAL (KACHINS)]


But whether wise or otherwise, lack of funds has made it necessary.

Far from adopting the impossible costume of Chins, Kachins, Salongs
and other benighted races, the missionaries are earnestly striving
to develop in the natives sufficient moral sense that they may come
to regard the matter of being clothed at all, as something more than
a minor consideration. It is true that Burmans, Shans, and Christian
Karens dress more respectably. In fact, their costume, at its best,
seems to be very well adapted to the climate and their manner of life.
But even this somewhat generous concession must be modified.

The customary skirt for Burmese women in Upper Burma, and more or
less throughout the country, is a piece of coloured cloth about a
yard square, fastened around the waist to open in front. This style
of skirt is said to have been adopted by a decree of the Burman King.
Multitudes of Burmese women seem to have no disposition to abandon it
for something more modest, even after eighteen years of British rule.
Elderly women, as well as men of all ages, wear nothing above the
waist while about their work, even passing through the streets in that
condition with no self-consciousness. The Burmese skirt made after the
most approved pattern is only one thickness of cloth, tightly fitting
the body, not such a dress as European ladies would care to wear.
Mrs. Judson, ministering to her imprisoned husband, felt compelled
to adopt the native costume, to make her position more secure. But
supposing the missionaries adopt the costume of the corresponding
class,--the priests and nuns,--they must go with bare feet and shaven
heads; all very well for the natives, but nothing short of ridiculous,
as well as extremely dangerous under a tropical sun, if practiced by
white people. In the interior of China the costume of the people has
been found very suitable for the missionaries, and a help to winning
their way. But wherever the people have become familiar with European
customs, respect is forfeited, rather than gained by exchanging
European customs for those of the natives.

A missionary and his wife recently returned from Africa were invited
to speak in a certain church dressed in the native costume. They
appeared, but in their usual attire. In the course of his remarks the
missionary referred to the request that they appear in native costume,
and drawing a piece of cotton cloth from his pocket remarked "_That_
is the costume,--you will excuse us?"

Eating like the natives,--here comes the tug-of-war. The "backward
tribes,"--Chins, Kachins, Salongs, many tribes of Karens, and
others, eat everything,--from the white ant to the white-eyed
monkey. Worms, beetles, maggots, lizards, snakes, and many other
such delicious morsels would form a part of one's daily diet,--a
necessary part, unless the missionary has supplied himself with
tinned provisions,--in which case he would not be living like the
natives. But we will suppose that the missionary's lot has "fallen
in pleasant places"--among the more civilized Burmans of the plains.
Rice will be the centre and substance of the two daily meals. Rice,
well-cooked,--the natives can do that to perfection,--is an excellent
food, and finds a conspicuous place on the bill of fare at every
European table. But rice is made palatable by the savoury "curry"
served with it. In jungle-villages, and among poor people in the town
this curry will be made of vegetables (not such vegetables as we have
known in the home-land), and tender sprouts and leaves, seasoned
with chillies. Devout Buddhists will not take animal life, hence
meat-curries, if far from the market, may not be thought of.

If the missionary has undertaken to live among the natives and like
the natives, he must learn to do without meat. They will not kill a
fowl for him. If he kills one for himself, he has broken his contract.
But, perchance, an animal may die of itself, then its carcass will be
parcelled out to all the villagers, and the missionary will have his
share. In the town he may fare better, without breaking his rule. Meat
slaughtered by non-Buddhists is on sale in the Bazar every day.

Buddhists as well as others may buy and eat, for the sin is only in
the killing, in which they had no part. It is nothing to them that the
demand occasions the supply. So what time the missionary spends in
town he may have his meat.

In spite of the commandment, "thou shalt not take the life of any
living thing," undoubtedly the most important Thou shalt not--in
the Buddhist creed, with the penalty of the lowest hell for its
violation,--there is no lack of fishermen. Theoretically, they are
the lowest of the low. But if all fishermen were to die to-day--their
places would be filled to-morrow, and the market still be supplied.
The natives want fish seven days in the week, if they can get it.
But not even a fresh-meat or fresh fish-curry is satisfactory to the
native palate until flavoured with dried fish, or with "nga-pee." In
the Bazar may be found smoked and dried fish in great variety, very
tempting to the native, but betraying the fact that too many hours
under a tropical sun were allowed before curing. This fish is often
eaten raw, in blissful ignorance of the microbe theory,--indifference
would be the better word, for their "microbes" frequently are visible
to the naked eye. If these organisms have not actually eaten part of
the fish, they are considered so much clear gain to the consumer.
Such food is largely responsible for the great demand for a strong
vermifuge in the treatment of sickness.

Now we come to "nga-pee" proper, regarded by the Burmans and several
other races, as essential to a well-flavoured meal.

"The smell of nga-pee is certainly not charming to an uneducated
nose,"--said a writer on Burmese customs,--a statement that has passed
unchallenged. There are many varieties of nga-pee, but to all the
remark quoted may be applied. The most common is called fish-paste or
"Burmese butter," made from the smaller fish which are caught in large
quantities, as smelts are in the home-land. The fish are spread on
mats under a tropical sun, just as they come from the water, and left
there until in a condition which an "uneducated nose" would not care
to investigate.

They are then mashed to a paste,--a very easy matter,--salt is
worked into the mass, and then it is packed away to drain. The oily
juice is carefully saved in earthern jars, a highly prized liquid
flavouring. When well drained the nga-pee is taken to market in sacks
or in bulk, the indescribable odour always going a mile in advance,
when the wind is right. Passengers by river-steamers sometimes find
themselves sandwiched in between two cargo-boats loaded with nga-pee,
fairly sizzling under a broiling sun. Passenger trains halting at
stations sometimes stand over against a few carloads of nga-pee on
the side-track, filling the passenger-compartments with an odour rank
and unbearable. And yet this vile stuff is eagerly devoured by all
races, and must be allowed a place in the missionary's meal, if he is
to "live like the natives." Nga-pee furnishes only one, though a very
self-assertive one of the many offensive smells of an Oriental Bazar.
Many fastidious people never go to the Bazar, for fear of contracting
some kind of disease. There is much in the condition of these places
to furnish ground for such fears. And yet I never have heard of
disease being so taken. It would seem that one odour counteracts
another, completely foiling all evil intentions of the spirit of



The Burman is the proudest mortal on earth. Indeed, he is not of
earth, according to his own belief, but has descended from fallen
angels. Many ages ago certain Brahmas came down from the celestial
regions to dwell on the earth. By adapting themselves to the habits of
ordinary human beings, they themselves gradually became human. From
these Brahmas or fallen angels, the whole Burman nation descended.

The Burman recognizes no superior. The superior advantages of a
training in the Western world counts for nothing, because the Burman
cannot appreciate such advantages. At one time when in conversation
with a Burman official recognized as one of the ablest Burmans in the
country, I dilated upon the extent, power, wealth, and resources of
the United States, in answer to his many questions about my country.

Wishing to impress him, I made the figures as large as conscience
would allow. At last he summed it all up in the self-satisfied
expression--"About as big as Burma, isn't it?" A difference of about
70,000,000 in population was not comprehended. He could conceive of
nothing bigger or more important than Burma. The Burman kings posed
as the Head of Religion. The king was more than human. His subjects
were his slaves, with no legal right to anything which he might crave
for himself. He could compel them to perform any labour he saw fit
to impose. His titles indicate his high estimate of himself: "His
glorious and excellent Majesty, Lord of Elephants, Lord of gold,
silver, rubies, amber, and the noble serpentine, Sovereign of the
Empires of Thunapurtanta and Jambudipa, and other great Empires and
countries, and of all the Umbrella-bearing chiefs, The supporter
of Religion, Descendant of the Sun, Arbiter of Life, King of
Righteousness, King of Kings, and Possessor of boundless dominion and
supreme wisdom." That is all. It was well to be somewhat modest, as an
example to the people.

The king was "Lord of the White Elephant," for short. That in itself
ought to have satisfied a man of ordinary ambition, inasmuch as the
white elephant was a sacred animal, and had the "power of making
its possessor invincible." "The white umbrella was the emblem of
sovereignty in Burma, and its use was limited to the king and the
images of Gautama." The Buddhist priest must be content with a
more modest title than "Pongyi," the name by which they are now
known,--for pongyi means "Great Glory," and could be applied only
to the king. But when the king fell into the hands of the English
the title "Great Glory" went broadcast--to minister to the vanity of
the thousands of priests and to be retained by them as a monopoly.
Burman officials to this day are equally proud of their titles, from
the highest in the land down to the Ywa-Thugyi, the village headman.
To address any official by name instead of his title, would be a
gross breach of etiquette. In the king's time official etiquette
was scrupulously observed, even towards prisoners of the official
class. Royal blood must never be shed, even in executions. A blow
from a bludgeon on the back of the neck of the stooping victim,--or
in the case of females, a blow on the front of the neck settled the
account. Nor might royal victims be buried. The body, enshrouded in
a red velvet sack, was taken in a boat to the middle of the river,
and thrown in. It is said that this was sometimes done without the
formality of an execution, a few stones in the sack answering the
same purpose. Crucifixion was also common. It is claimed that in many
instances the victim was first put to death and then the mutilated
body bound to the bamboo cross and exhibited as a fearful warning
to evil-doers. Dread of being crucified led thousands to migrate
to British territory after the annexation of Pegu. The ugly terms
"imprisonment," and "execution" were never used at the court of the
king. There was a "keeping by" and a "clearing away," to suit the
caprice of the king, scores and hundreds being massacred at once, on
the merest suspicion of conspiracy. "Uneasy lies the head that wears
a crown," was true of Burman kings, and they had a way of making all
others of royal blood equally uneasy.

[Illustration: POUNDING RICE]

One of the causes leading to the last Burmese-English war, was the
famous "Shoe question." According to the Burmese custom, sandals must
be removed outside the entrance, whether of private residence or royal
palace. When a subject of however exalted rank was admitted to the
presence of the king, he must come in his bare feet, and approach in a
crouching position so that his skirt would prevent his feet being seen
by the fastidious eyes of the king. Heads have been lost for violation
of less important rules of etiquette. Representatives of the British
Government were compelled to follow this humiliating custom,--though
they were graciously allowed to keep their stockings on,--and to sit
on the floor at a respectful distance from His Majesty, Lord of the
White Elephant, etc., etc. The Briton thought this inconsistent with
proper respect for the government he represented, to say nothing of
his own personal feelings. Diplomatic negotiations were delayed, for
the haughty king would allow no deviation from this humiliating
custom. Although the war was not declared on this issue, English
officials who had been required to remove their shoes, found great
satisfaction in requiring the king to remove his crown. The custom
of taking off one's sandals when entering any house still prevails.
Entering with sandals on could only be interpreted as a deliberate
insult. When a European enters a monastery he is expected to take off
his shoes, though the priest does not insist upon it--when informed
that it is not European custom.

If twenty men come to see the missionary, the last man must step over
nineteen pairs of sandals at the foot of the stairs. But when it comes
to head-gear, the custom is reversed. While Europeans would take
off their hats, the Burmans do not remove their _gaung-baungs_, or
turbans. The _gaung-baung_ is usually of gaudy silk, and worn at all
times, even at worship, by both Buddhist and Christian.

When Saul had been informally proclaimed King of Israel, the people
"despised him, and brought him no present." This would not have
happened in Burma, as the attitude of men from whom presents would
naturally be expected,--unless perchance they had ceased to value that
portion of their bodies above the shoulders. Whether king, subordinate
official, or private citizen, a present suited to the weight of the
matter in hand was an essential preliminary to a hearing. Under
British rule, Burman officials do not openly perpetuate this custom.
They now content themselves with bribes quietly presented, usually
through a third party, in place of the present once openly offered.
But in social life the custom of making presents is a recognized
matter of etiquette, even when visiting non-official superiors. It
commonly takes the form of a tray of the choicest fruit procurable.
But in the majority of instances it finally appears that some favour
or other is being sought.

Poor people sometimes come with a bunch of plantains or a few oranges
which they beg us graciously to accept as a token of their great
esteem, and then hang around the place waiting for a return present of
ten times the value of their own. The European soon becomes suspicious
of presents as likely to prove more expensive than the regular Bazar

A missionary to the Indians in British Columbia relates a story which,
so far as motive is concerned, might have been matched in Burma. One
day an Indian gave them two fat ducks. "What shall I pay for them?"
"Oh, nothing, they are a present for the missionary." The Indian hung
around, remained to dinner, ate one of the ducks, remained through
the afternoon, ate the equivalent of the other duck, remained until
bedtime, when the missionary hinted that perhaps he had better go
home to see if his wigwam was where he left it. "I'm only waiting."
"Waiting for what?" "Waiting for the present you are to give me for
the present I gave you."

A peculiar custom that always impresses the newcomer, is that of doing
obeisance, called "shikkoing." When the devout worshipper counts the
beads on his rosary he repeats the formula with each bead "Lord, Law,
Priest--the three precious things" or objects of his worship.

As a counterpart of this formula he goes through three prostrations,
with palms together, bowing his face to the ground in honour of the
three precious things of his creed. These prostrations are also gone
through at confessional before the priest,--one of the "precious
things" before mentioned. He does not enumerate his sins, but lumps
them, declaring that for all the sins he has committed he prostrates
himself three times, in honour of the three precious things, and hopes
thereby to be freed from all punishments and calamities. In respect to
both spirit and method this custom reminds one of a certain man who
used to hang his clumsily written prayer to the bedpost, saying as he
crawled into bed, "Lord, them's my sentiments." After his lump-sum
confession he receives the priest's benediction, which is practically
the same as absolution, and goes away, the self-complacent pharisee
that he is.

What astonishes and shocks the missionary is to find a heathen Burman
at his feet going through this seeming act of worship. He feels as
horrified as did Paul and Barnabas at Lystra. But he afterwards
learns when he comes to understand the Burman better,--that these
prostrations before superiors are not intended as acts of real
worship. He is merely showing his humble respect, as a preliminary to
some appeal for favour.

English officials require from non-Christian natives the same tokens
of respect that were in vogue prior to the annexation. Native
Christians are exempt from all customs which savour of Buddhism.

The idol and the priest alike represent Gautama, the only god the
Buddhist knows. The attitude of the Burman mind may be illustrated
by what a Burman Christian boy told me of his experience when he
visited his native village. In response to an invitation he went to
see the old priest, who had known him as a child. The priest was held
in honour both by virtue of office, and his advanced age. The young
Christian went through the customary prostrations respectfully, and
then said, "I do not shikko you as God, but because I do not know of
any other way to show my respect." The heathen Burman is in the same
difficulty when he appears in the presence of a foreigner whom he
wishes to honour.

This Oriental mode of showing reverence, not necessarily worship,
throws light on the word "worship," so often used by Matthew.

The Burman is a religious animal, both terms emphasized. He has
many religious festivals, and every festival is a feast. The
casual observer would see but little difference between the street
processions of weddings and funerals. There are the same tom-toms,
the same grotesque dancing, the same stuffing of insatiable stomachs.
Among Chins and Kachins such occasions are scenes of drunkenness
and disorder. Not so among the Burmans. Many have contracted the
drink habit by contact with Europeans, but the use of intoxicants
has not yet become a national vice. The Burman attends all feasts
and festivals because it is unchangeable custom to do so; because
everybody else will be there, and he enjoys being in a crowd; because
it gives him an excuse for abstaining from work, which he does not
enjoy; because he can array himself in his best silk skirt and
gaung-baung, and will find all the ladies there similarly arrayed; and
most of all because whatever the occasion, it will be a feast. During
the rainy season, which coincides with "Buddhist Lent" no feasts or
festivals are held.

Funerals cannot always be postponed, especially as there is much
sickness in the rainy season, but weddings are prohibited. Courting
may be indulged in on the sly, to shorten the process when Lent is

At the beginning of Lent there is a great festival, entered into with
enthusiasm because it will be the last for several months. At the end
of Lent there is another great festival, hilariously enjoyed because
the dull rainy Lenton period with its round of Duty-days without the
craved accompaniments is over at last. Even the priests enjoy it, for
presents to the monasteries, which had fallen off during Lent, will
now be renewed. The young are again free to pair. The whole town is
illuminated. Fire-balloons are sent up, with reckless disregard to
safety of their houses. All are bent on having a good time. It is a
religious festival, to be sure, each separate observance being in
honour of some _nat_ or divinity--but there will be time enough to
meditate on all that afterwards. For the present it is a round of
picnic enjoyment.

The Burman era began in 639 A. D. The New Year begins in

The month is reckoned from midway between two full moons. Any Burman
can readily give you the date, according to the Burman system, but
very few have mastered the European calendar. The date is given as
so many days before or after the full of the moon. The New Year is
always celebrated by the "Water-feast." Offerings of pots of water
are taken to the monasteries, the images of Gautama given their
annual washing down, and then the show begins. Boisterous young men
arm themselves with buckets or chatties of water, frolicsome damsels
with cups, and the boys with bamboo squirt-guns, each and all bent on
douching everybody else. By some means or other everybody gets his
share. He would feel slighted if he did not receive a due share of
liquid attention. The use of water at the beginning of the year has
a religious significance,--but let the priest and the pious attend
to that. The young folks are in for a jolly good time, and they get
it. At the beginning of November there is another feast in honour of
the time when Gautama Buddha made a visit to the celestial regions
to preach to his mother. Then on the full moon of November another
feast in honour of the time when Gautama became a Buddha under the
bawdee-tree. Lesser feasts occur at intervals until Lent begins
again. What with all the religious feasts, the weddings, ear-borings,
funerals, etc., etc., the Burman suffers no lack of enjoyment. He
manages to get some fun out of everything, the funeral being no
exception. He will dance and sing on the way to the cemetery, and race
bullock-carts on the way home. The funeral of a priest often resolves
itself into a tug of war. Two stout ropes are attached to each end
of the four-wheeled cart on which the casket has been placed. The
crowd divides itself into two parties, the ropes are seized, and
the struggle begins. Up the street the cart is dragged with a great
hurrah, until reinforcements strengthen the opposing party, then the
cart takes a lurch in the other direction, its lofty spire swaying
in a threatening manner. Back and forth goes the cart, the exciting
contest sometimes lasting for hours. Merit is gained by drawing the
pongyis' remains to the funeral pyre. Of course the pyre-ward side
must ultimately win, or there would be no cremation.

[Illustration: DANCING GIRLS]

The rope-pull is sometimes resorted to in much the same manner to
break a prolonged drought. Whether successful or not, as rain-makers,
they have the sport. Is the Burman lazy? He certainly has that
reputation, and I never heard it disputed by employers of Burman
labour. His services would be better appreciated were he as punctual
at the beginning of the day as he is at its close, and as diligent
in the use of his tools as he is in keeping his cheroot lighted. He
must have some credit for hard work to leave so many things undone.
At "turning off work" he has no superior. He invariably turns off
all the work he can,--and does the rest. And yet when one reflects
that outside of the delta nearly all of the hard work of cultivation
in the plains is done by Burmans one feels compelled to reconsider
his verdict as to the Burman's capacity for work. No man can tell
by a Burman's clothing whether he is rich or poor. All that a man
hath will he give for a silk skirt. In "the good old times" when the
king's will was law subordinate officials made demands for money
wherever appearances indicated that money existed, to make up the
amount of revenue called for. It was then good policy to dress below
one's ability rather than above it, or one might find himself in an
embarrassing situation. Moreover, certain material, style of cut,
etc., was reserved for royal blood. But when the king fell, and the
Burman found that the conqueror's method of raising revenue was by
equitable taxation, royal customs went to the winds. Young men and
maidens, and even the middle-aged blossomed out in gaudy array on
festive occasions, though there might not be a pice of loose change
to back it. Of all the races of Burma the Burmese are the cleanliest
and dressiest. The costume of nearly all races, at its best, is fairly
respectable and suited to their manner of life,--if they would only
keep it clean and keep it on. When one is about to die the friends
say, "Think not of friends or of property,--think only of God." This
sounds hopeful, but it is well known that these spiritual advisers
have in mind only the brazen image of Gautama, found in every village,
the only god they know.

When a death occurs the pongyis are invited to the house, not to
console the living, but to perform certain rites on behalf of the dead.

First a priest repeats a formula something like this, "He worships
God; he worships the law; he worships the clergy," friends assuming
the attitude of worship as substitutes for the deceased. The priest
continues--"He kills not, steals not, commits no offense against
his neighbour's wife; lies not; drinks not. He has all his life
been careful about these things." The formula ended, one of the
friends drops water from a gurglet or cocoanut shell into a glass, to
accompany another formula by the priest, "May the deceased enjoy the
food of the _nats_. May the nat of the earth bear witness." The person
who pours out the water drawls in a loud voice, "Ah-mya-myo"--in great
abundance and variety, the people responding, "Thah-doo, thah-doo"--it
is well, it is well. At the grave, or in a _zayat_ nearly the same
ceremonies are repeated. The priests have already been feasted at the
house, and now presents are given on behalf of the dead, that he may
enjoy the same blessings in the abode of the nats. The priests do not
usually accompany the procession, but go in advance to the zayats
near the cemetery. At death a small coin is placed in the dead man's
mouth to pay his ferry fare across the mystic river of death. Without
the coin for the ferry he could not cross, but would have to return
to this world to suffer--nobody knows what. The use of the coin is
said to be dying out. The coffin is swung endwise over the grave seven
times (sometimes docked to three) as a good-bye, and to give the
deceased a good start towards the great Myin-Mo Mount, the abode of
the nats.

Human nature is much the same the world over. Courtship and marriage
are universal customs. Methods differ, but motives are the same.

The majority of marriages are for love, or for something that has
been mistaken for that sentiment. When a Burmese young man and maiden
fancy each other well enough to indulge in playful flirtations at
pagoda feasts and other public occasions it is pretty sure to develop
into something more serious. The young lady is not likely to let
a good chance slip by. Old-maidhood is dreaded by all, except the
comparatively few who become nuns, and many of them are said to have
become nuns because disappointed in love. Lover-like attentions may
not be given openly. Clandestine meetings would scandalize the whole

At about nine o'clock in the evening the young man, accompanied by
his friends approaches the house of the maiden whose charms cause his
heart to thump against his ribs. He finds her awaiting his coming.
But they are not to enjoy a fond tête-à-tête by themselves. Several
young lady friends are sitting on the open veranda with her,--and the
old lady peeking through a chink in the bamboo wall. It is courtship
under difficulties, but it means business just the same. The rules of
propriety have been observed, the parents are satisfied. As for the
rest, trust the young folks to find ways and means to enjoy themselves
as lovers do the world over. Accepting presents of jewelry from a
young man is generally recognized as an engagement. Many a maiden has
allowed her fondness for jewelry to lead to complications from which
she has difficulty in extricating herself. According to old Burmese
law the sole right to select or reject suitors was vested in the
parents. The daughter, until twenty years of age, was entirely under
their control.

The Dhammathat says: "Amongst men there are only three ways of
becoming man and wife, which are as follows: First, a man and woman
given in marriage by their parents, who live and eat together. Second,
a man and wife brought together by the intervention of a go-between,
who live and eat together. Third, a man and woman who came together by
mutual consent, who live and eat together." In question of property
rights the most importance is attached to the first method. A marriage
without the consent of the parents, if the girl is under twenty, may
be cancelled by the parents, if action is promptly taken. The girl
may reject the man to whom she has been betrothed by her parents,
but her decision is recognized only after she has run away from him
and been forcibly restored three times. In like manner a girl who has
been taken in marriage without the consent of her parents must be
restored to them three times. If she then returns again to her husband
the parents' claim upon her is forfeited, because the "Owner of the
daughter could not control her." Widows and divorced women are subject
to no control. While all this is Buddhist law, the girl, as a matter
of fact, does about as she pleases in the matter of accepting or
rejecting, just as they do in other lands, whether she is under twenty
or not. Neither Buddhist law nor established custom renders any kind
of a marriage ceremony essential, nor is registration of the marriage
necessary. "Living and eating together," constitute all desired
evidence of marriage.

The first eating together is something done in the presence of
witnesses and so becomes in itself a simple wedding ceremony. This
happy-go-lucky custom makes it exceedingly difficult to settle any
questions in law growing out of such a marriage. A couple may prove
that they are, or are not husband and wife, as best suits their ends.
In Christian lands the wife is sometimes taken home to live with her

In Burma the situation is reversed, the young husband going to live
with his wife's parents. By a generally accepted division of labour
the wife is the burden-bearer, while the husband gets the glory for
what is accomplished. Husband and wife are going into town to exchange
a basket of rice for a supply of putrid fish and other necessaries of

The wife carries the basket, weighing seventy-five or one hundred
pounds, on her head, the husband with only his _kun_-bag slung over
his shoulder walking ahead at a gait which she finds it difficult to

The load may now and then be rested on a convenient stump, or the
considerate husband helps to lower it to the ground and raise it to
her head again. So accustomed have they become to this arrangement
that it never occurs to either party that the man might carry the load
part of the time. Familiar as is this custom, it never fails to stir
in my soul an indignant protest. But the "worm may turn," if pressed
too hard.

A poor woman was going to the station to take a train. On her head
was a heavy load, and on her hip a child. Tears were trickling down
her cheeks. The husband, carrying nothing but his umbrella, was
persistently tormenting her. At last she deposited load and child on
the ground none too gently, and pitched into him with great fury,
cuffing, scratching and screaming all at once, until he gave her a
wide berth.

It was one of the most refreshing sights ever witnessed, in this
land. According to Buddhism the male is far superior to the female.
No woman can cherish the slightest hope of attaining to Naik-ban. Her
highest hope and prayer is that in the next, or some future existence
she may be born as man, and so take a fresh start. But in this life
the Burmese woman holds a higher place than is enjoyed by her sisters
in any other Oriental land. If divorced from her husband she can
take away whatever property she brought when married, together with
all she may have gained by her own exertions. She is by no means a
silent partner in business affairs. Usually she has greater business
acuteness than her husband, and does not hesitate to have a voice in
all negotiations. The Bazar is almost wholly run by the women, each
having her own stall and keeping her own accounts in her head, for she
cannot read nor write. At this point women seem to be inferior, but
it is because they were excluded from the monastic school, and never
had a chance. Vastly better than her indolent husband or brother she
knows how to make money and keep what she makes. While Mohammedan and
Hindu women are shut up in harems and zenanas, the Burmese women walk
the streets with head erect, puffing their huge cheroots without the
slightest thought of being the "weaker vessel." The energy of the
Burmese women saves the race from going to the wall.

[Illustration: TATTOOING]

From courtship and marriage we pass by a natural transition to
child-life in Burma. The crop of babies never fails. Parents would
as soon think of failure of the rice harvest as of a failure to add
annually to the population of the village, and the disappointment
would be about the same. If nature did not defeat the barbarous
methods of native midwives there would be no child-life to describe.
But in spite of methods that would soon depopulate more civilized
lands, every town and village is just romping full of children. Boys
run naked until six or eight years of age, and girls until one or two.
Many a time have I seen parents, wrapped in blankets, huddled around
a fire in the cool season while their infants and small children had
not the slightest protection. There is no intentional neglect, for
the parents love their children, but it is "custom." This custom
supplements the ignorance of the midwives, and adds to the number of
shallow little graves in the adjacent jungle for the parish dogs to
fight over. But baby has its cradle for its frequent naps. This is
made of wood or wickerwork, and suspended from a bamboo in the floor
or roof above. Sometimes this swinging cradle is a wide strip of cloth
tied together at the ends, with the baby deposited in the loop. Baby
has not long been in the world before it has a name. The name depends
on the day of the week in which it was born. Certain letters of the
alphabet are assigned to each day. The baby's name must begin with
one of the letters assigned to its birthday. There is no family name,
nothing to indicate to what particular family a child belongs. Each
day of the week represents some planet, from which it takes its name.
The planet assigned to a particular day will influence the life of a
person born on that day, and determine his temperament. The naming is
done when the baby is one month old. On the previous day invitations
are sent around to the elders of the village, who by eating a pinch of
pickled tea from a cup sent by the messenger,--accepts the invitation
to be present at the ceremony, the parents make ready a supply of
food, a feast being an essential part of every ceremony. Invited
guests bring presents of money, precious stones, or jewels, which
they cast into a large jar of water set there for the purpose. Some
of the more valuable presents are merely lent for the occasion, but
they help to make a show. When the guests have enjoyed their pickled
tea, betel-nut, and cheroot, several of the elders proceed to bathe
the baby in the vessel containing the presents. Another repeats a
benediction calling for the continuous welfare of the child, but
limits it to one hundred and twenty years. From the centre of a circle
of coins on a dish of rice a cord of cotton thread is taken and bound
around the child's wrist. One of the elders now announces the child's
name,--previously decided on by the parents,--as if it were the happy
result of his own meditations. This ceremony is to the Burman and
Shan what a christening is to many in other lands, in its relation
to a child's future. An interesting naming ceremony was held by two
couples of native Christians, in my mission. The missionaries and
native Christians were invited to a prayer-meeting. After the meeting
a number of Old Testament names, written on slips of paper, were put
in a hat borrowed from the missionary. The first fond father to put
his hand into the hat drew for his offspring the name Daniel,--which
he would pronounce Dan-ya-lah. The other father got Moses as a name
for his son. Dan-ya-lah and Maw-shay they are to this day.

It is interesting to watch little children at their play. With
sun-dried marbles, large seeds, or peculiarly-shaped sticks, plays
have been improvised, which, in the course of years, have become
national games for the youngsters. Boys and girls enjoy the sport

Before the English annexed the country the monasteries were the only
schools. This is still the case in the majority of villages. But every
Buddhist boy, whether he has the advantage of the English schools or
not, must spend a few months in the monastery. Until he enters the
monastery as a probationer he is not considered a human being in such
a sense that it would count in future transmigrations. He now receives
a new name, to be used so long as he remains in the monastery. If he
finally becomes a priest he retains the religious name for life.

The novitiate-ceremony usually takes place when the boy is between
ten and twelve years of age. If not already familiar with life
in the monastery, he is taught how to address the priests, and
conduct himself generally. As this is the most important event in a
Burman boy's life, the ceremony is made on as grand a scale as the
circumstances and credit of the boy's parents and friends will permit.
Decked in gayest costume and covered with jewelry he is placed on a
pony, or, in the towns, in the best vehicle obtainable, protected from
the sun by a long-handled umbrella, and conducted to the homes of his
relatives, to bid them farewell. Flashily dressed men and women, boys
and girls make up the procession, some of the young men dancing and
singing as they go. All this pomp and show, to celebrate renunciation
of the world.

The farewells being said, the candidate is reconducted to his own
home, where the feast has been prepared, and an elaborate bamboo
tabernacle erected, extending from the house to the opposite side
of the street. Here, in the presence of the priests, friends, and a
host of gaudily-dressed spectators the actual ceremony is performed.
The candidate's finery gives way to a strip of white cloth fastened
around his loins, forming a very brief skirt. Then the barber is
called in to deprive him of his long hair and shave his head. After a
bath he dresses and presents himself before the priests, goes through
the prescribed prostrations, repeats the memorized formula pledging
himself as a novitiate, is duly clothed in the yellow robe of the
order, the _thabeit_ or begging-bowl is given him, and then he joins
the other novitiates in their return to the monastery in which he is
to live. How sad it seems to see a small boy thus shut out from the
gay world, at just the time when he is fullest of fun and frolic,--but
not half so sad as it seems.

Devout Buddhists may compel their sons to remain in the monastery
three months, but to become a priest is not compulsory. In many
places a week is the limit. Not infrequently a boy who has made the
round of pathetic farewells, and gone through the whole ceremony of
pledging himself to the Assembly, is back home again before night,
having met all actual demands, and exchanged his fine head of hair
for an interesting experience. And right glad he is to be back, for
the feast is still on, and he comes in for a share of the dainties.
Comparatively few give their lives to the priesthood. Some enter the
priesthood later in life.

The longer the term--the greater the merit. The number of young men
to remain in the monastery is steadily decreasing. The same is true of
the number of men who thoroughly understand Buddhism. The festivities
have not slackened, but with less and less religious significance in
the minds of participants. Having been in the monastery the boy has
become a human being. But whether before or after this ceremony he
must receive the signs of manhood by being tattooed from his waist to
his knees. If this is not done the boys and girls will poke fun at
him and call him a woman. This tattooing may be done piece by piece,
at intervals, to allow time for healing of the surface covered. The
sessamum-oil lampblack used for ink, pricked into the skin on a large
surface causes a great deal of swelling, and sometimes fever. The
professional tattooer has his figure-patterns from which the boy or
his parents may select.

The figures are usually animals, set off with an ornamental edging.
Few boys have the nerve to endure the pricking very long. This is
overcome by a dose of opium, deadening the sense of feeling, and
dazing the mind, though not to such an extent as to keep him from
puffing his cheroot while the operation is going on. Besides this
tattooing of imitation breeches, there are many kinds of charms, done
in vermilion on the upper parts of the body and arms, as desired by
the superstitious.

Schoolboys have charms to protect them against the pain of whipping,
young men have charms to make them successful in their wooing.
Soldiers and dacoits have charms to protect them from bullets and
_dah_-thrusts, and everybody has charms to render harmless all snake
and insect bites. Besides the tattooed charms, certain objects
are inserted under the skin, or carried about, according to the
superstition of the individual, and representing about as high a type
of intelligence as does the horseshoe over many a door in civilized

The custom of tattooing is said to have originated many centuries
ago, when the Burmans were subject to the Shan kings in Upper Burma.
The Shans, who were themselves tattooed,--branded with tattoo-marks
captives taken in war, as evidence of their servility. Instead of
regarding this as humiliating, the Burmans were proud of their
tattooing, as marks of the king. Moreover, the despised Chins, wild
tribes in the north-western hills, did not tattoo. A non-tattooed
Burman might be mistaken for a Chin, which would be humiliating
indeed. Tattooing became popular, the custom spread rapidly, and now a
full-grown Burman who is not the proud possessor of a pair of tattooed
breeches that will last him a lifetime, is seldom found. In the
jungle-villages nearly every boy is tattooed. In the towns the custom
is rapidly dying out. Not five per cent. of Burman boys in the towns
have submitted to this custom. Town boys are much more afraid of being
taken for countrymen than of being made fun of for departing from the
time-honoured custom. In fact, the town boy is as anxious to have it
known that he is not tattooed as the unbreeched village boy would be
to conceal it.

The fact that at the last census nine hundred and eighty six persons
were returned as professional tattooers indicates that their business
is still thriving, notwithstanding the disaffection of the town dudes.

The desire to ape English customs may have something to do with this
backsliding. This is also noticeable in the habit, now popular among
town boys, especially in the schools, of cutting the hair short. Only
a few years ago a cropped head would have stamped one as a convict.

Girls are not tattooed except possibly an invisible love-charm,--but
they furnish a companion-ceremony, when ear-boring time comes round.

It answers to the time when a girl in the home-land begins to think of
getting out of short dresses, to be a child no longer.

When an ear-boring ceremony is announced everything else must take
second place. The day and hour are fixed by the soothsayer, but he
manages to make his divinations harmonize with the plans of the
parents who engaged his services. In spite of the frightened girl's
screams and struggles her ears are pierced with the gold or silver
needle of the professional ear-borer, the tom-toms and horns of the
band outside doing their best to drown her cries. The holes are kept
open until they heal, and then they are gradually enlarged by wearing
glass or metal tubes of increasing size, until finally a tube half
an inch in diameter can be inserted. In the olden time the lobe of
the ear was stretched much more than is now the fashion. I have seen
old women with holes in their ears through which two fingers could be
passed. Such ear-lobes furnished handy holders for their big cheroots.
This stretching and elongating of the lobes of their ears formerly
had a religious significance that is now being forgotten. All images
of Gautama represent him with ear-lobes touching the shoulders, as a
symbol of perfection.

Devout women,--and some of the men,--did their best to imitate his
example. Ear jewelry may be inexpensive colored glass, or of gold
elaborately designed and set with precious stones.

Once her ears are bored the girl puts an end to all street play with
small-boy acquaintances, and poses as a young lady. Changes are
observed in the style of dressing her hair; in her costume; in the
use of cosmetics,--for every Burmese girl, though naturally brown,
desires to be white; in her bearing as she walks the street; in every
pose of her graceful body. She may not have so much freedom of action
as she enjoyed before, but she knows it will not be long until some
choice young man will want her, to adorn his household.

The one universal custom, common to all, both men and women, boys and
girls alike, is the filthy habit of _kun_-chewing and smoking. The
_kun_-chew is made up of part of a betel (areca) nut, chopped fine,
and an astringent green leaf of a certain vine. A little lime-paste,
usually coloured red, is spread on the leaf, then it is wadded up
and jammed into the side of the mouth, with the betel nut. Saliva
soon accumulates. To expectorate would be to lose some of the small
pieces of the nut before the good had been extracted. Attempts at
conversation are ridiculous and nauseating in the extreme. When the
mouth can retain its load no longer its contents are discharged
through a crack in the floor.

The white pony of a lady-missionary was once tethered under a native
house for the night. What was the lady's disgust the next morning
to find her beautiful pony all stained and bedaubed with vile red
_kun_-juice. Smoking is begun before teething is finished. I myself
have seen a mother take a lighted cheroot from her own mouth, and put
it in the mouth of a wee child in her arms. Burmese ladies consider
a cigar the finishing touch to their preparations for a dress-parade.
But the Burman cigar contains but a small proportion of real tobacco
leaf, otherwise the smoke-habit would soon kill off the race. They
cannot both chew and smoke at the same time, but the twin habits keep
them so busy that they accomplish little else. It is said that the
Burman "smokes between chews, and chews between smokes."

It is simply marvellous how far a Burman can smell a rupee, and what
methods he will employ to get it. Has the mission work to be done
by carpenters, cartmen, etc., heathen Burmans are not wanting who
will regularly attend chapel services, and pose as devout inquirers
so long as the job lasts. I have known fortune-tellers, teachers,
court-clerks, and common rice-cultivators to become pretended
disciples with no other motive than to become preachers. They know
that the native evangelists have regular salaries, and that the
missionary takes a fatherly interest in their welfare, giving medicine
when they are ill, advising when they are in difficulty. Though the
salary is not large, it secures a fairly comfortable living, which
is more than many a heathen is sure of the year round. So the wily
heathen comes to our people, pretending to be deeply interested in
Christianity, applies himself to learn all he can, attends worship,
and finally asks for baptism, with every appearance of sincerity. One
year we drew a prize, "Saya Tike" he was called. "Saya" because he had
charge of a small private school. He was past middle age, of uncommon
intelligence, and fine bearing. A more earnest and devout inquirer,
to all appearances, we never met. After some months of waiting he was
baptized and received into the church. Then began his tale of woe. In
consequence of his becoming a Christian his school had been broken
up. Persecutors had broken into his house and stolen his clothing.
Friendless, penniless, and out of a situation, he appealed to the
missionary for something to do. Being fairly handy as a carpenter he
was given such work on the mission buildings. After about two weeks
he suddenly disappeared. Some weeks passed before we could get any
clue to his whereabouts. Then one day one of our preachers met him
in a jungle-village wearing the yellow robe of a Buddhist priest.
When asked why he had left the mission he complained that instead
of being employed as a teacher he had only carpenter work to do. He
preferred being a "pongyi," and have his food given him. Some months
later he again turned up at the mission, professing repentance for
his backsliding, and asking to be received back again. Our faith in
him had been badly shaken, but we tried not to show it. If we would
only give him citizen's clothing in place of his yellow robe he
would gladly go to work again. Giving him the benefit of a doubt I
arranged with my right-hand man to give him a _longyi_, such as the
other men were wearing. No, he did not like a longyi, but must have
the more stylish _puhso_. His taste not being gratified, back he went
again to his heathenism. We soon learned that all his pathetic stories
of persecution had been trumped up for the occasion, to excite our
sympathy, and secure a position.

One day a strange Burman came to the mission. He said that he was a
Christian from a mission fifty miles away. On the train he had been
robbed of his clothing and the little money he had. All he wanted was
to be kept over night, and money enough to pay his way home. The case
was referred to me. I placed the required sum in the hands of my man
"Friday" with instructions to give it to the applicant should he prove
worthy. The next morning my man came to report, and to give back the
money. I said to him, "Well, Ko Ngi, how did you find out that he was
a humbug?" Replying in broken English, he said "Last night we have
meeting (evening prayers). I think, you proper Christian, I make you
pray. He no know anything. He can't pray proper. Then I say--Your
Saya (missionary) how many chillen? He say 'Four little boy, so much
big.' I know he Saya done got _five_ chillen,--one _so much girl_,"
indicating with hand a full grown young lady. So he had sent the man
away without the hand of fellowship, and returned the money.

Among non-Christian Burmans sin, of whatever sort, is sin only when
discovered. "How could it be sin when nobody knew anything about it?"
Deceit is practiced without a pang of conscience so long as the game
can be worked.

The missionary is kind-hearted, supposed to have plenty of money, like
other "Europeans," and is considered legitimate prey.



Reliable history of Burma dates back only to the early part of the
eighteenth century. Burmese chronicles claim to cover a period from
seven to eight hundred years before the Christian era. The Burmese
language certainly was not reduced to writing earlier than the fifth
century of the Christian era.

Early history is founded upon legend. Doubtless many of the events
recorded actually happened, but their dates are hopelessly mixed, and
events themselves distorted by exaggeration. Measured by their records
of the Burmese-English wars of the nineteenth century, in which every
reverse was written down as a great victory,--all of the history
prior to the eighteenth century is utterly untrustworthy. Much may be
learned from other sources, but the information is at best fragmentary
and conflicting. In 1795, the time of the first "Embassy to Ava,"
historical facts dating back to the early part of the century were
gathered and verified. From that time the history of Burma, compiled
by Europeans, is fairly continuous and accurate. In giving a brief
sketch of the chief races of Burma, the main facts of history will
appear. The chief races, in order of numbers, are the Burmans, Shans,
Karens, Talaings, Chins, and Kachins. Taken in the order of priority,
the Talaings, according to the theory which seems to me to have
most in its favour,--come first in order. This theory is that they
were the first of all the many races of Burma to migrate southward
from Tibet, or neighbouring parts of Asia. They seem to have been
of the same race as the Burmans. They still retain the same general
characteristics and customs, and cannot be distinguished from the
Burmans where the two races mingle. The time of this migration is not
known, but it may safely be placed many centuries before the Christian
era. It is probable that they gradually drifted southward until they
reached Burma. The Burmans, coming from the same general source long
afterwards, failed to recognize the Talaings as having any kinship
to themselves. The fact that the Talaing language is utterly unlike
the Burmese, both in root words, and in construction of sentences
indicates that the two races, or two sections of the same race, as
the case may be,--were kept quite distinct prior to the migration of
the Talaings. The Burmans, who held the Talaings in contempt, finally
became indebted to them in a threefold manner,--by the adoption of
the Talaing system of writing, the Buddhist religion, and the sacred
books in which it was recorded.

The sacred books were brought to Thatone from Ceylon, by Buddhist
missionaries not earlier than 386 A. D. These books were
written in Pali, which is still the religious language of Buddhism.
The Talaings soon reduced their own language to writing, not adopting
the Pali characters, but drawing chiefly from the Tamil, with a change
from the square to the round shaped letters.

It is well known that there was a colony of Tamils near Thatone at
that early date. The old theory that the Talaings descended from
the Telugus, and that their original home was in Talingana, is now
generally discredited. Little is known of them prior to the Christian
era, scant mention of them being found in Burmese chronicles, and
having none of their own, covering their early history. Whatever
chronicles they may have had were destroyed by the Burmese conquerors.

The Talaings seem to have been in control in the first century, A.
D., from the Gulf of Martaban to the upper Irawadi. They founded
Pegu in the sixth century, but lost it, as well as Thatone to the
Burmans in the eleventh century. The present city of Pegu was founded
by the Talaings in the sixteenth century, and they have since been
known as Peguans. The term _Talaing_ is said to have been applied
to them by the Burmese as a term of reproach, the word meaning "the
down-trodden." They call themselves _Mons_,--but "Talaings" they will
be, so long as they maintain a distinct existence. In 1385 they were
again in power at Pegu, and two years later at Martaban. In 1410
they had extended their sway to Arracan, which they held until 1423.
The Talaings of Pegu and Martaban were conquered by the Burmans in
1551. But in 1740 we find them again to the front. Taking advantage
of the recklessness of the Burman king the Talaings, in alliance
with a colony of Shans living near Pegu, seized that town, and soon
afterwards were in possession of Prome and Toungoo. In 1752, aided, it
is said, by renegade Dutch and Portuguese, and with firearms procured
from European traders, they invaded the upper country, capturing and
burning Ava, the capital of the Burman kingdom. Three years later
Alaungpra recaptured Ava, driving the Talaings southward, and in 1755
followed with his army to Rangoon, destroying the Talaing power. The
Burmans having regained possession of the whole country, retained
control until they had to yield to the greater power of the English.
Descendants of the Talaings who remained in the Pegu district, have
practically lost their identity, readily and willingly passing as
Burmans. The main body retired to the country east of the Gulf of
Martaban. In consequence of an exodus, probably more than one,--of
Talaings into Siam after unsuccessful wars with the Burmans, joining
the many already in that country, there are now more Talaings in Siam
than in Burma. It is even claimed that Siam got her code of laws from
the Talaings. The census of 1901 gives the number of Talaings in
Burma as 321,898. The number will increase year by year, as many are
returning to Burma from Siam. Thousands of Talaings scattered through
the country doubtless returned themselves as Burmans, without so much
as recalling that their ancestors were Talaings. Many prophesy that
the Talaing language will in time, die out. This may be true, for the
Burmanizing process is slowly, steadily, irresistibly going on. Nearly
half of the Talaings in Burma speak Burmese, many of them speaking
Burmese only. But this still leaves a large body beyond the reach of
Burmanizing influences, waiting for the gospel in their own tongue. If
the Talaings--as a race, are to be evangelized in this generation or
the next, the gospel must be given to them in their own language.


The original home of all so-called indigenous races is still in
doubt. The bulk of evidence seems to be in favour of the borders of
Tibet as the original home of the race known as Burmese. To one who
knows the characteristics of these people it is difficult to conceive
of such a migration, except under compulsion. In the census report
of 1901 we find them described as follows: "The Burman as we know
him, is essentially a non-migrating, unbusinesslike, irresponsible
creature, perfectly incapable of sustained effort, content with what
can be gained by a minimum of toil." That the race ever voluntarily
left its original home, whatever the attraction, seems incredible.
The Burman himself solves the mystery by claiming celestial origin.
Brahmas dwelling in the celestial regions came down to dwell on earth.
At first they existed as semi-supernatural beings, living above the
ordinary appetites and passions of men. By extending their diet to
kinds of food not allowed to such beings they gradually lost their
supernatural attributes, and finally became like ordinary mortals.
The Burmans proudly claim lineal descent from these Brahmas. Their
argument, quite conclusive to themselves, is based on the similarity
between Brahma and Bam-ma, as they call themselves. Philologists, with
cruel disregard for the feelings of these people, have utterly spoiled
their pretty theory. Brahma is a Hindoo term, introduced long after
the Burmese migration. So now there is nothing left to substantiate
their cherished belief,--except the national habit of wanting to
eat everything they see. In both history and religion legend is
inextricably mixed with facts and fancies imported with Buddhism.
Burman tradition, backed by ancient ruins on the upper Irrawadi,
assert that Sakya tribes from central northern India, migrating by
way of Manipur, settled in Upper Burma a few centuries before the
Christian era. It is difficult to account for such ruins as are to
be seen at Tagaung, on any other theory. These ruins can hardly be
the remains of work accomplished by any of the indigenous races of
Burma, in their barbarous condition. The claim that the first Burmese
monarchy received its stimulus from these Indian princes can neither
be proved nor disproved. In any event whatever remained of the foreign
tribes was assimilated by the Mongoloid peoples who were first in the

An incursion of Shans before the opening of the Christian era,
themselves forced out of western China, seems to have caused the
downfall of the kingdom of the Indian tribes, if they really had one.

Shans, rather than Burmans, then became supreme in the upper Irrawadi
valley. Not until as late as the eleventh century did the Burmans
regain their supremacy, and even then the Shans continued to hold the
country north of Bhamo. In the Burman war of conquest in the south
at this time, the main object was to secure the Buddhist Scriptures,
known to be in possession of the Talaings at Thatone. These sacred
books, obtainable in no other way, were essential to the king's
purpose to reform the imperfect Buddhism of the north. There is some
evidence that Buddhism was introduced into Upper Burma from India, by
way of Manipur, several centuries before it was brought to Lower Burma
from Ceylon.

It is evident that Upper Burma did not have the Buddhist sacred books
prior to the eleventh century. Northern Buddhism was only super-added
to the existing rites of _Naga_, and spirit worship.

In the south the sacred books had already been translated from Pali
into Talaing, but not into Burmese. With the importation of the sacred
books into Upper Burma, and their translation from Talaing into
Burmese, the real history of Buddhism among the Burmese began.

It is not known when this translation was begun, nor when the Burmans,
by adopting the Talaing system, reduced their language to writing.
Some of the later translations of Pali writings into Burmese direct,
were made about the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The Burmese "Pagan Monarchy," weakened by bad government and luxurious
living, came to an untimely end in the thirteenth century, through an
invasion of the Chinese. The Shans in the north held the balance of
power, and may have agreed to the subordination of Burma to China, as
the Chinese have always claimed.

[Illustration: BUDDHIST SHRINES]

In the fourteenth century a new king, nominally Burmese, but connected
with the Shans,--came into full power, and founded Ava. But early in
the fifteenth century (1426) the Burmans lost their capital and all
the territory north of Toungoo and Prome, to the Shans. The new city
of Toungoo, built about this time, was the seat of an independent
prince. Pegu had been ruled by kings of Shan race since 1281. In
1538-9 the Toungoo Burman prince, Tabin Shwe' Htee, conquered Pegu,
in the following year Martaban, and after being proclaimed king in
Pegu, extended his sway in 1542, as far north as Pagan. Two years
later, with an allied army of Burmans, Shans and Talaings, he invaded
and conquered Arracan, but not Chittagong. But his success as king
at Pegu was short-lived. Expensive but fruitless wars, and excessive
dissipation turned the people against him. He soon became the victim
of a conspiracy and was treacherously murdered. In 1551 the Burmans
were again victorious at Pegu, pursuing and destroying the Talaing
king. Three years later they regained Ava from the Shans, but retained
the capital at Pegu. Pressing his successes, the Burman king, in
1557, conquered the Shans in the extreme north of Burma, and a little
later at Thibaw, Mone and "Zimme"; northern Siam becoming tributary
to Burma. Steps were taken to make the then non-Buddhist Shans (many
were doubtless already Buddhists), conform to the Buddhist customs of
the Burmese. The Burman ruler, Nawartha, was now what his ambition
craved,--the "King of Kings."

But before the end of the century Pegu and all the territory south to
Tavoy had been lost. Between 1600 and 1613 a Portuguese adventurer
named Philip de Brito reigned as king of Pegu, with residence at his
own fortified city of Syriam. By the marriage of his son with the
daughter of the king of Martaban, the cooperation of that section was
secured. In 1612 De Brito and the king of Martaban marched against
the prince of Toungoo, who had broken faith with De Brito by forming
an alliance with Ava. "They plundered the city, burned the palace and
retired." This high-handed aggression soon reacted on his own head.

The Burman king advanced from Ava with an immense army, laid seige to
Syriam, and starved the garrison to surrender. De Brito, who had been
guilty of many sacrilegious acts, destroying pagodas and other sacred
objects in search of plunder, could hope for no mercy at the hands of
his captors. The leading Portuguese were slaughtered. The remainder,
including the women, were carried away captive to Ava as slaves. Their
descendants may now be found throughout Burma, many of them being
Roman Catholic priests. In 1634 Ava was made the permanent capital.

An immense pagoda was built, and a costly image of Gautama cast to add
to the sacredness of the place, and to the merit of the king.

But Burman fortunes were uncertain. Ava the Great was taken and burned
by the Talaings in 1752. Not long were the Talaings allowed to hold
the Burman capital. A Burman who took the name of Alaungpra, with
wonderful vigour and ability rallied his people. Little more than a
year had passed when Alaungpra recaptured Ava. In 1755 he took his
armies southward, conquering as he went, not content until he reached
Dagon. There he founded a new city, which he designed should be the
chief port of Burma, and named it Rangon (or Yangon), the word meaning
the war ended.

A legend says that Dagon village was founded and the Shwe Dagon pagoda
built in 586 B. C., which is probably within a few centuries
of the true date. The village was rebuilt by the Talaing king of Pegu
about 744 A. D. The great pagoda, upon which an expensive
_htee_ or umbrella had been placed in 1540, was still further
improved, "to rival the one at Pegu." (The present _htee_ was placed
on the Shwe Dagon pagoda in 1871, by Mindon Min.) But the Talaing
capital of Lower Burma, Pegu, had not yet been taken. We have seen
that in 1613 Syriam was destroyed by the Burmans because of De Brito's

Now, in 1755, both British and French traders were established there.
During the struggles between the Burmans and Talaings, the Europeans
hardly knew which should have their favour and help. Everything
depended on being on the side which should prove victorious.

Alaungpra, after securing Rangoon, returned to Ava. This was
interpreted as a sign of weakness, and thereafter the Europeans openly
showed their sympathy with the Talaings. When the Talaings attacked
the Burmese, they were assisted by the ships of both British and

But alas, Alaungpra returned early in the following year. After a
blockade of several months Syriam was taken and destroyed, including
the European factories. The principal Europeans, after being held a
short time as prisoners, were put to death. The downfall of Pegu soon
followed, marking the end of Talaing supremacy.

Six years later, 1762, Sagaing became the capital of the Burmese
Empire. Passing over the wars with Siam, Manipur, and China, we find
the capital changed, in 1783, to Amarapura, a new city built for the
purpose. The following year Arracan was invaded and conquered. The
most valued booty was an immense brass image of Gautama, cast in the
second century, said to possess miraculous powers. This image, taken
over the mountains, a wonderful feat, was placed in a building erected
for the purpose, on the north side of Amarapura, the new capital,
where it may now be seen by visitors to the "Arracan Pagoda."

In 1795 the first envoy to the king of Burma was sent by the
government of India. The envoy was not well received, and secured no
permanent advantage. The following year another was deputed to be
resident at Rangoon, instead of Ava. He met with the same discourteous
treatment, and accomplished nothing. Up to 1812 five successive
attempts were made to arrive at an understanding with the Burman king,
with reference to political and commercial relations, but without
success. Envoys were either ignored or made the bearers of insolent
replies. At this time war between England and the United States was
about to begin. Adoniram Judson was getting ready to sail as a foreign

In 1823 the capital was restored to Ava. A great fire at Amarapura
destroying some of the royal buildings, together with certain "bad
signs," induced the king to abandon the city which had been in
existence only forty years. During the previous year the Burmans had
overrun Manipur and parts of Assam, and claimed the territory as a
part of the Burman Empire. The first battle ever fought between the
Burmese and English was at Cachar--in January, 1824. The Burmans were
defeated. In 1824-5 the British and native troops succeeded in driving
the Burmans back into their own country. The bulk of the Burmese army
had already been recalled to repel the British who were advancing from
the south, war having been formerly declared in March, 1824. In the
meantime the American missionaries, Judson and Price, together with
all Europeans at Ava were imprisoned as suspected spies, or in league
with the enemy.

After eleven months they were transferred to Aungbinle, with the
intention to put them to death. The first Burmese war lasted two years.

Arracan, and all the country east of the Gulf of Martaban was ceded to
the British. Rangoon reverted to the Burmese. But the most interesting
result to American readers, was the release of the missionaries,
Judson and Price, who were utilized as messengers to negotiate the
terms of surrender. After the second installment of indemnity had
been paid, and the British troops withdrawn to territory ceded by
the humiliated king the following record of the affair was added to
the royal chronicles. "In the years 1186, 1187 (Burmese) the white
strangers of the west fastened a quarrel upon the Lord of the Golden

"They landed at Rangoon, took that place and Prome, and were permitted
to advance as far as Yandabu, for the king, from motives of piety
and regard to life, made no preparation whatever to oppose them. The
strangers had spent vast sums of money in their enterprise, so that
by the time they reached Yandabu their resources were exhausted, and
they were in great distress. They then petitioned the king, who, in
his clemency and generosity, sent them large sums of money to pay
their expenses back, and ordered them out of the country." The record
modestly omitted to mention the fact that the strangers had permission
to take with them the Arracan, Ye, Tavoy, Mergui, and Tenasserim

The whole period from 1826 to the second Burmese-English war, in 1852,
was marked by heartless cruelties inflicted by successive Burman kings
upon all real or suspected offenders; by persistent repudiation of
the terms agreed upon at the close of the first war; and by gross
insults to British representatives. The second Burmese-English war
lasted a year and a half, and resulted in the annexation of the
Province of Pegu, which included Rangoon and extended to a point
about thirty miles north of Toungoo. In about 1837 the capital was
again transferred to Amarapura, where it remained until Mandalay was
founded, in 1860, by Mindon Min. A new king, Mindon Min, was soon
proclaimed at Amarapura. Throughout his reign, from 1853 to 1878,
relations between the British and Burmese were greatly improved.
Mindon Min was the best king Burma ever had. Moreover, the loss of
Arracan, Tenasserim, and Pegu had inspired some degree of respect
for representatives of the British Indian Government. With the death
of Mindon, and the ascension of Thibaw, trouble began. The great
massacre, in which about seventy of royal blood, including women
and children, were ruthlessly butchered, called forth a vigorous
remonstrance from the British Government. An insolent reply was
returned, rejecting outside interference.

In August 1879 the resident at Mandalay was withdrawn. Massacres
soon followed, rivalling the horrors of the past. At this time many
thousands of Burmese migrated to Lower Burma to escape oppression.

Thibaw then began a flirtation with France. The Bombay Burma
Trading Company was accused of defrauding the king in the matter of
royalty on teak logs. An enormous fine was inflicted. Arbitration
was rejected. The French were conspiring with the king to gain
commercial advantages, giving them practically full control of Upper
Burma, including the only route to western China. In June, 1885, the
government of India obtained conclusive evidence as to the nature
of these negotiations. A demand was made that a British resident be
received at Mandalay, and that Thibaw reveal his foreign policy.
This ultimatum was refused. The British immediately advanced on the
capital. On the 28th of November, 1885, Mandalay was taken, and King
Thibaw made a prisoner. The great, self-sufficient Burman kingdom had
fallen to rise no more.

French diplomatists had outreached themselves, and precipitated the
annexation of Upper Burma.

On the first of January, 1886, the following proclamation was issued:
"By command of the Queen-Empress it is hereby notified that the
territories formerly governed by King Thibaw will no longer be under
his rule, but have become a part of Her Majesty's dominions, and will
during Her Majesty's pleasure, be administered by such officers as the
viceroy and government of India may from time to time appoint."

It will be seen that the Burmese throughout their history have been a
warlike people. The adoption of Buddhism, as the national religion,
with its strict rules concerning the taking of life, does not seem to
have wrought any change in this respect. The grossest cruelties were
practiced, suspected conspirators slaughtered by hundreds, generals
who had failed in battle, as well as others of high rank or noble
blood were executed, sewed up in red sacks, and sunk in the Irrawadi
River. Sometimes the preliminary execution was dispensed with.

Victorious kings built great pagodas, at the expense of the people, to
expiate their sins of bloodshed,--and then renewed the carnage.

The cruelties inflicted upon Judson and his companions at Ava and
Aungbinle; the history of Burman dacoity since the English occupation;
together with many other evidences,--stamp the Burman as far from
being the tolerant, peace-loving, life-reverencing character that
many of his admirers, on the interest of Buddhism, or Theosophy,
have pictured. It is said that a professor in a certain theological
seminary, seeking to cast discredit on the historical authenticity
of the Book of Daniel, called the attention of his class to the
unlikelihood that any Oriental monarch would have issued such decrees
as are attributed to Nebuchadnezzar, in the third chapter. To say
nothing of Mohammedan fanaticism, familiarity with Oriental character
as exhibited by Burman kings would have dispelled the professor's

When Naungdawgyi had completed the great Shwe Dagon pagoda, in
comparison with which Nebuchadnezzar's image was Liliputian, he made
a decree that all peoples must fall down and worship it, on penalty
of death. The majority of the people being spirit-worshippers, the
decree could not be enforced. To let himself down easily, the king
commanded that a _nat-sin_, or spirit-house be erected near the
pagoda. The people coming to make offerings to the _nats_--would
also be coming to the pagoda, and so the decree would be obeyed,
and, in time, its purpose effected. The character of the Burman king
Bodaw-para, who was on the throne when Judson came to Burma, is thus
described by Father San-Germano, who lived in Burma twenty years
during this king's reign. "His very countenance is the index of a
mind ferocious and inhuman in the highest degree,--and it would not
be an exaggeration to assert that during his reign more victims have
fallen by the hand of the executioner than by the sword of the common

"The good fortune that has attended him ... has inspired him with the
idea that he is something more than mortal, and that this privilege
has been granted him on account of his numerous good works....

"A few years since he thought to make himself a god." He did in fact,
proclaim himself as the fulfillment of the national expectation of
a fifth Buddha. Priests who refused to recognize his claims, were
punished. Who can doubt that the late King Thibaw would have been
quite capable of repeating Nebuchadnezzar's decree, had he thought of
it, and seen any advantage in it, to himself.

The census of 1901 gives the total population of the province as
10,490,624. Of this total the Burmese number 6,508,682, while the
number returning the Burmese language as their ordinary tongue was
7,006,495. The total number of Buddhists, including the Shans and
Talaings, is 9,184,121. The area of the province is 286,738 square
miles. To the casual visitor the country seems to be peopled almost
exclusively by Burmese, and Buddhism the only form of worship, the
other races inhabiting isolated parts of the country, far removed from
the main lines of travel. The population of Rangoon is about 235,000.
Buddhists and Hindus number about the same, with more than half as
many Musalmans as of either. Fifty per cent. of the population are
immigrants. Rangoon is no longer a Burman city.

In Mandalay, their last capital, and second city of Burma, the
situation is quite different. In a total of 178,000 over 152,000
are Buddhists. This city has been in existence only sixty-three
years. Its outward appearance is much the same as it was when taken
by the British in 1885. The same brick wall, twenty-six feet high,
with its crenelated top, a mile and a quarter on each side of the
square, forming an impregnable (!) barrier against all comers,--still
surrounds what was the royal town. On each side are three gates,
reached by bridges across the wide moat, which is kept filled with
water by a connection with a natural lake a few miles to the northeast.


Inside of the walled town comparatively little now remains as it was
when captured. The natives occupying thatched houses, were compelled
to move outside the wall, taking their shanties with them. For this
they were amply compensated by the British Indian Government. A large
city, regularly laid out with straight wide streets, was already
flourishing outside of the walled section. Within the walls the palace
and monasteries still remain, the former now being restored by the
provincial government, at great expense. Services of the Church of
England are held in one of the large halls. In one of the buildings
near the palace the Mandalay Club is comfortably established. Several
old cannon, used by the Burmese in their wars, more for the noise they
could make than for any death-dealing powers they possessed, now adorn
the grounds. The king's monastery, and the queen's monastery, are
objects of interest. Near the former is the site of the "Incomparable"
temple, destroyed by fire in 1892. This immense structure, with its
gilded columns and lofty ceiling, was the grandest building in the
city. Near by is a huge pagoda within a high rectangular wall. The
space enclosed is subdivided into three compartments by low walls
extending around the pagoda, to represent the threefold division
of the Buddhist scriptures. These spaces contain seven hundred and
twenty shrines about fifteen feet high, their tops supported by four
columns. In the centre of each shrine, set like a gravestone in the
cement floor, is a stone tablet about three feet wide by five and a
half feet high, covered on both sides with portions of the sacred
writings. The floor around each tablet is polished by the bare feet of
many devotees,--for the "Law" is one of the "three precious things"
of Buddhism--commanding their worship. For all this immense outlay
of time and money devoted to sacred objects Mindon Min is supposed
to have secured the royal merit, freeing him from the countless
existences through which the ordinary mortal must pass. The prevailing
impression that as a result of the monastic school system all of
the Burmese males can read and write, is not corroborated by the
recent census. A little less than half (490 in each 1,000) are able
to both read and write. Doubtless a large majority spent enough of
their childhood in the monastery to acquire these accomplishments,
but, to many, they have become lost arts, through disuse. Only
fifty-five in each thousand of Burmese women can read and write. Girls
are not admitted to monastic schools. This small gain is chiefly
due to mission schools. The demand for female education is rapidly
increasing. All Burmans, except the relatively small number of
converts to Christianity, are Buddhists. Nearly all are worshippers of

A sect called Paramats was founded at the beginning of last century.
The Paramats will have nothing to do with pagodas and idols. They
respect the ordinary Buddhist priests, as representatives of Gautama,
who was the incarnation of eternal wisdom. They do not hold that
eternal wisdom is reincarnated in the priests, and therefore do not
worship them as orthodox Buddhists do. This eternal wisdom, which
existed before the world was made, and will exist throughout eternity,
fills all space, but exercises no influence over this world. Eternal
wisdom is not, except in a very vague sense, personified--as an
equivalent of the Christian conception of an eternal God. But the
Paramats have the germ of a true belief, and, as a rule, are thinking
men, which is more than can be said of the ordinary Buddhist. Numerous
in the district midway between Mandalay, and Rangoon, they furnish a
hopeful field for missionary effort.


_The Shans_ rank second in point of numbers. Max Muller held that the
Shans were the first to leave their original home in western China.
Contact with the Chinese has left its mark upon them, sufficient,
apart from other evidence, to prove their origin. Having been forced
out of western China they drifted southward, and founded some of the
large towns in the territory now known as "Shan-land" as early as 400,
or 500 B. C.--if their own chronicles can be believed. But
at this point different conclusions have been reached from the same
sources of information, some accepting these dates as approximately
correct, others rejecting them as too remote by several centuries.
Indeed, it is difficult to determine whether the first migration was
southward, or to the southwest, or whether there were two migrations
simultaneously. As we have seen in our study of the Burmese, the Shans
were supreme on the Upper Irrawadi early in the Christian era, having
expelled the Burmese and taken possession of that part of the country.
It may have been as early as 400 or 500 B. C., when they
overthrew the Tagaung monarchy. My own view is that the Shans first
migrated to the southwest across the Namkham valley, founding the "Maw
Kingdom," which finally extended to the Irrawadi and Chindwin rivers
in northern Burma. And that not until several centuries later did they
extend their sway to the southeast, founding Thibaw, Mone, and other

That there is a discrepancy of ten centuries or more between this
view and the Shan Chronicles, in which the most striking feature is
exaggeration, need not disturb any one. In fact, a sound "principle
of interpretation" of legendary history, whether Burmese or Shan, is
to cut down its figures by about one half.

Near the end of the tenth century the Shans occupied Arracan about
eighteen years. The Shan kingdom continued until overcome by the
Burmese, in the middle of the eleventh century. They still remained
in power in the far north. In 1281 Shans from Siam joining with Shans
of Martaban, conquered Martaban, then with assistance of Shans from
the north they captured Pegu from the Burmans. At the beginning of
the fourteenth century the Shans were again in the ascendant in Upper
Burma, the Burmans having been weakened by Chinese invasions. The
Shans now ruled the country from the upper reaches of the Irrawadi
as far south as Prome, but not including Toungoo. All Burma was
threatened with Shan supremacy. This might have been realized but
for the Shan emperor's own recklessness and tyranny, working his own

Kings of Shan race controlled Pegu from 1281 until conquered by the
Toungoo Burman prince, Tabin Shwe' Htee, in 1539. The Shan power in
the north having become weakened, the Burmese in 1554, captured Ava,
and in 1557 conquered the Shans throughout the Upper Irrawadi region.
Thibaw, Mone, and "Zimme" in northern Siam, fell to the Burmans a
year later. The Shans seem to have remained subject to the Burman
kings until the annexation of Upper Burma; and sometimes assisted the
Burmans in their wars with the Talaings and Siamese.

The census of 1901 gives a total of 751,759 Shan-speaking people.

Besides the northern and southern Shan States, a large number of Shans
are still found in Upper Burma, and many Shan villages throughout
Lower Burma. It is not definitely known when the Shans adopted
Buddhism. There are evidences that the Shans, who were supreme on the
Upper Irrawadi at the opening of the Christian era, and for several
centuries after, were influenced by Buddhism introduced from India
by way of Manipur, and that many accepted it. After the introduction
of Buddhism from the south it spread rapidly among the Burmese, and
through them to the Shans, becoming the national religion of both

It is said that many Shan Buddhist priests sought reordination
according to the rules of the southern type of Buddhism.

The Shans established monasteries throughout their country. Under the
later Burman kings, Burman priests were sent to propagate Buddhism
in the Shan country. In some places the sacred books were destroyed,
and other books written in the Burmese language substituted, Burmese
becoming the language of the Monastic schools for Shan boys.

Burman kings adopted the same tactics in dealing with the Talaings.

The customs of the Shans and the Burmese are much the same, but
their costume is more like that of the Chinese. The same is true of
the Karen costume. Though differing from the costume of the Shan,
both seem to have been derived from their contact with the Chinese
before their migration to Burma. The broad lopped-rim Shan hat and
flowing trousers with the seat between the knees differentiate the
Shan from other races. They have a written language, adopted from the
Burmese,--some four or five hundred years ago,--as the Burmese had
adopted theirs from the Talaing.


_The Karens_ found their way in Burma from western China; forced
southward by the Chinese. Then when the Shans were in like manner
driven into Burma, the Karens were pushed on still further south, like
driftwood before the tide. Their original home is uncertain. It seems
evident that at a much earlier period they had migrated into western
China from some place still further north. One of their own traditions
is that their ancestors, in their wanderings, crossed a "river of

The desert of Gobi best answers to their tradition. Other traditions
point to western China as their early home. It is not unlikely that
the tradition of the "river of sand" is much the older, and these
traditions taken together mark the progress of the Karens in at
least two widely separated migrations southward. The Karens strongly
resemble certain hill-tribes now living in western China; in fact
some of the Karens have identically the same customs, as these China
hill-tribes, who are also said to have the tradition of a "river of

There are three main divisions of the Karens, known as Pwo, Sgaw, and
Karennee or "Red Karens." This threefold division antedates their
migration to Burma. The Pwos, sometimes called "the mother race," are
supposed to have been the first arrivals, working their way south
by the way of the valleys of the Salwen and Mekong Rivers; followed
by the Sgaws, and finally by the Karennees, though it is doubtful
whether there was any interval between these main divisions in the
general migration. But in some way they have--to this day--maintained
the distinction. It is probable that for a time the Karens held the
territory now known as the eastern Shan states, and all the upper
Salwen region. The coming of the Shans, whether from the north or
west, drove them southward, each of these tribal divisions advancing
under compulsion in the same order in which they first entered the

The Pwos are now found in the delta and still farther south in the
Maulmain district; the Karennees farther north, bordering on the Shan
country, and east to the Siam border; the Sgaws keeping to the central
territory, in the Toungoo district and diagonally across to Bassein,
sharing parts of the delta with the Pwos. A large body of Sgaw Karens,
as well as many Pwos, are found in the Tavoy district, farthest south
of all. The Tavoy Karens drifted in from Siam, not extending to the
seacoast until early in the last century.

There is now a continuous chain of Karens from Tavoy far into the
north of Siam. In general, the Karens live in the highlands, the
Burmans occupying the plains. Formerly this was partly from choice,
but unavoidable whether from choice or not, on account of the cruel
oppression suffered at the hands of the more powerful Burmans. But
under British rule many Karens have come down to the plains, and
forming villages of their own, have engaged in cultivation. They still
like to be within easy reach of the mountains, to which they resort
for game and other food.

In the shady ravines they have profitable gardens of betel (areca)
palms, the nut being essential to any native's happiness, and
commanding a ready sale. Some writers have advanced the theory
that the religious traditions of the Karens were derived from their
supposed contact with Nestorian Jews in western China. This can hardly
be true--as it places the migration of the Karens to Burma at much too
late a date.

The Nestorians did not begin their work in western China until 505
A. D., closing it in 1368, when they were expelled by the

It seems certain that the Karens were already in Burma long before the
Nestorian missionaries went to China. (Marco Polo's Roman Catholic
mission-work in western China did not begin until 1271.)

If it is true that the large towns in Shan-land were founded by
the Shans four or five hundred years before the Christian era, the
migration of the Karens must be placed at an even earlier period,--but
that early date is doubtful. The non-Christian Karens are, and always
have been spirit-worshippers. This so-called worship is limited to
propitiatory sacrifice. In this respect they are at one with all the
races of Burma, not excepting the Burman Buddhists, though the latter
have abandoned bloody sacrifice. Before the adoption of Buddhism the
Burmans, Shans and Talaings were spirit-worshippers pure and simple.
Spirit-worshippers they still are, with the forms of Buddhism for a

But the Karens have many religious traditions, so closely following
the Bible accounts of the creation, fall, flood, and other events
as to furnish strong evidence that in bygone ages their ancestors
somewhere were in touch with the people of God. In spite of their
spirit-worship they have retained a belief in a Supreme Being, and
long looked forward to the time when God's Word, which they had lost,
should be restored to them. God was believed to be a benevolent Being,
but so far away that he had nothing to do with men. All spirits
were believed to be evil, vengeful and near at hand. Therefore the
Supreme Being was left out of their worship, and sacrifices offered
to propitiate evil spirits who might work harm to them, by causing
sickness, destruction of crops, and many other possible misfortunes.
The Karens contend that in making offerings to the evil spirits they
were not showing disloyalty to the Supreme Being. They illustrate
their position by the following story: "Some children left in a
place of supposed safety by their parents, were so frightened by the
approach of a tiger that they threw down the cliff some pigs that had
taken refuge with them. Their eyes, however, were not fixed on the
tiger, but on the path by which they expected their father to come.
Their hands fed the tiger _from fear_, but their ears were eagerly
listening for the twang of their father's bowstring, which should send
the arrow quivering into the tiger's heart." "And so, although we
have to make sacrifices to demons, our hearts are still true to God.
We must throw sops to the demons who afflict us, but our hearts were
looking for God."

The history of the Karens in Burma has been a sad one. For centuries
they had been grievously oppressed by the Burmans, who robbed them,
carried away captives into slavery, and kept the Karens pent up in the
most inaccessible parts of the mountain ranges.

Under British rule the Karens are safe from serious molestation, but
the old feeling still remains, and they hold aloof from the Burman as
much as possible. The coming of the Christian missionary, restoring
to them the knowledge of the true God so vaguely known through their
traditions, was the great event to which the whole Karen nation had
so long looked forward. Multitudes readily accepted Christianity. By
its power they were emancipated from the domination of evil spirits;
the swords and spears of tribal feuds were forged into pruning hooks;
and the whole Christian world rejoiced in the glorious spectacle
of "A nation in a day." The census of 1901 gives a total of nearly
714,000 Karens, of all tribes. Many more are found in Siam. It has
been asserted that "more languages are spoken in Assam than in any
other country in the world." The same may be said of Burma. The recent
census recognized fifty-seven indigenous races or tribes, and as many
more non-indigenous. In the Toungoo district the missionaries meet
with several Karen dialects not mentioned in the census enumeration,
but so distinct that one tribe does not understand the dialect of

In some localities one meets with a new dialect in each village
through which he passes in a day's journey. Ye shades of Shinar!
confusion of tongues,--twice confounded. It seems incredible that so
many families of one race, occupying the same territory, and with
practically the same habits, customs, and superstitions,--should
each perpetuate for centuries its own peculiar dialect and clannish
exclusiveness. The missionary or official, to do effective work among
such a people, needs a small army of interpreters at his heels.


_The Kachins_ inhabit the extreme northern part of Burma, extending
as far south as the Bhamo and Namkham districts, and east into
China. The Kachins are own cousins to the Nagas of the adjacent hill
tract of Assam, who call themselves "Singpho." "Kachin" is a name
applied to these people by the Burmans. The Kachins of Burma call
themselves "Chingpaw." This quite suits their kinsmen of Assam, who
look down upon the Chingpaws as unworthy the grand name of Singpho.
Both terms seem to mean "men,"--but _men_ in distinction from the
inferior races around them. The census of 1901 gives a total of 65,510
Kachins in Burma alone. The early missionaries held that the Kachins
and Karens were of the same origin; that the Kachins were really
Karens, from whom the southern Karens had become separated. This
view seemed substantiated by the people themselves; by some of their
customs,--such as the manner in which their houses are constructed
and partitioned off; by a certain similarity of language--many
common nouns said to be common to both languages, and by their
spirit-worship. It is now generally admitted that the Kachins and
Karens are not of the same origin. In bygone ages they may have
been neighbours, if not more closely related,--in the borders of
Tartary,--but at a very remote period. Certainly they did not migrate
to Burma at the same time, nor by the same route. The Kachins have
traditions that they migrated to Burma by way of the headwaters of
the Irrawadi,--that their primal ancestor lived at "Majoi Shingra
Pum." In his "Handbook of the Kachin Language," H. F. Hertz says: "I
have succeeded in obtaining the views of several old men, _Tumsas_
and _Faiwas_, who might be described as Kachin priests. It would seem
from these that 'Majoi Shingra Pum' is a high table-land with very few
trees, frequently covered with snow, and very cold.

"Now, the name 'Majoi Shingra Pum,' literally translated is a
naturally flat mountain, or in other words, a plateau, and it does
not need any stretch of the imagination to identify it with some part
of eastern Tibet. Colonel Hannay, writing in 1847, describes tribes
residing in the inaccessible regions bordering on Tartary as closely
allied to the Kachins." This identifies the Kachins more closely
with the Burmans and Chins than with the Karens. Moreover it is said
that the Kachin language has more points in common with the Burmese
than with the Karen. This is especially true of the Marus,--a tribe
to the eastward, allied to the Kachins of Burma. It is not difficult
to believe that all these races, in the very remote past, were
neighbours in the borders of Tibet, and that while the Kachins and
Burmese migrated south direct, the Karens migrating by way of western
China,--the meeting of these races on Burmese soil reveals a few of
the many things they once had in common.

After the Burmans and Chins had migrated to Burma, the Shans, pressing
westward by way of the Namkham valley, blocked the way of further
migrations from the north. The Shans are known to have been supreme in
northern Burma at the beginning of the Christian era. It is probable
that they peopled the Upper Irrawadi several centuries earlier. In
the thirteenth century the Shans overran Assam. Not until the middle
of the sixteenth century were they finally overcome by the Burmans.
Nothing is known of the Kachins in Burma earlier than the sixteenth
century. They seem to be comparatively recent arrivals, working their
way into Burma after the Shans had been weakened by their struggles
with the Burmans. The Singphos of Assam are said to have drifted into
that country but a little more than a century ago.

The Kachins have gradually forced the Palaungs and Shans before them,
or isolating some of their villages from the main body. Their sudden
development of power is remarkable. Political changes consequent on
the annexation of Upper Burma checked Kachin aggressions. They are
still spreading, but by fairly peaceable means. The Namkham district,
supposedly Shan, is found to contain fully as many Kachins as Shans.
Slowly but surely the Shans will be pressed southward. Before passing
under control of the British the various tribes of Kachins were ever
at war among themselves. Captives were sold into slavery. Retaliatory
raids were constantly expected. Feuds are still kept up, though they
do not have the free hand to execute vengeance enjoyed in former years.

The Kachin, from habit, is watchful and suspicious of
strangers,--until his confidence is gained. Their villages are usually
high up in the hills, as secluded and inaccessible as possible. But
the isolated situation of the village probably is due to the fear of
_nats_, spirits,--quite as much as from fear of human enemies. One
writer describes an avenue leading to the village, with bamboo posts
at regular intervals, with rattan ropes, à la clothes-line, from which
various emblems are suspended. Near the village "wooden knives, axes,
spears, and swords are fastened to the tree-trunks. All this display
is for the benefit of the nats. Like the Chinese, they do not give
their demons credit for much acuteness. For one thing they believe
that they can only move in a straight line. Therefore the _nats_
avoid going about in the jungle, and keep to the open paths. A few
judicious turns are made in the avenue, so as to turn the prowling
devils off, if possible, but if he should happen to be cannoned off
the tree stems in the right direction, there are the emblems to show
him where the thing he is in search of may be found. If he is hungry
there is the bullock's skull nailed to a tree, to indicate where food
may be found; if he is thirsty a joint of bamboo points out where
a libation of rice spirit has been made." These spirit-worshippers
are more easily gained than the Buddhist Burmans and Shans, but they
have not the traditions of the Karens to prejudice them in favour of
Christianity. Morally, they rank very low,--and yet their morality
must be viewed in the light of Kachin, rather than English custom.
As with the non-Christian Karens, there are certain unwritten tribal
laws governing family life. Should a Kachin presume to poach on his
neighbour's preserves, there would be one less Kachin the next day.

Courtship, when once the parties have come to an understanding, is
conducted as a "probationary marriage." They may separate before the
marriage ceremony takes place, if they weary of each other. But if
they have already started a colony, marriage _must_ follow, or the man
"has to kill a bullock and pigs--to appease the _nats_ of the damsel's
house. In addition he has to pay a fine to the parents, of a spear,
a gong, a _da_, and some pieces of cloth, and sometimes a bullock
or buffalo." The old man is more exacting than the _nats_. Such
separations do not effect the social standing of either party. It is
claimed that separations or disloyalty after marriage "are practically

It certainly would not be healthy to have it known. The Kachins
have their own distinctive costume, varying according to tribe and
locality. But Kachin men in touch with Chinese, Shans, or Burmans,
usually adopt the costume of their neighbours. The women hold to their
own costume.

The religion of the Kachins, though gross spirit-worship, contains
an element of truth not found in the Buddhism of the more civilized
Burmans. Rev. Mr. Geis, missionary at Myitkyina says--"Above and
beyond all _nats_ to whom Kachins offer sacrifices at one time or
another, they recognize the existence of one great spirit called
Karai Kasang. Altars in his honour are not found in Kachin villages
or houses. No priest has been able to divine what offerings are to be
made to it, but in time of great danger _nats_ and their offerings
are forgotten, and their cry goes out to Karai Kasang for help and


_The Chins_, who number about 180,000, are thought to be of the same
origin as the Burmese,--from the neighbourhood of Tibet. It is evident
that they became separated from kindred tribes at a very remote period.

The Lushais of Assam, and Bengal, and the Kukis of Manipur have the
same race-characteristics, and probably formed part of the original
migration southward. At present the Chins, occupying the hill country
in the northwest corner of Burma, are slowly pressing northward,
affecting Manipur. The Chins of the hill-country are quite isolated
from other races. For this reason Buddhism has never reached them.
Like their kinsmen, the Kachins, they are spirit-worshippers, as were
their other kinsmen, the Burmese, before the introduction of Buddhism.
The Chins are divided into several tribes. The northern Chins call
themselves "Yo," the Tashons call themselves "KaKa"; the middle
tribes give their names as "Lai"; the southern Chins call themselves
"Shu." Since the annexation of Upper Burma, securing immunity from
oppression by the Burmans many Chins have drifted down from their own
hill-country and formed agricultural villages in the plains. The Chin
country is about 250 miles long by from 100 to 150 miles wide. It is
wholly mountainous, the highest peaks being from 5,000 to 9,000 feet.
Liklang peak, the highest of all, is nearly 10,000 feet. Like all
spirit-worshippers, the Chins dread the power of demons, and offer to
them the same left-handed sort of worship. But their worst enemy is
of their own manufacture, made by fermenting rice, millet, or corn,
and called "Zu." The great and wide-spread vice among the Chins is
drunkenness. Men, women, children, even babes in arms--all drink and
glory in intoxication as an accomplishment of which to be proud. No
act is considered a crime if committed when drunk. Many people I have
seen in European and American cities must have been Chins. No function
is complete without liquor. Hospitality is gauged by the number of
cups of spirit dealt out, and appreciation of it--by the number of
cups consumed. Again, how like many of their white cousins. "A man
should drink, fight, and hunt, and the portion for women and slaves
is _work_"--is both creed and practice. They have a peculiar custom,
now dying out, of tattooing the faces of the women, until the whole
face, from chin to hair--is dyed a purplish black. The reason for this
custom is in dispute. Some have asserted that it was to make them
unattractive to their enemies, especially the Burmans, who frequently
raided their villages in the foot-hills. Others claim that the
tattooing was in order to increase their attractiveness to the young
men of their own kind. Fortunate indeed were they if this queer custom
served the double purpose of repelling enemies and attracting friends.
To unaccustomed eyes the tattooed face is hideous in the extreme.

The first attempt by the British to control any part of the Chin Hills
was made in 1859, but was neither continuous nor effective. In 1871
an expedition was sent into the hills to recover captives, and punish
offenders. The Chins remained quiet for ten years, then broke out
again in repeated raids, from 1882 to 1888. The English were obliged
to undertake a systematic subjugation of the whole Chin country. This
was effected in 1889-90. The expedition met with stubborn resistance,
by guerilla methods. Many villages were burned by the English, as
the only means of subduing the wily enemy. Many villages were burned
by the Chins themselves. Near one village "a dog had been killed
and disemboweled, and tied by its four legs and thus stretched on
a rope suspended between two sticks across the path to the village,
its entrails being likewise suspended between two other sticks, thus
barring the road. Asking the Chins what this might mean, they said
it was an offering to the war _nat_ to protect their village, and to
ward off our bullets from injuring them." The work of subjugation had
to be continued for some years, before the Chins were made to realize
that the English government must be respected. The Hakas and others
were disarmed in 1895. The Chin Hills are administered by a political
officer at Falam, with a European assistant at other important points,
as Tiddim and Haka. The morals of these benighted Chins, still further
degraded by their drink habit, are what might be expected. Marriages
are governed by the working-value of the bride, parents expecting
compensation for the loss of her services, according to her capacity
for work, and "expectation of life." This seems to have been the
custom among all races of Burma. It is said that when a Chin wife is
asked "Where is your husband?" she will give the required information
in case he is living,--but if dead she will reply, "He is not here,"
and expects the subject to be dropped at that. This reminds me of
a Shan girl's answer when I asked her the whereabouts of a former
resident--"I don't know,--he is dead." The Chins of the foot-hills
and plains present an encouraging field for missionary work, but
missionary work must be pushed with all possible vigour--to forestall
the influences of Buddhism. To win them from spirit-worship is hard
enough, to win them from Buddhism will be very much harder.

The dialect of the southern Chins has been reduced to writing, and
is found to be strikingly similar to the Burmese, perhaps half of
the words being more or less allied to the Burmese. As the southern
Chins have great difficulty in understanding the speech of the wild
tribes in the northern hills, it is quite probable that their own
dialect has been corrupted by contact with the Burmans since their
migration to Burma. The Chin dialect of the south is also said to
contain many words of Shan origin. This must have come about in the
same way, either by contact with Shans on the Upper Chindwin at a
very early period, or when the Shans occupied Arracan about eighteen
years, towards the end of the tenth century. This later contact seems
much too short to have left a permanent mark on the southern Chin
dialect. The total number of Animists--demon-worshippers--in Burma,
Chin, Kachin, Karen, and other, is about four hundred thousand. But as
we have seen, the Buddhist Burmans, Shans and Talaings, are at core,
demon-worshippers, all races having in common practically the same



Much has been written on Buddhism, besides the translation of the
Buddhist's sacred books. Little, however, can be learned from books of
Buddhism as one finds it expressed in the life of the people.

Riding one day with a missionary who had a wide acquaintance with the
Burmans and their language, I asked him certain questions as to their
real belief. His reply was, "No man can tell, until he finds a way
to get into the Burman mind." The first business of the missionary
seemed to be then to make every effort to get into the Burman mind;
to study him; study his religious habits; ascertain if possible, his
point of view; learn to see things from his point of view; to know
what there is in him that must be eradicated and supplanted by the
gospel of Jesus Christ. We see the country fairly alive;--no, _dead_
with idols. We see the people kneeling before these idols, and, to
every appearance praying. Are they praying? How can they be praying,
inasmuch as Buddhism knows no God,--does not claim to have a God?
Gautama himself whom all these images represent, never claimed
to have any power to save others, or even to save himself. These
worshippers know that he was only a man, that at the age of eighty
years he died, that his death was due to an attack of indigestion
(from eating too much fresh pork), as any other man might die. It
is supposed that he was born near Benares, about six hundred years
before Christ; that his father was a chief of an Aryan tribe called
the Sakyas. From the sacred books they learn that Gautama's early
life was spent in dissolute pleasure and luxury common to oriental
princes; that after a time becoming dissatisfied with his own manner
of life and the corrupt conditions around him, he yielded to another
his princely prospects, abandoned his wife and child and gave himself
up to a life of meditation and study under religious teachers; that
failing in this to gain the longed-for peace of soul he for several
years led a life of the most severe privation and affliction of the
flesh, until by long continued meditation and self-concentration the
light broke in upon him, and he became "the enlightened one,"--a
Buddha. Did he not by this enlightenment become something more than
man? Not at all. He had learned nothing of God, not even that such a
being existed. He entertained no thought that he himself had acquired
any supernatural character or power. And so he died. Even the common
people of the jungle villages know all this, and yet they prostrate
themselves before these images of brass, wood, or stone. Are they
praying? Perchance their hopes are based on what Gautama became, after
death. According to Buddhism, Gautama had now passed through all the
necessary conditions and changes, and entered at once upon the final
state, the highest goal of Buddhism, Nirvana, ("Neikban," in Burmese).

Had he now become a God? Not at all. No Buddhist entertains such
a thought. What then is Neikban? "It means," they say, "the going
out, like the flame of a candle." By a long-continued process of
self-concentration Gautama is supposed to have become absolutely
oblivious to the world around him, and ultimately to have become
unconscious even of self. His death is believed to have been utter
extinction of both physical and spiritual existence. Some deny that
Neikban is equivalent to annihilation. The best that can be claimed
for it is an impossible existence in which there is neither sensation
nor conscious life.

Fittingly they describe it as "a flame which has been blown out."

According to Buddhist teachings and current belief Gautama has
disappeared, body and soul. Brahmins may talk of being absorbed in the
"One Supreme Soul," and Theosophists glibly repeat the form of words,
but Buddhists claim nothing of the sort. There is no Supreme Soul to
absorb them, and no human souls to be absorbed. It is not soul, or
life that is perpetuated, but _desire_ merely. Neikban, they declare,
is the cessation of everything, a condition of unconsciousness,
lifeless ease, they do not like to say annihilation. Then what are
these worshippers doing here on their knees before images which
represent no existing being? surely not praying, for they have "no
hope, without God in the world"; no being higher than themselves to
whom prayer could be addressed; no expectation of blessing of any sort
from any supernatural source; absolutely nothing in their religious
conceptions or experience corresponding to the communion between the
Christian and his God.

There is no such thing as real prayer in the whole Buddhist system.
What, then, are they doing? Here comes in the system of "merit" on
which Buddhism is built. An instinctive sense of guilt and impending
penalty is universal. Having no Saviour--man must save himself.

From what? Not from sin, as violation of the laws of a Holy Being, but
from their train of evil consequences to himself.

[Illustration: WORSHIPERS]

The chief tenets of Buddhism are: (1) Misery is the inevitable
consequence of existence. (2) Misery has its source in desire. (3)
Misery can be escaped only by the extinction of desire. (4) Desire
can be extinguished only by becoming wholly unconscious of the world
and of self. (5) He who attains to such unconsciousness attains to
Neikban. (6) Evil actions constitute demerit. Good actions constitute

In this deeply grounded belief as to merit and demerit lies the secret
of much that we see in the life of the people. _Now_ we know what
these people are doing,--they are seeking to _accumulate merit_ by
repeating over and over again a certain formula, or portions of their
"Law" with their faces towards the,--to them,--sacred pagoda or idol.

But no Buddhist expects to attain to Neikban at the end of this
existence. He realizes that it is utterly hopeless for him to think of
fulfilling the conditions. But he cherishes the groundless hope that
in some future existence under more favourable conditions he may be
able to accumulate sufficient merit, though he cannot now. This belief
presupposes the doctrine of transmigration, or metempsychosis.

The Buddhist believes that he has passed through countless existences
in the past,--whether as man, animal, or insect, or all many times
over, he knows not; finally, birth into this world as man. He dies
only to be reborn into this or another world,--whether as man, animal,
or insect he knows not; then death again, and so through countless
ages. Even Gautama himself is said to have passed through five hundred
and fifty different phases of existence, including long ages in hell,
before he finally entered this world as man, and became a Buddha.

Although Buddhism has no God, and no heaven, it has a very vivid
conception of hell, yes,--eight of them, surrounded by over forty
thousand lesser hells,--their terrors limited only by the limitations
of the imagination. But no man can escape--the doctrine of Karma
settles that. A man's own words and deeds pursue him relentlessly, and
there is no city of refuge to which he may flee. "Not in the heavens,
not in the midst of the sea, not if thou hidest thyself in the clefts
of the mountains, will thou find a place where thou mayest escape
the force of thy own evil actions." So say their scriptures, and so
every Buddhist believes. Hell is the inevitable penalty of many deeds
or accidents, such as the killing of the smallest insect under foot.
Between the Buddhist and his hopeless hope of Neikban yawns this awful
gulf of existences and sufferings.

"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," gives the gist of
Buddhism. He is now reaping from past existences; he will reap in the
next from his deeds in this. In the past each succeeding existence
depended upon the last previous existence. In like manner, what the
next existence shall be depends wholly upon the deeds of this life.

So the countless series of transmigrations may be, theoretically,
in the ascending or descending scale. But when the awful penalties
assigned to innumerable and unavoidable violations of the Buddhist
law are taken into consideration all hope of future existences in the
ascending scale vanishes. The poor fisherman, beginning at the very
bottom of the lowest of the four chief hells must spend countless ages
in each, before he can hope to be reborn as man.

The man who unwittingly puts his foot on the smallest insect and
crushes out its life must atone for the deed by spending a long
period in torment. Taking the life of any living thing, even to the
killing of poisonous snakes, is held to be the worst of all sins. The
priests, to avoid the possibility of destroying insect life, use a
brass strainer finely perforated, to cleanse their drinking water, in
blissful ignorance of the microbe theory. A native preacher once asked
me to get him a microscope so that he might prove to the priests that
notwithstanding their precautions they were drinking to themselves

His motive may have been in part, to convince them as to the futility
of their hope, and in part to get even with them for their harsh
criticisms of "animal-killing Christians."

A story told by one of our native preachers vividly illustrates
this dread of future punishment. "I had been preaching for about
two hours to a large company in a jungle-village. During all this
time an old woman was sitting on a log near by, counting off her
beads, and devoutly murmuring to herself the customary formula,
'_Ah-nas-sa, Dok-ka, Ah-nat-ta; Paya, Taya, Thinga,--Radana
Thón-ba_'--'Transitoriness, Misery, Illusions; Lord, Law, Priest,--the
three Jewels.' When I had finished I approached her saying: 'Why do
you worship so devoutly?' 'To escape the penalty of hell,' she sadly
replied. 'So you fear the future,--what is your notion of hell?' 'Oh,
it is a terrible place. They say it is shaped like a great cauldron,
and full of burning oil in which people suffer endlessly and are not
consumed. And when they try to escape, the evil beings of the place
thrust them back with sharp forks and spears. Oh, it is a terrible
place!' she repeated, fairly trembling as she described its horrors.
'Yes,' I said. 'You seem to understand it very well. Now what are you
doing to escape such an awful fate?' 'Oh, many, many years I have
worshipped before the pagodas and idols; every day I count my beads
over and over, repeating the formula, as Gautama directed. Do you
think that after all I have done I must still go to hell?' 'Yes,' I
said. 'If that is all you have done, you surely must.' 'Oh, then,
tell me,' she said in great distress, 'what _can_ I do to escape,
for I greatly fear the terrors of that place.' Then sitting there on
the log, with this poor old woman on the ground before me, I told the
blessed gospel story over again, as Jesus Christ did with the woman of
Samaria. And then I said: 'You must repent of your sins, and confess
them to the eternal God. You must believe and trust the Lord Jesus
Christ, who died to save you. If you do this He will forgive your
sins, and save you.' Her wrinkled face brightened with hope as she
exclaimed, 'If I do as you have said, and believe on Jesus Christ,
_will_ He save me?' 'Yes, He surely will, for He has said, "Him that
Cometh unto me I will not cast out."' On her face was an almost
heavenly light--as she replied: 'Then _I do_ believe, and I want to
go with you that you may tell me about Him until I die.' Her friends
ridiculed her saying, 'Oho! Grandma wants to go off with the preacher.
She is becoming foolish in her old age.' 'Oh, no,' she said. 'But the
preacher has told me how I may escape the penalty of hell, and _I am
so glad_.'"

It has often been asserted that Buddhism has a moral code rivaling, if
not superior to that of Christianity. We had not been at our mission
station a week before we heard the remark, "Buddhism is a beautiful
religion,--why do the missionaries try to disturb them in their
belief?" That there are noble precepts and commandments all must
admit. But he who expects to see their "beauty" reflected in the lives
of the people will be doomed to disappointment. Take the commandment
already noticed--"Thou shalt not take the life of any living thing."

This commandment admits of no exceptions whatever, under any possible
circumstances, not even in self-defense; and puts the taking of a
human life and that of the smallest insect in the same category. But
the Burmans, among whom Buddhism is found in its purest form, have
been a more or less warlike race from their earliest history, often
practicing the greatest cruelties. How do they reconcile this with the
teachings of their law? We will suppose that one man has taken the
life of another. According to his own belief and the law of the land,
he is a murderer. To free himself from just and inevitable penalty he
resorts to his doctrine of "merit," by which he may absolve himself
from the demerit of his evil act. The building of a small pagoda of
sun-dried brick, or the forming of an idol from a portion of his
fire-wood log will balance the scales, square the account, restore him
to his former prospects, and to future prospects as bright as though
he had kept the whole law. By this convenient belief he may take his
absolution into his own hands, and work it out to suit himself. But
if he be a poor man, unable to perform an adequate work of merit, he
must suffer to the full the consequences of his act.

A missionary found a man digging for huge beetles. When one was found
it was impaled on a sharp stick along with the others, all to go into
the curry for the morning meal. Then the following conversation took
place: "Are you not afraid of punishment in hell for killing these
creatures?" "I shall go there if I do not kill them." "Then you do
this because there is no hope for you, whether you take animal life or
not?" "It is all the same." Sins beyond his power to counterbalance by
merit had already been committed, until hope had given way to despair.

One may shoot pigeons in the vicinity of a Buddhist monastery, and
then divide with the priest, who anticipates a savoury meal without
any compunctions of conscience on account of "aiding and abetting."

Young Burmans are eager to follow the man with the gun, showing him
the likeliest place to find game, and when the animal is wounded, will
rush in and dispatch it with their dahs.

The fisheries of Burma furnish a livelihood to hundreds of Burmans.
Large sums are paid to government annually for the privilege of
controlling certain specified sections of rivers or streams. The
fisherman makes the taking of animal-life his business and daily

Theoretically he is ranked among the very lowest classes. In real life
we find him enjoying the same social position that others of equal
wealth enjoy. But I do not hesitate to say that this general belief
that fearful penalties must be endured in future existences for taking
animal-life in this, has a deeper hold on the Buddhist than any other

Take the commandment: "Thou shalt speak no false word,"--strikingly
like the Christian's commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness,"
"Lie not one to another." One would naturally expect to find among
the devotees of a system containing such a commandment some value
placed upon one's word of honour. But if truthfulness has ever been
discovered among non-Christian Burmans, the discovery has never been
reported. But we have not far to search to find the secret of this
general lack of any regard for truthfulness.

The same "Sacred Book" that sets forth the commandment, "Thou thalt
speak no false word," gives this definition of falsehood: A statement
constitutes a _lie_ when discovered by the person to whom it is told,
to be untrue! See what latitude such a definition gives. Deceit is at
a premium. Children grow up with no higher standard of honour than
a belief that the sin of falsehood and fraud lies entirely in its
discovery. Is it any wonder that these people have become expert in
the art. It is the common practice among themselves,--in business, in
family life, in match-making, and most of all, in their dealings with
foreigners. No European (after the first year) places the slightest
reliance upon the most emphatic promise of a heathen Burman. In fact,
the more emphatic the promise, the greater seems to be the temptation
to do just the other thing. It may have been this inbred trait that
led the schoolboy to translate "Judge not, that ye be not judged," by
"Do no justice, lest justice be done to you."

When it is remembered that deceit and fraud are national vices, bred
in the bone for centuries, it is not to be marvelled at that native
Christians, only a step from heathenism, are sometimes found deficient
in their sense of honour. Here is an illustration in point. A young
Burman wanted to become a Christian. He became a regular attendant at
chapel services, and finally asked for baptism. This greatly enraged
his heathen wife, who proceeded to make his life most miserable.
She tore around, screamed, pulled her own hair, and made things
interesting generally. She got possession of his box containing his
best clothing and other valuables, and would neither give it back to
him nor live any longer with him unless he would promise to break
with the Christians, and cease attending their worship. The young man
appealed to his uncle. The uncle's advice was: "You go and tell your
wife that you will have nothing more to do with the Christians. You
cannot recover your property in any other way. When you have regained
possession of your box, come back to us, and then we will baptize
you." So far as he then knew, the end justified the means. Take the
commandment: "Thou shalt commit no immoral act,"--an ideal precept
in itself, but standing for little more than a joke when inscribed
on the banner of any non-Christian people. The Burman is perhaps
superior, morally, to some other races of this country, yet his moral
sense is very low. Among middle-aged people marriage seems to be an
actual institution, and family life well guarded. Separations are
comparatively few. Conditions of life in the tropics are such that the
young are subject to temptations sad to contemplate. Heathen parents
freely discuss subjects in the presence of their children that never
would be mentioned before them in a Christian home. Missionaries'
children often startle their parents by repeating what never should
have come to their ears. It seems a wonder that moral character exists
at all among the young. That many do set a high value upon virtue no
unprejudiced observer of native life can doubt. Jealousy plays a large
part in early separations, and with sufficient cause. Both may find
other partners of their joys on the day following.

Among all races there are certain laws and social customs that
in large measure restrain evil practices. Even among the heathen
a certain value is placed upon one's social standing in the
community,--which has greater weight than the commandment against
immorality, in his "law." An educated Burman once said to me--"Burmans
do not take much account of sin, but they do not like to lose their

Other commandments, such as those directed against "love of the
world," and "love of money," seem to be honoured more in the breach
than in the observance. The Burmans are notoriously the proudest,
gayest people on the face of the earth. They enjoy a good time and
will have it, whatever the occasion. There is little of real religious
significance in their so-called religious gatherings. A display
of fine clothes, a few presents for the priests; some of the more
devout, especially the elderly women, worshipping before the shrine.
But a large majority will be found sitting in the "zayats" talking
familiarly among themselves, painting the ground below red with
_kun_-juice by spitting through cracks in the floor, and never going
near the pagodas or idols at all. The Buddhists are proud of their
"law," and lay great stress upon it for purposes of argument. But as
we have seen, either from their low moral sense, or their dependence
on works of merit, the "law" has little effect on the lives of the

We visited that most famous worship-place of the Buddhists, the Shwe
Dagon pagoda, and for the first time saw heathenism as it is. We
had read "The Light of Asia"; and heard theosophists talk glibly of
"Mahatmas" whose wisdom is more ancient and profound than anything in
the religious literature of the West.

But here we saw the yellow-robed, "Light of Asia" (more fittingly
called the "Blight of Asia") and the graven image, both representing
their annihilated Buddha, seemingly equal in intelligence, and
sharing together the superstitious worship of the common people. Up
the long ascent to the pagoda is a covered way, its brick or flagged
steps hollowed out by the tramp, tramp of thousands on thousands of
barefooted worshippers, extending over many, many years.

[Illustration: A KAREN FAMILY]

[Illustration: BUDDHIST IDOL]

Guarding the approach are two horrible griffins, the first suggestion
of the superstitious mind of these benighted people. On either side
of the stairway are sellers of artificial flowers, paper streamers,
candles, and other things used as offerings, each worshipper stopping
to invest in whatever he thinks will gain for him the greatest amount
of merit at the least possible cost. This great pagoda itself 1,350
feet in circumference, tapering in graceful curves to a height of
328 feet, is entirely covered with gold leaf. It is said that the
pagoda has been regilded several times, at fabulous cost. But this
does not seem so wonderful when one recalls that the Parliament of
Religions witnessed the regilding of the entire Buddhist system.

This lofty spire is surmounted by a _htee_ or umbrella ornamented with
gems and gold said to be valued at about $200,000. The htee has been
renewed several times, by different kings, each striving to outdo all
others. The present htee was placed there in 1871, by Mindon Min.
The space around the base of the pagoda, protected by a parapet,
and flagged with stone or cement, accommodates a large throng of
worshippers. Hither pilgrimages are made every year from all parts of
Burma. Besides the four large idols built into the base of the pagoda
far out of sight, as in all pagodas, there are many auxiliary shrines
deeply recessed into the base, dimly lighted by tiny candles, and
containing gilded or alabaster images of Gautama. Still other shrines
have been erected at the outer circumference of the floor space. Huge
bells are suspended between posts, near the floor.

The largest, cast in 1842, is fourteen feet high, seven and a half
in diameter, with sides fifteen inches in thickness, weighs 94,682
pounds. It is said that when this bell was cast, quantities of gold,
silver and copper were thrown in as offerings. After the second
Burmese war, the English undertook to carry this bell away as a
curio, but by some accident it fell into the river. The Burmans
afterwards recovered it and put it again in its place,--a marvellous
feat, considering their rude appliances.

Intensely interesting is all this when seen for the first time; but
inexpressibly saddening when one stops to reflect what it all stands
for. One is forcibly reminded of its terrible significance by groups
of worshippers kneeling before these shrines, mumbling hurriedly
through their so-called prayers, prostrating themselves repeatedly
to the ground. After going through his prayers and prostrations the
worshipper goes to the bell and strikes it with the end of a heavy
piece of wood, kept there for the purpose. The attention of gods and
men must be called to the fact that he has performed a certain amount
of merit-earning worship. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image nor any likeness of
anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath;
thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them." What new meaning
that commandment had for us, as we saw it violated before our eyes!
Idolatry seemed even darker than it had been painted.

Pagodas may be seen all over Burma, single or in groups; of all sizes
from the less pretentious structure in the jungle-village, to the
great Shwe Dagon in Rangoon, with its umbrella-top 328 feet in the
air. These pagodas, modelled after the dagobas of Ceylon, are all of
the same general shape, resembling the bottom half of a child's top,
inverted. They occupy the most conspicuous places, on nearly every
hilltop, on points jutting out into the rivers, and near the chief
highways. The more important were built over some supposed relic of
Gautama, such as a tooth or a hair. These pagodas are considered much
more sacred than those that were built for merit only.

The Shwe Dagon pagoda, most famous of all Buddhist shrines, is said to
have been built over relics of four Buddhas, including eight hairs of
Gautama. The Shwe Hmaw Daw pagoda at Pegu, erected by the Talaings,
claims a tooth of Gautama. The Shwe San Daw pagoda at Toungoo has a
different history. A Burman prince, Tabin Shwe' Htee, when born had
one long red hair standing out from the top of his head. This was
a sure indication of an embryonic Buddha. In his honour the great
pagoda was erected, and called the "Golden Hair Pagoda." The Maha Myat
Moonee pagoda at Mandalay, commonly known as the "Arracan Pagoda" is
second only to the Shwe Dagon, in the esteem of Upper Burmans. In
A. D., 146, the King of Arracan cast a great brass image
of Gautama, which became famous for its supposed miraculous powers.
In A. D., 1784, the king of Burma, having conquered other
parts of the country, and secured about everything he wanted, turned
longing eyes towards Arracan and the far-famed image. This great
image, twelve feet high, though cast in a sitting posture,--was
brought over the mountains and deposited at the Arracan pagoda in a
large building specially prepared for it, north of Amarapura. Not
a smile disturbs the settled calm on its face as the visitor reads
the inscription setting forth that the image was drawn here by the
"charm of the king's piety." But from other sources we learn that his
piety found expression in a war of conquest, of which this image was
one of the coveted fruits. Its importation over the mountains was a
wonderful feat. Little wonder that Burmans think it was accomplished
by supernatural help.

A few miles north of Mandalay is the great Mingon pagoda, begun in
1790, and never finished. It is four hundred feet square at the base,
and was to have been carried up to a height of five hundred feet, but
work was suspended when it had reached about one third of its intended
height, the country already having become seriously impoverished.

In 1839 an earthquake split it from top to bottom. No one mourned
the seeming disaster, for no king could gain the "royal merit" by
completing the work of another. As it is, this Mingon pagoda is said
to be the largest pile of brick and mortar in the world.

The largest bell in Burma, weighing between eighty and ninety tons,
and second in size to the great bell at Moscow, cast to match the
immense pagoda, is still to be seen near the ruins. This bell is
eighteen feet high, seventeen in diameter, and a foot and a half in
thickness. It now rests on the ground, having long ago proved too
heavy for its supports.

Pagodas are not temples. There is no open interior for a worship
place. The worshipping is done in the open space around the pagoda, or
in the idol-houses, the real temples.

The first pagoda was probably built at the close of the fourth century
or even later; though Buddhists refer it to a much earlier date.
The sacred books of Buddhism were brought to Burma about 397 A.
D., according to the best authorities.

Before the introduction of Buddhism the Burmans and Talaings, like
all other races around them, were spirit-worshippers. They knew no
gods but _nats_, spirits with supernatural powers. The reigning king
became a convert to the new religion, built a pagoda, and issued a
royal decree that all his subjects should worship it, death being
the penalty of refusal. The king's edict failing to accomplish its
purpose, he cunningly commanded that a _nat-sin_ or spirit-house be
built near the pagoda. The transition from the worship of invisible
nats to the worship of the more tangible pagoda was natural and

"It was by a strange irony of fate," says Sir Monier Williams, "that
the man who denied any God or any being higher than himself, and told
his followers to look to themselves for salvation, should have been
not only deified and worshipped, but represented by more images than
any other being ever idolized in any part of the world."

Dharmapala, who represented Buddhism at the Parliament of Religions,
said: "A system in which our whole being, past, and present, and to
come, depends on ourselves, theoretically, leaves little room for the
interference or even existence of a personal God." It really leaves no
room at all, and its founder plainly said so. Buddhism is a worship of
ancestors, of which Gautama holds a monopoly.

As we have seen, at the advent of Buddhism the worship of evil
spirits, by propitiatory sacrifice, prevailed throughout Burma, among
all races. It is not to be supposed that the adoption of Buddhism
dispelled these superstitions. Spirit-worship is still the religion,
if it can be called a religion,--of the non-Christian Karens, Chins,
Kachins, and other non-Buddhist races. When Buddhism was adopted
by the Talaings, Burmans, and Shans, bloody sacrifice involving
the taking of animal-life, had to be abandoned. But to this day
propitiatory offerings of rice, fruit, or flowers, are made to the
spirits as before. "Animism supplies the solid constituents," says a
recent writer, "that hold the faith together, Buddhism the superficial
polish. The Burman has added to his Animism just so much of Buddhism
as suits him, and with infantile inconsequence draws solace from each
in turn." Spirit-worship is his every-day religion, Buddhism for
special occasions. Two illustrations will suffice to show how strong
a hold superstition still has upon the people. A harmless lunatic
had wandered through the streets for years. No one seemed to know
the cause, but his reason, what little he ever possessed, had been
dethroned, leaving him to wander about homeless and friendless. For
his living he had to compete with the pariah dogs in the common effort
to exist on what the people chanced to cast into the street after
finishing their meals. One of the priests, thinking to gain notoriety
as well as more substantial favours, declared that this man was a case
of demoniacal possession. This was nothing new, for it is the common
belief that _nats_ are responsible for disordered minds, sickness,
and other calamities. But the priest further suggested that the nat
that had taken up his abode in this man be exorcised by drowning
him out. A company of Burmans assembled, secured the demoniac, and
headed by the priest and tom-toms, proceeded to the river. The poor
demoniac, filthy, naked and with matted hair,--a picture of abject
helplessness,--was led by a rope to,--he knew not what. Several of
the men took the poor creature in a boat to the middle of the river,
and threw him overboard. When he tried to regain the boat they
thrust him off with their bamboo poles. When he became exhausted and
water-logged they would rescue him, only to throw him in again after
a brief breathing spell. This was repeated for several days in the
presence of the would-be wonder-worker, to the deafening sound of the
tom-toms. It is needless to add that he continued to roam the streets,
in the same condition as before. At one time when out on a tour among
jungle-villages a native Christian called my attention to a large
banyan-tree by the roadside. Up on one of the higher branches was a
large gnarl, which, by a long stretch of the imagination slightly
resembled a human face. The tree was standing there before the oldest
inhabitant was born.

The gnarl was a peculiar growth of many years. One day a passer-by
noticed a fancied resemblance to a human face, and spread the story
that the tree was haunted,--that it was the abode of a _nat_. Of
course the superstitious and gullible people believed it. A _zayat_
was quickly built under the tree; many brought offerings of rice,
fruit, and flowers, and all who passed by that tree bowed down to
worship that big knot on the limb. The dread of evil spirits is the
bane of existence. There is constant fear lest some real or fancied
lack of respect paid to the nats will bring some kind of disaster.

_Nagas_ are the most feared of all. There are several different
kinds of _nagas_. Some live under water, others on land. They are
dragon-like reptiles, "fearsome" and terribly dreaded by old and
young. When a man is drowning it is because a naga is drawing him
down. Does a man sink and not reappear, a naga has got him sure.
On-lookers fear to go to the rescue. But there is one great naga,
most dreaded of all, so long that it encircles the earth, which to
the native mind, is as flat as a pancake. This monster is constantly
moving forward, so that the position of its head is ever changing. But
fortunately the astrologers have discovered that its progress in its
orbit is regular, and the location of its head may be known, according
to season of the year, a full year being required for the circuit.
Every Burman knows in what direction is the awful naga's head at a
given season. No love nor money will tempt them to travel through the
jungle in that direction, in unfamiliar territory.

Naga-worship once prevailed in northern India. Whether imported into
Burma, or also existing in Burma before the introduction of Indian
influences in the north, is not known. But up to the eleventh century
naga-worship was the most conspicuous feature in the observances of
both spirit-worshippers and nominal Buddhists. Even now it is not
uncommon to hear a Burman, suffering from some calamity or disease,
lamenting that he has in some way brought disaster to himself by
unwillingly offending the great naga. Once it was my good fortune to
profit by their superstitious notions. Having rented a native house as
temporary quarters, I learned soon after moving in, that it had the
reputation of being haunted. Spirits of certain "dacoits" who came to
a sudden death in a jail that formerly stood near by, were supposed
to frequent the place. From that time on I could sleep in perfect
security against all thought of prowling thieves. No fear that any
native would come near that house after dark. Buddhism a "Beautiful
Religion"? That it has many noble precepts no one will deny. The same
is true of every system of philosophy ever formulated. But at its
best it furnishes no incentive to righteous living, beyond one's own
self-interest. It offers no help or hope whatever, beyond one's own
unaided efforts. If man cannot save himself he must stay where he is,
or be sinking lower, ever lower.

Buddhism, as seen in the life of the people, is _rotten to the core_.
We have seen how its adherents craftily seek to evade the precepts
and commandments of their "law," so far as possible; and then to
balance their evil doings by works of merit. The priests prey upon
the superstitions of their people, and grow fat. If offerings to
the monastery do not come in so freely as desired the wily priest
conveniently has a remarkable dream, in which a nat reveals to him
that terrible calamities will befall the people if they do not
increase their zeal.

This invariably has the desired effect. There is a general hustling
throughout the jurisdiction of the monastery; and soon the greedy
priests are fairly swamped with presents of plantains, rice,
cocoanuts, etc.

At Kyankse there is a very steep hill, with several pagodas at the
top. A missionary relates that he there "met an aged man who, to gain
merit, climbs to the summit every day carrying two pots of water
(about seventy pounds) for the use of the people who may come to
worship there. He had a writing from the Buddhist priest, assuring
him that a Buddha was about to appear, and if he continued in this
meritorious work for seven years he would see the Buddha, and be

The priest, in order to secure a regular supply of water, had
deliberately duped this simple old man. And yet, as a work of merit,
his daily task had a certain value, according to Buddhist teaching.

The utter powerlessness of Buddhism to meet the needs of the human
heart forced itself upon me when first I witnessed one of their

A rich Burman jeweller, living near our chapel, died of old age. One
of his sons occupied a high official position. Of course the funeral
must be a grand affair. We reached the place just as the procession
was forming. First, there were four men bearing a bamboo frame on
which was an artificial tree, four feet high, its branches wound with
bright coloured paper. From the ends of the branches silver coins
wrapped in paper, were suspended. This money was to buy offerings for
the pagodas. Fifty-six men in squads of four, carried bamboo frames
on which were piled gifts for the priests, consisting of mats, rugs,
chinaware, lacquered-ware, lamps, etc. There were fourteen of these
frames, being one each for fourteen priests. Four coolies, each
carrying on his shoulder a bamboo pole from which were suspended
jackets and skirts to be given to the poor. A double line of men with
slender strips of bamboo covered with showy paper, held upright like
so many spears. Then came the procession proper, headed by one of the
rich relations carrying a lacquer vessel filled with copper coin. Four
coolies carrying two Burmese drums, suspended from bamboo poles. Two
little boys fantastically dressed, danced before the drums, turning
around in a solemn, but graceful manner, and at each turn striking the
drums with their fists.

Then the mourners and friends, two daughters being dressed in white,
with handkerchiefs tied round their heads as hair-bands. The coffin,
covered with gold leaf, tinsel, and mirror glass, was elevated on a
framework, about ten feet above the four-wheeled cart on which the
framework rested. Above the coffin were several roof-like projections,
one above another forming a pyramid, surmounted by a spire twenty feet
high. Framework and spire were covered with showy paper and tinsel
in artistic designs, and adorned with flags. The cart was drawn and
pushed along by as many men as could get around it, long streamers of
white cloth or ropes extending forward to the friends in front. Next
to the bier was an ox-cart with the Burman band, or tom-toms. One man
was blowing on an instrument resembling a large-mouthed flageolet,
from which issued a tuneless succession of weird sounds,--music to
their ears, no doubt,--but most melancholy to ours. Another was
sitting inside of a low circular frame with small drums arranged in
a semicircle, each producing a different sound. Behind the cart was
a man with the cymbals, which he manipulated with marvellous skill,
though the vibratory sounds and clangour were excruciating in the
extreme to sensitive nerves. On another cart, under a canopy of red
and white cloth was another coffin more elaborately decorated, but
empty, merely for pomp and show, or to fool the evil spirits. If in
the extra coffin the consequences of a man's evil deeds, together with
_desire_, which constitutes the germ of the next existence, could also
be buried, it would be the _ne plus ultra_ of hope to the Buddhist.

Then followed several "gharries" with well-to-do acquaintances of the
family. As the procession moved slowly along the man with the pot
of copper coin now and then threw a handful forward into the crowd
of poor children, and oh what a scramble! The priests had already
gathered at the "zayat" in the cemetery to receive the expected
offerings. Had they been present at the bedside to minister some
hope to the dying man who was about to pass out into the awful dark?
Not at all, for the priest is supposed to be passing through the
process of crushing out all natural feeling. He must not show that
he is influenced in the least by death-bed scenes. Did they minister
consolation to the sorrowing ones? Not at all, for the priest is
not supposed to feel the least sympathy with sorrow and distress.
To "Rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep"
is not in all his thoughts. He came not to minister, but to be
ministered unto,--a complete reversal of the Christian principle. So
at the funeral he offers no consolation, but expects to be himself
consoled, very substantially. At the cemetery he sits in the zayat
on his elevated platform, chewing and spitting _kun_--the picture
of indolence and indifference. After the burial the afflicted
ones, sorrowing without hope, with hearts bleeding as even heathen
hearts can bleed, come and prostrate themselves before the priests,
worshipping them in their very despair. But the priests seem neither
to see nor to hear. Their minds from which "love of the world" has
been well-nigh extinguished (!) are intent upon the rich presents with
which their monastery is being filled.

Doubtless there are priests, especially the aged, who are sincerely
striving to keep the "law" in spirit as well as in letter. But the
very spirit of the law is selfishness.

The Buddhist sacred books were a gradual but abnormal growth. They
contain comparatively little of the actual teachings of Gautama,
but a vast deal that Gautama would not have sanctioned. Marvellous
stories have grown up around the memory of Gautama, whom the people
of his time regarded as a "religious hero, rather than a god." The
most absurdly extravagant statements as to time, dimensions, space,
and numbers, are found in these stories. Imagination has run riot in
fabricating accounts of impossible miracles performed by Gautama.

Modern geography, if seriously taken into account by Buddhists, would
stampede the whole Buddhist system. And yet these millions, given over
to "believe a lie," accept it all without a question.

The Buddhist scriptures are divided into three main divisions.

The first is addressed to the priests, and contains rules governing
their life, duties and habits. The second is addressed to the laity;
the third to the _dewas_ and Brahmas in the worlds of _nats_.

It is claimed that the first council to settle the sacred canon
was held in the year 543 B. C., in India; that the law
was rehearsed from memory, but not committed to writing; that the
second council was held in 443 B. C., when the law was again
rehearsed, but not committed to writing; that the third and last
council, held in 241 B. C., and continuing nine months,
settled many questions in dispute; and furnished the stimulus of a
great Buddhist missionary enterprise. Authorities differ as to the
dates of these councils. Dr. Judson held that the Buddhist scriptures
in their present form were not completed until four hundred and
fifty-eight years after Gautama's death.

Were it possible for any human being to keep the law outlined in the
sacred books of Buddhism, and thereby attain to its goal, _Neikban_,
it might be said: "The gift of Gautama is eternal death." How
different from the central truth in the Christian religion--

"The gift of God is eternal life." To make this known to the nations
that sit in darkness, rests as a privilege and responsibility upon the
Christian church.



Admirers of Buddhism assert its superiority over Hinduism in that
Buddhism has no caste system. In all ages and in all lands there has
been, in real life, a sharp social distinction between the rich and
the poor. This is inevitable, so long as unsanctified human nature
holds sway. Burma furnishes no exception to the rule. But while
Buddhist Burma has no caste system, involving contamination to one
caste by contact with another; or social degradation by departing from
caste-rules,--Burma has her outcasts.

There are five classes of outcasts, namely:--former pagoda-slaves
and their descendants; the grave-diggers; the lepers; the beggars;
and the deformed or maimed. Apostates from the Ancestral religion
might be added as a sixth class. Slavery existed in Burma before the
introduction of Buddhism. When the pagoda spires of the new religion
began to multiply throughout the land somebody must be found to take
care of the pagoda-grounds. Existing slaves were not available for
that purpose, for they had been apportioned to the service of the
king, and others in high life. Prisoners taken in war; life-convicts;
and others who had incurred the displeasure of the king were drawn
upon to meet the fresh and ever-increasing demand. Princely captives
and their followers are said to have been condemned to lifelong
drudgery as pagoda slaves, with all of their descendants forever,
while the world should last. As Pagan was the first great centre
of Buddhism in Upper Burma, there it was that this form of slavery

Buddhism of the southern type was taken to Pagan in the eleventh
century. The pagodas of Thatone were duplicated. One after another
was built, until an area eight miles long by two miles wide along the
river was literally covered with pagodas, far surpassing any city in
the world in the extent of its religious structures.

Pagan ceased to be a capital in the fourteenth century, and its
wonderful pagodas and temples were left to go to ruin. But the
king's decree was perpetuated in all other important centres, until
the British Indian Government annexed the country, and put an end
to compulsory slavery. Besides the descendants of the original
pagoda-slaves, others were added by successive kings, whether
as punishment for crime, or by arbitrary selection of obnoxious
villages or families. Once a slave always a slave. Posterity was
doomed before it was born. Not only was there no possible release
from this inexorable law, but the common people came to regard the
pagoda-slaves as a class under a curse. Terrible sins of a former
existence must have brought this great calamity upon them. Their touch
was contaminating. Shunned and spurned at every point they became a
community of outcasts, living by themselves, and existing on such
offerings to the idols as could be rescued from the dogs and crows.
Under British rule this form of slavery has nominally ceased to exist.
But no law of a civilized government could restore the pagoda-slave or
his descendants to equal social standing with their neighbours. They
are outcasts still, and outcasts they will remain, until Buddhism is
no more.

Climb the long covered stairway leading to the Shwe Dagon pagoda,
or other of the more sacred shrines, you will find your path lined
with sellers of offerings, paper "prayers," candles, and other things
used at pagoda-worship. These sellers, with rare exceptions, are
descendants of former pagoda-slaves, free in the eye of the law, but
in slavery still to the unchangeable customs of Burman Buddhists.
Other Burmans will not employ them, even to perform the tasks of the
common Indian coolie.

Do they go to some distant place where they are not known, and there
attain wealth and social position, the first intimation that they are
of the old pagoda-slave stock mercilessly consigns them again to their
former condition as shunned outcasts.

Companions in social degradation are the "Thu-bah-yah-zahs" or
grave-diggers. Every Burman burial ground has its little community of
thu-bah-yah-zahs, living apart from their fellow-men. Each community
has its head-man, who makes the bargain when a grave is to be dug.

There is usually a fixed price for this work. But when a grave is
to be dug for one who has met a violent death the price is gauged
by the age of the individual. Violent deaths are windfalls to the

The grave is filled in the presence of the friends, who consider it a
mark of respect to tarry until the work is done. But it is well-known
that the grave-diggers do not hesitate to exhume a body the following
night if the clothing in which it was buried, or other objects placed
in the coffin makes it worth the trouble. The coin in the mouth of the
corpse, for the ferry-fare over the mystic river, is abstracted with
callous indifference to the future state of the deceased.

As in the case of pagoda-slaves, the grave-diggers were devoted
to this degrading service by a decree of the king. Some say that
descendants of pagoda-slaves have swelled their numbers. Beggars and
lepers are permitted to live in their villages. Misery loves company.
Birds of a feather flock together. A rich thu-bah-yah-zah in Mandalay
had an attractive daughter. Anxious to emancipate her from the doom of
her class he offered three thousand rupees ($1,000) to any respectable
man who would marry her, and take her away where she would not be
known. Ten times the amount of his generous offer would have been no
temptation. There is also a distinct beggar-class, of practically the
same origin as the pagoda-slave and grave-diggers,--condemned by the
king to a life of beggary. Forbidden to engage in any self-supporting
work, they could be drawn upon at any time to fill a lack in either of
the other classes. This was sometimes for suspected disloyalty. Few
had need to become lifelong beggars because of abject poverty, for a
respectable Burman, though poor, is able to exist in this fruitful
land without leaving his own village. Neither the aged nor the
orphaned are driven out to beg or starve. These unfortunates did not
become beggars because they were outcasts, but became outcasts because
they were made beggars, not of choice, but by royal decree.

True to his creed, the Burman then heaped upon the victim all the
blame for his calamity. He is only reaping in this life what he sowed
in some former existence. Therefore, he and his descendants forever
are to be despised, and compelled to remain beggars, whatever their
actual condition. Some of this beggar class are known to have become
wealthy, but wealth secures to them no social standing. Outcasts they
are, and outcasts they must remain.

It has become a deeply-rooted suspicion among these people themselves
that unless they go out and beg at least once a year, some disaster
will befall them. The children of none of these outcast classes are
permitted to enter the monastic or other schools.

The admission of one child of outcast parentage, however bright and
respectable he may be, would stampede any school. This superstitious
contempt of outcasts is so deep-rooted and universal that managers of
non-Buddhist schools do not find it wise to ignore it.

Strange to say, the deformed and the maimed are held in abhorrence,
and blamed for their misfortune. The disciples asked--"Who sinned,
this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" One day
while my train was waiting at a station, a poor woman, armless from
her birth, came by the open window of my compartment, and stopped
for alms. When she had passed out of hearing, I said to a heathen
Burman standing by, "How pitiful!" Without any show of compassion he
unknowingly repeated the old-time question--"Because of whose sin
was she born in that condition?" That she was under a curse he had no
doubt. No pity is wasted on a person who is born blind, deformed, or
heir to loathsome disease. He is only getting what he deserves, in
this life, and nothing can he hope for but ages in one of the lowest
hells hereafter.

With such a belief, is it any wonder that Buddhists never found
asylums or hospitals, or attempt any organized system of relief for
the unfortunate. It is of no use to fight against Fate,--let Fate
claim her own. It is said that census enumerators in some sections did
not consider old men and women worth counting, because they were past
work; priests and nuns, because they had renounced the world; lunatics
and cripples, because they were below the level of human beings.

So great is the dread of becoming a cripple that a Burman would sooner
die than have a limb amputated. Better to die respectably than be a
living disgrace to himself and his family. This feeling extends even
to post-mortem examinations, as dooming one to some lower condition in
the next existence.

Leprosy, in whatever age or country, seems the most pitiable of all
calamities. "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothing shall
be rent, and the hair of his head shall go loose, and he shall cover
his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein
the plague is in him he shall be unclean: he is unclean: he shall
dwell alone; without the camp shall his dwelling be" (Lev. 13: 45, 46).

Such was the brand put upon the leper and his awful affliction, under
the Mosaic law. The brand never has been removed, nor the awfulness
of the disease abated. In Europe this scourge, introduced by warlike
campaigns, and reintroduced by subsequent crusades, through isolation,
segregation of sexes, and improved sanitary methods, has been nearly
exterminated. In America its spread is prevented by the same means.

In barbarian or semi-civilized countries no attempt is made to control
the disease. Such was the case in Burma, under Burman rule, and still
is the case throughout the land, outside of a few municipalities
under English control. Even in the larger towns the rule that lepers
shall go to the asylums, or dwell "without the camp" is not rigidly
enforced. The leper is an outcast, so treated by his own race even
more than by Europeans, but this does not prevent him from wandering
at will through the crowded streets and bazars. Rags that have
covered his repulsive sores may be cast away where men traffic and
children play. They are permitted to marry among themselves, thereby
perpetuating and multiplying the terrible disease. The latest census
gives a total of 4,190 lepers in Burma alone. Of this number 2,940
are males, 1,250 females. This does not include the large number of
untainted children of leprous parents, doomed to become lepers later
in life. On the streets one may observe leprosy in all stages. One
shows no other sign than swollen feet, and may not even know that he
has become a leper. Another shows unmistakable signs of the disease by
white, red, or violet patches on his skin.

Another is in the last stage of the disease. Where once were feet
and hands are only stumps. Some have what is left of feet and hands
bandaged with foul rags. Others, whether from lack of wherewith to
bandage, or in order to excite sympathy and almsgiving, expose their
repulsive sores. Passing Buddhists may now and then toss a copper into
the tin-cup, to get merit for themselves, but of compassion they have
little or none. The leper's own fate or ill-luck, the outcome of evil
committed in past existences, has overtaken him. There is no help for
it. Why trouble about it? "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also
reap," is a tenet of Buddhism, as well as of Christianity, but with
no place for repentance or forgiveness. Fortunately leprosy is not
infectious. There is not the slightest danger from near approach. It
is generally believed that it is not even contagious, like smallpox
or scarlet fever. No doubt there is danger of contracting the disease
by inoculation. Some claim that the use of imperfectly cured, or
putrid fish as an article of diet, is the cause of leprosy. This seems
reasonable, but there is ample evidence that it is not the only cause.
Both cause and cure still furnish fields for investigation by medical
science. Of the 4,190 lepers in Burma only about 560 are in Leper

This work is conducted by the Wesleyan and Roman Catholic missions
in Mandalay, the Rangoon municipality, and the Baptist mission in

Never yet have the Buddhists of Burma lifted a finger to alleviate
the sufferings of their outcasts. Whatever desultory and trifling
almsgiving as has been indulged in has been prompted not by compassion
but by selfishness, to add to the giver's own store of merit.
This is Buddhism, in both theory and practice. Buddhism has been
extolled as a religion of love and peace. Its love is self-love; its
peace self-conceit, and indifference to the sufferings of others.
But Christian missionaries are teaching a striking object lesson.
While proclaiming the love of God in Christ, they are exemplifying
their teaching by putting forth a mighty effort to relieve these
unfortunates who have been cast off by their own people. English
officials give this work their sympathy and assistance. The number to
share the benefits of the asylums will steadily increase. Hundreds of
lepers, homeless, friendless, and hopeless, waiting and longing for
the end, wander about in all the towns and villages of the land. This
wandering habit is the chief obstacle to work among them. So long as
subsistence can be gained by begging, many prefer change of scene to
the more certain comforts of the Leper Home. But the time is not far
distant when, in the larger towns at least, they will not be allowed
to roam at will.

Work for the lepers appeals to the hearts of all races, in all
Christian lands. Until effective means are devised to check
the propagation of this terrible disease, the need will be



In nearly all non-Christian lands the first impressions of western
civilization have come from the aggressions of commerce.

The minister of a foreign government has preceded the missionary of
the Cross.

The flag of a foreign nation has gone in advance of the banner of

Both political and commercial relations may have been forced upon
the people of the weaker nation. All this may have been in the best
interests of the world at large; probably in the best interests of the
people themselves, however slow they have been to realize it.

Were Christian nations always worthily represented commercial,
diplomatic, and evangelistic efforts might cooperate for the uplifting
of backward races. In the initial attempts to bring about the
remolding of a nation, the restraining influence upon the natives,
as exercised by the missionaries, is of inestimable importance.
Missionaries in turn, need protection from fanatical and ignorant
natives, so easily influenced by irresponsible characters, to
desperate deeds.

New colonies invariably become a dumping ground for adventurers.
Government officials, "transferred for cause," drift farther and
farther towards the frontier. Because of a scarcity of trained
men certain positions have been filled by persons morally unfit
to represent a civilized people. So it transpires that civil law
sometimes becomes civil lawlessness, which men in higher positions are
powerless wholly to restrain. But sweeping charges that officials of
whatever nation, in outlying colonies, are "profligate and tyrannical"
do gross injustice to many noble men who are doing their utmost for
the advancement of morality and justice. Burma has suffered as other
colonies have suffered. But there is steady progress for the better.
The various departments of government are becoming more thoroughly
organized; competent and trustworthy men are in the ascendant. But
throughout the period since the annexation of Burma by the British
Indian government--impressions far from complimentary to a Christian
nation have become indelibly fixed in the native mind.

[Illustration: THE LAST KING OF BURMA]

Vice is always more conspicuous than virtue. Unscrupulous men have
brought reproach upon a Christian nation; and created strong prejudice
against Christianity itself, that many years of good government and
evangelistic effort combined cannot efface. The innocent must suffer
suspicion with the guilty. It is also true that natives are naturally
suspicious of all foreigners, and apt to regard even necessary
measures as oppressive. The old question "Is it lawful to give tribute
to Cæsar?" crops out wherever tribute is exacted. Every son of Adam,
the world over, holds the tax collector in contempt, and will evade
payment if possible. "Publicans and sinners" are inseparably wedded,
in the popular mind.

This deeply-grounded prejudice, whether with or without cause,
constitutes a serious hindrance to the progress of evangelistic work.

Often the missionary must spend a whole day in a jungle village
striving to win the confidence of the people, who are slow to
discriminate between the missionary and the official. Suspicion as to
his character and errand is a greater hindrance than their prejudice
against Christianity as such.

At the same time there is reason for believing that could the Burmans
throw off the British yoke, and reestablish a kingdom of their own,
missionaries would not be permitted to propagate Christianity at all.
In February, 1826, Adoniram Judson and Dr. Price, having been released
from their long imprisonment at Ava and Aungbinle, were finally
permitted to go down to the British camp, Mrs. Judson accompanying
them. The release of these American missionaries, and the recovery of
their property, of which the Burman officials had heartlessly robbed
them, were due entirely to special efforts in their behalf on the
part of the general commanding the British troops. Mrs. Judson thus
recounted their experiences: "We now, for the first time, for more
than a year and a half, felt that we were free, and no longer subject
to the oppressive yoke of the Burmans. And with what sensation of
delight, on the next morning, did I behold the masts of the steamboat,
the sure presage of being within the bounds of civilized life. As
soon as our boat reached the shore, Brigadier A---- and another
officer came on board, congratulated us on our arrival, and invited
us on board the steamboat where I passed the remainder of the day;
while Mr. Judson went on to meet the general, who, with a detachment
of the army, had encamped at Yandaboo, a few miles further down the
river. Mr. Judson returned in the evening with an invitation from
Sir Archibald to come immediately to his quarters, where I was the
next morning introduced, and received with the greatest kindness by
the general, who had a tent pitched for us near his own, took us to
his own table, and treated us with the kindness of a father, rather
than as strangers of another country. We feel that our obligations to
General Campbell can never be cancelled. Our final release from Ava,
and our recovering all the property that had there been taken, was
owing entirely to his efforts.

"His subsequent hospitality, and kind attention to the accommodation
for our passage to Rangoon, have left an impression on our minds,
which can never be effaced. We daily received the congratulations
of the British officers, whose conduct towards us formed a striking
contrast to that of the Burmese. I presume to say that no persons on
earth were ever happier than we were during the fortnight we passed at
the English camp. For several days this single idea wholly occupied my
mind,--that we were out of the power of the Burmese government, and
once more under the protection of the English" (Memoir of Rev. Dr.
Judson, by Wayland).

Such testimony as this is enough to arouse a sense of everlasting
gratitude in the heart of every missionary whose privilege it is
to conduct mission work under the protection of the British flag.
Happily there has never been another occasion in the history of Burma
missions to extend such kindnesses as Mr. and Mrs. Judson enjoyed at
the hands of these English officers. But missionaries of all societies
represented in Burma have always been able to number among their best
friends noble men in some department of government service, civil or

Transitions are more readily effected in government than in religion.
The "Powers that be," though recently come into their possessions,
speak authoritatively. "Might makes right," and compels changes.
A foreign religion speaks persuasively, having no authority, and
desiring none, to compel its acceptance. When a foreign religion
enters ground already preempted by twenty-five centuries of such a
strongly organized religion as Buddhism, transitions may also be
reckoned by centuries. The world may witness the evangelization of
Burma "in this generation," but it cannot recall the three generations
of Burmans that have gone out in the dark since Judson began his work
in this land.

"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands."--"They
that make them are like unto them: so every one that trusteth in
them." The image of Gautama Buddha bears on its face an expression,
or rather lack of expression intended to represent that, to him,
change was forever past. The idol as truly represents Buddhism as it
does the founder of Buddhism. There is no word in the Burman language
of wider application than the word for "custom." On that word the
Buddhist falls back for justification of every act, as sufficient
reason for non-action, as a clincher to every argument. He attaches
greater weight to ancestral custom than to the teachings of his "law"
or to the dictates of his own judgment. When defeated at every point,
in religious controversy he has been known to say, "If what you say
is true, then my ancestors have gone to hell. I want to go wherever
they have gone. If they have gone to hell, I want to go there too."
Aged Buddhists have said: "Our children may become Christians, but we
are too old to change. We will die in Buddhism, as we have lived."
They are "like unto" their idols in that they seem to have no power
to change. Having "changed the glory of the incorruptible God for
the likeness of corruptible man"; "Exchanged the truth of God for a
lie, and worshipped and served the creature (Gautama) rather than the
creator," and "Refused to have God in their knowledge," they seem to
have been given up to a "reprobate mind." They now declare that there
is no God. If there is no God there can be no sin against God. Sins
are against _self_ only, in that they involve penalty. But penalty may
be counter-balanced by meritorious works. Therefore all responsibility
to God or man is repudiated. Each man must be his own saviour. His
meritorious works are solely for his own advantage.

Self-centred, and self-sufficient,--the Christian doctrines of an
Eternal God, atonement, pardon, regeneration and heaven are rejected
as idle tales concerning things which they consider neither necessary
nor desirable. The Apostles, or missionaries (sent-forth-ones) of
the early church found that the Gentiles received the gospel much
more readily than the Jews. The latter were steeped in bigotry, and
imagined themselves a superior and specially favoured people. They
were priest-ridden, and led astray by the "traditions of the elders."
Any suggestion of change was deeply resented, especially by the
religious teachers. History repeats itself in Burma. Non-Buddhist
tribes receive the gospel far more readily than the Buddhist.
Buddhists manifest the same Jewish spirit of haughty pride and
arrogant bigotry. They are priest-ridden, and bound down by teachings
and customs never dreamed of by the founder of their religious system.
Pharisees decreed that if any man should confess Jesus to be the
Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Where there were no
Pharisees to agitate against the Christian missionaries the common
people heard them gladly. While the Karens, as a nation, have already
passed the transitional stage, the Burmans are still held back by
their pharisaical priests, who never lack willing instruments for
the execution of their malice against converts to Christianity. But
in communities where there are no priests to hold the people in awe,
native evangelists have little difficulty in securing a good hearing.
This indicates the real spirit of the people when untrammelled by
intimidating influences. Human nature is much the same the world over.
Environment and inherited custom make men to differ. Results already
achieved (to be discussed in another chapter) show that Burma is in a
state of transition religiously as well as politically, though less


The sure promise of God that Christ shall have the nations for His
inheritance; the uttermost parts of the earth for His possessions, has
here substantial beginnings of fulfillment. Uhlhorn said of the Roman
Empire in transition: "The most mighty of forces cannot change in a
day the customs and institutions of an Empire more than a thousand
years old." In Burma these forces are arrayed against customs and
institutions that have developed during a period of twenty-five
hundred years. Change of government effects outward changes in
the life of a people; but more than mere change of government is
required to work changes for the better in the soul of a people.
Aping European customs may give an air of increased respectability,
but the aping of European vices, always first in order, makes the
man "Tenfold more a child of hell" than before. Much is expected
from the government system of education. Education will furnish a
supply of petty officials; raise the people to some extent, from
their gross ignorance; and possibly do something towards undermining
Buddhism,--though to undermine Buddhism is far from being the purpose
or desire of the British Indian government. But something more than
education is required to prepare a nation to be an inheritance of the
King of Kings. The gospel, and only the gospel is the power of God
unto the salvation of any nation.

In industry, skill, statesmanship, and all the qualities that go to
make up a strong people, the Burmans are sadly lacking. To come to
the front rank of progress, as the Japanese have done, is not in
them, and never will be. But as a dependent nation, restrained by
their conquerors from the almost continual warfare which marks their
history; and transformed by the leavening influences of Christianity,
they may yet take the front rank among Asiatic races as a Christian



In face of the fact that whole nations lie in the darkness of
heathenism; bound down by ancestral customs; priest-ridden; wedded
to their idols;--what seeming folly for a handful of missionaries to
attempt the world's evangelization. How futile the task of breaking
down the strongholds of heathen religions that have stood for
centuries. So they sneered at Carey the cobbler. So they tried to
discourage Judson. A ship's captain once asked an out-going missionary
to China:

"Do you think you can make any impression on the four hundred millions
of China?" "No," said the missionary. "But God can."

A coloured preacher discoursing on faith, and warming to his subject
said, "If God tole me to jump froo dat wall, I'd _jump_. De jumpin'
_froo_ belongs to God. De jumpin' _at it_ belongs to me." God
certainly has commanded His people to "jump" through the wall of
heathenism. The command is clear, emphatic, and large with divine
intensity, and promise of power and triumph.

Nothing was said as to methods to be employed in making disciples.
There are many ways of proclaiming the gospel. It may fairly be
inferred that any or all effective methods may be employed; and that
methods may vary according to varying circumstances, in order "by all
means to save some."

There is danger of too narrow an interpretation of instructions.
As an illustration, take the case of Paul, who "determined to know
nothing" among the Corinthian Christians "save Jesus Christ and Him
crucified." But in elaborating his theme he found occasion to discuss
social purity, matrimony, divorce, celibacy, apparel for the sexes,
the place of woman in public gatherings, as well as church discipline
and collections. Whatever instruction was needed for the moral and
spiritual development of the individual had a direct bearing upon
his central theme. Such instruction could not be omitted without
dwarfing the benefits of Christ's sacrifice. In God's plan for the
evangelization of the world "The foolishness of the preaching" is
to "save them that believe"; "Christ crucified" furnishing both the
theme and the power. All other plans have failed. But this theme
may be proclaimed in many ways;--by the evangelist, as he goes from
village to village; by the pastor from the pulpit; by the teacher in
the daily Bible-study of the school; by the medical missionary, whose
ministrations of mercy are sermons in themselves; by the holy life of
missionary and disciple; even by the Christian chapel, standing in a
heathen community as a silent yet significant witness for Christ. All
of these forces, and others are being used of God in the redemption of

"Direct evangelization," or the proclamation of the gospel-message
from village to village, throughout the large district to which a
missionary has been assigned, is the predominating method.

Our first experience in this line came when we had been but a few
months in Burma. A messenger from a village twenty-three miles
away came to inform us that two young men wanted to be baptized.
Having already made plans to visit that village we prepared at once
to respond to the summons. When a Burman wishes to be baptized in
the presence of the heathen people of his own village, it is taken
as evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in his heart. Such
opportunities must not be neglected.

First we must summon our forces. U Po Hlaing must go, because this is
the village in which he used to live, and these converts are fruits
of his labours. Ko Thaleh must go, because he has had much experience
in examining candidates, and his judgment can be trusted. Maung Ka
must go, because he is young, full of fire, and will not cease to
preach the gospel, whatever the circumstances. But it is not easy
to secure an audience in the heathen village, unless there is some
special attraction. "Music hath charms" to draw the people from their
homes, and hold them until the preachers have done their work. "Mama"
is going, with the portable organ, and some of the Christian girls
to sing, insuring success though other methods fail. After going
seventeen miles by rail we still had six miles to make by ox-cart. The
delight of an ox-cart ride over rough jungle roads beggars description.

The driver sits on the projecting front, guiding the animals, or
pretending to, by means of a rope passed through their noses.

Just as we are about to sit down the oxen start. We save ourselves by
clutching at somebody else. A desire to say something emphatic to the
driver is overcome by inability to speak his language, and a feeling
of thankfulness that we are still on deck. The road is conspicuous
by its absence,--but that does not matter. All the driver wants is
to get his bearings, then off he goes across sun-baked rice-fields,
and through the jungle. By instinct he knows that a straight line is
the shortest distance between two points, and he keeps to that line
without regard to obstructions or our feelings. At last we reach the
river, and see on the opposite bank the thatch-roofed houses of the
village. The preachers shout to the villagers, and soon two boats
are poled across to take us over. Our boat is a long narrow dug-out,
our boatman a chubby Burmese girl. We are in momentary expectation
of being dumped into the river; but happily our expectations are not
realized. Chubby enjoys it immensely, and seems proud when she has
landed us safely. Landing means that the dug-out has stuck in the mud,
twenty feet from shore. The natives could wade, and so could we, but
we did not like to, through all that mud. A brawny bare-backed Burman
soon solved the problem by taking "Mama" in his arms and carrying her
to the shore, returning to take the "Sayah" on pick-a-pack.

We were piloted to a house at the farther end of the village.
Ascending by a short ladder to the open veranda we were glad to
stretch out on the split-bamboo floor for a little rest. After we
had eaten supper, and the men and women had returned from their work
in the rice-fields, the portable organ was placed in position. In
response to its tones, sounds never heard before in that village, men,
women, and children came from all directions. Some sat around on the
ground, others climbed the ladder and filled all available space. The
preachers did their best to make known the "Glad Tidings." Whenever
the audience showed signs of thinning out, the organ would send
forth another appeal, restoring numbers and interest. Sankey's songs,
translated into Burmese, were sung with vigour by the schoolgirls. The
"Old, Old Story" seemed to take new meaning when sung to the heathen
by some of their own people who had learned to love it and live by it.
During the following day, while the people were busy at their work,
our attention was given to the children.

A dozen or so, drawn by curiosity, had collected about the house.

Some were half clad, others with no protection whatever, save a string
around the neck, with one large bead attached.

All were very dirty, and as shy as rabbits. After winning their
confidence a picture card was given to each, with instructions to go
and bring other children.


It was interesting to see them scatter through the village to do their
first missionary work. Few in the home-land realize how helpful to the
missionary are the bright coloured advertising cards. Wild children in
jungle villages are won by these pictures. Attendance at Sunday-school
in town may be doubled by their use. But these native children want
something more than bright colours. Strange to say that although fond
of flowers for personal adornment, they will give only a passing
glance at the showiest picture of flowers; while a picture of a
_person_,--man, woman, or child, of any race,--if in bright attire,
is eagerly seized. A darky boy riding a spool of Coat's thread is more
effective than a dull Sunday-school card for evangelizing purposes.
Bushels of such cards might be utilized.

Late that afternoon the council came together to examine the
candidates for baptism. Sitting around on the floor in all sorts of
positions they formed a strange looking group, yet as sincere and
earnest as a similar council in the home-land.

The examination was declared satisfactory, so after prayer we all
started for the river, followed by nearly the whole village, curious
to witness a Christian baptism,--the strange magic rite of initiation
into the foreign religion. This is always a grand opportunity to
preach Christ. Rather than lose the baptism they will remain and
listen as they would not at other times. So long as the missionary
remains in their village they will not show, by word or sign, that
they are not in sympathy with these proceedings. The new converts, who
have had the courage of their convictions, will be made to realize to
their sorrow the real mind of the people. On the way to this village
we met a squad of Burmans, accompanied by a native policeman. One of
the men was carrying a parcel wrapped in plantain leaves. Interested
to know what was in the parcel, that it should require a police
escort, what was our surprise to learn that it contained a dacoit's
head! Bands of dacoits had been giving a great deal of trouble.
Several of their leaders were still at large. More regular methods
having failed to secure their capture, the British Indian government
offered tempting rewards for their heads. Two men living in the
village to which we were going, surprised one of these dacoit leaders
in a jungle path, and thinking that his head would be worth more to
them than it ever would be to him, they struck it off with their
_dahs_. The head was taken to the court, where it was identified, and
the reward recovered.

Continuing our tour, we halted one morning at about ten o'clock for
breakfast. Our preachers had told us what a wicked village this was,
how the people had driven them out every time they had attempted to
preach or distribute tracts; and that only a little while before our
visit they had beaten the wife of one of the preachers because she
spoke of Christ while resting by the way. But this time there was no
danger of violence, for the presence of one white man is sufficient
security against serious molestation. So each preacher armed himself
with a handful of tracts, and started out to work the village, and
advertise our coming. Then "Mama" opened the portable organ there in
the open air, and played a few tunes. Soon quite a number of women
and children were attracted by the sound. After throwing out this
bait, we paused for breakfast, for we were hungry, hot, and tired,
having been travelling since the first signs of morning light. The
people were told to come again about noon, and bring others with
them. The news that the white teachers had come, that one was a white
_woman_, and played on a wonderful music-box, such as they never had
seen before, went like wild-fire through the village.

The building in which we hoped to have our meeting was set up on posts
several feet from the ground, according to the custom. The door was
reached by means of a ladder. How to get the people up into the house
was the question that we must solve. We placed the organ well to the
back side of the one large room, and posted the native helpers as to
our purposes. At the appointed time the people began to come,--men,
stripped to the waist as they came from their work; women smoking
huge cheroots, with babies astride their hips; children of all sizes,
some clothed, some naked. The missionary's wife took her place at the
organ and played away, tune after tune, everything she could think
of, from "Old Hundred" to "Gloria in Excelsis," and repeated the most
of them. Everything depended upon the drawing power of the music. The
preachers and Christian girls,--some up in the house, others down in
the yard,--coaxed and urged the people up the ladder until we had
filled the house. Up to this time I had kept well in the background
on account of the more timid. My object accomplished, I now climbed
up the ladder and seated myself in the door,--the only door there
was. With back against one door-jamb, and knees against the other,
I was the gladdest man on earth. We had trapped nearly the whole
village! Fully seventy-five people who had persistently refused to
listen to the gospel were penned in with the preachers. To crowd out
over a white man, even had they dared to attempt it, would have been
too great a breach of Burman etiquette. At a given signal the music
stopped, and one of the preachers addressed the people. He was the
very man whose wife had recently been beaten. He began by telling
them how he had wanted for a long time to tell them about this new
religion, but never had been permitted to do so. He reminded them of
their action in beating his wife. "But," said he, "I have no hard
feelings against you. This new religion is a religion of love. Its
sacred book tells us that 'God is love,' and that He 'So loved the
world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on
Him should not perish, but have eternal life.'" Then for about ten
minutes, with wonderful tact and earnestness, he proclaimed Christ
as the world's Saviour. After a tune on the organ, to keep the
people interested and expectant, another preacher gave his message.
Another tune, and then the third preacher emphasized what the others
had spoken. For three-quarters of an hour these people, entrapped by
strategy, listened to the gospel at short range, and were interested
in spite of themselves. But two men who were specially bitter against
the name of Christ, climbed out through a window and dropped to the

In the outskirts of that village we found an aged couple who professed
to be followers of Christ. They had heard the gospel elsewhere, and
with what light they had, believed. The villages had utterly cut them
off, refusing to sell to them, buy from them, or even allow them to
draw water from the village well. But these old people had found the
"Water of life." In their hearts shone all the light there was in
that terribly benighted village. Both of them died in the faith a few
years later. Many of the Karens have come down from the mountains and
started villages of their own in the plains. Until the English had
thoroughly subdued the country this was not possible, as the Karens
were terribly oppressed by the Burmans. On one of our jungle tours we
came across one of these Karen villages. Nearly all the men understood
colloquial Burmese. They received the missionary party with great
kindness, and eagerly listened to the gospel, which they had not
heard before. The fifteen houses comprising the village were built at
regular intervals around the outer edge of the small clearing they
made in the forest.

In the open space the Karens were seated in a semicircle on the
ground, with the missionary and native preachers in front.

We were about to sow precious seed in virgin soil. Not a soul had ever
heard of Christ before. The story must begin at the beginning,--the
Eternal God; the creation; the fall; the revelation of God in Jesus
Christ--the Saviour of the world. As he went on to tell of Christ's
majesty and holiness, of His wonderful words and works I was deeply
stirred. Suddenly the face of the head-man lighted up, and with a
twinkle in his eye he interrupted the preacher. Pointing to me he
said: "Is this your Christ?" For a moment his question seemed merely
ridiculous. But as the preacher continued his good work, my mind was
busy with this heathen Karen's mistake. When it dawned upon me that
he had actually mistaken me for Christ, I never was so overwhelmed
in all my life. And yet, I thought, is it such a mistake? True, the
God-man was infinitely superior to any human being. But the missionary
represents, for the time, all that these people can know of Christ.
They must see exemplified in me the principles of Christianity, and
the spirit of its Founder. They must see His holiness reproduced in
my daily life. As He, when tried at all points, was without sin; when
reviled, reviled not again; emerging calm and triumphant from every
distracting storm, so I must manifest the Master's spirit, and by
His help preserve self-control under the most trying circumstances.
They must see Christ truly represented in my life until they can
look beyond, to Him who is the "Author and perfecter of our faith."
That was a high standard set for me by that poor heathen Karen, but
it has proved more helpful to me than anything in all my Christian
experience. It stimulated me to strive the harder to be able to say to
my people "Be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ."

The Burman race has the reputation of being thriftless and lazy. Many
have prophesied that the "Burman must go to the wall" before the
encroachments of natives of India, Chinese, and Karens. As seen in the
chief towns the Burman has fairly earned such a reputation.

If he has government employment, even a petty clerkship, he is good
for nothing else. Many are "birds of the night"--gamblers--and loafers
by day.

The average citizen spends the most of his time in indolence,
supported by his more enterprising wife.

But in the jungle villages we find a very different state of affairs.
Few men are found in the village in the daytime. To prepare their
land, plant, harvest, thresh, and market the crop of rice, requires
diligent work almost the whole year round. I have almost regretted
their diligence sometimes, when compelled to spend a day in almost
idleness waiting for the men to return from their fields at sunset.
Then an hour or so passes while they are getting their evening meal.
By this time it is pitch dark, if there is no moon. There is not a
lamp in the whole village. Ordinary methods will not attract tired
men from their homes. There is no time for house-to-house preaching.
But the Gospel _must be preached_. If we cannot reach them by day we
must reach them by night. In the home-land a magic-lantern service
is resorted to now and then, as a special attraction. We have come
prepared to do the same in the jungle villages. Early in the day we
clean up a spot in the centre of the village, and stretch our large
white curtain between two trees, or support it by bamboo poles. A
clean white sheet in a conspicuous place, is a novelty in itself
sufficient to advertise the presence of outsiders. While tracts
are being distributed from house to house the evening service is
announced. If there is no musical instrument to call the people
together the head-man is asked to sound his gong at the appointed time.


[Illustration: DORIAN SELLERS]

The magic lantern never fails to draw a crowd. But as the first
picture is thrown upon the screen we notice that many are hanging back
where they cannot see and hear to the best advantage. Then we discover
that this has been mistaken for a traveling show, and that they are
keeping out of reach of the collection plate. They can hardly believe
our repeated assertion that all this is for them, "without money and
without price." At last the crowd is gathered in as close as possible,
the children sitting on the ground in front. At first we show a few
pictures illustrating their own life and customs. How pleased they are
when a Burmese damsel arrayed in gaudy skirt and flowers, appears on
the screen. Then we pass to pictures illustrating mission work among
their own people, taking care to emphasize the fact that Christianity
has already made substantial progress in Burma,--has come to stay. By
this time our dusky audience has become accustomed to the novelty of
the situation, and is ready to settle down to look and listen.

Now we pass to our real purpose,--the setting forth of Jesus Christ as
the world's Saviour. Often the preacher has been met with the demand,
"Show us your God." That "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him
must worship in spirit and truth" is beyond the comprehension of the
heathen mind. He has no conception of an eternal, invisible God. He
can point to his god in that idol-house on the hilltop, but where is
the Christian's god? Great care is taken at the outset to make them
understand that these pictures of Christ on the screen are in no sense
idols; that we do not worship the pictures. Then each picture is made
a text for a brief but earnest sermon, as we strive to convey to them,
through eye and ear, some conception of the majesty, power, holiness,
and love of God as revealed in Christ. There is a crisis when we reach
the picture of the crucifixion. Christ is the Christian's God, and
_his God is dead_. That thought is expressed in various exclamations.
Up to this point we seemed to be carrying our audience with us, but
now they slip from our grasp. For the moment the case seems lost, the
message rejected. How earnestly we pray that the Holy Spirit will
make "the attraction of the cross" realized by these heathen men and
women. Have we made a mistake in displaying the cross in the first
proclamation of the gospel in these villages? Surely "Christ and Him
crucified" was the central theme of Paul's preaching, wherever he was.
He Himself said, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto
Me." This theme and this picture shall have their place,--we will
leave the result with God. Without waiting for too much of a reaction
we pass to the picture of the resurrection. At once the preacher
gathers fresh courage. With earnestness and triumph in his voice he
sets forth the glorious fact of the resurrection. "Yes, Christ died
for our sins, but He laid down His life that He might take it again."
After citing proofs of the resurrection we close with the ascension.
Christ enthroned, with "All power in heaven and on earth," "ever
liveth to make intercession for us."

The people fully understand that there has been nothing supernatural
in the appearing of the pictures on the screen, and yet they are
more deeply impressed than when appealed to through the ear alone.
As one man expressed it, "How can we disbelieve, when we have seen
with our own eyes." For day-work we sometimes use large coloured
pictures illustrating the life of Christ. A bamboo pole is fastened
up horizontally about five feet from the ground. The picture-roll is
suspended under the pole so that each picture, when done with, can
be thrown back over the pole. This method is very effective with the
children, and can be used when the older people are at their work.
Both old and young enjoy the pictures, for all have child-minds.

On one occasion we were preaching by this method in a Karen village. A
middle aged Karen, a typical specimen of "the Great Unwashed," planted
himself directly in front of the picture, intensely interested in what
he saw and heard. As the young preacher graphically described some
of Christ's miracles, or told of the sad events of the Passion Week,
the man's face was a study. Its expression changed with the varying
sentiment of the message,--now wreathed in a smile that showed all of
his blackened teeth; now drawn down with a look of sadness that would
have been comical but for the sacredness of the theme. The narration
of Christ's heavenly words and works would be responded to by an "Ugh,
Ugh" of approval; the story of His rejection, by the same grunts in
a different tone, expressive of disapproval. This man, at least, was
ripe for a personal application of the message.

Now and then we find a village in which is more than the usual amount
of prejudice against Europeans. The people have suffered some real
or imagined oppression. Not being able to discriminate between the
missionary and the official, they naturally resent his coming.

Sometimes a whole day must be spent in disarming their fear. We learn
that a man is sick with fever,--the medicine-box is opened and the
sick man treated. Children come peeping around the corners, and we win
them with picture-cards. A young mother goes by with her little one
astride her hip, and we praise the baby. So by degrees we work our way
into their confidence and prepare the way for our message.

Not always can the missionary accompany his native evangelist in their
jungle tours. It may be that other forms of mission-work compel him
to remain at headquarters. It may be that his health has become so
affected by the climate that he can no longer endure the unavoidable
hardship and exposure. It may be that funds are wanting to cover the
expense of further touring. Missionary experience has demonstrated
the wisdom of adopting the Master's method, and he sends out his
native helpers "two by two." One man alone confronting the forces
of heathenism, may become disheartened. Poorly trained, he may find
himself led into argument only to be worsted. He may get sick, and
have no one to take care of him, or carry a message to his friends.
But "two by two," one encourages the other. When preaching, one
supplements the other. The one who follows warms to his work even more
earnestly than the one who led off. What one does not think of the
other one does. We have often marvelled at their faithfulness, knowing
that nearly every attempt to preach Christ to the heathen is met by a
rebuff from some one. They may have made repeated attempts without any
sign of fruitage. Should they "shake off the dust" of their feet as
a testimony against every village in which their message is not well
received, they would soon cover the ground, and go out of business.

Often after a day of ox-cart riding, followed by preaching extending
well into the evening, we have retired to our curtained corner in a
native house, so weary that a bamboo floor seemed smooth and soft.
Retired, but not to sleep,--for no sooner are we out of sight than the
preaching begins again. Among the many who have heard the gospel, one,
two, or half a dozen want to know more about this new teaching. They
climb up into the house, and with the preachers form a circle around
the smoking tin lamp. To ten, twelve, or one o'clock in the night
the preaching goes on. We forget our weariness, for we know that the
very best work of all is now being done. The preachers are face to
face with the few who are willing or anxious to hear, unhindered by
scoffers or fear of neighbours.

Native evangelists are not encouraged to attend heathen festivals by
themselves, although these large gatherings furnish good opportunities
for preaching and tract distribution. Their presence at a heathen
festival might be misunderstood, besides furnishing an excuse to
weaker Christians who might be attracted by the pomp and show. The
one exception is the heathen funeral. As has already been pointed
out, the funeral is also a festival, but animated to some extent by
a different spirit. There are genuine mourners in the house, besides
the wailers who make such ado by turns. There are truly sympathetic
friends, besides the many who attend because it is customary, or to
share in the feast. There is one solemn subject, death, that will
not down, besides the idle chatter of the throng. Here is the place
for the preacher. Now and then, it is true, he is summarily dismissed
the moment he attempts to preach. But as a rule he finds many who are
in a sober, thinking frame of mind, ready to listen to the Christian
teacher's view of death and the Great Beyond. That the deceased will
some time reappear, as man or animal, they believe, but not as the
same individual.

The Christian doctrine of the immortality of the soul, is
utterly foreign to all their thinking. They have no conception
of a final state of bliss or misery. Nothing is final except
Neikban,--annihilation,--and few there be who find it. In the
Christian doctrine they see a ray of hope. Some from real interest,
others from curiosity will listen to the message. Sometimes it happens
that the deceased was the heathen wife of a Christian husband, or the
heathen husband of a Christian wife, for they do not always separate
where one is converted to Christianity. Such a case happened near our
home. Ever since his baptism Ko Poo had led a terrible life with his
heathen wife, who cherished the most intense hatred of everything
Christian. After a lingering illness Ko Poo realized that his time had
come. Far from dreading death he hailed it as bringing sweet release
from an unhappy life. Before his death he made his will, bound his
little ten year old boy to the mission, and secured the missionary's
promise that in spite of all opposition, he should have Christian
burial. His people were given their choice whether to have the remains
taken to the Christian chapel or to have a Christian service in the
house, in which his wife would still be living. They chose the latter
course. But an unforeseen event occurred, complicating matters. The
wife was taken suddenly ill, and died at half-past seven in the
morning, two hours before the death of her husband.

Some said that her ill-timed demise was a final manifestation of her
spirit of interference with all Christian doings. Be that as it may,
it was now inevitable that there would also be a heathen funeral
at the house, at the same time. Here was an occasion calling for
diplomacy, but not for yielding. They knew the missionary too well to
expect him and his native preachers to quit the field. According to
native custom a body is kept from three to five days,--a dangerous
custom, to say the least, in a tropical country, with no facilities
for embalming. The remains of the wife might be kept longer if they so
desired, but according to Christian custom the funeral of the husband
must be held on the second day. "Oh, no, that would not be good. They
had lived together so long, now let them be buried at the same time."
So they yielded that point. Next, where should they be buried? The
Christians had their cemetery, and the Buddhists had theirs. The
missionary could plead his promise to the dying man that he should
have Christian burial, a promise badly kept if the interment should
be in the Buddhist cemetery. Of course they were not willing that the
wife should be buried in the Christian cemetery,--so that point was
peaceably gained. Then, how should the two coffins be conveyed to
their last resting place? "As they had lived together so long, let
the two coffins be carried side by side,"--but that would not do, for
they were not bound for the same destination,--another point quietly
gained. The next problem was, should the usual expensive spire-topped
bier be constructed, on which to place the wife's coffin. The
Christians were not providing anything of that kind, so the heathen
friends were easily persuaded to forego their custom for once, and
save the money, for the benefit of the orphaned children. When the
time came for the Christians' service the missionary repaired to the
house, whither the native preachers had already gone. In fact, one
or more of them had remained there the entire time from the death
of Ko Poo. At the appearance of the missionary and the Christian
company the tom-toms ceased their din, and the room was made for all
to enter. When a movement was made to bring from the upper part of
the house the coffin containing the remains of the husband, one of
the heathen relatives suggested that both coffins be brought down, at
the same time, and be placed on the trestle side by side. When this
had been done, the missionary made a sign to the native pastor that
all was ready for the service to begin. Then the situation, of their
own creating, dawned upon them. A Christian service was about to be
held over the wife as well as the husband! A man jumped up in anger to
protest, but was quietly though emphatically told to sit down and not
disturb the service. Christian hymns were sung, appropriate scripture
read, prayer offered, and brief but earnest talks made by three of
the Christian workers, including the missionary. A crowd had gathered
filling all available space in the large room, and open space out to
the street. There was not the slightest disturbance or evidence of
dissatisfaction throughout the service. Scores heard for the first
time of Christ--"the Resurrection and the Life." Many others heard
anew, under more impressive conditions. Then the procession formed,
the Christian section in advance, and all moved slowly up the street,
to the sound of the tom-toms in the rear. At the Buddhist cemetery,
the heathen section swung off, the Christians going a short distance
beyond to their cemetery. The husband's relatives followed with the
Christians. After a brief service at the grave, all returned to their
homes. So closed a unique experience, and a rare opportunity to
proclaim Christ as Saviour.

Often the Christians have opportunity to minister to a mourning
mother--"weeping for her children; and she would not be comforted,
because they were not." In a twofold sense "they are not." According
to Buddhist belief, for infants there is no hope. Little boys are
hardly considered human beings until they have spent at least one day
in a monastery. The status of little girls is still more uncertain.
The mourning mother has not even David's comfort, "I shall go to him,
but he will not return to me." She sorrows without hope. Her little
one is dead, it was too young to have a soul, it is simply to be taken
away into the jungle and buried. How her face brightens with hope, in
spite of her belief, when we tell her that her little one is safe in
heaven. She is ready to listen to the sweet story of Jesus blessing
little children; and saying to His disciples, "Suffer the little
children to come unto Me; and forbid them not; for to such belongeth
the kingdom of heaven." Her mind may be so dark that she fails to take
in its wealth of meaning, but it is a message of comfort, at least.
Even some native Christians who had lost little ones before their own
conversion, have carried with them the old heathen ideas concerning
their lost ones until assured by the teacher that they will see their
little ones again. This truth comes to them as a blessed revelation,
giving joy and hope in place of sadness. Human nature is much the
same, the world over; the same susceptibility to joy and sorrow.
Christ in the heart makes all the difference.

A sad occasion, furnishing a grand opportunity, was the burial of a
little child of mixed parentage. The father had returned to England,
leaving his native concubine and two little children. The younger,
only about nine months old, sickened and died. Heathen friends and
relatives of the mother came to the mission with a request that
the child be buried according to Christian custom. A large company
gathered at the grave, all Buddhists except the missionary and the
native pastor. The heathen friends were allowed to set a circle of
lighted candles around the grave according to their custom. Then a
short passage of scripture was read, containing the Saviour's words
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for
to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven"; and "He took them in His
arms and blessed them, laying His hands upon them." Men and women
listened intently while the precious truth, so new and strange to
them, was set forth that these little ones, far from being soulless
creatures,--as Buddhism teaches,--are choicest material for the
paradise of God. And that except a man become as a little child, in
simple trust and purity of heart, he cannot enter the kingdom of
God. Returning to their homes these people must pass the missionary's
house. Twenty of them stopped to get tracts that they might learn more
about the Glad Tidings.

Another method of preaching Christ is through "medical missions," or
the incidental medical work, which every missionary must perform. As a
philanthropic work medical missions would be justified from a purely
medical or humanitarian point of view. The woman who had "suffered
much from many physicians" was a victim of men probably much more
advanced in the knowledge of medicine than the average Burman doctor.
Both the diagnosis and the treatment are based on superstition.

The so-called doctor enters that profession because he has a taste
for it and thinks he can do well (for himself) at it. He requires no
training, and no drugs other than he can pick up in the jungle as he
goes along,--herbs, barks, and roots of a peculiar smell, shells,
stones, etc. carefully gathered at the right time of the moon. Some
of the articles in his stock possess a real medicinal value, and
now and then are put to their proper use, as is the case in country
districts the world over. Any one of the ninety-six diseases which,
according to the Burman notion, the flesh is heir to, may have come
from one of about as many different causes. The sick man may have
been bewitched, one of their many demons may be having a turn at him,
or perhaps he has offended the great nagah, or dragon. If it is due
to the balance of kan, fate being against him, the case is hopeless.
That the sickness was caused by eating unripe fruit, drinking from a
polluted well, or eating dried and putrid fish seldom occurs to the
man of science who has come on to the scene to lessen the chances
of recovery. Such is the fear of cholera that cathartics, in many
cases the only remedy needed, are rarely given. Some of the Burmese,
averse to taking medicine of any kind, prefer to call a dietist. No
matter what the ailment may be, the patient's birthday determines the
treatment. Every Burman knows the day of the week on which he was
born, though he may not know the month or the year.

His own name would recall the day, should he forget it. Certain
letters are assigned to each day of the week, according to the planet
from which the day took its name. The person's name must begin with
one of the several letters belonging to his birthday. Now in like
manner all kinds of food beginning with one of those letters the
patient must carefully _shaung_,--avoid. Rice would be tabooed on
Saturday, but as no Burman can eat at all without rice, an exception
is made, to save the doctor's popularity. Burying an effigy of the
sick person is sometimes resorted to, in order to fool the demon who
is hanging around the house. Thinking his victim has died, he will
depart. Massage sometimes is very helpful. Half a dozen people in a
village are noted for their knowledge of the muscles of the human
body, and for special skill in the shampooing process, but nearly
every man and woman attempts it now and then. This may be done with
the hands, or by treading slowly back and forth on the prone body of
the sufferer. Practiced with discrimination it has more value than all
the nostrums of doctors or dietists. But unfortunately the Burmese
practice it for everything, from a lame toe to confinement cases.
A prominent Burman in Rangoon recently declared as his belief that
Burma's immunity from the plague is due to the reverence of the people
for the "three precious things" of Buddhism, "the Buddha, the law,
and the priest." Against the occult power of Karma on the right side
of the scale, accumulated by such faithful observance of the noble
precept, the baccilli of the plague can make no headway. By the same
reasoning the presence of the plague in India is attributed to the
fact that Hinduism with its revolting customs and bloody sacrifices
has supplanted Buddhism in that country.

Putting these two together he confidently asserts that the only
effectual remedy for the plague in India is the restoration of
Buddhism as the national religion.

Mortality among infants is very high. This is remarkable when one
considers the faithfulness of the mother in attending to its wants,
starting it on honey and water in place of its natural food; and
afterwards supplementing its natural food by stuffing little wads
of boiled rice into its mouth while it is yet but a few weeks old.
Moreover, special precautions are taken against the departure of the
little one's "butterfly-spirit." That which the Christian calls the
soul, the Burman calls the sense of _knowing_, and is personified
as the "butterfly-spirit." When the body dies the butterfly-spirit
also dies. When a mother dies leaving an infant behind, immediate
precautions must be taken to prevent the child's butterfly-spirit
from going off with the mother's. Incantations are resorted to, and
they distractedly appeal to the dead mother not to take away the
butterfly-spirit of the babe.

Then a ceremony is performed with a tuft of fluffy cotton to imitate
the return of the spirit to the body of the child, who is blinking
in blissful unconsciousness of the awful crisis through which it is
passing. During one's sleep the butterfly-spirit may go wandering
about by itself, hence the peculiar experiences in dreams. The
temporary absence of the butterfly-spirit does no harm, unless
perchance it gets lost in the jungle, or badly frightened, it rushes
back so tumultuous as to cause a shock to its owner. Another danger is
that the person may be roused from sleep while the butterfly-spirit
is off on a picnic, in which case he would at least be sick until
the spirit returns. A sleeping man must not be disturbed, however
imperative the summons.

I was once the victim of over solicitude on my behalf. Travelling to
Rangoon by night-train, with a Burman as a companion I fell asleep.
The Burman knew that I was very anxious to reach my destination on

He also knew that while I was asleep our train was delayed, and that
an opportunity offered for a transfer to the mail-train which had the
right-of-way. But that fellow, educated and Christian that he was, had
not outgrown the feeling that a sleeper must not be roused, and so
let the chance slip by. An important business engagement was missed,
to say nothing of subsisting on one ear of boiled corn until twelve
o'clock the next day. Much more might be said to show that there is
a large field, and an urgent demand for medical missions. I am fully
persuaded that, given a medical missionary with an "evangelistic
temperament," which means a "passion for souls," no other missionary
agency can be compared with medical missions. Especially is this
true of work among Burman and Shan Buddhists. The value of the work
depends largely on the man himself.

If he cannot or does not win the people to himself he never will win
them to Christ. The spiritual work will suffer in proportion as he
allows himself to become absorbed in the purely medical or scientific
side of his work, leaving the evangelistic work to the native helpers.

The doctor has rare opportunities for personal influence in his
dispensary and in heathen homes. It is to be greatly regretted that
at the present time there is not one medical missionary in the whole
country assigned to Burman Buddhists, who comprise about four-fifths
of the population. All of the Shan mission stations have medical
missionaries, and the success of their work testifies to the soundness
of the policy, though this policy was due primarily to the need of
such protection for the missionary family in these frontier stations.

The medical missionary has a double hold on the people. The dispensary
brings them to him, and his outside practice takes him to their homes,
and that by invitation. In both respects he has an advantage over the
clerical missionary. Moreover, as medical treatment is the ostensible
object in their case, anti-Christian opposition is not prematurely
excited. Frequent visits of the clerical missionary to a heathen
home, brands that home as leaning towards Christianity. The one, by
relieving suffering, removes prejudice, although he may at the same
time proclaim Christ as faithfully as the other who, by making that
his sole errand, unavoidably excites prejudice. If as the result of a
man's ministrations the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, and
fevers are banished, he is forgiven for being a Christian, and others
are forgiven for consorting with him.

All governments and religions recognize the fact that to elevate a
people the beginning must be made with the children. It is too late
now to "begin with the child's grandfather." Missionaries do not
confound education with evangelization, but they do recognize its
great value in the evangelizing process. Ideally, evangelization
should come first, and education afterwards to meet the consequent
demand. This is usually the method followed, to the extent of the
evangelizing force available. The missionary to Burmans is shut up
to a choice between losing the children of Christian parents to the
government, Roman Catholic and S. P. G. schools; and establishing an
anglo-vernacular school of his own, in connecting with the Education
Department of government. It has come to pass that every school for
the Burmese in the towns, _must_ have government registration, and
must teach English. Every boy, whether from a Christian or heathen
home, is bound to have the certificates which only registered schools
can give, and is bound to have an English education. If the missionary
does not provide the opportunity the male children of his Christian
community will go where they can get it. The Education Department
holds annual promotion-examinations. Certificates are given to all
who complete the course. These certificates are the condition of
securing employment in government clerkships, mercantile houses, and
in all schools connected with the Education Department. The boy who
picks up his education in a vernacular school, or a non-registered
school, however proficient he may become, stands no chance in the
race. So much for the point of view from the native side. It is also
a generally recognized fact that non-Christian races never will be
evangelized by the missionary alone. The great work of the missionary
is to train up a native evangelizing agency through which he can
multiply himself, perpetuate himself, and establish a self-sustaining
work, that will go on when he shall have been compelled to lay it down.

Time was when a middle-aged convert from a jungle village, with no
education beyond the ability to stumble through a chapter in his Bible
could do fairly effective service. Such men are still helpful outside
of the towns, if helped by the missionary to a better understanding
of their message. Evangelists of such limited training are far from
ideal, even for jungle tours. In the towns their influence is very

How shall a stronger force be provided? Only through the mission
schools,--there is no other way. It may be said that the missionary
is not called upon to educate clerks for government. It is also true
that he is not called upon, by his Master, to decide beforehand what
boys in his mission shall be educated for the ministry. Much of a
boy's training must be given before he himself is sufficiently mature
to comprehend a divine "call" to the ministry. If no place is given
for such a call, the native ministry will be filled with men who would
do better service in the rice-fields. Rice would be their main object
in the ministry. Moreover, the preliminary training cannot even be
deferred until the boy is converted. The vocation of the preacher is
not hereditary, like that of the various castes in India. The son
of a dacoit may be converted during his school life, and become a
preacher. The son of a preacher may become a dacoit, or at least never
feel called to the Christian ministry. The mission school cannot even
be limited to children of Christian families. Opening the doors to
all classes willing to pay for the advantages of the school greatly
reduces its cost to the mission.

Increase of numbers does not involve increase in the number of
classes or teachers. Much of the expense is thereby placed where
it belongs,--upon the people themselves. Opening the doors to all
classes furnishes the grandest field for evangelistic work within the
missionary's sphere of influence. Every day in the week Christian
influences are brought to bear upon the same individuals; Christian
truths are inculcated; the creeds of false religions forestalled
in youthful minds; prejudice against Christianity dispelled, and
either during school life, or when the pupils are free to break
from the control of heathen parents many converts are gained. From
these converts, as well as from children of Christian parents, come
accessions to the mission force of teachers and evangelists. Paul was
"laid hold on by Christ Jesus" for special service while he was yet
as intense a hater of Christianity as can be found in Buddhist Burma.
From among the unconverted children now in mission schools some,
already chosen in the foreknowledge of God, will be "laid hold on" to
be Gospel preachers to the rising generation.

From the early days of Buddhism in Burma, even before the language
was reduced to writing there were monastic schools for the purpose of
teaching boys the doctrines of the new religion. When the language was
reduced to writing, all boys were compelled to attend the monastic
school to learn to read and write, in addition to the memorizing of
portions of the sacred books. This is still the custom, where no
English schools are provided. With the advent of the English school
compulsory attendance at the monastery is continued for religious
purposes only, and may be limited to the brief period required by the
novitiate ceremony, through which every boy must pass. This may extend
to three months, or be cut short at the end of a week, according to
the zeal of the parents, or the anxiety to get the boy back into the
English school so that he may not lose his promotion examination.
Let a boy spend a year in the monastery, and you have a full-fledged
Buddhist to deal with. Take the same boy into the mission school at
the age of five or six, even earlier where there is a kindergarten
department, and you have a child who is no more a Buddhist than
your own little ones. Buddhism is not hereditary, it is the result
of training and environment. Forestall that training by taking the
children into the Christian school, and there train them in the
blessed doctrines of Christianity. For the poisonous environment of
the heathen home and community, substitute the Christian influences
of life in the mission school. For this purpose the boarding-school,
in which the pupils are required to live, and be under Christian
influences and safeguards day and night is worth vastly more than the
day-school, which holds the pupils only during school hours, allowing
them to return at night to their heathen homes.

But the existence of the mission day-school, with its staff of native
Christian teachers, and its daily Bible-study is amply justified by
results. The pupils thus kept away from the monastic school are not
being indoctrinated in Buddhism; they are being indoctrinated in
Christianity. Few children in Christian lands receive a like amount
of Bible teaching. I venture to say that there are day-schools in
Burma, made up largely of children from heathen homes, that could
successfully compete with the average Sunday-school in America in
answering questions on the Bible. Heathen parents of pupils in the
day-school have complained that their children have already renounced
Buddhist worship and customs, and openly preach Christ to their own
parents. Whether these pupils are gathered into the Christian fold or
not, a few years hence they will be rearing families of their own. The
next generation, born of pupils now in mission schools, will not be
taught to hate everything in any way connected with the "Jesus Christ
religion," as these pupils have been. Even the day-school is one of
the stepping-stones heavenward for these benighted people.


The Karen village school-teacher, besides his regular work in the
school, brings his influence to bear on the parents as well, with
the result that in many instances the entire village is won to
Christianity. Some of these teachers are marvels of consecration.
Poorly fed, poorly clothed, often with no other pay than their meagre
fare, far from home and friends,--they are worthy a place among the
heroes of our time.

Scores of these schools are now in operation. Their value as an
evangelizing agency can hardly be estimated. Many of these teachers
are young men, just out of the training-school in town. Following the
example of the missionaries under whom they have been trained, and
catching something of their spirit, these young men have themselves
become missionaries. If in Christian villages without settled pastors,
not only the children in the school, but men and women of all ages
become their pupils, recognizing the young teachers' superior
training, and willingly sitting at their feet, both in their homes
and at the regular worship in the village chapel. If in non-Christian
villages the teacher, by his school and such other influences as he
can bring to bear, excites an interest in Christianity, of which as
yet they know nothing.

They wanted a school because they had noticed, or had it impressed
upon them by the missionary, that other villages were benefited by
having schools. The missionary seizing the opportunity, inserts this
entering wedge, with its Christian influences which they would not
accept from the regular evangelist. The net is cast, and it gathers of
every kind. Soon "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence" and the
whole village would take it by force, only checked by the requirements
that they utterly abandon their spirit-worship, and turn unto the Lord
with all their hearts.

This requirement not only differentiates the Christian villages from
the heathen, but from the Roman Catholic villages as well, for the
latter are allowed to retain all their old customs and vices, adding
thereto the vices of their foreign teachers. Martin B. Anderson once
wrote to a friend--"The work of our eastern missions is vastly more
comprehensive than ordinary Christians suppose. It is nothing else
than the creation, among a heathen, semi-barbarous, and ignorant
population, of the most advanced type of Christian civilization.
This at least ought to be the ideal which we should have before our
minds, and for whose realization we should constantly labour. The
cultivation of the moral and religious nature of man should be carried
on simultaneously with the highest practical development of the
intellectual powers. Can such an education as our eastern converts
require be communicated to them through their vernacular languages?
My own impression is that it cannot. It (the English language) comes
to them freighted with all the intellectual accumulations of the
past. It brings to them the terminology of spiritual religion, of
the science of the mind, and the science of God. Their preachers and
teachers, and moral and political leaders must be trained in English,
or their education will be inadequate and narrow."

The foregoing pages describe some of the many methods employed by our
missionaries, who would "by all means ... save some."



Amarapura had been the capital of Burma forty years when, in 1823, a
great fire destroyed some of the royal buildings. Having decided that
Amarapura was an unlucky place the capital was restored to Ava.

Judson's first visit to the capital occurred at this time. The king
had requested him to open a mission at Ava, and offered land for the
purpose. Then a war cloud on the western coast arose to darken his
prospects. The British at Chittagong refused to deliver up certain
Burmans who had taken refuge there.

In 1824 the Burman king declared war. Several Englishmen who were then
at Ava, were seized and thrust into prison.

Judson and his associate, Dr. Price, suspected of being in league with
the English, were also imprisoned.

The son of Bodawp'ra, known in history as Badawgyi, was then king.

The Burman kingdom, with the exception of Chittagong, was yet intact.
The haughty king imagined himself to be the most powerful monarch on
earth; and that his cities were impregnable, his armies invincible.
Unable to discriminate between Americans and Englishmen, the king
caused all white men to be thrown into prison together.

Eleven months at Ava and six months at Aungbinle Judson and Dr. Price
suffered indescribable misery.

Bound with chains, crowded in with scores of natives, famishing from
lack of suitable food, the whole place reeking in filth. Mental
distress was almost equal to the physical, for Judson's beloved
wife and child, whom he longed to see, were also suffering. In the
providence of God their lives were spared, but they would feel the
effects of such sufferings to the end of their days.

A school history of Burma contains this touching reference to the
released missionaries and Europeans: "A sadder spectacle has seldom
been presented to living human beings than that which was offered
to the English camp by those liberated captives. They were covered
with filthy rags, they were worn to skin and bones, and their haggard
countenances, sunken, wandering eyes, told but too plainly the
frightful story of their long suffering, their incessant alarms,
and their apprehension of a doom worse than death." Such was the
experience of the first missionary to Burma. The oft-repeated remark,
"The days of missionary heroism are past," has done much to deaden
interest in foreign missions. It is not my purpose to give a prominent
place to the subject of missionary sacrifices.

A few illustrations, which might be multiplied, will serve to show to
what extent the spirit of Burman Buddhists has changed since the time
when they inflicted upon Judson such terrible tortures.

In 1842, a few years after Judson triumphantly held aloft the last
leaf of the Bible translated into the Burman language, the first
martyr laid down his life "for Christ's sake and the gospel's." His
name was Klo Mai,--a converted Karen. A company of Burmans broke into
his house, abused him cruelly, threatening his life if he would not

His son Shwe Nyo, also a Christian, leaped to the ground and hid
himself in the jungle, but not until he had been severely stabbed.
Klo Mai was dragged from his house and crucified by his heartless
tormentors. Bound to a hastily constructed bamboo cross, in the form
of a letter X, he was left to die, and did die, rather than deny his

His son Shwe Nyo, became an effective preacher of the gospel,
stimulated to the greater earnestness by his father's faithful example.

Surely he "bore in his body the brand-marks of the Lord Jesus," for
he carried with him until his death in 1892, the scar of that stab
received in his youth.

Buddhism has been said to be the most tolerant of all non-Christian
religions; and the Burmese the most tolerant of all Buddhist peoples.
This may be true, up to a certain point. Judson gave as the reason why
Portuguese Roman Catholics were left unmolested in Burma, that "very
few Burmans entered that church, proselytism being the only thing in
foreign religions to which Buddhists object." But to gain a convert
from Buddhism he declared to be "like pulling the tooth of a tiger."

With the establishing of an elaborate police-system, by the British
government, and the certainty that crime would be punished,
missionaries and native converts no longer had reason to fear the
more violent forms of persecution. But the Burman still found ways to
persecute, without laying himself liable to the law of the land, when
one of his people had the temerity to forsake the ancestral religion.

A case of this kind was very soon brought to our notice. Our personal
teacher was a young convert. In his native village he had heard the
gospel from a travelling evangelist; learned more from tracts that
were given him; believed what he heard and read, and openly declared
his belief to his people. This excited such anger and opposition
that he was obliged to run away from home. His people followed
him to the mission, threatening to kill him if he did not renounce
Christianity, and return to his village. The young man again escaped
from his persecutors, and remained in hiding until they returned to
their homes. The missionary gave him the training he so earnestly
desired, and he became an effective preacher. A few years later, in
company with the missionary and others, he returned to his village and
openly proclaimed Christ before them all. At our mission station a
middle-aged man was led to Christ by this young man. The new convert's
wife and others bitterly opposed his companying with the Christians,
and attending their worship. When it became known that he was to be
baptized, his mother followed him to the river and earnestly besought
him to give up his crazy purpose. Failing in this she returned home
and told his wife that her husband had actually _been baptized before
her eyes_. This so enraged her that she snatched his clothing from
its place, and would have cut it to bits had not the mother prevented
her. For several days and nights the husband and father had to remain
away from his family, waiting for the atmosphere to clear. At last the
wife consented to live with him, but her continued opposition was a
source of great unhappiness until, a few years later, he was called
to "come up higher." At another mission station an old man became a
convert, and felt it his duty to be baptized. At first he shrank from
it, knowing what the consequences would be, but he felt that he should
"obey God rather than man." His decision raised a terrible storm of
opposition. His own grown-up children joined with the rest in calling
him crazy. They tore around like fiends, slapped and pushed the poor
old man, and twice knocked him to the ground, before the missionary
could rescue him. It was a terrible test, but God was with him.

Encouraged by the missionary, he walked out of the village to the
waterside, and without one of his relations to witness his "obedience
of faith" he followed his Lord in baptism. Radiant with joy he
returned to the village, though he knew that henceforth his foes would
be "they of his own household."

Another missionary has given the following account of the conversion
and baptism of a pupil in one of the mission schools.

     "It gives me great joy to record the baptism of another of
     our pupils, the first Burman to be converted in our school,
     or in this town, so far as I know. He has come out amidst
     bitter opposition and persecution from all his friends.

     "More than a year ago he asked his parents' consent to his
     baptism, but received nothing but curses from his mother,
     and tearful entreaties to postpone his baptism, from his
     father. After waiting a year he told them firmly that he
     had decided to obey God rather than man, and that if they
     still withheld their consent he must be baptized without
     it. So during a visit from Mr. ---- last month he presented
     himself as a candidate for baptism. His sister came to the
     preliminary meeting, and attempted to prevent his being
     received. Failing in this she left in anger, threatening
     him with a beating when he returned home. He had scarcely
     left the riverside, when his mother appeared, and after
     much loud and abusive language ordered him home, renewing
     the sister's threat of a beating. He went obediently,
     saying as he left, 'This is a very hard day for me, but I
     can bear it with joy for Jesus' sake.'

     "They did not use personal violence, but employed every
     other means to hurt and humiliate him. When he remained
     steadfast they called in all their relations and friends,
     a large and respectable company, for they are a family in
     good standing, and spent the evening in trying, some by
     gentle persuasion, some by threats and ridicule to make him
     renounce his Christian faith. But he only answered that he
     knew he had found the right way, and should never forsake
     it. He even dared to preach to them of the true God, until
     his father commanded him to stop.

     "The following Sunday they took away his jacket, and
     threatened to come and curse us if he came to worship.
     Since they have given up the hope of winning him back to
     Buddhism, they simply ignore his presence in the house,
     and have informed him that he is at liberty to eat at home
     but will never receive another _pice_ from them while he
     remains a Christian. His former friends have forsaken him,
     some even refuse to speak to him. Yet he has not wavered
     for a moment, and often says with a radiant face, 'This
     religion is a very happy religion.'"

In a distant village lived a young Christian Burman, with his heathen
wife. He was the only Christian in the place, and for miles around.
Unflinchingly he confessed Christ as his Saviour, in the face of much
prejudice and opposition. One night men burst into his house and
demanded his money and other valuables. Not securing so much as they
expected, they began beating him with their clubs. He shouted with all
his might, but not a soul stirred in the surrounding houses. With each
blow they reviled him saying, "Can Jesus save you? Can Jesus Christ
save you?" Having satisfied their brutal instincts, and being unable
to secure more plunder they descended to the ground, dragging the
young man with them. As they passed through the village they shouted
threateningly, "Let no one follow us." There was little danger that
any one would follow. There was not a light in the village, and not
a head showed itself. Doubtless some of the villagers were in league
with these villains, others were intimidated, supposing they were

The young man, bruised and suffering, was forced to accompany his
persecutors about a mile, where they released him. He worked his way
back to the village, and on the following day persuaded two men to
take him to the nearest railway station, six miles away.

Jungle roads were impassable, but he made the journey astride a
buffalo. Reaching the mission station he was examined by the medical
missionary, who found that he had sustained a green fracture of
two ribs, besides a serious scalp wound and many bruises. Acting
on information furnished by the missionary, the police traced
and captured the whole band. They were sentenced to terms in the
penitentiary, ranging from four to seven years.

Here is an extract from a missionary's account of a tour made in 1883
to a town in Upper Burma where now is a Christian church and school:

     "Before going north Maung ---- was warned not to use the
     same boldness of speech that he was accustomed to use in
     British Burma, lest they should kill him. But as far as I
     observed he was bolder than ever, denouncing idolatry in
     every form, and pleading the merits of Jesus Christ.

     "A German who had declared that there was not a true
     conversion among the Burmans, was compelled to acknowledge
     that he had been mistaken, for no man (said he) could face
     what this one did who was not a Christian."

As has been said, there is little reason, at the present time, to fear
for one's life. But such instances of persecution as here given are
being repeated at every station where mission work among Buddhists
is being carried on. Here we have enacted before our eyes a living
commentary on these words of Christ: "Think not that I came to send
peace on the earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came
to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against
her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a
man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father
or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or
daughter more than me is not worthy of me." The doctrine that "There
is no other name whereby we must be saved" inevitably would produce
this very result, as every missionary witnesses.

It is my profound conviction that missionaries and native converts owe
the safety of their lives, under God, to the strong arm of the British
Indian government. Doubtless the majority of Burman Buddhists, if left
to themselves, would tolerate any foreign religion in their midst.

But they are not left to themselves. The priest is the Pharisee of
Buddhism; each idol-maker a modern Demetrius. The one says: "Only
by our hold upon the superstitious reverence of the people we have
sustenance." The other says: "Only by this business have we our

Both hate the Christian evangelist with a bitter hatred. Take away the
strong arm of the law which, by many severe lessons, they have learned
to respect, these emissaries of Satan would make the advent of a
Christian evangelist an occasion of rioting rivalling that of Ephesus.

Judson's experiences would be repeated in the experience of many a
missionary. As it is there are scores of Buddhists who secretly admit
that Christianity is right, but dare not openly break away from the
toils of this Buddhist hierarchy.

The reign of Badawgyi, the king that imprisoned Dr. Judson, extended
to 1857. During the last years his authority was but nominal.

The humiliation of his defeat by the English; loss of territory;
and from 1830, the degradation of being compelled to have a British
resident in the royal city finally drove him insane. In that condition
he remained until his death, in 1845. So ended the career of this
cruel king under whom Dr. Judson suffered. At about this time the
capital was again transferred to Amarapura, which remained the capital
until the founding of Mandalay, in 1860.

Ava was left to fall to ruin. From the founding of Ava until it was
finally abandoned, thirty kings had reigned there, for periods from a
few months up to thirty-eight years, including temporary changes of
the capital.

I visited the site of Ava in August, 1903, crossing the Irrawadi
River, from Sagaing. The old city wall, from which much of the
brickwork has been removed, still stretches along the bank of the
river for two miles. The main entrance, through which Judson must have
passed and repassed, is still intact, though the great gates have

The city was built in the angle formed by the junction of the Irrawadi
and Myitngi Rivers, and extended back along the Myitngi one and a
half miles. A smaller inner wall enclosed the palace and other royal
buildings. Only one building of the entire city is still standing.

This building is of brick, plastered on the outside with cement,
and represents the best workmanship of which their imported Indian
architects and masons were capable. It is about twenty-five feet
square and seventy-five feet high, and is without doors or windows.
There was a brick and plaster stairway on the outside, winding around
the tower. From some unknown cause the tower long ago settled on one
side, so that it leans fully six feet out of perpendicular. This
settling threw down the massive brick stairway, which now lies in
chaotic ruin.

This lofty building, standing within the royal quarters, was the
watch-tower. From its top long views up and down the great river, and
out over the open plains, could be obtained. Sentinels paced its top
to give timely warning of the approach of an enemy. On a great gong
they struck the hours by day and night. The sound, easily reaching far
beyond the limits of the royal grounds, would be welcomed by Judson
and his fellow sufferers to break the awful monotony of life in the
miserable prison, which stood outside the inner wall. The prison was
demolished many years ago, but within the memory of Burmans now living
near by. Around a large tree, that must have been large enough in
Judson's time to furnish partial shade from the fierce rays of the
tropical sun, a circular platform of old brickwork still remains.
Broken brick and roofing-tile cover the ground.

Much of the site of the old city is covered with tangled
jungle-growth, through which chetahs and other animals sometimes
prowl. A score of Burmans are slowly digging up the ground to the
depth of about three feet over the entire area once covered by the
royal buildings. Now and then their labours are rewarded by finds of
jewelry or silver.

The finer earth below the layer of _débris_ is washed for gold dust,
from the many gold-decorated buildings that have marked the spot
through the reign of many kings.

The sight of the Ava prison having been identified beyond a doubt, the
Baptists of America would do well to place there a suitable monument
to mark the spot where their first missionary suffered so much "for
Christ's sake and the gospel's."

After suffering for eleven long months at Ava the prisoners were
transferred to Aungbinle, a day's journey to the northeast. In
company with the missionary at Mandalay I rode to the place, two
days before my visit to Ava. Aungbinle is about five miles east of
Mandalay, towards the hills. Among the public works of Bodawp'ra, who
reigned from 1789 to 1819, was an artificial lake, formed by a raised
embankment of earth enclosing about fifteen square miles of the nearly
level plain.

This was filled by means of a canal connecting with a natural lake two
or three miles farther north, fed by mountain streams.

In these two reservoirs abundance of water for irrigation could be
stored for use through the many rainless months. This artificial lake
was called "Aung-binle"--the conquered or shut-in sea.

At its southwest bend Aungbinle village still stands, though its
thatch-and-bamboo houses have been renewed ten times over since Judson
was brought there to be thrown into the death-prison.

The site of this prison also has been identified beyond a reasonable
doubt. An aged Burman there pointed out the spot to missionaries who
were investigating the matter several years ago.

A Burman official who had been there many years, and was familiar
with land-titles, confirmed the old man's story. More recently an
old brick pathway was discovered when ditching the road that passes
the prison-site. This further corroborated the statement of the two
Burmans that the police quarters were on the north side of this road,
and the prison on the south. There is little room for doubt that the
brick pathway connected the two. The prison itself was only a bamboo
structure, of which nothing would now be left.

A Buddhist monastery erected later near the prison-site, was destroyed
by fire a few years ago. There are two pagodas within a stone's throw,
one of which may have stood there in Judson's time.

Except a few slender palms, the region must have been treeless, the
heat indescribable. The location of Mrs. Judson's house is uncertain.
Judging from the situation of the village, and the character of the
land near by it must have been quite near the prison.

[Illustration: ELEPHANTS AT WORK]

The Baptist mission has secured about two acres of land, including
the prison-site. By the generous gift of two American Baptists who
recently visited Aungbinle, a neat and substantial brick chapel has
been erected on the prison-site, as nearly as can be determined. A
little farther back, and to one side, is the Burman preacher's house,
also included in the gift. The missionary, who frequently visits
the village, has provided a miniature cottage of thatch-and-bamboo,
in which to rest and find protection from the mid-day heat. As one
attempts to realize the situation as it was,--Judson suffering untold
agonies, aggravated by his heartless tormentors,--in the miserable
prison; Mrs. Judson, in her isolation and friendlessness, suffering
from privation, intolerable heat, disease, and the yet greater mental
suffering on account of her husband who might at any moment be led
to execution before her eyes,--the picture becomes more and more
terrible. Then as we turn again to the chapel and preacher's house
our thoughts rise in praise to Him who has wrought these changed
conditions. On the very spot where the innocent and the guilty were
together imprisoned and tortured, an earnest man of God, of the same
race as the king by whose order these men suffered,--now proclaims
Jesus Christ as the world's Saviour.

As I turned away from this spot, and again as I passed out through
the old gateway at Ava, it was with an earnest prayer that a double
portion of Judson's spirit might rest upon his successors in this
heathen land.



If heroes and heroines are men and women who have shown startling
qualities in time of stress and strife, many such may be found among
converts from heathenism. The examples here given are from my own
fellow workers.

U Po Hline, pastor of the church at Pyinmana, is well known in the
Burman mission. A conspicuous figure at conventions and associations,
his massive form, intelligent face, and dignified bearing mark him a
"Saul among his brethren." But U Po Hline's interesting history is
not so well known. His early life was spent in the yellow robes of
the Buddhist priesthood. There he learned the real inwardness and
emptiness of the ancestral religion. In it he could not find that
which could satisfy his spiritual sense; nor was he satisfied to lead
the indolent, selfish life of the Buddhist priest.

But familiarity with their arguments and contents of their sacred
books, gained during the years of monastic life, was yet to be turned
to good account. Casting off the yellow robes he became a tiller of
the soil. By industry and good management not common to his race, he
possessed himself of rice-fields, bullocks, and buffaloes, and money
interests among the villagers where he lived.

Loyalty to the British Indian government never has been, and is not
to-day true of the mass of Burmans. U Po Hline's broader intelligence
led him not only to accept the inevitable, but also to see what
benefits would accrue to his race from English rule. He used his
influence to restrain his people from acts of violence, and in various
ways lent his aid to the progress of law and order.

In those troublous times he had an adventure, of which he never speaks
unless questioned on the subject. Returning from Rangoon where he had
marketed his harvest of _tsan_,--unhulled rice,--he and his boatmen
were attacked by dacoits. The boatmen, terrified by the fiendish yells
of these desperate dacoits, threw down their paddles and would have
tried to escape by taking to the water. Not so U Po Hline.

Neither his life nor his rupees were to be taken so easily. Crawling
under the _paung_, he seized his rifle, and,--to use his own
words--"Two of the dacoits sank in the water, and did not reappear."
The tables were turned. The dacoits, now as badly frightened as
the boatmen, lost no time in taking to the brush. U Po Hline still
remembers the adventure with the sad feeling that although acting
in self-defense, he sent two souls into eternity unprepared. His
conversion is especially interesting. A copy of the New Testament,
given him by a native evangelist, was the means of shaking his faith
in Buddhism; and of awakening a desire to know more about the "Jesus
Christ religion."

Relating the circumstances of his conversion he said: "I kept my New
Testament in my jacket pocket wherever I went. When resting from my
work I would take out my Testament and read a little, slowly going on
through Matthew, Mark, and Luke,--but I understood nothing of what
I read. I read about the birth of Jesus Christ, His teaching, His
wonderful miracles,--but who Christ was I did not know. Then I came
to John. In the first chapter I read: 'In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' Then a little farther
down I read: 'That Word everything created; and without a divine
creating was not so much as one thing.' Is that so, I said. Did that
Word make _me_? and not only me, but everybody and everything in all
this great world? And then I read that He was the Light, and the Light
shines in the darkness, and the darkness would not receive it. Why, I
said, that is just the way it is here. These people are in the dark,
and will not believe what the preachers of the Jesus Christ religion
say to them.

"Then still farther down I read: 'The Word took the state of man, and
lived among us.' And as I read on, I found that the Word that was with
God, and was God; and created all things; and became flesh and lived
on earth was the same Jesus Christ that I had been reading about in
Matthew, Mark and Luke! I went home and told my wife that I had become
a Christian; and that as the preacher said that all who enter the
Jesus Christ religion must receive the dipping ceremony I am going
to get baptism." "Were you not afraid your heathen neighbours would
make trouble?" I asked him. "What trouble could they make, teacher?
Nearly all of them were in debt to me. But when I told my heathen
wife, she was very angry, and said, 'Very well. If you want to be
baptized,--_be_ baptized,--but I _will not be a Jesus Christ wife_. I
never, never will live with you.' Finding that she would not relent I
said: 'Do not go away.

"'All this trouble is not because of your changing, but because of my
changing. If anybody is to suffer, I must be the one to suffer. There
are the eleven buffaloes, and the six rice-fields, and the house, and
the banana garden,--take everything,--only let me have the thirty
rupees in the box, and I will go away. I will go to Toungoo. If they
will not baptize me there, I will go to Henzada. If they will not
baptize me there, I will go to Bassein. If they will not baptize me
there, I will go to Maulmein.' I had taken the Jesus Christ religion
with my whole mind, and I was determined to be baptized." This was no
idle boast.

He meant just what he said, and, like Paul, was ready to suffer the
loss of everything, that he "might gain Christ, and be found in Him."

His example, so unlike his former self, soon softened his wife's
heart, and she now said: "Never mind, do as you like,--we will live

Not long afterwards she too became a Christian. Wherever U Po Hline
went he fearlessly preached Christ. But it was in his own village
that his influence was specially felt. His faithfulness and success
seemed sufficient evidence of a call to the ministry. Greatly needing
such helpers, I soon arranged for him to give his whole time to
evangelistic work. His ordination, at the Pegu Association held in
Toungoo in 1894,--will long be remembered by the missionaries present.

A missionary at a frontier station sent a request that an ordained
preacher be furnished to baptize several converts already gained, and
to accompany his young preachers on a tour among the villages.

The matter was laid before U Po Hline, and left for him to decide
whether he wished to go, or could stand the long hard journey over
the mountain ranges. Accepting it as a call from God, and trusting
to Him for strength, he got ready and started at once. After spending
a month in that distant field, he prepared to return to his home. It
was a long tramp of sixteen days. The missionary gave him money to
hire a coolie to help carry his load. Besides his roll of bedding,
cooking utensils and food, one of the young preachers had given him
three lacquer-ware vessels, as presents for his former teachers.
The coolie must be paid in advance, according to the custom of the
country. After going a few miles the coolie found an excuse to get out
of U Po Hline's sight, and ran away, taking the money with him. At
the next village another coolie was engaged, who must also be paid in
advance. They had gone but a short distance when he too ran away. U Po
Hline was now without money to pay for help, so he trudged on alone,
carrying the load of two.

He got along very well so long as his path lay along the mountains.
But when he descended into the plains his strength gave out, and he
found himself burning with fever. There was no other way than to plod
on, as he was now far from any village. Finding himself unable to
carry all of his double load, he first threw away some of the cooking

Growing weaker, he threw away the bottle of oil and part of the rice.

He would not part with the presents that had been entrusted to his
care for the teachers, whom he loved. To give the rest of the story
in his own words:--"I would plod on until my legs would sustain me no
longer. Then on my knees I would pray: 'O Father, I have been away
doing Thy work, I did the best I could, now give me strength to reach
my home.'

"Then I would get up and go on again until, from weakness, I fell down
in the path. Then I would pray again: 'O Father, I have been away to
do Thy work. I did the very best I could. Now do give me strength to
reach my home.' So I went on, falling, praying, struggling on again,
until at last I reached the cart-road, and joined some cartmen. I had
carefully saved my last rupee to pay my fare when I should come to the
railroad. I thought,--if I must, I can sell my silk turban. But the
cartmen were kind, and gave me food, while I preached to them." As he
finished his story he untied the bundle, and laid the lacquer-ware
presents at our feet, utterly unconscious of the fact that by his
devotion to his teachers, and to what seemed to be his duty he had
shown a spirit of true heroism, worthy to be "told as a memorial" of

A short time before I left Burma U Po Hline came to me and said,
"Saya, I have been thinking like this:--The Apostle Paul said to the
Corinthian Christians, 'Paul planted, Apollos watered; but God gave
the increase.' When Saya came to Pyinmana thirteen years ago there
was not a Christian in this town nor in all this great jungle. No nor
ever had been. It was all wild, the dwelling place of dacoits, tigers,
bears, and snakes. Saya has been planting all these years. There has
been some reaping, to be sure,--but much more is ready for reaping.
When I first came to Pyinmana, wherever I showed myself, in Bazar or
street, the people would call to one another: 'Come and see Jesus
Christ, come and see Jesus Christ.' 'Yes,' I would say, 'I am here to
represent Jesus Christ.' Sometimes they would listen to my preaching,
but often they would jeer so that I could not preach, they were so
ignorant and wild.

"But now, besides our little company of Christians, there are
many in these villages who listen attentively, and some are truly

"Now Saya must return to America, and another Saya will come. Don't
go away discouraged, Saya. We shall _soon be reaping_ here. You will
hear about it, and be glad. If it is God's will that you return to
Burma, you will 'come rejoicing.' When I first came to Pyinmana,"--he
continued; "I had a dream. In my dream I saw great fields of rice on
three sides of this town. These fields were turning yellow, promising
an early and large harvest. How like the Bible, is my dream, I
thought. This dream strengthened my faith and made me glad. God's time
is not yet full, but I believe it will be full soon. This Pyinmana
mission is Corinth. Saya is Paul. Saya has planted, the coming
missionary will be Apollos, to water the planting. God will give the
increase." May this noble Christian hero live many years, to cheer and
help the missionaries, in their common effort to dispel the heathen

This faithful native pastor is but one of many who hold not their
lives dear to themselves that they may accomplish their course and the
ministry which they have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the
gospel of the grace of God.

Nan Paw was born in Ya-bok-kon village, in the year 1877,--so
she thinks, but is not certain as to the village or the date. When
we first saw her she was an orphan, as to her father; worse than
orphaned as to her heathen mother. Both Nan Paw and her elder sister
had already been several years in the mission school. The sister,
Mai Lone, came first. Now and then she returned to her village home
with such wonderful stories of tidy white jackets, pretty _longyis_
(skirts), clean beds, and nice new books, that little Nan Paw wanted
to come too. She wanted to see the big "white mamma," and enjoy the
life that her sister was leading. Mai Lone had learned to read,--a
wonderful thing for a girl to do. Not a girl in the whole village
could read, no, not even her own mother! And Mai Lone could sing,
too! Little Nan Paw sighed for these privileges and accomplishments,
and was a heathen no longer. Never again could she know contentment
among the dogs and filth and degradation of her own village. But in
vain she entreated her mother to let her go with Mai Lone to live
at the mission school. Finding that her pleadings were of no avail,
she took the matter into her own hands, and _ran away_. The mother
finding her little girl settled down in the mission dormitory to stay,
finally gave her consent. When we came to take charge of the school
Nan Paw had already overtaken the older girls in her studies. The
smallest in the class, she was head and shoulders above them all in
brightness and winsomeness. To see her was to love her. It would not
do to make a pet of her, for petting spoils native children as quickly
as kittens. Quick to see what needed to be done, and how to do it, she
soon became very useful about the house. A little later a Christian
Endeavour Society was organized. Nan Paw may have learned to love
Jesus before this; but now, with several others she gave herself to
Him fully and openly, and to the great joy of all, was baptized. The
years rolled by,--and Nan Paw, having passed through all the grades
of the mission school, became a teacher. During a vacation she made a
visit to some of her heathen relations in a distant village. When the
school reopened she did not return to her duties. Several weeks had
passed when we learned that she had returned to her mother's village.
We sent word to her two or three times, urging her to return to the
school, though we could not compel her to do so. At last one of the
Christians went to her home to ascertain, if possible, why she had
become unfaithful to her duties as a Christian teacher. He brought
back word that something was the matter with Nan Paw. When he tried to
talk with her she would keep her hands covered, and try to conceal her
face behind her scarf. With a sad face he said, "I think our Nan Paw
_is a leper_."

Measures were taken at once to ascertain the facts. Alas it was too
true. In some way or other,--whether by heredity or contagion we could
not learn,--our dear Nan Paw had become a victim to that terrible
disease. How our hearts ached for her. Now we knew why she had not
returned to the school. While we were fearing that she was yielding
to heathen influences; and that she was making a poor return for all
the affection we had bestowed upon her, the dear girl's heart was
nearly breaking. She knew that she must bid farewell to her pleasant
life in the mission, and to her beloved associates. All aspirations
to support herself, to rise in her chosen work, to be respected, to
marry well--were utterly crushed. Henceforth she must be an outcast,
despised by her own people. Nothing before her but a living death, the
disease steadily growing upon her, until fingers and toes would waste
away, her whole body become covered with repulsive sores,--and no
power on earth could help her.

After a time arrangements were made to send her to the Leper Asylum at
Mandalay, over two hundred miles away. There, under the direction of
the missionary in charge Nan Paw became a teacher of others--afflicted
like herself. It would not have been strange had she utterly given
up to despair,--and sought release by death. But with wonderful
submission she gave herself to Christian work,--the only woman in the
asylum who could read and teach the Word of God.

Here is a translation of one of Nan Paw's letters to her sister:

     "Sister, to you a letter do I send. By the kindness of God
     I am come to the Home for Lepers, in Mandalay. Here am I
     to teach His law, and in teaching it I am glad. For this
     purpose, I am persuaded, has He brought me here. Whether I
     am to remain all my life, or for a little while I know not.
     My prayer is that God may quickly take me to Himself.

     "Why He has brought this affliction upon me I do not know.

     "When I consider (my condition) my heart is exceeding

     "The teacher has been very kind, and spent much money upon
     me. The physician is good. Now in all things, my sister,
     I place myself in the hand of God. In so far as I am able
     I will strive to do His will. That I may be happy in
     proclaiming His law, will you ever pray.

             "Your affectionate sister,
                             "NAN PAW."

But after a year in the asylum Nan Paw longed to return to her native
village. This she was permitted to do. The disease grew worse and

Her people, backed by the village priest, then made a determined
effort to break down this poor girl's faith in Christ, and turn her
again to Buddhism. They knew how to cure the disease, they claimed,
and would cure it if she would worship the priest. Pressed beyond
endurance she at last in sheer despair prostrated herself before
the priest in the attitude of worship. They then gave her medicine
several months, the disease all the time growing upon her. Not only
the terrible leprosy of the body, but her soul was troubled with the
thought that by dishonouring her Lord she had become leprous with sin.

One day when they wanted her to join them in their heathen worship she
broke out in great indignation: "No I _never_ will worship like that
again. By your false and useless promises you made me deny my Lord.
But from this time I do it no more. I turn again to my own God, who
can at least save my soul." Again Nan Paw sent word that she wished to
go back to the asylum. She was an outcast in her own village, and in
her own mother's home. No one dared to see her. She cared to see no
one. At the Asylum she could be no unhappier. There all would be alike
unfortunate,--birds of a feather flock together.

I immediately arranged for her return. The native Christians
contributed generously to make up the required sum. As Nan Paw would
be a teacher, the superintendent kindly offered to provide special
quarters for her, apart from the other lepers. I sent word to Nan
Paw that I wished to see her before she went away, for I was soon to
return to America, and might never see her again; that I loved her as
a daughter, just the same as before her misfortune. But she sent back
the pathetic reply: "To dear teacher this brief letter I write. That
God may pour a blessing upon teacher and all the church members I am

"But I am not fit to be seen. To show my face I am ashamed. I do not
even meet my friends in the village. Therefore please excuse me. By
the half-past eight train I am going to Mandalay. There is with me a
very great sorrow. In no place is there any gladness. Only sorrow's
tears are ever falling. Now because teacher, by the favour of God, is
trying to help me, it is a great kindness. And teacher has written
favourably to Mandalay in order that I may go. That I may be set free
from my great sorrow, and that God may speedily gather to Himself my
soul, ever pray." But when circumstances made it necessary for her to
come to my house she overcame her fears, and in the dim light let me
talk with her, face to face. Again I assured her that "Sayah and Mama"
loved her the same as before; that her Saviour's love was just the
same; that by and by we would be together in heaven, and all be alike,
with all these earthly distresses left behind.

In the asylum Nan Paw is the only Christian woman among about
seventy-five of her own sex and race. Every day she conducts religious
exercises; and every Sunday she stands by the pulpit in the chapel
to set forth Christ as Saviour. After she had been there a few weeks
she sent back this letter: "Dearly beloved teacher. I reverently
greet you, and pray that God may pour His Spirit upon you and all
the Christians, to do His work. Especially, according to teacher's
efforts, in order to do the divine work in this place,--by God's
guidance I have come.

"There have now been three Sundays, and I have preached. The first
Sunday I explained Matt. 5:1-12. The second Sunday I explained John
3:1-21. The third Sunday I explained Acts 13:1-12,--about the ruler's
faith and God's power. God planned that I should be brought to this
place. Nevertheless, teacher,--though I seek ease of mind in this
world, I find only distress. Therefore pray that God may speedily take
my spirit. Because teacher,--according to the will of God, has helped
me, I praise God's mercy.

             "Your daughter,
                    "MA NAN PAW."

In this child of the jungle, brought to Christ through the agency of
the mission school, stricken with a loathsome disease in the prime
of life; submissively bowing to the will of God, and striving to
show others how to escape from the leprosy of sin, we see the true
martyr-spirit. One day the Master will come and touch her with His
finger, saying "Be thou clean," and receive her into His Paradise



It is well for the weary worker in a strange land that with the
austere and sublime, there is now and then a spicing of the ridiculous.

Happy the man who is so constituted as to appreciate the ridiculous
when it happens. A few such instances will serve to illustrate the
many-sidedness of missionary life. The first was when the writer
was a new missionary; otherwise it might not have happened. The
boarding-school occupied the ground floor of the mission bungalow, the
missionaries living above it. One day a great commotion was heard in
the schoolyard. Looking out of the window, the school children could
be seen scattering in all directions. The old saying "Every man for
himself, and the devil take the hindmost," was being enacted in a very
realistic manner.

Hard after the "hindmost" was a demoniac, a crazy Karen woman.

Evidently the children had been teasing her, but oh how they did
repent, as they ran! This terrible creature had seized a short bamboo,
and was rushing after them in insane fury. Poising it like a spear,
she hurled it endwise. Happily it missed its mark, or there would
have been a name or two to strike off the school roll. Advancing at
double-quick I got between the children and the enemy before she
could make another charge. Whether by faith or by force I must now
cast out a demon. Pointing to the gate, I said "_go_." She went not.
"_Go_," I repeated, and suiting the action to the word, started for
the gate with my incumbrance. Started,--only that and nothing more.
There seemed to be two opinions as to ways and means. I recalled a
remark--"The natives are coming to think for themselves." It must
be true. This particular native suddenly collapsed, sinking to the
ground, in a disgusting heap of obstinacy. Filthy beyond description,
hair matted and tangled, her whole person so covered with vermin that
she was scarcely responsible for her movements,--what to do with
her I was at a loss to know. It was a larger contract than had been
bargained for. Something must be done, or the missionary would lose
prestige with the school, and be subjected to repeated annoyances by
this crazy woman. Picking her up by main strength, we started again.
There was a short struggle at the corner of the house, where she
grasped a post with both arms, and held on with the tenacity of an
octopus. Disengaging her from the post, I thought to get up sufficient
momentum to carry her safely through the gate, but failed. Again
there was a tug of war. Again might made right, and our unsavoury
guest gave up the struggle. Casting back a wild but vanquished look,
she departed, never to come back.

We will pass to the "hot season" of our second year.

The missionaries of the station were spending a few weeks of it on a
mountain twenty miles from town. One mission building was in process
of construction,--work that demanded frequent inspection. To look
after this work I must make the round trip of forty miles once a week,
_while resting_. At one time, passing through a Karen village, the
pastor lent me his pony for the journey. On reaching town I threw the
lines to a schoolboy, who unsaddled the pony and turned it loose in
the compound. When ready to return to the mountains it was found that
the pony had walked out through an open gate, and was missing. Search
was made, but the pony was nowhere to be seen. While waiting for the
day to cool, the pony returned of his own accord, and came trotting
into the compound. This was luck indeed. The schoolboy quickly saddled
and bridled the pony, and away I went, anxious to make up the time I
had lost. Arriving at the Karen village I hitched the pony under the
owner's house. A grown-up daughter sitting on the stairs, modestly
inquired "Where is _our_ pony?" "What's the matter with _this_ pony?"
I asked. "_Our_ pony is a _male_," she said. The missionary took off
his hat. He scratched his head. It was dawning upon him that he was in
a pretty mess. If this is not the pony I borrowed, then where is he?
and whose pony have I stolen? And where shall I find the money to pay
for the other pony, if not recovered,--which is an even chance? how
shall I explain being in possession of this one, if called to account?
It did not take long for these questions to go through my mind. The
case called for prompt action, but my empty stomach was calling for
food. Mounting the stolen pony I proceeded up the mountain. Before
reaching camp, the Karen pastor's son came hurrying up the path,
riding on the lost pony. The pony had returned to his own village,
fifteen miles, afoot and alone. One problem was solved, and my mind
relieved to that extent. But in the eye of the law, should the law
find it out,--I was a criminal, for my explanation might or might not
be accepted. As the sun was going down, one of the larger schoolboys
who was at the camp,--started back to town with the other pony. I
gave him a letter addressed to the police, taking upon myself the
responsibility. The boy was not to trouble the police if the police
did not trouble him. Going by the most unfrequented roads, he arrived
in town before midnight. Turning the pony loose where first seen,
he hurried back to the mountain as fast as his legs would carry him,
reaching camp before sunrise. The missionary never knew whose pony he
had taken. It is doubtful whether the owner ever missed it.

At one time I was passing through an unfamiliar jungle accompanied by
a coolie, who also acted as guide. Darkness was coming on and good
time must be made, or we must spend the night in the jungle.

Coming to a place where two roads met, I chose the right hand road but
the guide insisted that the left hand road was the one to take. The
missionary reluctantly yielded to the coolie's better knowledge of the
jungle paths. We went on and on, but instead of coming out into open
country, the jungle grew more and more dense. We were lost. It was now
pitch dark, so that even the wrong road could no longer be followed.
There was nothing left but to spend the night where we were. Just as
we had made up our minds to this, I caught sight of a light, through
the trees. Groping our way ahead we discovered that we were near a
small Karen village. In response to our shouts two men came to meet
us, with guns and torches. They were Christian Karens, and glad to
find that the belated guest was a missionary, rather than a dacoit.
I soon made myself at home with the family and until a late hour
friendly conversation was kept up, through the medium of Burmese. The
children were brought to be inspected and _praised_. The baby, several
months old, had not been named. Wouldn't the teacher please give
the baby a name? It is quite customary for the Karens to ask their
missionaries to name the babies. To this particular missionary, whose
work was wholly among Burmans, it was a unique experience. He had a
dear relative in the home-land, named Julia. She should be honoured
with a namesake. "Please write it out, because we might forget it,"
they said. But there was not a scrap of paper in the house. Taking
the cover from one of my lunch cans the name was carefully scratched
on the inside with a pocket knife, and handed over to be laid up in
the family archives. At last the baby had a name, and the mother was
happy. Now it was time, and long past time, to get a little sleep. The
best mat was unrolled and spread in the open front, for the teacher.
In the coolie's baskets was a change of clothing, greatly needed after
the dust and perspiration of this long day,--but how could clothing be
changed?--Nor husband nor wife nor daughter would retire until they
should see how the teacher did it. The natives themselves usually
sleep in the same clothes they have worn all day. Is a change desired
they have only to put on an extra _longyi_--skirt, and let the inner
skirt fall to the floor. They have no idea how the white people are
dressed, until they see them undress. Such an event is too rare to be
missed. Husband, wife, and grown-up daughters will stand by, with all
the interest of a medical class in a dissecting room, while he takes
himself apart, picking up each piece as he lays it off, with comments
such as only the untutored child of the jungle would ever think of.
There was no help for it,--so, kicking off my shoes, I stretched out
as I was, with my saddle for a pillow. The family then retired, but
evidently feeling that they had not seen their money's worth.

Wishing to enjoy the luxury of a bath in a stream, one is sometimes
obliged to wander off in the opposite direction, to throw the
villagers off the scent. Were his purpose known, he would have so
many of the native maidens at his heels, as to render the situation
somewhat embarrassing.

At break of day we were conducted through the jungle by a short cut
to the path we should have followed. Having no opportunity to revisit
that village, I never knew what became of little "U-lee."

Another experience was certainly interesting at the time, and might
have been the last, with no one to describe it. Returning alone from a
jungle tour, I reached a river at nine o'clock at night.

There was no moon, but the stars were shining. The opposite bank, high
and steep, could be dimly seen against the sky. During the floods of
the rainy season the bank had caved off, so that neither man nor beast
could ascend it. The natives had dug out a narrow path diagonally up
the bank. In the darkness this path could not be seen from the other
side. Two Burmans, who were fishing by torchlight, pointed out the
direction in which the path would be found. Taking a star to steer by,
I forced the pony into the river. Soon the water became too deep for
fording, and I felt the rather uncomfortable sensation of riding in
the saddle on a swimming pony. By daylight it would not have been so
serious, though the current was strong. In the darkness and alone, it
was not so pleasant to be in deep water, in mid-river.

The pony struggled bravely on until he reached the bank, and scrambled
up on a ledge of joint-clay. There was no path to be seen. The pony
had landed in a little cove where the perpendicular bank rose from
the water's edge. Back into the river he must go. This he refused to
do. Getting between the pony and the wall I pushed him off the ledge,
springing into the saddle as he went down. The pony was then headed up
stream, first swimming around a tree that had fallen into the river.
No path to be found in that direction. Returning down-stream, now
wading, now swimming--the path was found at last.

A thankful missionary sat down on the bank under the twinkling stars,
and wrung the water out of his clothes as best he could, before
continuing his journey.

The missionary candidate dreams of the time when he will break
the bread of life to the heathen. His dream will be realized, in
time,--but he will do a great many other things, of which he never

He may not know a plane from a plummet, yet there are houses to build,
and he must be both architect and superintendent. He must understand,
or learn to understand everything that pertains to the upkeep and
conduct of a large mission, with its many-sided work. He may not know
the use of the simplest remedies, but must be doctor for scores, and
perhaps hundreds of people. The writer had this to go through, and
some of his earlier patients still live to tell how much quicker they
might have recovered if the teacher had not treated them.

On one occasion a boy came for medicine. He looked very thin and weak.
He wanted medicine for fever and diarrhoea. The usual questions were
asked as to frequency of attacks, etc. When the medicine had been
prepared the missionary said: "You take one dose now, and another when
you retire----" when the boy spoke up, "Oh, no,--it is not for _me_,
it's for _mother_."

A pupil in the school had frequent fits. The Buddhist priest said that
an evil spirit had taken up his abode in the boy. His people came to
me, saying that the priest had tried to cast out the evil spirit, but
had failed. "Bring him to me," I said, "I will cast the spirit out."
He came, swallowed a strong vermifuge, and a dose of castor oil,
putting an end to his demoniacal antics.

One of the saddest times in the missionary's life is when he must
lay down his work, and take an imperatively needed change in the
home-land. That it will be no small loss to himself,--in the
inevitable sacrifice of household effects,--is the least of his
anxieties. But even in this experience he will find a silver lining
to his cloud, as he turns it over. A fellow-worker once unwittingly
helped us to a hearty laugh,--just when we were most needing such a

Boxes had been packed, and were being duly labelled for the home
voyage. One piece, to be stowed in the hold of the steamer, had just
been marked with black paint. Our friend sat down on this box during
his brief call, none of us thinking of the fresh label. As he turned
to go we saw plainly stamped in reverse order across his white duck
pants--"NOT WANTED."



To many minds there is great fascination in the thought of
self-sacrifice. Separation from native land and loved ones, to spend
one's life in a strange land, among uncivilized people savours of
renunciation more than human. The high plane of spirituality, already
attained, would be easily perpetuated.

Cut off from everything that had stood ready to prey upon one's
weaknesses, those weaknesses would no longer have to be guarded

In a life devoted to ministering spiritual things to people who have
as yet no spiritual conceptions there would be reflex blessings
furnishing all the spiritual help one would need. In short, the
missionary is looked upon as belonging to a peculiar order of beings,
almost supernatural, dwelling in a sort of seventh heaven of immunity
from difficulties against which the ordinary soul must contend.

In calling attention to certain hindrances, it is to guard against
romantic notions. The depressing influence of life among a heathen
people hangs over one like a cloud.

The natives are so sodden in vice, so wedded to their idols, so
prejudiced against all foreign religions, so dull of head and slow of
heart to understand and believe. At times it may seem to be all sowing
and no reaping,--enough to dishearten the most faithful worker.

To "sit in the shade of a palm-tree, and break the bread of life
to hands eagerly outstretched to receive it"--is not an every-day

Sunday by Sunday the native Christians assemble in the chapel for
worship. The new missionary joins them. Here he will not be distressed
by the degradation of the heathen without. His heart will be glad as
he sees these people, rescued from idolatry, worshipping the true God.
He cannot understand what is said, but he can join in silent prayer.
It is intensely interesting, for a few Sundays. But after a time these
services, in which he is utterly unable to take other than a silent
part, will be found inadequate to meet his spiritual need.

It will be two years or more, before the missionary can join in all
parts of their worship. During this time he will often remember
with deep longing the privilege of his own church in the far away
home-land. In fact, worship with people of another race and tongue
never quite meets one's spiritual requirements. Constant outflow,
without corresponding inflow will run any pool dry. Then he will find
himself so overwhelmed with work, perplexed by financial cares,
hindered by innumerable interruptions that it will seem almost
impossible to find time to put forth special effort by reading,
meditation, and prayer, for the maintenance and upbuilding of his own
spiritual life.

One's very zeal for the kingdom of Christ may dwarf one's fellowship
with Christ. No matter how sound in theory, loyal in spirit, or
vigorous in action, there will come periods of reaction, though not
of discouragement. "Tired in, not of the work." The discouraged
missionary is yet to be found. "_He_ shall not fail, nor be
discouraged--till He has set judgment in the earth." Often enough to
keep him keyed up to his work he will be blessed with the privilege
of witnessing that which never loses its fascinating interest,--the
wonderful transformation of human souls, by the power of the Holy

Other matters however interesting, are but side-lights; other
experiences, however trying, are soon forgotten in the joy of seeing,
and in a measure being instrumental in the advancement of Christ's

With a heart warm with love for Christ; warm with love for souls;
full of zeal for soul winning; the missionary is safe. But all these
passions he _must bring with him_, rather than depending upon their
being developed in and by service in a foreign land.

Dr. Judson, after nineteen years in Burma, writing to a foreign
missionary association of young men said: "Beware of the greater
reaction which will take place after you have acquired the language,
and become fatigued and worn out with preaching the gospel to a
disobedient and gainsaying people. You will sometimes long for a quiet
retreat, where you can find a respite from the tug of toiling at
native work,--the incessant, intolerable friction of the missionary
grindstone. And Satan will sympathize with you in this matter, and he
will present some chapel of ease, in which to officiate in your native
tongue, some government situation, some professorship or editorship,
some literary or scientific pursuit, some supernumerary translation,
or, at some system of schools; anything, in a word, that will help
you, without much surrender of character, to slip out of real
missionary work.

"Such a temptation will form the crisis of your disease. If your
spiritual constitution can sustain it, you recover; if not, you die."

Missionary views have undergone some change since Judson's time,--for
instance,--"some system of schools" has come to be regarded as a
necessary and fruitful part of missionary work. Moreover, instead
of furnishing sweet release from the "friction of the missionary
grindstone," in the school its rubs are hardest. The great temptation
now is to abandon school work, to engage in "direct evangelistic work"

But the principal remains the same. Talk about the hardships
of pioneering; pioneering is a picnic as compared with the
year-in-and-year-out routine of school work. In boarding-schools there
is added to the all-day work the all-night anxiety concerning the
moral welfare of the pupils. Sick or well, strong or weak and weary,
the work is there, and must be accomplished. The dormitories are full
of boys and girls, and constant care is the price of discipline.

Nearly every day some are on the sick list, and must be visited, and
remedies administered under the missionary's own eye. In serious cases
the missionary becomes the watcher. I have in mind an instance when
the cholera broke out in a neighbouring mission school. The lady in
charge of the school took several girls into her own house, nursed
them day and night, in addition to her regular work, and brought
them safely through the crisis. But at what a cost. A few days later
a company of sorrow-stricken missionaries were gathered around her
grave, with difficulty restraining their emotion to conduct the burial

A beloved sister had fallen, as truly a martyr as ever gave a life to
the Master's service.

The climate of Burma is peculiarly trying.

Arriving in November, as most all newcomers do, everything is seen
at its best. The rainy season has passed, leaving a placid smile on
the face of nature. The nights are cool. Friends will see that the
newcomer keeps in the shade from eleven o'clock in the morning until
five in the afternoon,--for a tropical sun can be depended on to do
his duty at that time of day, the year round. As the season advances
the nights become cooler, and towards morning a chilling fog sets in.

The preceding afternoon having been hot, one retires in a
perspiration, every pore open, finally dropping off to sleep--without
any covering, save his pajamas. With the coming of the fog there is a
sudden drop in temperature, and one is fortunate if he does not wake
up in a chill, and have the doctor for his first morning caller.

Persons with weak lungs find this the most trying season of the year.
But this is the "cold season," and the time when missionary work
out in the district must be vigorously pressed. Away through the
Karen, Shan, Chin, and Kachin hills, missionaries push their way. In
the plains other missionaries are doing their best to reach as many
villages as possible before the "hot season" sets in. Work which ought
to close early in March, if the missionary's health is considered,
is often continued until April. But this is done at the expense of
health, and shortens one's term of service. At least one month of
the hot season must be spent at some mountain resort to escape the
heat, secure needed rest, or for neglected literary work, if strength
permits. It is not in the power of flesh to work on twelve months in
the year, in the heated plains, without sacrificing strength that
might be more wisely conserved.

After a serious illness, I spent a few weeks alone in a mountain camp,
during my last hot season in Burma. Several great vultures kept me
company by roosting in a tree close by, every night for a week.

My rapid improvement did not furnish an encouraging prospect, and they
left. The fact that they had occupied the tree before I came to occupy
the camp, did not make their presence much less suggestive.

By the middle of May the "Southwest monsoon" sets in. Then for five
months it is rain, rain, rain. But though enough rain falls to
inundate a country less amply provided with natural drainage, the
awful heat continues. Clouds shut out the sun much of the time, but
the steamy heat is exceedingly enervating. Clothing and bedding are
clammy from the excessive dampness. Shoes taken off at night are
mouldy in the morning. The unavoidable ruin of shelves of fresh new
books from the home-land is enough to break one's heart, unless he has
grace to take joyfully the spoiling of his goods. But as a merciful
provision against allowing the mind to dwell on such misfortunes, the
"prickly heat" (_lichen tropicus_) with which one's body is covered,
will demand frequent attention. The rainfall varies in different parts
of the country.

In Maulmain and Sandoway the annual rainfall is about two hundred and
fifty inches. In Rangoon the precipitation is about two thirds of that
amount. Mandalay is in the dry belt where the rainfall is very light,
and irrigation is resorted to for cultivation. But still farther
north, at Bhamo, the rainfall is heavy.

The every-day display of wild beasts, reptiles, and insect life is
rather disappointing to the newcomer.

In the year 1902 only seventy-three people were reported as killed
by wild beasts, and 1,123 by snakes and poisonous insects. But we
find that 4,194 cattle were killed by tigers; 1,386 were killed by
leopards; six by bears, twenty-eight by wolves, and 4,986 by snakes.
More cattle were killed by snakes in Burma than in all the rest of
India. Doubtless many such deaths in remote places, are not reported
at all.

Under a certain Christian chapel when the ground was covered by a
flood, an average of six centipedes were counted on each post.

Other localities are equally favoured, but they are scattered about,
in piles of lumber, under old boxes, and wherever they can secrete
themselves, now and then one appearing in a corner closet or crawling
on the floor. On one occasion when about to take my family out for a
walk two scorpions must first be dispatched.

They were found on the inside of our little boy's jacket, taken from
a nail on the wall. Cobras and vipers sometimes find their way into
houses,--but this happens more frequently in India than in Burma.
These reptiles, though not often seen, are known to be about, so that
some degree of caution is in order at all times. The general practice
of elevating the house-floor several feet from the ground greatly
lessens the number of these unwelcome visitors.

Not even the newcomer complains of a scarcity of the far-famed white
ants. Should he fail to appreciate their numbers and powers, an
experience similar to that recorded in "The Bishop's Conversion" will
make him wish he had heeded the warnings of older residents.

Each queen is said to deposit about three million eggs a year. As they
do their housekeeping and rear their antlets underground, a tropical
sun making the hive a first-class incubator, the success of each
colony is well assured. During the day myriads of other kinds of ants
may be seen, but not a white ant shows his head.

Leave an old box on the ground over night, and in the morning
thousands of these destructive insects will be found underneath,
eating the bottom out of it. Some of the houses built by the early
missionaries, who had not learned the likes and dislikes of the
white ant, were destroyed in a few years. But a house made wholly
of ant-proof timber does not insure one against their ravages.
Under cover of the darkness they send out their spies. The house is
searched from foundation to garret. They make careful note of the
location of deal-boxes, book-shelves and other tempting articles,
smack their lips, and return to give their report. The floor of nearly
all residences is ten feet or more above the ground, the lower part
being left unoccupied. The ants, directed by their engineers, select
a post, and rapidly build a covered way, about the size of half a
split lead-pencil, up its side. Sand, made sticky by glue from their
mouths, is the material used. Reaching the floor the path is continued
along a crack in the floor, finally coming out under or behind the
article selected for destruction. Unless something wanted leads to
their discovery, their work will go on until chest and contents are
utterly ruined. Returning from a three weeks' absence, I found several
of my choicest books riddled by these pests. In place of valuable
marginal notes that could not be restored was a paste of sand. Such
an experience is not, at first flush, conducive to spirituality.
Rather it makes one sigh for a more expressive vocabulary, adapted to
his profession. While superintending the work of demolishing an old
mission house five heavy timbers fell all at once, on as many sides of
me. These timbers appeared to be securely fastened, but white ants had
eaten away the wood so that nails and bolts had no hold. The building
had been condemned as unsafe over and over, but for want of other
shelter had been occupied by a missionary family until the day before.
It was little less than a miracle that the heavy roof had not crushed
down over their heads.

The most dreaded diseases are cholera and fever.

In the first Burmese war seventy-two per cent. of the British
troops died, only five per cent. being killed in action. After
the annexation, railroad and steamship companies revolutionized
transportation, substantial barracks and bungalows have taken the
place of bamboo-and-thatch shanties, for the accommodations of
Europeans. Improved sanitary arrangements in the towns have greatly
decreased the mortality among natives. Compulsory vaccination is
stamping out smallpox. Each large town has its hospital and civil
surgeon. In six or eight different places medical missionaries are

Many improvements have been made since the time of Judson,--but the
climate has not changed. As organized mission-work develops, the
strain on the missionary increases. To the "care of all the churches"
the mission schools have been added. Work enough for four falls upon
one. Breakdowns are inevitable. Careful inquiry has established the
fact that the average term of missionary service is considerably
longer than that of Europeans in civil, military or mercantile
pursuits, though the missionary lives by far the more strenuous life.
If it is desirable that the missionary should render a long life of
service, this extension of each term beyond the limit of his strength
is very poor economy in the society which he represents. But in the
majority of cases the mistake is made by the missionary himself. Body
and soul he is wedded to his work. There never comes a time when he
is not making some special effort, that he shrinks from entrusting
to another,--for the advancement of the kingdom. If another is not
available to take up the work he will almost die at his post rather
than leave his people "as sheep having no shepherd." The remedy is
in the hands of God's people in the home-land. Had he not learned
to possess his soul in patience the missionary might feel disturbed
by unfriendly criticisms directed against missionaries and their
methods by that worldly-wise individual known as the "globe-trotter."
Entertained at the missionary's home, and in much better style than
the missionary can afford or indulges except on such occasions, he
sits in the best room, and by the light of the only table lamp in
the house dashes off an article on "Missionary Luxury." He travels
three thousand miles, and visits fifty stations in three weeks, then
goes home to pose as an authority on missionary methods, life in the
tropics, etc. It is simply incredible what a variety of misconceptions
one can pick up in three weeks in a strange land. Representatives from
churches and societies in the home-land are gladly welcomed, if they
purpose to remain long enough to form correct views of the situation.
It takes the missionaries themselves at least two years to form such

Not long ago a noted Christian worker visited Burma. He was very
earnest in his desire to see much in a little time, and yet get at the
real heart of things. To further his desires two missionaries arranged
a jungle trip, that the visitor might see the people in their native
haunts. The last stage of the journey must be made by ox-cart. As
they were loading up for the start he turned and said, "Now brethren,
you know,--I want _impressions_." Then again, more emphatically as
he stepped in front of the wheel to put a bundle on the cart--"You
understand now,--I _want impressions_." The off-ox seemed to
sympathize with him, for he gave him an impression then and there,--on
the right knee-cap. Then another on the left knee-cap. In great pain
the young enthusiast staggered to a log and sat down. Helped into the
cart, he rode the rest of the journey. The lameness lasted him several
days. Doubtless the memory of these first impressions will last much

The visitor will learn more in three days of Burma fever than in an
entire cool season. True, he will have sincere sympathy, and the best
attention possible. But everybody knows that if true conceptions
are to be gained, to be disseminated in the home-land, it is a good

Visitors, like new missionaries, will not be guided by the advice of
the more experienced. That disasters are not more frequent is largely
due to the fact that Burma is visited when the climate is at its best.

An exception to the rule was the visit of a lady who had for many
years been actively interested in foreign missions. Warnings as to
the deadly effects of a tropical sun, and the danger of contracting
fever from undue exposure had no influence. Repeated cautions that
the head must be protected with the customary "sola tope" in place
of the black straw hat were disregarded. Quinine, the universal and
only effective remedy in first symptoms of malaria, was rejected.
She was "not subject" to these things. In short, the missionaries
were unnecessarily cautious in matters of health. Malaria changed to
settled fever, and went beyond the power of the best medical skill and
nursing to control.

This noble worker, who had served long and well here below, and might
perhaps have served yet longer, went to a happier service above.

Notwithstanding the many disasters, experience still remains the only
teacher whose voice commands attention.

To meet every obstacle and trying experience the consecrated worker
girds up his loins, strong in the consciousness of the fact that he
is an "Ambassador for Christ" the highest office in the gift of the
King of Kings. His very obstacles may become stepping-stones to higher



Adequately to answer the question, at any given time, What hath God
wrought?--is beyond the power of short-sighted human comprehension.

As one studies the history of Christian missions in this land,
comparing the present with the past, the question becomes an
exclamation; yea, what hath God wrought! In 1819, after six years of
seemingly fruitless labour, Judson baptized the first Burman convert
from Buddhism.

In 1828 Boardman baptized the first Karen convert from spirit-worship.
Now about forty-five thousand baptized Christians, in Baptist missions
alone, chiefly Karen, but with the Burman and several other races
strongly represented assemble in Christian chapels, without fear,
or hindrance. Including adherents, this number may be multiplied
threefold. Including the mission work of the Roman Catholics, Church
of England, and other societies and their adherents; European
officials, traders, and troops; Eurasions, and immigrants,--the
census of 1901 gives a total of 147,526 returned as Christians.
Calculated on the same basis as the Roman Catholics and Church of
England three-fourths of this grand total should be assigned to the
Baptists. And as a result of actual mission work among indigenous
races, a much larger proportion must be credited to these American
Baptist missions. In casting up results as represented by present
numbers, we should not lose sight of the thousands who have died in
the faith during the ninety years of Christian missions in Burma.
And I fain would believe that a good number who never "witnessed the
good confession" have died believing "unto the saving of the soul." I
will give one such instance among the many, as related to me by one
of my preachers, himself a Buddhist, at the time. "They told me that
an old man in the village where I was staying, was dying. I went to
see him. Sure enough, he was near the end. His people were giving him
very little attention, being angry because he declared that he would
die as a Christian, not as a Buddhist. A Christian preacher had been
through the village a long time before, and left a tract with this
old man. He read it, pondered on it, and believed it. As I sat beside
the mat on which he was lying he said to me: 'I am not a Buddhist,--I
have cast that all away. I believe in the Eternal God this tract tells
me about. I am going to Him. When I am dead, don't let them bury me
according to the Buddhist custom. Just roll me in my mat, and cover
me in the ground.' Then he looked upward, his face brightened, he
raised his feeble hands and exclaimed, 'I can see Celestial beings up
there,--they are calling me.' He did not say angels,--he never had
heard anything about angels. And I did not know what he was talking
about. I was not a Christian then. His relations said his mind had
gone bad, but he paid no attention to what they said,--only kept on
talking about his vision of celestial beings beckoning him from the
sky. In that way he died. They buried him according to the Buddhist
custom, but I think he was a true disciple."

The wife of one of our jungle Christians rejected all attempts to win
her to Christ. It seemed to be a case of ignorance and indifference
rather than the bitter prejudice shown by the majority of Burmese

During the last two years of her life she was an invalid. When the
end came her husband was the only Christian in the village. Suddenly
turning her eyes towards the mountains, as if hearing something--she
said to her husband, "There is a great company of disciples there
on the mountainside. Sayah Gyi and Mama (the missionaries) are with
them,--and they are calling me." With a smile on her face she passed

In life she had not "confessed," but in death, as her spirit hung
between two worlds her vision was not of the spirits of her lifelong
superstitions,--but of the missionaries and disciples saved by the
blood of Christ. You have the story,--interpret it as you like.

In all the old mission stations the native evangelists report a good
number who secretly declare their conviction that Christianity is
right, the ancestral religion wholly wrong. Some go so far as to
assert that they no longer worship idols, but do, secretly, worship

But no amount of urging or encouraging will induce them to break
utterly with Buddhism, and openly confess Christ. They will not even
risk the consequences of attending services in the mission chapel.

That some are in a measure, sincere, there is no doubt. Imagine, if
you can, what would be the social standing of a hitherto orthodox
Christian in America, should he renounce Christianity and go over
to gross idolatry. From ostracism he would suffer no more, from
persecution far less than the poor native who renounces Buddhism, for
Christianity. Whether any of them are numbered among the saved, is not
for me to say.


There is another thought which throws a bright ray of light on
the great dark wall of paganism. It is not one of the results of
Christian missions, but it is a result of the work of the Christ
of missions. I refer to thousands and millions of infants and little
children who die in pagan lands. If little children in Christian lands
are immortal, why are not little children in pagan lands also immortal?

If little children are included in the saving work of Christ, are
they not so included the world over? It is hardly conceivable that
Christ would have said,--with children of non-Christians around Him:
"Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for
of such is the kingdom of heaven," had He not considered them choicest
material for His kingdom. Otherwise the words "Except a man become as
a little child"--would have been incongruous.

Now when we consider that probably one-third of the children born
in heathen lands die before they come to the period of moral
responsibility, a new factor enters into our conception of heaven. Now
for a case in point. A little child died in my mission. The father was
a Christian, the mother a heathen. One insisted that the child should
be buried according to Christian custom, the other insisted that the
burial should be according to Buddhist custom. The father, backed by
the Burman pastor, prevailed. On the way to the cemetery I had to stop
the procession to drive a snake out of the road. Just as the service
at the grave began, another snake passed between the native preacher
and myself as we stood side by side. It seemed as if Satan himself was
siding with the heathen mother and would snatch away the soul of this
innocent child. While the little grave was being filled, I tried to
cheer the father, by telling him that Jesus had, in love, taken the
child to Himself. He knew that the mother would do her worst to bring
up her child in heathenism, so He had graciously transplanted it to
His paradise above. Accepting this view of the case, the father was

There are many such encouraging factors which form no part of mission

Before proceeding to the more palpable triumphs of Christian missions,
I would point out that much has recently been said and written of a
"Revival of Buddhism." I do not share in the impression that Buddhism
is becoming stronger than in former years. The presence of a European
clad in yellow robes, parading through the chief towns of Burma,
making great pretensions, and reviling the Christian missionaries,
created a sensation for a time. But his claim to be the head of
Buddhism was not quite to the taste of the many native priests who,
locally, or for the province, aspired to that position. Hardly more
to their taste was his departure, taking with him a generous sum of
money collected during his tours. Every now and then one hears of new
societies for propagating Buddhism. But much of this is mere pomp and
show. A few of the more popular pagodas are periodically treated to a
coat of gold-leaf. The bulk of this great expense is borne by men who
have amassed fortunes under British rule, and is more to add to their
renown than from real religious zeal. But where one pagoda is now
regilded, scores were built and gilded, under Burman rule. Wealth and
education have raised many Burmans to prominent positions. Each one of
these gaily attired lords would like to have it said, "He loveth our
nation, and has gilded our pagoda." In this they are encouraged by the
friendly attitude of the provincial government towards the religion
of the land. In June, 1903, the trustees of the Shwe Dagon pagoda
issued to prominent Europeans and others the following invitation:
"The trustees of the Shwe Dagon pagoda will have the pleasure of
----, on Sunday, the 7th June, 1903, on the platform of the pagoda,
to witness the most sacred ceremony of unveiling the covering of the
upper portion of the pagoda as the plating of the same with beaten
gold sheets has now been completed.

"Sir H. Thirkell White, chief judge of the chief court of Lower Burma
has kindly consented to perform the duty of unveiling.

            "U Shwe Waing,
                "Managing Trustee.
               "Shwe Dagon Pagoda."

The Rangoon _Gazette_ thus described the event: "He arrived at nine
o'clock, and was received by the trustees of the pagoda, who conducted
him to a platform where a small pagoda about two feet high and studded
with rubies, diamonds and sapphires, was resting on a massive silver
Burmese carved stand. This pagoda was hollow and on being opened was
disclosed another pure gold miniature pagoda resting on a beautifully
cased gold vase. This miniature pagoda also came to pieces and
contained a nugget of pure gold, part of the gold plates used in
regilding Shwe Dagon. Two of the trustees, Maung Po Aung and Maung Po
Tha, then each read an address and the signal was given to the man on
the top of the pagoda, and Sir H. Thirkell White pulled a handle which
was connected by wire with the cloth frame on the Hti, and the frame
thus fell apart and disclosed to view the massive pinnacle of gold.
The people broke out in cheers, and the band of the king's regiment
played the national anthem, and this closed the proceedings. It has
taken over 140 viss of gold-leaf for the regilding, the cost being
between seven and eight lacs of rupees," over $250,000. This event, in
which the most conspicuous figure was a prominent English official,
though in unofficial capacity; and closing with the strains of "God
Save the King," is heralded far and wide as another indication of a
revival of Buddhism.

Were Buddhism wiped out of existence the pagoda would still be
preserved, as at once the most ancient and most conspicuous object in
the city,--the first seen as one approaches the shores of Burma.

Buddhism never has lost its strong-hold on the races of Burma that
many centuries ago adopted it. These spasmodic outbreaks of seeming
zeal, interpreted by many as indications of increasing life, I
interpret as signs of increasing weakness. As in India, these
people are becoming alarmed by the headway that Christianity is
slowly, steadily gaining in their land. It is a struggle against the
irresistible tide of Christian missions. Something more than flaming
pagoda tops, and societies with high sounding titles will be required
to stay the tide, and Buddhism has nothing else to offer. One hundred
and fifty Protestant missionaries, with hundreds of native evangelists
and teachers constitute a force, which under God, is undermining false
systems and establishing the kingdom of Christ.

The unveiling of the gilded pagoda top was a great event, such as
happens once in a decade. The place was crowded with Burmans, and
many sightseers of other races. But on that Sunday, and every Sunday,
nearly if not quite an equal number assembled in the many Christian
churches in that city.

Judson, forbidden by the king to preach the "Jesus Christ religion,"
had faith that the future of missions in Burma was as bright as the
promises of God. If in the year 1903 he is permitted to look down
upon the land of his toil and suffering, he can see American missions
firmly established in thirty different stations, and more than one
hundred missionaries in actual service, all under the protection of
the flag of a Christian nation. Buddhism is reviving, as the serpent
revives to strike the rod from which it is receiving its death-blow.

Among the far-reaching results of mission work stands Judson's
translation of the Bible into the Burmese language. From the time
when he triumphantly held aloft the last leaf of this translation,
until the present time, Judson's Bible has been used by all Protestant
societies doing mission work among the Burmans. It has been revised by
later missionaries; but so scholarly, and so loyal to the Greek text
was it, that comparatively few changes have been found necessary. Some
have criticised it as containing interpretation, at certain points, in
place of literal translation. But in so far as this is true it seems
unavoidable, it being impossible to reproduce the meaning word for
word. Failure to reproduce the meaning would not be, in the highest
sense, a translation. But the severest criticism passed upon it is
because literal translation was adopted where the critics would have a

Of scarcely less importance than Judson's Burmese Bible are the
translations, by later missionaries, of the Bible into Shan, Sgaw
Karen, and Pwo Karen.

The American Baptist Mission Press, at Rangoon, is turning out vast
quantities of Christian literature. Bibles, tracts, hymn books, and
a great variety of other useful material for evangelistic work find
their way to the remotest corners of the land. Karens and Talaings
in Southern Burma, even into Siam; Shans and Kachins on the Chinese
border, to the east and north; Chins in the northwest; Burmans and
Karens throughout the land may have this Christian literature in their
own tongue.

It can almost be said that the Mission Press is _evangelizing Burma by

At each of the thirty stations of the American Baptist Mission a
school has been established. Where work for different races is carried
on at the same station there is a school for each race. There are
scores of out-station schools, but the station school is the centre
of influence. Here it is that the young lady missionary finds her
grandest opportunity for usefulness. It is hard work,--this steady
day-in-and-day-out routine, nothing harder in the whole round of
missionary endeavour.

But there is also fascination in it. With a large body of Christian
pupils, as in the Karen schools, there is stimulus in it. Here are
scores of young men who are soon to go out as preachers and teachers,
in their native villages, or as missionaries to unevangelized tribes.
Young women, too, going out as teachers, Bible-women, or perhaps as
wives of some of these Christian young men. The missionaries report
so many churches, so many Sunday-schools, so many evangelists sent
out,--but it is largely due to the faithful work of our young ladies
from the home-land that these evangelists were first won to Christ,
while pupils in the station schools. To take these boys and girls when
they came as children from distant villages, untidy offspring of the
"great unwashed," and under God, mould them for Christian service,
is as grand a work as ever fell to a consecrated missionary's lot.
Thus the Christian school is letting in the light, arousing dormant
faculties, furnishing scores of mission helpers, and paving the way
for more glorious triumphs of the gospel in years to come. At the
close of 1902 the grand total of 19,430 pupils were under instruction
in schools of the American Baptist Mission in Burma. Of this number
135 were in the theological seminary at Insein. All are under
Christian influence, and engaging in daily Bible study. But what of
the character of native converts?

Have the backward tribes sufficient intelligence and stamina to make
trustworthy Christians? this question is often asked. A missionary
thus describes the first Karen she ever saw,--"Suspended from a yoke
from the forehead, hanging down the back of this Karen was a large
pig suspended in bamboo strips to keep him quiet, and this pig had
been brought by the man from the mountains. The man himself was very
untidy, his single garment was after the shape of a pillow case; his
hair, if ever it had been combed, had not been for many a day, and I
said to Dr. C---- 'It hardly seems possible there is more soul in the
burden-bearer than in the burden.' He looked at me in astonishment,
and said, 'Why, that is the dearest old deacon in the mountains.'
And I said, 'If that is the dearest old deacon in the mountains,
then there is hope for everybody.'" In a letter to the Rangoon
_Times_ an English traveller wrote as follows: "Close to police
barracks at Myitta (near Siam) is a native Baptist church. There are
no missionaries in the neighbourhood, but Christianity has widely
spread among the Karens from the American Baptist missions in the
Karen district proper. The Karen Christians observe the Sabbath with
Scotch precision; no doubt its observance falls in with their happy
indolent disposition which would embrace eagerly a creed that offered
them seven days of rest in the week. It is a little disconcerting
for a keen sportsman, who has lost all count of the calendar in this
remote corner of the world, to be told, when ready equipped for a
day's shooting, that it is impossible to obtain beaters, because it
is Sunday." At a point not so remote from civilization an official
whipped a Christian Karen for refusing to work on Sunday.

The missionary's request for an explanation being ignored, the matter
was referred to the lieutenant-governor. The official was reprimanded,
and an order issued that no Christian should be compelled to work
on Sunday. In his book "The Loyal Karens," Mr. Smeaton, late chief
commissioner of Burma, says, "It is not often given to witness such a
remarkable development of national character as has taken place among
the Karens under the influence of Christianity and good government.

"Forty, aye, thirty years ago, they were a despised, grovelling, timid
people, held in contempt by the Burmese. At the sound of the gospel
message they sprang to their feet, as a sleeping army springs to the
bugle-call. The dream of hundreds of years was fulfilled; the God who
had cast them off for their unfaithfulness had come back to them, they
felt themselves a nation once more. Their progress since has been by
leaps and bounds, all from an impetus within themselves, and with
no direct help from their rulers; and they bid fair soon to outstrip
their Burmese conquerors in all the arts of peace." By their fruits
ye shall know them. Where only a few years ago were tribal wars,
child-stealing, house-burning and savagery, now are quiet, orderly
villages, each with its preacher and teacher, chapel and school.
Rubbish and filth that they never saw while in paganism, have been
cleared away. Faces are brighter, bodies better clothed, rice-bins
better filled. Many of the boys and girls are away in the town school
for better training than the village school can provide. Here and
there, on the elevated bamboo verandas may be seen young wives who
have had this better training, evidenced by their absence of fear that
a clean skirt will bring upon them the eyes of the entire village.
These are a few of the many changes forecast in the promise--"I will
say unto them that were not My people, Thou art My people; and they
shall say, Thou art my God."

About eight hundred Protestant churches, with as many pastors and
evangelists, are among the more tangible results.

A Christian college for all races, theological seminaries for Karens
and Burmans, the latter open to Burmese speaking candidates from other
races; and a Bible training school for the young women are preparing
pastors, evangelists, teachers and Bible women, to meet the ever
increasing demand. Already native missionaries have gone out to work
among the Shans, Chins and Kachins. And still the finger of God is
pointing onward,--to western China, and the region around Tibet,
sources from which the races of Burma came, and where kindred races
still exist.

Without dealing in uninteresting statistics, I have tried to indicate
some of the conditions amid which missionary work in Burma has been,
and still is being conducted, and some of the results of the work.

In spite of separations, privations, distractions, effects of climate,
and other trying experiences, missionary life has its compensations.
Chief among them is the satisfaction of seeing the image of God
reappearing in human faces, hearts, and lives, and the privilege
of helping to win a nation to Christ. This it is that keeps the
missionary at his post, or hurries him back to his field from a
half-rest in the home-land; while first, last, and all the time there
is ringing in his ears the Master's parting message--"Go, preach the
gospel to the whole creation,"--every word of which, as Dr. Ellis once
said, "is a heart-beat of the Holy Ghost." In the Great Commission,
and the great need he finds ample justification and obligation for
vigorous and unceasing missionary effort.

After the battle of Lookout Mountain a dying soldier, roused by a
sound of shouting, said to a comrade who was supporting him--"What
was that?" "Why--that's our boys! they have carried the heights, and
planted the flag upon them!" With a smile the dying soldier said, "I
helped put it there."

All along the mission-front the great struggle with paganism is still
going on. But by and by the battles will have been fought, the victory
won, and you and I will be standing with that great company which John
saw at Patmos,--for it is yet future. Burmans and Karens, and people
of India and China, and Africa will be there, just as it reads:

"Out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues." And
as we stand there in the presence of our Saviour,--the Lord of the
Harvest,--it will be a happy day for you and me,--if we can say like
the dying soldier--"I helped put them there."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Minor punctuation errors have been silently corrected.
Illustrations have been relocated to paragraph breaks.

Page 79: "seige" may be a typo for "siege."
  (Orig: immense army, laid seige to Syriam,)

Page 80: Changed "Guatama" to "Gautama."
  (Orig: pagoda was built, and a costly image of Guatama cast)

Page 87: Changed "issed" to "issued."
  (Orig: Oriental monarch would have issed such decrees)

Page 109: Changed "guaged" to "gauged."
  (Orig: Hospitality is guaged by the number of cups)

Page 124: "thalt" may be a typo for "shalt."
  (Orig: commandment, "Thou thalt speak no false word," gives this)

Page 131: Changed "Guatama" to "Gautama."
  (Orig: relics of four Buddhas, including eight hairs of Guatama.)

Page 149: Changed "it" to "its."
  (Orig: Each community has it head-man, who makes the bargain)

Page 204: Changed "beople" to "people."
  (Orig: stepping-stones heavenward for these benighted beople.)

Page 232: Ya-bok-kon has macrons over the "a" and second "o" in the
original book.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among the Burmans - A Record of Fifteen Years of Work and its Fruitage" ***

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