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Title: A Half Century Among the Siamese and the Lāo - An Autobiography
Author: McGilvary, Daniel
Language: English
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  Daniel McGilvary]


An Autobiography



With an Appreciation by Arthur J. Brown, D.D.



New York     Chicago     Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London          and            Edinburgh

Copyright, 1912, by
Fleming H. Revell Company

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 125 N. Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street


                                MY WIFE


                            AN APPRECIATION

Missionary biography is one of the most interesting and instructive of
studies. It is, however, a department of missionary literature to which
Americans have not made proportionate contribution. The foreign
missionary Societies of the United States now represent more
missionaries and a larger expenditure than the European Societies, but
most of the great missionary biographies are of British and Continental
missionaries, so that many Americans do not realize that there are men
connected with their own Societies whose lives have been characterized
by eminent devotion and large achievement.

Because I regarded Dr. McGilvary as one of the great missionaries of the
Church Universal, I urged him several years ago to write his
autobiography. He was then over seventy-five years of age, and I told
him that he could not spend his remaining strength to any better
advantage to the cause he loved than in preparing such a volume. His
life was not only one of unusual length (he lived to the ripe age of
eighty-three), but his missionary service of fifty-three years covered
an interesting part of the history of missionary work in Siam, and the
entire history, thus far, of the mission to the Lāo people of northern
Siam. There is no more fascinating story in fiction or in that truth
which is stranger than fiction, than the story of his discovery of a
village of strange speech near his station at Pechaburī, Siam, his
learning the language of the villagers, his long journey with his
friend, Dr. Jonathan Wilson, into what was then the unknown region of
northern Siam, pushing his little boat up the great river and pausing
not until he had gone six hundred miles northward and arrived at the
city of Chiengmai. The years that followed were years of toil and
privation, of loneliness and sometimes of danger; but the missionaries
persevered with splendid faith and courage until the foundations of a
prosperous Mission were laid.

In all the marked development of the Lāo Mission, Dr. McGilvary was a
leader—the leader. He laid the foundations of medical work, introducing
quinine and vaccination among a people scourged by malaria and smallpox,
a work which has now developed into five hospitals and a leper asylum.
He began educational work, which is now represented by eight boarding
schools and twenty-two elementary schools, and is fast expanding into a
college, a medical college, and a theological seminary. He was the
evangelist who won the first converts, founded the first church, and had
a prominent part in founding twenty other churches, and in developing a
Lāo Christian Church of four thousand two hundred and five adult
communicants. His colleague, the Rev. Dr. W. C. Dodd, says that Dr.
McGilvary selected the sites for all the present stations of the Mission
long before committees formally sanctioned the wisdom of his choice. He
led the way into regions beyond and was the pioneer explorer into the
French Lāo States, eastern Burma, and even up to the borders of China.
Go where you will in northern Siam, or in many sections of the
extra-Siamese Lāo States, you will find men and women to whom Dr.
McGilvary first brought the Good News. He well deserves the name so
frequently given him even in his lifetime—“The Apostle to the Lāo.”

It was my privilege to conduct our Board’s correspondence with Dr.
McGilvary for more than a decade, and, in 1902, to visit him in his home
and to journey with him through an extensive region. I have abiding and
tender memories of those memorable days. He was a Christian gentleman of
the highest type, a man of cultivation and refinement, of ability and
scholarship, of broad vision and constructive leadership. His
evangelistic zeal knew no bounds. A toilsome journey on elephants
through the jungles brought me to a Saturday night with the weary
ejaculation: “Now we can have a day of rest!” The next morning I slept
late; but Dr. McGilvary did not; he spent an hour before breakfast in a
neighbouring village, distributing tracts and inviting the people to
come to a service at our camp at ten o’clock. It was an impressive
service,—under a spreading bo tree, with the mighty forest about us,
monkeys curiously peering through the tangled vines, the huge elephants
browsing the bamboo tips behind us, and the wondering people sitting on
the ground, while one of the missionaries told the deathless story of
redeeming love. But Dr. McGilvary was not present. Seventy-four years
old though he was, he had walked three miles under a scorching sun to
another village and was preaching there, while Dr. Dodd conducted the
service at our camp. And I said: “If that is the way Dr. McGilvary
rests, what does he do when he works?” Dr. McKean, his associate of many
years, writes:

“No one who has done country evangelistic work with Dr. McGilvary can
ever forget the oft-seen picture of the gray-haired patriarch seated on
the bamboo floor of a thatch-covered Lāo house, teaching some one to
read. Of course, the book faced the pupil, and it was often said that he
had taught so many people in this way that he could read the Lāo
character very readily with the book upside down. Little children
instinctively loved him, and it is therefore needless to say that he
loved them. In spite of his long snow-white beard, never seen in men of
this land and a strange sight to any Lāo child, the children readily
came to him. Parents have been led to God because Dr. McGilvary loved
their children and laid his hands upon them. In no other capacity was
the spirit of the man more manifest than in that of a shepherd. Always
on the alert for every opportunity, counting neither time nor distance
nor the hardship of inclement weather, swollen streams, pathless jungle,
or impassable road, he followed the example of his Master in seeking to
save the lost. His very last journey, which probably was the immediate
cause of his last illness, was a long, wearisome ride on horseback,
through muddy fields and deep irrigating ditches, to visit a man whom he
had befriended many years ago and who seemed to be an inquirer.”

Dr. McGilvary was pre-eminently a man who walked with God. His piety was
not a mere profession, but a pervasive and abiding force. He knew no
greater joy than to declare the Gospel of his blessed Lord to the people
to whose up-lifting he had devoted his life. “If to be great is ‘to take
the common things of life and walk truly among them,’ he was a great
man—great in soul, great in simplicity, great in faith and great in
love. Siam is the richer because Daniel McGilvary gave her fifty-three
years of unselfish service.” Mrs. Curtis, the gifted author of _The Laos
of North Siam_, says of Dr. McGilvary: “Neither Carey nor Judson
surpassed him in strength of faith and zeal of purpose; neither Paton
nor Chalmers has outranked him in the wonders of their achievements, and
not one of the other hundreds of missionaries ever has had more evidence
of God’s blessing upon their work.”

Not only the missionaries but the Lāo people loved him as a friend and
venerated him as a father. Some of his intimate friends were the abbots
and monks of the Buddhist monasteries and the high officials of the
country. No one could know him without recognizing the nobility of soul
of this saintly patriarch, in whom was no guile. December 6th, 1910,
many Americans and Europeans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his
marriage. The King of Siam through Prince Damrong, Minister of the
Interior, sent a congratulatory message. Letters, telegrams, and gifts
poured in from many different places. The Christian people of the city
presented a large silver tray, on which was engraved: “The Christian
people of Chiengmai to Dr. and Mrs. McGilvary, in memory of your having
brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to us forty-three years ago.” The
tray showed in relief the old rest-house where Dr. and Mrs. McGilvary
spent their first two years in Chiengmai, the residence which was later
their home of many years, the old dilapidated bridge, and the handsome
new bridge which spans the river opposite the Christian Girls’
School—thus symbolizing the old and the new eras.

The recent tours of exploration by the Rev. W. Clifton Dodd, D.D., and
the Rev. John H. Freeman have disclosed the fact that the Lāo peoples
are far more numerous and more widely distributed than we had formerly
supposed. Their numbers are now estimated at from twelve to sixteen
millions, and their habitat includes not only the Lāo States of northern
Siam but extensive regions north and northeastward in the Shan States,
Southern China, and French Indo-China. The evangelization of these
peoples is, therefore, an even larger and more important undertaking
than it was understood to be only a few years ago. All the more honour,
therefore, must be assigned to Dr. McGilvary, who laid foundations upon
which a great superstructure must now be built.

Dr. McGilvary died as he would have wished to die and as any Christian
worker might wish to die. There was no long illness. He continued his
great evangelistic and literary labours almost to the end. Only a short
time before his death, he made another of his famous itinerating
journeys, preaching the Gospel to the outlying villages, guiding
perplexed people and comforting the sick and dying. He recked as little
of personal hardship as he had all his life, thinking nothing of hard
travelling, simple fare, and exposure to sun, mud, and rain. Not long
after his return and after a few brief days of illness, he quietly “fell
on sleep,” his death the simple but majestic and dignified ending of a
great earthly career.

The Lāo country had never seen such a funeral as that which marked the
close of this memorable life. Princes, Governors, and High Commissioners
of State sorrowed with multitudes of common people. The business of
Chiengmai was suspended, offices were closed, and flags hung at
half-mast as the silent form of the great missionary was borne to its
last resting-place in the land to which he was the first bringer of
enlightenment, and whose history can never be truly written without
large recognition of his achievements.

Fortunately, Dr. McGilvary had completed this autobiography before his
natural powers had abated, and had sent the manuscript to his
brother-in-law, Professor Cornelius B. Bradley of the University of
California. Dr. Bradley, himself a son of a great missionary to Siam,
has done his editorial work with sympathetic insight. It has been a
labour of love to him to put these pages through the press, and every
friend of the Lāo people and of Dr. McGilvary is his debtor. The book
itself is characterized by breadth of sympathy, richness of experience,
clearness of statement, and high literary charm. No one can read these
pages without realizing anew that Dr. McGilvary was a man of fine mind,
close observation, and descriptive gifts. The book is full of human
interest. It is the story of a man who tells about the things that he
heard and saw and who tells his story well. I count it a privilege to
have this opportunity of commending this volume as one of the books
which no student of southern Asia and of the missionary enterprise can
afford to overlook.

                                                        ARTHUR J. BROWN.




Years ago, in the absence of any adequate work upon the subject, the
officers of our Missionary Board and other friends urged me to write a
book on the Lāo Mission. Then there appeared Mrs. L. W. Curtis’
interesting volume, _The Laos of North Siam_, much to be commended for
its accuracy and its valuable information, especially in view of the
author’s short stay in the field. But no such work exhausts its subject.

I have always loved to trace the providential circumstances which led to
the founding of the Lāo Mission and directed its early history. And it
seems important that before it be too late, that early history should be
put into permanent form. I have, therefore, endeavoured to give, with
some fulness of detail, the story of the origin and inception of the
Mission, and of its early struggles which culminated in the Edict of
Religious Toleration. And in the later portions of the narrative I have
naturally given prominence to those things which seemed to continue the
characteristic features and the personal interest of that earlier period
of outreach and adventure, and especially my long tours into the
“regions beyond.”

The appearance during the past year of Rev. J. H. Freeman’s _An Oriental
Land of the Free_, giving very full and accurate information regarding
the present status of the Mission, has relieved me of the necessity of
going over the same ground again. I have, therefore, been content to
draw my narrative to a close with the account of my last long tour in

The work was undertaken with many misgivings, since my early training
and the nature of my life-work have not been the best preparation for
authorship. I cherished the secret hope that one of my own children
would give the book its final revision for the press. But at last an
appeal was made to my brother-in-law, Professor Cornelius B. Bradley of
the University of California, whose birth and years of service in Siam,
whose broad scholarship, fine literary taste, and hearty sympathy with
our missionary efforts indicated him as the man above all others best
qualified for this task. His generous acceptance of this work, and the
infinite pains he has taken in the revision and editing of this book,
place me under lasting obligations to him.

I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. W. A. Briggs and to Rev. J.
H. Freeman for the use of maps prepared by them, and to Dr. Briggs and
others for the use of photographs.

                                                       DANIEL MCGILVARY.

  April 6, 1911,



                           NOTE BY THE EDITOR

The task which has fallen to me in connection with this book, was
undertaken as a labour of love; and such it seems to me even more, now
that it ends in sadness of farewell. It has not been an easy task. The
vast spaces to be traversed, and the months of time required before a
question could receive its answer, made consultation with the author
almost impossible. And the ever-present fear that for him the night
might come before the work could receive a last revision at his hands,
or even while he was still in the midst of his story, led me continually
to urge upon him the need of persevering in his writing—which was
evidently becoming an irksome task—and on my part to hasten on a
piecemeal revision as the chapters came to hand, though as yet I had no
measure of the whole to guide me.

It is, therefore, a great comfort to know that my urgency and haste were
not in vain; that all of the revision reached him in time to receive his
criticism and correction—though his letter on the concluding chapter
was, as I understand, the very last piece of writing that he ever did.
How serene and bright it was, and with no trace of the shadow so soon to

But the draft so made had far outgrown the possible limits of
publication, and was, of course, without due measure and proportion of
parts. In the delicate task of its reduction I am much indebted to the
kind suggestions of the Rev. Arthur J. Brown, D.D., and the Rev. A. W.
Halsey, D.D., Secretaries of the Board of Foreign Missions of the
Presbyterian Church, and of the Rev. W. C. Dodd, D.D., of the Lāo
Mission, who, fortunately, was in this country, and who read the
manuscript. For what appears in this book, however, I alone must assume
the responsibility. “An autobiography is a personal book, expressive of
personal opinion.” And whether we agree with them or not, the opinions
of a man like Dr. McGilvary, formed during a long lifetime of closest
contact with the matters whereof he speaks, are an essential part not
only of the history of those matters, but of the portrait of the man,
and far more interesting than any mere details of events or scenes. On
all grave questions, therefore, on which he has expressed his deliberate
opinion, I have preferred to err on the side of inclusion rather than

                  *       *       *       *       *

The plan adopted in this volume for spelling Siamese and Lāo words is
intended to make possible, and even easy, a real approximation to the
native pronunciation. Only the tonal inflections of native speech and
the varieties of aspiration are ignored, as wholly foreign to our usage
and, therefore, unmanageable.

The consonant-letters used and the digraphs _ch_ and _ng_ have their
common English values.

The vowels are as follows:

    Long ā as in _father_
         ē as in _they_
         ī as in _pique_
         ō as in _rode_
         ū as in _rude_, _rood_
         aw as in _lawn_
         ê as in _there_ (without the _r_)
         ô as in _world_ (without the _r_)
         û is the _high-mixed_ vowel, not found in English.
            It may be pronounced as u.

    Short a as in _about_ (German _Mann_)—_not_ as in _hat_.
         e as in _set_
         i as in _sit_
         o as in _obey_ (N. Eng. _coat_)—_not_ as in _cot_.
         u as in _pull_, _foot_—_not_ as in _but_.

The last four long vowels have also their corresponding shorts, but
since these rarely occur, it has not been thought worth while to burden
the scheme with extra characters to represent them.

The diphthongs are combinations of one of these vowels, heavily
stressed, and nearly always long in quantity—which makes it seem to us
exaggerated or drawled—with a “vanish” of short _i_, _o_, (for _u_), or
_a_. _ai_ (= English long i, y) and _ao_ (= English _ow_) are the only
diphthongs with short initial element, and are to be distinguished from
_āi_ and _āo_. In deference to long established usage in maps and the
like, _ie_ is used in this volume where _ia_ would be the consistent
spelling, and _oi_ for _awi_.

                  *       *       *       *       *

A word remains to be said concerning the name of the people among whom
Dr. McGilvary spent his life. That name has suffered uncommonly hard
usage, especially at the hands of Americans, as the following brief
history will show. Its original form in European writing was _Lāo_, a
fairly accurate transcription by early French travellers of the name by
which the Siamese call their cousins to the north and east. The word is
a monosyllable ending in a diphthong similar to that heard in the proper
names _Macāo_, _Mindanāo_, _Callāo_. In French writing the name often
appeared in the plural form, _les Laos_; the added _s_, however, being
silent, made no difference with the pronunciation. This written plural,
then, it would seem, English-speaking people took over without
recognizing the fact that it was only plural, and made it their standard
form for all uses, singular as well as plural. With characteristic
ignorance or disregard of its proper pronunciation, on the mere basis of
its spelling, they have imposed on it a barbarous pronunciation of their
own—_Lay-oss_. It is to be regretted that the usage of American
missionaries has been most effective in giving currency and countenance
to this blunder—has even added to it the further blunder of using it as
the name of the region or territory, as well as of the people. But the
word is purely ethnical—a proper adjective like our words _French_ or
_English_, and, like these, capable of substantive use in naming either
the people or their language, but not their land. Needless to say, these
errors have no currency whatever among European peoples excepting the
English, and they have very little currency in England. It seems high
time for us of America to amend not only our false pronunciation, but
our false usage, and the false spelling upon which these rest. In
accordance with the scheme of spelling adopted in this work, the _a_ of
the name Lāo is marked with the macron to indicate its long quantity and

                                                CORNELIUS BEACH BRADLEY.


    December, 1911.



                   I. CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH              19

                  II. MINISTERIAL TRAINING             35

                 III. BANGKOK                          43

                  IV. PECHABURĪ—THE CALL OF THE        53

                   V. THE CHARTER OF THE LĀO MISSION   66

                  VI. CHIENGMAI                        77

                 VII. PIONEER WORK                     84

                VIII. FIRST-FRUITS                     95

                  IX. MARTYRDOM                       102

                   X. THE ROYAL COMMISSION            118

                  XI. DEATH OF KĀWILŌROT              130

                 XII. THE NEW RÉGIME                  140

                XIII. EXPLORATION                     150

                 XIV. FIRST FURLOUGH                  160

                  XV. MÛANG KÊN AND CHIENG DĀO        169

                 XVI. SEEKERS AFTER GOD               180

                XVII. THE RESIDENT COMMISSIONER       191

               XVIII. WITCHCRAFT                      199

                 XIX. THE EDICT OF RELIGIOUS          207

                  XX. SCHOOLS—THE NINE YEARS’         221

                 XXI. SECOND FURLOUGH                 236

                XXII. A SURVEYING EXPEDITION          244

               XXIII. EVANGELISTIC TRAINING           255

                XXIV. STRUGGLE WITH THE POWERS OF     266


                XXVI. A FOOTHOLD IN LAMPŪN            289

               XXVII. A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST      300


                XXIX. LENGTHENING THE CORDS AND       320
                      STRENGTHENING THE STAKES


                XXXI. CHIENG RUNG AND THE SIPSAWNG    353

               XXXII. THIRD FURLOUGH—STATION AT       370
                      CHIENG RĀI

              XXXIII. THE REGIONS BEYOND              386

               XXXIV. THE CLOSED DOOR                 402

                XXXV. CONCLUSION                      413

                      INDEX                           431



           DANIEL MCGILVARY                         _Frontispiece_

           WILLIAM J. BINGHAM                             30

           MAHĀ MONKUT, KING OF SIAM, 1851-1872           48

           PAGODA OF WAT CHÊNG, BANGKOK                   56

           REV. DAN BEACH BRADLEY, M.D., 1872             70


           A REST BETWEEN RAPIDS IN THE GORGE OF          76
             THE MÊ PING RIVER

           POLING UP THE MÊ PING RIVER                    76

           TEMPLE OF THE OLD TĀI STYLE OF                 82

           A CREMATION PROCESSION                        146

           INTERIOR OF A TEMPLE, PRÊ                     158

           AN ABBOT PREACHING                            188

           INTANON, PRINCE OF CHIENGMAI                  202

           ELDER NĀN SUWAN                               202

           DR. MCGILVARY, 1881                           238

           MRS. MCGILVARY, 1881                          238

           CHULALONGKORN, KING OF SIAM, 1872-1910        242


           MARKET SCENE IN CHIENGMAI                     274

           IN THE HARVEST-FIELD                          274

           GIRLS’ SCHOOL IN CHIENGMAI, 1892              284

           REV. JONATHAN WILSON, D.D., 1898              294

           FIRST CHURCH IN CHIENGMAI                     318

           DR. MCGILVARY’S HOME IN CHIENGMAI             318

           MRS. MCGILVARY, 1893                          332

           MŪSÔ PEOPLE AND HUT NEAR CHIENG RAI           348

           GROUP OF YUNNAN LĀO                           356

             FOR THE NORTH

           HIS MAJESTY, MAHĀ VAJIRAVUDH, KING OF         424

           DR. AND MRS. MCGILVARY, FIFTY YEARS           428


           MAP OF SIAM                                   430



                          CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH

Heredity and early environment exercise such a determining influence in
forming a man’s character and shaping his destiny that, without some
knowledge of these as a clew, his after-life would often be
unintelligible. And beyond these there is doubtless a current of events,
directing the course of every man’s life, which no one else can see so
clearly as the man himself. In the following review of my early life, I
have confined myself, therefore, to those events which seem to have led
me to my life-work, or to have prepared me for it.

By race I am a Scotsman of Scotsmen. My father, Malcom McGilvary, was a
Highland lad, born in the Isle of Skye, and inheriting the marked
characteristics of his race. In 1789, when Malcom was eleven years old,
my grandfather brought his family to the United States, and established
himself in Moore County, North Carolina, on the headwaters of the Cape
Fear River. The McGilvarys had but followed in the wake of an earlier
immigration of Scottish Highlanders, whose descendants to this day form
a large proportion of the population of Moore, Cumberland, Richmond,
Robeson, and other counties of North Carolina. My father’s brothers
gradually scattered, one going to the southwestern, and two to the
northwestern frontier. My father, being the youngest of the family,
remained with his parents on the homestead. The country was then
sparsely settled; communication was slow and uncertain. The scattered
members of the family gradually lost sight of one another and of the
home. My mother belonged to the McIver clan—from the same region of the
Scottish Highlands, and as numerous in North Carolina as the McGilvarys
were scarce. She was born in this country not long after the arrival of
her parents.

I was born May 16th, 1828, being the youngest of seven children. As soon
after my birth as my mother could endure the removal, she was taken to
Fayetteville, thirty-five miles distant, to undergo a dangerous surgical
operation. The journey was a trying one. Anæsthetics were as yet
unknown. My poor mother did not long survive the shock. She died on the
23d of November of that year.

Since feeding-bottles were not then in use, the motherless infant was
passed around to the care of aunts and cousins, who had children of like
age. Two aunts in particular, Catharine McIver and Margaret McNeill, and
a cousin, Effie McIver, always claimed a share in me for their motherly
ministrations till, at last, I could be turned over to my sister Mary.
She, though but six years my senior, was old beyond her years; and the
motherly care with which she watched over her little charge was long
remembered and spoken of in the family.

When I was four years old, my father married his second wife, Miss Nancy
McIntosh. The next nine years, till my father’s death, June 8th, 1841,
were spent in the uneventful routine of a godly family in a country
home. My father’s rigid ideas of family discipline were inherited from
his Presbyterian ancestors in Scotland, and his own piety was of a
distinctly old-school type. He was a ruling elder in the church at
Buffalo, Fayetteville Presbytery, in which office he was succeeded by my
brother, Evander, and three others of his sons became elders in other
churches. No pressure of business was ever allowed to interfere with
family worship night and morning. A psalm or hymn from the old village
hymnbook always formed part of the service. My father was an early
riser, and, in the winter time, family worship was often over before the
dawn. Almost every spare moment of his time he spent in reading Scott’s
Family Bible, the Philadelphia _Presbyterian_, or one of the few books
of devotion which composed the family library. The special treasure of
the book-case was the great quarto Illustrated Family Bible, with the
Apocrypha and Brown’s Concordance, published by M. Carey, Philadelphia,
1815. It was the only pictorial book in the library, and its pictures
were awe-inspiring to us children—especially those in the Book of
Revelation:—The Dragon Chained, The Beast with Seven Heads and Ten
Horns, and the Vision of the Four Seals. These and the solemn themes of
Russell’s _Seven Sermons_—which on rainy days I used to steal away by
myself to read—made a profound impression on me.

Scottish folk always carry the school with the kirk. Free schools were
unknown; but after the crops were “laid by,” we always had a
subscription school, in which my father, with his large family, had a
leading interest. The teacher “boarded around” with the pupils. Our
regular night-task was three questions and answers in the Shorter
Catechism—no small task for boys of ten or twelve years. My memory of
the Catechism once stood me in good stead in after-life. When examined
for licensure by the Orange Presbytery, I was asked, “What is man’s
state by nature?” In reply I gave the answers to the nineteenth and
twentieth questions in the Catechism. A perceptible smile passed over
the faces of many of the presbyters, and Father Lynch said, “He is right
on the Catechism. He will pass.” In those days to be “right on the
Catechism” would atone for many failures in Hodge or Turretin.

The church was at the village of Buffalo, four miles from our home, but
no one of the family was expected to be absent from the family pew on
“the Sabbath.” Carriages were a later luxury in that region. Our two
horses carried father and mother, with the youngest of the little folks
mounted behind, till he should be able to walk with the rest.

The great event of the year was the camp-meeting at the Fall Communion.
It served as an epoch from which the events of the year before and after
it were dated. For weeks before it came, all work on the farm was
arranged with reference to “Buffalo Sacrament”—pronounced with long a in
the first syllable. It was accounted nothing for people to come fifteen,
twenty, or even forty miles to the meetings. Every pew-holder had a
tent, and kept open house. No stranger went away hungry. Neighbouring
ministers were invited to assist the pastor. Services began on Friday,
and closed on Monday, unless some special interest suggested the wisdom
of protracting them further. The regular order was: A sunrise
prayer-meeting, breakfast, a prayer-meeting at nine, a sermon at ten, an
intermission, and then another sermon. The sermons were not accounted of
much worth if they were not an hour long. The pulpit was the tall
old-fashioned boxpulpit with a sounding-board above. For want of room in
the church, the two sermons on Sunday were preached from a stand in the
open air. At the close of the second sermon the ruling elders, stationed
in various parts of the congregation, distributed to the communicants
the “tokens,”[1] which admitted them to the sacramental table. Then, in
solemn procession, the company marched up the rising ground to the
church, singing as they went:

                     “Children of the Heavenly King,
                      As ye journey sweetly sing.”

Footnote 1:

  The “token” was a thin square piece of lead stamped with the initial
  letter of the name of the church.

It was a beautiful sight, and we boys used to climb the hill in advance
to see it. When the audience was seated, there was a brief introductory
exercise. Then a hymn was sung, while a group of communicants filled the
places about the communion table. There was an address by one of the
ministers, during the progress of which the bread and the wine were
passed to the group at the table. Then there was singing again, while
the first group retired, and a second group took its place. The same
ceremony was repeated for them, and again for others, until all
communicants present had participated. The communion service must have
occupied nearly two hours. One thing I remember well—when the children’s
dinner-time came (which was after all the rest had dined), the sun was
low in the heavens, and there was still a night service before us.
Notwithstanding some inward rebellion, it seemed all right then. But the
same thing nowadays would drive all the young people out of the church.

With some diffidence I venture to make one criticism on our home life.
The “Sabbath” was too rigidly observed to commend itself to the judgment
and conscience of children—too rigidly, perhaps, for the most healthy
piety in adults. It is hard to convince boys that to whistle on Sunday,
even though the tune be “Old Hundred,” is a sin deserving of censure. An
afternoon stroll in the farm or the orchard might even have clarified my
father’s vision for the enjoyment of his Scott’s Bible at night. It
would surely have been a means of grace to his boys. But such was the
Scottish type of piety of those days, and it was strongly held. The
family discipline was of the reserved and dignified type, rather than of
the affectionate. Implicit obedience was the law for children. My father
loved his children, but never descended to the level of familiarity with
them when young, and could not sympathize with their sports.

But dark days were coming. Brother John Martin presently married and
moved west. In August, 1840, an infant sister died of quinsy—the first
death I ever witnessed. On June 8th, 1841, the father and “house-bond”
of the family was taken away. The inheritance he left his children was
the example of an upright, spotless life—of more worth than a legacy of
silver and gold. These we might have squandered, but that was

At thirteen, I was small for my age—too small to do a man’s work on the
farm; and there was no money with which to secure for me an education.
Just then occurred one of those casual incidents which often determine
the whole course of one’s life. Mr. Roderick McIntosh, one of my
mother’s cousins, being disabled for hard work on the farm, had learned
the tailor’s trade, and was then living in the village of Pittsboro,
twenty-one miles away. His father was a neighbour of ours, and a man
after my father’s own heart. The two families had thus always been very
intimate. While the question of my destiny was thus in the balance, this
cousin, one day, while on a visit to his father, called at our house. He
had mounted his horse to leave, when, turning to Evander, he asked,
“What is Dan’l going to do?” My brother replied, “There he is; ask him.”
Turning to me, he said, “Well, Dan’l, how would you like to come and
live with me? I will teach you a trade.” I had never thought of such a
thing, nor had it ever been mentioned in the family. But somehow it
struck me favourably. Instinctively I replied, “I believe I should like
it.” A life-question could not have been settled more fortuitously. But
it was the first step on the way to Siam and the Lāo Mission.

On the last day of August, 1841, I bade farewell to the old home, with
all its pleasant associations. Every spot of it was dear, but never so
dear as then. Accompanied by my brother Evander, each of us riding one
of the old family horses, I started out for my new home. The departure
was not utterly forlorn, since Evander was still with me. But the
parting from him, as he started back next day, was probably the hardest
thing I had ever experienced. I had to seek a quiet place and give vent
to a flood of tears. For a time I was inexpressibly sad. I realized, as
never before, that I was cut loose from the old moorings—was alone in
the world. But the sorrows of youth are soon assuaged. No one could have
received a warmer welcome in the new home than I did. There were two
children in the family, and they helped to fill the void made by the

Pittsboro was not a large village, but its outlook was broader than that
of my home. The world seemed larger. I myself felt larger than I had
done as a country boy. I heard discussion of politics and of the
questions of the day. The county was strongly Whig, but Mr. McIntosh was
an unyielding Democrat, and as fond of argument as a politician.
According to southern custom, stores and shops were favourite resorts
for passing away idle time, and for sharpening the wits of the
villagers. The recent Presidential campaign of 1840 furnished unending
themes for discussion in our little shop.

There was no Presbyterian church in Pittsboro at that time. The
church-going population was divided between the Methodist and the
Episcopalian churches, the former being the larger. With my cousin’s
family I attended the Methodist church. On my first Sunday I joined the
Methodist Sunday School, and that school was the next important link in
my chain of life. Its special feature was a system of prizes. A certain
number of perfect answers secured a blue ticket; ten of these brought a
yellow ticket; and yellow tickets, according to the number of them,
entitled the possessor to various prizes—a hymnbook, a Bible, or the
like. On the first Sunday I was put into a class of boys of my own age,
at work on a little primer of one hundred and six questions, all
answered in monosyllables. By the next Sunday I was able to recite the
whole, together with the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed at the
end. It was no great feat; but the teacher and the school thought it
was. So, on the strength of my very first lesson, I got a yellow ticket,
and was promoted to the next higher class. That stimulated my ambition,
and I devoted my every spare hour to study. The next book was one of
questions and answers on the four Gospels. They were very easy; I was
able to commit to memory several hundred answers during the week. In a
few Sundays I got my first prize; and it was not long before I had
secured all the prizes offered in the school. What was of far more value
than the prizes was the greater love for study and for the Scriptures
which the effort had awakened in me, and a desire for an education. The
shop was often idle; I had plenty of time for study, and made the most
of it.

At one of the subsequent Quarterly Meetings, a Rev. Mr. Brainard, who
had considerable reputation as a revivalist, preached one Sunday night a
vivid and thrilling sermon on Noah’s Ark and the Flood. So marked was
the impression on the audience, that, at the close, according to the
Methodist custom, “mourners” were invited to the altar. Many accepted
the invitation. A young friend sitting beside me was greatly affected.
With streaming eyes he said, “Dan’l, let us go, too,” rising up and
starting as he spoke. After a few moments I followed. By this time the
space about the altar was well filled. There was great excitement and no
little confusion—exhortation, singing, and prayer going on all at once.
A number of persons made profession of religion, and soon my young
friend joined them. He was full of joy, and was surprised to find that I
was not so, too. The meetings were continued night after night, and each
night I went to the altar. As I look back upon it from this distance, it
seems to me that, with much exhortation to repent and believe, there was
not enough of clear and definite instruction regarding the plan of
salvation, or the offices and work of Christ. One night, in a quiet hour
at home, the grounds and method of a sinner’s acceptance of Christ
became clear to me, and He became my Lord.

Soon after, when invitation was given to the new converts to join the
church as probationers, I was urged by some good friends to join with
the rest; and was myself not a little inclined to do so. It was no doubt
the influence of my cousin that enabled me to withstand the excitement
of the revival and the gentle pressure of my Methodist friends, and to
join, instead, my father’s old church at Buffalo. But I owe more than I
shall ever know to that Sunday School, and since then I have always
loved the Methodist Church. Meanwhile the prospects for an education
grew no brighter, though Mr. Brantley, then a young graduate in charge
of the Pittsboro Academy, but afterward a distinguished Baptist minister
of Philadelphia, gave me a place in his school at idle times; and a Dr.
Hall used to lend me books to read.

When the opportunity for acquiring an education finally came, it was as
unexpected as a clap of thunder out of a blue sky. The celebrated
Bingham School, now in Asheville, North Carolina, was then, as now, the
most noted in the South. It was started by Rev. William Bingham in
Pittsboro, North Carolina, in the closing years of the eighteenth
century. It was moved to Hillsboro by his son, the late William J.
Bingham, father of the present Principal. The school was patronized by
the leading families of the South. The number of pupils was strictly
limited. To secure a place, application had to be made a year or more in

My surprise, therefore, can well be imagined, when one day Baccus King,
a young boy of the town, walked into the shop with a letter addressed to
Master Daniel McGilvary from no less a personage than William J.
Bingham, the great teacher and Principal. At first I thought I was the
victim of some boyish trick. But there was the signature, and the
explanation that followed removed all doubt. Nathan Stedman, an
influential citizen of Pittsboro, was an early acquaintance and friend
of Mr. Bingham. He had visited the school in person to secure a place
for his nephew, young King, and had brought back with him the letter for
me. What Mr. Bingham knew of me I never discovered. No doubt Mr. Stedman
could have told, though up to that time I had never more than spoken
with him. Be that as it may, there was the letter with its most generous
offer that I take a course in Bingham School at the Principal’s expense.
He was to board me and furnish all necessary expenses, which, after
graduation, I was to refund by teaching. If I became a minister of the
Gospel, the tuition was to be free; otherwise I was to refund that also.
To young King’s enquiry what I would do, I replied, “Of course, I shall
go.” My cousin, Mr. McIntosh, was scarcely less delighted than I was at
the unexpected opening.

The invitation to attend Bingham School came in the fall of 1845, when I
was in my eighteenth year. There were then only two weeks till the
school should open. I had little preparation to make. A pine box painted
red was soon got ready to serve as a trunk, for my wardrobe was by no
means elaborate. Mr. Stedman kindly offered me a seat with Baccus and a
friend of his who was returning to the school. On the way Baccus’ friend
entertained us with stories of the rigid discipline, for this was in the
days when the rod was not spared. I had no fears of the rod, but I
trembled lest I should not sustain myself as well as such great kindness
demanded. It might be a very different thing from winning a reputation
in a Methodist Sunday School.

It was dusk when we reached The Oaks. The family was at supper. Mr.
Bingham came out to receive us. He told Baccus’ friend to take him to
his own old quarters, and, turning to me, said, “I have made
arrangements for you to board with Mr. C., and to room with Mr. K., the
assistant teacher, till my house is finished, when you are to live with
us. But we are at supper now. You must be hungry after your long ride.
Come in and eat with us.” After supper, Mr. Bingham went with me to my
boarding-house, and introduced me to my hosts and to my chum, David
Kerr. He welcomed me, and said he thought we should get along finely
together. We not only did that, but he became a warm friend to whom I
owed much. So I was in the great Bingham School, overwhelmed with a
succession of unexpected kindnesses from so many quarters! What did it
all mean?



My highest anticipations of the school were realized. If there ever was
a born teacher, William J. Bingham was one. Latin and Greek were taught
then by a method very different from the modern one. Before a sentence
was read or translated, the invariable direction was—master your
grammar. In grammar-drill Mr. Bingham could have no superior. Bullion’s
Grammars and Readers were the text-books. The principal definitions were
learned practically verbatim. The coarse print was required of all in
the class. The older pupils were advised to learn notes, exceptions, and
all. I never became so familiar with any other books as with that series
of grammars. We were expected to decline every noun and adjective, alone
or combined, from nominative singular to ablative plural, backwards or
forwards, and to give, at a nod, voice, mood, tense, number, and person
of any verb in the lesson. These exercises became at last so easy that
they were great fun. Even now, sixty years later, I often put myself to
sleep by repeating the old paradigms.

It may seem that my estimate of Mr. Bingham is prejudiced by my sense of
personal obligation to him for his kindness. Yet I doubt not that the
universal verdict of every one who went there to study would be that he
should be rated as one of the world’s greatest teachers. The South owes
much to him for the dignity he gave to the profession of teaching. No
man ever left a deeper impress on me. Thousands of times I have thanked
the Lord for the opportunity to attend his school.

I was graduated from the school in May, 1849, a few days before I was
twenty-one years old. On leaving my kind friends at The Oaks, I was
again at sea. It will be remembered that, by my original agreement, I
was booked for teaching—but I had no idea where. Once more the
unexpected happened. In the midst of negotiations for a school in the
southern part of the state, I was greatly surprised at receiving an
offer from one of the prominent business men of my own town, Pittsboro,
to assist me in organizing a new school of my own there. With much doubt
and hesitation on my part—for there were already two preparatory schools
in the place—the venture was made, and I began with ten pupils taught in
a little business office. The number was considerably increased during
the year. But when the second year opened, I was put in charge of the
Academy, whose Principal had resigned. Here, in work both pleasant and
fairly profitable, I remained until the four years for which I had
agreed to stay were up.

I had by no means reached my ideal. But, as my friends had predicted, it
had been a success. Some of my warmest supporters were sure that I was
giving up a certainty for an uncertainty, in not making teaching my
life-work. It had evidently been the hope of my friends from the first
that I would make Pittsboro my home, and build up a large and permanent
school there. But my purpose of studying for the ministry had never
wavered, and that made it easier for me to break off.

During these four years my relations with the newly organized
Presbyterian church had been most pleasant and profitable. There was no
resisting the appeal that I should become ruling elder. The
superintendency of the Sunday School also fell naturally to me, and
opened up another field of usefulness. The friendship formed with the
pastor, the Rev. J. H. McNeill, is one of the pleasant memories of my

One feature of the church connection must not be passed over. Neither of
the other elders was so circumstanced as to be able to attend the
meetings of the Orange Presbytery. Three of the leading professors in
the University were members of the Presbytery, and all the leading
schools within its bounds were taught by Presbyterian ministers or
elders. To accommodate this large group of teachers, the meetings were
held in midsummer and midwinter. Thus it fell to my lot to represent the
Pittsboro church at the Presbytery during nearly the whole of the four
years of my stay in Pittsboro. As it was then constituted, its meetings
were almost equal to a course in church government. The Rev. J. Doll,
one of the best of parliamentarians, was stated clerk. A group of
members such as the two Drs. Phillips, father and son, Dr. Elisha
Mitchell, of the University, and many others that could be named, would
have made any assembly noted. Professor Charles Phillips, as chairman of
the committee on candidates for the ministry, came into closer touch
with me than most of the others. He afterwards followed my course in the
Seminary with an interest ripening into a friendship which continued
throughout his life.

The meetings of the Presbytery were not then merely formal business
meetings. They began on Wednesday and closed on Monday. They were looked
forward to by the church in which they were to be held as spiritual and
intellectual feasts. To the members themselves they were seasons of
reunion, where friendships were cemented, and where wits were sharpened
by intellectual conflicts, often before crowded congregations.

Union Seminary, now of Richmond, Virginia, has always been under the
direction of the Synods of North Carolina and Virginia; and there were
strong reasons why students from those Synods should study there. They
were always reminded of that obligation. But the high reputation of Drs.
Hodge and Alexander was a strong attraction toward Princeton. My pastor
and Professor Phillips, chairman of the committee in charge of me, had
both studied there. So I was allowed to have my preference. No doubt
this proved another stepping-stone to Siam. Union Seminary was not then
enthusiastic in regard to foreign missions, as it has since become. At
the last meeting of Presbytery that I was to attend, Dr. Alexander
Wilson moved that, inasmuch as Orange Presbytery owned a scholarship in
Princeton Seminary, I be assigned to it. To my objection that I had made
money to pay my own way, he replied, “You will have plenty of need of
your money. You can buy books with it.” I followed the suggestion and
laid in a good library.



                          MINISTERIAL TRAINING

I entered Princeton Seminary in the fall of 1853. I did not lodge in the
Seminary building, but, through the kindness of Rev. Daniel
Derouelle—whom, as agent of the American Bible Society, I had come to
know during his visits to Pittsboro—I found a charming home in his
family. There were, of course, some disadvantages in living a mile and a
half away from the Seminary. I could not have the same intimate
relations with my fellow students which I might have had if lodged in
the Seminary. But I had the delightful home-life which most of them
missed altogether. And the compulsory exercise of two, or sometimes
three, trips a day, helped to keep me in health throughout my course. I
became, indeed, a first-rate walker—an accomplishment which has since
stood me in good stead in all my life abroad.

Being from the South, and not a college graduate, as were most of the
students, I felt lonesome enough when, on the first morning of the
session, I entered the Oratory and looked about me without discovering a
single face that I knew. But at the close of the lecture some one who
had been told by a friend to look out for me, touched me on the
shoulder, made himself known, and then took me off to introduce me to J.
Aspinwall Hodge, who was to be a classmate of mine. No man ever had a
purer or a better friend than this young man, afterward Dr. J. Aspinwall
Hodge; and I never met a friend more opportunely.

Of our revered teachers and of the studies of the Seminary course there
is no need to speak here. Our class was a strong one. Among its members
were such men as Gayley, Mills, Jonathan Wilson, Nixon, Lefevre, and
Chaney. Of these Gayley and Mills were already candidates for missionary
work abroad. In other classes were Robert McMullen and Isidore
Loewenthal, destined to become martyrs in Cawnpore and Peshawur. Many
were the stirring appeals we heard from these men. Dr. Charles Hodge,
too, had given a son to India; and he never spoke more impressively than
when he was pleading the cause of foreign missions. Princeton, moreover,
because of its proximity to New York and to the headquarters of the
various missionary societies established there, was a favourite field
for the visits of the Secretaries of these organizations, and of
returned missionaries. A notable visit during my first year was that of
Dr. Alexander Duff, then in his prime. No one who heard him could forget
his scathing criticism of the church for “playing at missions,” or his
impassioned appeals for labourers.

So the question was kept constantly before me. But during the first two
years, the difficulty of the acquisition of a foreign language by a
person not gifted in his own, seemed an obstacle well-nigh insuperable.
Conscience suggested a compromise. Within the field of Home Missions was
there not equal need of men to bring the bread of life to those who were
perishing without it? With the object of finding some such opportunity,
I spent my last vacation, in the summer of 1855, in Texas as agent of
the American Sunday School Union.

Texas afforded, indeed, great opportunities for Christian work; but in
the one object of my quest—a field where Christ was not preached—I was
disappointed. In every small village there was already a church—often
more than one. Even in country schoolhouses Methodists, Baptists, and
Cumberland Presbyterians had regular Sunday appointments, each having
acquired claim to a particular Sunday of the month. Conditions were such
that the growth of one sect usually meant a corresponding weakening of
the others. It was possible, of course, to find local exceptions. But it
is easier even now to find villages by the hundred, with three, four,
and even five Protestant churches, aided by various missionary
societies; where all the inhabitants, working together, could do no more
than support one church well. This may be necessary; but it is surely a
great waste.

From this trip I had just returned with these thoughts in my mind, and
was entering upon my senior year, when it was announced that Dr. S. R.
House, a missionary from Siam, would address the students. Expectation
was on tiptoe to hear from this new kingdom of Siam. The address was a
revelation to us all. The opening of the kingdom to American
missionaries by the reigning monarch, Mahā Mongkut—now an old story—was
new then, and sounded like a veritable romance. My hesitation was ended.
Here was not merely a village or a parish, but a whole kingdom, just
waking from its long, dark, hopeless sleep. Every sermon I preached
there might be to those who had never heard that there is a God in
heaven who made them, or a Saviour from sin.

The appeal was for volunteers to go at once. None, however, of the men
who had announced themselves as candidates for service abroad were
available for Siam. They were all pledged to other fields. The call
found Jonathan Wilson and myself in much the same state of expectancy,
waiting for a clear revelation of duty. After anxious consultation and
prayer together, and with Dr. House, we promised him that we would give
the matter our most serious thought. If the Lord should lead us thither,
we would go.

Meanwhile the Rev. Andrew B. Morse had been appointed a missionary to
Siam, and the immediate urgency of the case was thus lightened. Shortly
before the close of my Seminary course, in 1856, there came to me a call
to the pastorate of two contiguous churches, those of Carthage and of
Union, in my native county in North Carolina. The call seemed a
providential one, and I accepted it for one year only. My classmate,
Wilson, soon after accepted a call to work among the Indians in Spencer

My parish was an admirable one for the training of a young man. The
church at Union was one of the oldest in the state. The church at
Carthage, five miles away, was a colony from Union. No distinct
geographical line separated the two. Many of the people regularly
attended both. That, of course, made the work harder for a young pastor.
The extreme limits of the two parishes were fifteen miles apart. But
these were church-going folk, mostly of Scottish descent—not
“dry-weather Christians.” The pastorate had been vacant a whole year.

At the first morning service the church was crowded to its utmost
capacity. Some came, no doubt, from curiosity to hear the new preacher;
but most of them were hungry for the Gospel. They had all known my
father; and some had known me—or known of me—from boyhood. I could not
have had a more sympathetic audience, as I learned from the words of
appreciation and encouragement spoken to me after church—especially
those spoken by my brother, who was present.

The year passed rapidly. The work had prospered and was delightful. In
it I formed the taste for evangelistic touring, which was afterwards to
be my work among the Lāo. There had been a number of accessions in both
churches. It was easy to become engrossed in one’s first charge among a
people so sympathetic, and to overlook far-away Siam. Indeed, I had
become so far influenced by present surroundings as to allow my name to
be laid before a meeting of the congregation with a view to becoming
their permanent pastor. Their choice of me was unanimous. Moreover, I
had been dismissed from my old Presbytery to the one within whose bounds
my parish was. The regular meeting of the latter was not far off, when
arrangements were to be made for my ordination and installation.

As the time drew near, do what I might, my joy in accepting the call
seemed marred by the thought of Siam. I learned that the Siamese
Mission, instead of growing stronger, was becoming weaker. Mr. Morse’s
health had completely broken down during his first year in the field. He
was then returning to the United States. Mrs. Mattoon had already come
back an invalid. Her husband, after ten years in Siam, was greatly in
need of a change; but was holding on in desperation, hoping against hope
that he might be relieved.

The question of my going to Siam, which had been left an open one, must
now soon be settled by my accepting or declining. I needed counsel, but
knew not on what earthly source to call. When the question of Siam first
came up in Princeton, I had written to leading members of the Orange
Presbytery for advice, stating the claims of Siam so strongly that I was
sure these men would at least give me some encouragement toward going.
But the reply I had from one of them was typical of all the rest: “We do
not know about Siam; but we do know of such and such a church and of
such and such a field vacant here in Orange Presbytery. Still, of
course, it _may_ be your duty to go to Siam.” In that quarter, surely,
there was no light for me. So I devoted Saturday, August 1st, to fasting
and prayer for guidance. In the woods back of the Carthage church and
the Academy, the decision was finally reached. I would go.

Next morning I stopped my chief elder on his way to church, and informed
him of my decision. After listening to my statement of the case, he
replied, “Of course, if it is settled, there’s nothing more to be said.”
It chanced that Mr. Russell, my former assistant in the Pittsboro
Academy, had just finished his theological course; and, wholly without
reference to the question pending in my mind, had arranged to preach for
me that day. The session was called together before service, was
notified of my decision, and was reminded that the preacher of the day
would be available as a successor to me. He preached a good sermon, had
a conference with the session afterwards, and was virtually engaged that
day. The following week brought notice of my appointment as missionary
to Siam.

The last communion season of that year was one of more than usual
interest. The meetings began on Friday. Since the minds of the
congregation were already on the subject of foreign missions, and since
Dr. McKay, from my home church, had been appointed by the Synod to
preach on that subject at its coming session in Charlotte, I prevailed
upon him to preach to us the sermon that he had prepared. The text was
from Romans x:14, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” No subject
could have been more appropriate to the occasion. It produced a profound
impression. Some were affected to tears.

The sermon was a good preparation for the communion service that
followed. At the night service there was deep seriousness throughout the
congregation, and a general desire to have the meetings continued. On
Monday there was an unexpectedly large congregation. At the busiest
season of the year farmers had left their crops to come. The meetings
soon grew to be one protracted prayer-meeting, with occasional short
applications of Scripture to the questions which were already pressing
upon our minds.

Finally, after the meetings had been continued from Friday until
Wednesday week, they were reluctantly brought to a close; both because
it seemed unwise to interrupt longer the regular life of the community,
and also because the leaders no longer had the voice to carry them on.
As a result of the meetings, there were about eighty accessions to the
two Presbyterian churches, as well as a number to other churches. Many
asked if I did not see in the revival reason to change my mind and
remain. But the effect on me was just the opposite. It was surely the
best preparation I could have had for the long test of faith while
waiting for results in Siam.

Inasmuch as my certificate of dismissal had never been formally
presented to the Fayetteville Presbytery, I preferred to return it to my
old Orange Presbytery, and to receive my ordination at its hands. On
December 11th, the Presbytery met at my old home in Pittsboro. The
installation of a foreign missionary was new to the Presbytery, as well
as to the church and the community. When the ordaining prayer was ended,
there seemed to be but few dry eyes in the congregation. It was a day I
had little dreamed of sixteen years before, when I first came to
Pittsboro an orphan boy and an apprentice. I felt very small for the
great work so solemnly committed to me. Missionary fields were further
off in those days than they are now, and the undertaking seemed greater.
The future was unknown; but in God was my trust—and He has led me.




On reaching New York I went directly to the Mission House, then at 23
Centre Street. As I mounted the steps, the first man I met on the
landing was Jonathan Wilson. We had exchanged a few letters, and each
knew that the other had not forgotten Siam; but neither expected to meet
the other there. “Where are you going?” said one. “I am on my way to
Siam,” said the other. “So am I,” was the reply. In the meantime he had
married and, with his young wife, was in New York awaiting passage. We
took the first opportunity that offered, the clipper ship _David Brown_,
bound for Singapore, and sailing on March 11th, 1858.

Sailors have a tradition that it is unlucky to have missionaries on
board; but the weather was propitious throughout, and the voyage a
prosperous one. We three were the only passengers, and we proved to be
good sailors. Our fare was reasonably good. We had plenty of good
reading, and soon settled down to steady work. The ship was somewhat
undermanned; and this fact was given as an excuse for not having service
on Sundays. But we had a daily prayer-meeting throughout the voyage,
with just a sufficient number present to plead the promise: “Where two
or three are gathered together in my name.” We also had free access to
the men in the forecastle when off duty.

We had the excitement of an ocean race with a twin ship of the same
line, which was to sail a week after us. As we reached Anjer Straits on
the seventy-eighth day out, a sail loomed up which proved to be our
competitor. She had beaten us by a week! Ten days later we reached
Singapore, where, indeed, we met no brethren, but were met by welcome
letters from Siam. Like Paul at the Three Taverns, “we thanked God and
took courage.” One of the letters ran thus:

    “Those were good words that came to our half-discouraged
    band—the tidings that we are to have helpers in our work.... In
    our loneliness we have sometimes been tempted to feel that our
    brethren at home had forgotten us. But we rejoice to know that
    there are hearts in the church which sympathize with us, and
    that you are willing to come and participate with us in our
    labours and trials, our joys and sorrows, for we have both.”

We were fortunate to secure very early passage for Bangkok. On Friday,
June 18th, we reached the bar at the mouth of the Mênam River. The next
day we engaged a small schooner to take us up to Bangkok. With a strong
tide against us, we were not able that evening to get further than
Mosquito Point—the most appropriately-named place in all that land—only
to learn that we could not reach Bangkok until Monday afternoon. There
was no place to sleep on board; and no sleeping would have been
possible, had there been a place. By two o’clock in the morning we could
endure it no longer;—the mosquito contest was too unequal. At last we
found a man and his wife who would take us to the city in their
two-oared skiff.

Fifty years’ residence in Siam has not surpassed the romance of that
night’s ride. Leaving our goods behind, we seated ourselves in the tiny
craft. With gunwales but two inches above the water’s edge, we skimmed
along through a narrow winding canal overhung with strange tropical
trees. The moon was full, but there was a haze in the air, adding
weirdness to things but dimly seen. The sight of our first Buddhist
monastery, with its white columns and grotesque figures, made us feel as
if we were passing through some fairyland.

Just at dawn on Sunday morning, June 20th, 1858, we landed at the
mission compound. Our quick passage of only one hundred days took our
friends by surprise. Dr. House, roused by our voices on the veranda,
came _en déshabillé_ to the door to see what was the matter. Finding who
we were, the eager man thrust his hand through a vacant square of the
sash, and shook hands with us so, before he would wait to open the door.
We were in Bangkok! It was as if we had waked up in a new world—in the
Bangkok to which we had looked forward as the goal of our hopes; which
was to be, as we supposed, the home of our lives.

The Rev. Mr. Mattoon was still at his post, awaiting our coming. Mrs.
Mattoon and her daughters had been compelled to leave for home some time
before our arrival. And not long thereafter Mr. Mattoon followed them on
his furlough, long overdue. Besides the two men of our own mission, we
found in Bangkok the Rev. Dan B. Bradley, M.D., who was conducting a
self-supporting mission; Rev. S. J. Smith, and Rev. R. Telford of the
Baptist mission.

Since neither Bangkok nor Lower Siam proved to be my permanent home, I
shall content myself with a very summary account of the events of the
next three years.

The first work of a new missionary is to acquire the language of the
country. His constant wish is, Oh for a gift of tongues to speak to the
people! As soon as a teacher could be found, I settled to work at my
_kaw_, _kā_, _ki_, _kī_[2]. No ambitious freshman has such an incentive
for study as has the new missionary. It is well if he does not confine
himself to grammar and dictionary, as he did in the case of his Latin,
Greek, and Hebrew. Pallegoix’s _Dictionarium Linguae Thai_, and his
short _Grammar_ in Latin, were all the foreign helps we had. The syntax
of the language is easy; but the “tones,” the “aspirates,” and
“inaspirates,” are perplexing beyond belief. You try to say “fowl.” No,
that is “egg.” You mean to say “rice,” but you actually say “mountain.”

Footnote 2:

  The first exercise of the Siamese Spelling-book.

A thousand times a day the new missionary longs to open his mouth, but
his lips are sealed. It is a matter of continual regret that he cannot
pour out his soul in the ardour of his first love, unchilled by the
deadening influences to which it is sure to be subjected later. But the
delay is not an unmitigated evil. He is in a new world, in which he is
constantly reminded of the danger of giving offence by a breach of
custom as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. A bright
little boy runs up and salutes you. You stroke his long black hair, only
to be reminded by one of your seniors—“Oh! you must _never_ do that! It
is a mortal offence to lay your hand on a person’s head.” So, while you
are learning the language, you are learning other things as well, and of
no less importance.

In the mission school there was a class of bright boys named Nê, Dit,
Chûn, Kwāi, Henry, and one girl, Tūan. To my great delight, Dr. House
kindly turned them over to me. It made me think I was doing something,
and I really was. I soon became deeply interested in these children. Nê
grew to be an important business man and an elder in the church; Tūan’s
family became one of the most influential in the church. Her two sons,
the late Bun It and Elder Bun Yī of the First Church in Chiengmai, have
been among the very best fruits of the mission; though my personal share
in their training was, of course, very slight. In the September after
our arrival there was organized the Presbytery of Siam, with the four
men of the mission as its constituent members. During the first two
years, moreover, I made a number of tours about the country—sometimes
alone, oftener with Dr. House, and once with Mr. Wilson.

I had the pleasure of meeting His Majesty the King of Siam, not only at
his birthday celebrations, to which foreigners were invited, but once,
also, at a public audience on the occasion of the presentation of a
letter from President James Buchanan of the United States. This was
through the courtesy of Mr. J. H. Chandler, the acting United States
Consul. Two royal state barges were sent down to the Consulate to
receive the President’s letter and the consular party. Siamese etiquette
requires that the letter be accorded the same honour as would be given
the President in person. In the first barge was the letter, placed in a
large golden urn, with a pyramidal cover of gold, and escorted by the
four officers who attend upon His Majesty when he appears in public. In
the second barge was the consular party.

After a magnificent ride of four miles up the river, we were met at the
palace by gilded palanquins for the members of the party, while the
letter, in a special palanquin and under the golden umbrella, led the
way to the Palace, some quarter of a mile distant. At the Palace gate a
prince of rank met us, and ushered us into the royal presence, where His
Majesty sat on his throne of gold, richly overhung with gilded tapestry.
Advancing toward the throne, and bowing low, we took our stand erect,
while every high prince and nobleman about us was on bended knees, not
daring to raise his eyes above the floor.

The Consul then read a short introductory speech, stepped forward, and
placed the letter in the extended hands of the King. Having glanced over
it, the King handed it to his secretary, who read it aloud, His Majesty
translating the substance of it to the princes and nobles present. The
King then arose, put his scarf about his waist, girded on his golden
sword, came down, and shook hands with each of the party. Then, with a
wave of his hand, he said, “We have given President Buchanan the first
public reception in our new palace,” adding, “I honour President
Buchanan very much.” He escorted the party around the room, showing us
the portraits of George Washington, President Pierce, Queen Victoria,
and Prince Albert. Then, turning to the proper officer, he directed him
to conduct us to an adjoining room to partake of a luncheon prepared for
us; and, with a bow, withdrew.

After “tiffin,” we were escorted to the landing as we had come, and
returned in like state in the royal barge to the Consulate. Altogether
it was a notable occasion.


  KING OF SIAM, 1851-1872]

Of the tours undertaken in Lower Siam, the one which led to the most
lasting results was one in 1859 to Pechaburī, which has since become
well known as one of our mission stations. For companion on this trip I
had Cornelius Bradley, son of the Rev. Dr. Bradley of Bangkok. Shortly
before this a rising young nobleman, and a liberal-minded friend of
foreigners, had been assigned to the place ostensibly of
lieutenant-governor (Pra Palat) of Pechaburī, but practically of
governor. He was a brother of the future Regent; had been on the first
embassy to England; and at a later period became Minister for Foreign
Affairs. At our call, His Excellency received us very kindly, and before
we left invited us to dine with him on the following evening.

The dinner was one that would have done credit to any hostess in
America. I was still more surprised when, at the table, addressing me by
a title then given to all missionaries, he said, “Maw” (Doctor), “I want
you to come and live in Pechaburī. You have no family. I will furnish
you a house, and give you every assistance you need. You can teach as
much Christianity as you please, if only you will teach my son English.
If you want a school, I will see that you have pupils.” I thanked him
for the offer, but could only tell him that I would think the matter
over. It might be, after all, only a Siamese cheap compliment. It seemed
too good to be true. It was, however, directly in the line of my own
thoughts. I had come to Siam with the idea of leaving the great
commercial centres, and making the experiment among a rural population
like that of my North Carolina charge.

The next day the Pra Palat called on us at our _sālā_,[3] and again
broached the subject. He was very anxious to have his son study English.
In my mission work I should be untrammelled. Before leaving us, he
mentioned the matter again. It was this time no courteous evasion when I
told him I would come if I could.—What did it all mean?

Footnote 3:

  A public rest-house or shelter, such as Buddhist piety provides
  everywhere for travellers, but especially in connection with the

I returned to Bangkok full of enthusiasm for Pechaburī. The more I
pondered it, the greater the offer seemed to be. Beyond my predilection
for a smaller city or for rural work, I actually did not like Bangkok.
Pechaburī, however, was beyond the limits of treaty rights. Permission
to establish a station there could be had only by sufferance from a
government not hitherto noted for liberality. Here was an invitation
equivalent to a royal permit, and with no further red tape about it. I
could see only one obstacle in the way. The senior member of the
mission—the one who was naturally its head—I feared would not approve.
And he did, indeed, look askance at the proposition. He doubted whether
we could trust the promises made. And then to go so far away alone! But
I thought I knew human nature well enough to trust that man. As to being
alone, I was willing to risk that. Possibly it might not be best to ride
a free horse too freely. I would go with my own equipment, and be at
least semi-independent; though the Palat had said that he did not mind
the expense, if only he could get his son taught English.

There could at least be no objection to making an experimental visit,
and then continuing it as long as might seem wise. Pechaburī is within
thirty hours of Bangkok. If taken sick, I could run over in a day or
two. With that understanding, and with the tacit rather than the
expressed sanction of the mission, I began to make preparations.

At last my preparations were complete, even to baking bread for the
trip. I had fitted up a touring-boat of my own, and had engaged captain
and boatmen; when, on the day before I was to start, cholera, which for
some time had been sporadic in Bangkok, suddenly became epidemic. Till
then Dr. James Campbell, physician to the British Consulate, and our
medical authority, thought that with caution and prudence I might safely
go. A general panic now arose all over the land. Dr. Bradley came to
tell me that deaths were occurring hourly on the canal by which I was to
travel. To go then would be to tempt providence. I had earnestly sought
direction, and it came in a way little expected.

The first man I met next morning was Dr. House, coming home from Mr.
Wilson’s. He had been called in the night to attend Mrs. Wilson, who had
been suddenly attacked with “the disease,” as the natives
euphemistically call it, being superstitiously afraid of uttering the
name. Dr. House had failed to check it, and sent me to call Dr.
Campbell. But he was not at home, and did not get the message till near
noon. By that time the patient had reached the stage when collapse was
about to ensue. The disease was finally arrested, but Mrs. Wilson was
left in a very precarious condition.

Meanwhile her little daughter Harriet was also taken ill, and for a time
the life of both mother and daughter was in suspense. The child lingered
on till May 13th, when she was taken to a better clime. On July 14th the
mother, too, ceased from her suffering, and entered on her everlasting

During these months, of course, all thoughts of Pechaburī had been
abandoned; nor would it then have been deemed wise to travel during the
wet season. Before the next dry season came, Bangkok began to have more
attractions, and I had become less ambitious to start a new station
alone. On the 11th of September I became engaged to Miss Sophia Royce
Bradley, daughter of the Rev. D. B. Bradley, M.D. On December 6th, 1860,
we were married. In my wife I found a helpmeet of great executive
ability, and admirably qualified for the diversified work before us. It
was something, too, to have inherited the best traditions of one of the
grand missionaries of his age.[4]

Footnote 4:

  Dr. Bradley’s life would be the best history we could have of Siam
  during its transition period. He left a voluminous diary, and it was
  from his pen that most of the exact information concerning Siam was
  long derived.

Samrē, our mission station in Bangkok, was four miles distant from the
heart of the city. We greatly needed a more central station for our
work. Dr. Bradley offered us the use of a house on his own premises—one
of the most desirable situations in Bangkok—if we would come and live
there. The mission accepted his generous offer. With reluctance I
resigned whatever claim I might have to be the pioneer of the new
station at Pechaburī. We were settled, as it would seem, for life, in




By this time the mission generally had become interested in the
establishment of a new station at Pechaburī. Dr. and Mrs. House were
designated for the post. The Doctor actually went to Pechaburī; procured
there, through the help of our friend the Palat, a lot with a house on
it; and thus committed the mission to the project. But the day before he
was to start homeward to prepare for removal thither, he was so
seriously hurt by a fall from his horse that he was confined to his bed
for several months. It was even feared that he was permanently disabled
for active life. A new adjustment of our personnel was thus
necessitated. Dr. Mattoon had just returned from the United States with
the Rev. S. G. McFarland, the Rev. N. A. McDonald, and their wives. Dr.
Mattoon could not be spared from Bangkok, nor was he enthusiastic over
the new station. Mr. McDonald had no desire for such experiments. Both
Mr. and Mrs. McFarland were anxious to move, but were too new to the
field to be sent out alone. They were urgent that we should go with
them. My opportunity had come. So, early in June, 1861, we broke up the
first home of our married life, and, in company with the McFarlands,
moved on to our new home and our new work.

Our friend, the Pra Palat, seemed pleased that we had come, after all.
His slight knowledge of English had been learned as a private pupil from
Mrs. McGilvary’s own mother. He was glad, whenever he had leisure, to
continue his studies with Mrs. McGilvary. Mr. McFarland preferred school
work. He took the son that I was to have taught, and left me
untrammelled to enter upon evangelistic work. The half-hour after each
evening meal we spent in united prayer for guidance and success. Two
servants of each family were selected as special subjects of prayer; and
these, in due time, we had the pleasure of welcoming into the church.

Of the incidents of our Pechaburī life I have room for but a single one.
As we were rising from the dinner-table one Sunday shortly after our
arrival, we were surprised to see a man coming up the steps and crossing
the veranda in haste, as if on a special errand. He led by the hand a
little boy of ten or twelve years, and said, “I want to commit this son
of mine into your care. I want you to teach him.” Struck by his earnest
manner, we drew from him these facts: He was a farmer named Nāi Kawn,
living some five miles out in the country. He had just heard of our
arrival, had come immediately, and was very glad to find us.

We asked whether he had ever met a missionary before. No, he said, but
his father—since dead—had once met Dr. Bradley, and had received a book
from him. He had begged other books from neighbours who had received
them but did not value them. Neither did he at first, till the great
cholera scourge of 1849, when people were dying all around him. He was
greatly alarmed, and learned from one of the books that Pra Yēsū heard
prayer in trouble, and could save from sin. For a long time he prayed
for light, until, about three years ago, he believed in Jesus, and was
now happy in heart. He had heard once of Dr. Bradley’s coming to
Pechaburī, but not until he was gone again. He preached to his
neighbours, who called him “Kon Pra Yēsū” (Lord Jesus’ man). He had
prayed for Dr. Bradley and the missionaries; he had read the story of
Moses, the Epistle to the Romans, the Gospel of John, a tract on Prayer,
and “The Golden Balance”; and he believed them. He could repeat portions
of Romans and John verbatim; and he had his son repeat the Lord’s

My subject at the afternoon service was Nicodemus and the New Birth. Nāi
Kawn sat spellbound, frequently nodding assent. At the close we asked
him to speak a few words; which he did with great clearness. On being
questioned as to the Trinity, he replied that he was not sure whether he
understood it. He gathered, however, that Jehovah was the Father and
Ruler; that the Son came to save us by dying for us; and that the Holy
Spirit is the Comforter. The difference between Jesus and Buddha is that
the latter entered into Nirvana, and that was the last of him; while
Jesus lives to save. He even insisted that he had seen a vision of Jesus
in heaven. His other experiences were characterized by such marks of
soberness that we wondered whether his faith might not have been
strengthened by a dream or a vision.

This incident, coming so soon after our arrival, greatly cheered us in
our work. His subsequent story is too long to follow out in detail here.
His piety and his sincerity were undoubted. He lived and died a
Christian; yet he never fully identified himself with the church. He
insisted that he had been baptized by the Holy Ghost, and that there was
no need of further baptism. Not long after this Dr. Bradley and Mr.
Mattoon visited Pechaburī, examined the man, and were equally surprised
at his history.

                  *       *       *       *       *

What changed our life-work from the Siamese to the Lāo? There were two
principal causes. The various Lāo states which are now a part of Siam,
were then ruled by feudal princes, each virtually sovereign within his
own dominions, but all required to pay a triennial visit to the Siamese
capital, bringing the customary gifts to their suzerain, the King of
Siam, and renewing their oath of allegiance to him. Their realms served,
moreover, as a “buffer” between Siam and Burma. There were six of these
feudal principalities. Five of them occupied the basins of five chief
tributaries of the Mênam River; namely—in order from west to
east—Chiengmai, Lampūn, Lakawn, Prê, and Nān. The sixth was Lūang
Prabāng on the Mê Kōng River. The rapids on all these streams had served
as an effectual barrier in keeping the northern and the southern states
quite separate. There was no very frequent communication in trade. There
was no mail communication. Official despatches were passed along from
one governor to the next. Very little was known in Bangkok about the Lāo
provinces of the north. A trip from Bangkok to Chiengmai seemed then
like going out of the world. Only one Englishman, Sir Robert Schomburgk
of the British Consulate in Bangkok, had ever made it.



Of these Lāo states, Chiengmai was the most important. After it came
Nān, then Lūang Prabāng (since ceded to the French), Lakawn, Prê, and
Lampūn. The Lāo people were regarded in Siam as a very warlike race; one
chieftain in particular being famed as a great warrior. They were withal
said to be suspicious and unreliable.

Almost the only visible result of my six months’ stay within the city of
Bangkok, after my marriage, was the formation of a slight acquaintance
with the Prince of Chiengmai and his family. Just before my marriage he
had arrived in Bangkok with a great flotilla of boats and a great
retinue of attendants. The grounds of Wat Chêng monastery, near to Dr.
Bradley’s compound, had always been their stopping-place. The
consequence was that, of all the missionaries, Dr. Bradley had become
best acquainted with them and most deeply interested in them. He
earnestly cultivated their friendship, invited them to his
printing-office and to his house, and continually preached unto them the
Gospel. They were much interested in vaccination, which he had
introduced, and were delighted to find that it protected them from

The day after our marriage, in response to a present of some wedding
cake, the Prince himself, with his two daughters and a large train of
attendants, called on us in our new home. This was my first introduction
to Chao Kāwilōrot and his family, who were to play so important a rôle
in my future life. All that I saw of him and of his people interested me
greatly. During the short time we remained in their neighbourhood, I
made frequent visits to the Lāo camp. The subject of a mission in
Chiengmai was talked of, with apparent approval on the part of the
Prince. My interest in Pechaburī was increased by the knowledge that
there was a large colony of Lāo[5] there. These were captives of war
from the region of Khōrāt, bearing no very close resemblance to our
later parishioners in the north. At the time of our stay in Pechaburī,
the Lāo in that province were held as government slaves, engaged all day
on various public works—a circumstance which greatly impeded our access
to them, and at the same time made it more difficult for them to embrace
Christianity. Neither they nor we dared apply to the government for the
requisite sanction, lest thereby their case be made worse. Our best
opportunity for work among them was at night. My most pleasant memories
of Pechaburī cluster about scenes in Lāo villages, when the whole
population would assemble, either around a camp-fire or under the bright
light of the moon, to listen till late in the night to the word of God.
The conversion of Nāi Ang, the first one from that colony, anticipated
that of Nān Inta, and the larger ingathering in the North.

Footnote 5:

  The application of this name is by no means uniform throughout the
  peninsula. From Lūang Prabāng southward along the eastern frontier,
  the tribes of that stock call themselves Lāo, and are so called by
  their neighbours. But the central and western groups do not
  acknowledge the name as theirs at all, but call themselves simply Tai;
  or if a distinction must be made, they call themselves Kon Nûa
  (Northerners), and the Siamese, Kon Tai (Southerners). The Siamese, on
  the other hand, also call themselves Tai, which is really the
  race-name, common to all branches of the stock; and they apply the
  name Lāo alike to all their northern cousins except the Ngīo, or
  Western Shans. Nothing is known of the origin of the name, but the
  same root no doubt appears in such tribal and geographical names as
  Lawā, Lawa, Lawō—the last being the name of the famous abandoned
  capital now known as Lophburi.—ED.

But there was more than a casual connection between the two. My labours
among them increased the desire, already awakened in me, to reach the
home of the race. Here was another link in the chain of providences by
which I was led to my life-work. The time, however, was not yet ripe.
The available force of the mission was not yet large enough to justify
further expansion. Moreover, our knowledge of the Lāo country was not
such as to make possible any comprehensive and intelligent plans for a
mission there. The first thing to do was evidently to make a tour of
exploration. The way to such a tour was opened in the fall of 1863. The
Presbytery of Siam met in Bangkok early in November. I had so arranged
my affairs that, if the way should open, I could go north directly,
without returning to Pechaburī. I knew that Mr. Wilson was free, and I
thought he would favour the trip. This he readily did, and the mission
gave its sanction. So I committed my wife and our two-year-old daughter
to the care of loving grandparents, and, after a very hasty preparation,
we started on the 20th of November in search of far-away Chiengmai.

The six-oared touring-boat which I had fitted up in my bachelor days was
well adapted for our purpose as far as the first fork of the Mênam. The
Siamese are experts with the oar, but are unused to the setting-pole,
which is well-nigh the only resource all through the upper reaches of
the river. It was sunset on a Friday evening before we finally got off.
But it was a start; and it proved to be one of the straws on which the
success of the trip depended. The current against us was very strong; so
we slept within the city limits that night. We spent all day Saturday
traversing a canal parallel with the river, where the current was
weaker. It was sunset before we entered again the main stream, and
stopped to spend Sunday at a monastery. To our great surprise we found
that the Prince of Chiengmai—of whose coming we had had no
intimation—had camped there the night before, and had passed on down to
Bangkok that very morning. We had missed him by taking the canal!

We were in doubt whether we ought not to return and get a letter from
him. A favourable letter would be invaluable; but he might refuse, or
even forbid our going. If we may judge from what we afterwards knew of
his suspicious nature, such probably would have been the outcome. At any
rate, it would delay us; and we had already a passport from the Siamese
government which would ensure our trip. And, doubtless, we did
accomplish our design with more freedom because of the Prince’s absence
from his realm. It was apparently a fortuitous thing that our men knew
of the more sluggish channel, and so missed the Lāo flotilla. But it is
quite possible that upon that choice depended the establishment of the
Lāo mission.

All went well until we reached the first fork at Pāknam Pō. There the
water came rushing down like a torrent, so swift that oars were of no
avail. We tried first one side of the stream and then the other, but all
in vain. Our boatmen exchanged their oars for poles. But they were
awkward and unaccustomed to their use. The boat would inevitably drift
down stream. The poor boatmen laughed despairingly at their own failure.
At last a rope was suggested. The men climbed the bank, and dragged the
boat around the point to where the current was less swift. But when, as
often happened, it became necessary to cross to the other side of the
river, the first push off the bank would send us into water so deep that
a fifteen-foot pole could not reach bottom. Away would go the boat some
hundreds of yards down stream before we could bring up on the opposite
bank. We reached Rahêng, however, in nineteen travelling days—which was
not by any means bad time.

In our various journeyings hitherto we had controlled our own means of
transportation. Henceforth we were at the mercy of native officials, to
whose temperament such things as punctuality and speed are altogether
alien. From Rahêng the trip by elephant to Chiengmai should be only
twelve days. By boat, the trip would be much longer, though the return
trip would be correspondingly shorter. We had a letter from Bangkok to
the officials along the route, directing them to procure for us boats,
elephants, or men, as we might need. We were in a hurry, and, besides,
were young and impulsive. The officials at Rahêng assured us that we
should have prompt despatch. No one, however, seemed to make any effort
to send us on. The governor was a great Buddhist, and fond of company
and argument. He could match our Trinity by a Buddhist one: Putthō,
Thammō, Sangkhō—Buddha, the Scriptures, the Brotherhood. Men’s own good
deeds were their only atonement. The one religion was as good as the
other. On these subjects he would talk by the hour; but when urged to
get our elephants, he always had an excuse. At last, in despair, we
decided to take our boatmen and walk. When this news reached the
governor, whether from pity of us, or from fear that some trouble might
grow out of it, he sent word that if we would wait till the next day, we
should have the elephants without fail.

We got the elephants; but, as it was, from preference I walked most of
the way. Once I paid dear for my walk by getting separated from my
elephant in the morning, losing my noonday lunch, and not regaining my
party till, tired and hungry, I reached camp at night. Our guide had
taken a circuitous route to avoid a band of robbers on the main route
which I had followed! This was my first experience of elephant-riding.
We crossed rivers where the banks were steep, and there was no regular
landing. But whether ascending or descending steep slopes, whether
skirting streams and waterfalls, one may trust the elephant’s sagacity
and surefootedness. The view we had from one of the mountain ridges
seemed incomparably fine. The Mê Ping wound its way along the base
beneath us, while beyond, to right and to left, rose range beyond range,
with an occasional peak towering high above the rest. But that was tame
in comparison with many mountain views encountered in subsequent years.

We were eight days in reaching Lakawn,[6] which we marked as one of our
future mission stations. On being asked whether he would welcome a
mission there, the governor replied, “If the King of Siam and the Prince
of Chiengmai approve.” At Lakawn we had no delay, stopping there only
from Friday till Monday morning. Thence to Lampūn we found sālās, or
rest-houses, at regular intervals. The watershed between these towns was
the highest we had crossed. The road follows the valley of a stream to
near the summit, and then follows another stream down on the other side.
The gorge was in places so narrow that the elephant-saddle scraped the
mountain wall on one side, while on the other a misstep would have
precipitated us far down to the brook-bed below.

Footnote 6:

  A corruption of Nakawn (for Sanskrit _nagara_, capital city), which is
  the first part of the official name of the place, Nakawn Lampāng. The
  Post Office calls it Lampāng, to distinguish it from another Nakawn
  (likewise Lakawn in common speech), in the Malay Peninsula—the place
  known to Europeans as Ligor. The general currency of this short name,
  and its regular use in all the missionary literature, seem to justify
  its retention in this narrative.—ED.

At Lampūn my companion was not well, so that I alone called on the
authorities. The governor had called the princes together to learn our
errand. They seemed bewildered when told that we had no government
business, nor were we traders—were only teachers of religion. When the
proper officer was directed to send us on quickly, he began to make
excuses that it would take two or three days. Turning sharply upon him,
the governor asked, “Prayā Sanām, how many elephants have you?” “Four,”
was the response. “See that they get off to-morrow,” was the short
reply. He meekly withdrew. There was evidently no trifling with that
governor. One day more brought us to Chiengmai—to the end of what seemed
then a very long journey. As we neared the city, Mr. Wilson’s elephant
took fright at the creaking noise of a water-wheel, and ran away,
crashing through bamboo fences and trampling down gardens. Fortunately
no one was hurt.

We reached the city on January 7th, 1864, on the forty-ninth day of our
journey. The nephew of the Prince had been left in charge during the
Prince’s absence. He evidently was in doubt how to receive us. He could
not ignore our passport and letter from Bangkok. On the other hand, why
did we not have a letter from the Prince? Our story of missing him
through choosing the canal instead of the main river might or might not
be true. If the deputy were too hospitable, his Prince might blame him.
So he cut the knot, and went off to his fields. We saw no more of him
till he came in to see us safely off.

The elder daughter of the Prince had accompanied her father to Bangkok,
but the younger daughter was at home. She was a person of great
influence, and was by nature hospitable. Things could not have been
better planned for our purpose. The princess remembered me and my wife
from her call on us after our wedding. She now called on us in person
with her retinue; after that everybody else was free to call. It is not
unlikely that that previous acquaintance redeemed our trip from being a
failure. Our sālā was usually crowded with visitors. We had an ideal
opportunity of seeing the heart of the people. They lacked a certain
external refinement seen among the Siamese; but they seemed sincere and
more religious. Buddhism had not become so much a matter of form. Many
of the older people then spent a day and a night, or even two days, each
month fasting in the monasteries. There was hope that if such people saw
a better way, they would accept it. One officer, who lived just behind
our sālā, a great merit-maker, was a constant visitor. Years afterward
we had the pleasure of welcoming him to the communion of the church.

From every point of view the tour was eminently successful. Many
thousands heard the Gospel for the first time. In our main quest we were
more than successful. We were delighted with the country, the cities,
the people. Every place we came to we mentally took possession of for
our Lord and Master. In Chiengmai we remained only ten days; but one day
would have sufficed to convince us. I, at least, left it with the joyful
hope of its becoming the field of my life-work.

From the first we had planned to return by the river through the rapids.
But the prince in charge was very averse to our going by that route. We
knew that the route positively made no difference to him personally. He
had only to give the word, and either elephants or boats would be
forthcoming. Was he afraid of our spying out the road into the country?
At last we were obliged to insist on the wording of our letter, which
specially mentioned boats. Then he offered us one so small that he
probably thought we would refuse it. But we took it; and our captain
afterwards exchanged it for a larger one. We made a swift passage
through the famous rapids, and reached Bangkok on January 30th, 1864.

The first news that we heard on our arrival was that Mrs. Mattoon was
obliged to leave at once for the United States, and that Mr. Wilson was
to take his furlough at the same time. This, of course, ended all plans
for any immediate removal to Chiengmai. We hastened to Pechaburī, where
the McFarlands had been alone during our absence. Three years were to
pass before our faces were again turned northward.



                     THE CHARTER OF THE LĀO MISSION

In the meantime, with two children added unto us, we were become a
family much more difficult to move. We liked our home and our work. At
the age of thirty-nine, to strike out into a new work, in a language at
least partly new, was a matter not to be lightly undertaken. Might it
not be better that Mr. Wilson should work up in the United States an
interest in the new mission, should himself select his associates in it,
and that I should give up my claim to that place? It was certain that
three families could not be spared for Chiengmai. More than one day was
spent, under the shade of a great tree behind Wat Noi, in thought on the
subject, and in prayer for direction.

Finally—though it was a hard thing to do—I wrote to Mr. Wilson, then in
the United States, suggesting the plan just stated. Feeling sure that it
would commend itself to him, I considered the door to Chiengmai as
probably closed to me. In the meantime Mr. Wilson had married again; and
on the eve of his return wrote to me that he had failed to get another
family to come out with him, and was discouraged about the Chiengmai
mission. Probably the time had not yet come, etc., etc. I was delighted
to get that letter. It decided me to go to Chiengmai, the Lord willing,
the following dry season, with only my own family, if need be. Dr.
Mattoon and Dr. House were absent on furlough. Mr. Wilson and I would be
the senior members of the mission. The Board had already given its
sanction. The mission in Bangkok meanwhile had been reinforced by the
arrival of the Georges and the Cardens. On the return of those then
absent on furlough, one of these families could join the McFarlands in
Pechaburī, and yet there would be four families in Bangkok. Such a
combination of favourable circumstances might not occur again.

When Mr. Wilson arrived in Bangkok in the fall of 1866, a letter was
waiting for him, asking him to visit us in Pechaburī to talk over the
question. On his arrival we spent one Sunday in anxious consultation. He
was still eager to go to Chiengmai, but could not go that year. His
preference would be that we should wait another year.—But that might be
to lose the opportunity. So next morning, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Wilson to
visit with my family, I hurried over to Bangkok. There was no time to be
lost. The Prince of Chiengmai had been called down on special business,
and was soon to return. The whole plan might depend on him—as, in fact,
it did.

It was after dark on Tuesday night when I reached Dr. Bradley’s, taking
them all by surprise. I made known my errand. Another long and anxious
consultation followed. I knew that Dr. Bradley’s great missionary soul
would not be staggered by any personal considerations. It would be but
the answer to his own prayers to see a mission planted in Chiengmai. In
his heart he was glad that it was to be planted by one of his own
family. Earnest prayer was offered that night at the family altar for
guidance in the negotiations of the following day, and for a blessing on
the mission that was to be.

On Wednesday, after an early breakfast, Dr. Bradley accompanied me to
our mission. My colleagues, McDonald, George, and Carden, were easily
induced to consent. Mr. McDonald said that he would not go himself; but
if I were willing to risk my family, he would not oppose the scheme, and
would vote to have Mr. Wilson follow me the next year. Thus another
obstacle was removed.

Taking Mr. McDonald and Mr. George with us, we proceeded next to the
United States Consulate, where Mr. Hood readily agreed to give his
official and personal aid. The two greatest obstacles remained yet: the
Siamese government and—as it turned out in the end—the Lāo Prince[7]
also. The Consul wrote immediately to the King, through our former
Pechaburī friend, who had recently been made Foreign Minister, a formal
request for permission to open a station in Chiengmai. It was Friday
evening when the reply came that the decision did not rest with the
King. He could not force a mission upon the Lāo people. But the Lāo
Prince was then in Bangkok. If he gave his consent, the Siamese
government would give theirs. He suggested that we have an audience with
the Prince, at which His Majesty would have an officer in attendance to
report directly to him.

Footnote 7:

  The Lāo ruler was a feudal vassal of the King of Siam, governing an
  important frontier province, and granted, within that province, some
  of the powers which are usually thought of as belonging to
  sovereignty—notably the power of life and death in the case of his
  immediate subjects. His title, Pra Chao, like its English parallel,
  Lord, he shared with the deity as well as with kings; though the Kings
  of Siam claim the added designation, “_Yū Hūa_,” “at the head,” or
  “Sovereign.” By the early missionaries, however, he was regularly
  styled “King,” a term which to us misrepresents his real status, and
  which leads to much confusion both of personality and of function.
  Meantime both title and function have vanished with the feudal order
  of which they were a part, leaving us free to seek for our narrative a
  less misleading term. Such a term seems to be the word Prince, thus
  defined in Murray’s Dictionary (_s. v._ II. 5):—“The ruler of a
  principality or small state, actually, nominally, or originally, a
  feudatory of a king or emperor.” The capital initial should suffice
  generally to distinguish the Prince who is ruler from princes who are
  such merely by accident of birth.—ED.

So on Saturday morning at ten o’clock we all appeared at the landing
where the Lāo boats were moored, asking for an audience with the Prince.
We were invited to await him in the sālā at the river landing. In a few
moments His Highness came up in his customary informal attire—a
_phānung_ about his loins, no jacket, a scarf thrown loosely over his
shoulders, and a little cane in his hand. Having shaken hands with us,
he seated himself in his favourite attitude, dangling his right leg over
his left knee. He asked our errand. At Mr. Hood’s request Dr. Bradley
explained our desire to establish a mission station in Chiengmai, and
our hope to secure his approval. The Prince seemed relieved to find that
our errand involved nothing more serious than that. The mission station
was no new question suddenly sprung upon him. We had more than once
spoken with him about it, and always apparently with his approbation. To
all our requests he now gave ready assent. Yes, we might establish
ourselves in Chiengmai. Land was cheap; we need not even buy it. Timber
was cheap. There would be, of course, the cost of cutting and hauling
it; but not much more. We could build our houses of brick or of wood, as
we pleased. It was explained, as he already knew, that our object was to
teach religion, to establish schools, and to care for the sick. The
King’s secretary took down the replies of the Prince to our questions.
The Consul expressed his gratitude, and committed my family to his
gracious care. We were to follow the Prince to Chiengmai as soon as

Such was the outward scene and circumstance of the official birth of the
Lāo mission. In itself it was ludicrous enough: the audience chamber, a
sālā-landing under the shadow of a Buddhist monastery; the Consul in his
official uniform; the Prince _en déshabillé_; our little group awaiting
the answer on which depended the royal signature of Somdet Phra
Paramendr Mahā Mongkut authorizing the establishment of a Christian
mission. The answer was, Yes. I was myself amazed at the success of the
week’s work. On the part both of the Siamese government and of the Lāo
Prince, it was an act of grace hardly to be expected, though quite in
keeping with the liberality of the truly great king who opened his
country to civilization and to Christianity. And the Lāo Prince, with
all his faults, had some noble and generous traits of character.

Later in the day I called alone to tell the Prince that as soon as I
could after the close of the rainy season, I would come with my family.
After the intense excitement of the week, I spent a quiet Sabbath in Dr.
Bradley’s family, and on Monday morning could say, as did Abraham’s
servant, “Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered me.” Taking the
afternoon tide, I hastened home to report the success of my trip, to
close my work in Pechaburī, and to make preparation for a new station,
which was soon to be a new mission.




  (ABOUT 1869)]

The work in hand was easily turned over to Mr. McFarland, an earnest and
successful worker, who had become specially gifted in the Siamese
language. The Presbytery was to meet in Bangkok in November. The last
busy weeks passed rapidly away. At their end we bade good-bye to our
home and friends in Pechaburī.

Friends in Bangkok gave us their hearty assistance. The Ladies’ Sewing
Society made a liberal contribution to the new mission. Dr. James
Campbell supplied us with medicines and a book of instructions how to
use them. The German Consul gave us a Prussian rifle for our personal
protection. All our missionary friends added their good wishes and their

We had great difficulty in securing suitable boats and crews for the
journey. On January 3d, 1867, we embarked, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Wilson
to follow us the next year. Mr. George accompanied us as far as Rahêng.
The trip is always a slow one, but we enjoyed it. My rifle was useful in
securing pelicans and other large birds for food. Once I fired into a
large flock of pelicans on the river and killed three with a single
shot. Fish everywhere abounded. My shotgun furnished pigeons and other
small game. The trip afforded fine opportunity for evangelistic work.
Nothing of the sort had ever been done there save the little which Mr.
Wilson and I had attempted on our earlier trip.

Rahêng was reached in four weeks. There we dismissed the boats that had
brought us from Bangkok, and procured, instead, two large ones of the
sort used in up-country travel. We should have done better with three of
smaller size. We spent nearly a month in toiling up the thirty-two
rapids. At one of them we were delayed from Friday noon till Tuesday
afternoon. At another, to avoid the furious current of the main river,
we attempted a small channel at one side. As we slowly worked our way
along, the water in our channel became shallower and shallower, till we
had to resort to a system of extemporized locks. A temporary dam was
built behind the boat. The resulting slight rise of water would enable
us to drag the boat a little further, till again it was stranded—when
the process would have to be repeated. After two days of hard work at
this, our boatmen gave up in despair. A Chiengmai prince on his way to
Bangkok found us in this extremity, and gave us an order to secure help
at the nearest village. To send the letter up and to bring the boatmen
down would require nearly a week. But there was nothing else to do.

My rifle helped me somewhat to while away the time of this idle waiting.
We could hear tigers about us every night. I used to skirt about among
the mountain ridges and brooks, half hoping to shoot one of them. Since
my rifle was not a repeater, it was no doubt best that my ambition was
not gratified. Once, taking a Siamese lad with me, I strayed further and
returned later than usual. It was nearly dark when we got back to the
boats, and supper was waiting. Before we had finished our meal, the
boatmen caught sight of the glowing eyes of a tiger that had followed
our trail to the further bank of the river, whence we had crossed to our

One of the boat captains professed to be able to call up either deer or
tiger, if one were within hearing. By doubling a leaf together, and with
thumb and finger on either side holding the two edges tense between his
lips while he blew, he would produce a sound so nearly resembling the
cry of a young goat or deer, that a doe within reach of the call, he
claimed, would run to the rescue of her young, or a tiger, hearing it,
would run to secure the prey. The two captains and I one day went up on
a ridge, and, selecting an open triangular space, posted ourselves back
to back, facing in three directions, with our guns in readiness. The
captain had sounded his call only two or three times, when suddenly a
large deer rushed furiously up from the direction toward which one of
the captains was facing. A fallen log was lying about twenty paces off
on the edge of our open space. The excited animal stopped behind it, his
lower parts concealed, but with back, shoulder, neck, and head fully
exposed. Our captain fired away, but was so excited that he would have
missed an elephant. His bullet entered the log some six inches below the
top. In an instant the deer was gone. We found not far off the spot
where evidently a young deer had been devoured by a tiger. We tried the
experiment a number of times later, but with no success.

After we had waited two days and nights for help from the village above,
on the third night the spirits came to our rescue. Either with their
ears or in their imaginations, our crew heard strange noises in the
rocks and trees about them, which they interpreted as a warning from the
spirits to be gone. Next morning, after consultation together, they made
another desperate effort, and got the boats off. It was still several
days before we met the men that came down in response to the prince’s
order. But some of the worst rapids were yet before us. We could hardly
have got through without their aid.

The efforts of a single crew, it must be remembered, are utterly
inadequate to bring a boat up through any of these rapids. Only by
combining two or three crews can the boats be brought up one by one.
Some of the men are on the bank, tugging at the tow-rope while they
clamber over rocks and struggle through bushes. Some are on board,
bending to their poles. Others are up to their waists in the rushing
water, by main force fending off the boat from being dashed against the
rocks. On one occasion I myself had made the passage in the first boat,
which then was left moored in quieter waters. The crew went back to
bring up the second boat, in which were my wife and children. With
anxious eyes I was watching the struggle; when, suddenly, in the
fiercest rush of the current, the men lost control of her. Boat and
passengers were drifting with full force straight against a wall of
solid rock on the opposite bank. It seemed as if nothing could save
them. But one of the fleetest boatmen, with rope in hand, swam to a rock
in midstream, and took a turn of the rope about it, just in time to
prevent what would have been a tragedy.

At night, about camp-fires on the river bank, we were regaled by the
boatmen with legends of the country through which we were passing. One
of these legends concerned the lofty mountain which rises above the
rapid called Kêng Soi, where we were camped. The story was that on its
summit there had been in ancient times a city of _sētīs_ (millionaires),
who paid a gold _fûang_ (two dollars) a bucket for all the water brought
up for their use. It was said that remains of their city, and
particularly an aged cocoanut tree, were still to be seen on the summit.

Since it would take our boatmen at least two days to surmount that
rapid, I resolved to attempt the ascent, and either verify or explode
the story. Starting at early dawn with my young Siamese, zigzagging back
and forth on the slope all that long forenoon, I struggled upward—often
despairing of success, but ashamed to turn back. At last we stood on the
top, but it was noon or later. We spent two or three hours in search of
the cocoanut tree or other evidence of human settlement, but all in
vain. I was satisfied that we were the first of human kind that had ever
set foot on that lofty summit. We had brought lunch—but no water! Most
willingly would we have given a silver _fûang_ for a draught.

The legend of the rapids themselves was one of the most interesting. At
the edge of the plain above the rapids there is pointed out a wall of
rock dropping fully a hundred feet sheer to the water’s edge. The story
goes that in ancient times a youth made love to the Prince’s daughter.
The course of true love did not run smooth; the father forbade the suit.
The lovers resolved to make their escape. The young man mounted his
steed with his bride behind him, and together they fled. But soon the
enraged father was in hot pursuit. They reached the river-brink at the
top of the precipice, with the father in plain sight behind them. But
there the lover’s heart failed him. He could not take that leap. The
maiden then begged to exchange places with her lover. She mounted in
front; tied her scarf over her eyes; put spurs to the horse; and took
the fatal leap. To this day the various rapids are mostly named from
various portions of the equipage which are supposed to have drifted down
the stream and lodged upon the rocks.

Lāo witchcraft was another favourite theme of our Rahêng boatmen. They
were very much afraid of the magical powers of wizards; and evidently
believed that the wizards could readily despatch any who offended them.
They could insert a mass of rawhide into one’s stomach, which would
produce death, and which could not be consumed by fire when the body was
cremated. They could make themselves invisible and invulnerable. No
sword could penetrate their flesh, and a bullet fired at them would drop
harmless from the mouth of the gun.

But we have lingered too long among the rapids. Some distance above the
last one the mountains on either side recede from the river, and enclose
the great plain of Chiengmai and Lampūn. Both passengers and boatmen
draw a long breath of relief when it opens out. The glorious sun again
shines all day. The feathery plumes of the graceful bamboo clumps are a
delight to the eye, and give variety to the otherwise tame scenery. But
the distant mountains are always in sight.

The season was advancing. The further we went, the shallower grew the
stream. Long before we reached Chiengmai, we had to use canoes to
lighten our boats; but presently a seasonable rise in the river came to
our aid. On Saturday evening, April 1st, 1867, we moored our boats
beside a mighty banyan tree, whose spreading arms shaded a space more
than a hundred feet wide. It stands opposite the large island which
forty years later the government turned over to Dr. McKean of our
mission for a leper asylum. Stepping out a few paces from under its
shade, one could see across the fields the pagoda-spires of Chiengmai.
There, prayerfully and anxiously, we spent the thirteenth and last
Sunday of our long journey, not knowing what the future might have in
store for us.








On Monday morning, April 3d, 1867, we reached the city. We had looked
forward to the arrival as a welcome rest after the long confinement of
our journey in the boat. But it was only the beginning of troubles. We
were not coming to an established station with houses and comforts
prepared by predecessors. The Prince was off on a military expedition,
not to be back for over a month. Till he came, nothing could be done. We
could not secure a house to shelter us, for there was none to be had.
Just outside the eastern gate of the city, however, a sālā for public
use had recently been built by an officer from Rahêng, to “make merit,”
according to Buddhist custom. He had still a quasi claim upon it, and,
with the consent of the Prince’s representative, he offered it to us. It
was well built, with tile roof and teak floor, was enclosed on three
sides, and opened in front on a six-foot veranda. In that one room, some
twelve feet by twenty, all our belongings were stored. It served for
bedroom, parlour, dining-room, and study. In it tables, chairs,
bedstead, organ, boxes, and trunks were all piled one upon another. A
bamboo kitchen and a bathroom were presently extemporized in the yard.
That was our home for more than a year.

The news of the arrival of white foreigners soon spread far and wide. It
was not known how long they would remain; and the eagerness of all
classes to get sight of them before they should be gone was absolutely
ludicrous, even when most annoying. “There is a white woman and
children! We _must_ go and see them.” Our visitors claimed all the
immunities of backwoodsmen who know no better. In etiquette and manners
they well deserved that name. Within a few feet of the sālā was a
rickety plank-walk leading over marshy ground to the city. Everybody had
to pass that way, and everybody must stop. When the veranda was filled,
they would crowd up on the ground in front as long as they could get
sight of anybody or anything. If to-day the crowd prevented a good view,
they would call to-morrow. The favourite time of all was, of course, our
meal-time, to see how and what the foreigners ate. Almost never in the
daytime could we sit down to a quiet meal without lookers-on. It was not
uncommon for our visitors to pick up a knife or a fork or even the
bread, and ask what that was. “They don’t sit on the floor to eat, nor
use their fingers, as we do!”

This, however, is only one side of the picture. In one sense we were
partly to blame for our discomfort. We could soon have dispersed the
crowd by giving them to understand that their presence was not wanted.
But we ourselves were on trial. If we had got the name of being
ill-natured or ungracious, they would have left us, probably never to
return. No. This was what we were there for. It gave us constant
opportunities from daylight till dark to proclaim the Gospel message.
The first and commonest question, who we were and what was our errand,
brought us at once to the point. We were come with messages of mercy and
with offer of eternal life from the great God and Saviour. We were come
with a revelation of our Heavenly Father to His wandering and lost
children. While the mass of our visitors came from curiosity, some came
to learn; and many who came from curiosity went away pondering whether
these things were so. Friendships also were formed which stood us in
good stead afterwards when we sorely needed friends. During our time of
persecution these persons would come in by stealth to speak a word of
comfort, when they dared not do so openly.

As the annoyance of those days fell most heavily on the nerves of my
wife, it was a comfort to learn afterwards that possibly the very first
convert heard the Gospel message first from her lips, while she was
addressing a crowd of visitors very soon after our arrival. Reference
will be made to him later, but it may be said here that from the day
when he first heard the news, he never again worshipped an idol.

Whatever was their object in coming to see us, we soon gave every crowd,
and nearly every visitor, to understand what we had come for. We had
come as teachers—primarily as teachers of a way of salvation for
sinners. And we never addressed a crowd of thoughtful men or women who
did not readily confess that they were sinners, and needed a saviour
from sin. But we were not merely teachers of religion, though primarily
such. We could often, if not usually, better teach religion—or, at
least, could better lead up to it—by teaching geography or astronomy. A
little globe that I had brought along was often my text.

I presume that most Christian people in America have a very crude idea
of the method of preaching the Gospel often, or, perhaps, generally,
used by missionaries, particularly in new fields. If they think that the
bell is rung, that the people assemble in orderly fashion, and take
their seats, that a hymn is sung, prayer offered, the Scripture read, a
sermon delivered, and the congregation dismissed with the doxology and
benediction,—they are very much mistaken. All that comes in time. We
have lived to see it come in this land—thanks to God’s blessing upon
work much more desultory than that. Long after the time we are now
speaking of, one could talk of religion to the people by the hour, or
even by the day; one might sing hymns, might solemnly utter prayer, in
response to inquiry as to how we worshipped—and they would listen
respectfully and with interest. But if public worship had been
announced, and these same people had been invited to remain, every soul
would have fled away for fear of being caught in some trap and made
Christians without their consent, or for fear of being made to suffer
the consequences of being reputed Christians before they were ready to
take that step. Forty years later than the time we are now speaking of,
I have seen people who were standing about the church door and looking
in, driven quite away by the mere invitation to come in and be seated.

In one sense our work during the first year was very desultory. I had
always to shape my instruction to the individuals before me. It would
often be in answer to questions as to where was our country; in what
direction; how one would travel to get there; could one go there on
foot; and so on. Or the question might be as to the manners and customs
of our nation; or it might be directly on religion itself. But as all
roads lead to Rome, so all subjects may be turned to Christ, His cross,
and His salvation.

Of the friends found in those early days I must mention two. One was
Princess Būa Kam, the mother of the late and last Lāo Prince, Chao
Intanon. At our first acquaintance, she formed for us a warm friendship
that lasted till her death. Nor could I ever discover any other ground
for her friendship than the fact that we were religious teachers. She
was herself a devout Buddhist, and continued to the last her offerings
in the monasteries. I believe that the Gospel plan of salvation struck a
chord in her heart which her own religion never did. From Buddha she got
no assurance of pardon. The assurance that pardon is possible in itself
seemed to give her hope, though by what process a logical mind could
hardly see, so long as she held on to a system which, as she confessed,
did not and could not give pardon. She was always pleased to hear the
story of the incarnation, the birth, life, and miracles of Christ. She
was deeply touched by the recital of His sufferings, persecutions, and
death. Illustrations of the substitutionary efficacy of His sufferings
she readily understood. She acknowledged her god to be a man who, by the
well-nigh endless road to nirvāna, had ceased to suffer by ceasing to
exist. The only claim he had to warrant his pointing out the way to
others was the fact that he had passed over it himself. There was one
ground, however, on which she felt that she might claim the comfort both
of the doctrines which she still held and of ours, too. A favourite
theory of hers—and of many others—was that, after all, we worship the
same God under different names. She called hers Buddha, and we call ours

She had by nature a woman’s tender heart. Benevolence had doubtless been
developed in her by her religion, till it had become a second nature.
The gifts she loved to make were also a means of laying up a store of
merit for the future. She was most liberal in sending us tokens of
remembrance. These were not of much value. A quart of white rice, a few
oranges, cucumbers, or cocoanuts on a silver tray, were so customary a
sight that, if ever any length of time elapsed without them, we wondered
if the Princess were ill. And, on the other hand, if for any cause my
calls were far apart, she would be sure to send to enquire if I were
ill. The “cup of cold water” which she thus so often pressed to our
lips, I am sure, was given for the Master’s sake.

Another remarkable friendship formed during that first year was that of
a Buddhist monk, abbot of the Ūmōng monastery. As in the other case,
there was no favour to ask, no axe to grind. He never made a request for
anything, unless it were for a book. But the little novice who attended
him almost always brought a cocoanut or some other small present for us.
Very early in our acquaintance he came to see that the universe could
not be self-existent, as Buddhism teaches. On his deeply religious
nature the sense of sin weighed heavily. He was well versed in the
Buddhist scriptures, and knew that there was no place for pardon in all
that system. He understood the plan of salvation offered to men through
the infinite merit of Jesus Christ. At times he would argue that it was
impossible. But the thought that, after all, it might be possible,
afforded him a gleam of hope that he saw nowhere else; and he was not
willing to renounce it altogether.



During the dark months that followed the martyrdom of our native
Christians, when many who were true friends deemed it unwise to let
their sympathy be known, the good abbot visited us regularly, as,
indeed, he continued to do as long as he lived. At times I had strong
hopes that he would leave the priesthood. But he never could quite see
his way to do that, though he maintained that he never ceased to worship
Jesus. The only likeness, alas! that I have of his dear old face is a
photograph taken after death, as his body lay ready for cremation. Unto
whom, if not unto such true friends of His as these, was it said, “I was
a hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I
was in prison, and ye visited Me.—Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me”?



                              PIONEER WORK

The military expedition in which the Prince was engaged detained him in
the field until some time in May. It was one of many unsuccessful
attempts to capture a notorious Ngīo chieftain who, turning outlaw and
robber, had gathered about him a band of desperadoes, with whom he
sallied forth from his mountain fastness, raiding innocent villages and
carrying off the plunder to his stronghold, before any force could be
gathered to withstand or to pursue him. In this way he kept the whole
country in constant alarm during the earlier years of our stay in
Chiengmai. What made matters worse was the fact—as the Lāo firmly
believed—that he had a charmed life, that he could render himself
invisible, and that no weapon could penetrate his flesh. Had not the
stockade within which he had taken shelter been completely surrounded
one night by a cordon of armed men, and at dawn, when he was to have
been captured, he was nowhere to be found? Such was the man of whom we
shall hear more further on.

At the Lāo New Year it is customary for all persons of princely rank,
all officers and people of influence, to present their compliments to
the Prince in person, and to take part in the ceremony of “Dam Hūa,” by
way of wishing him a Happy New Year. Because of the Prince’s absence in
the field, this ceremony could not be observed at the regular time; but
it was none the less brilliantly carried out a few days after his
return. The name, Dam Hūa, means “bathing the head” or “head-bath,” and
it is really a ceremonial bathing or baptism of the Prince’s head with
water poured upon it, first by princes and officials in the order of
their rank, and so on down to his humblest subjects.

The first and more exclusive part of the ceremony took place in the
palace, where I also was privileged to offer my New Year’s greetings
with the rest. The great reception hall was crowded with the Prince’s
family and with officials of all degrees. The air was heavy with the
fragrance of flowers which loaded every table and stand. All were in
readiness with their silver vessels filled with water, awaiting His
Highness’ appearance. At length an officer with a long silver-handled
spear announced his coming. The whole company received him with lowest
prostration after the old-time fashion. Seeing me standing, he sent for
a chair, saying that the ceremony was long, and I would be tired. The
Court Orator, or Scribe, then read a long address of welcome to the
Prince on his return from his brilliant expedition, with high-sounding
compliments on its success. Then there was a long invocation of all the
powers above or beneath, real or imaginary, not to molest, but instead
to protect, guide, and bless His Highness’ person, kingdom, and people,
with corresponding curses invoked on all his enemies and theirs. Then
came the ceremonial bath, administered first by his own family, his
relatives, and high officials—he standing while vase after vase of water
was poured on his head, drenching him completely and flooding all the
floor. It is a ceremony not at all unpleasant in a hot climate, however
unendurable it might be in colder regions.

This was the beginning. According to immemorial custom, a booth was
prepared on a sand-bar in the river. To this, after the ceremony in the
palace, the Prince went in full state, riding on an elephant richly
caparisoned with trappings of solid gold, to receive a like bath at the
hands of his loyal subjects—beginning, as before, with some high nobles,
and then passing on to the common people, who might all take part in
this closing scene of the strange ceremony.

I was not in the concourse at the river, but watched the procession from
our sālā, the Prince having said to me that he would call on his return.
This he did, making us a nice little visit, taking a cup of tea, and
listening to the playing of some selections on the organ. He asked if I
had selected a place for a permanent station, and suggested one or two
himself. But I was in no hurry, preferring to wait for the judgment of
Mr. Wilson on his arrival. Meanwhile I was assured that I might remain
in the sālā, and might put up a temporary house to receive the new
family. When I requested his consent to the employment of a teacher, he
asked whom I thought of employing. I mentioned the name of one, and he
said, “He is not good. I will send you a better one,”—and he sent me his
own teacher.

It was a very auspicious beginning. I knew that neither the Siamese nor
the Lāo trusted the Prince very thoroughly; yet every time that I saw
him it seemed to me that I might trust him. At any rate, I did not then
look forward to the scenes that we were to pass through before three
years were gone.

After the first curiosity wore off, many of those who came to our sālā
were patients seeking medical treatment. The title “Maw” (doctor)
followed me from Bangkok, where all missionaries, I believe, are still
so called. This name itself often excited hopes which, of course, were
doomed to disappointment. To the ignorant all diseases seem equally
curable, if only there be the requisite skill or power. How often during
those first five years I regretted that I was not a trained physician
and surgeon! My only consolation was that it was not my fault. When my
thoughts were first turned towards missions, I consulted the officers of
our Board on the wisdom of taking at least a partial course in
preparation for my work. But medical missions had not then assumed the
importance they since have won. In fact, just then they were at a
discount. The Board naturally thought that medical study would be, for
me at least, a waste of time, and argued besides that in most mission
fields there were English physicians. But it so happened that eleven
years of my missionary life have been spent in stations from one hundred
to five hundred miles distant from a physician. So, if any physician who
reads this narrative is inclined to criticise me as a quack, I beg such
to remember that I was driven to it—I had to do whatever I could in the
case of illness in my own family; and for pity I could not turn away
those who often had nothing but superstitious charms to rely on. It was
a comfort, moreover, to know that in spite of inevitable
disappointments, our practice of medicine made friends, and possibly
enabled us to maintain the field, at a time when simply as Christian
teachers we could not have done so. Even Prince Kāwilōrot himself
conceded so much when, after forbidding us to remain as missionaries, he
said we might, if we wished, remain to treat the sick.

In such a malarial country, there is no estimating the boon conferred by
the introduction of quinine alone. Malarial fevers often ran on season
after season, creating an anæmic condition such that the least exertion
would bring on the fever and chills again. The astonishment of the
people, therefore, is not surprising when two or three small powders of
the “white medicine,” as they called it, taken with much misgiving,
would cut short the fever, while their own medicines, taken by the
potful for many months, had failed. The few bottles of quinine which it
had been thought sufficient to bring with me, were soon exhausted. The
next order was for forty four-ounce bottles; and not till our physicians
at length began to order by the thousand ounces could a regular supply
be kept on hand. I have often been in villages where every child, and
nearly every person, young or old, had chills and fever, till the spleen
was enlarged, and the whole condition such that restoration was possible
only after months of treatment.

There was another malady very common then—the goitre—which had never
been cured by any remedy known to the Lāo doctors. I soon learned,
however, that an ointment of potassium iodide was almost a specific in
the earlier stages of the disease. That soon gave my medicine and my
treatment a reputation that no regular physician could have sustained;
for the people were sure that one who could cure the goitre must be able
to cure any disease. If I protested that I was not a doctor, it seemed a
triumphant answer to say, “Why, you cured such a one of the goitre.”
Often when I declined to undertake the treatment of some disease above
my skill, the patient would go away saying, “I believe you could, if you

One other part of my medical work I must mention here, since reference
will be made to it later. The ravages of smallpox had been fearful,
amounting at times to the destruction of a whole generation of children.
The year before our arrival had witnessed such a scourge. Hardly a
household escaped, and many had no children left. I was specially
interested to prevent or to check these destructive epidemics, because
the Prince had seen the efficacy of vaccination as practised by Dr.
Bradley in Bangkok, and because I felt sure that what he had seen had
influenced him to give his consent to our coming. One of the surest ways
then known of sending the virus a long distance was in the form of the
dry scab from a vaccine pustule. When once the virus had “taken,”
vaccination went on from arm to arm. Dr. Bradley sent me the first
vaccine scab. It reached me during the first season; and vaccination
from it ran a notable course.

The Karens and other hill-tribes are so fearful of smallpox that when it
comes near their villages, they all flee to the mountains. Smallpox had
broken out in a Lāo village near a Karen settlement. The settlement was
at once deserted. Meanwhile the news of the efficacy of vaccination had
reached the Lāo village, and they sent a messenger with an elephant to
beg me to come and vaccinate the entire community. Two young monks came
also from an adjoining village, where the disease was already raging.
These two I vaccinated at once, and sent home, arranging to follow them
later when their pustules should be ripe. From them I vaccinated about
twenty of the villagers. During the following week the Karens all
returned, and in one day I vaccinated one hundred and sixty-three
persons. It was a strange sight to see four generations all vaccinated
at one time—great-grandfathers holding out their withered arms along
with babes a month old.

Success such as this was naturally very flattering to one’s pride; and
“pride goeth before a fall.” I had kept the Prince informed of the
success of my attempt, and naturally was anxious to introduce
vaccination into the palace. The patronage of the palace would ensure
its introduction into the whole kingdom. Having a fine vaccine pustule
on the arm of a healthy white infant boy, I took him to the palace to
show the case to the Prince’s daughter, and to her husband, who was the
heir-apparent. They had a little son of about the same age. The parents
were pleased, and sent me with the child to the Prince. As soon as he
saw the pustule, he pronounced it genuine, and was delighted. His
younger daughter had lost a child in the epidemic of the year before,
and the family was naturally very anxious on the subject. He sent me
immediately to vaccinate his little grandson.

I returned to the palace of the son-in-law, and very carefully
vaccinated the young prince on whom so many hopes were centred. I
watched the case daily, and my best hopes seemed realized. The pustules
developed finely. All the characteristic symptoms appeared and
disappeared at the proper times. But when the scab was about to fall
off, the little prince was taken with diarrhœa. I felt sure that a
little paregoric or some other simple remedy would speedily set the
child right, and I offered to treat the case. But half a dozen
doctors—most of them “spirit-doctors”—were already in attendance. The
poor child, I verily believe, was dosed to death. So evident was it that
the unfortunate outcome could not have been the result of vaccination,
that both the parents again and again assured me that they entertained
no such thought. But all diseases—as was then universally believed among
the Lāo—are the result of incurring the displeasure of the “spirits” of
the family or of the clan. The “spirits” might have taken umbrage at the
invasion of their prerogative by vaccination.

No doubt some such thought was whispered to the Prince, and it is not
unnatural that he should at least have half believed it. In his grief at
the loss of his grandson, it is easy to see how that thought may have
fanned his jealousy at the growing influence of the missionaries.

No year ever passed more rapidly or more pleasantly than that first year
of the mission. We were too busy to be either lonesome or homesick,
although, to complete our isolation, we had no mails of any sort for
many months. Our two children, the one of three and the other of six
years, were a great comfort to us. When we left Bangkok it was
understood that a Mr. C. of the Borneo Company was to follow us in a
month on business of their teak trade. He had promised to bring up our
mail. So we felt sure of getting our first letters in good time. Since
he would travel much faster than we, it was not impossible that he might
overtake us on the way. But April, May, and June passed, and still no
word of Mr. C. or of the mails he was bringing. In July we received a
note from him, with a few fragments of our long looked-for mail. He had
been attacked by robbers below Rahêng, himself had received a serious
wound, and his boat had been looted of every portable object, including
our mail-bag. Fortunately the robbers, finding nothing of value to them
in the mail, had dropped as they fled some mutilated letters and papers,
which the officers in pursuit picked up, and which Mr. C. forwarded to
us. Otherwise we should have had nothing. We could at least be devoutly
thankful that we had traversed the same river in safety.

It was long before we were sure that Mr. Wilson and his family were
coming at all that year. It was at least possible that any one of a
thousand causes might delay them, or even prevent their coming
altogether. Their arrival on February 15th, 1868, was, of course, a
great event.

Not long after this we were eagerly awaiting a promised visit from our
old associate and friend, Dr. S. R. House. Both Mrs. Wilson and Mrs.
McGilvary were expecting shortly to be confined, and the good doctor was
making the tedious journey that he might be on hand to help them with
his professional skill in the hour of their need. Our dismay can be
imagined, when, one day, there appeared, not the doctor, but his native
assistant, with a few pencilled lines from the doctor, telling us that
he was lying in the forest some four or five days distant, dangerously,
if not fatally, gored by an elephant. We were not to come to him, but
were to stand by and attend to the needs of our families. He begged us
to pray for him, and to send him some comforts and medicines.

The accident happened on this wise: The doctor had been walking awhile
for exercise behind his riding elephant, and then attempted to pass up
beside the creature to the front. The elephant, startled at his
unexpected appearance, struck him to the ground with a blow of his
trunk, gored him savagely in the abdomen, and was about to trample him
under foot, when the driver, not a moment too soon, got the creature
again under control. With rare nerve the doctor cleansed the frightful
wound, and sewed it up by the help of its reflection in a mirror, as he
lay on his back on the ground. He despatched the messenger to us; gave
careful instructions to his attendants as to what they should do for him
when the inevitable fever and delirium should come on; and resigned
himself calmly to await whatever the outcome might be.

The situation was, indeed, desperate. We could not possibly hope to
reach him before the question of life or death for him would be settled;
nor could he be brought to us. The best we could do was to get an order
from the Prince for a boat, boatmen, and carriers, and despatch these
down the river, committing with earnest prayer the poor sufferer to the
all-loving Father’s care. The doctor was carried on a bamboo litter
through the jungle to the Mê Ping River, and in due time reached
Chiengmai convalescent, to find that the two expected young missionaries
had arrived in safety before him. After a month’s rest he was able to
return to Bangkok; but not until he had assisted us in organizing the
First Presbyterian Church of Chiengmai.

In the _Presbyterian Record_ for November, 1868, will be found an
interesting report from the doctor’s pen. Naturally he was struck with
the predominance of demon-worship over Buddhism among the Lāo. We quote
the following:

    “Not only offerings, but actually prayers are made to demons. I
    shall never forget the first prayer of the kind I ever heard....
    We had just entered a dark defile in the mountains, beyond Mûang
    Tôn, and had come to a rude, imageless shrine erected to the
    guardian demon of the pass. The owner of my riding-elephant was
    seated on the neck of the big beast before me. Putting the palms
    of his hands together and raising them in the attitude of
    worship, he prayed: ‘Let no evil happen to us. We are six men
    and three elephants. Let us not be injured. Let nothing come to
    frighten us,’ and so on. On my way down the river, at the rapids
    and gloomy passes in the mountains the boatmen would land,
    tapers would be lighted, and libations would be poured, and
    offerings of flowers, food, and betel would be made to the
    powers of darkness.”

    The doctor speaks also of “the favour with which the
    missionaries were received, the confidence they had won from all
    classes, the influence of their medicines, and the grand field
    open for a physician.” He frankly says, “I must confess that
    though at one time I did have some misgivings whether, all
    things considered, the movement was not a little premature, I
    now, being better able to judge, greatly honour the Christian
    courage and enterprise which undertook the work; or rather bless
    God who inspired Mr. McGilvary’s heart, and made his old
    Princeton friend, Mr. Wilson, consent to join him in thus
    striking out boldly into an untried field. It will prove, I
    trust, a field ready to the harvest.”




During the first three months after Mr. Wilson’s arrival we were so
occupied with mission work and with family cares that we had not made
choice of the lot which the Prince had promised to give us. On the very
day that Dr. House left us, however, the Prince came in person,
selected, and made over to us our present beautiful mission compound on
the east bank of the Mê Ping. He would not allow us to offer any
compensation; but, learning afterwards that the native owners had
received no remuneration, we secretly paid them. Mr. Wilson began at
once to erect temporary bamboo buildings, and soon moved to the new
compound. Since it was difficult for me to spare time for further work
of building for myself, and since the old location was an ideal one for
meeting the people, I moved with my family from the sālā into the bamboo
house the Wilsons had occupied, and we made it our home for the next two

Mr. Wilson was greatly interrupted in his work by sickness in his
family. Little Frank had fallen ill on the journey from Bangkok, and
continued to suffer during all these months. His death on November 17th,
1868, was a heavy stroke to us all. In vain we combined our slight
medical skill, and searched our books of domestic medicine for his
relief. It was pitiful enough to see the natives die, with the sad
feeling in our hearts that a physician might have saved their lives. But
the death of one of our own number, so soon after the trying experiences
early in the year, emphasized, as nothing else could have done, our
appeals for a physician. Yet it was not until 1872 that we welcomed the
first physician appointed to our mission.

During this time raids were continually being made into the Lāo country
by the renegade Ngīo chieftain already spoken of. Five hundred men from
Prê, and one thousand from Lakawn were drafted for the defence of the
city, and were stationed near our compound. Thus hundreds of soldiers
and workmen furnished us an ever-changing audience. All we had to do,
day or night, was to touch the organ, and people would crowd in to hear.
The dry season of 1868-69 was, therefore, an exceptionally good one for
our work. We had constant visitors from other provinces, who would
converse with us by the hour, and, on returning to their homes, would
carry the news of our presence and of our work.

In the fall of 1868 occurred two events which, widely different as they
might seem to be, were in reality closely connected, and of much
importance in their bearing on the mission. One was a total eclipse of
the sun on August 17th, and the other was the conversion of Nān Inta,
our first baptized convert. I well remember his tall figure and
thoughtful face when he first appeared at our sālā, shortly after our
arrival in Chiengmai. He had a cough, and had come for medicine. He had
heard, too, that we taught a new religion, and wished to enquire about
that. Some soothing expectorant sufficiently relieved his cough to
encourage him to make another call. On each visit religion was the
all-absorbing topic. He had studied Buddhism, and he diligently
practised its precepts. As an abbot he had led others to make offerings
for the monastery worship, and he had two sons of his own in the
monastic order. But Buddhism had never satisfied his deep spiritual
nature. What of the thousands of failures and transgressions from the
results of which there was no escape? The doctrine of a free and full
pardon through the merits of another, was both new and attractive to
him, but it controverted the fundamental principle of his religion.

We had some arguments, also, on the science of geography, on the shape
of the earth, on the nature of eclipses, and the like. What he heard was
as foreign to all his preconceived ideas as was the doctrine of
salvation from sin by the death of Christ. Just before the great eclipse
was to occur I told him of it, naming the day and the hour when it was
to occur. I pointed out that the eclipse could not be caused by a
monster which attacked the sun, as he had been taught. If that were the
cause, no one could foretell the day when the monster would be moved to
make the attack. He at once caught that idea. If the eclipse came off as
I said, he would have to admit that his teaching was wrong on a point
perfectly capable of being tested by the senses. There would then be a
strong presumption that we were right in religion as well as in
eclipses. He waited with intense interest for the day to come. The sky
was clear, and everything was favourable. He watched, with a smoked
glass that we had furnished, the reflection of the sun in a bucket of
water. He followed the coming of the eclipse, its progress, and its
passing off, as anxiously as the wise men of old followed the star of
Bethlehem—and, like them, he, too, was led to the Saviour.

Early the next morning he came in to see me. His first words were, “Mên
tê” (It’s really true). “The teacher’s books teach truth. Ours are
wrong.” This confident assurance had evidently been reached after a
sleepless night. A complete revolution had taken place in his mind; but
it was one that cost him a severe struggle. His only hope had rested on
the teachings of Buddha, and it was no light thing to see the foundation
of his hope undermined. The eclipse had started an ever-widening rift.
He began, as never before, to examine the credentials of Christianity.
He soon learned to read Siamese in order to gain access to our
Scriptures. We read the Gospel of John together. He studied the Shorter
Catechism. He had a logical mind, and it was never idle. Whenever we
met, if only for a few moments, he always had some question to ask me,
or some new doubt to solve. When tempted to doubt, he fell back on the
eclipse, saying, “I know my books were wrong there. If the Gospel system
seems too good to be true in that it offers to pardon and cleanse and
adopt guilty sinners, and give them a title to a heavenly inheritance,
it is simply because it is divine, and not human.” While the truth
dawned gradually on his mind, the full vision seemed to be sudden. His
own account was that afterwards, when walking in the fields and
pondering the subject, it all became very plain to him. His doubts all
vanished. Henceforth for him to live was Christ; and he counted all
things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Him.

The conversion of Nān Inta was an epoch in the history of the mission.
The ordinary concourse of visitors might be for medicine, or it might be
from mere curiosity. But when one of the most zealous Buddhists, well
known by members of the royal family, openly embraced Christianity, the
matter began to assume a different aspect. What was more remarkable
still was that he urged his two sons to abandon the monastic order. The
Prince’s younger daughter, herself a strong Buddhist, told me that this
was to her convincing evidence of his sincerity. Whether Christianity
were true or false, he certainly believed it true. It was the height of
ambition for every Lāo father to have a son in the order. If he had none
of his own, he often would adopt one and make him a monk. But here was
one of the most devout of them urging his own sons to come out and be
Christians! We regarded it as a favourable circumstance that the patron
and protector of this our first convert was high in princely rank. Nān
Inta’s defection from Buddhism produced a profound impression among all
classes. Emboldened by his example, secret believers became more open.
Not the number alone, but the character of the enquirers attracted

The second convert was Noi Sunya, a native doctor from a village eight
miles to the east. He has the enviable distinction of never having
postponed the Gospel offer. He was the chief herdsman in charge of the
Prince’s cattle. Coming to the city on an errand, he called at our sālā
to see what was the attraction there. As in the case of so many others,
it was the good news of pardon for a sinsick soul that arrested his
attention. On his return in the afternoon he called again to make fuller
enquiry concerning “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.” He
promised to return on Sunday. Promises of that sort so often fail, that
we were surprised and delighted to see him early on Sunday morning. We
had an earnest talk together before the time came for public worship. He
remained through the afternoon, and spent the night with us. In answer
to a final exhortation before he left us in the morning, he said, “You
need not fear my going back. I feel sure I am right.” He was willing to
sell all—even life itself, as it proved—for the pearl of great price. He
went home, called his family together, and began family worship that
very night. Only four brief months after this his labours were ended by
the executioner’s stroke, and he wore the martyr’s crown.

The third, Sên Yā Wichai, has already been mentioned as receiving his
first instruction in Christianity from the “mother-teacher,” as Mrs.
McGilvary was called, during the very first month of the mission. He
then received the great truth of the existence of God and of man’s
accountability to Him. He was an officer living six days’ journey to the
north, and was under the jurisdiction of the Prince of Lampūn. On his
visit a year later, he received further instruction, was baptized, and
returned to tell his neighbours what he had found. They only laughed at
him for his oddity in refusing to join in the Buddhist worship, and in
offerings to the spirits.

The fourth was Nān Chai, a neighbour and friend of Noi Sunya, and
destined to suffer martyrdom along with him. He, too, was an ex-abbot,
and, therefore, exempt from government work. He was a good scholar, and
was employed by Mr. Wilson as a teacher. When he became a Christian, he
was strongly tempted to hold on still to his position in the monastery,
explaining that he would not himself engage in the worship, but would
only sweep the buildings and keep the grounds in order for others. But
when his duty was pointed out to him, he readily gave up his position,
and was enrolled for regular government service. Here were four noble
and notable men at once deserting the Buddhist faith! No wonder it
became an anxious question whereunto this was to grow.




In the course of these events our second year of work in Chiengmai had
come to its end. We were now beyond the middle of the year 1869. As some
indefinable sense of oppression in the air gives warning of the
approaching storm, so there were ominous hints, and even some dark
forebodings. Our Christian people—who understood far better than we did
both the character of their rulers and the significance of furtive looks
and innuendoes—were anxious. But they stood firm, and their faith
strengthened ours.

In the light of subsequent events we now know that the most dangerous
element in the gathering storm was the angry surprise of the Prince
himself at the discovery that the old order seemed actually passing away
under his very eyes; that his will was no longer supreme in men’s minds,
nor always consulted in their actions—this and the deep treachery and
ruthless cruelty of his nature which it brought into play. But there
were other sinister influences at work also, and among them we must not
overlook that of a certain Portuguese adventurer, Fonseca by name. He
was a thoroughly unprincipled man, who, having played his game in
Bangkok and lost, had worked himself into the favour of the Prince
during his recent visit to the capital, and had accompanied him on his
return to Chiengmai. The Prince was persuaded that this man could be of
great service to him in the two matters which were then causing him most
disquietude; namely, the defence of certain lawsuits involving large
sums of money, brought against him in the British Consular Court by
Burmese timber merchants; and the getting rid of the missionaries. These
last were more in Fonseca’s way than they were in the Prince’s. He could
accomplish his ends more readily if they were not there.

The most plausible excuse that could be offered for desiring to be rid
of the missionaries was the failure of the rice crop that year. In the
early part of the season there was no rain at all. When at last the
fields had been planted, one of the worst floods ever known in that
region destroyed all the lowland rice. Then, finally, the rains ceased
prematurely, and the upland crop was cut off by drought. The presence of
the missionaries in the country had offended the spirits, and they had
withheld the rain. Such was the pretext urged in a petition sent to
Bangkok to have the missionaries removed. The specific address of the
petition to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the United States
Consul leads one to suspect that the matter was directed by some one who
understood the order of official business much better than did the Lāo

The Minister forwarded the document to Mr. McDonald, the acting
Vice-Consul at the time. Mr. McDonald replied to the Minister that there
must be some mistake about it. It appeared that the scarcity of rice
complained of had begun the year before the arrival of the missionaries;
it was not confined to Chiengmai, but extended over all the northern
provinces. He added roguishly, however, that he would strictly enjoin
the American missionaries to be very careful in future not to cause any
famine. Of all this secret plotting we were entirely ignorant at the
time, and learned of it only long afterwards. While these plots were
developing, I was frequently visiting the Prince, and all our relations
with him were apparently satisfactory. But we knew that he was under the
influence of a wily and unprincipled adversary.

The other matter in which Fonseca was supposed to be able to help his
patron out of difficulties even more pressing, was the Burmese lawsuits
pending before the British Consul. But the British government was the
last party to permit officious meddling with its public business from
such a quarter. It is presumed that there was evidence of his
interference with official correspondence. This much is certain—a
peremptory demand was made on the Siamese government for his recall. The
official order sent up was too emphatic to be neglected. The man was
sent out of the country in quite different style from that in which he
entered it. This man is known to have been present at the consultation
relative to the mission. If the jealousy and suspicion on the part of
the Prince did not originate with him, there is no doubt that he at
least worked on the Prince’s suspicious nature, increasing his jealousy
of the growing popularity of the mission, and leading him to think that
it would be wise to stop it in its incipiency.

Yet even when the blow was about to fall, we could not believe that the
Prince was so treacherous as to plan to drive us out of the country, at
the same time that he continued to treat us so kindly, and would even
come to dine with us. We could not believe that the younger Princess,
who had a predominating influence over her father, could encourage one
of the Christians to put himself under her protection, only that he
might the more surely be sent to his death a day or two later. We could
not believe that an excursion down the river had been planned by the
Prince, only that he might be out of reach when the executions should
take place. We were still incredulous, even after we received reliable
information from the agent of the Borneo Company that he had heard the
Prince and a certain high officer consulting together to stop our work.
The plan which he reported was to expel the converts from the country,
giving their wives and children the option to follow them or to remain.
After all, that would not have been so great a disaster. These men had
no great possessions to lose. Their banishment would only plant the
Gospel in other provinces or other lands.

When, in September, 1869, just before the fatal stroke, the Prince
started on what purported to be a three weeks’ fishing trip, we thought
that his absence would give us a respite from our present fears, and
would afford him leisure for better thoughts. As his boats pushed off,
we waved him a parting good-bye from the shore. His first business was
at Lampūn, to secure the co-operation of the governor of that province
in ridding the country of the new religion. Inasmuch as Sên Yā Wichai,
the third convert mentioned above, was a Lampūn officer, it was thought
prudent in his case to secure the action of his own immediate superior.
He was at once sent for, and was condemned to death, but was saved by
his young master, the governor’s son, on the plea that he was a
backwoodsman, and knew no better.

Of the deep designs against us and our work we were thus either ignorant
or incredulous till, on the evening of September 13th, just before dark,
our night watchman came to us with the common excuse for leaving us,
that some relative was dead or dying, and insisting that he must go
immediately. In vain we urged that he must not leave us thus in the
lurch. As a final argument, we threatened to dock him of a month’s
wages. But wages were nothing to him then. “All that a man hath will he
give for his life.” While we talked to him, he had reached the gate and
was gone. So, also, fled the cook and the coolie, leaving only one blind
Ngīo who had taken refuge with us.

Mr. Wilson then lived across the river on the new premises, and it was
not until the next day that we learned that all his people, too, had
fled in like manner and at the same hour. We went to Prayā Tēpasing, the
Prince’s executive officer, to enquire the cause. He feigned surprise,
and professed entire ignorance of any designs against the Christians. He
said, however, that the Prince had given an order that the inhabitants
of certain villages should bring in each a hewn slab of timber to repair
the stockade. Possibly the scare might have somehow arisen from that. We
were aware of the order, and had told the Christians that if pressed for
time to procure the timber, they might each take a slab of ours. We now
told the Prayā that we would ourselves be responsible for the timbers
required of them. To assure us with regard to our servants, the Prayā
sent for our cook, gave him a letter assuring his safety, and
threatened, besides, to have him flogged if he deserted us. The cook
remained with us all through these troubles, until we could find another
to take his place. For some reason Mr. Wilson did not avail himself of
this offer. He and Mrs. Wilson got on as they could without servants for
several months.

We now know that the order for the execution of the Christians had been
given long before by that same Prayā Tēpasing—in such fear of the Prince
was the highest officer in the realm! Not only had our servants
vanished—there was a sudden cessation of our visitors as well. Few even
dared to come for medicine for fear of being suspected of becoming
Christians. There were, however, a few notable exceptions, the abbot of
the Ūmōng monastery being the most conspicuous.

During the following week Mr. Wilson waded out across the flooded
country to the home of Nān Chai, his teacher. But his family did not
dare to give any information concerning him. To tell what they knew
would cost their lives also—so they had been told. He then went on
another mile to Noi Sunya’s home, with the same result. The wives of
both these men pretended to believe that their husbands had gone to the
city to visit us. Mr. Wilson noticed that one of the women had tears in
her eyes as she spoke. Puzzled rather than satisfied by the result of
the visit, Mr. Wilson returned with the hope that, after all, the men
were still alive, and that we yet should see them in the land of the

It was two weeks before our suspense was broken by the certainty of
their death. On Sunday morning, September 26th, a Ngīo friend and
neighbour of the martyrs called at my house. After looking all about
him, he asked where the Christians were. I told him there seemed to be a
mystery about them that we could not unravel, but we hoped they were
secreting themselves in safety somewhere. Seeing that I was really
ignorant of their fate, he came close up to me, and looking around again
to assure himself that no one was near, he asked, “If I tell you, will
you promise never to betray me?” Having demanded and received an
emphatic promise equivalent to an oath, he drew his hand significantly
across his neck, and whispered, “That is the way.” His gesture was too
well understood in that reign to leave any doubt as to what was meant.
The man had really come on a sad and dangerous errand of kindness. As
soon as it was accomplished, he hurried away, evidently fearing that the
birds of the air might hear it, or that some breeze might waft it to the

On Monday morning Mr. Wilson and I went again to the Prayā. He could now
no longer lie for his master as to the fact of the execution of the men,
but he offered the flimsy excuse that it was because they had not
brought in their slabs on time. We were then obliged to charge him with
patent falsehood. He knew that they were executed for no crime whatever,
but only for being Christians. Poor man! He seemed somewhat ashamed; but
what could he do? He was not at heart a bad man, as his letter of
protection for the cook showed. The lives of two peasants were no great
matter in those days. He had been so trained to execute every behest of
his master, that it scarcely occurred to him that he ought to hesitate
at this.

But it was some relief to know the worst, and to know that it was known
that we knew it. Before this we had been obliged to feign hopes that we
hardly believed ourselves. Now we could speak openly. The Prince had not
yet returned from his fishing trip; so we went to his elder daughter and
her husband, afterward Prince Intanon. In their position they could not
say much; but they did say that what the Prince had done was not right,
and that they did not approve of the act.

One outcome of the situation was a flood of the wildest rumours—some of
them, no doubt, started on purpose to frighten us away. One of these
touched us in a most tender point. One of our most faithful servants,
who had been with us from the very first, was desirous of visiting
Bangkok. So we arranged to have him go down in charge of a boat that was
to bring up our supplies for the year. By him we sent a large package of
letters written before we had reason to suspect so serious an outcome of
the troubles that were brewing. While we could not conceal some gloomy
forebodings, our reports were, on the whole, full of hope for the speedy
progress of the Gospel. The boat left for Bangkok a few days after the
Prince started on his fishing trip. Presently it was reported that the
boat had been intercepted, and that this man, with his wife, his son,
and his son’s family, even down to a little grandchild of two years old,
had been killed, and the boat broken to pieces and burned.

Although such atrocity seemed beyond belief, yet a number of
circumstances combined to give the report credibility. Why, for
instance, was the long, unusual trip down the river taken just before
our boat was to start? What did it mean that, after the murder of the
Christians was known, no sum of money could induce a Lāo man to take a
letter to Bangkok? If the story of the fate of our messenger were true,
the act was the act of a madman—and there is no telling what a madman
may not do. He was in a position to keep us from escaping; and if he had
really gone so far as that, he evidently did not intend that we should
be heard from alive.

For a time we virtually resigned ourselves to what seemed inevitable
fate. When we could get no letters sent, we actually began writing the
history of those days on the margins of books in our library, so that,
if we were never heard from again, some of the precedent circumstances
of our end might thus, perhaps, come to light. It was a great relief,
therefore, when an influential Burmese, knowing our situation, offered
to carry a letter through to our friends in Bangkok.

On September 29th, when the letters carried by the Burmese were written,
we were still under the impression that our boatman had been murdered,
and that neither he nor the letters and reports carried by him had been
heard from. It was the knowledge that these rumours were false, and that
he had passed Rahêng in safety, that first relieved our minds. So, too,
his arrival in Bangkok gave our friends there the first assurance of our
safety. With this explanation the letters themselves will give the best
idea of our situation in those dark days. The following is from a letter
of Dr. S. R. House to our Mission Board in New York, printed in the
_Presbyterian Record_ of February, 1870. It is dated November 11th,

    “Since our last mail was despatched, tidings have been received
    from the mission families in North Laos which have greatly
    distressed and alarmed us, causing no little anxiety for their
    personal safety. This outburst of persecution from which they
    are now suffering must have been quite unlooked for, for their
    letters down to September 10th were full of encouragement. Never
    had the king and the princes[8] seemed more friendly; never had
    their prospects seemed brighter. Seven interesting converts had
    been baptized since the year began, and they had just been
    enjoying a wonderfully favourable opportunity to make the gospel
    message known to the people from every part of the kingdom....
    What has caused this sudden change in the demeanour of the king
    of Chiengmai toward our missionaries there, does not appear....

Footnote 8:

  That is the Prince of Chiengmai and the nobility. These terms are so
  used generally throughout this correspondence.—ED.

    “Thus far they seem to have had no apprehension for themselves
    personally; but the next letter, of two days’ later date,
    indicates that something had occurred or had come to their
    knowledge which led them to believe that their own lives were in
    jeopardy. On September 29th Mr. McGilvary writes hurriedly to
    his father-in-law, Rev. D. B. Bradley, M.D., of the A. M. A.
    mission as follows:—

    “‘Dear Father and Mother:—We write to tell you that we may be in
    great danger. If you never hear from us more, know that we are
    in heaven. Send some one up here to look after our Christians,
    and do not, we beg you, grieve over the loss of our lives. Two
    of our church members died at the martyr’s stake on the 14th of
    September. Warrants are out for the others. What is before us we
    do not know. We are all peaceful, and very happy. We have
    written letters giving the full facts, but dare not send them
    for fear of their interception.

    “‘Lung Puk left here on the 12th direct for Bangkok. Should he
    never reach you, you may fear the worst for us.... He had a
    large mail with our reports, etc. Should worst come to worst, we
    have counted the cost beforehand, and our death will not be in
    vain. Love to all the dear ones. Good-bye, dear father, mother,
    brothers, sisters, and friends—perhaps till we meet in heaven!’”

Dr. House then continues:

    “That these letters—the last one especially—awakened our deepest
    solicitude, I need not assure you. The brethren from the
    Pechaburī station reached Bangkok, to attend the annual session
    of Presbytery, the very day the startling tidings came; and
    anxious were our deliberations, and earnest our prayers in
    behalf of those brethren beloved and their helpless families. A
    month had then elapsed since the date of the letters. Were they
    still in the land of the living?

    “It was deemed advisable that some of our number should proceed
    as far up the river as possible—to Rahêng at least—to learn the
    existing state of things and extend all possible assistance.
    After consultation this service devolved on Bros. McDonald and

    “Owing to the peculiar allegiance which holds the Lāo tribes
    tributary to the Siamese, it was thought best not to press any
    doubtful treaty rights and claims through the United States
    Consul—that is, the protection they would be entitled to claim
    anywhere on the soil of Siam proper—but to throw ourselves on
    the friendliness and goodwill of the Siamese Government as old
    residents here, most of us, who are greatly troubled lest harm
    should befall our friends who are living in one of their
    tributary states. What could they do to help us?

    “The deputation, consisting of Dr. Bradley, Mr. McDonald, Mr.
    George, and myself, were most kindly received by the new Regent
    of the kingdom, the late Prime Minister—were received in every
    respect as friends, and the best endeavours of the Siamese
    Government were promised. A government official would be
    despatched at once bearing a letter to the king of Chiengmai,
    enjoining on him to give protection to the missionaries. But the
    Regent added, ‘It is difficult to deal with a man so moody and
    arbitrary as this Chief of Chiengmai. He is like King Theodore
    of Abyssinia.’—This too significant comparison had already
    suggested itself in anything but an agreeable way to ourselves.

    “The Siamese move slowly at the best, and the brethren who have
    consented to go on this errand so full of perplexity and
    possible peril started several days before the royal messenger’s
    preparations were completed. We are waiting with the greatest
    solicitude further tidings. I must say from what I know of the
    character of the man in whose hands and at whose mercy they are,
    that I have great fears. Others here, however, are confident
    that no harm can come to them personally.”

The following, from a note of mine to the Board, will throw further
light on our letter to our friends and on our situation. It was dated
October 31st, while we were anxiously waiting for the reply to our

    ... “But the particular fact that filled us with deepest anxiety
    when we sent that note to Bangkok, was a rumour that the king
    had, in person, stopped a boat in charge of our old servant whom
    we had sent down to Bangkok after money and supplies, and had
    put him, his wife, and all the boatmen to death. That rumour was
    currently believed here, and we had so many questions asked us
    about them by persons in high and in low station, that we were
    constrained almost to believe it. And if that had been done, we
    knew not what would come next. Of course we had serious
    apprehensions regarding our own safety; yet our duty was clear.
    However dangerous our position, we felt that flight would be
    more dangerous.... Our strength was to sit still....

    “After waiting a month in suspense about our servants, we have
    just learned, on pretty good authority, that they were not
    murdered. They have been reported as having passed Rahêng. In a
    few days we shall know the truth. If they are safe, our greatest
    fears were groundless. We wait to see the Lord’s purpose in
    reference to this people. We yet believe they are purposes of
    mercy. The excitement has somewhat died down, and we have daily
    many visitors. But there is great fear of the authorities. No
    one feels safe; no one knows what will come next.”

I quote from a letter of Mr. Wilson to the Board the following account
of the suffering and death of the martyrs, written January 3d, 1870,
after all the various rumours had been sifted, and the facts were
clearly known. Meantime the Commission referred to in the letter of Dr.
House had come, and this letter was brought to Bangkok by it on its
return. This letter and the one cited just above were printed in the
_Foreign Missionary_ for March and for May, 1870.

    “Till within a very short time before their execution, we had no
    apprehension that any serious obstacle would be thrown in the
    way of the Lāo becoming Christians. All the baptisms had taken
    place publicly. The number, and some of the names, of the
    Christians had been given in answer to questions asked by the
    younger daughter of the king, and by others of royal blood. We
    had become convinced that the king must know that some of his
    people had become disciples of Jesus. His two daughters had
    assured Mr. McGilvary that no one should be molested for
    becoming Christians. With such an assurance from the highest
    princesses in the land, we flattered ourselves that the king
    would tolerate Christianity. The fearlessness, also, with which
    all but Nān Chai professed Christ, made us feel that there was
    no danger to the life of any one who had received baptism.

    “Nān Chai, however, seemed anxious. Some two months before his
    baptism he requested us to write to Bangkok and get the King of
    Siam to make proclamation of religious toleration. Not a month
    before his baptism he asked me, ‘If the king should call me and
    ask, “Are you a disciple of Jesus?” would it be wrong to say
    “No”?’ We knew that for some time he had loved the Saviour, but
    he was following Him tremblingly. His position as overseer
    (ex-abbot) of the monastery made his renunciation of Buddhism a
    more noticeable event, and rendered him more liable to
    persecution than some of the others. I may here state that those
    who, after leaving the monastery, are appointed overseers of the
    temple, are, by virtue of their position, exempt from the call
    of their masters to do government work. Nān Chai belonged to
    this class. His resignation of this post when he became a
    Christian, both proved his sincerity, and made him a mark for
    Buddhist hate and reproach.

    “Noi Sunya’s work was to tend the king’s cattle, and in this way
    he performed his share of public service. He also worked a farm,
    and was a physician. He was of a genial disposition and cheerful
    temper, always looking on the bright side of life, happy
    himself, and trying to make others happy. He was thus a general
    favourite. His reception of the truth was hearty and childlike.
    How his face beamed with joy that communion Sabbath! Next day,
    Monday, September 6th, about noon, he started for his walk of
    nine miles across the plain to Mê Pō Kā. In bidding him good-bye
    we little thought we should see his face no more.

    “Our teacher, Nān Chai, came in the following Thursday, somewhat
    sad because the head man of his village was urging him for some
    government work and supplies that were then being raised for the
    army. After resigning the oversight of the temple, being
    virtually without a master, he had come in to the city to put
    himself under the king’s younger daughter. On Saturday morning,
    the 11th, she gave him his protection papers, for which he paid
    the usual three rupees. Some ten days before, when Mr. McGilvary
    had called with him in reference to this matter, he had, at the
    princess’ request, made a statement of his Christian faith, even
    to the repeating of a prayer.

    “On that same Saturday afternoon a message came from the head
    man of the village for Nān Chai’s immediate return home. The
    message was so urgent that he concluded not to wait for the
    accustomed Sabbath morning worship. Knowing that there was a
    disposition on the part of some of the public officers to find
    fault with the Christians, I thought it best for him to go home,
    and not return to us till quiet should be restored. He seemed
    very sad, and said that his master was disposed to oppress him.
    All that I could say did not rouse him from his depression. He
    took leave of us about ten o’clock at night. When we awoke on
    Sabbath morning, he was gone. We know now that shortly after the
    princess had given him her letters of protection on Saturday
    morning, she despatched a messenger to the head man of the
    village ordering Nān Chai’s arrest. Imagine that Sabbath
    morning’s walk of nearly nine miles, much of the way through
    water nearly knee-deep! Dear gentle heart, full of care and

    “He reached home about noon. After dinner he called upon the
    head man of the village; but no one knew the nature of the
    conference. He was permitted to sleep at home that night. Next
    morning came the order from the chief man of the district for
    the overseers of the temples and those doing the king’s own work
    to appear at his house. This order included, of course, both our
    brethren, Noi Sunya and Nān Chai. But to make their attendance
    doubly sure, armed men were sent with clubs and pikes to conduct
    them to the appointed rendezvous. Noi Sunya took leave of his
    wife and six children in tears. He knew what that call and those
    clubs and spears meant. When they reached the house of the
    district chief, they found a large armed force ready to receive
    them. When arrested at their homes they had been charged with
    refusing to do the king’s work. But now Nān Chai was asked, ‘Are
    you an overseer of a temple?’ He answered, ‘I was, but am not
    now.’ ‘Have you entered the religion of the foreigners?’ ‘Yes.’
    Noi Sunya was asked the same question, to which he also answered

    “They were then seized, and after further examination were told
    that they had been condemned to death. While Nān Chai was giving
    the reason of the faith that was in him, one of the examiners
    kicked him in the eye, leaving it bloodshot and causing it to
    swell till the eye was closed. The arms of the prisoners were
    tied behind their backs. Their necks were compressed between two
    pieces of timber (the death-yoke) tied before and behind so
    tightly as painfully to impede both respiration and the
    circulation of the blood. They were thus placed in a sitting
    posture near a wall, and cords were passed through the holes in
    their ears and tied to a beam above. In this constrained and
    painful position—not able to turn their heads or bow them in
    slumber—they remained from Monday afternoon till Tuesday morning
    about ten o’clock, when they were led out into the jungle and

    “When Nān Chai was arrested, his wife started on a run to inform
    us, supposing that he would be brought to the city to undergo a
    regular trial. In that case she hoped the missionaries could
    ensure his release. She had arrived in sight of our house, when
    a messenger from the head man of the village overtook her, and
    informed her that if she called on us, it would be at the risk
    of her life. She returned immediately, to join him at the
    district chief’s house; but was informed that if she made the
    least demonstration of grief, she too would be put to death. She
    sat down by her husband for a time. They conversed together as
    opportunity offered, being narrowly watched by the merciless
    guard. The prisoners both said, ‘Oh, if the missionaries were
    here, we should not have to die!’ Nān Chai’s last words to his
    wife were, ‘Tell the missionaries that we die for no other cause
    than that we are Christians.’ One of the guards angrily asked
    what he had said. She saw that it was best for her to retire,
    and they parted.

    “When Nān Chai knew that he and his comrade were doomed, he said
    to one of the officers, ‘You will kill us; we are prepared. But
    I beg you not to kill those who are in the employ of the
    missionaries. They are not Christians, and are not prepared to
    die.’ What a triumph of faith in this once fearful disciple!
    What a noble forgetfulness of self in that earnest request for
    the lives of others!

    “And now, after a long and weary night of painful watching, the
    morning of Tuesday, the 14th, dawns upon them. The hour is come.
    They are led out into the lonely jungle. They kneel down. Nān
    Chai is asked to pray. He does so, his last petition being,
    ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ The tenderness of the scene
    melts his enemies to tears. The heads of the prisoners—prisoners
    for Jesus’ sake—are drawn back by slightly raising the cruel
    yoke they have worn for more than twenty hours. The executioner
    approaches with his club. Nān Chai receives the stroke on the
    front of the neck. His body sinks to the ground a corpse.... Noi
    Sunya receives upon the front of his neck five or six strokes;
    but life is still not extinct. A spear is thrust into his heart.
    His body is bathed in blood, and his spirit joins that of his
    martyred brother. Their bodies were hastily buried. Their graves
    we may not yet visit....

    “Only a few days before his death Nān Chai wrote, at Mrs.
    Wilson’s request, a little slip which she forwarded to her
    friends as a specimen of the Lāo language. The last line—the
    last, no doubt, that he ever wrote—contained the following words
    ‘Nān Chai dai rap pen sit lêo. Hak Yēsū nak’ (Nān Chai has
    become a disciple. He loves Jesus much).”



                          THE ROYAL COMMISSION

After the despatch of our hurried notes by the Burmese on September
29th, 1869, we felt reasonably sure that our friends would learn the
news of our situation, and we were in a measure relieved. But at that
time we still believed the reports about the murder of Lung Puk. In
fact, it was these reports, which we had just heard before writing the
letters sent by the Burmese, that caused the great anxiety expressed in
them. But though we poured out our hearts and unburdened our fears to
our friends, no one in Chiengmai outside of our two families ever knew
the fears that agitated our breasts. For two months or more we still
feared that we might be treacherously murdered under colour as though it
were done by robbers or dacoits. We knew not on lying down at night what
might happen before dawn.

One of the hardest things of the situation was that, in the presence of
our own dear children, we felt obliged to speak to each other of these
matters by signs alone, since it seemed wise to conceal our fears from
them. When we had native callers, or in our visits to the natives, we
preached to them just as if nothing had happened. Some that we know were
sent as spies to see what we were doing and what we were planning to do,
had nothing to report except the Gospel message which they had heard.

Then was the time when a few tried friends endeared themselves forever
to us. Among these was the Princess Būa Kam, and the abbot of the Ūmōng
monastery, both of whom have been mentioned before. The silver plate
with a little rice or fruit from the Princess never ceased to come; and
the abbot often made an excuse of errands elsewhere in our neighbourhood
that he might have occasion to call and express his sympathy.

One incident which occurred before the various rumours had been cleared
up, though well-nigh tragic at the time, seemed afterward amusing
enough. After the appalling treachery of the younger daughter of the
Prince in regard to Nān Chai, while professing constantly such personal
friendship for us, we naturally regarded her with profound distrust.
What, then, was our surprise, when, one night in the darkest time of our
troubles, a summons came for me to go at once to her palace with the
officer who brought the message. I was by no means to wait till morning,
and I could get no clue to the object of the summons. But it was almost
a royal command. Whatever it might mean, nothing would be gained by
refusal; so I promised at once to go. But a difficulty arose. My wife
positively refused to let me go alone. If the worst were to come, she
would be there to see it.

So the children were left in bed, and off we walked three-fourths of a
mile in the dark to the palace. We found it brilliantly lighted up. Was
it for the final act? But our fears were soon allayed. The Princess
received us as she always had done—probably a little surprised to see
Mrs. McGilvary with me. A foreign rug was spread for us, and soon was
produced a formidable package of documents in English, which the
Princess wanted us to translate! They were from the court in Maulmein,
and had reference to the lawsuits. They had just arrived, and she could
not wait till morning. We glanced over them, gave her the substance of
them, and promised that if she would send her scribe down next day, we
would translate them. She was relieved to find that there was nothing
more formidable in them—and so were we. The whole interview did not last
more than fifteen minutes; and when ready to return, we were escorted
home by servants with lanterns.

For a time we had very few visitors even for medicine. But the
monasteries were always open, and we were welcomed in nearly all the
homes of the princes. I regularly called on the Prince. When he was in a
pleasant mood, I had pleasant conversations with him. If I found him
moody or busy, I paid my respects and retired. His elder daughter and
her husband were always pleasant, and she was always interested to talk
on the subject of religion.

Another friendship formed the year before was then a great comfort to
us, though no one could really help us. A wealthy Chinese, who had
charge of collecting nearly all the revenue of the government, had been
shot in the city of Lampūn, eighteen miles away. A messenger with an
elephant was sent, begging me to come at once. It seemed at first
impossible for me to go, but finally I did so. The ball had entered
below the knee while the man was lying down, had followed the bone, and
had lodged in the soft part of the thigh. It was extracted, and I
remained there till the patient was out of danger. The wife, a
Siamo-Chinese, was a merchant, and acted as our banker for ten years. At
this writing, the family has not yet forgotten the service rendered.

But our hourly thoughts were directed to Bangkok. What would be the
outcome of our letters? We were continually asked what we were going to
do. Our reply was that, of course, we intended to remain. There was no
telegraph then, nor even a monthly mail. It was not till November 26th
that the first news of what was doing in our behalf reached us. It was
brought by messengers sent on in advance to notify the government that a
Royal Commissioner had arrived in Lampūn, with two foreigners and a
train of eighteen elephants and fifty-three attendants. They were to be
in Chiengmai the next day. No intimation, however, was given as to what
the object of the Commission was. But plainly it must be a matter of no
slight importance.

Early on the morning of the 27th every one was on the alert. A body of
men under the direction of an officer were scrubbing the old sālā next
door to us, for the letter had asked that preparations be made for the
party. A prince whispered in our ears to enquire whether we knew what
the “Kā Lūang” was coming for. But we knew as little as he did. We were
so hopeful, however, that we began to prepare for our guests, too. The
whole place seemed in an attitude of expectancy. The sudden arrival of a
Kā Lūang was not an everyday occurrence. And then the two foreigners—two
“white kolās”!

In the afternoon the curiosity of every one was gratified by the arrival
of the long train with the Commissioner at its head. The two “white
kolās” were none other than our associates in the Siamese mission, the
Rev. N. A. McDonald, and the Rev. S. C. George. Were ever guests more
welcome! The story was soon told of the receipt of our letters in
Bangkok, and of the negotiations which had resulted in their coming with
a Royal Commissioner and with a “Golden Seal,” as the royal letter is
called. We now knew definitely that the Commissioner had come on the
business of the mission and the treatment of the Christians. But our
brethren did not know the contents of the royal letter. No human
sagacity could yet predict what turn affairs would take. Was the mission
to be securely established, or were we to be escorted safely out of the
country? The Commissioner immediately notified the Prince of his arrival
with the “Golden Seal,” and awaited His Highness’ pleasure. The Prince’s
curiosity and anxiety were guarantee that there would be no delay. Nine
o’clock next morning was named as the hour for the audience. The
Commissioner notified us to be ready. An officer was sent with a
palanquin to escort the “Golden Seal” under the golden umbrella to the

Mr. Wilson and I, of course, joined the procession. On reaching the
grand reception hall at the palace, we encountered such an array of
princely state as we had never before seen among the Lāo. Every prince,
princess, and officer who could come was already there. I quote from Mr.
McDonald’s official report to the Board, dated February 2d, 1870, an
account of the audience. (_Presbyterian Record_, June, 1870.)

    “The next morning after our arrival the Regent’s letter was
    conducted in state to the palace under the royal umbrella, and
    the golden tray containing it was placed on a stand near the
    middle of the hall. Very soon the king entered the hall
    apparently calm, but pale with suppressed rage. We arose and
    bowed to him, and then resumed our seats. The Siamese officers,
    however, remained prostrate before him, as did every other one
    in the hall. The king immediately broke the seal and handed the
    letter to the Siamese secretary to read. After the reading of
    the letter he looked up, evidently quite relieved, and remarked,
    ‘This letter does not amount to so much. It gives the
    missionaries privilege to remain if they wish, or to go if they

Mr. McDonald, then, as a member of the Commission, addressed the King,
referring to the kindness with which the missionaries had been received
by him on their arrival—which was in keeping with the favour shown them
in Bangkok, and with the beneficent nature of their work—but regretting
that late difficulties had made their stay unpleasant. Among other
things he referred to the desertion of their servants. But neither he
nor the royal letter made the slightest reference to the murder of the
Christians. Mr. McDonald then proceeds:

    “What I said did not seem to rouse him. He continued to suppress
    his rage, and replied, ‘As to servants, he had never placed any
    hindrance. He had put to death a couple of fellows—a thing which
    he had a right to do, since they had failed to do their allotted
    government work. But that was his own business.’”

The Prince evidently thought that the affair was ended, and was
preparing to close the audience, greatly relieved that the one dreaded
point had not been referred to either in the letter or in the
conference. But to stop there would have been an inexcusable blunder on
our part. Not only had the good name of the Christians been tarnished,
but our own also, if we had made all this great fuss about nothing. It
was a difficult thing to face the Prince before his whole court, and
charge him with falsehood; but he had driven us to it. If he had not
lied, we had. For once we were called upon to stand before kings for His
name’s sake; and I believe that words were given to me to speak.

I said that I was sorry to be compelled to say that the Prince knew that
he had not spoken the truth. There was not a man or woman in that
audience, nor in the whole country, who did not know that those two men
had been put to death for no other pretended reason than that they were
Christians. It was done and was proclaimed to be done as a warning to
others. They had not refused to do government work. The charge that they
had failed to get the slabs for the stockade was a subterfuge. There was
not a word of truth in it, as the officer through whom it was done, then
present, well knew. When these men received the order to get the slabs,
they started immediately, but were at once arrested, and were not
allowed to get them. In no sense were they dealt with as criminals. On
that very day (over three months after the order), not one-fifth of the
men in the province had as yet brought in their timbers, and nothing was
said about it. In this country it was an unheard-of thing, even for the
gravest offences, to decoy men out from their homes into the jungle, and
to kill them there with no pretence of a trial. There was a Sanām
(Court), there were regular officers of law, even down to the
executioner. In the case of these men, not a single form of law had been
observed. By the Prince’s own order they had been treacherously
arrested, led out into the jungle, and cruelly clubbed to death in the
presence of a lawless mob by a ruffian hired to do it.

The old man looked on me in mingled astonishment and rage. Possibly till
then he thought we had not been able to learn the facts and particulars
in the case. More likely he thought that no one would dare thus openly
and publicly to expose them. But what was said had the desired effect.
Up to this point the Prince’s position had been impregnable. To assault
it successfully would have required the production of evidence; and no
man in the country, high or low, would have dared to testify against
him. But this unexpected challenge was more than he could endure. He
flung all caution to the winds. In an instant his sole defence was
abandoned. Mr. McDonald says:

    “‘Yes,’ he said, ‘he had killed them because they had embraced
    the Christian religion. And he would continue to kill every one
    who did the same. Leaving the religion of the country was
    rebellion against him, and he would so treat it. If the
    missionaries would remain to treat the sick, they might do so.
    But they must not make Christians; they must not teach the
    Christian religion. If they did, he would expel them from the
    country’.... At one time I feared that he might become
    uncontrollable, and break over all restraints, and do us some
    personal injury. The Siamese officer also was alarmed for our

Matters now had been brought to a crisis. The Christians had been proved
to be not malefactors, but martyrs. We now understood each other, and
all parties understood the situation. The Prince’s bravado before the
Commissioner in one sense was politic. He had read between the lines of
the King’s letter that the Siamese were afraid of him; and he was quite
willing to have it so. On the other hand, his attitude might have the
effect of convincing them that he was a dangerous man, to be dealt with
accordingly—and I believe it did.

But, as Mr. McDonald goes on to say, “It was useless to attempt any
further argument. The missionaries merely told him that it was their
intention to remain. The conversation then turned to other subjects, and
the Prince became more calm. After returning to the house of Mr.
McGilvary, and after anxious consultation and prayer, it was considered
best to abandon the mission for a time.”

The Commissioner strongly advised us to withdraw. Mr. McDonald was
naturally timid, and hardly felt safe till he was fairly out of the
country. He and Mr. George were sure that it would not be safe for us to
remain a single day after the Commissioner departed; and Mr. Wilson
agreed with them. Such, then, was the report made to the Board, and the
number of the _Record_ from which we have quoted above announced the
dissolution of the mission.

The news of the scene in the palace spread like wild-fire over the city.
We had scarcely reached home when our neighbours and friends began to
send us secret messages that it would be foolish to remain. The Prince
was like a lion bearded in his den. When the Commissioner left there was
no telling what he might do. The Commissioner naturally felt some
responsibility for our safety, and desired to have us return with him. I
so far consented as to allow the Commissioner to send word to the Prince
that we would retire as soon as we conveniently could. Yet, from what I
knew of the feeling of the people toward us, I could not see that it was
the will of Providence that the mission should be abandoned. Nor did I
believe that it would be hazardous to remain. The Prince evidently had
no thought of actually renouncing his allegiance to Siam. He had been
directed to see to our safety, if we wished to remain. I think, too,
that I understood him better than did either our own friends or the
Commissioner. His bluster at the audience was for effect. It was more
than probable that, after sober thought, he himself would realize that
he had gone too far. Before the coming of the Commissioner he had been
summoned to Bangkok; he was at that time busy preparing boats for the
journey, and was soon to start. He was too shrewd a man to wish us to
appear there before him as witnesses against him. It was, I thought,
more than probable that he would meet more than half-way any advance
made toward him, though we could not expect him to make the advance

Next morning before breakfast Mr. Wilson came over to have a long walk
and talk with me. He did not wish to express his fears before our
children. He argued with all his logic that it was better to go while we
safely could. His idea was to retire to Rahêng, where we would be under
the direct protection of the Siamese government; for, after yesterday’s
scene, he was sure we never could be safe in Chiengmai. So far as he was
concerned, I thought it a good idea. He might go, and I would remain—at
least as long as I could. He felt, however, that he would be to blame if
any disaster happened to us. From all responsibility on that score I
freely exonerated him. As I viewed the case, our personal risk was at an
end so soon as the situation should be known in Bangkok. The Prince
would no longer dare either to do anything or to cause anything to be
done _secretly_ as once we feared he would. Therefore, notwithstanding
the bluster of the day before, fear for our personal safety had little
weight with me. But quite apart from the question of danger, there was
much to be said in favour of Mr. Wilson’s going to Rahêng. The place was
an important one for missionary work. The result might possibly be a
station in both places, instead of in Chiengmai alone. His departure
might seem some concession to the wishes of the Prince—would show less
determination to thwart his known will. If there were any danger in
remaining, it would be less for one family than for two. All I wanted
was time to see the Lord’s will. At any rate, I was not willing to
depart without having an audience with the Prince alone. Against this it
was urged that the Prince had a special grudge against me, because of
the vaccination of his little grandson, and that this would be increased
by my having angered him the day before. But of this I was not afraid.
The parents of the dear child had begged me never to think that they
blamed me for it. As to what had happened the day before, I believed the
Prince’s respect for me was higher than it would have been had I allowed
him to bluff us with his bare-faced lie. The result of our walk was that
Mr. Wilson agreed to have me call on the Prince the next day, though Mr.
McDonald maintained that for himself he would not risk it.

So, next morning, I called at the palace at an hour when I knew I should
find the Prince alone with his head-wife. And, just as I expected, he
received me with unwonted cordiality. I referred to the friendship
between him and my father-in-law, Dr. Bradley; to his cordial consent
given to our coming to his country to teach the Christian religion and
to benefit his people in other ways; to his kind reception of us when we
came; to his granting us a place for a home; and to his many other acts
of kindness. We had come to him as friends, and I could not bear we
should part as enemies. As I had anticipated, his whole manner showed
that he was pleased at my advance. That, too, he said, was his desire.
We might remain at least till after his return from Bangkok, and take
all the time needed for a comfortable departure. I thanked him for his
consideration, and told him that Mr. Wilson would probably go at once.
We shook hands and parted as if the scene in the palace had never
occurred. I had won my point. What I wanted was time, and I had gained
it. The Prince could not possibly return in less than six months’
time—it might be much longer.

In a few days our friends left us. Having no faith in the success of my
new negotiations, or possibly thinking that I might be caught in a trap,
they reported to the Board, as we have seen, that the mission was broken
up—as technically it was. This last turn of affairs was merely a private
arrangement between the Prince and myself.

Had the matter not passed beyond our power, I doubtless should have been
credulous enough, or weak enough, to prefer that no further action
should be taken by our friends in Bangkok. I did write to Dr. Bradley
and to our mission to pursue a pacific policy, and to show the Prince
all kindness, as, indeed, I knew they would. But I learned afterwards
that their advances were hardly received with courtesy. Mr. George, who
asked permission to send by some one of the numerous fleet of boats some
parcels to us, was given to understand that the things would not be
needed, as the Prince expected both families to leave Chiengmai upon his



                           DEATH OF KĀWILŌROT

The Commissioner’s report of the attitude assumed by the Prince showed
the Siamese government that the man in control of the northern provinces
was of a spirit and temper that might be difficult to curb—that might at
any time throw everything into confusion. Hitherto it had been their
policy to strengthen his hands to any degree not inconsistent with his
loyalty. Siam and Burma had long been rivals and enemies. A strong
buffer-state in the north had been a necessity to Siam. But conditions
were changed. Burma was now under English control, and had ceased to be
a disturbing factor in the problem. A change in Siamese policy as
regards the North was inevitable.

When the news of the murder of the Christians became known in Bangkok,
our friends there deferred to the wishes of the Siamese government as
expressed by the Regent—whose goodwill to the mission and to ourselves
no one doubted. No steps, therefore, were taken to have the United
States officially represented on the Commission. In this we believe our
friends were providentially led. But Dr. House’s letter does not state,
what was also the fact, that the United States Consul, in whose presence
the Lāo Prince had given his official sanction to the establishment of
the mission, was anxious that the United States should be so
represented. And when that Commission so signally failed to accomplish
anything satisfactory, it was the Consul’s turn to say to our friends,
“I told you so.”

Because, as they themselves expressed it, of the lawless nature of the
Lāo Prince, and the consequent difficulty of protecting foreigners so
far away, our Siamese friends would then have preferred to have us
recalled. In fact, that was their first thought. The first draft of the
letter prepared to be sent by the Commission actually contained the
stipulation that we be safely conveyed back to Siam proper. It was only
the indomitable perseverance of Dr. Bradley—who frankly declared that he
would rather have no such letter sent at all—that secured the omission
of that clause, and left the way open for the possible continuance of
the mission. So, when the Commission returned to Bangkok, and it was
known that the Lāo Prince was soon to follow them. General Partridge,
the United States Consul, immediately took up the case, and insisted
that the Siamese government give guarantee for the fulfilment of
promises publicly made by its vassal in the presence of officials of
both governments. “Before this you could say, ‘He is like a tiger in the
jungle; we cannot control him.’ But when he reaches Bangkok, he is in
your power. You can then make your own terms regarding his return.”

How this negotiation was conducted, I am not aware. But from the
_Presbyterian Record_ of September, 1870, we learn that the Consul
carried his point:

    “Dr. House sends us word that the Siamese government has
    extended its protection over the missionaries in Chiengmai; they
    are not to be molested in their work. As the king of Chiengmai
    is tributary to Siam, this decision will no doubt be respected.
    This king is not likely to live long, and he will be succeeded
    by his son-in-law, a prince who has shown a friendly interest in
    the missionaries. The intervention of the Siamese government was
    obtained by the U. S. Consul, Gen. Partridge, not at the
    instance of the missionaries, but he took the ground of treaty
    stipulations between Siam and our country, which accorded the
    right of protection to American citizens.”

From the _Foreign Missionary_ of September, 1870, we quote the following
extract from the _Bangkok Summary_, doubtless from the pen of Dr.

    “I am very happy to learn from the most reliable authority that
    His Grace the Regent has been pleased to commit the American
    citizens in Chiengmai to the care and protection of the Maha
    Uparāt, the son-in-law of the king, charging him to assist,
    nourish, and protect them so that they shall suffer no trouble
    and hindrance in their work from persecutions like those through
    which they have passed since September 12th last.

    “His Grace, moreover, is understood to have promised that he
    will certainly arrange to have those American citizens protected
    in Chiengmai according to the stipulations of the treaties, even
    though the present king should live and continue his reign.

    “The Maha Uparāt enjoys the reputation of being a mild and
    discreet prince. He received this his new title a few weeks
    since from His Majesty the Supreme King of Siam, by virtue of
    which he is constituted Second King of Chiengmai. I learn that
    His Grace the Regent has virtually committed the rule of that
    kingdom to him during the illness of the king, and has assured
    him that he is ultimately to become the king’s successor to the

    “This I regard as good news, indeed, and too good to be held a
    day longer from the public. Who will not agree with me that the
    Siamese government is worthy of a great meed of praise for what
    it has done in the matter of the Chiengmai mission? But let us
    see to it that the King of Kings, as well, receives our highest
    praise for all these gratifying events of His providence.”

While the Consul was pressing these claims, Prince Kāwilōrot, as was
intimated in the last extract, became dangerously ill. He was stricken
with almost instantaneous loss of consciousness, and complete paralysis
of speech. Meanwhile we in Chiengmai, only five hundred miles away, were
in profound ignorance of what was happening. If we had despatched a
special messenger thither for news, it would have been three months
before he could have returned with a reply. And the first news we
received was not reassuring. Word came that the time was set for the
Prince’s return; that he had been promoted to higher honours, and had
received higher titles; that he was returning with full power, and
probably flushed with fresh victories. Of course, that did not
necessarily mean very much. Siam understood perfectly the great trick of
oriental statecraft, the giving of high-sounding titles, with, perhaps,
a larger stipend, in compensation for the loss of real power. But it was
a time of great anxiety for us. Revenge was a passion which that man
seldom left ungratified. Would he come breathing out slaughter against
the church and vengeance on us?

By and by there came a message stating that the Prince was ill, and
directing that offerings be made for his recovery. Then came news that
he was already on his way, and had sent orders for a hundred elephants
to meet him at the landing station below the rapids. Some surmised that
his illness was feigned in order to escape the lawsuits which were
pressing him. About the middle of June we learned that he had reached
the landing station, but was very seriously ill. It was still more
urgently enjoined that his relatives and the monasteries in Chiengmai
should “make merit” in his behalf, and propitiate the demons by generous

On the evening of June 29th, while riding through the streets of the
city, some one called out to me, “The Prince is dead!” No news ever gave
me such a shock. I stepped in to the residence of one of the princes, a
nephew of Kāwilōrot, to get the particulars, but found him in a dreadful
state of mind. Yes. The Prince was dead; and word had come that he (the
nephew) was to go to Bangkok to bear the brunt of the lawsuits—to answer
in his own name for transactions done by order of the dead Prince!

How soon the strongest prejudices fade and disappear in the presence of
death! The anxious fears of his return that had haunted us, all
dissolved into tender sympathy now that he was gone. We forgot his
treachery and cruelty, and thought only of his interesting human
qualities. We recalled his taking tea or dining with us, and even the
dry jokes that he so much enjoyed. He was a tender father. He could be a
warm, though a fickle and inconstant friend. In many respects he was a
good ruler. He was absolute and tyrannical; but there was no petty
thieving in his realm. And now that voice that had made thousands
tremble was silent in death! No doubt it was with a sigh of relief that
the Siamese government turned over the government of the North to one
whom they could better trust.

But it would be a hard heart that could follow unmoved that long, weary
homeward trip of the dying Prince. He was so weak that he could not
endure the jarring caused by the use of the setting-poles. His boat had
to be taken in tow of another. When the last lingering hope of life died
out, his one desire was to reach home—to die in his own palace. The trip
through the rapids he could not bear, and it was too slow for the dying
man. Travel by elephant is both rough and slow. He is brought ashore,
therefore, and borne on a litter as swiftly as relays of men can carry
him. Over the mountains and up the valley of the Mê Ping, under burning
sun and through driving rain, they hasten. At last, on the evening of
June 28th, they halt on the left bank of the Mê Ping, with only that
stream between him and his own country. “What land is this?” he asks.
“Lampūn,” is the reply. “Carry me across quickly!” He is obeyed, but
sinks exhausted by the fatigue of crossing. He passes a restless night.
His mind wanders. He dreams of being at home; of worshipping in his own
palace. The morning comes. He is still alive; but so weak that, in spite
of his eagerness to hasten on, at every few paces his bearers must halt,
while attendants fan him or administer a cordial. At last fan and
cordials fail. The litter is set down under the two golden umbrellas
that screen it from the burning rays of the sun. The little group stand
with bowed heads and hushed hearts while the spirit takes its flight, to
appear before its Maker.—Almost, but not quite home, and with none of
his immediate kin by him to see the end! The attendants cover the body
with a cloth, and hasten on to the next station, a few miles below the
city. The procession halted there at about the very time that the
messenger reached Chiengmai with the news that he was dead.

Such, as I learned next day from the attending prince, were the last
hours of His Highness Chao Kāwilōrot Suriyawong, Prince of Chiengmai. He
died at ten o’clock in the morning of June 29th, 1870, in the seventieth
year of his age, and in the sixteenth of his reign.

Next morning before breakfast I was sent for by the younger daughter of
the Prince, to go to the residence of the nephew, whom I had left late
in the evening before in such a distracted state of mind. How shocked
was I on entering to find the prince cold and dead! The Princess wished
to get my judgment whether he was really dead beyond all hope of
resuscitation. But it required no skilled physician to answer that
question. He had evidently died by a dose of opium administered by his
own hands. The little cup from which it was taken was still by his
bedside. Whether it was intentional suicide to escape the lawsuits of
his deceased master, or was simply designed to ease the mental troubles
of that night, they could tell as well as I. In either case, he slept
the sleep that knows no waking till the summons of the last trump.

After breakfast I rode out to the encampment, only two or three miles
away, where the body of the Prince was lying. The family and officers
and friends were assembled to look for the last time on that noted face.
The last act before placing the body in the coffin was to cover it
throughout with gold-leaf, to give it the appearance of being a Buddha.
But no gold-leaf could disguise that face. The family remained there a
few days, partly for the much-needed rest, but chiefly to await a day of
good augury for carrying the remains to the city.

The day was well chosen for such a pageant as the country had not seen,
to honour alike the departed, and to welcome the succeeding Prince.
There was a long and imposing procession of soldiers, monks, and people
marching to the wailing of the funeral dirge and to the slow, solemn
beat of drums. Near the head of the line, on his elephant, was the
son-in-law, Chao Intanon, soon to be Prince of Chiengmai. Not far behind
came the body of the dead Prince, borne on a golden bier and accompanied
by a large train of yellow-robed priests. Behind this was the vacant
throne, and on it the royal crown, both testifying to the emptiness of
human pomp and power. Then came one leading the horse His Highness used
to ride; and next, his favourite elephant, its huge body covered with
trappings of gold. After these came members of the Prince’s family and
other near relatives.

About ten o’clock the procession approached the city which, by
inexorable custom, may never open its gates to receive the dead—not even
though the dead were he whose word for so many years had been its law.
What a comment on human glory and on the tyranny of superstitious
custom! On reaching the South Gate, therefore, the procession turned to
the right, and passed on outside the city wall to the East Gate. There,
in the Prince’s summer garden, beside the river, his remains lay in
state until the great cremation ceremony a year later. Meantime a lamp
was kept burning at the head and at the foot night and day. A prince was
in constant attendance. Courses of monks chanted the requiem of the
Buddhist ceremonial for the dead. At intervals during the whole night
the beat of the drum resounded through the air, reminding the city that
there lay all that remained of one of its greatest masters.

Prince Intanon, though not yet officially installed, assured me, as soon
as I met him at the encampment, that we were to remain and build our
houses and prosecute our work without let or hindrance. Other princes
and officers were pleased to give the same assurance. With the Prince’s
party there came a large mail from friends in Bangkok, giving full
particulars of the negotiations that were stopped by the sudden illness
of the Prince, and clearing up the questions about which we were so much
in doubt. The interposition of Providence had been so marked that we
could only stand in awe before Him who had so wonderfully led us. For,
after the utmost stretch of my own credulity in trying to trust the
Prince, my final conviction is that, had he lived, he and the mission
could not have existed in the same country. He could never have endured
to see his people becoming Christians—Not that he cared so much for
Buddhism; but it would have been a constant challenge to his autocratic

In March, while the scenes of this tragic drama were slowly enacting in
Bangkok, and while we were anxiously awaiting the dénouement, we had a
pleasant episode of another kind. One morning we were surprised to learn
from some natives that out on the plain, not far from the city, they had
passed two white foreigners, a man and a woman, and that they were
coming to our house. Sure enough, about ten o’clock, who should ride up
but Rev. and Mrs. J. N. Cushing of the American Baptist Mission in
Burma! What an unexpected pleasure! For three years we had seen but two
white faces outside of our own little circle. Some of our latest news
from home friends was eleven months old when we received it. What a
social feast we did have!

They had started from Shwegyin, Burma, had made a tour west of the
Salwin River, crossed over to Keng Tung, come down by Chieng Sên and
Chieng Rāi, and now called at Chiengmai on their way back to Burma.
Their visit was a real godsend to us in the time of our troubles.



                             THE NEW RÉGIME

One of the results of the change of government was that we were able to
build permanent houses. For three years and more we had lived within
basket-woven bamboo walls that a pocketknife could pierce, neither
secure nor wholesome nor favourable for our work. They bore silent but
steady testimony that we ourselves did not regard our stay as permanent.
The results of our manner of living were already seen in the impaired
health of the members of the mission. My wife surely could never have
lived another decade in the old sālā with bamboo walls and ceiling,
where the dust from the borers in the wood constantly filled the air and
poisoned the lungs. Mrs. Wilson bore up bravely for five years, until
there was just ready for her reception the permanent house which she was
never to enjoy. As soon as they could, the family started for the United
States on furlough, all thoroughly broken down. After two years of rest
Mr. Wilson alone was able to return to the field, leaving Mrs. Wilson
behind. She never regained her health, and they never saw each other
again. Her departure was a great loss to the mission. She was a gifted
lady, a fine vocal and instrumental musician, and a consecrated
missionary. She left one literary work in Lāo, the translation of
Bunyan’s _Pilgrim’s Progress_, which has since been published.

But as matters then were, there was much perplexing work to be done
before we were at all ready to begin building. I was favoured in getting
a lot of first class teak logs delivered at a very cheap rate. Then the
trouble began. The logs must be hauled up from the river by elephants to
the lot where they are to be sawn. The log is raised and mounted on two
strong trestles. A black line to guide the saw is struck on either side.
Two sawyers stand facing each other across the log, grasping the handles
of a long framed saw with horizontal blade. Then the operation begins.
The saw is pushed and pulled back and forth till the cut is carried
through to the end of the log. This operation is repeated for every
stick of timber put into the house.

But we are already too fast. Where are the sawyers to come from? There
were then no good sawyers among the Lāo. No one dared to learn for fear
of being appropriated by the Prince, or of being compelled to work on
public buildings. There were, however, three pairs of sawyers, debtors
to the Prince, whom he had brought up from Rahêng for his own work.
Whenever not needed by him or by some other person of rank, they were
allowed to seek employment elsewhere. So, at odd times, I was able to
secure their services. But if the Prince needed them, they must at once
drop everything and go. Scores of times our sawyers were called away,
often for weeks at a time, and at the busiest stage of the work.

And now for the carpenter. The Lāo dared not be known as carpenters for
the same reason as that given above in the case of the sawyers. They
would have been constantly requisitioned for government work. There was
in the place only one Siamese carpenter reputed to be a good workman. In
order to get him, I had to advance him three hundred rupees, professedly
to pay a debt, but most likely to gamble with. He was to build by
contract. But he had already received his money, or so much of it that
he was quite independent. He soon slashed and spoiled more timber than
his wages were worth. So, to keep him from ruining the whole, I had to
get rid of him, even at some sacrifice. Just then a Siamo-Chinese turned
up, who took the job by the day under my direction, to be assisted by
some Christians whom we trained thus as apprentices. The house was built
on the plan of the East Indian bungalow—raised ten feet from the ground
on posts, with single walls and a veranda all round. Its large lofty
rooms, screened on all sides by the verandas, make it still one of the
most comfortable houses in the mission. It was more than eight years
from the time of our arrival when we entered it; and even then it was
not finished.

Although the new government was friendly, yet some of the ruling spirits
were in their hearts as hostile as the deceased Prince had ever been,
and without his more noble qualities. There were two in particular who
soon began to show that their secret influence would be against the
mission—and their open hostility, too, so far as they ventured to let it
appear. One was the adopted son of the late Prince, and the other the
new ruler’s half-brother, who had been made Uparāt, or second in power,
when the new Prince ascended the throne. Had these both lived, their
combined influence would have been nearly as formidable as that of
Kāwilōrot. Unfortunately, too, the actual business of the country was
largely in their hands. Prince Intanon was not at all ambitious for
power. He liked nothing better than to work without care or
responsibility in his own little workshop, making fancy
elephant-saddles, and let his half-brother rule the country. During the
following year the adopted son went down to Bangkok to receive the
insignia of his new rank, but never returned. His death was even more
sudden than that of his foster-father. He was taken with the cholera,
and died in a few hours. This left the elder of the two avowed enemies
of Christianity, and the higher in rank and power. To give an
illustration of the kind of spirit we had to contend with in him, I will
anticipate an incident of a few years later.

Two native Karens, ordained ministers, were sent by the American Baptist
Mission to initiate in Lāo territory a work among the Karens, a
hill-people scattered sparsely throughout all the mountain region
between Siam and Burma. The native evangelists brought with them letters
from the missionaries in Burma, requesting us to aid them in getting Lāo
passports. We went with them to the new Prince, and he very graciously
gave direction to his brother to see that passports were issued, stating
not only that the visitors were to be protected and aided as travellers,
but also that they were to be allowed to teach the new religion, and
that people were allowed to embrace it without fear.

I was specially interested that they should succeed in the first village
which they were to visit, for it was the one where I had vaccinated the
whole population during the first year of our mission. Since I had
failed to make Christians of them—partly, as I supposed, on account of
my ignorance of their language, but more on account of the persecution
which followed so soon after—I hoped that when the message was delivered
in their own tongue, with official permission to embrace it, the whole
village might accept the Gospel. What was the astonishment of the
preachers that, instead of being received with the characteristic
hospitality of their race, they hardly found common civility! At last
they learned the reason. The Chao Uparāt had secretly despatched a
special messenger with a letter under his own seal, forbidding any Karen
subject to embrace the new religion. All who did so were to be reported
to him. What that meant, or what he wished them to infer that it meant,
was well understood.

Our readers, therefore, will not be surprised that we found it necessary
to keep an eye on the Chao Uparāt, and to use considerable diplomacy in
counteracting his schemes against the church. It was my policy in those
days to keep up as close an acquaintance as possible with the members of
the ruling family. It was the misfortune of all of them that they were
ignorant;[9] and ignorance begets suspicion. Some of them were naturally
suspicious of the missionaries. They could not understand what motive
could induce men who were neither government officials nor merchants, to
leave a great country and come to live in theirs.

Footnote 9:

  This same Uparāt, whose word ruled the country, was unable to write
  his own orders.

Two objects were gained by keeping in contact with the rulers. They saw,
then, with their own eyes, and heard with their own ears, what we were
doing. In nearly every interview our one great work was magnified alike
to prince, priest, and people. I have heretofore specially mentioned
princesses, too, as well as princes, in this connection, because the Lāo
have a proud pre-eminence among non-Christian races in the position
accorded to woman. In the family, woman’s authority is universally
recognized. At the time we speak of it was much the same in the
government also. The influence of women in affairs of state was
doubtless greatly increased during the previous reign, when, there being
no sons in the royal household, the daughters naturally became more
prominent. They were trained to understand and to deal with public

I have already referred to the kindness of the elder daughter, now not,
as in former reigns, the head-wife, but the only wife of the new ruler.
By birth she was of higher rank than he; and she was in every way worthy
of the high position she now assumed. Hers was, in fact, the strong
intelligence and steady will that kept her more passive consort from
errors into which he would otherwise have been led. At this particular
juncture she was needed as a check against the Prince’s more ambitious
and less principled half-brother. She had a woman’s instinct to discern
a point, and a woman’s revulsion against lawless acts, even when done by
her own father. In honesty of purpose she and her consort were one, for
his kindness of heart had drawn to him more dependents than any other
prince in the land possessed. The murder of the Christians they both
regarded as “worse than a crime—a blunder.” For the present, however,
there was no indication of the sinister forces which came into play
later. All in authority seemed to be honestly carrying out the orders
from Bangkok concerning the missionary work.

A year was spent in preparation for the ceremonies attending the
cremation of the dead Prince. During the last three months of this time,
everything else in the whole land yielded place to it. Not only was
there requisition of men and materials throughout the province of
Chiengmai; but all the neighbouring states furnished large levies of men
under the personal direction of their princes or officers of rank. Such
occasions offer exceptional opportunities for meeting people from all
parts of the country, for forming lasting friendships, and for sending
some knowledge of the Gospel to distant provinces. In after years I
never made a tour on which I did not encounter friends whose
acquaintance I had made at the great cremation festival.

The preparations were hastened somewhat because of the unsettled state
of the country. Chao Fā Kōlan, the Ngīo freebooter of whom we have
already heard, was still at his old tricks. Emboldened by the death of
the Prince, and the confusion incident to the change of rulers, he had
become more insolent than ever. Villages had been burned within less
than a day’s march from the city. Bands of men, euphemistically called
an army, were levied and despatched to capture him; but long before they
could reach him, he was safe within his stronghold in the mountains.



The dead Prince was born on a Sunday; therefore every important event of
his life must take place on that day, even to the last dread summons,
which is not under man’s control—and beyond that, to the final
disposition of his mortal remains. Sunday, therefore, was the first day
of the ceremonies. On that day the body was removed from the summer
garden to the “Mēn,” where it was to lie in state to receive the homage
of his relatives and subjects until the following Sunday. The morning of
each day was devoted to “merit-making” of various kinds—feeding the
monks, making offerings to them, and listening to the reading of the
sacred books. The afternoons were largely spent in boxing games, a
favourite amusement of the Lāo. The evenings were given up to gambling.

Everything went on according to programme until Thursday morning, when
the festivities were rudely interrupted. Chao Fā Kōlan, the bandit
chief, taking advantage of the occasion, made one of his sudden forays
to within so short a distance of Chiengmai that he actually had posted
on the city gates during the night an insolent manifesto to the effect
that the assembled Princes need not trouble themselves further with the
cremation of the dead Prince. He and his band would attend to that! The
news produced a tremendous panic. The whole business of the cremation
was incontinently stopped. A force was sent out after the marauder—with
the usual result. Before the end of the week, however, the panic had
sufficiently subsided to permit the ceremonies to be resumed. The
cremation itself was carried out on the following Sunday as planned.

During all these years the demand for medical treatment, and the
opportunity which its exercise brings, had been constantly growing. I
made, for example, a second trip to Lampūn, this time at the call of the
Chao Uparāt of that city. The poor man had consumption, and at first
sent to me for some foreign medicine, thinking that would surely cure
him. Judging from his symptoms as reported, I sent word that I could not
cure him; that the soothing mixture which I sent was sent in hope that
it might give him a few nights’ rest; but that was all I could do.
Presently he sent an elephant with a most urgent appeal that I come to
see him. I was glad of the call, for it gave me the opportunity of
directing a dying man to something even more urgently needed than
medicine. I spent a few days with him, and visited all of the leading
families and officials of the place, establishing most valuable and
friendly relations with them.

Long before this time, both the demand for medical treatment and the
responsibility involved far exceeded what any person without complete
professional training could undertake to meet. We had urged upon our
Board the claims of our mission for a physician. The following touching
appeal, which appeared in the _Foreign Missionary_ for March, 1870, was
made by Mr. Wilson not long after the death of his son Frank. After
sending an earnest appeal from Nān Inta for helpers, Mr. Wilson says:

    “Of course Nān Inta’s call for help includes in it a Christian
    physician. Who will respond? I am convinced there are many young
    men in the medical profession whose love for Jesus and whose
    sympathy with human sufferings are strong enough to bring them
    all the way to Chiengmai, if they will but yield themselves to
    this constraining influence. Christian physician, you are
    greatly needed here. The missionary’s family needs you. This
    suffering people needs you. You were needed months since, when a
    voice so sweet and full of glee was changed to piteous shrieks
    of pain. You were not here to give relief; and if you now come,
    it will not greet you, for it is hushed in death. You are needed
    here _now_. A plaintive cry comes to me as I write. It is the
    voice of our dear babe, whose weak condition fills our hearts
    with deepest anxiety. May I not interpret this plaintive cry as
    addressed to you? It is the only way that M. has of saying to
    you, ‘Come to Chiengmai.’ When you arrive, she may be sleeping
    beside her little brother. But you will find others, both old
    and young, whose pains you may be able to soothe, and whose
    souls you may win from the way that leads to eternal death.”

Great was our joy, therefore, when, in the summer of 1871, we learned
that Dr. C. W. Vrooman, from Dr. Cuyler’s church in Brooklyn, had
responded to our appeal, and already was under appointment of our Board
for Chiengmai. His arrival was delayed somewhat because it was thought
unsafe for him to make the river trip during the height of the rainy
season. So it was January 22d, 1872, before we welcomed him to
Chiengmai. He came with high credentials as a physician and surgeon with
experience both in private and in hospital practice. He began work on
the day of his arrival. He found Nān Inta at the point of death from
acute dysentery; and his first trophy was the saving of that precious
life. Had he done nothing else, that alone would have been well worth
while. One or two operations for vesical calculus gave him such a
reputation that patients came crowding to him for relief. In his first
report he writes:

    “I was very glad to commence work as soon as I arrived in the
    field. The number was large of those who came to the brethren
    here for daily treatment; and such is the reputation which they
    have established for themselves as physicians, that the demand
    for our professional services is greater than we can properly
    meet. I am satisfied that the demand for a medical missionary
    here was not too strongly urged by the brethren in their earnest
    appeals to the Board.

    “I have already had much professional work to do, and while I am
    ministering to physical ailments, Brother McGilvary, who is
    kindly my interpreter, has opportunity to break unto many the
    bread of life.... Two men have just left who came a long
    distance, hoping we could bring to life a brother who had died
    hours before.”




Not long after Dr. Vrooman’s arrival it was decided to undertake our
first extended tour. It was important to ascertain the size and
population of our whole field; and this could be accomplished only by
personal exploration. A journey for this purpose would, of course,
afford abundant opportunity for preaching the Gospel; it would, besides,
give the doctor a needed change, and would effectually advertise his
work. Our objective was Lūang Prabāng, then one of the largest of the
provinces of Siam, as it was also the most distant one. A journey to it
seemed the most profitable that could be made during the time at our
disposal, and the most comfortable as well, since a large stretch of it
could be made by boat. It was already too late in the season to
accomplish all that we desired; but “half a loaf is better than no
bread.” It might be years before a longer trip could be made. As a
matter of fact, it was sixteen years before I visited Lūang Prabāng

The Prince gave us a passport, sending us as his guests to be
entertained without expense; though, of course, we always paid our way.
Our letter stated that we went as teachers of religion and as physicians
for the sick. It was a virtual proclamation for all the sick to apply to
us for treatment. This gave frequent occasion for retort that we did not
remain long enough to comply with our letter. We could only reply by
pointing to the clouds and the long journey ahead.

The party consisted of Dr. Vrooman, myself, a cook, a body-servant, and
eight carriers, with a newly-baptized convert as the only available
assistant in the religious work. The elephants required for our
transportation over the first stage of our journey—to Chieng Rāi—we had
secured, for a wonder, without effort, and very cheaply. Their owner was
anxious to get them out of the country to escape an epidemic which then
was prevalent. The start was on April 15th, 1872, after a heavy storm
which ushered in the rainy season. This was my first trip over the road
to Chieng Rāi, afterwards so familiar to me. After leaving the plain of
Chiengmai, the road ascends the valley of the Mê Kūang River, fording
that stream no less than forty-nine times before it reaches the summit,
3100 feet above sea-level, the watershed between the Mê Ping and the Mê
Kōng.[10] Thence it descends to the Mê Kok at Chieng Rāi. The owner of
our elephants travelled with us, and was unnecessarily tender to his
beasts. In consequence we were ten days making this stage of the trip,
which afterwards, with my own elephants, I used to make in less than
six. On this trip I walked almost the whole distance.

Footnote 10:

  In standard Siamese the vowel in the name of this great river is
  undoubtedly long o, and has been so since the days of the earliest
  Siamese writing. Such also seems to have been the understanding of the
  early travellers who first brought the name into European use, for
  Mekong is the uniform spelling of all the standard Atlases and
  Gazetteers which I have been able to consult. In the Lāo dialect,
  however, the vowel is that represented by _aw_ in _lawn_. This is the
  pronunciation which Mr. J. McCarthy, Director of the Siamese Royal
  Survey Department, heard in the North, and transferred to the Map of
  Siam, which he compiled, as Me Kawng. This, however, Mr. R. W. Giblin,
  Mr. McCarthy’s successor in office, recognized as an error, and
  assured me that it should be corrected in the new map which he hoped
  soon to publish. Mr. Giblin, however, has left the service, and the
  map, I fear, has not yet been issued. But since Siamese speech and the
  usage of geographical authorities are at one on this point, there can
  scarcely be question as to the proper form for use here—ED.

At Chieng Rāi we were cordially received. The governor listened to the
Gospel message, and, I believe, received it in faith, as we shall see
later. Thence we took boat down the Mê Kok to its junction with the Mê
Kōng. The sand-bar where we spent the Sabbath was covered with fresh
tracks of large Bengal tigers.

Shortly after this we passed out of the Mê Kok into the great Mê Kōng,
with reference to which I take the liberty of quoting from a recent
work, _Five Years in Siam_, by H. Warrington Smyth, F.R.G.S.

    “Few can regard the Me Kawng without feeling its peculiar
    fascination. That narrow streak connecting far countries with
    the distant ocean,—what scenes it knows, what stories it could
    tell! Gliding gently here, and thundering with fury there where
    it meets with opposition; always continuing its great work of
    disintegration of hard rocks and of transport of material; with
    infinite patience hewing down the mountain sides, and building
    up with them new countries in far climes where other tongues are
    spoken; it never stays its movement. How few men have seen its
    upper waters! What a lonely life altogether is that of the Me
    Kawng! From its cradle as the Gorgu River in the far Thibetan
    highlands, to its end in the stormy China Sea, it never sees a
    populous city or a noble building. For nearly three thousand
    miles it storms through solitudes, or wanders sullenly through
    jungle wastes. No wonder one sat by the hour listening to its
    tale. For though but dull to read of, the wide deep reality
    rolling before one had an intense interest for a lonely man.

    “Rising in about 33° 17′ N. Lat. and 94° 25′ E. Long. in the
    greatest nursery of noble rivers in the world, where six huge
    brethren have so long concealed the secrets of their birth, it
    flows southeast through Chinese Thibetan territory to Chuande,
    where the tea caravan road from Lhasa and Thibet on the west,
    crosses it eastward towards Ta Chien Lu and China, over 10,000
    feet above sea-level.”

Almost within sight from the mouth of the Mê Kok were the ruins of
Chieng Sên, once the largest city in all this region. Its crumbling
walls enclose an oblong area stretching some two miles along the river.
Seventy years before our visit it had been taken by a combined army of
Siamese and Lāo. Its inhabitants were divided among the conquerors, and
carried away into captivity. At the time of our visit, the city and the
broad province of which it was the capital had been desolate for
three-quarters of a century. Nothing remained but the dilapidated walls
and crumbling ruins of old temples. Judging from its innumerable images
of Buddha, its inhabitants must have been a very religious people. One
wonders whence came all the bronze used in making them in those distant
days. To me it was an unexpected pleasure to find myself in that old
city, the ancestral home of so many of our parishioners. Little did I
think then that twenty years later I should aid in organizing a church
where we then stood. The Mê Kōng is here a mighty stream. It must be a
magnificent sight in time of high water.

A short distance below the city we passed a village recently deserted
because of the ravages of the tigers. The second day from Chieng Sên
brought us to Chieng Kawng, one of the largest dependencies of the
province of Nān. There we spent two very interesting and profitable
days. I had met the governor in Chiengmai. He was delighted with my
repeating rifle, and had us try it before him. There was also his son,
who not long after was to succeed the father; but his story we shall
come upon some twenty years later.

At this place we were fortunate in finding an empty trading-boat going
to Lūang Prabāng, in which the governor engaged for us passage on very
reasonable terms. We left Chieng Kawng on May 3d. The trip to Lūang
Prabāng occupied five days, and was one of the memorable events of my
life. In some respects the scenery is not so striking as that of the Mê
Ping rapids. The breadth of the river makes the difference. You miss the
narrow gorge with overhanging cliffs and the sudden bends closing in
every outlet. But, on the other hand, you have an incomparably greater
river and higher mountains. I quote again from Mr. Warrington Smyth the
following description of one portion of the river scenery:

    “The high peaks, towering 5,000 feet above the river, which give
    it such a sombre appearance, are generally of the very extensive
    limestone series. They present tremendous precipices on some of
    their sides, and their outlines are particularly bold.... Some
    miles above Lūang Prabāng the large and important tributaries of
    the Nam Ū and the Nam Sêng enter the Mê Kawng. The clear
    transparent water of these tributaries forms a strong contrast
    to the brown sediment-laden water of the Mê Kawng.... In some of
    the rapids with sloping bottoms, the first jump over the edge is
    very pleasant; the fun then comes in the short roaring waves.
    Everybody on board is fully occupied; the men at the bow-oar
    canting her head this way and that, the helmsman helping from
    the other end to make her take its straight, the men at the oars
    pulling for all they are worth, and the rest bailing mightily,
    or shouting to any one who has time to listen. If the rapid is a
    bad one, the crews land to have a meal before tackling it, and
    stop to chew some betel and compare notes after it. So it is
    always a sociable event.”

My travelling companion, Dr. Vrooman, thus gives his impressions.

    “The current of the Cambodia is very swift, in places so much so
    that it was dangerous to navigate. The river is nearly a mile
    wide in places; and where the channel is narrow, it rushes along
    with frightful rapidity. No scenery is finer throughout the
    entire distance we travelled on it. Mountains rise from either
    bank to the height of three or four thousand feet. The river
    fills the bottom of a long, winding valley; and as we glided
    swiftly down it, there seemed to move by us the panorama of two
    half-erect hanging landscapes of woodland verdure and blossom.
    Only as we neared the city did we see rough and craggy mountain
    peaks and barren towering precipices.”

Twenty-six years later I descended the Mê Ū River from Mûang Kwā to
Lūang Prabāng, and then ascended it again. The perpendicular rock-cliffs
at its junction with the Mê Kōng surpass any that I ever saw elsewhere.

Of greater interest to me, however, than roaring rapids and towering
rocks were the evidences of numerous human habitations perched far above
us on the mountain sides. Rarely can their houses or villages be seen;
but in many places their clearings have denuded the mountains of all
their larger growth. It was tantalizing not to be able to stop and visit
these people in their homes. But my first opportunity to make extensive
tours among them was not till some twenty years later. As for the Mê
Kōng, my comment is: If I wished an exciting river trip, and had a
comfortable boat, I should not expect to find a more enchanting stretch
of three hundred miles anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Lūang Prabāng was then the most compactly built of all Siamese cities
outside of Bangkok, which, in some respects, it resembled. It differs
from the other Lāo cities in having no great rural population and
extensive rice-plains near it. Its rice supply was then levied from the
hill-tribes as a tribute or tax. The city has a fine situation at the
foot of a steep hill some two hundred feet high, tipped, as usual, with
a pagoda. The Nām Kêng there joins the Mê Kōng, dividing the city into
two unequal portions. The view from the top of the hill is delightful.
The inhabitants belong to a large branch of the Tai race, extending
southward at least to Cambodia. They are called the Lāo Pung Khāo
(White-bellied Lāo), as ours, because of their universal practice of
tattooing the body, are called Lāo Pung Dam (Black-bellied).

The Prince of Lūang Prabāng was absent from the city hunting wild
elephants, in which game his province abounds. The Chao Uparāt gave us a
hospitable welcome. Behind the city is a noted cave in a mountain, which
the natives think is the abode of the very fiercest evil spirits. No
doubt the real spirits are the malarial germs or the poisonous gas which
later we found to be the chief danger of the Chieng Dāo cave. It was in
this cave that M. Mouhot, a noted French scientist, contracted the fever
from which he died. The natives believed that his death was caused by
his rashness in trespassing upon the domain of the spirits who preside
over the cave. We were astonished at some sorts of fish displayed in the
market, such as I never saw anywhere else. Mr. McCarthy tells of
assisting at the capture of one, a plā buk, seven feet long, with a
body-girth of four feet and two inches, and weighing one hundred and
thirty pounds.

We remained in Lūang Prabāng six days, leaving it on May 14th. I was
very loath to go so soon. The people were eager for books as well as for
medicine. It was the one place where Siamese books were well understood.
We could have disposed of basketfuls of the Scriptures, as Dr. Peoples
did twenty-four years later. It is one of the anomalies of the twentieth
century that when we finally were ready to establish a Christian
mission, after the country had passed from non-Christian to Christian
rulers, we could not get permission.

From Lūang Prabāng we again took boat to Tā Dûa, some sixty miles below.
There we bade good-bye to the wonderful river, and turned our faces
homeward. Our elephants were good travellers, the swiftest we had so far
found. They gave us no chance to stroll on in advance, and rest till
they should come up, as we had done before. They brought us to Nān in
six days, four of which were spent in travel over high mountain ridges.
Our road passed near the great salt wells; but we had no time for

Two experiences on this portion of the trip will not be forgotten. One
was a fall from my tall elephant. A flock of large birds in covert near
us suddenly flew up with loud shrill cries. I was reclining in the
howdah at the time, and raised myself up to look out under the hood,
and, while suspended there in unstable equilibrium, another and louder
cry close at hand made the beast give a sudden start backwards, which
landed me in a puddle of water. Fortunately no further damage was done.
Another annoyance, more serious, was the land-leeches which we often
encountered when we dismounted to walk. The whole ground and every shrub
and twig seemed covered with the tiny creatures. Sensitive to the least
noise, each one was holding on by his tail, and waving his head back and
forth to lay hold of any passing animal. We soon found that they had a
special fondness for the _genus homo_. Do what we might, every hundred
yards or so we had to stop to rub them off, while the blood ran
profusely from their bites. We had none of the herbs which the Mūsô bind
on their legs to keep them off.

On Saturday evening we reached Nān, the first place where I found
friends since leaving Chieng Rāi. Chao Borirak, whom I had met in
Chiengmai, nephew of the Nān Prince, and a few others, were soon on hand
to give us welcome and to offer any aid we needed. The Prince was a
venerable old man, with four sons—fine men, all of them. The country was
well governed, though it long continued conservative as regards the
adoption of foreign ways and the welcoming of foreign traders. I fell in
love with Nān at first sight, and marked it for a future mission

On our departure from Nān, Chao Borirak accompanied us as far as Prê,
bringing his own elephants—one of them a colt, which he rode astride
like a horse—the only one, in fact, that I ever saw so used. At Prê we
found our government letter not very effective. Rupees, however, were
effective enough to prevent any long delay. The ruling authority in Prê
has always seemed weak.



There was an amusing circumstance connected with an eclipse of the moon
while we were there. Since the conversion of Nān Inta, I had taken pains
to announce each eclipse as it was to occur. I did so in Prê the day
before it was due. The eclipse took place early in the night, and I
expected to hear the city resound with the noise of every gun and
firecracker in the place. But everything was as quiet as a funeral. It
seemed to be regarded as _our_ eclipse. The silence may have been
intended to test our assertion that Rāhū would renounce his hold without
the noise, or possibly they were unwilling to proclaim thus publicly the
superior wisdom of the foreigner in predicting it. At any rate, they
utterly ignored it, and let the monster have his will unmolested.

My associate had gained all that could have been expected from the tour;
but an aching tooth was giving him great trouble, and we hurried on. We
reached home on June 22d, just sixty-eight days out. We found neither
family in very good health. The doctor’s toothache drove him to such
desperation that he insisted on my trying—all unpractised as I was—to
extract the offending eyetooth. It broke. There was then nothing to do
but to make the trip to Bangkok for the nearest professional help. By
the time he returned, it began to be evident that he could not hope to
remain long in the field.

Between Bangkok, Pechaburī, and Chiengmai, I had been fifteen years in
the field; and my wife had been in the country from girlhood without
change. We had both endured it remarkably well, considering that we had
had the strain of starting two new stations. Before the end of the year,
however, my wife had reached the limit of her strength, and it became
necessary to hurry her out of the country. So, on the 3d of January,
1873, she was carried in a chair to the boat, and we embarked for the
United States.



                           THE FIRST FURLOUGH

The tour of the previous season had been so hasty and unsatisfactory,
that I was very anxious, if possible, to duplicate the homeward stretch
of it as far as Nān, then descend the Pitsanulōk Fork to the Mênam, and
so follow my family to Bangkok. But would it be safe to leave my wife to
make the river trip without me, when she was in such weak condition, and
burdened with the care of four children, the youngest of whom was but
two years old? I embarked and travelled with them as far as the landing
for Lampūn—where we must separate, if I were to cross over to Nān—still
uncertain as to what I ought to do. It was then Friday. We decided to
stop there over Sunday, and see how matters looked on Monday morning.
The quiet and rest of the boat were improving her condition somewhat;
and her own bravery made up whatever was lacking there. I had secured a
strong letter from the Prince, calling for the best of steersmen through
the rapids, and for protection where the boat should stop for the night.
So, with some anxiety, but with strong faith that the plan in itself so
desirable would prosper, we separated—one party going by boat down the
Mê Ping, and the other going afoot across country to Lampūn. For the
present we leave the wife and children, to hear their report when we
meet again.

My plan was to rely on getting elephants from point to point. Elephants
are always very hard to get; so it seemed doubtful whether my confidence
were faith or presumption. But I was remarkably favoured. At Lampūn
there was not an elephant nearer than the forests, save two of the
governor’s own. I had trusted to his friendship, and it did not fail me.
I got off in fine style next morning on the governor’s two elephants,
with a letter to all the governors on the route directing them to see
that I was supplied with whatever I needed on the journey.

I felt strong in having with me, in the person of Nān Inta, so wise a
teacher and such a living witness of the power of the Gospel. On our
first visits it has usually seemed wise to spend much of the time in
visiting and making known the Gospel privately to those of reputation,
as we know one wise missionary did in old times. It is necessary to give
the rulers a clear idea of the non-political nature of our work. In
order to do this, we must show positively what our message is—not merely
that we are religious teachers, but that, as such, we have a message
different from all others, not antagonistic or hostile to them, but
supplementing rather that which they offer.

In visiting among the princely families in the old city of Lakawn we met
one most interesting case. It was that of an aged bedridden Princess
high in rank, who received the Gospel with all readiness of mind. By
nature, habit, and grace she had been very religious. She had in her day
built temples and rest-houses, had feasted Buddhist monks, and had
fasted times without number, in order to lay up a store of merit for the
great future. She hoped sometimes that she had laid up a sufficient
store; but the five and the eight commands were against her. She had
killed animals; and the command is explicit, and condemns without a
saviour. That the Creator of all had made these creatures for our use
and benefit was a new idea. That of itself would remove much of the
burden on her conscience. And as one after another of the great truths
of revelation was opened up to her, particularly the doctrine of the
incarnation and atonement of our divine-human Redeemer, it seemed as if
the burden was lifted. Nān Inta was himself a living testimony that the
Christian teaching can and does give instantaneous relief when simply
believed. It is difficult to tell which was more touching, the
sympathetic earnestness of the speaker, or the comfort it imparted to
the hearer. The Princess begged us to come again and often. And neither
of us found any other place so attractive.

After a week spent in Lakawn, we departed on our way to Nān. The next
Sunday we spent in the forest. I look back with delightful memories to
the occasional Sabbaths thus spent in the deep forest after a busy week
with no rest and no privacy—a Sabbath in solitude, away from every
noise, and even every song except the music of the wind and the song of
birds! We always had service with our men; and then, under the shade of
some cool spreading tree, or beside a flowing brook, one could be alone
and yet not alone. No one more needs such retirement than a missionary,
whose work is always a giving-out, with fewer external aids for resupply
than others have.

The next Sunday we spent in Wieng Sā, the first of the numerous little
outlying towns of Nān. On Monday we reached Nān itself, the limit of our
tour in that direction. The country was well governed, the princes
intelligent, and the common people friendly. But the special attraction
that Nān had for me largely centred around one man, the Prince’s nephew,
Chao Borirak—the one that rode astride the young elephant to see us safe
to Prê on our earlier trip, with whom we used to talk religion about the
camp-fires till the small hours of the morning. We left him then
apparently on the border land of Christianity, with strong hope that he
soon would be ready to profess publicly the faith which he was almost
ready to confess to us. His rank and connection would make him of great
assistance in opening a station in Nān, which, next to Chiengmai, was
the most important province in the Lāo region. Again he offered us a
warm welcome, giving up his time to visiting with us the rulers and the
monasteries, in one of which his son had long been an abbot. It seemed
as if Nān Inta’s experience would be all that was needed to settle his
faith. At his request I asked and received permission from the Prince
for him again to accompany us—with his young elephant foal and her
mother—five days’ journey to Tā It, where I was to take boat. Our walks
by day and our talks by night are never to be forgotten. But the
convenient season to make a public profession never came. He lived in
hope of seeing a station in Nān, but died not long before the station
was established.

At Tā It no boat was to be had either for sale or for hire. But my face
was turned toward home, and I would have gone on a raft. I had to do the
next thing—to take a small dug-out which the Prince got for me, and go
on to Utaradit, the next town below. There I was able to purchase a
boat, which I afterwards sold in Bangkok for what it cost me. Nān Inta
was the steersman, and my four men rowed. Our longest stop was at
Pitsanulōk, where the Siamese mission now has a station. On reaching
Bangkok I was delighted to find that my family had made their long trip
down the other river in safety, though not without great anxiety, and
some threatened danger. Our oldest daughter had been quite ill on the
way. Once they came perilously near falling a prey to a band of robbers.
It was only by a clever ruse of the captain that they escaped. As soon
as he caught sight of the suspicious-looking group of men on a sand-bar
ahead, he had the gong loudly sounded. That and the waving American flag
evidently made them think that this was the leading boat of some
prince’s flotilla. They incontinently fled into the forest. At the next
stopping-place our boatmen learned that it was, indeed, a marauding band
that had committed many depredations on passing boats. What a merciful

We spent a few weeks in Bangkok, resting and visiting in the home of my
father-in-law, Dr. Bradley, of sainted memory. It proved to be the last
time that we ever saw him. He lived only a few months after that.

In fifteen years the world had moved. Going round “the Cape,” even in a
good clipper ship like the _David Brown_, had become too slow. We took,
instead, the steamship _Patroclus_ from Singapore to London, via the
Suez Canal. The Rev. Mr. Keyesberry, a missionary friend of Dr.
Bradley’s, had been waiting to find an escort to England for two young
sons and a daughter. We gladly undertook that service, and so had a
flock of seven young folks to look after!

We were barely under way when our own children broke out with the
measles. The disease, fortunately, proved to be of a mild type, and our
new charges were not hard to manage. So, on the whole, we got along very
well. In London we had unexpected trouble because the friend who was to
meet Alice Keyesberry at the dock failed to appear, and, strangely
enough, we had received no memorandum of her destination. It cost us two
days’ search to discover her friends at the Walthamstow Mission School.

The boys I had promised to convoy as far as Edinburgh. So, leaving my
family in London, I had the great pleasure of a visit to the beautiful
Scotch capital. The day spent there was to me a memorable one. It was,
however, a matter of great regret that, being so near the Highlands, I
could not also visit the original home of my ancestors.

We arrived in New York on July 11th, 1873, after an absence of fifteen
years. Under any circumstances fifteen years would work great changes.
But that particular fifteen had included the Civil War. The changes in
the South were heart-rending.

Though North Carolina was drawn late into the Confederacy, it is said
that she furnished a larger number per capita of soldiers and had a
larger number of casualties than any other state in the South. The havoc
among my old schoolmates and pupils, and among my flock, was
distressing. In many places, too, the sectional feeling was still
bitter. The wisest of the people, however, were becoming fully
reconciled to the results of the war. The largest slaveholder in my own
section assured me that the freeing of his slaves had been a boon to
him, and that he was clearing more from his old farm under free labour
than he had done before with slaves.

Unfortunately in the churches the feeling was more bitter. My old
associate, Dr. Mattoon, had accepted the presidency of Biddle Institute
at Charlotte—now Biddle University (colored). For a time he was very
coldly received except by such broad-minded men as his old Princeton
classmate, and my friend, Dr. Charles Phillips. By virtue, however, of
his noble Christian character and his conservative bearing, Dr. Mattoon
overcame these prejudices, and lived to be welcomed in the largest
churches in the state. I spent most of my furlough in North Carolina;
and personally I received a welcome almost as warm as if I were a
missionary of the Southern Board. Returned missionaries were not
numerous then. It was not an uncommon thing for me to lecture in
churches which had never before seen the face of a foreign missionary.

Soon after our arrival in the United States news came of the resignation
of Dr. Vrooman; and my first duty was to find a successor. For myself,
and even for my family, I could endure to return without one. But I
could not face the distressing appeals from the sick whose ailments I
was powerless to relieve. In my visits among friends in North Carolina I
met a young medical graduate, Dr. M. A. Cheek, who received from warm
friends of the mission flattering recommendations for the place. He
himself was pleased with the opening, and would willingly accept it, if
he could first take a graduate course in surgery. This was easily
arranged, and he was ready to return with us the following summer.

The hardest thing to face was the parting with our children. But the
bitterness of this pang was softened by the kindness of friends which
opened the best of Christian homes and schools to receive them. We can
never sufficiently express our gratitude for the kindness shown us in
this matter by the late Mrs. E. N. Grant and Miss Mitchell of the
Statesville Female College, and to Mrs. McNeill, the widow of my old

These two great questions settled, we left North Carolina in March,
1874—my wife with the two younger children, to visit friends and
relatives in the North; and I, as I hoped, to visit the churches and the
seminaries in search of recruits. But a cold contracted on the trip
north ran into a dangerous attack of pleuro-pneumonia, followed by a
slow recovery. Thus I missed my visits to the seminaries and the meeting
of the General Assembly in St. Louis.

The return to the field was by way of San Francisco, and we reached
Bangkok on August 27th, 1874. On November 14th a son was given us to
take the place of the children left behind. In December began our river
journey to Chiengmai. The river was low, and we were a month and a day
from Bangkok to Rahêng. There we found four missionaries of the Nova
Scotia Baptist Board seeking to establish a station among the Karens of
Siam. But they found their villages too small and too widely scattered
to justify the establishment of a station. So they were returning to
Burma. On Saturday night we all dined together, and had a sociable hour.
On Sunday evening we drew up our boats side by side, and had a
prayer-meeting that we shall long remember. There was something
delightful in thus meeting and enjoying Christian fellowship on a
sand-bar, and then passing on to our respective fields of work. Some of
these men afterwards went to India, and started the Telegu mission,
which has had phenomenal success.

There were still the rapids and four more weeks of travel before we
could reach our Lāo home. But the home-coming at last was delightful.
Our faithful old coolie, Lung In, with his wife, met us in a small boat
three days’ journey below Chiengmai, with fruit and fowls lest we should
be in want. Then the tall figure of Nān Inta, with his face like a

It was February 7th, 1875, when at last we drew up alongside our own
landing-place, and felt the warm handshake of old friends. Among the Lāo
at last!—and no place that we had seen would we exchange for our Lāo
home. For the first time since our arrival in 1867 we had a permanent
house to enter!



                        MÛANG KÊN AND CHIENG DĀO

Dr. Cheek’s arrival was a matter of great rejoicing. He was very
young—only twenty-one, in fact, on the day he sailed from San Francisco.
The trying drudgery that he and others of our early medical missionaries
had to endure, is now in great measure obviated through the help of
native assistants. The remainder of the year 1875 I devoted very largely
to assisting in the medical work, interpreting, helping in operations,
and caring for the souls of the numerous patients, without feeling the
weight of responsibility for their physical condition, as I had done
before. Dr. Cheek came out a single man; but, like others before him, he
lost his heart on the way. Toward the end of that year he went down to
Bangkok, and was married to Miss Sarah A. Bradley. He returned to
Chiengmai just as Mr. Wilson was ready to start for the United States on
his second furlough. The April communion was postponed a week that the
newly-arrived and the departing missionaries might commune together
before separating. It was Mrs. Wilson’s last communion with us.

In May, 1876, Nān Inta was ordained our first ruling elder. The story
has often been told that before his ordination the Confession of Faith
was given him to read carefully, since he would be asked whether he
subscribed to its doctrines. When he had finished the reading, he
remarked that he saw nothing peculiar in its teachings. It was very much
like what he had read in Paul’s Epistles! In January Pā Kamun, the widow
of Noi Sunya, was baptized. It was thus appropriately given to her to be
the first woman received into the communion of the church. Two of her
daughters, and Pā Peng, the wife of Nān Inta, soon followed. Lung In was
elected the first deacon, but was too modest to be ordained to that
office. Meanwhile he was becoming a most useful assistant in the
hospital. Strange as it may seem, the office of hospital nurse is one of
the most difficult to get a Lāo to fill. Lung In, however, was not above
the most menial service for the sick. His real successor was not found
until the present incumbent, Dr. Kêo, was trained. Dr. McKean’s
testimony is that it would be scarcely more difficult to procure a good
surgeon than to fill Kêo’s place as nurse and assistant among the
hospital patients.

During the summer of 1876, in company with Nān Inta, I made a tour among
the four nearest provinces to the north and west. The governor of Mûang
Kên had long given promise of becoming a Christian, and now invited me
to visit his people. On his frequent visits to Chiengmai on business, he
always called on me, and no subject was so interesting to him as the
subject of religion. Before the proclamation of toleration, while the
common people were still afraid of making a public profession of
Christianity, our most effective work was probably that with the higher
class of officials, who stood in somewhat less fear of the known
antagonism of the Chao Uparāt. They were, besides, a more interesting
class than the common people, for they were better educated, were more
accustomed in their daily duties to weigh arguments and decide on
questions of evidence, and many of them had been trained in the
religious order.

This governor of Mûang Kên had learned enough of the tenets of
Christianity to become unsettled and dissatisfied with the prospects of
salvation offered by a purely ethical religion. He saw the weakness of
the foundation on which he had been taught to rely, and the difference
between the authors of the two religions. So he stood on the border land
between the two, at the very gate, wishing to enter in, but with many
obstacles in his way, and strong opposing influences to overcome.

My first objective, then, on this tour was Mûang Kên. The governor had
asked me to come and smooth the way for him by teaching his
under-officials and his townsmen. Nān Inta was the living, concrete
argument, and he put his whole heart into it. We had a few days of
deeply interesting work. Few, however, saw the matter as the governor
did. Most of them “would consider it.” Some would go further and say
that they worshipped Jesus under the name of their promised Buddha
Metraya, yet to come.

From Mûang Kên we went to Chieng Dāo, where we visited the great cave
with its famous Buddhist shrine. Ever since Nān Inta became a Christian,
he had been anxious to test the truth of some of the legends connected
with the place—a thing he dared not do before. The cave is the abode of
the great Lawa spirit, for fear of offending whom Prince Kāwilōrot was
afraid to allow us to build to the north of the city bridge in
Chiengmai. Chieng Dāo mountain, which rises above the cave, is seven
thousand one hundred and sixty feet high—one of the highest peaks in all
Siam, and visible from Chiengmai, some thirty-seven miles away. One of
the sources of the Mê Ping River, twenty feet wide and knee-deep, flows
bodily out from the cave. Since no animal is allowed to be killed in so
sacred a place, the stream abounds in a great variety of beautiful fish
waiting for the food which no visitor fails to give them. The scramble
for it is as interesting to watch as the performance of the sea-lions at
San Francisco.

The legend is that no one can cross the stream inside the cave and
return alive; and that beyond the stream, under the crest of the
mountain, there is an image of pure gold seven cubits high. One enters
the cave at a little distance from the stream, and finds first a grand
chamber which is a veritable temple, with arched dome, natural pulpit,
and innumerable images of Buddha, large and small. This place is
regarded as a most sacred shrine. Buddhist monks are always there
performing their devotions. The chamber is so dark that they have to use
tapers to see to read. The dim light and the long-drawn tones of the
worshippers produce a very weird impression.

From the temple-chamber narrow passages lead off in different
directions, till there is danger of losing one’s way in the labyrinth. I
followed Nān Inta and his sons to the stream, which is reached at some
distance farther on. Being neither tall nor a swimmer, I stopped and
sauntered about in the various rooms, waiting for my companions to
verify or to disprove the legend. Needless to say, both parts of it were
proved myths. My companions did return alive, and no golden image was
found. The cave is too damp to make it safe for one to remain long in
those distant passages. Farther on the tapers burned but very dimly; and
one would not choose to be left there in pitch darkness. We could
understand very well how the legend arose of Yaks that devour those that
intrude into their dark caverns. There is no doubt of the presence of a
deadly gas much more to be feared than the spirit of the great Lawa
king, which is believed to have taken up his abode there. We all
experienced more or less of the symptoms premonitory of malarial attack,
and before we got back to the town Nān Inta was shaking with a genuine
chill. A heroic dose, however, of Warburg’s tincture with quinine soon
set him to rights. In this case, then, as in many others, there is a
foundation of truth at the bottom of the legend.

That night we had a great audience. It was generally known that we
intended to explore the cave, and many, no doubt, came to see how we had
fared. It was well that Nān Inta had so far recovered from his morning’s
chill as to be ready to join in bearing testimony not only to the
falsity of the legend, but also to the truth of the Gospel. It was a
bright moonlight night, and the people listened till very late, while we
sang hymns, preached the Gospel, and pointed them to the better way. The
result was seen years after in the founding of a church there.

All these provinces that we were now visiting, and others more distant
still, were originally settled by refugees driven from the more southern
districts by the persecution for witchcraft. Now they are important
provinces. Since these people had been ruthlessly driven forth because
of the spirits, I thought they would willingly accept any way of escape
from their control. But they seemed, if anything, more superstitious and
harder to reach than others. Having suffered once, as they supposed,
from the malicious power of the spirits, they seemed even more than
others to dread to incur their anger again by deserting them. But there
were many hopeful exceptions.

Mûang Pāo was the next city visited. From the incidents of our stay
there I select the cases of two persons who excited our deepest
sympathy. One was an aged Buddhist monk, a Ngīo, who, with a younger
companion, visited our tent daily. The monk was a venerable man, with
striking features, serene countenance, earnest and intelligent. His long
life had been spent in worship, meditation, and study. All this he soon
told us with some quite natural pride. While not bold, he was not
reticent, freely stating his own doctrines, hopes, and fears, and asking
ours. To the question what were his hopes for a future life, he frankly
said, “I don’t know. How can I? I have tried to keep the commandments,
have performed my devotions, have counted my beads. But whether I shall
go up or down [indicating the directions with his finger] I do not know.
I have done what my books tell me, but I have no light _here_ [pointing
to his heart]. Can the teacher’s religion give me any light?”

The earnestness and the despondency of the man drew me to him. I asked,
what of his failures and transgressions? “That,” he said, “is the dark
point. My books say that all my good deeds shall be rewarded, but the
failures and transgressions must be punished before I can reach Nirvāna,
the final emancipation of the soul by the extinction of all desire.”
“How long will that be?” we ask. He answered by giving a number that
would baffle even astronomers, who are accustomed to deal in almost
fabulous numbers.

“But is not that virtually endless?”

“Yes; but what shall we do? That is what our books say.”

“But is there no room for pardon?”

“No. Buddha only points out the way that he followed himself. He reached
the goal by the same almost endless journey. How shall we hope to do so
by any shorter or different route?”

“But supposing there is a way—that there is a great sovereign of the
universe, before all Buddhas and higher than all Buddhas, who has the
right and the authority to grant full pardon through his own infinite
merit, and his vicarious assumption of all our obligations and payment
of all our debts. Would not that be a joyful message?”

“Yes; if true, it would be.”

And so we argued till light seemed to gleam for once into his mind. But
the image of the dear old man pointing up and then down with the sad
confession, “I know not whither I shall go,” is a vision that has
saddened me many a time since.

The other case of special interest I state as it occurred, with no
attempt at explanation of the dream involved in the story.—On the
morning after our arrival, Nān Inta and I started out to visit
monasteries or houses, wherever we might find listeners. I was dressed
in white clothes, and Nān Inta had on a white jacket. We had made a
number of calls, and were about to pass by a house in which we saw only
an elderly woman and some children, presumably her grandchildren. We
were surprised to see her come down from her house and run out after us,
and prostrating herself with the customary salutation given to priests
and princes, she begged us to stop and come in. We accepted her
invitation, though surprised at her evident demonstrations of joy.
Sitting down on the mat, we began to explain that we were teachers of
religion, pointing out the sure way of happiness both in this life and
in the life to come. Our message was one from the great God and Creator
to all races and nations, inviting them to return from all other
refuges, and He would give them an inheritance as His children in the
life to come. She listened with marked interest as we explained to her
our religion, and urged her to accept it. We were surprised at the
explanation she gave of her intense interest.

Not long before our arrival she had a dream that two men dressed in
white came to her to teach her. What they were to teach her she did not
know; but when she saw us walking up the street she said, “There is the
fulfilment of my dream!” She had watched us as we entered other houses,
fearful lest we should omit hers. Now she was so glad we had come. It
was at least a strange coincidence, for she affirmed that the dream was
before she had ever heard of us. Whatever may have been the cause, it
was a delight to instruct one who seemed to receive all that we said as
a direct message to her. This at once attracted Nān Inta to her, and she
listened to him with frequent exclamations of delight, while he, in his
earnest manner, explained the Gospel message of pardon and life eternal
through Him who liveth and was dead, and behold He is alive for
evermore. She said her one great desire had been to escape from the
punishment of her sins; but she never before had known that there was
any other way but to suffer for them herself. She, too, was a Ngīo. We
visited her frequently during the week of our stay in Mûang Pāo, and to
the last she interpreted our coming as the fulfilment of her dream. This
was the last that we knew either of her or of the aged monk. Before we
visited the place again she was dead, and he had moved away.

In those days when the people were afraid to make a public profession of
Christianity, it would have been a great gain to the mission if we could
have had schools, and used them as a means of evangelizing the youth. A
first attempt, indeed, had been made by Mr. Wilson with a few Burmese
boys. A young Burmese who had been trained in Maulmein, and who spoke
English, was employed to teach them under Mr. Wilson’s oversight, in the
hope that Lāo boys would presently join them. This hope was not
realized, and the experiment was presently abandoned.

The first call for a Christian school was for the education of girls. In
the first Christian families girls predominated. Mrs. McGilvary
collected six or eight Christian girls, and devoted as much time to them
as her strength and her family duties would permit. They were really
private pupils, living on our premises and in our family. More wished to
come than she could do justice to. Hence about this time an appeal was
made for two single ladies to devote their whole time to the school. But
it was not till four years later that Miss Edna E. Cole and Miss Mary
Campbell of the Oxford Female Seminary, Ohio, reached Chiengmai. Very
soon they had twenty pupils. From this small beginning has grown our
large Girls’ School. Two of Mrs. McGilvary’s pupils were soon made
assistants. These and others of the first group became fine women, who
have left their mark on the church and the country.

Notwithstanding our disappointment in the delay of the school for boys,
it proved a wise arrangement that the Girls’ School was started first. A
mission church is sure to be greatly handicapped whose young men must
either remain single—which they will not do—or be compelled to take
ignorant non-Christian wives. Such are a dead-weight to the husband, and
the children almost surely follow the mother. After marriage, the almost
universal custom of the country has been that the husband lives with the
wife’s family. He becomes identified with it, and for the time a
subordinate member of it, almost to the extent of becoming weaned from
his own family. Where all the atmosphere of the family is strongly
Buddhist, with daily offerings to the spirits and gala days at the
temple, the current would be too strong for a father, with his secondary
place in the family, to withstand. For a while it was feared that
Christian girls would have difficulty in finding husbands. But, on the
contrary, our educated girls become not only more intelligent, but more
attractive in manners, dress, and character; and, therefore, have been
much sought after. The homes become Christian homes, and the children
are reared in a Christian atmosphere. The result is that, instead of the
wife’s dragging the husband down, she generally raises the husband up;
and, as a general rule, the children early become Christians.

In August, 1876, our beloved Princess became very seriously ill. Dr.
Cheek had been called upon to treat domestics in the family, but not the
Prince or Princess. Hearing that she was in a critical condition under
native doctors, and fearing the worst, I took the liberty of suggesting
that they consult Dr. Cheek. They seemed pleased with the suggestion,
and asked me to accompany him—which I did for one or two visits. His
treatment was very successful, and soon she was convalescent.

About this same time we had an adventure with white ants which came near
costing us our much-valued cabinet organ. It will serve to illustrate an
experience formerly common enough, and still not unknown. One Wednesday
evening before prayer-meeting Mrs. McGilvary sat down at the instrument
to look over the tunes, when she found it full of white ants. Our house
was built on higher ground, into which the creatures are driven when the
lower grounds are filled with water from the annual floods. They do not
attack the teak walls and floors of our houses, but, climbing up the
posts, at last they stumbled upon the soft wood and leather inside the
organ, and were just beginning their feast when our meeting broke in
upon them. Had we not discovered them then, the instrument would have
been completely wrecked before morning.

Once the white ants destroyed a trunkful of our children’s clothes, once
a box of “knock-down” chairs, and once they attacked my
library—evidently not at all deterred by the learned discussions and
deep thought of Dr. Joseph A. Alexander’s _Commentary on Isaiah_. They
had got through the margin, and would soon have digested the rest, had
not an unexpected occasion for opening the library saved it.



                           SEEKERS AFTER GOD

On New Year’s Day, 1877, I went into the city to make some calls. The
first was at the new palace. In the large reception hall I found the
Princess, virtually alone. She was embroidering some fancy pillow-ends
for the priests—a work in which she was an expert. Her maidens, some
distance off, were sewing priests’ robes. The Prince was in his little
workshop not far off, turning ivory rounds for the railing of an
elephant howdah, a favourite amusement with him.

The subject of religion was one that continually came up in all my
interviews with the Princess; but hitherto she had apparently argued
more for victory than from a desire to reach the truth. She was as keen
as a lawyer to seize a point, and her quick wit made her a very
enjoyable antagonist. Not only she and her domestics, but the whole
country as well, had been preparing for a great occasion of merit-making
in connection with the approaching dedication of a shrine. Whether the
peculiar interest of this conversation was due to the fact that these
matters had been running in her mind, or to some particular mood in
which I found her, I never knew. Most likely it was both. A chance
allusion to the great event which was in every one’s mouth, at once
brought up the question. Stopping her work and resting her arms on the
embroidery frame, she asked, “Why is it that foreigners do not worship
the Buddha or his images, and do not believe that merit is made

She seemed to approach the question as a personal one for herself. If we
were right and she were wrong, she would like to know it. We agreed on
that point, and I encouraged her in her estimate of its paramount
importance to every rational man or woman. If Buddhism does, indeed,
lead to happiness in a future life, she was wise in diligently following
its precepts; but if wrong, it would be a fatal mistake. Why do we not
worship Buddha? Because he was only a man. We reverence his character,
as we do that of other upright men who have tried to do good and to lead
their fellow-men to better things. Gautama Buddha seems to have sought
with all his soul for light—was willing to forsake a kingdom and to
renounce all sensual and even intellectual pleasures in this life for
the hope of escaping sin and its consequences in the next.

Why do we worship Jehovah-Jesus? Because He is our sovereign Lord. The
Buddha groaned under his own load of guilt, and was oppressed by the sad
and universal consequences of sin among men. The Christ challenged His
enemies to convince Him of sin, and His enemies to this day have
confessed that they find no sin in Him. Buddhists believe that Buddha
reached Nirvāna after having himself passed through every form of being
in the universe—having been in turn every animal in the seas, on the
earth, and in the air. He did this by an inexorable law that he and
every other being is subject to, and cannot evade. Our Jehovah-Jesus, as
our Scriptures teach, is the only self-existent being in the universe,
and Himself the cause of all other beings. An infinite Spirit and
invisible, He manifested Himself to the world by descending from heaven,
becoming man, taking on our nature in unison with His own holy nature,
but with no taint of sin. He did this out of infinite love and pity for
our race after it had sinned. He saw there was no other able to save,
and He became our Saviour.

And take the teachings of the two systems—which is the more credible?
The sacred books of the Princess teach that there is no Creator.
Everything, as the Siamese say, “pen ēng”—comes to be of itself. All
this complicated universe became what it is by a fortuitous concurrence
of atoms, which atoms themselves had no creator. We come as honest
seekers for truth. We look around, above, beneath. Everything seems to
imply the contrivance of mind. The sun rises and sets with greater
regularity than our clocks strike the hour of noon. The seasons follow
each other with wonderful uniformity. Animals are born and die, plants
and trees grow and decay, each after its kind, and in wonderful
adjustment to the conditions about them. The eye is made for seeing, the
ear for hearing, and the air for breathing. Light is necessary for work
by day, and darkness for sleep by night. This city has its walls and
gates; this palace has its beams, its roof, its doors and windows, and
its different apartments, because it was so planned. The Princess gives
her orders, and her servants in distant villages come at her summons.
The Prince’s command is obeyed throughout all his dominions. Subjects
obey because they are under constituted authority. Even so we obey
Jehovah and not Buddha, because we believe that He is the Creator and
the sovereign Lord of the universe.

In His word—His letter to our race—He claims to be Creator and Lord. We
read His word, and then we look around for evidence as to whether this
is really so. We find that evidence in earth and sea and sky. A letter
comes from the King of Siam. How do we know that it is really his? It
has his seal. Not otherwise “the heavens declare the glory of God, and
the firmament showeth His handiwork.” By faith, then, we believe that
the worlds were made, as His word tells us. We read the account of that
creation. What wonderful beings we are!—made in His image, endowed in
our degrees with His own attributes, and with authority over the world
in which He has placed us. He has given us dominion over all the beasts
of the earth, the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea. Every time
that a Buddhist kills a fish or a fowl, he sins, because he breaks a
command of his religion. Why not so for a Christian? Because these
creatures were made for man’s use, and were given to him. We partake
with gratitude of the gifts our Father has provided for us. This one
great truth, when received by Christians, relieves the conscience of one
of the greatest burdens that the followers of Buddha must bear.

But if God made man in His image, why all this suffering that we see and
feel? The best explanation ever given is that given in the Bible. Man
was created holy, and was put on trial. He transgressed. A subject who
disobeys the law of his sovereign incurs his displeasure. He suffers for
it. We are suffering from this disobedience of our first parents by a
law that we daily see exemplified. A man by extravagance or vice
squanders his estate. His children are born penniless. The Prince of
Wieng Chan rebelled against the King of Siam. His country was conquered
and laid waste, and thousands of its inhabitants were made captive and
deported. Thousands of the descendants of these captives are now serfs.
Why are they so? Because of the errors or misfortunes of their
ancestors. The Prince appoints a governor over a province, with the
promise that if he is faithful, his children shall succeed him. Because
of misdemeanor he is deposed. His descendants are born subjects and not
rulers. We belong to a fallen race.

Somana Gautama belonged to the same race. He groaned under its pains and
penalties. He saw a race sunk in misery. He saw its religion shamefully
corrupt. He inaugurated one of purer morality. But he does not profess
to be divine or a saviour. His religion does not offer a sufficient
remedy. By asceticism and self-mortification it would extinguish all
noble desire as well as the vicious instincts with which we are born.
And then, after interminable cycles of transmigrations, we may hope to
reach a state of unconscious sleep. Happiness and misery are inseparable
things. We escape the one only by escaping the other. That is the dark
prospect which makes Buddhism so pessimistic. To this the Princess
assented, “That is so.”

Now compare this with the religion of Jesus. The sovereign Father who
loves His wandering, sinful children, in His infinite wisdom devised a
plan that satisfies their needs and desires, “God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Our Maker became our
Redeemer by emptying Himself of His glory and becoming man. He is
Himself the greatest possible illustration of the love of God to the
race. He came to reveal the Father. His holy life we have in His word.
He set us the only perfect example, full of pity toward the miserable
and the sinful. Then, by a painful and shameful death, He became Himself
a sacrifice for the sins of the world. He obeyed the law which we had
broken, and which condemns us; and suffered in our stead the penalty due
to us. He conquered death. He took away the sting of death by taking
away sin. He arose from the dead, showing Himself for many days. He
ascended to heaven before the eyes of His disciples. He has sent His
servants and His word to offer a full and free pardon to all who will
accept. He is now, and ever will be, our intercessor in heaven. He sends
His Spirit to purify and fit us for an endless state of conscious
existence which begins at death, and not cycles after. Millions of the
best men and women the world has ever seen have given their testimony to
the reality of this salvation by a triumphant death, with the assurance
that all sin and all suffering were past. Jesus removed the curse, and
brought to light the immortality which we had forfeited by sin. The
missionary and his associates have left both parents and children that
they might offer this to the Princess and to her people.

To all of this the Princess was mainly a most interested listener. She
had asked to be taught. She put no captious questions. I have omitted an
occasional assent that she gave, and an occasional difficulty or
doubt—not all of which could be fully answered; as, for example, why an
all-powerful God allowed the entrance of sin, and now allows wicked
spirits to tempt us; or that other sad question, why the Gospel had not
been sent to them, so that they might have known this from childhood—a
question the burden of which should press on my readers as well as on
the missionary.

At last, after a long pause, the Princess made a wonderful confession,
the very words of which I can never forget:

“Tā chak wā dūi kwām ching, kā han wā paw krū ko tūk lêo.” To speak the
truth, I see that the father-teacher is right. “Kā chûa wā kong chak mī
Pra Chao ton dai sāng lōk.” I believe there surely must be some divine
Lord who made the world. “Lê bat nī ko chûa tī paw krū atibāi dūi kān
pon tōt dōi Pra Yēsū.” And now I believe what the father-teacher has
explained about escape from punishment through the Lord Jesus. And then,
sadly—almost despairingly—she added, “Tê chak yīa cha dai?” But what
shall I do?—I fear it will not be well to forsake “hīt paw hoi mê”—the
customs of my father, the foot-prints of my mother.

We were sitting in the new brick palace—the first ever built in the
country. In the hall was a large pier-glass with numerous other foreign
articles, most of them bought in Bangkok, and brought up for offerings
at the coming dedication of the shrine. I asked, “Princess, did your
father or grandfather have a brick palace like this?” Somewhat surprised
at the question, she replied, “No.” “And I see the Princess riding down
to the landing every day in a foreign carriage. Did your ancestors do
that?” Before I could make the application, she blushed, perceiving that
she was caught. I went on: “You do daily forsake old customs, and adopt
new ones which your ancestors never knew. The whole method of government
is changing. This foreign cloth, which your maidens are sewing for
priests’ robes, was all unknown to your forefathers. These things all
come from lands where the people worship neither the Buddha nor the
spirits. These are only some of the fruits that grow on the tree. Better
still, plant the tree; for all good fruit grows on it.” Just then our
long conversation was interrupted by the entrance of the Prince, who had
worked till he was tired. He asked what she and the teacher were talking
about so long. She replied that we were discussing “bun lê bāp”—merit
and sin.

The question often came up after this. She was in a position where it
was, humanly speaking, almost impossible for her outwardly to forsake
the customs of the country. But I have reason to know that on that
morning she received truths which she never forgot. We have seen before
that neither she nor her husband approved of her father’s act in
murdering the Christians. She continued a warm friend to the last, and
so did the Prince.

On my way home that same forenoon I had another interesting talk with
our dear old friend, the abbot of the Ūmōng monastery, who had been so
true to us during our troubles. On the gate-posts, as I entered, were
offerings of fruit, rice, betel, etc., to propitiate the spirits. This
is in flat violation of one of the fundamental precepts of Buddhism,
which declares that any one who makes offerings to spirits is outside of
the pale, or, as we should say, is virtually excommunicate. Of course,
my abbot friend exculpated himself from all complicity in the offerings.
He himself neither worshipped nor feared the spirits. But his disciples
and parishioners did, and he could not withstand them. He, too, never
gave up the form of Buddhism, but he claimed that he worshipped Jesus
daily as the great Creator and Benefactor of our race. His merit he
believed to be infinitely greater than that of Buddha, whom he knew to
be a man. The abbot was a man of broad mind, and a true and faithful
friend. It is well that it is not for us to say how much of error is
consistent with true discipleship, even in Christian lands. I know that
his deep-rooted friendship for us was because we were teachers of a
religion that offered hopes which Buddhism does not give. I have in mind
many others, also, who believed our doctrine, though they were never
enrolled in our church; and not a few that would urge others of their
family and friends to take, as Christians, the open stand which, from
various causes, they themselves were prevented from taking. But the Lord
knoweth them that are His.

The great event of the year 1877 was the dedication of a Buddhist shrine
recently rebuilt on Doi Sutēp, the noble mountain which is the pride and
glory of Chiengmai. From the level of the plain, and at a distance of
but four miles westward from the city, the mountain rises in a single
sweep four thousand five hundred feet, forest-crowned to its very
summit, seamed with rushing brooks, and embroidered with gleaming
waterfalls. In the rainy season the play of cloud and vapor, of sunshine
and storm about its mighty mass, forms an ever-changing picture of
surpassing beauty and grandeur. The Siamese and the Lāo are very fond of
an imposing setting and a commanding view for their temples and
shrines—on bold promontories by sea or river, on high knolls and
summits. The one on Doi Sutēp crowns a projecting shoulder or bastion of
the mountain, some half-way up, and visible from all parts of the
Chiengmai plain. Each reigning Prince has been desirous of doing
something to beautify and enrich this shrine. To rebuild it was,
therefore, an attractive idea to Prince Intanon at the beginning of his



To do honour to the occasion, and to make merit thereby, all the
northern states, as far east as Lūang Prabāng, sent their highest
officials with costly offerings; and the government of Siam sent a
special representative. For weeks and months previously the whole
country had been placed under requisition to make preparations.
Offerings were levied from every town, village, and monastery, and, I
believe, from every household. Each guest of honour had a temporary
house built for him at the foot of the mountain, with smaller shelters
for persons of less rank. Nearly all the princes and nobles of Chiengmai
joined the encampment at the base of the mountain, and thither, also,
was the city market removed, so that our housekeepers had to send four
miles to market!

I had intended to pitch a tent near the encampment, so as to be near the
people for missionary work. But a rheumatic attack during the opening
days of the festival prevented. Still, we had as many visitors at home
as we could attend to, and under conditions more favourable for
missionary work.

Such occasions are very attractive to the Lāo people. For the time being
the prohibition against gambling is removed, and they make the most of
it. It may seem a queer way of making merit, but the theory is that
their merit earns them the right to a good time for once. Thousands of
rupees change hands on such occasions. The mornings are given to making
offerings, the afternoons to boxing and games, and the nights to
theatricals and gambling. I was glad that I was prevented from pitching
my tent in the midst of the noise and revelry. All those interested in
religion were the more free to call and converse with us apart from the
princes and the rabble. Officers and monks from a distance were always
especially welcomed, and few of them in those days returned to their
homes without calling on the foreign teacher.

I did not get off on a long tour that season, being unable to secure an
elephant. It was better so, however, for early in May Dr. Cheek went to
Bangkok to consult a physician, and went on thence as far as Hongkong.
It was April 30th of the next year before he got back to Chiengmai. And
the season proved to be one of the most unhealthy in the history of the
mission. Worst of all, we had only six bottles of quinine to begin the
season with. There was a rush for the quinine, and it seemed cruel to
withhold it so long as any was left. The fever was of a violent type,
and often fatal. Native doctors were helpless before the scourge. On
looking about me for a substitute for quinine, I found that arsenic was
the next best remedy, and that Fowler’s Solution was the best form for
administering it. But we had not a drop of the solution. We had,
however, a bottle of arsenious acid, and a United States Dispensatory,
so that I had to become pharmacist as well as doctor. I had all the
ingredients save one, an unessential colouring matter. So I made it up
by the quart. But it was not a medicine to be trusted in native hands.
They were accustomed to take their own medicine by the potful, and had
the theory that if a little is good, a great deal would be better.



                       THE RESIDENT COMMISSIONER

In this same year, 1877, there occurred an event of utmost importance to
the mission and to the whole country. We have seen that, up to the death
of Prince Kāwilōrot, those Lāo provinces which are now a part of Siam
had been virtually free states. The Siamese yoke had been very easy.
They had never been conquered in war. Their original association with
Siam had been a voluntary one, in order to escape the oppressive rule of
Burma. Their location and their weakness made it a necessity that they
should look to one of these rival kingdoms for protection against the
other. At the same time, they added both dignity and strength to the one
on which they leaned—they served it as a buffer against the other.
Nature had connected the Lāo country more intimately with Siam. All its
communication with the sea was through the Mênam Chao Prayā and its
tributaries, while a range of lofty mountains separated it from Burma.
In race and language too, they were Siamese, and not Burmese.

The relation had been mutually beneficial. Both parties recognized the
advantages of the arrangement, and were satisfied. The balance of real
advantage had been to the weaker states. Their chiefs, indeed, were
required to make triennial visits to the Siamese capital, to present
there a nominal tribute, and to renew their oath of allegiance. But with
this exception they were virtually free. In his own country the Prince
had absolute rule. The Siamese had never interfered with, or assumed
control of, the internal affairs of the North Lāo states. It will be
remembered that the sanction of the Siamese government to the
establishment of the mission was given only after the Lāo Prince had
given his.

It was probably an inevitable result that the stronger power should in
time absorb the weaker. And the course of events had been tending that
way. The forests of teak on the upper branches of the Mênam were too
valuable to be concealed or to remain profitless. The world needed the
timber, and was willing to pay for it. The country needed its value in
money. The Burmese of Maulmein, who were British subjects, had skill in
working out the timber, which the Lāo had not. With money and valuable
presents they tempted the Lāo rulers, who formerly had absolute
authority over the forests, to grant them concessions to cut the timber
and market it in Bangkok. Both parties were avaricious, and both were
probably crooked. Larger bribes sometimes induced a Lāo ruler to issue a
second concession to work a forest already assigned to an earlier
applicant. The result was a constant succession of lawsuits brought by
British subjects against the Lāo. Since the Lāo states were
dependencies of Siam, the Siamese government was often called upon to
enforce judgment against them; while the Lāo felt that the Siamese
suzerainty ought to shield them from such attack. Siam was now come to
be in fact the buffer between the Lāo and the outside world. Instead of
the pleasant relations which had hitherto existed between the two
peoples, there was now constant friction.

Up to the time when Prince Kāwilōrot gave his public and official
promise before the United States Consul and the representative of the
Siamese government, in the little sālā at the landing-stage of Wat Chêng
in Bangkok, no foreign power other than the English had had any claim on
the Lāo or any contact with them. It was only the impolitic act of
killing the Christians which brought the Lāo Prince into conflict with
the representative of the United States government. The fact that it was
the missionaries who were immediately concerned had nothing to do with
the question. Had the agreement been made with American citizens in any
other capacity or business, the obligation would have been the same. The
Siamese government recognized the obligation, and, as we have seen,
guaranteed the continuance of the mission. And that guarantee was an
additional reason for having an official representative of Siam resident
in Chiengmai.

Had the new Prince been as strong as he was mild and good, and had the
Chao Uparāt been like him, it is possible that the old feudal relation
might have continued another generation or two. No doubt the Siamese
government thoroughly trusted the loyalty of the new Prince; but it did
not regard him as a man sufficiently strong to hold the reins of power
at that juncture. Moreover, all the business of ruling was largely given
over to the Uparāt; and he in a number of ways had shown his opposition
to our work and his jealousy of the English and of foreigners generally.
When news reached us first that a High Commissioner was appointed, and
then that he was on the way, there was great anxiety to know what stand
he would take with reference to Christianity.

Prayā Tēp Worachun proved to be an admirable selection for Commissioner.
He had many of the qualities of a statesman. He was cool, calm, patient,
and wise. Judging from the result, it is evident that his instructions
were: to be conservative; to make no rash or premature move; and to
uphold the royal authority conjointly with the old princely
rule—peaceably, if possible, but firmly—till Siam could assume complete
control. Meanwhile he was to follow the English plan of governing
through the native rulers. He was willing to bide his time. Every new
assumption of power on the part of Siam was reluctantly yielded by the
Lāo. But everything conspired to favour the policy of Siam. The Lāo
Prince was passive and unambitious. For the Uparāt no one felt the
reverence or the fear that all had felt for the late Prince Kāwilōrot.
The Commissioner’s fairness and business integrity enabled him to
maintain himself perfectly in his difficult position between the two
branches of the Tai race, and amid the conflicting interests of the

In religion the new Commissioner was a stoic. His boast was that he
needed no other religion than to be loyal to his king, and upright and
just in his dealings with men. Virtue was its own reward, and vice was
its own punishment. He accepted Gibbon’s conclusion that all religions
are alike good for the state, alike true for their adherents, and alike
false for the philosopher. He encouraged Christianity because it taught
a good morality and made good citizens. But he could see neither the
possibility nor the necessity of an atonement for sin. On one point I
should say we were in full accord. In his opposition to the
spirit-worship of the Lāo he was almost rabid. He sympathized deeply
with the poor people accused of witchcraft, who were driven out of the

During the absence of Dr. Cheek and Mr. Wilson with their families, I
should have been utterly unable to cope with the situation, had it not
been for my wife’s clear business talent and tact in planning. The
little girls, too, had begun to show somewhat of their mother’s aptitude
for work.

Meanwhile the fever scourge continued to spread and increase in
violence. The progress of the disease was so rapid that often the person
attacked would never rally at all. An interesting example of the way in
which healing of the body sometimes opened the way to the healing of the
soul, is seen in the case of Sên Kam, an officer who was in charge of
all the irrigation works on the Doi Saket plain, and who one day was
brought to my gate, as it was supposed, to die. The new medicine quickly
checked his fever, and presently he began to study in Siamese the
Shorter Catechism, Genesis, and the Gospel of John. In due time he
returned home a believer. But his desertion from Buddhism caused such
opposition in his province that his baptism was delayed. His family were
so shaken that some of them wished to return to the old worship. But one
young granddaughter of twelve or thirteen years had begun to read our
books and to attend our services. She refused to return to the
monastery, and would run away from it to the chapel. She persevered
until she brought back the whole family into the Christian fold.

In further illustration of the crowded experiences of this time, I may
cite the following items from letters to our children, written during
the latter half of the year 1877.

    “Last week the King sent for your father to treat a prince who
    had had the fever for fifteen days. During his paroxysms his
    cries could be heard throughout the whole neighbourhood. In
    their extremity they sent for your father, and gave up the case
    to him with permission to remove all spirit-charms during the
    treatment. He is now out of danger.” [MRS. MCG.]

    “For three weeks I have had a young prince in hospital who had
    attempted suicide by cutting his throat. He was a fearful sight.
    It did not seem possible that he could survive the night. I
    sewed up the wound, however, and now he is well, and apparently
    penitent.” [D. MCG.]

    “We are well as usual, but engrossed in work. Your father is
    pressed beyond measure with the work of two men. On the return
    of Dr. Cheek’s boats, we received forty ounces of quinine; but
    it is going at a fearful rate. The hospital is full of patients,
    and there are at least one hundred more to be prescribed for
    daily. If I did not drop everything else and help him, he could
    not possibly get through the day’s work.” [MRS. MCG.]

    “Soon the quinine was all gone, and our compound was becoming a
    veritable lazaretto. Most of the patients were anæmic and
    dropsical from long-standing fever. They came, because to remain
    at home was to die. Then a new complication arose. Unusual
    symptoms began to occur that I could not account for. One
    morning at breakfast we were called to see a little girl who had
    a hemorrhage. She had no cough and had no consumption. While I
    was looking up the symptoms and cause, your mother discovered
    that the bleeding was from the gums. That gave us the clue. It
    was scurvy. I found that we had at least thirty others whose
    gums were similarly diseased. We began at once to give them
    lime-juice, and prescribed vegetables, for the lack of which
    they were starving. It is the invariable custom of Lāo doctors
    in cases of fever to put the patient on a strict diet of boiled
    rice and dried fish. On such diet some of our patients had been
    living for two or three months. They might as well have been on
    an arctic voyage!” [D. MCG.]

    “Day before yesterday we tried to have a picnic. A princess had
    promised us two elephants, but only one came. Your father took a
    horse. The three children and I rode the elephant. Our
    destination was the Doi Sutēp temple. About half the way up the
    mountain the elephant either concluded that there was no fun in
    going up alone, or, more probably, that he had an uncomfortable
    load, and refused to go any further. He turned out of the road,
    and tried to throw the driver from his neck. The children became
    alarmed, and we dismounted as best we could. The children
    refused to try riding him again; and since we had come largely
    for their pleasure, we had our lunch by a brook, and returned
    home on foot.” [MRS. MCG.]

    “We had an interesting incident at our December communion. Just
    as I had announced the communion hymn, I saw Chao Borirak—the
    Nān prince, who had twice accompanied me with his elephant on my
    journeys, and for whose sake largely one of my trips to Nān had
    been taken—enter the room. As he had been the subject of much
    special prayer on our part, I could hardly command my voice
    sufficiently to proceed with the hymn. On my return from my
    furlough he had written that he would visit me at the first
    opportunity. His uncle, the Prince of Nān, had a grandson in
    danger of losing his sight from an accident. He had persuaded
    the Prince that possibly our medicine might help him. He brought
    a few presents from the Prince, and for himself had brought a
    gold ring with a native pearl from the Nān river. He is very
    anxious that I should move to Nān, but I tell him that he must
    wait for you.... With fever and death around us we have been
    wonderfully preserved from ‘the pestilence that walketh in
    darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noonday.’ We have
    had our anxieties about the children. During the last hot season
    we were afraid that little Margaret would melt away, she was so
    thin.” [D. MCG.]

But the labours of the year were not in vain. During its progress Nān
Suwan, who afterwards became the founder of the church in Chieng Sên,
and four others who became influential ruling elders, were baptized. And
with these was Pā Kawng, an aged slave of the Prince, who lived to be
one of the Lāo saints.




On January 6th, 1878, two native converts were received into the
church—Nān Sī Wichai, the fine scholar who had been Dr. Cheek’s teacher,
and the wife of a leading elder—and with them our own daughter Cornelia.
This was the bright beginning of the year that brought in religious

One day in March, as I was sitting in my study, I was surprised to see a
tall man, a stranger, with the bearing of an officer, enter. He pointed
with both fingers to his ears, and asked if the teacher could say
“Ephphatha,” and open the ears of a deaf man as Jesus did. It was a
strange introduction—to be accosted by a Lāo with a quotation from
Scripture in the ancient Aramæan tongue! I judged by his accent that he
was from Lakawn. In answer to my enquiry as to who he was, I learned
that he was a Prayā, the highest rank among Lāo officials; that he had
formerly been first in the Lakawn court, but was not then in office. But
where had he received a Bible, and who had taught him?

I learned that some twenty years before this he had accompanied his
Prince to Bangkok, and there had met Dr. Bradley, from whom he received
a copy of the Old Testament History in Siamese, and the New Testament so
far as it was then published. He had learned Siamese in order to be able
to read and understand the contents of these books. He often wished that
he had lived in the time of Christ. But, having no one to guide him, he
had not learned to draw the lessons that the Bible story was designed to

He had come to Chiengmai to get the assistance of the princes there in
righting an unjust decision of the Lakawn court against him. He had
heard, too, that there were teachers of a new religion; and he wished to
know whether we taught as did Dr. Bradley and the books received from
him. His position, his manners, his whole history, including his
connection with my father-in-law, attracted me to him with uncommon
force. Our first interview was long and very satisfactory. His questions
were such as he had long wished to put to some one who could explain
them. The truth had been securely lodged in his mind. It was most
interesting to see how a single new thought would illuminate it all.

But what he had sown he was then reaping. While in power he doubtless
had oppressed others. Once he had received “hush money” from murderers
whom he should have prosecuted. If he had not taken it, he said they
would have murdered him, too. His sins weighed upon his conscience. His
most anxious question was whether Jesus could really save _all_ men from
_all_ sins. When asked if Buddha could do so, he said that he never had
seen any such promise in any of the scriptures. He would search again.
He went to an abbot friend from whom he borrowed, as he said, “books by
the armful.” He looked them over with this one question in view: Is
there hope of pardon offered to sinners? He went a second time for more.
At his third coming the abbot, finding out what he was after, refused to
lend to him further. But he confessed that his search was in vain. He
argued with the monks, refuted them; and they cast him off. Upon his
arrival the Chao Uparāt had promised his assistance in the lawsuit.
When, however, he found that the Prayā was becoming a Christian, he
dropped him. But he had found an intercessor greater than any earthly
prince. For Him he was willing to face all opposition and to bear all

He was baptized on the 8th of May, just before returning home. The rains
had already set in, and were likely greatly to impede his journey. Yet
he reached Lakawn without encountering a shower. His account of it
afterwards was, that whenever he saw the clouds threatening, he would
wave his hands and pray that they might be dispersed. Lāo Christians
have not become befogged with doubts as to the efficacy of prayer for
temporal blessings. After his return to his home, his family all became
believers, and others also whom he taught. At his invitation I went over
to instruct them and to administer the sacraments. Two years later the
number was sufficient to warrant their organization into a church, of
which the Prayā was made the first elder.

Dr. Cheek’s return at the end of April, 1878, took from my shoulders the
care of the medical work—a very great burden. During his absence I had
put up a hospital building of six rooms. This since then has been moved,
and now forms the nucleus of the Chiengmai Hospital. The doctor soon
found himself overwhelmed with practice. He was a fine surgeon and a
good doctor, and had great influence both with princes and with people.
Moreover, Mrs. Cheek’s inheritance of the language—like my wife’s—was a
great advantage to them both. Only a few days after the doctor’s arrival
we lost our valuable hospital assistant, Lung In. One evening he
complained of some trouble about the heart. He talked a few moments with
his family, then said he felt better and would go to sleep—and in an
instant was gone.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In 1878 Chieng Sên, the old abandoned city which I visited in 1872,
became the theme of anxious consultation on the part of the government.
The Lāo had taken away the inhabitants, but could not take away the
land. It had become a rendezvous for robbers and lawless men from all
quarters. The Western Shans from Burma were settling upon it. Siam
evidently must repopulate the province, or lose it. It was finally
agreed that one thousand descendants of the original captives should be
drafted from Chiengmai, one thousand from Lakawn, and five hundred from
Lampūn, and sent back to reoccupy the province. Chao Noi Inta, the
highest in rank of the available descendants of the original captive
princes, was commissioned as governor. The special interest this exodus
has for our narrative lies in the fact that among these returned
captives was the family of Nān Suwan, one of our best men, and already
an elder of the church. At first Nān Suwan thought of buying himself
off, as many did. But when it was pointed out to him that his going
would be the means of starting a church there, he readily consented to





The governor was a warm friend of mine, and was urgent that we establish
a mission and a church there before Buddhist temples could be built. The
province was virgin soil. A great mortality usually attends the
repeopling of deserted places and the clearing of the land. The governor
was very anxious that we should send a physician. Had we gone then with
five hundred ounces of quinine, we should have had command of the
situation. As it was, Nān Suwan was furnished with some quinine, which
gave him the name of doctor. Broad-minded, hospitable, kindly, and
thoroughly upright, there could have been no better selection. He became
the real father of the Chieng Sên church. His family was a light in the
city. His youngest daughter, Kūi Kêo, one of Mrs. McGilvary’s first
pupils, taught most of the early Christians there to read the Scriptures
in Siamese. The elder himself became a great favourite with the
governor, who used to say that the fact of his being governor, and,
therefore, under authority, alone prevented him from uniting with the
church. Another of the returning captives was Sên Yā Wichai, the first
believer in Chiengmai. He settled on the western border of the Chieng
Sên plain.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The Lāo as a race have been in bondage to the spirits. We have already
had frequent occasion to refer to the slavish fear of them among all
classes, from the highest to the lowest. No event in life, from birth to
the last offices for the dead, could be undertaken without consulting or
appeasing the presiding spirits of the clan, the household, or the
country. Their anger is the fruitful cause of every disease and calamity
that flesh is heir to.

In many ways this would seem a less elevating and ennobling cult than
pure Buddhism. But really it has a much closer affinity with
Christianity than has Buddhism, whether as scientifically held by the
learned, or as embraced by the common people. Buddhism is too atheistic
to bring it into comparison here with Christianity. It lacks the
essential attribute of religion—a sense of dependence on some higher
power. It belongs to a different order of thought. The spirit-cult, on
the other hand, does recognize invisible powers whose goodwill or
illwill brings prosperity or adversity. From this to one Great Spirit,
who is sovereign over all, is but another step on the same line of
ascent. So their spirit-offerings come nearer the idea of propitiation
than do the offerings of Buddhism, which in some quite unaccountable
manner are supposed to bring merit to the offerer.

A belief in witchcraft—that is, in the temporary or permanent residence
of some evil spirit in men—has been confined to no one age or race. Its
predominance among the northern Tai tribes is very remarkable in view of
its inconsistency with Buddhism, which has long been the religion of the
race. In the contest for supremacy, the spirit-cult, while it has not
superseded Buddhism, has secured the stronger hold on the people. They
worship Buddha and make offerings in his temples; but they fear and
dread the power of the spirits to inflict present evil. It is safer to
neglect Buddha than these. And the power of a malicious spirit is most
dreaded when it has taken up its abode in a human habitation.

From the time of our first arrival in Chiengmai we were continually
amazed to find what multitudes of people had been driven from their
homes for supposed witchcraft. All the northern provinces and towns, as
has already been mentioned, were largely peopled by that unfortunate
class. Accusation of witchcraft had become one of the most dreaded means
of oppression and persecution. It was a favourite way of getting rid of
an envied rival or of a disagreeable neighbour. No family and no rank
were safe from such attack. Princes, even, had fallen under its ban.
When once the suspicion of witchcraft was well started, the individual
or the family was doomed. Our sympathies had often been aroused in
behalf of these unfortunates; but no favourable opportunity had occurred
for interference in any other way than by our teaching.

Finally, in August, 1878, the opportunity came. I had a request from a
prince of some wealth and standing, that I would take under our
protection Pā Sêng Bun and her family, accused of witchcraft. The woman
was first the under-wife of the Prince’s deceased father, who was a man
of note in his day. She had two fine boys by a subsequent husband, and a
niece nearly grown. This second husband was a widower, whose former wife
was suspected of dealing in the occult art; and the theory was that the
evil spirit came into her family through these sons. In that season of
heavy rains and flooded streams, the whole family was to be driven
off—some of them surely to die on the way. The patron said that he was
helpless; that no one in the land, unless it were ourselves, could
shield them from that fate. I told him that we were perfectly willing to
risk the anger of the spirits, only we did not wish unnecessarily to
offend the prejudices of the people. He was willing to assume all
_legal_ responsibility; for the rest, we might fight it out with the
spirits as we pleased. After notifying the Siamese Commissioner of the
situation, we brought the family to our place.

That very day their house was burned down; and not a tree or bush was
left standing on the premises to furnish shelter to the spirits. But
that did not stop the clamour. There was then in their village a great
epidemic of fever. By common consent it was agreed that this had been
caused by the evil spirit resident in the lads. With boyish curiosity
they had twice or thrice gone back to visit the site of their old home,
and, strange to say, after each visit a new case of sickness had
occurred, which was, of course, attributed to their presence. It was
vain to point out the utter ridiculousness of the idea, or to show that
no sickness had occurred on our place since their arrival. That was
easily explained. The spirit was afraid of our God, and did not dare to
enter the premises. It took refuge in a large tree outside till the boys
came out again, when it entered its former habitation and went with

Finally the patron prince sent word that we must give that family up. He
could endure the odium no longer. When I refused, he threatened to take
the matter into court. To this I replied that I was perfectly willing
that the case be tried; but it should not be tried before a Lāo court,
but before the Commissioner. If they could convince him that the
sickness in the village was caused by a malicious spirit resident in
that family, they should be sent off immediately. But, I added, it would
be fair to make one condition. If the accusers failed, _they_ should be
driven off. This—as I knew it would do—put an end to the whole affair.
We heard no more of it. It was a great victory in the demon controversy;
and, later, as we shall see, it proved a boon to scores of helpless
victims. Before the arrival of the Commissioner such an outcome would
have been impossible. No Lāo court would have refused to expel persons
so accused. The family of Pā Sêng Bun proved to be a treasure, becoming
one of the most influential and valuable in the Chiengmai church.




Our narrative has now brought us to a point where an apparently trivial
circumstance became the occasion of an event not only of utmost
importance to us and to our work, but of far-reaching consequences to
the country at large. Sometime near the middle of this year, 1878, the
eldest daughter of Nān Inta was to be married to a Christian young man
studying for the ministry. Both parties at that time were virtually
members of our family. The expected bride was a pupil of Mrs.
McGilvary’s, and the groom was a private pupil of mine. The immediate
family connections on both sides were Christians. Inasmuch as this was
the first Christian marriage in the church, we had prepared to celebrate
it with a little wedding feast. Besides the Christians, a few princes
and a few special friends were invited, all anxious to see a Christian
marriage ceremony. Among the invited guests was Chao Tēpawong, Nān
Inta’s liege-lord, and brother of the Uparāt.

We learned that the family patriarch—known to be a violent opposer of
Christianity—had threatened to prevent the marriage, unless we first
paid to him, as tribal head of the family, the spirit-fee originally
designed to furnish a feast for the spirits. It was a small sum—among
common people not more than six rupees. That payment would legalize
marriage without any further ceremony. In fact, the payment may be
regarded as a distinctively religious act, since it recognizes the
spirits as the guardians and protectors of the family. When one becomes
a Christian, that allegiance is cast off. By an unwritten law or custom
of the country, that fee belonged to the patriarch, and he decided to
exact it or make trouble. I had explained the marriage ceremony to the
princes and to the Commissioner. I knew that the latter recognized the
justice of our position, and I assumed that the government would support
us if the patriarch caused any trouble.

Sure enough, early in the morning the patriarch’s loud voice was heard
in our yard threatening dire punishment to the family if his demand were
not granted. The bride’s father became alarmed, and thought we must have
some official backing, or he would surely get into trouble. The guests
had arrived, and every one was on the _qui vive_ to see which side was
to win in the contest. I went to the liege-lord of the family for his
sanction; but he said it was too big a question for him to pass upon. I
must go to a higher authority. It had evidently become a question that
could not be settled that morning. Old Adam would have said, “Marry them
and trust to the justice of your cause. Let the old patriarch whistle!”
But we teach our Christians to be obedient to the law, and we wished to
avoid unnecessary trouble. So there was nothing to do but to swallow our
mortification, apologize to our guests, invite them to partake of the
feast, and seek legal sanction afterwards.

After dinner that same day Dr. Cheek and I called upon the Commissioner.
We had failed, and were come to him for advice. His sympathies were
easily enlisted, but he had no authority to interfere in local or tribal
matters. He advised us to go to the Prince. We did so, meeting him and
the Princess alone. Their position was like that of the Commissioner.
They, too, sympathized with the young couple and with us. But it raised
a new question for them, and they feared to give offence. The Princess
said they had been criticised by our enemies for standing by us; but if
the Chao Uparāt would give his sanction, no one else, they thought,
would dare oppose. So we went next to the Uparāt; but there we ran
against a stone wall. He inwardly laughed at our predicament. He had us
just where he wanted us to be. If our young people could not marry, our
work would be virtually stopped. He said that no one but the King of
Siam had authority to interfere in such a question.

We returned home signally defeated. Next day I went alone to the Chao
Uparāt, and argued the justice of our case. The parties had renounced
their allegiance to the spirits. It was clearly unreasonable to require
what we could not conscientiously submit to. I even begged him to come
to our aid, since both the Commissioner and the Prince had said that
they were sure that no one else would oppose his decision. If we were
compelled, we must appeal to His Majesty the King of Siam, though we
should be very reluctant to do so. Since marriage is a civil as well as
a religious rite, I was sure His Majesty would admit the justice of our
appeal. Either thinking that we would not make the appeal, or that the
appeal would be in vain, he at last refused to discuss the question
further. Little did he know, nor did we then, that he was doing the best
possible thing for us.

I returned then to the Commissioner to report. The conflict which, as we
have seen, was probably inevitable between the royal authority
represented by the Commissioner on the one hand, and the local rulers on
the other, was becoming inevitable sooner than was anticipated. The
Commissioner just then was himself having great trouble with officials
who were restive under his authority. The Lakawn Princes had a
difficulty among themselves, and had come to the Commissioner to have
the case adjudicated. His decision had been unfavourable to one of the
higher officials—probably the chief himself. Whoever it was, he had
committed the unpardonable offence of departing to Lakawn without taking
leave of the Commissioner, presumably intending to appeal to Bangkok. So
that morning I found His Excellency indignant at the insult offered to
him, and, through him, to his sovereign. The royal authority which he
represented was challenged. Moreover, some of the acts of the Chao
Uparāt had offended him. His impressions were confirmed and strengthened
by the recital of our grievances. He advised me to write these all out
in full, giving specifications that could be substantiated—and such were
rapidly multiplying. For, provoked at Nān Inta and his family, and
emboldened with his own success in stopping the wedding, the Chao Uparāt
had summoned Nān Inta and had set him to watching his summer-house on
the river—the work of a menial, such as Nān Inta had never yet been
reduced to doing.

At last the moment had come when an appeal for religious toleration
might be made with fair prospect of success. As the only way of avoiding
continual interference in the future, the Commissioner himself advised
that the appeal be made for religious toleration in general, rather than
for freedom of Christian marriage, which was only a single item. The
Commissioner was busily engaged in writing out a report of his own
grievances, to be sent to the King. He said that he would mention our
case also in his report, and offered to forward my letter with his

I immediately dropped everything else, and addressed myself to writing
that appeal unto Cæsar. In it I referred to the sanction of the Siamese
government to the establishment of the mission, given after the
interview with Prince Kāwilōrot at Wat Chêng, and subsequently renewed
on the appointment of his successor, Prince Intanon. I was very careful
not only to exonerate the latter from all blame, but also highly to
commend both him and his Princess for their uniform kindness, and for
their sympathy in this particular emergency. But the act of the Chao
Uparāt was, no doubt, only the beginning of what he would do if he were
not restrained. It was evidently his intention to reduce to slavery a
family that had always been free. In behalf of his loyal Christian
subjects we begged His Majesty to guarantee to them the same privileges,
civil and religious, which his other subjects enjoyed, among which
surely was the right to be married according to the ceremony of their
own religion. One request I put in with some misgiving—that the
Christians might be exempted from compulsory work on the Sabbath;
otherwise that point might always be used to create difficulty when the
master was hostile. While thus making our appeal to man, importunate
prayer was continually offered to Him who had been our help in times

It was very necessary that the appeal should go as the joint action of
the mission as then constituted. I was aware that Dr. Cheek, the only
other member of the mission then on the ground, did not enter heartily
into the appeal. He was fearful that it would only make bad worse; that
it would give offence to the Lāo rulers, and possibly to the Siamese as
well. But as regards the Lāo, matters had already reached an extremity
in the case of the one who really ruled the country. And as to the
Siamese, our only human hope was in the King. So, when my paper was
finished, I took it to Dr. Cheek, and read it over to him. He listened
very attentively to the reading, and at its close I was delighted to
hear him say, “That seems all right.” After a few clerical alterations
which he suggested, we both signed the paper. A summary of it was read
to the Commissioner, and was afterwards enclosed by him with his
despatches. Our appeal to the King of Siam had, of course, to be made
through the United States Consul, Colonel Sickels. Our letter to the
King was, therefore, sent unsealed under cover to the Consul, so that he
might read it; and with it went a letter giving him a full account of
all the particulars of the case, and urging him to use his influence,
both personal and official, on our behalf. The whole was entrusted to a
special messenger in a swift boat, with instructions to make all
possible speed.

Having done our best, we waited prayerfully and hopefully. But the
greatness of the issue involved made us anxious. The liberal policy of
the young King was not then so well known as it became later. One could
not be absolutely certain how even our Consul would regard it. We
trusted, however, to the friendship of the Foreign Minister, who had
invited me to Pechaburī, and who had always been our true friend. No one
of all these persons concerned disappointed our expectations, or even
our hopes.

Colonel Sickels acted with commendable despatch. He was favoured in
securing an audience without the usual formalities. At that time His
Majesty had a regular day each week when his subjects and others might
approach him informally in his summer garden with petitions on urgent
business. Our appeal was presented to him there. He was already aware of
its nature through the Commissioner’s despatches. Anxiety with regard to
the political situation in the North no doubt prompted him to a decisive
assertion of authority in this matter as well. His Majesty informed the
Consul that his government had already reached a decision favourable to
our request, and that full religious toleration was to be proclaimed.

The courier returned with unwonted speed, reaching Chiengmai on Sunday,
September 29th. Late in the afternoon of that day the Commissioner
notified me of the arrival of despatches. Next morning I called upon
him. He was radiant with joy. All his own requests had been granted, and
enlarged powers had been given him, including power to make proclamation
of religious toleration in all the Lāo states. He seemed as much
delighted with our success as with his own. He said that he had already
notified the princes and officials to call in the afternoon, and he
would then inform them of the result. Of course, our hearts were
overflowing with gratitude.

At the appointed hour the Prince, the Chao Uparāt, and all the high
officials were assembled. When the order for the proclamation was made
known, some of them made a final personal appeal to him to stay
proceedings. They argued that unrestricted permission to become
Christians would be the ruin of the country. To understand the force of
this objection it must be remembered that among the Lāo, breach of the
Seventh Commandment was punished, not by civil or criminal procedure,
but by a “spirit-fine” paid to the patriarch of the woman’s family. It
was argued that if Christian young men should transgress with Lāo girls
or women, under the new régime, no fine could be imposed, and there
would be no redress whatever. The Commissioner then sent a messenger,
asking me to come to the audience. The scene, as I entered, reminded me
of that other notable audience with Prince Kāwilōrot and another
Commissioner. The Commissioner stated their objection, and asked me what
I had to say. I replied that the difficulty was purely an imaginary one.
In the first place, it was a cardinal doctrine of the church to forbid
such sins. In the second place, if a professed Christian violated his
vows, he made himself amenable to the discipline of the church, and so
put himself beyond its protection. The Commissioner said, “I have
already so answered, but I wanted those who are present to hear it from
the teacher himself.” To this no reply was made. After a short pause the
Commissioner broke the silence. With a gesture to the audience, he said
that the business was ended. When he had leisure, the Edict would be
issued. One after another the assembled princes and officials retired.

On my way home I noticed that the Chao Uparāt had stopped at his little
sālā beside the river, the same that Nān Inta had been set to watch. To
show that I had no personal grudge, I stopped to call on him. Rising, he
gave me a more respectful welcome than usual, and ordered a foreign rug
to be spread—the respectful way of receiving guests before the day of
chairs. When I was seated he asked why I had made complaint against him
to Bangkok—he was very sore at heart about it. I replied that I was
sorry, indeed, to be obliged to do it. Did he not remember how I had
told him that we could not submit to his decision; how I had even
entreated him not to force us to appeal to the King? And I could not
appeal without giving the facts as my ground for so doing. But now I
hoped that bygones might be bygones, and that we might be friends.—The
fact was that my letter had been translated in Bangkok, sent back to
Chiengmai, and had been read at the audience before my arrival. But I
never before had such a reception from the Uparāt.

The wording of the proclamation was left to the Commissioner. If he had
been hostile, or even indifferent, its effect might easily have been
neutralized by a little vagueness or ambiguity. But he was anxious to
have the matter settled decisively. When I took my leave of him that
morning, he promised to show me the draft of the proclamation before he
should affix his seal. When I saw it, there were only a few verbal
changes to suggest. It was a general permission to the Lāo to adopt any
religion they pleased. I suggested that since it was specifically
granted in the interest of Christians, it was desirable that
Christianity be specifically named—which was done. At my request two
extra copies of the proclamation were made with the official seals
attached; one for deposit in our safe, and one that might be read to the
people. The following is a literal translation of this famous document:

    I Prayā Tēp Worachun, Representative of His Majesty the Supreme
    King of Siam in Chiengmai, Lampūn, and Lakawn, hereby make
    proclamation to the Princes, Rulers, and Officers of various
    grades, and to the common people in the cities and provinces
    named:—That His Majesty the King of Siam has been graciously
    pleased to send me a Royal Letter under the Royal Seal, to the
    effect that D. B. Sickels, Esqr., United States Consul, had
    communicated to the Foreign Minister of Siam a complaint signed
    by Rev. D. McGilvary and Dr. M. A. Cheek against certain parties
    for molesting the Christians and compelling them to observe
    their old religious customs. The Foreign Minister laid the
    subject before His Majesty, who most graciously listened to the
    said complaint, and gave the following Royal Command in
    reference to the same:—

    That religious and civil duties do not come in conflict. That
    whoever wishes to embrace any religion after seeing that it is
    true and proper to be embraced, is allowed to do so without any
    restriction. That the responsibility for a right or a wrong
    choice rests on the individual making the choice. That there is
    nothing in the laws and customs of Siam, nor in its foreign
    treaties, to throw any restriction on the religious worship and
    service of any one.

    To be more specific:—If any person or persons wish to embrace
    the Christian Religion, they are freely permitted to follow
    their own choice.

    This Proclamation is to certify that from this time forth all
    persons are permitted to follow the dictates of their own
    conscience in all matters of religious belief and practice.

    It is moreover strictly enjoined on Princes and Rulers, and on
    relatives and friends of those who wish to become Christians,
    that they throw no obstacles in their way, and that no one
    enforce any creed or work which their religion forbids them to
    hold or to do—such as the worship and feasting of demons, and
    working on the Sabbath day, except in the case of war and other
    great unavoidable works, which, however, must not be a mere
    pretence, but really important. Be it further observed that they
    are to have free and unobstructed observance of the Sabbath day.
    And no obstacle is to be thrown in the way of American citizens
    employing such persons as they may need, since such would be a
    breach of the treaty between the two countries.

    Whenever this Proclamation is made known to the Princes and
    Rulers and Officers and People, they are to beware and violate
    no precept contained therein.

    Proclamation made on the Thirteenth Day of the Eleventh waxing
    Moon, in the Eleventh Year of His Majesty’s Reign, October the
    Eighth, Eighteen Hundred and Seventy-Eight.

The Edict furnishes a second natural division in the history of the Lāo
mission. Its first period was one of struggle for its very existence,
culminating in positive prohibition to preach the gospel and virtual
expulsion of the missionaries. That situation was abruptly brought to an
end by the death of Prince Kāwilōrot and the appointment of his
son-in-law, Prince Intanon. In our second period of struggle, the
conclusion of which we have just witnessed, the conditions were in many
respects similar to those of the first. Our chief antagonists in the two
contests were alike in their love of absolute power, in their
determination to break down all rival influences, and alike, therefore,
in their settled hostility to our work. In neither case was their
antagonism to Christianity primarily on religious grounds. But Kāwilōrot
was of much more imposing personality and figure than the Uparāt.

Within his own realm Kāwilōrot was really “Lord of Life.” He was
absolute head both of church and of state. He brooked no rival and no
contradiction in either. The highest positions in the religious
hierarchy were bestowed or withdrawn at his pleasure. His own
brothers-in-law languished in exile in Siam, because it was not thought
safe for them to return and be within his reach. At home he had
vanquished or terrified into submission all possible rivals. Even the
court of Siam seemed inspired with a wholesome fear of meddling with
him. The crime of the first Christians was the unpardonable one that
they had dared to become such against the will of Kāwilōrot. But the
time and place for such rulers had passed. Such attitude and temper
suited neither a position under superior authority, nor the policy of a
government striving to rise with the progress of the age. But he served
his purpose in the world, and Providence used him.

Of his titular successor, Prince Intanon, and of his noble wife, I have
already spoken. His real successor in the government of the land, and in
his championship of the old régime of feudal autocracy, was the Chao
Uparāt. But he had neither the commanding dignity of Kāwilōrot nor his
interesting personality;—had little, in fact, of any of his qualities
save his lodged and settled hatred of all innovation. For him we had
none of a certain kind of respect which the late Prince inspired; and we
were under no constraint of gratitude for favours. The only debt of
gratitude the mission owed him was for being, by his lawless acts, the
unwitting and unwilling cause of the proclamation of religious freedom.

But the crisis which he precipitated hastened likewise that
centralization of government which Siam was waiting for. The tendency of
the age is everywhere toward centralization. Strong central governments
are everywhere taking the place of weak and scattered ones. Chiengmai
itself and all the existing Lāo states have grown by the capture and
absorption of their weaker, though by no means insignificant,
neighbours. The authority and fear of Siam had long been felt indirectly
in preventing those petty wars in which one weak state captured and
enslaved another. That authority was now to be exerted more directly to
bring to an end the era of arbitrary, personal, autocratic rule among
its dependencies, and to establish in its place the more equal and
stable reign of law. Feudalism with its “organized anarchy” was to give
way to the Nation.

Such was the period at which we have arrived in this narrative of our
life and work in the Lāo states. It is a wonderful thing to have lived
through such a series of changes, and possibly to have been, under
Providence, the means of bringing some of them about. We work for an end
apparent to ourselves; but God’s designs are deeper and broader than
ours. “He maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.” Of nations, as well as
of individuals, is it true that

                “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
                 Rough-hew them how we will.”

Among the Christians the Edict, of course, was greeted with an outburst
of joy. To Nān Inta it was like life from the dead. It was in reality
freedom from slavery. And no man made such efficient use of it as he
did. With the sealed copy of the Edict in his hand, he returned to his
village; and wherever he went he could assure the people, on the faith
of his Sovereign, that a profession of the “Jesus-religion” meant
neither the ruffian’s club nor slavery. The effects of the Edict upon
the church will be traced in its future growth as our story moves on. I
may venture, however, to anticipate so much—that within two years’ time
two of our strongest village churches were organized; one of them in Nān
Inta’s own village. Neither of these churches could have existed had not
the Uparāt’s power been abridged.

To the country, the new authority conferred on the High Commissioner at
that time has resulted in a revolution as silent and as effectual as the
change of the seasons. His new title, Pū Samret Rāchakān—he who fulfills
the King’s work—was used, I believe, for the first time in that
proclamation; and it really marked the passing of the sceptre from the
hands of the Princes of Chiengmai. The titular Chao Chīwit—Lord of
Life—was allowed to retain his title and honours during his lifetime;
but he has had no successor. The Lāo country has ceased to be either a
feudal dependency or a separate “buffer-state.” Silently—almost
imperceptibly—it has become an integral portion of the consolidated
Kingdom of Siam. Autocratic rule has everywhere ceased. And all these
changes are directly in line with the civilization of the age.




The year 1879 opened auspiciously. In March a little variety was
introduced into our secluded life by an official visit to Chiengmai of
Major Street, the British Commissioner at Maulmein. He and his party
arrived quite unexpectedly, spent a week in the city, and attended an
English service at the mission on Sunday. We met them a number of times,
both socially and at official dinners. They strengthened the position of
the Commissioner, and did us all good. But at that time we were
anxiously awaiting another arrival, in which we were more intimately
concerned. Mr. Wilson, who had been for two and a half years absent on
furlough, was daily expected, and with him were our long-looked-for
teachers for the Girls’ School.

The party was to arrive on April 9th. To please the three children and
myself, on the afternoon of the 8th we four started down the river in a
small boat to meet and welcome them. But the river was low, and we had
not yet reached them when darkness came on and we were obliged to seek
moorings. When, at last, we got ashore, we learned to our great joy that
the mission boats were moored only a few hundred yards below, in the
same bend of the river. We all walked down in the moonlight, and
presently spied their lights close at hand. The young ladies had retired
to read, but not to sleep. The meeting by moonlight at the river’s brink
was quite romantic. We talked till ten o’clock, though Mr. Wilson was so
hoarse that he could scarcely speak. At daybreak our fleet was under
way. We had a jolly breakfast together on board—our visitors at their
little table, and we on the deck. We then visited hard again until noon;
but it was two o’clock before we caught sight of the mission premises,
with the native Christians all waiting to greet the arrivals, old and

The High Commissioner, a few days later, gave a dinner to the mission,
saying in the note of invitation that it was in honour of the young
ladies, for the boldness and piety that enabled them to leave their
fathers and mothers, and come so far to teach his people. When notified
of their arrival, the Princess sent down carriages and had us all up to
call on her. She was delighted to welcome the young ladies, and was
interested in the school.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The Siamese and the Lāo tongues are two closely related branches of the
same linguistic stock. The idiom and the great body of common words are
nearly the same in the two, differing, where they do differ, chiefly in
accent and intonation. Siamese is, of course, the speech of the ruling
race throughout the Siamese kingdom; and even at the time of which we
are speaking it was easy to foresee that the local dialect of its
northern provinces must eventually give way before it, especially for
all official and literary purposes. The chief obstacle in the way of a
speedy victory for the Siamese has been the fact that the Lāo is written
in a wholly different character. Were the two alike in this respect,
there is no doubt that the standard form of speech would take the place
of the dialectal almost without notice.

Of necessity all teaching so far attempted had been in the Siamese.
There was not a schoolbook in the Lāo character save the spelling
tables. When these had been mastered, there was no reading-book in Lāo
that could be put into the hands of the pupils; nor was there prospect
of any such being printed for years to come. On the other hand, in the
Siamese character there was a considerable Christian literature in
print, both religious and general, already available for purposes of
education. Our pupils, moreover, had all been girls; and almost no Lāo
women at that time could read writing in any character. It was,
therefore, not only much simpler, but quite as well for them on other
accounts, to learn the Siamese character from the start.

Now, however, when we were arrived at the establishment of regular
schools with a permanent organization and policy, the question could no
longer be postponed, In which language shall instruction be given? It
was not an easy question to decide. With regard to it there was
difference of opinion among the missionaries, both old and new. On the
one hand, it was urged, that since ours was a Lāo mission, the Lāo
should, of course, be the language of the schools. On the other hand
were pointed out the greater scope and availability of the Siamese, its
assured supremacy, and the dwindling future of the Lāo throughout the
territory of Siam. The matter at last was compromised by continuing the
Siamese in the Girls’ School, and adopting the Lāo for the boys.

Meantime it was desirable to have some portions of the Scriptures in the
Lāo character; and, to accomplish this, the first requisite was a font
of Lāo type. To this end, on my first furlough in 1873, I went from
North Carolina to New York, and not only spent some time, but was at
some personal expense, in the effort to secure such a font. The American
Bible Society voted a liberal sum for the purpose. But there turned out
to be some mechanical difficulties to be overcome in making and using
the type, which were beyond my skill to solve. So, lest the attempt
should fail in my hands, I gave it up. And having accomplished nothing,
I presented no bill of expense either to the Bible Society or to the

There seemed, indeed, to be some fatality attending our efforts in this
direction. Mr. Wilson, on the furlough from which he was but now
returned, had gone further. He actually succeeded in getting a font of
Lāo type. But the whole of it was lost, and never reached the
mission.[11] It was not until Dr. Peoples’ furlough in 1889 that we
succeeded in getting our present type. Meanwhile we had used the Siamese
Scriptures, with some present disadvantages, indeed, but with some
advantages as well. Some of our first Christians were attracted to our
religion by their desire to learn Siamese; and the Siamese Bible and
catechism were our textbooks. And now, under Siamese rule, knowledge of
the Siamese opens the way to promotion in the government service.
Siamese alone is taught in the government schools. Young monks are more
eager to study Siamese than their own tongue.

Footnote 11:

  Mr. Wilson brought only a few specimens with him. He writes:—“The rest
  of the type was to be boxed up and sent to Mr. Cutter, and the boxes
  were to be put away in the store-room of the Mission Rooms at 23
  Centre Street, and forwarded when called for. They must have been lost
  when the Board moved from 23 Centre Street to the Lenox property, and
  then to 156 Fifth Avenue.”

But the important thing, after all, was that we had a school actually
begun, and that there was teaching in _both_ dialects. It was like a new
beginning of our work under conditions more favourable than at the
first. For twelve years it had been a hard, and, sometimes, an
apparently hopeless struggle. But the history of missions affords many
similar instances with even fewer visible results. In twelve years we
had gathered forty converts into the church. Some of these were among
the most useful we have ever had in the history of the mission. It is
hard to estimate rightly the importance of work spent on the foundations
of such an enterprise. But now, with that church organized, with the
medical work well established, the evangelistic work strengthened, and
the initial school, begun long before by Mrs. McGilvary, placed on a
permanent basis, we could write in large letters on our altar,
“Jehovah-Nissi”—Jehovah our banner.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In the early part of this year, 1879, twelve more persons were gathered
into the church. One of them was Pā Sêng Bun, the poor woman accused of
witchcraft, who, with so much difficulty, was saved from her
persecutors. Another was Mûn C., who was a daily visitor when we were
here on our first tour of exploration. And another was our own dear
little Margaret. Somewhat later there came to our notice one of the most
interesting of all the incidents in the chequered history of our
mission. One morning, on returning from my work in the city, I was told
that a man had been waiting to see me, and was then talking to Nān Inta.
Stepping down to the house, where a number of persons had collected, I
saw a handsome man of medium height, but of striking figure, larger and
more portly than is usual among the Lāo, and thirty-three years old, as
I learned.

Nān Tā, for that was the stranger’s name, said that not long after our
first arrival in Chiengmai, while he was yet a monk in the king’s
monastery, he had visited me, and was struck with those points in the
teachings of Christianity which differentiate it from Buddhism. He
received a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Siamese, learned a few
verses, and took the book home with him to the monastery. Afterwards he
visited me occasionally to take a few further lessons in it. He was a
protégé of Prince Kāwilōrot, who paid the expenses of his entering the
monastic order. He thus became the Prince’s “Luk kêo”[12] (_jewel-son_),
in effect his adopted son. Not long after this he left the priesthood,
married, and settled out in the country. But he paid us a few visits
from time to time, always, as he said, to talk on religion and to study

Footnote 12:

  A designation whose nearest parallel in English is, perhaps,

When the order for the murder of the Christians was given, a monk who
was a friend of his met him in the streets, and asked whether he knew
that his house was to be burned over his head, explaining that the
Prince had nourished him as a son, and now he had apostatized and joined
the foreign religion. Advising him to consider well and quickly, the
priest hurried on. So it had become known in the palace that he was
visiting us and studying the Jesus-religion. There was no time to be
lost, not even to bid good-bye to his young wife. On that eventful
Saturday afternoon, just before the flight of our servants, he stopped
at our door; but seeing no one, he hastened on. On Sunday he secreted
himself in a deserted monastery near the mountains. Next day he fell in
with a company of traders, going to Chieng Rāi, six days’ journey to the
north, and travelled with them without making known what his errand was.
At Chieng Rāi he learned that the Christians were put to death the day
after he left. He was still within the Lāo realm, and might be arrested.
He made his way, therefore, to Keng Tung, in Burmese territory, ten or
fifteen days’ journey still further to the north.

After remaining there some three years, he returned to Chieng Rāi, where
he heard of the death of Kāwilōrot and the accession of Prince Intanon.
Still in fear, he passed through the towns to the east of Chiengmai,
venturing even as near as Lakawn. Then crossing the Mê Ping valley to
the south of Chiengmai, he went beyond the Salwin into Burma, stopping
awhile among the Red Karens, and then going on to Maulmein. Seeing there
a foreigner’s house, he enquired if anything was known concerning the
missionaries in Zimme (Chiengmai). Nothing was known of them. Returning
again to Siamese territory, he went to Rahêng, thinking that he would go
on to Bangkok. There, however, he was told that the missionaries had
gone back to the United States—information based, no doubt, on our
departure on furlough.

During his long wanderings he had made friends as he could, and to
support himself had sometimes turned peddler. In the haste of his flight
from home he had taken nothing with him except his copy of the Gospel of
Matthew in Siamese. He could not read it well, but he kept it as a kind
of talisman, till it was now well worn. He had learned to pray daily. He
never dared to return till he heard of the Edict of Toleration. He
regarded it as a special providence that his wife, strange to say, had
not married again. The child born after his flight he found grown to be
a fine girl nine years old. He was delighted to find the missionaries

It was a thrilling story. This man did not have to become a Christian—he
was one already. His first desire was to understand all that there was
in his Gospel of Matthew. It was evident that he had been spared and
kept for some wise purpose. And so it proved. Since I needed a teacher,
and since he was a fine Buddhist scholar, I employed him as teacher, so
that I might have him near me in order to teach him. He was an apt
pupil, making rapid progress in knowledge, and growing in grace. His
romantic history interested and attracted others. As a church member, as
a ruling elder, and afterwards as an ordained minister, he was a power
in the church till the day when he was taken up. Thousands heard the
Gospel from his lips, and many were drawn by his words and by his life
into the fold of Christ.

How wonderful are God’s ways in leading His people! Doubtless the
defection of this man was one of the things which alarmed Kāwilōrot. It
may even have hastened the fate of the martyrs. But no doubt the Lord
chose a wonderful way of saving to His church this most useful minister
of the Gospel.

                  *       *       *       *       *

After long-continued weakness on the part of Mrs. McGilvary, an acute
attack of pneumonia made a longer stay in the country impossible. My
daughter Cornelia was taken ill at the same time. So, with but little
preparation, on December 28th, 1879, both mother and daughter were
carried in chairs to the boat, and we hastened out of the country.
Stopping in Bangkok only a few days, we embarked for Hongkong. We met
the China Sea in its worst mood. For three days and nights we did not
see the captain’s face; neither did he see sun, moon, or stars in that
most dangerous tract of the sea. The skylight was fastened down, for the
waves swept the vessel from stem to stern. We were good sailors; but we
could not but pity the one hundred and twenty Chinese steerage
passengers, allowed on deck only a few moments twice a day for a breath
of air, after which they had almost to be forced back into their hole
again. There was withal just enough of the spice of danger to make the
sight of Victoria Peak at last doubly welcome.

By this time my family were all so much improved by the journey that
there was question whether I should proceed with them, or should return
to Chiengmai for another year’s work. It was evident that, in order to
regain her strength, Mrs. McGilvary would require a longer stay in the
United States than one year. I could neither spare the time for so long
a furlough for myself, nor could I expect the Board to grant it. The
question was not an easy one; but we decided at last that my wife and
children should continue their journey to the United States, and that I
should return to Chiengmai alone.

During my few days’ stay in Bangkok, through the kindness of our Consul,
I had an audience with His Majesty the King. I desired to express to him
in person my thanks for the Edict of Toleration. After some remarks
addressed to the other gentlemen present, the King asked me if I were
not, during the previous month, the bearer of despatches from his
Commissioner in the North—showing that he did not overlook small
matters, as a king might be expected to do. He enquired how I liked the
Commissioner, whether I preached in Siamese or in Lāo, how many converts
we had, etc., etc. It was a very pleasant interview.

As I ascended the river, it became plain that the water was too low to
permit the latter stage of the trip to be made in my large boat. At
Chiengmai I should find a house, but not a home. Before I could reach
it, the touring season would be nearly over. The thought of stopping a
season for work at Rahêng struck me favourably. The more I considered
it, the more attractive it became. To be sure, I had not secured the
sanction of the mission to that particular enterprise; but I had always
been allowed to choose my own touring ground. An officer, Sên Utamā,
offered me a site for a bamboo house gratis; and before I had announced
my final decision, he and others began to cut bamboo on it to build the
house. I had asked for guidance, and the question seemed to settle

I cannot dwell on the interesting six months of the year 1880 spent
there. Sên Utamā was interested from the first. By affliction he had
been wonderfully prepared for, and seemed to be waiting for, the very
consolation that the Gospel offered him. An ex-tax-collector, a Chinese
of some influence, was in the same state of mind, and soon joined the
other as an enquirer. My student, Noi Intachak, entered heartily into
the work. Soon, with my cook and boy, we had the nucleus of quite an
interesting congregation who attended worship twice a day. It was a
delight to teach them.

The case of the Chinese was deeply interesting. He believed the Gospel
plan of salvation, and was deeply anxious to be saved from his sin and
its punishment. But there was one serious obstacle in the way of his
making an open profession—he had two wives. The real wife—the one he had
formally married—was childless. The one he had bought was younger, and
had two lovable little children, both girls. I recall almost with tears
the burning questionings we had over that situation. He seemed willing
to make any self-sacrifice that duty required. But what was duty? Should
he divorce one of them? If so, which one? “Of course, he must keep the
real one,” you will say. But what of the young mother and the helpless
babes? The very mention of their being turned adrift, even with a dower,
had produced a scene in the family. The poor woman felt quite unable to
care for the children alone. The children were his children. It might
easily have been the ruin both of mother and babes to put her away. My
heart was not hard enough to advise that. Surely the man had not cut
himself off from the hope of salvation by his past—by an error or sin of
ignorance. The conditions of church-membership are faith and repentance.
The sacraments of the church are baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Shall we
offer a man the pardon of his sin without its sacramental seals?—the
glorious hope of endless fellowship in heaven, but not the communion of
saints on earth? A precisely parallel case I had met before in the
person of a native doctor at Mûang Awn. “What then,” the reader will
ask, “did you do?” Why, in each case I just did nothing. I followed the
letter of the law, and baptized neither one. But “the letter killeth;
the spirit maketh alive.”

In due time Sên Utamā and a nephew of the Chinese were baptized. An
interesting tour was made up the river. But the station in Chiengmai was
feeling the pressure of the growing work. In July, 1880, the church of
Bethlehem was organized, and there were promising openings in other
districts. It was evident that the Board was not in a condition to
consider a permanent station in Rahêng. It would have been an
interesting field for permanent occupation; but for temporary work, I
had been there as long a time as we could afford to spend in one place.

Just then Prayā Sīhanāt—the officer from Lakawn who, two years before,
had greeted me with “Ephphatha”—invited me to return with him. His ears
were not opened, but his heart was. He had taught the Christian faith to
his wife and children and a few others, and among these was a fellow
ex-officer. He wished with them to receive further and fuller
instruction, and to be taken into the fellowship of the church. Without
waiting to ascertain whether I could go, he was come with a boat to
bring me. This seemed to me the guiding hand of providence, and I
followed it.

Since a single boat cannot ascend the rapids without the help of another
boat’s crew, we made arrangements to join forces with another party, and
make the trip together. The night before we were to start, the river,
which had been steadily rising, became a flood so strong that my host
dared not face it in his small craft. Our companions, however, did not
wait for us, but went on as they had planned. We waited ten days for
another party, as well as for the river to go down. Imagine my
sensations, then, when, presently, we learned that the captain and owner
of the principal boat in the flotilla with which we had planned to make
the trip, was shot and killed, and his boat was plundered! A band of
dacoits secreted themselves behind a cluster of trees where the channel
runs close to the bank, shot the steersman at his oar, and then had the
boat at their mercy. Since all foreigners are supposed to carry money,
the attack may well have been intended for me. Earlier in that same
year, while returning alone to Rahêng, I came near being entrapped by a
similar band.

The visit to Lakawn was interesting and profitable. Ten days were spent
with the new converts. While my friend, the Prayā, had been busy, the
devil had not been idle. One of the princes had threatened to have one
of his head men flogged if he joined the Christians. But before we left,
a church was organized, with Prayā Sīhanāt as elder.

From Lakawn I took elephants to Chiengmai, and spent the last Sunday of
my trip with Nān Inta and the newly organized church of Bethlehem, named
after Mr. Wilson’s old church in Pennsylvania. Nān Inta was waiting for
me where the road to his village turned off from the main route. On
Christmas day following this, Mr. Wilson, Dr. Cheek, and Miss Cole
organized yet another church at Mê Dawk Dêng, where Nān Suwan had been
doing faithful work. In both these cases the persecution for supposed
witchcraft had furnished a good nucleus for the church, which thereafter
the Edict of Toleration protected from expulsion.

All the departments of our work, medical, educational, evangelistic,
were prospering. Nān Tā, the long-time wanderer, was becoming a power
second only to Nān Inta, and destined ultimately to surpass him. Like
him, he was a man of fine address and bearing, and a good Buddhist
scholar; but he was much younger. Being, moreover, the son of a
Prayā—the highest grade of Lāo officers—he had an influence with the
nobility such as no other of our Christians had. In the church he began
to show a capacity and power such as probably no other person has

Meanwhile Mr. Wilson was working on plans for a building for the Girls’
High School. Already the school numbered forty-two pupils, but with no
place in which to teach them save the teacher’s house. The season had
been very hard on Miss Campbell’s health. She was very young, and had
come direct to Chiengmai from the seminary without any period of rest,
and with a constitution by no means robust. The mission voted her a trip
to Bangkok for rest. Little did we think when we bade her good-bye that
we should see her face no more.

Financially for me the year had been the hardest in my life. With all
the economy we could use—and we did not spend a useless penny—it seemed
impossible for me to keep my family going. When we left Chiengmai we had
overdrawn our salary, and the amount had to be made up that year. This
condition was one of the straws that helped to determine me to stop over
in Rahêng. I could live more cheaply there; in fact, could hardly spend
money there if I wished to. In only one matter had I been greatly
disappointed in Rahêng; I hoped to be in somewhat closer communication
with my family, about whom I still felt some anxiety. I was, indeed,
nearer them in space, but it proved much further in time. The largest
mail of the year passed on up to Chiengmai, and was sent back, reaching
Rahêng just after I had left the place. It finally reached me in
Chiengmai on the last day of the year 1880!



                            SECOND FURLOUGH

My health had been such that I hoped I might safely forego my furlough,
and have my wife and our youngest child return to Chiengmai alone. My
wife, after finding a home for a while with her brother, Professor
Bradley, in Oakland, had gone on in the spring to North Carolina. But
she was not gaining much in strength, and plainly required another year.
My own health was not so good as it was at the beginning of the year.
Certain symptoms gave me anxiety, and decided me to delay my own
furlough no longer. If it was to be taken at all, the sooner the better.
So on March 12th, 1881, I started for the United States. The furlough
which was now beginning ended twenty-three years of service in the
general field of Siam, and fourteen years spent among the Lāo.

I had proceeded down the river but a few days, when a passing boat
brought the astounding intelligence of the tragic death of our esteemed
and youngest co-labourer, Miss Mary Campbell. What words can express the
shock I received! The news was confirmed a few days later by Dr. Cheek,
whom I met on the river. At this distance it is unnecessary to enlarge
on the particulars of the sad catastrophe. Indeed, it was all so sudden
that there were few particulars to relate. Dr. Cheek had gone down to
Bangkok on business soon after Miss Campbell left us, and now was
returning with Miss Campbell under his escort. At the close of a hot
day’s run, the boats lay moored by a sand-bar for the night. They had
had their evening meal and worship together. Dr. Cheek had taken his
bath in the river, had examined the bar, and notified Miss Campbell how
far it was safe to venture in taking hers. But somehow she ventured out
too far—to a depth from which only angelic arms could receive her to a
shore where there is no more death.

The brave effort of her Lāo maid, Kam Tip, and Dr. Cheek’s unsuccessful
search till long after-life must have been extinct, were well known at
the time. She had but just come to her chosen field of work, in the
bloom of youth and in the full ardour of her first consecration, little
thinking that her work was to be so soon and so sadly closed. Her last
written words to a friend, with the ink on them scarcely dry before her
death, were: “But I am not alone, for I have found in my dear Lāo girls,
Bûk and Kam Tip, and in Nān Tā, my teacher, more company than I ever
expected. I wish I could lend them to you long enough for you to know

                  *       *       *       *       *

It will be evident to all that in 1881 the working force of the mission
was entirely inadequate for occupying and cultivating the broad and
inviting field, now opened to us as never before. The medical work,
constantly enlarging, occupied the physician’s whole time. Mr. Wilson’s
physical condition, never very strong, confined his labours to the
station and its immediate vicinity. The attention which these alone
required would more than fill one man’s time. The death of Miss Campbell
made imperative an associate for Miss Cole. So, even if the trip to the
United States had not been rendered imperative by considerations of my
own health, the best interests of the work itself seemed to demand that
some one should go to seek reinforcement by direct and personal appeal
to the church at home.

As for Mrs. McGilvary, after spending the spring of 1880 with her
brother in Oakland, California, she came on with our younger son to
Statesville, North Carolina, where she could be with our daughters, and
not far from our elder son in Davidson College.

On my arrival in New York, I hastened on at once to North Carolina,
where I spent the summer with my family and friends, lecturing from time
to time in the churches. The fall of this year I spent in Texas and
Arkansas, visiting relatives and friends who had migrated thither from
the family nest in North Carolina. In Texas I attended the meeting of
the Southern Synod, and both there and elsewhere I found many
opportunities for presenting the cause of foreign missions; and
everywhere I encountered warm reception and eager interest in the work
among the Lāo. In the winter I came north to visit the Theological
Seminaries, and to enlist men for the Lāo mission. On my way I stopped
in Oxford, Ohio, where I met Miss Lizzie Westervelt (afterward Mrs.
Stanley K. Phraner), then in her senior year in Miss Peabody’s Seminary,
and preparing for missionary work among the Lāo, upon which she entered
in the following year. This was the school which had given us Miss Mary
Campbell and Miss Edna Cole a few years before.





While waiting for the Theological Seminaries to re-open after the
Christmas recess, I was the guest of my wife’s cousins at Castleton
Corners, Staten Island. There I had the very pleasant experience of
observing “Watch Night” with the Moravian Church, of which my friends
were members. They called on the Lāo missionary for an account of his
experience in the field. In that, of course, there was nothing
remarkable. But near the close of the next year, when writing to the
family, I alluded to the pleasant memory of Watch Night and sent my
greetings to the church with a request to be remembered in their
prayers. Instead of giving my message verbally, my friends read the
letter itself, and it seemed to be appreciated. The result was that the
Lāo letter came to be looked for regularly as a part of the watch
service, and one was sent to them every year—if I were on the field—for
seventeen years. It was a comfort to know that special prayer was always
offered for us by that great missionary church as the old year was
dying, and the new year was coming in.

The Professors at Princeton, Union, and Allegheny all gave their cordial
endorsement and aid to me in my efforts to secure men. “We want you to
get our best men,” they said, and the Lord gave them to us. From
Princeton came Chalmers Martin of the senior class. He had been chosen,
however, for the Hebrew Fellowship, and was, therefore, delayed a year
before entering upon his missionary work. Though his career in the Lāo
field was a short one, he left a lasting mark there, as we shall see.
Allegheny gave us Rev. S. C. Peoples, M.D., and his brother-in-law, Rev.
J. H. Hearst. Dr. Peoples’ bow still abides in strength. His double
preparation both as a minister and as a physician, gave him unusual
equipment for the work he has accomplished. Mr. Hearst, however, soon
succumbed to the Chiengmai climate.

Union gave us that consecrated young man, McLaren, who chose the great
city of Bangkok—a fitting field for him, since his broad sympathies were
bounded by no one race or people. His career also was cut short within a
few months by cholera, contracted while ministering to dying seamen in
the harbour during a severe epidemic of the disease.

The Northwestern Woman’s Board of Foreign Missions was then, as it has
been since, a great centre of missionary enthusiasm. It had sent out
Miss Cole and Miss Campbell; and now the sudden death of the latter had
caused its interest and that of the Chicago churches to concentrate upon
the Lāo mission. It was to this combination of circumstances that I was
indebted for an invitation to attend its Annual Meeting in Minneapolis,
and to speak there. Then the appointment of Dr. L. E. Wishard’s daughter
(afterwards Mrs. Dr. Fulton of Canton, China), and that of Miss Sadie
Wirt (Mrs. Dr. S. C. Peoples), from his church in Chicago, gave me a
pleasant visit in the Doctor’s family both as I went up to Minneapolis
and as I returned. On a Sunday at Lake Forest, between the Sunday
School, the University, the Ladies’ Seminary, and the church, the Lāo
Mission had four hearings. At Minneapolis we learned that Miss Warner
from the Northwestern Woman’s Board, and Miss Griffin from the
Southwestern, were also appointed to our mission, and Miss Linnell to
Lower Siam. This completed our number, the largest reinforcement the
mission has ever received at one time.

After the adjournment of the Northwestern Board, a Sunday was spent with
the family and the church of Miss Mary Campbell. After that,
appointments with other churches filled up my time till the meeting of
the General Assembly in Springfield, Illinois, which I attended, though
not as a delegate. Our Presbytery of North Laos had not then been
organized, and Dr. E. P. Dunlap was the representative of the Presbytery
of Siam. At that meeting it seemed to me that a golden opportunity was
missed for drawing together in a closer union the Northern and the
Southern branches of the Presbyterian Church. The outcome threw the
Southern church, much more weakened by the war than the Northern, on its
own resources. In proportion to its financial strength, it has developed
into one of the strongest missionary churches in the land, both as
regards the home work and the foreign. Meantime, with the growth of the
country generally, the Northern Assembly is becoming too unwieldy a body
for its best efficiency. I believe the time will come when there will be
three Assemblies rather than one, with a triennial Assembly of all on a
basis of representation agreed upon by the three—somewhat after the plan
of the Methodist and the Episcopal churches; or, more nearly still,
after the plan of the Pan-Presbyterian Council.

In duties and pleasures such as have just been described, the time
slipped by till it was the 6th of June, 1882, before I again reached my
family in Statesville. We were to start Lāo-ward about the middle of
July. My furlough ended with a visit to my old charge at Union, to
attend the dedication of a new church there, and to see my old friends
once more.

We began to gather up our scattered forces at Chicago, where the Fifth
Church gave to its pastor’s daughter, and to the rest of us there
present, a hearty farewell. The others of our large party joined us at
different points on our route across the continent. Dr. Eugene P. Dunlap
and his family, also returning from furlough, were the very last to join
us, just in time to sail with us from San Francisco.

A missionary’s vacation is very delightful, but the last day of it—the
day that brings him back to his home and his work—is the best of it all.
The small Bangkok steamers of those days could not furnish accommodation
for our whole party at once. Some of us were, therefore, compelled to
lie over at Canton—a circumstance which changed the ultimate location of
one of our young ladies to the Canton mission, just as a previous
successor to Miss Campbell had in a similar manner been changed to
another station in China. But where there are young folks, such
accidents will happen.

At Bangkok our United States Consul, General Partridge, arranged for us
an audience with the King. His Majesty gave us a cordial reception,
expressing his gratification at seeing so many American missionaries
coming to his country; since he knew that they came to instruct his
people, and to make them more intelligent and better citizens.

Reinforcements surely had not come too soon. Dr. Wilson, Mrs. Cheek, and
Miss Cole were the only missionaries on the field when we returned; for
Dr. Cheek was absent on business. It was now four years since the
proclamation of religious toleration; and for the first time was there
prospect of workers enough to make any use of the advantages it offered.



But had we relied too much on human aid? Were we too much elated in view
of our present numbers, with Mr. Martin to follow the next year? After a
short stay in Bangkok, we reached Chiengmai in the midst of one of those
violent epidemics of fever by which the Lāo country was then, perhaps,
more frequently visited than it is now. Mr. and Mrs. Hearst and Miss
Warner were soon prostrated with the disease, and at one time, out of
the whole mission, scarcely enough were left to care for the sick. Mr.
and Mrs. Hearst soon decided to give up the struggle and withdraw from
the field. Miss Warner continued longer, but ultimately she, too,
retired with broken health. As already stated, Mr. McLaren died of
cholera after a few hours’ sickness in Bangkok. God was teaching us that
it is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith Jehovah.”

Soon other complications arose. Smallpox was brought by pupils into the
Girls’ School, and, to our consternation, Miss Griffin fell a victim.
She had been vaccinated in her childhood, but was not revaccinated on
leaving home—which is always a wise precaution for those expecting to
travel or to live in the East. Proper measures prevented further spread
of the disease; and though our patient had a rather hard attack, yet she
made good recovery.

During our absence, the church had sustained a great loss in the death
of Nān Inta, our first convert and assistant. But his works do follow
him, and his life will long continue to be a precious legacy to the Lāo
church. He lived, however, until others were ready to take his place.
Nān Sī Wichai, who long had been Dr. Cheek’s teacher, was a strong
character, and he was ordained as an elder. Nān Tā, also, who had
wandered so far and so long after the persecution, was growing to be a
power in the church, and afterwards had the honour of becoming the first
ordained minister among the Lāo.



                         A SURVEYING EXPEDITION

On the 26th of February, 1884, an East Indian appeared on our veranda
with an unexpected note from my old guest and friend, Rev. Dr. J. N.
Cushing of the American Baptist Shan Mission. The surprise and pleasure
of a visit from him and Mrs. Cushing in the early and lonesome days of
the mission have already been referred to. The note told us that he was
now connected, as interpreter, with a surveying expedition under Holt S.
Hallett, Esq., and that the party would arrive in Chiengmai on the
following day. The railroad for which Mr. Hallett was surveying a route
was part of a scheme, then on foot, to build a road from Maulmein to
Chiengmai, there to connect with a road from Bangkok, through the Lāo
country, to Chieng Sên, and, if successful, to be continued up to
Yunnan, China. For some reason the scheme was not carried out, but the
prospect of any road to connect our isolated field with the outside
world was attractive to us.

The party arrived the next day; and since it would be very inconvenient
for Mr. Hallett to be separated from Dr. Cushing, we found room in our
house for Mr. Hallett also, and had a fine visit with both. They soon
began to tempt me to join their expedition. All expenses were to be
paid. They were not to travel on Sunday. Their intended route, through
the towns and villages on the way to Chieng Rāi and Chieng Sên, and
southward again to Lakawn, was over ground I was anxious to travel once
more. The trip would give me a long and profitable visit with my friend,
Dr. Cushing. But, besides all personal considerations, it seemed right
to give a little aid to an enterprise that would redound to the good of
the country.

Our Chiengmai Prince, then quite old, was most incredulous as to the
possibilities of the wonderful railroad. In his book, _A Thousand Miles
on an Elephant in the Shan States_, Mr. Hallett has given an amusing
account of his first interview with the Prince. He had great difficulty
in understanding how a train could move faster than ponies, or how it
could move at all without being drawn by some animal. And how could it
ascend the hills? For it would surely slide down unless it were pulled
up. “I explained to him that I had made three railways in England,
therefore he might rely upon what I had said. Railways were made in
various parts of the world over much more difficult hills than those
lying between Zimme (Chiengmai) and Maulmein.... He seemed quite
stupefied by the revelation. It might be so—it must be so, as I had seen
it; but he could not understand how it could be. He was very old; he
could not live much longer. He hoped we would be quick in setting about
and constructing the line, as otherwise he would not have the pleasure
of seeing it.”

We started at last on March 3d, 1884, with four large riding elephants,
four pack-elephants, and numerous carriers, making forty-one persons in
all. The passport from the Siamese government, supplemented by one from
the acting Commissioner, and the presence with us of a Lāo official of
some rank, sent to see that the orders were carried out, secured for us
men and elephants and all necessary equipments, so far as the country
could furnish them. The local officials were usually very kind, and as
prompt as native officials ever were in those days. Mr. Hallett was very
considerate in arranging to stop for the night and on Sundays near large
villages and towns, where a little missionary work could be done. In the
cities where there were Christians, we held regular services on Sundays.
On these occasions our chief gave the influence of his presence, though,
of course, he could not understand what was said.

On this trip we had a good opportunity for studying the characteristics
of the elephant. He is very conscious of his dignity, and must be
treated with the respect due to a king, and not with the familiarity of
an equal. Yet one is amused at his timidity. I myself have seen one
ready to stampede if a squirrel or a big rat ran across the road in
front of him. Mr. Hallett says: “Elephants, though immense in size, are
very timid, and easily startled. We had to take them off the path and
turn their heads away into the jungles, whenever we heard the tinkling
bells of an approaching caravan; and they will turn tail and run at the
sight of an audacious little dog that thinks fit to bark at them.”

On some of the stages of our march, when we had a mother-elephant in our
company, we had the mischievous youngster along. Such are always an
unceasing source of amusement. One of these seemed to have a special
spite against Mr. Hallett’s Madras boy, either because of his peculiar
dress, or for some liberty he had taken with him. Mr. Hallett writes:
“The little elephant was taking every chance he could get to hustle the
men over as they forded the streams, and to souse them with water from
his trunk. Portow, who had an overweening opinion of his own dignity,
and was bent on setting up as an oracle, was, unfortunately, the butt of
the boys, but was likewise the sport of the baby-elephant. Many a time
have I seen him hustled over by the youngster, who seemed to have picked
him out as his playmate. Slyly and softly stealing up behind, he would
suddenly increase his pace, and, with a quick shuffle or a sudden lurch,
shoulder him sprawling to the ground. Portow, during this part of the
journey, behaved like a hunted man, ever looking behind to see whether
the dreadful infant was behind.”

My friend, Dr. Cushing, who had been put in charge of the train, and our
prince-guide, both believed in the oriental idea of making an impression
by as imposing a pageant as possible. On nearing Chieng Rāi, they
marshalled us in procession, so that we entered the city in state, with
ten armed men leading the way. Possibly it had its desired effect, for a
warm welcome was given us, and every aid was granted.

In the eleven years since my first visit there with Dr. Vrooman, the
city had grown in size. The fertility of its soil and the large extent
of its arable land were sure to attract still larger population from the
south. In addition to these natural advantages, it had then another
strong claim for a mission station. While all the other Lāo states,
through their rulers, submitted to the introduction of Christianity
rather than welcomed it, Chieng Rāi and Chieng Sên were exceptions. The
rulers of both desired the presence of the missionaries.

The Sunday spent there was a welcome day of rest. The week had been a
strenuous one. In the morning we held a public service—the first ever
held there. Mr. Hallett and our prince-guide attended, and curiosity
collected quite a congregation. After tiffin, Dr. Cushing and I spent
several hours—the first quiet ones we had had—reading in the monastery
grounds at the great bend of the river.

That evening I met the governor at home and, save for the presence of
his wife, alone. His intelligent enquiries as to the truths and
teachings of our religion showed that he had already thought much on the
subject. Krū Nān Tā and he were not very distant relatives, and had had
many conversations on the subject. His regard for our mission and his
earnest desire for a mission station, as well as the protection he
afterwards gave the Christians when they were wronged, had, I believe, a
deeper foundation than an intellectual interest, or even a personal
friendship for us.

Our next stage was Chieng Sên. There Nān Suwan, our ruling elder, and
his family gave us a warm welcome. He met us at the city gate, hardly
hoping there would be a missionary in the expedition, which, rumour told
him, was coming. His house stood on the bank of the river, just where
Dr. Vrooman and I landed thirteen years before, when the only occupants
were wild beasts. The new settlers had been so busy providing housing
and sustenance for themselves, that only one monastery building had been
roofed, and only a portion of its images stored under shelter. Our old
friend the governor had only a bamboo residence. Nān Suwan had made
friends by the help of the quinine with which he had been supplied, and
he had the best house in the city. It served, also, as a chapel, in
which, with grateful hearts, we worshipped on Sunday.

The governor was even more insistent in his demand for a mission station
than the governor of Chieng Rāi had been. He even offered to send down
elephants to move us up, if we would come. His was not the deep
religious nature of the Chieng Rāi governor. He possibly believed that
in their sphere all religions were alike good. He urged, as he had done
before, that we might even then forestall the monasteries and preoccupy
the field. Nothing would have pleased me more, had it been possible,
than to accept the cordial invitation. It was true, as the governor
said, “The people must and will have some religion. If you do not give
them Christianity, they must take Buddhism.” It was only necessity that
could resist such a plea. But half a loaf is better than no bread. If we
were not ready to start a regular station in Chieng Sên, we must somehow
work the field as best we could. That consideration determined my long
tours in the dry seasons of the years that followed.

Up to this time I had never been properly equipped and outfitted for
such tours. One outcome of this trip was a great improvement in my means
of transportation for the future. An application made long before this
to the Board for an elephant, had been received as a huge joke. But now
it happened that in the assignment of elephants for our upward trip, a
large _sadaw_—a male without tusks—had fallen to me. He proved to be an
exceptionally fine beast belonging to an estate about to be divided. He
must be sold, and was held at a very cheap figure. With the help of a
contribution by Mr. Hallett, and the hire paid for its use, I was able
to purchase it. The deputy governor gave me a good howdah for it. I was
as proud of my new acquisition as ever a boy was of a new toy. But since
few elephants will travel well alone, I now needed a mate for him.
Before long I was fortunate enough to get a cheap and equally good
female. I was then prepared for my long tours. I could cross streams in
safety, and be protected from rain, even if my journey were prolonged
beyond the limits of the dry season.

On our return journey, in Mûang Payao, we came in contact with the worst
epidemic of smallpox that I have ever seen. We met it at every turn in
the street. With difficulty could we keep parents with children, all
broken out with the disease, in their arms, from crowding round us in
our sālā. We had hardly taken our seats on the rugs spread for us at the
governor’s official reception of Mr. Hallett, when we discovered cases
of smallpox all about us. Dr. Cushing was nervously afraid of it, and
retired. I had to remain an hour as interpreter. Imagine our
consternation on reaching the next station to find that the Doctor
showed unmistakable signs of having contracted the dreadful disease,
although he had been vaccinated in his youth. What a discovery to be
made on a journey, and four days from home! On consultation it was
thought best to hasten on to Chiengmai, a thing which our mode of travel
made possible. Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers Martin had arrived during our
absence, and had taken up their quarters in our house. It was,
therefore, impossible to take our sick friend in. We did the next best
thing, and gave him a new bamboo house on our hospital lot, where Dr.
Peoples carefully watched over him till he made a rapid recovery, and
was able to return home in a boat as far as Bangkok, and thence by sea
_via_ Singapore. It was a sad close, however, to our pleasant visit
together, and to our otherwise interesting and profitable tour.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I returned from Chieng Sên, as we have seen, with an elephant of my own.
On reaching home I found awaiting me the best pony I ever had. It was
sent to me as a present from the governor of Mê Hawng Sawn, near the
Salwin River. I had never been to Mê Hawng Sawn, and had but a very
limited acquaintance with the governor. According to my uniform custom
in those days, on his official visits to Chiengmai, I had twice called
upon him as the governor of a neighbouring province. On both occasions
we had conversation on the different merits of the two religions. On one
of these visits he had brought down some ponies to sell, and on my
asking the price of one he said, “I am very sorry that I have sold all
my gentle ones. There is only one left. If you can use him, I shall be
glad to give him to you.” It is a McGilvary trait not to be timid about
horses, and I said, “I will try him.” So the pony was sent down to my
house; but he proved rather too much for my horsemanship. The first time
I mounted him, he threw me and sprained my wrist. It was the unanimous
vote of the family that he be returned with thanks. The governor sent
back word that he was very sorry; but never mind; when he reached home
he would see to it that I had a good pony—a message which, I am sorry to
say, I took as a good oriental compliment. I had even forgotten all
about the matter, when, on my return from this trip, I found the pony in
my stable. He was a most valuable and timely present.

But we are not quite done with Mr. Hallett’s survey. He made a short
excursion without an interpreter to the hot Springs. But his final trip
was to be to Mûang Fāng, six days to the north and west of the route
previously taken, and distant some eighty-three miles from Chiengmai.
His object was to see if there were not an easier route to Chieng Rāi
down the valleys of the Mê Fang and the Mê Kok. The trip strongly
appealed both to Mr. Martin and to me, and we gladly accepted Mr.
Hallett’s invitation to accompany him.

Mûang Fāng was an ancient city captured and destroyed by the Burmese in
1717; so that it lay in ruins nearly two hundred years before it was
re-peopled. Besides Mûang Fāng, we visited, either in going or
returning, four other cities—Chieng Dāo, Mûang Ngāi, Mûang Pāo, and
Mûang Kên. Not far to the south of Mûang Fāng we visited the cave of Top
Tao, noted in the Buddhist legends of Northern Siam. Mr. Hallett thus
describes our experiences there:

    “Inside was a lofty cavern lighted by a natural skylight. On a
    raised platform in the cave was a great reclining image of
    Buddha some thirty feet long, and around it a number of figures
    representing his disciples. Numerous small wooden and stone
    images of Buddha had been placed by pious pilgrims about the
    platforms. Pillows, mattresses, robes, yellow drapery, flags,
    water-bottles, rice-bowls, fans, dolls, images of temples,
    doll’s houses for the spirits, and all sorts of trumpery, were
    lying together with fresh and faded flowers that had been
    offered to the images, and were strewn in front of them. A steep
    ladder led up to niches near the roof of the cave, in which
    images were enshrined.

    “My companions, full of ardor, determined to explore the inner
    recesses of the cave, and accordingly lighted their torches and
    proceeded further into the bowels of the earth, whilst I enjoyed
    a quiet smoke amongst the gods. Down they went, creeping through
    low, narrow passages, over rocks, and along ledges, with chasms
    and pits lining their path as the cave expanded—bottomless as
    far as they could judge by the faint light of their torches, but
    really not more than twenty or thirty feet deep—until they could
    get no further, and had to return, having proceeded about the
    eighth of a mile.”

That night brought us to the Mê Fāng River. The narrative proceeds:

    “Here we spent the most unpleasant night we had yet spent, as we
    were troubled with rain, heat, and mosquitoes. We were told that
    game was plentiful. Wild cattle larger than buffaloes come in
    droves from the hills to graze in the plain, while the
    rhinoceros and the elephant roam about the plains.

    “At our next stopping-place, after we had settled ourselves in
    an empty house, a villager came to inform us that the house
    belonged to the Chief of Mûang Fāng, and that anybody that slept
    in it would have his head cut off. As rain was threatening, we
    determined to risk the penalty, and we were soon glad that we
    had done so, as the rain poured down in torrents.”

There is a small deer called tamnê, which twenty years ago was very
abundant in all the northern provinces. They are not found in the very
tall grass of the river-bottoms, but in grass about waist-high thickly
covering the higher plains. They have their beds in this grass by day,
and graze at night. They are lower than the grass, and never leap so as
to show the body, but glide smoothly along as if swimming, discovering
their presence only through the parting and waving of the grass.
Sometimes you get right upon them before they will run.

One Saturday we got Mr. Hallett interested in some survey or
calculations not requiring the aid of an interpreter, and Mr. Martin and
I had our first deer hunt. We took six of our elephants, and, going out
about an hour’s ride or more from the city, we formed in open order
abreast, about forty yards apart, and in perfect silence moved forward
over the plain. The hunter thus starts his own game. He sits on the
back, or, better still, on the neck of his elephant, with gun cocked,
ready for a shot at the first noise or movement in the grass. We started
about a dozen of the deer, and emptied many cartridges, but came back to
camp with no meat—much to Mr. Hallett’s disgust.

Mûang Fāng, like Chieng Sên, was rich in images of all sizes and
materials. I never saw finer bronze ones. It was a favourite field from
which Siamese princes and officials could get a supply otherwise
unattainable in those days. Of course, _they_ have a right to them. But
when a German traveller undertook a wholesale speculation in the images
of Buddha, it was quite another matter, and he got into serious
difficulty with the government.

Soon after our return to Chiengmai, Mr. Hallett left us for Bangkok.
From his long residence in Burma and from his close connection with the
mission and missionaries during his expedition among what he calls the
Shan States, he understood the methods and results of missionary work
better than most visitors who have written upon the subject. The kind
words of the dedication of his book, though often quoted, may well
conclude this chapter.

“To the American Missionaries in Burma and Siam and the Shan States I
dedicate this book, as a mark of the high esteem in which I hold the
noble work the American Baptist Mission and the American Presbyterian
Mission are accomplishing in civilizing and Christianizing the people of



                         EVANGELISTIC TRAINING

On our return from the surveying expedition in the summer of 1884, we
found F. B. Gould, Esq., our first British Vice-Consul, already
established in Chiengmai. It was an important event for the country;
since a British official in any place is a guarantee that at least the
outward forms of law and justice will be observed. In one important
sense, too, it marked a new era for the mission, or, at least, for the

Those who have not tried can hardly imagine the privation of living
eighteen years without a mail system of any kind. Our only dependence so
far was on catching chance trading boats to and from Bangkok. These were
always an uncertain quantity; in very low water they almost ceased to
travel. Some boatmen preferred not to be responsible for the mail, not
knowing what it might contain. In the great city of Bangkok, and even in
Chiengmai, it required a constant effort to keep ourselves informed of
the departures of boats. The consequence was that an absence of news
from children, friends, and the outside world generally, for three or
four months at a time, was very common. Sometimes the interval was as
much as eight months. Add to this the time of the long river trip, and
our news sometimes would be nearly a year old when it reached us. Mr.
Wilson’s family and mine had schooled ourselves to these conditions; but
to those who had been accustomed to a daily mail, they must have been
almost unendurable.

The new Vice-Consul came, determined by all means to get some regular
communication established, if it were only a monthly one. We were only
too glad to do whatever we could to that end. It was a matter of pride
to both parties that we arranged at once for a regular and most
successful semi-monthly mail overland to Maulmein. I furnished a
reliable Christian man for chief contractor, and good men for carriers.
Since Mr. Gould had as yet no authority from his government to incur any
expense, the arrangement was wholly a private affair, with the
understanding that all who availed themselves of it should pay a
quarterly assessment for the maintenance of the line. But in a short
time the British government assumed the whole expense. Mr. Gould
promised to get the staff exempt from corvée, or compulsory government
service. He had to use his official authority for that.

The Lāo government had absolutely no interest in a mail, whether weekly
or yearly; but the Siamese looked rather askance at having in their own
country a mail service over which they had no control. It seemed to be
in some way a reflection on their national pride. There is little doubt
that our private enterprise hastened the weekly government mail from
Bangkok, which was started the next year. And since the Maulmein route
is quicker by two weeks than the one by Bangkok, the Siamese government
has of late maintained both, the two meeting at Rahêng, and giving us a
very creditable and regular mail service.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In the spring of 1884 the mission sustained a great loss in the death of
Princess Tipa Kēsawn, Prince Intanon’s consort, whom we were in the
habit of calling “the Queen.” Placed as she was, she could not well have
avoided the making of priests’ garments, and the going through with the
form of making offerings to the spirits. But I seriously doubt whether
she had any expectation of laying up thereby a store of merit for the
future. One thing we do know, that in her last sickness she turned no
anxious look to any of these things, at a time when thoughtful Buddhists
are always most diligent in their efforts. Dr. Peoples of our mission
attended her in her last illness, and the case was submitted entirely to
him. Mrs. McGilvary and I were both with her the day before she died.
Mrs. McGilvary was with her at her death, and remained to see the body
dressed for the coffin. We missed her very much as a friend, and the
whole country missed her as a balance-wheel for her husband.

                  *       *       *       *       *

On the arrival of the reinforcement in 1883, a Presbytery was organized
of the four ministers, Wilson, Peoples, Hearst, and McGilvary. I was
then full of the idea of a theological training-class. My experience of
the accumulated power added to the missionary’s efforts by having such
assistants as Nān Inta, Nān Suwan, and Noi Intachak, raised in my mind
the question, Why not increase the number? Having had no schools, we
had, of course, no body of young men educated on Christian lines whom we
might train for the ministry; and we could not have such for years to
come. But we had in our churches mature men of deeply religious nature,
earnest students of Buddhism, and carefully educated in all the learning
of their race. And a man so trained has many compensations for his lack
of training in our elementary schools. He knows the sacred books of his
own people, their strength and their weakness. He understands the
thoughts, the needs, and the difficulties of a Buddhist enquirer, and
the mode of argument by which these difficulties are to be met, as no
young man of his own race, and as no foreign teacher can do. The
training needed to make such a man an efficient preacher of the Gospel,
is training in the Christian Scriptures, together with practical
experience in evangelistic work under efficient direction.

I was at that time giving regular instruction to Noi Intachak, one of
the finest young men I have ever known in that country, and very anxious
to become a minister.[13] To Nān Tā, afterwards our efficient minister,
I was giving instruction less regularly, as it was possible for him to
take it. But it would have been both easier and more profitable to teach
a class of six or eight. By qualifying such a group of young men to
work, and then working with them and through them, I believed that my
own efficiency could be quadrupled, or even sextupled, as it was doubled
when I had Nān Inta to work with.

Footnote 13:

  Our hopes for his future career, alas, were cut short by his untimely
  death in the following year.

With these thoughts and this experience impressed on my mind, and in
order that my plan, if adopted, might have the ecclesiastical sanction
of the Presbytery as well as the corporate sanction of the mission, I
had urged the organization of the Presbytery just as soon as we had the
minimum quorum required. In order to give the discussion its proper
outlook and perspective, I noticed, also, in the paper which I read
before the Presbytery, the necessity of a general education for all our
Christians, and of High Schools for both sexes; while I sketched more in
detail the nature and the methods of special instruction intended for
those in training to become evangelists and ministers.

The training proposed for this last group was intended primarily to
equip the most capable and most promising individuals among the converts
for filling well their places as lay officers and leaders in the
churches, and for engaging intelligently in evangelistic work. But
beyond this it was thought that it would ultimately furnish a body of
picked men from whom again the best might be chosen as candidates for
further instruction leading up to the ministerial office. The course was
to be flexible enough to permit occasional attendance with profit on the
part of men whose household duties or whose business would not permit
them to attend regularly. Its special feature was actual and constant
practice in evangelistic work under the direction and supervision of the
Principal, and with him as his assistants on his tours.

In view of the poverty of the Lāo generally, and in order to make it
possible for these men to maintain their families while occupied with
this training, it was further proposed that they should receive a
moderate allowance of, perhaps, eight rupees per month of actual
service, or about three dollars of our money. This seemed not
unreasonable, since in Christian lands it is thought a wise provision to
assist students in their preparation for the ministry; and since what is
required to support one European missionary family, would support half a
dozen fairly educated native ministers or ten good native evangelists.

The Presbytery took hold of the scheme with much ardour, and at once
began to organize it into shape, but on far too large a scale, and with
far too formidable and too foreign apparatus. A regular “Board of
Education” was created, with rules and regulations better suited to
American conditions than to those of the Lāo churches. A committee was
further appointed to examine all applicants for the course, much after
the manner of receiving candidates for the ministry under the care of a
Presbytery. Their “motives for seeking the ministry” were to be enquired
into, while as yet it was not at all known whether they would desire to
become ministers. The allowance in each case was to be the absolute
minimum which it was supposed would suffice for the maintenance of the
student after he had provided all that he could himself. Noi Intachak,
for example, was allowed the maximum of eight rupees a month, while Noi
Chai—one of the best Buddhist scholars in the country, a young man with
a family, living ten miles away in the country—was allowed five rupees,
on the ground that he was not very poor; while yet another was allowed
but three.

After this ordeal—which was thought to be a good test of their
sincerity—the rest of the six or eight candidates for instruction
declined to commit themselves. None of them understood exactly what the
Board of Education was about. I myself was greatly disappointed at the
outcome. After a week of listless study, Noi Chai begged to be allowed
to withdraw, and the whole thing was disbanded. My hopeful private class
was killed by too much “red tape,” and with it all possibility of a
training-class for four years to come. I was again set free for long
tours and my favourite evangelistic work.

I continued to teach Noi Intachak till his lamented death, and I devoted
what spare time I could to teaching the long-time wanderer, Nān Tā, who
had become our best evangelist. There seems to have been some fatality
connected with all our efforts to establish a theological training
school. When the next attempt was made, under Mr. Dodd’s direction, with
a large and interesting class enthusiastically taught, through some
cause or combination of causes—for it would be difficult to specify any
single one as alone determinative—it was allowed to slip out of our
hands. Possibly a leading cause in this case was the same that was
operative in the other. At a time when the mission was pressing the idea
of self-support to its breaking point, an allowance probably too scanty
was offered in the evangelistic work to the men who had been trained for
it. The whole question in the Lāo field, as it doubtless is in others,
is a difficult one. As wages in other departments rise, and the demand
for competent men becomes more pressing both in governmental and in
private business, the question will become more difficult still. While
on the one hand there is the danger of making a mercenary ministry, on
the other hand we must remember that, the world over, educated labour
now costs more, but is not, therefore, necessarily dearer. The same
penny-wise and pound-foolish policy has lost us the strength of some of
the best men in our church, our schools, our hospitals, and our
printing-press, because more lucrative positions are offered elsewhere.
But we must remember first of all that theological schools, like all
others, are not made, but grow; and, second, that the law of competition
prevails here, too, as well as elsewhere. It is easy to say that it
ought not to do so, as between the ministry and other professions, or
between the missionary work and other more lucrative callings. But to a
certain extent the same law does hold, and it is a fact to be reckoned

                  *       *       *       *       *

In May, 1884, H. R. H. Prince Krommamûn Bijit, a brother of the King of
Siam, arrived and took up his residence in Chiengmai—probably to give
prestige to the High Commissioner, and possibly to smooth the road of
the new British Consul. It was an open secret that the Prince of
Chiengmai could see no need whatever for a British Resident, and at
times he was not slow to make his views known. For a while the relations
between the two were somewhat strained. Yet it was of the utmost
importance that the relations between England and Siam should remain
cordial. At the same time it was a part of the plan of Siam, since fully
carried out, to assume complete control of the government in the
northern states. What was of more special interest to us was, as we
shall see, not only that Prince Bijit was personally friendly, but that
he brought with him substantial evidence of the good will of His Majesty
and of the Siamese government toward our work.

It was in this year that our first attempt at establishing a mountain
sanitarium was made. It was designed to furnish a refuge from the great
heat of the plain, to be a retreat for invalids, and a place where new
missionaries might more safely become acclimatized, and still be
studying the language. But as a matter of fact, new missionaries are put
to work so promptly that it is about as hard for them to withdraw from
the battle as it is for the older ones. Since we kept no watchman on the
premises, the sanitarium was afterwards burned down—possibly by forest
fires. Later a better and more convenient situation was found nearer the
city, so near that a man can ride up in the evening, spend the night
there with his family, and return in the morning to his work for the
day. It is in a delightful situation beside a cool brook, but is too low
for the best results as a health resort.

                  *       *       *       *       *

At the Annual Meeting in December, the importance of opening a new
station in Lakawn was discussed. The baptism of the officer from that
city, and the organization of a church there, have already been
mentioned. The officer was constant in his appeals for the establishment
of a station there, with a missionary in residence. Although Mr. Wilson
was soon to start with his family for the United States on a furlough,
there would still be left in Chiengmai—if I were sent to Lakawn—two
ministers and two physicians, even if these were but three men in all.
Besides, there were beginning to be some good native assistants in
Chiengmai. No one had expressed a desire to open a new station, and no
one had been sounded in regard to the matter. So I determined to make
now the visit to Lakawn which I had planned for the previous fall, but
had been unable to accomplish. My wife and our little son Norwood were
to accompany me. When our preparations were well advanced, what was our
delight to find that Dr. and Mrs. Peoples wished to accompany us, if
they could obtain elephants. When this was mentioned to Prince Bijit, he
not only volunteered the elephants, but informed us that he had
authority from His Majesty to see that we had a lot for our station
there, and, furthermore, that, in passing through Lakawn, he had already
secured for us one of the most desirable lots in the place. In addition
to this, His Majesty had sent by him two thousand rupees as a
contribution toward the new station and a hospital. Who could fail to
see that the guiding hand of the Lord was in it! Before this I had
written to our United States Consul to get permission to secure a lot
there, but had never once thought of a contribution, much less of one so
liberal. Mrs. McGilvary thus reports our trip in a letter to our

    “Lakawn, January 30th, 1885. We reached Lampūn on Friday. I
    curtained off one end of the sālā just north of the city, and
    Mrs. Peoples did the same at the other end, leaving the space
    between and the veranda for callers. There we spent the Sabbath.
    Your father preached twice to very attentive audiences. We were
    impressed with the favourable prospect for mission work, and
    hope to make a longer visit to the place soon. We left on
    Monday, and reached this place on Thursday noon, and lodged in a
    public sālā just opposite the beautiful lot which the Prince has
    given us for a station. It is in a fine site, one of the best in
    the city. We called on the Chief this morning, and all seemed
    pleased at the prospect of having a mission station here. It is
    not yet settled who is to open it. We are willing to come, and
    so are Dr. and Mrs. Peoples.”



As may well be imagined, we returned to Chiengmai with grateful hearts
for the many providences that had favoured us. The new station was
assured. We had not then thought of keeping two physicians for
Chiengmai. Dr. Cheek had charge of the medical work. Dr. Peoples,
naturally, preferred a field where he would have ample scope both for
his medical profession and for the itinerating work of which he was
equally fond. His double profession and other qualifications fitted him
as no one else could be fitted for opening the new station. On my wife’s
account I was very willing to yield him the pleasure—for such to me it
has always been—of breaking new ground. Mrs. McGilvary had already had
the labour and self-denial of opening two stations, one of which was a
new mission. The importance of Lakawn as the next station could not be
challenged. Dr. and Mrs. Peoples themselves were pleased with the place
and the prospect of the new field. So they were unanimously appointed
and set apart to the new and important work.




The belief in witchcraft was still prevalent everywhere, and this year
brought us striking illustrations of its cruel power. An elderly man
with his wife and family, living in one of the outlying villages, was
accused of witchcraft. The pair of elephants which he owned and used had
belonged to a man suspected of harbouring a malicious spirit; and it was
thought that the demon had followed these elephants into the family of
their new master. The family was promptly ostracized; but by driving off
her husband with his elephants, the wife might avoid expulsion, and
might save for herself and her daughters the comfortable home. I
endeavoured in vain to prevent this outcome. “I am much more afraid of
the spirits,” said the wife, “than of bears and tigers.” The husband
could no longer face the universal odium which he encountered, and so
was driven forth. But the spirits served the old man a good turn—they
drove him into the Christian religion, which he lives to adorn, and they
gave him two good elephants. The family afterwards applied for one of
them. As a matter of equity he gave up one, and lived comfortably with a
Christian son on the proceeds of the sale of the other.

Then there was a great epidemic of fever in Bān Pên in the neighbouring
province of Lampūn. Few homes were left without sad hearts and vacant
places through the death of one or more members. The destroyer must be
some demon which had taken up its abode in a human habitation, and was
preying on the inhabitants of the village. The family of one of the most
prosperous men in the village was finally selected as the one which must
be the abode of the destroyer. As they could hardly decide in which
particular member of it the demon resided, they regarded all with equal
suspicion, and proceeded to wreak their vengeance to the uttermost upon
them all.

First, according to the usual custom, anonymous letters were dropped at
the gate, warning the family to flee, or dire would be the consequences.
When threats failed, armed with an order from the court, the whole
village appeared on the scene and compelled the family to flee for their
lives. No sooner were they out of the way than their two large teak
dwelling-houses, with rice-bins, outhouses, etc., were torn down and
scattered piecemeal over the lot. Not even a tree or shrub was left on
the place. To gain a breathing-spell, the family moved into a bamboo
shed hastily extemporized on the banks of the Mê Ping, some two miles
distant from what had been their home. By some accident they were
directed to our mission. They had learned that the King’s edict
protected the Christians, and, above all, that the Christian religion
protected them from all fear of evil spirits. And so they came to see if
it were true, and if there were any refuge for them.

Whatever was to be done for them in the way of earthly succor, must
evidently be done quickly. Their neighbours in their temporary refuge
would doubtless soon drive them away again. At the earnest entreaty of
the man I took one of the elders, and went down to look into the case
for myself. It was heart-rending. Whatever they had been able to snatch
from the wreck of a well-to-do home—beds, bedding, furniture, kitchen
utensils—was heaped up in a pile that covered the whole floor-space of
their shack. The great-grandmother, helpless in her dotage, and the
little children, were lying here and there wherever a smoother spot
could be found. Their case seemed almost hopeless as far as human aid
was concerned. Nān Chaiwana had himself appealed for aid both to the
court and to the governor, and had been told that there was nothing they
could do for him. The court was committed against him. The governor,
however, was personally friendly to us, and had shown no ill will
towards the man. It was barely possible that something might be
accomplished there. We all had worship together amid the confusion of
their hut—the first Christian service they had ever attended. They
assured us of their joyful acceptance of the Gospel, and pledged
obedience to all its teachings. We promised to do whatever we could in
their behalf, and returned home.

Next day Mr. Martin and I went down to Lampūn to call on the governor.
He was not at home, but in the rice-fields several miles out in the
country. We followed him there. He received us kindly, but said, “Were I
to make proclamation to protect that family, it would be impossible to
enforce it. Nearly everybody in that neighbourhood believes that the
bodies or ashes of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, or children are
in that graveyard, sent there by the demon in that family. If you can
devise some plan to protect them, you are welcome to try it; but if they
return to that village, I cannot be responsible for the results.” When
told that they had now renounced the spirits, and put themselves under
the Great Spirit, he said, “That is all very well, but how am I to
convince the others that _they_ are safe?” We then begged that he would
give the place over to us. We wanted a place for preaching. We would put
up one of the houses and establish a Christian family in it, with
medicine to cure their fevers. I would oversee it, but would ask the
family to help in the work. To this he readily consented. We trusted his
promise, and we returned encouraged.

A few evenings later I arrived on the scene with our elder and some
other Christians, and pitched tent at the edge of the ricefield, a
hundred yards from the deserted lot, to engage in a contest with the
destroying demon. It was, moreover, a crucial contest as between
Christianity and demonism. Our whole future work in that province, and,
to a large extent, throughout the land, depended on the result. Soon
curiosity brought to our tent the head man and a large number of the
villagers. We spent the evening in preaching to them. When asked what we
proposed to do with the situation, we explained that we had come to take
possession of the house and lot—the governor had given it over to the
mission for a station. It was now the property of the Christians, over
whom the spirits had no power. It was to be dedicated to the Lord’s
work, and we even asked their aid.

Next morning we began work, bringing in some of the men of the outcast
family to assist in identifying and reassembling the scattered timbers
of the house. With much difficulty bone was joined to bone, and timber
to timber. In a few days some of the villagers offered to be hired to
help. One or two women of the family came over to cook for the workmen.
Before long one house was set up, roofed, and floored; whereupon we
moved up into it, and invited the neighbours to attend its dedication
that evening. The evening was spent in song and prayer and praise. Many
came up into the house. More listened from the ground below. We had
given quinine to the fever patients, who were glad to get well by the
help of Christian medicine. Meanwhile the epidemic subsided, and the
worst fears of the people were allayed.

When it became necessary for me to return to Chiengmai, I left the elder
to furnish moral support to the poor outcasts, who, little by little,
came back to their home, and became the Christian family which we had
promised to establish there. To save the land from being utterly lost to
him, Nān Chaiwana had mortgaged it to one of the princes for the
trifling sum of one hundred rupees. Not trusting to the prince’s
unselfishness, I took Nān Chaiwana’s own money, paid the mortgage, and
with some regret the prince released the property to me. Thus was it all
restored to the family. Mr. Martin and I visited the station as often as
we could. It became an interesting centre for our work, and ultimately
grew into the Bethel church.

                  *       *       *       *       *

While I was engaged in this work, a strange thing was doing on the other
side of the Mê Ping. One day a man came in from the “Big Tamarind Tree
Village” to tell us that his whole village had become Christians, and
were building a chapel. When it was finished, he would invite us to come
down and indoctrinate the people in the teachings of our religion. This
was something new, and, of course, most interesting. In due time the man
came to Chiengmai to inform us that the chapel was finished, and we were
invited to go down, take possession, dedicate it, and teach the people.

On the following Friday, Mr. Martin and I took boat and went to the
village landing, where we separated, he going east to receive and
baptize the converts in the “new home of the teachers,” as the house at
Bān Pên long was called; and I to dedicate the new chapel at the “Big
Tamarind Tree Village.” I found the chapel there all right, and the
whole village assembled to welcome the teacher; and, apparently, like
the audience that Peter found in the house of Cornelius, ready “to hear
words whereby they might be saved.” The chapel was built mostly of
bamboo, but so new and neat that I complimented the villagers, and
expressed my great delight. After our reception, I invited them up into
the chapel for worship, and began by announcing a hymn, and inviting
them to join in learning to sing it; expecting, with my assistant and
other Christians who had accompanied me, to spend the time in teaching
them what Christianity is; presuming that their reception of it was a
foregone conclusion.

But somehow things did not seem to run smoothly. I was conscious of
being in a wrong atmosphere. The leader of the movement seemed ill at
ease. None entered in with the accustomed zeal of new converts. My
assistant noticed the same thing, and whispered in my ear that something
was wrong. They were whispering to him, “Where is the money?” “What
money?” “Why, the fifty or one hundred rupees that we were told would
surely be forthcoming to every family that aided in the building, and
that entered the new religion. The foreigners are rich, and, of course,
will be delighted to distribute money freely.” The leader, of course,
expected the lion’s share. It had all been a mere business venture on
his part—or, rather, a swindle! This was on Saturday. On Monday morning
Mr. Martin and I met at the boat according to agreement, he to report a
good day and the baptism of ten adults along with as many children, and
the reception of a number of catechumens; and I to confess how I had
been sold.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In the summer of 1885 a most interesting work was started in some
villages to the southwest of the city. Our indefatigable Nān Tā had
visited that region, and many had professed their faith. Mr. Martin and
I both responded to the call, and made a number of visits there. Two
chapels were built by the enquirers, one at Lawng Kum, and one at Chāng
Kam. I quote the following account of this work from the New York

    “June 9th, 1885.—I have just returned from the villages referred
    to in my last letter. I found twenty-two families of professed
    believers at Lawng Kum Chapel, which with the aid of a few
    dollars from elsewhere they had succeeded in building. Among
    them are at least six persons who give good evidence of a change
    of heart, and the rest are interesting enquirers. Ten miles from
    there, at Chāng Kam, I visited by invitation another company who
    had renounced Buddhism, and who call themselves Christians. On
    arriving there a roll of thirty-five families was handed me.
    Most of them had attended worship at times in the chapel at
    Chiengmai, and a few of them are no doubt true Christians. Here
    also we secured a native house for a chapel. They contributed a
    part of the small sum needed, while in this case, as in the
    other, their contribution was supplemented from the monthly
    contributions of the church in Chiengmai. Deputations have been
    sent also from places still further away, representing in one
    case twenty, and in another case twelve families enrolled by
    themselves, with others only waiting for the arrival of a

    “It is probably premature to predict what will be the result of
    all this. The simultaneousness of the movement in villages
    thirty or forty miles apart is remarkable. It shows a longing
    for something they have not. To turn this awakening to most
    account, we need more help, both native and foreign. Mr. Martin
    enters into the work with all his zeal, and has contributed no
    little toward keeping up the interest.”

Our expectations in regard to the work at Lawng Kum were disappointed
mainly by removals of families to other places. The chapel in Chāng Kam
was burned down by incendiaries, but was soon replaced, and the village
has continued to be one of our most important out-stations. Its people
have recently [1910] built a new and large chapel, and will soon be
organized into a church. One zealous man in Mê Āo led first his own
family and then his neighbours into the faith, till they, too, have now
a chapel built of teak, with a band of faithful workers to worship in

Our first visits to these new places were intensely interesting. It
seemed as if the Gospel would be embraced by whole villages. But the
burning of the chapel tells a tale of a strong adverse influence.
Opposition usually drives off the timid and the merely curious. The
lines, then, are sharply drawn, and the Christian society really finds

During the last week of the year I spent a few days at the village of Mê
Dawk Dêng to hold a communion service there, and incidentally to give my
family and the teachers of the Girls’ School a much-needed outing. It
was at the height of the rice-harvest, and, one evening, we all greatly
enjoyed the sight of a regular rice-threshing “bee” at the farm of one
of our elders. The “bee” is always at night. The bundles of rice from
the harvest-field are piled up so as to form a wall five feet high
around a space of some twenty-five feet square, with an opening for
entrance at one corner. In the centre of this square is a horizontal
frame of bamboo poles, against which the bundles of rice-heads are
forcibly struck. The grain falls to the ground below, and the straw is
tossed outside. In those days the whole plain at rice-harvest was
lighted up by bonfires of the burning straw—a glorious sight as I have
watched it from Doi Sutēp.

We pitched our tent near by to enjoy the scene. The men and boys do the
threshing, while the women and girls do the cooking for the feast with
which the work ends. The village maidens are always on hand to encourage
their beaux in their work by passing to them water or betel-nut, and to
serve the viands at the feast. It reminded me much of the husking bees I
had seen as a lad in the South seventy years ago. How near of kin is all
the world!

We had a delightful communion service on the Sabbath. Seven adults and
six children were baptized. On Monday morning we returned home refreshed
and better prepared for the work before us.

                  *       *       *       *       *





The year had been one of marked progress. The Girls’ School had been
strengthened by the arrival of Miss Lizzie Westervelt. The new station
at Lakawn had been opened, and Dr. and Mrs. Peoples had been installed
there. More new work had been opened in the neighbourhood of Chiengmai
and Lampūn than in any one year of the history of the mission. One
hundred and two adults were added to the communion roll, and about as
many children were baptized. Our new “witchcraft-house” at Bān Pên, with
its hospitable family, afforded a comfortable prophet’s chamber for the
missionaries and a chapel for worship. The Bethel church was afterwards
organized in it. That family became highly respected, and has furnished
some of the most influential members of our church. The work in Nawng
Fān, seven miles south of Chiengmai—Nān Inta’s village—had steadily
grown. It still continues to be one of our best out-stations, and will,
during the present year [1910] be organized into a church.




The year 1886 opened auspiciously. But Mr. Martin had brought malaria in
his system from his old home; and the Lāo country is a better place for
contracting the infection than for eradicating it. He worked
indefatigably, but seldom with a blood-temperature down to the normal.
In January he accepted an invitation from Mr. Gould, the British
Vice-Consul, to accompany him on a tour of inspection through the
northern provinces, hoping that the change might prove beneficial. It
afforded, moreover, opportunity for some missionary work in places
seldom or never visited. He was the first to visit the Mūsô villages
high up among the mountains. He baptized a few converts in Chieng Sên,
and reported an interest there that should be followed up.

About this same time Krū Nān Tā—for such, though not yet ordained, I
shall in future call him—returned from Chieng Rāi with a most
encouraging report of developments there. Later a deputation of seven
men, with Tāo Tēpasing as their leader, came to us from the village of
Mê Kawn in the Chieng Rāi province, earnestly entreating a visit from
the missionary. In their number was Pū King from Chieng Rāi, who had
been a notorious bandit, robber, and murderer. He had now submitted to
the government, and was given a place as public executioner and as doer
of other jobs from which only a lawless man would not shrink. Before
meeting Krū Nān Tā, he had gone so deep in sin that no hope was left
him, and he became hardened in despair. But his conscience was ill at
ease. Hearing rumours of the Christian religion, he determined that if
it could give him hope of pardon, he would seek it at any cost. He and
his wife walked one hundred and ten miles to see if it were really true
that Jesus could save even him. Our good friend the governor encouraged
his coming, and said, “If the Christian religion can make a good man out
of Pū King, I shall have no more doubts of its truth and power.” And we
have no doubt that it did that very thing.

In a few days Krū Nān Tā and I returned with the party. Elder Āi Tū of
Chieng Rāi,[14] with his family, accompanied us. We thus had quite a
little congregation to worship nightly about the camp-fire, and every
one of the party was either a Christian or an enquirer. This was my
third trip to the north, and the first of those annual trips that have
made that road so familiar to me.

Footnote 14:

  Afterwards Prayā Pakdī.

The little colony of Christians at Wieng Pā Pāo was prospering. One of
them was the man whom his wife had driven off, elephants and all, for
witchcraft. Nān Tā reported the governor of the place as a believer. He
had ceased to make offerings in temples, and he ridiculed the idols. He
received us most hospitably, and desired to have a mission station
there. Afterwards, however, through policy and the influence of a
Burmese son-in-law, he resumed his old worship; though to the last in
his heart of hearts, I think, he believed our teachings to be true. In
the case of subordinate officials, the final step of joining the church
is terribly hard to take.

At Salī Toi, “Grandma” Pan had been praying day and night for our
coming. She lived some distance away from the road, and feared that we
might pass her by. She was overjoyed to see us, and we had to check the
homage she offered us. The poor woman was sadly in need of support. She
was the only Christian in the place, and was surrounded by hostile
neighbours who absolutely rebelled against her establishing herself in
the place. Her family had renounced the spirits, and therefore her
“patriarch,” to whom she could rightly look for protection, became her
chief accuser. He went to the governor of Chieng Rāi for an order
forbidding her to settle there. But he had his thirty-mile walk for his
trouble. The governor told him that the family was not to be interfered
with. How could he forbid those whom the King’s edict allowed?

Having failed with the governor, they tried to draw away the
daughter-in-law. But she said she would stick by her husband and his
family. Their religion should be her religion, and their God should be
her God. The villagers then notified the family that it would be held
responsible for the value of any buffalo or elephant that might die in
the village. The theory was that the demons would take vengeance on the
village for allowing the trespass of an enemy on their domains. But all
their efforts to shake the poor woman’s faith were futile.

At Mê Kawn village, from which the delegation had chiefly come, of
course we were received with a warm welcome. On the recent visit of Nān
Tā, when the leading supporters of the temple became Christians, the
less religious families also deserted it. I even saw oxen sheltered from
the rain under its roof. A club-footed man, Noi Tāliya by name, a good
scholar in Ngīo, Burmese, and Lāo, had been the life of the temple. And
it is the earnest Buddhist that makes the earnest Christian. His son
first heard the Gospel, and, coming home, explained it to his father.
Calling his family together, the father said to them, “There are the
spirit shrines. Any one may have them who wishes to continue their
worship.” No one making a bid for them, a bonfire was made, and the once
valued treasures all vanished in smoke. When he went to Chieng Rāi to
announce his conversion to the governor and to the Uparāt, he said that
he prayed all the way that he might answer their questions discreetly
and wisely. He did not know that the governor had no more confidence in
his deserted idols and spirits than he himself had.

On the evening of our arrival, the largest house in the village was
filled to overflowing till late in the night. Before Sunday the people
had extemporized a chapel which afterwards became the foundation of the
Mê Kawn church. Two Sundays were spent in teaching these people before
we moved on to Chieng Rāi, leaving the new disciples under the oversight
of Noi Tāliya.

On reaching Chieng Rāi we were invited by the governor to take up our
quarters in his old residence, which we did. It was a better house than
his present one, but there had been two deaths in it, and it was
pronounced unlucky. He knew we were not afraid of ill luck. On the
contrary, it was very good luck that we got it, for the rains were now
falling daily. The governor and Nān Tā were near relatives and very
intimate friends withal. His interest in us was as teachers of the only
religion that ever afforded him a ray of hope. But on this trip Pū King,
the reformed bandit, and his family, were the centre of our interest
there. And it was not long before he, too, like Saul of Tarsus, became a
striking illustration of the grace of God.

A few hours beyond Chieng Rāi on the road to Chieng Sên, was the home of
Āi Tū. His was the first Christian family in the province. He had
built—in part that it might furnish a guest-chamber for the missionary
on his visits, and in part that it might serve as a chapel for
worship—the largest house in all that neighbourhood. When we arrived, he
had already vacated it for us, and had moved his family down into a
shed. A number of families had begun to attend worship, and to keep the
Sabbath; but were frightened away by that ridiculously stale story that
missionaries were making Christians in order to carry them off in their
ships to feed the Yaks! Strange that such a palpable absurdity should
deceive any one; yet we have known whole villages to be frightened away
by it.

At Chieng Sên, in the home of Nān Suwan, we were at once aware of being
in a Christian atmosphere—in a consecrated Christian family. That family
was a city set upon a hill—a leaven in the new city and province. It
alone had given Christianity a good name. The governor was free to say
that if Christianity made such men as Nān Suwan, he would like to see
the whole country Christian. The influence of the Girls’ School in
Chiengmai was strongly reflected in his daughter, Kuī Kêo. She taught no
regular school other than her Sunday School; but from time to time
during the week she taught the neighbours. Young men who began by trying
to ridicule her out of her religion, now treated her with the greatest
respect. We were told that rude young fellows singing vulgar songs would
lower their voices when passing by the house.

We crossed the river in a small boat to spend a few days in teaching
four new families of Christians on the eastern side. One of the men was
Tāo Rāt, the village officer, and another was his son, Noi Chai. The
latter became an influential ruling elder, and, like Nān Suwan, one of
the pillars of the church.

From Chieng Sên we crossed the broad prairie-like plain westward to Bān
Tam. The officer of the village was Sên Yā Wichai—mentioned in the early
part of this narrative as the very first believer in Chiengmai. The
journey was one of the worst for elephants that I ever made. Heavy rains
had soaked the ground so that at every step it seemed almost impossible
for them to pull their huge feet out of their tracks. The Sên lived only
a quarter of a mile from a remarkable feature of the mountain ridge. The
Mê Tam, the largest river in the plain, flows bodily out from under the
mountain, much as does one of the sources of the Mê Ping at Chieng Dāo.

It was a great pleasure to spend a Sunday with our now venerable
Christian and his family. It was a family of officers, his three sons
all being either of the grade of Tāo or of Sên—which shows the esteem in
which the family was held. But, unfortunately, their official position
made it more difficult for the sons to follow the example of their

On Sunday night the rain came down in torrents, reminding us that it was
better for us to be at home. We started homeward early the next morning.
Our route skirted the beautiful mountain range, crossing brooks and the
larger streams of the Mê Tam and the Mê Chan. Already the road had
become almost impassable except for elephants and natives unencumbered
with shoes or trousers.

We have already spoken of the great mortality incurred in the attempt to
people these new Lāo states. Occasionally the straggling remnant of a
family might be seen returning. One poor little boy awakened my deepest
sympathy. All of his family had died except himself and his brother, a
monk, who were trying to save themselves by flight back to their old
home in the province of Chiengmai. After I passed them I began to wonder
whether the pale, weary-faced, and exhausted travellers would ever reach
the rest they sought. Then I began to think that here I was enacting
again the old tale of the priest and the Levite who passed by on the
other side. At last I could stand it no longer. I stopped and waited for
them to come up. I offered the pitiful little skeleton of a boy a seat
with me on the back of the elephant. At first he somewhat distrusted my
motive, wondering what I wanted to do with him; but he was too weary to
refuse. When he revived, he proved to be a veritable little chatterbox,
and good company. I kept him nearly a week, till we entered the
Chiengmai plain at Doi Saket. Only four years ago, eleven children out
of five Christian families who had settled in Wieng Pā Pāo, died during
the first year.

Returning through Chieng Rāi, we revisited the new families of
Christians in that province. In the city the governor’s wife asked us to
have worship in their new house, to which they reverently listened. When
we ended she said, “Why, they pray for everybody!” Pū King, the
executioner, was holding on with a death-grip to the hope of salvation
for the chief of sinners. The case of the apostle himself, and of the
penitent thief, greatly encouraged him. Nān Tā also was greatly rejoiced
that his brother Sên Kat became a believer on this tour.

On my return I found Mr. Martin but little, if at all, improved, by his
trip. He was so thoroughly discouraged that he felt that he could not
face another hot season. He remained with us till the end of the rainy
season, and then, with his family, left Siam for the United States. I
never had felt so thoroughly crushed as I was at his departure. During
three whole years we had lived in the same house, and worked together
hand in hand in the evangelistic work, of which he was very fond.

Dr. Cheek already had severed his official connection with the mission,
and had gone into business of his own. But he kindly gave his
professional service to the missionaries, and was ready to perform
pressing surgical operations for the natives who came to the hospital.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I have often wondered whether all foreign missions, have as many and as
rapid alternations of sunshine and shadow, as the Lāo mission. Our
medical work was once more at a standstill; and by the departure of Mr.
Martin, the evangelistic work again was crippled. But at Hong Kong Mr.
Martin met Rev. and Mrs. D. G. Collins, Dr. and Mrs. A. M. Cary, and
Rev. W. C. Dodd, on their way out for the Lāo mission, with Rev. W. G.
McClure for Lower Siam. Mrs. Cary had become so exhausted by continual
sea-sickness during the whole voyage, that, on her arrival in Bangkok,
many thought her unable to endure the long river trip of six or seven
weeks. Mr. McClure offered to exchange fields with the Carys; but Mrs.
Cary, with true pluck, said that she had been appointed to the Lāo
mission, and to the Lāo she would go. But, alas! it was to be otherwise.
She became worse soon after leaving Bangkok. On Sunday, January 16th,
1887, a mile above Rahêng, she became unconscious, and shortly after
gently passed into her everlasting rest.

It was still a month’s journey to their destination. There was nothing
to be done but to lay the body to rest in the grounds of a monastery.
Who can portray that parting scene, or adequately sympathize with the
bereaved husband and sister (Mrs. Collins), or with the other members of
the party, as they performed the last sad offices, and then resumed
their lonesome journey!

When the party reached Chiengmai on the 17th of February, they found
there only the McGilvarys, Miss Griffin, and Miss Westervelt. Miss Cole
had gone to Bangkok. But the Girls’ School was flourishing under the
direction of the two ladies last mentioned. Former pupils of the school
were then doing good service in three different provinces as teachers.
But the arrival of the new forces made possible for the first time a
Boys’ High School. Circumstances now were much more favourable than they
were when Mr. Wilson made the attempt in the earlier days of the
mission. We now had Christian patrons, and there was a growing desire in
the land for education. Buddhist pupils were willing and anxious to
attend our school. Mr. Collins preferred the educational work. As soon
as he acquired the language sufficiently well, he was put in charge of
the school for boys, and it was soon crowded with pupils.



Mr. Dodd’s preference was along the line of a Training School for
Christian workers. Happily, the taste and preference of both these men
were along the lines of greatest need. Meanwhile Mr. Dodd entered into
the evangelistic work also with a zeal that has never abated. As
newcomers see things with different eyes, it is always interesting to
get their first impressions. Mr. Dodd’s first experience is thus given
in a letter to the Board of June 9th, 1887:

    “On Friday, June 3d, Rev. D. McGilvary of the Lāo mission left
    Chiengmai by boat for a tour southward, taking attendants and
    all necessary equipments, accompanied by a raw recruit, and
    three efficient native helpers. We arrived at our first station
    about the middle of the afternoon, and before bed-time held
    religious conversation with as many enquirers as time would
    permit. Our audience chamber was the house of one of our
    newly-received members. Our ‘outward and ordinary means’ of
    attracting an audience was a watch, two mariner’s compasses, a
    magnifying glass, a stereoscope with an assortment of views, and
    a violin. The raw recruit played the violin, and thus called the
    audience together. We used both the other attractions to hold
    them and to gain their confidence and interest; and afterwards
    Dr. McGilvary easily and naturally drew them into religious
    conversation. Soon the conversation became a monologue of
    instruction in the religion of the great God. The violin was no
    longer needed to arouse or sustain an interest. Every day, and
    late into the evening, the Doctor and the three assistants
    conversed; sometimes to quite an audience, sometimes to
    individual enquirers.

    “The religious attitude of the people was a revelation to the
    newly-arrived missionary, and doubtless would be to most of
    God’s people in the United States. Nearly all of these people
    had heard of the ‘religion of the great God,’ but knew nothing
    about it, since the district had never before been visited by a
    missionary.... But their receptivity was marvellous.... Without
    exception these Buddhists confessed at the outset, or were soon
    brought to concede, the immeasurable superiority of
    Christianity. Many said, ‘It is of no use to argue. Your books
    tell the beginnings of things; ours do not.’ On one occasion
    when Dr. McGilvary had finished reading and explaining the first
    chapter of Genesis, one of his auditors remarked to his fellows,
    ‘There is more real information on that one page than in all
    Buddha’s writings.’ The sense of sin is universal, so too is the
    insufficiency of the works of merit. Many sad souls confessed
    that they had long been dreading the penalty for sins for which
    they feared that ‘merit-making’ could not atone.

    “The results we cannot measure. We were absent two weeks.
    Religious service or conversations were held in more than twenty
    different homes, and in some of these several times. Audiences
    varied from a single enquirer to fifty. Thus hundreds heard the
    gospel for the first time. Many who seemed above the suspicion
    of hypocrisy professed to believe and accept what they heard....
    One principal reason for this tour just now, was to baptize in
    his own home and among his subjects the chief officer of the
    district. Himself, his wife, and his whole family were
    baptized—a most interesting household. The abbot of one village
    monastery professes to accept Christianity. For some time he has
    been sending his parishioners, including his own sister, for
    instruction. There is another district officer of the same rank
    as our newly-baptized convert, a constant visitor and deeply
    interested. This is a specimen tour, neither better nor worse
    than the average taken these days. For the last two years,
    although most of the time there have been but two ordained
    missionaries in the field, over ninety ascessions have been made
    to the First Church.”—_Church at Home and Abroad_, May, 1888.

Before the short trip reported by Mr. Dodd, I had taken a longer one to
the northern provinces, going over the same ground which Mr. Martin and
I had travelled the season before. This time I baptized thirty-six
adults and thirty-two non-communing members. The communion was
administered eight times. I married two couples and ordained one elder.
Each Sunday was spent in villages where there were already Christians.
This encouraging success was the harvest of seed sown on former tours,
but gathered largely through God’s blessing on the work of faithful
elders. Both in Chieng Rāi and in Chieng Sên we might then have
organized churches with a goodly number of members communing and
non-communing, and with very good material for officers. Nān Suwan at
Chieng Sên, like myself, never had the gift of fluent speech, but his
reputation for sterling integrity has left a mark that eloquence might
envy. And Āi Tū at Nāng Lê bids fair to be another power in the province
of Chieng Rāi. Both of them are strongly aided by their daughters, the
first-fruits of our Girls’ School.

During the year 1887 the whole number of adult accessions was one
hundred and seven; and one hundred and eleven non-communing members were
added to the roll, making two hundred and eighteen additions to our
little flock, exclusive of Lakawn. As I now look back over these years,
it is plain to me that the great lack of the mission all the way through
has been the lack of well-trained native helpers; and for this lack the
mission itself is largely to blame. Those who are eager to accomplish
the evangelization of the world within the present generation, should
first of all lay hold of the present generation of Christians in every
mission field. Fill _these_ with enthusiasm, qualify them, and send them
forth, and we have a lever that will lift the world.

From the Report of the Board in the same number of _The Church at Home
and Abroad_ cited above, we quote the following:

    “Dr. and Mrs. Peoples are still left alone in Lakawn, the utmost
    picket of the foreign missionary line. Mrs. Peoples has not one
    lady for a companion; and the doctor is dangerously burdened,
    bearing all alone the labour of teaching and healing. For more
    than two years they have been waiting for help. No station under
    the care of the Foreign Board calls so loudly for reinforcements
    as this. Again and again we thought we had found a Christian
    couple for Lakawn; but in each case we have been disappointed.
    Single men could have been sent, but it is very much to be
    desired that the new missionary going there should be married.
    Dr. Peoples’ medical work has won for him increasing
    friendliness throughout the city.... Mrs. McGilvary has revised
    the Lāo version of Matthew’s Gospel, and has translated for the
    first time about half of the book of Acts. The Scriptures have
    had considerable circulation among the Lāo, but only in the
    Siamese tongue.... Dr. Cary had no sooner reached the field than
    through the assistance of Dr. McGilvary and Norwood McGilvary, a
    young lad, acting as interpreters, he was able to begin work
    with regular hours for receiving patients, and for surgical
    practice.... Mr. Collins has made a beginning in the much-needed
    school for boys.

    “Only one other mission now under the care of our Presbyterian
    Church has during the last year shown as much growth, in
    proportion to the missionary force employed, as the Lāo
    mission.... It is never out of place to remind our Presbyterian
    Church that it is to her alone that God has committed the
    evangelization of the Lāo tribes.”



                          A FOOTHOLD IN LAMPŪN

At a meeting of the Presbytery shortly before the opening of the year
1888, a committee consisting of Dr. Peoples, Mr. Dodd, and myself, was
appointed to organize two churches, one in Chieng Sên and one in Chieng
Rāi, if the way were found open to do so. We also arranged that Mrs.
McGilvary should accompany our son Norwood as far as Bangkok on his way
to the United States. And both expeditions were to start on the same
day, Monday, February 7th.

To ease somewhat the strain of such a parting, I took an earlier leave,
and went on Saturday with Mr. Dodd to spend Sunday with the church at Mê
Dawk Dêng. That evening we performed a marriage ceremony in the church.
The next day thirteen adults were received into the church—nine by
baptism and four who were children of the church. On Monday Mrs.
McGilvary and I exchanged our last good-byes by note, and both parties
got off on Tuesday morning. Dr. and Mrs. Peoples, starting from Lakawn,
made the first stage of their journey separately from us to a rendezvous
at the Christian village of Mê Kawn, twelve miles south of Chieng Rāi.

At our next Christian village another wedding was waiting for us, but
the course of true love did not run smooth. The bride belonged to a
well-to-do Christian family; but no member of it could read the
Scriptures. They, therefore, “redeemed” a Christian family for four
hundred rupees, in order to secure the services of the son as a sort of
Levite in the family, and to teach the eldest daughter to read.
Naturally, the two young people fell in love with each other. That was a
contingency the mother had not planned for, and a difficulty arose. She
asked, “If I take Nān —— for a son-in-law, where do my four hundred
rupees come in?” It was all in vain to tell her that she got her pay in
a good son-in-law. She said he was hers already till his debt was paid.
At last she so far relented as to allow the ceremony to take place, but
she would not see it performed. We invited the father and the rest of
the family and the neighbours into our tent, where, to their great joy,
the two were made man and wife. The implacable mother lived to see that
she had not made a bad bargain, after all.

At Mê Kawn we were joined by Dr. and Mrs. Peoples, and we had a good
Sabbath with the little flock there. Our club-footed man had looked
after it well, and he became later a good elder and a fine
disciplinarian. About this time I was taken with a severe attack of
indigestion, from which I did not recover for many months—the only
continued sickness from which I have suffered in all my connection with
the Lāo mission.

On reaching Chieng Rāi, we found our good friend the governor mourning
the death of his wife, the same who, when we last saw her, invited us to
worship in her house. It was a pleasure to point the bereaved man to the
divine Comforter, and we are fain to believe that our words were not in
vain. He was still anxious to have the mission station established,
which we, unfortunately, could not yet promise. The Chao Uparāt invited
Dr. Peoples to lecture with his magic lantern, and to have worship in
his residence, where we had a crowded audience. We did not organize a
church in Chieng Rāi, however, partly because the two Christian
villages, equidistant from the city north and south, could not agree on
the best place of meeting. But we found the way open in Chieng Sên, and
did organize a church there, in Nān Suwan’s house, on the very bank of
the Mê Kōng, and with one-half of its members living on the other shore.

Dr. Peoples had left a large practice in Lakawn, and was obliged to
return. Mr. Dodd returned with them to Lakawn, and thence to Chiengmai.
I had come untrammelled, to remain as long as duty called. It seemed
very desirable to follow up the impressions already made on that
community. But I was not well, and a week’s delay found me no better.
Thinking that a change might be beneficial, I crossed the plain to Sên
Yā Wichai’s home at the foot of the mountains. It was a hard day’s ride,
and I became worse on the way. On reaching my destination I could hardly
stand. Resting there on my back a few days without improvement, it
seemed my first duty to get to a physician as soon as possible, or, at
least, make the effort to do so. Most of the way I could stop at night
either with or near Christian families. This I did, and so reached
Chiengmai on April 14th.

During my absence the building of the Boys’ High School was completed;
and the school was opened under the direction of Mr. Collins on March
19th, with an enrollment of forty-five boys, nearly all children of
Christian parents. In June Dr. Wilson reached Chiengmai on his return
from the United States; and with him came Miss Fleeson, destined with
the Doctor to join the Peoples at Lakawn, and Miss Belle Eakin (now Mrs.
Dodd), for the Girls’ School in Chiengmai. Miss Griffin was already gone
on her furlough.

The building for the Girls’ School had long been in process of
construction. Builders and plans had been several times changed, till at
last Dr. Cheek took the contract, and finished it in the summer of 1888.
It has served its purpose admirably these many years, and we then
thought it would do for all time. But though the lot then seemed amply
large, it proves now entirely too small for the needs of the school.
Moreover, it is impossible to enlarge it. On its south side runs the
most travelled road in the country; while on the east the land is owned
by a wealthy official, who would not sell at any price.

Our congregations had grown till a church building became a necessity
even more urgent than, a schoolhouse. The first mission dwelling-house
was planned in part with reference to such need, its largest room long
being used for Sunday worship. Then a small temporary chapel took its
place. After that a larger teak double dwelling was bought. That,
however, would not hold more than two hundred persons—not more than half
of our largest congregations at the present day. Then for a time we
worshipped in the unfinished building for the Girls’ School. When, at
last, that was finished, it was needed for its original purpose, and we
again must move. It was then decided that we must have a church, and one
worthy of our cause—such as would attract rather than repel both rulers
and people. So one Sunday afternoon we held a meeting of the
congregation to take steps for building it. We were delighted to see the
interest manifested in the enterprise. Pā Kawng, an aged slave of the
Prince, laid down a silver rupee, which was all the money she
possessed—and it was the very first money received toward the building.
The church was completed by the end of this year.

We had continued evidence of the friendship of Prince Intanon, and even
of his growing interest in our work. One Sunday, in answer to an
invitation given by Mrs. Cheek, he attended our communion service,
conducted that day by Mr. Wilson. Although he arrived an hour and a half
too soon, he remained all through the long service, and bowed as he took
his leave, just when the communion cups were about to be passed. On the
day of our daughter’s marriage in Statesville, North Carolina, he and
the High Commissioner attended a reception given in honour of the event.
The Prince had known her as a child, and seemed much interested. “Is it
this very night that the marriage takes place?” he asked. The reception
was a very pleasant affair. Though my wife was still in Bangkok, Miss
Fleeson and Miss Eakin entered with all their hearts into the thing,
and, with the assistance of Mr. Dodd and Mr. Collins, carried it through
in splendid shape. After refreshments we had charades and other games.
It was amusing to see the look of surprise on the face of the Prince
when the charades were played.—“What are they doing?” “What does that
mean?” “I don’t understand.” But the game was quite too recondite to be
explained to him. So, after the first charade, His Highness and his
party took their leave, assuring us that they had enjoyed the evening
very much.

Dr. Wilson and Miss Fleeson presently journeyed on to their post at
Lakawn. The governor there gave the mission a very desirable plot of
ground for the new buildings which would be required, saying, “I am glad
to have you come. It would be a shame, when you come to live in our
country, if the government did not do something to make you

Scarcely less important than the opening of the new station in Lakawn,
was the opening of permanent work in Lampūn, the largest and most
important sub-station of Chiengmai. Lampūn is a little gem of a walled
city in the same great plain as Chiengmai, and only eighteen miles
distant to the south. From the first settlement of the country, however,
it has been a separate state, yet governed by a branch of the same
ruling race.

We have seen that the new governor of Lampūn was friendly to the mission
and the missionaries. The opening of the work in Bān Pên and other
important villages near it, rendered it almost essential to have a
footing in Lampūn itself. After some negotiation we secured a suitable
lot, the grounds of the second governor recently deceased. We purchased
from the family the land with the old residence and the stockade. But
presently the family became alarmed lest they had been too hasty in
selling it to foreigners, and brought back the money, begging us to
restore the land. They brought, also, a message from the governor,
saying that he wanted the residence and the stockade himself, but would
_give_ us the rest of the land. It was to our interest to keep on good
terms with him, and we agreed to the arrangement. We got what we wanted,
a good station, and we retained, and probably increased the governor’s



To make possession sure, I purchased a newly-built house which had come
to be regarded as unlucky, because the owner’s wife had suddenly died in
it. Having arranged to have the house moved and set up on the lot, I was
about to return to Chiengmai, thinking that there was nothing more to
do, when I was sent for by the chief executive officer of the Court. He
said that the governor, indeed, had given us the place, but the Court
wished to make one proviso. He begged that I would sign a paper
promising in few words that if the government at any time should need
it, we would give it up. The governor was growing old, and they
themselves would be held responsible. I saw at once that such a step
would put it in the power of any one to oust us. A need might be
feigned, and yet we should be powerless to withstand it. I was perfectly
dumfounded. My first thought was to go directly to the governor. But
presently I bethought me of the terms on which H. R. H. Prince Bijit,
the brother of His Majesty, had given to the mission the fine lot for
its hospital. The lot was given in perpetuity on condition that it be
used for medical and missionary purposes only. As long as it was so
used, it was ours. But it could not be sold, or used for other purposes,
without forfeiture to the Prince. The thought came to me as an
inspiration. I told the officer of that written deed. “Very well,” said
he. “If you have such a paper as that, show it to me, and I will give
you one like it for this lot.”

The difficulty was solved. A swift footman was despatched to Chiengmai
asking Mr. Martin to send me at once a copy of the Prince’s deed of
gift. Next morning it came, and I took it immediately to the Court. The
officer’s surprise was evident. He took it and read it carefully
through. His word was given. After a moment’s thought he said, “That is
all right. It will relieve me of all responsibility.” Then he called up
his clerk to copy its terms and execute the new deed. The land was ours
to use as long as we should use it for the purposes specified; and that
I hoped would be until the millennium! With a light heart I was soon
aboard my boat and homeward bound.

When the house had been removed and set up on the lot, Mr. Collins and I
went down and spent a week there, with interested audiences every night.
It at once became an important out-station of the Chiengmai mission. In
the meantime Mr. Dodd had already collected some twenty students for his
training-class, but without any quarters for them in Chiengmai. Later
Mr. and Mrs. Dodd were put in charge of the station, and the Training
School was moved over to Lampūn. When the Lampūn church was organized,
its charter members numbered nearly two hundred. It is now the mother of
two other churches. Scarcity of men in the mission, openings in other
places, and other causes have prevented the Lampūn station from being
continuously manned. But now, with such efficient workers there as Mr.
and Mrs. Freeman, it has an important future before it, as a sub-station
of Chiengmai.

Meanwhile my own sickness had continued, with several relapses. A minor
surgical operation had so delayed my recovery that Dr. Cary now advised
a change and rest in a boat trip to Bangkok. After the departure of our
son to the United States, my wife had remained in Bangkok for a visit,
and was soon to return. The telegraph line which the Siamese government
had recently completed, enabled me to wire to her to wait for me to come
and bring her back. Dr. Cary himself, who had never recovered from the
shock occasioned by the tragic death of Mrs. Cary, and who was never
well during his whole stay in the mission, decided to accompany me as
far as Rahêng.

At Pāknam Pō I left my boat, and took passage for Bangkok by river
steamer, thus saving seven days. After remaining in Bangkok only three
nights, my wife and I took passage in the same steamer on her return
trip, and rejoined our boat at the forks. The water was at its best
stage, and we passed up some of the rapids without knowing that they
were there. But my trouble had not left me. A low diet and long illness
had left me thin and weak. The round trip occupied only two months. Our
last Sunday was at Pāk Bawng, two days below Chiengmai. There we held a
communion service with the Christian families, and a new family was

Three miles to the east is Bān Pên, the village which has figured in a
previous chapter. The Christians there had long been asking for a visit,
which my own sickness and want of time on the part of others rendered it
impossible to make. On Monday morning I decided to take the risk and
visit it. With some misgivings I saw my wife’s boat move off and leave
me—burning, so to speak, my bridges behind me. The whole country was
flooded. Discarding shoes and stockings, I made my way on foot, weak as
I was, through water, across ditches, or along the narrow ridges of
rice-fields, and finally reached Bān Pên in safety.

And what a week I spent in that neighbourhood! At Nawng Sīu, a village
two miles distant from Bān Pên, there were six families of professed
believers whom Dr. Dodd and I had visited the season before—almost
swimming at times to reach them in their scattered homes. Their
admission was postponed at that time until they should have had further
instruction. To these I specially addressed myself. During the week our
faithful elder, Nān Tā, came down to assist me in the work. On Friday
evening the session met at Nawng Sīu to examine and instruct these new
converts, and again on Saturday morning, closing finally at two o’clock
in the afternoon with baptism and the Lord’s Supper. On counting up the
numbers, it was found that twenty adults and seventeen children had been
baptized. Among them was an aged couple with their children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was a memorable sight. The
Sabbath was spent at Bān Pên, where seven more adults and one child were
baptized. On Monday I made my way back to the boat as I had come, and
reached home on Tuesday. And now for the strange part of the story. _I
reached home well._ My week’s wading in the water, and the hard work,
had done what medicine and doctors and a long boat trip had failed to

But a new disappointment awaited me. Before I reached home, Dr. Cary had
resigned. His short career is one of the mysteries to be explained in
the great beyond. A consecrated physician, he had given his life to the
Lāo people. Crushed by his tragic bereavement on the way out, and with a
constitution never strong, he contended manfully for two years against
the debilitating effects of a malarial climate. But at last he had to
give up the fight. His work had been successful. “He saved others;
himself he could not save!”

His departure threw on me again the oversight of the medical work. But
this time most of the dispensing of medicine to the natives fell on
Chanta, a protégé of my own, who had had good training under two
physicians. Meanwhile Dr. Cheek looked after the mission families, and,
as already stated, was always ready to respond to an urgent call in the
hospital. My time was largely given, therefore, to the evangelistic
work, to instructing Nān Tā and other elders, and to teaching enquirers
and others to read in Siamese, first the Shorter Catechism, and then a

The growth of the Chiengmai church, though not phenomenal, was very
healthy and very uniform throughout the year. There were accessions
every month save one, amounting in all to one hundred and sixty souls.
At the end of the year Miss I. A. Griffin returned from furlough, and
served a very useful term until 1896, when she retired greatly missed.
At Lakawn, Rev. Hugh Taylor and his wife began a twenty years’ course of
evangelistic work carried on with indefatigable zeal, while Miss Fleeson
was no less zealous and successful in laying the foundation of a Girls’
School, destined to be a power in that province.



                       A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST

We have had frequent occasion gratefully to record the good will of the
Siamese government, and of its commissioners and representatives,
towards our mission. In all its history the only exception to this
uniform friendliness was in the case of the Commissioner who, in 1889,
succeeded Prayā Tēp Worachun. The Boys’ School was on an old deserted
monastery-site given by the Prince to Dr. Peoples for a medical or a
mission compound. An old ruined chēdi or pagoda was still standing on
it. Such lots, deserted by the monks, were then regarded as abodes of
the spirits, and on such the natives dared not live. In preparing for
the school buildings, the débris about the foot of the chēdi had been
dug away. One of the early acts of the new Commissioner was to send a
written notice to the mission that it was improper to use old Buddhist
shrines for purposes other than those for which they were originally
built; and he gave us notice that we were to have three months in which
to find other quarters. But as no other lot was offered in its place, we
remained quiet, and that was the last we heard of it.

Another incident, occurring soon after, was more serious, and gave us a
great deal of anxiety; for it came near costing the life of one of our
best native assistants. A deputation from some twelve or fifteen
families in Chieng Dāo came to us with a request that a native assistant
be sent up to teach them. Krū Nān Tā went up, and they became believers,
but required much further instruction. We selected Noi Siri, the most
prudent of our elders, for the task. We charged him specially, inasmuch
as it was in a province new to our work, to use great caution and give
no just cause of offence to the rulers or to others. He remained there a
month, and then was recalled by the illness of his wife. He stopped at
the mission to report progress, giving a good account of the conduct and
diligence of the new Christians.

Great was our surprise, then, in a few hours to learn that Noi Siri had
been arrested, put in heavy irons, and thrown into prison on a charge of
treason against the government. Mr. Collins, Mr. Dodd, and I called upon
the Commissioner to enquire the cause of his arrest. The Commissioner
replied, Yes; he had him arrested on the grave charge of disloyalty in
teaching the converts that they were exempt from government work. Such
teaching was treason; and if the charge were true, the penalty was
death. It was not, therefore, a bailable offence. At the same time, he
said, no specifications had been forwarded. He would summon the
accusers, and the man should have a fair trial, and should have the
privilege of producing any witnesses he pleased in his defence. That
was, of course, all that we could ask, save to beg that the trial be
hastened as far as possible—to which he consented. Krū Nān Tā was
allowed to see the prisoner in his cell. From him he learned that so far
was the accusation from being true, that he had taught the Christians
that they were _not_ exempt from government work; and that, furthermore,
no call had been made on them for service while he was there. We sent
immediately for all the Christian men to come down.

After some delay the prisoner was called into court and examined.
According to Siamese custom, his examination was taken down in writing.

“Are you Noi Siri, who has been teaching in Chieng Dāo?”


“When did you go there to teach?”

“On the fourth of the third waning moon.”

“Have you taught that Christians are exempt from public service?”

“No. On the contrary, I taught that, as Siamese subjects, Christians are
to pay their taxes and perform all the duties of other subjects.”

The testimony of the governor of Chieng Dāo, his accuser, was then taken
in his presence. Among the questions asked him were these:

“Can you state any particular time and place when the Christians were
called to do government work and refused?”

“Yes. I called a man or two, and they did not obey.”

“When was that call made?”

“On the fourth day of the third waxing moon.”

This was the only specification which the governor gave. The date, it
will be noted, was fifteen days earlier than that of Noi Siri’s arrival
in Chieng Dāo. If the statement were true, it might have subjected the
persons who were summoned to trial and punishment for disloyalty; but it
absolutely cleared Noi Siri. An upright judge would have dismissed the
case. The Christian witnesses were in attendance to testify as to the
nature of the instruction they received; but were not given the
opportunity to do so. The accused man was remanded to prison. We waited,
but nothing was done. We called once more on the Commissioner; but were
told that the case had been referred to Bangkok, and he must wait for a
reply. We waited again. At last we made a written appeal on his behalf,
and in answer were told that the case was one with their own subjects,
and we had nothing to do with it. Meantime Noi Siri had become quite
ill, and all that we could do was to get him transferred from his
dungeon to the common prison.

Eight months after this, when Mr. Dodd went down to Bangkok to be
married to Miss Eakin, he made, through the United States Minister, an
appeal to the Prince Minister of the North, who promised an immediate
order for his release. As soon as we were assured of that, we went to
the resident Prince in Chiengmai, H. R. H. Prince Sonapandit, who
promised that the order should be issued at once. The next day we called
on the Commissioner to remind him of the Prince’s promise; but he and
the Judge had just gone out for a stroll in the city. It was then
Saturday afternoon. Next day was our communion service, and I was
determined to have Noi Siri present. To do this I had to follow those
men up at once. I was a fast walker, and, when necessary, could run. My
race after them was the ludicrous sequel of the case. Two high officials
closing their office and escaping, in order to keep their victim in
chains another night, pursued by swifter feet, and overtaken in the
street! The Judge acknowledged that the Prince had given the order. He
would attend to it to-morrow. Since to-morrow would be Sunday, I need
not come. But I knew that we should not see Noi Siri in time for our
worship unless I went for him. So on Sunday morning I called once more
on the Judge, who again said that I need not wait; but I had to tell him
that I would not return till I saw his release. So the prisoner was
called, and I saw the fetters taken off from his ankles.

The second bell was ringing when I entered the church; but Noi Siri was
with me. The congregation rose and sang the long metre doxology. There
were not many dry eyes in the room. Mr. Dodd preached from the text,
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love
God.” Among the converts who then stood up to make a public profession
of faith was Nāng Su, a daughter of Noi Siri—and this happy coincidence
was no planning of ours.

Noi Siri’s faith had been tried by fire, and he had come forth from the
furnace as pure gold. In addition to his own imprisonment and distress,
his wife had been for months very low with sickness, and one of his
grandchildren had died during the interval. But from his prison cell he
had written to his family not to let their faith be shaken either by his
trials or by their own. During the eight months and ten days of his
imprisonment, one hundred and thirty-three persons—his daughter closing
the list—were received into church-membership. A European in employ of
the government, who had cognizance of the whole case, afterwards said to
me, “It might be well to get the Commissioner to imprison a few more
Christians!” A history of the case was afterwards published by our Board
in a leaflet entitled, “The Laos Prisoner.”

Before the close of the year there was an event which for the time came
near to overthrowing the government. A new tax, levied chiefly on areca
trees, caused much exasperation throughout the country. As usual, the
tax was farmed out to Chinese for collection. The local officers in
various districts formed a coalition to resist to the uttermost the
collection of the tax. Of course, this could not be allowed, since the
collectors were the agents of the government. The resistance was centred
chiefly in the districts to the eastward of the city, where Prayā Pāp,
who had some reputation as a soldier, went so far as to gather a
considerable force of the insurgents within a few miles of Chiengmai. A
day even was set for their attack on the city. If they had made a dash
then, they could easily have taken it, for the sympathy of the people
was wholly with them, and the government was unprepared.

Our house was only two hundred yards away from the Chinese distillery,
which was the objective of the insurgents. The residence of the
Commissioner and that of the Siamese Prince Sonapandit were nearly
opposite us on the other side of the river. Our position was further
compromised by the fact that the wives and children of a number of
influential Chinese had almost forcibly taken refuge in our compound. In
any case, we should have been in a position of great danger from the
guns on the other side of the river aimed at the distillery. We were
strongly advised to take refuge in the British Consulate, whose shelter
was kindly offered us. But the whole population in our neighbourhood was
watching us. If we stirred, there would have been a general stampede.

Fortunately for themselves and for the country, the courage of the
common people failed. One after another they deserted the leader, till
at last he also fled. He was caught, however, and with seven other
leaders was executed. This was the end of the matter in Chiengmai; but
certain parties of the insurgents, escaping northwards, became roving
bands of marauders that for some time disturbed the peace of the
frontier towns. The rebellion never had any chance of ultimate success;
but had the attack on the city been actually made, the immediate
consequences would have been direful, and untold calamity would have
been entailed on the whole country.

The arrival of Dr. McKean at the close of the year marked an era in our
medical work. He was accompanied by our daughter, Miss Cornelia H.
McGilvary, now Mrs. William Harris Jun. It was the pleasant duty of Mrs.
McGilvary to escort the party up from Bangkok. The appointment of our
daughter was no less a surprise than a delight to us. During her school
days she always said that she would not become a missionary. When the
question came up for final settlement, she fought it out in her own mind
alone, and reached her own decision. The Lāo language, which, during her
ten years’ absence, she seemed to have lost entirely, came back to her
very soon and with little effort.

It has been Dr. McKean’s privilege to continue the work begun by able
physicians, and to carry it to a higher degree of efficiency. He has
combined, as most of our physicians have done, the two great objects of
the medical missionary, the medical and the evangelistic, making the
former a means to the latter. While the professional and the charitable
features of the work have not been minimized, but rather magnified, no
minister has more loved to preach the Gospel, or has been more
successful in it. At the same time it may be that the great work now
enlisting his sympathy and his strenuous efforts—the establishment of a
leper colony and hospital, and the amelioration of the condition of that
unfortunate class—may be the one with which his name will be most
intimately associated.



                  CIRCUIT TOUR WITH MY DAUGHTER, 1890

I had been appointed by Presbytery to organize in Chieng Rāi the church
which was not found ready for organization on my previous visit. I had
planned for a tour longer than usual, to include the eastern provinces
as far as Nān, as well as the northern ones, and expected to take with
me native assistants only. But upon the arrival of our reinforcement, I
was no less surprised than delighted to find that my daughter desired to
accompany me; and so it was arranged.

Starting on February 5th, we spent the first Sunday in Lakawn. Here we
met another surprise. Mr. Taylor had spent his first year in that
annoying work for the new missionary, the building of a house. He was
anxious to get out among the people, but feared he was not sufficiently
versed in the language to make profitable a tour alone. He and Mrs.
Taylor would join us if they could get elephants—a matter which was
easily arranged. Mr. Taylor proved to be an efficient helper. My
daughter had a delightful companion, and it was a great pleasure to
initiate the new missionaries into the evangelistic work which Dr. and
Mrs. Taylor since then have carried on so successfully for twenty years.
It is still their delight—may they live to carry it on for many years to

One of the chief diversions of the trip thenceforward was afforded by
the pranks of an uncommonly mischievous baby-elephant which accompanied
its mother. On one occasion a footman coming towards us stepped out of
the trail and stood beside a large tree to let us pass. The mischievous
creature saw his opportunity, and before the man knew what was up, he
found himself fast pinioned between the elephant’s head and the tree
trunk. The frightened man extricated himself with loud outcry, while the
beholders were convulsed with laughter. Our own men were constantly the
victims of his pranks; so that, one day, I told them that there would be
no trouble if they would only leave the creature alone—adding, by way of
clinching my advice, “You see, he never troubles me.” Just then, to the
great delight of all, he made straight for me, and if there had been a
tree behind me I should have been in the same unpleasant position in
which the footman found himself.

Mr. Taylor’s account of the earlier portion of the trip is as follows:

    “We left Lakawn on the 12th of February with Dr. McGilvary and
    his daughter, and in four days reached Mûang Prê. Our tents were
    pitched by the road just outside the city gate. The advent of
    four foreigners, two of whom were women, created quite a stir;
    and we were all kept abundantly busy in visiting and being
    visited. Mrs. Taylor and Miss McGilvary were the first white
    ladies to visit the place; and of course, much to their own
    discomfort, were the centre of attraction....

    “The people of Prê seemed very ready to listen to the Gospel; so
    plenty of auditors were found everywhere. On Sabbath, the 16th,
    the first convert in Prê was baptized. He is a blind man, Noi
    Wong by name, who came to Lakawn to have Dr. Peoples operate on
    his eyes; but as nothing could be done for him, he returned home
    carrying in his heart some of the teachings there received, and
    in his hand a manuscript copy of a small catechism I was able to
    spare him. From his answers before the session, it was evident
    that he had used his brother’s eyes well in having it read to

    “On Wednesday we started on for Nān, and arrived there the
    following Tuesday. We received a very cordial welcome from the
    officials of that city, who sent a man to put in order a
    rest-house for us, and another to conduct our elephants to a
    place for food and water. Next day, after the court closed,
    some of the officials came to visit us. After wading through
    the crowds on the first and second verandas, and finally
    planting himself cross-legged in the middle of the thronged
    reception-room, their Chief said they thought we would be
    lonesome; so they had come to visit us. No idea could have
    been more comical to us; but he was seriously in earnest, and
    explained that he had never known the people to visit with
    other foreigners who had come to their city. They would not,
    however, listen well when the subject of religion was
    broached, and with one or two exceptions would not attend any
    of our services.”

The morning after our arrival in Nān, my daughter met in the
market-place a daughter of the Prince, and, before she was aware, found
herself escorted into the palace. Her newly recovered language stood her
in good stead, and she had a pleasant talk with the Prince and his
daughters and wives. Next day he sent word that he would be pleased to
give our party an audience. He was of venerable age, and second only to
our Chiengmai Prince in his influence at the court of Bangkok. He
expressed his pleasure at our visit to his country. He was too old to
embrace a new religion. We might teach his children and grandchildren.
What they would do he did not know.

At Nān the Taylors left us, returning to their station, while we
journeyed on. Our next stage was Chieng Kawng, one hundred and fifty
miles to the northwest. We usually stopped for the night at large
villages, or sometimes in small towns. But once we spent two days in the
forest, where bears, tigers, and wild elephants abound. The first
evening we just missed the sight of three tigers. Our men had gone on
ahead to select a camping-place for the night, and saw a mother with two
cubs crossing the road. Next morning one of my elephants, that had been
hobbled and turned loose, was not on hand. It was nothing unusual for
one of them to be a little belated, so we loaded up the others and
prepared for starting. But when an hour had passed, and then two hours,
and the elephant still did not come, we unloaded them and waited a long
weary day and an anxious night. Early next morning, however, the driver
appeared. That was a relief, but still there was no elephant. He had
followed her trail over the mountain ridge, down gorges, and across
knolls, till, tired and hungry, he had retraced his steps. Night
overtook him, and, crouched under a tree, he had caught snatches of
sleep while keeping watch for tigers. For two nights and a day he had
not tasted food. With an elephant’s instinct, the beast was making her
way towards her old range in Chieng Rāi, many days distant. It was a
relief to know that she had not joined a large wild herd, in which case
her capture would be practically impossible.

We could not remain indefinitely in the forest. So giving the driver
food, a gun, and two carriers for company, with instructions not to
return till the elephant was found, we moved on five or six miles to the
next village, Bān Kêm. This was the noon of Wednesday. Our detention
seemed providential. We found the place fever-stricken. Our medicines at
once made us friends. Our tent was crowded with visitors, so that I had
little time to think of the lost elephant. The people seemed hungry for
the Gospel. Three substantial men in the village, on the night before we
left, professed a sincere and cordial acceptance of Jesus as their

On Saturday, shortly after midday, there was a shout, “Here comes Lung
Noi with the elephant!” I was both glad and sorry to hear it. Had I been
alone, I should have remained longer. But we had lost so much time, that
every one was eager to depart. I promised if possible to come again, but
the time never came.

Chieng Kawng was our next point, a place I had visited with Dr. Vrooman
seventeen years before. The young lad who then was so much interested in
my repeating rifle was now governor, and came running out, bareheaded
and barefooted, to welcome us. In the interval I had met him from time
to time in Chiengmai, and he always begged that I would make him another
visit. I had been better than my word—I had come at last, and brought my
daughter, too. His brother, the second governor, had seen us in time to
don his audience dress, and he appeared more like a white man than any
one we had seen since the Taylors left us. He was ready to start on an
expedition to Mûang Sing, five days northward beyond the Mê Kōng. The
Prince of Nān had received permission from the King of Siam to repeople
that old province. Hence this expedition. The leader had three hundred
men, and gave me a cordial invitation to go as chaplain and physician!
After this, while the work was well under way, the territory was turned
over to France as the result of the long and troubled negotiations over
the boundary between Siam and French Indo-China.

The wives of both the governors could scarcely be content with my
daughter’s short stay. They would surely become Christians, if she would
remain one month to teach them. All I could do was to promise once more
to come again if possible. The promised visit was made two years later,
but then the “Nāi” was not along.

From there the only travelled route to Chieng Sên was by Chieng Rāi,
both hot and circuitous. The alternative was a blind, untravelled track
through the forest, made over forty years before, when Siam sent its
last unfortunate expedition against Keng Tung. Here was a tempting
chance to test the old proverb, Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The
governor procured a noted hunter to guide us. Every carrier and driver
and servant in the party carried his bush knife, and all promised to aid
if we only would take the cooler road. It was, however, literally making
in the forest “a highway for our God,” over which several missionary
tours have since been made. In the denser parts of the forest, we could
force our way only by cutting away branches and small trees, and at
times felling clumps of bamboo.

We had a cool place for rest and worship on Sunday. Our hunter had not
promised to keep the Sabbath, and we were on his old hunting-grounds,
where game of all kinds abounded. At dawn he was off with his gun, and
we saw no more of him till sunset, when he appeared smiling, with some
choice cuts of beef hanging from the barrel of his gun. He had found and
followed, all day, a herd of wild cattle—the Kating—and succeeded in
killing one of them near our road, a mile or more ahead of our camp.
Though killed on Sunday, we ate it and asked no questions for
conscience’ sake. It was surely the most delicious beef we ever tasted.
We should have had a mutiny the next day, had we proposed to pass on
without stopping to save the meat. And what a huge creature it was. It
must have weighed nearly a ton. Our men extemporized frames over the
fire, and were busy cutting up the meat and drying it until late at
night. Next day each man went loaded with it to his utmost capacity.
What we could not carry away, the guide stored in the fork of a tree
against his return.

The journey through the forest was shorter and far more comfortable than
would have been the regular route. When next I travelled it, it had
become a public highway. And as long as I continued to journey that way,
it was known as the “Teacher’s Road.”

Chieng Sên was the limit of our trip. Before reaching it, we began to
hear rumours of war—that the city was blockaded, no one being permitted
to enter or depart. The country population had been called in to defend
the city, etc., etc. We were advised to return, but kept on. At the gate
the guard admitted us without difficulty.

The disturbance was the aftermath of the previous year’s tax-rebellion,
which, as we supposed, was completely ended before we left home. But a
portion of the insurgents had fled to Keng Tung, and, gathering there a
larger force, came south again as far as Mûang Fāng, where they were
either captured or again scattered. It was the fear that this lawless
band, on its retreat northward, might attack and plunder the city, that
caused the confusion. But the fugitives would have been fools to linger
about two weeks after their defeat, when they knew that both the army
behind them and the country in front of them would be on the alert for
their capture. The governor was delighted to see us, and we were able in
some degree to allay his fears. We were there, too, to speak a word of
comfort to our own flock, who, like the rest, had been called in to
protect the city. The panic gradually subsided, and the people returned
to their homes. Owing in part to the unsettled condition of the country,
we did not remain long in Chieng Sên; but long enough to visit in their
homes every Christian family save one, and to have a delightful
communion season with the church on Sunday.

Our special commission on this tour was to organize a church in Chieng
Rāi, where our next Sunday was spent. Our governor friend was
disappointed that we had not come to take possession of the fine lot on
the bank of the Mê Kok which he had given us. At his suggestion a house
on it was purchased from his son at a nominal price, with the promise
that we would urge the mission to occupy it the next year. On April
13th, the three sections of the church assembled by invitation at Mê
Kawn. The obstacles which prevented the organization before were now
removed. Fifty-one communicants and thirty-two non-communing members
were enrolled, two ruling elders were elected and ordained, and the new
church started with fair prospects.

We reached home on April 29th, after an absence of eighty-one days. We
found all well, and the work prospering along all the lines. It was none
too soon, however. We were just in time to escape the rise of the
streams. At our last encampment on the Mê Kūang we had a great storm of
wind and rain, with trees and branches falling about us. The trip was a
long one for my daughter; but her presence greatly enhanced the
importance of the tour. On my subsequent tours through that region the
first question always was, “Did you bring the Nāi?” and the second, “Why

On our return we were surprised to find Dr. McKean in a new and
comfortable teak house, toward the erection of which neither axe nor saw
nor plane had been used when we left. The saw-mill could deliver at once
whatever was needed. But _my_ house had been seven years in building!

By this time nearly all the Lāo cities of Siam had been visited by
missionaries. In two of them—Chiengmai and Lakawn—we had established
permanent stations. For the third station, Chieng Rāi seemed to present
the strongest claim. Politically it was not so important as Nān. But
Nān, while very cordial to foreigners personally, was very jealous about
admitting foreign influence of any kind. And the absolute control of the
people by the princes of Nān would be an obstacle in the way of the
acceptance of Christianity there until the princes themselves embraced
it. In Chieng Rāi province the governor was known to be favourable to
the Jesus-religion. Its broad plains and fertile soil were sure to
attract a large immigration from the south, where population is dense
and land very dear. The city is about equidistant from the five cities
of Wieng Pā Pāo on the south, Mûang Fāng on the west, Chieng Sên on the
north, Chieng Kawng on the northeast, and Chieng Kam on the east. In our
reports to the mission and to the Board, these facts were urged as
arguments for the establishment of a station there. The mission gave its
cordial sanction to a temporary occupancy. A longer tour was authorized
for the next season; but the heavy debt of the Board forbade the
expenditure of more than two hundred and fifty rupees for a temporary
house in order to secure the land which had been given us. Our long
delay sorely shook the good governor’s faith that we would ever come.

The arrival of young missionaries on the field rendered some kind of
physical and social recreation necessary. Croquet had formerly been
tried, but it gave very little exercise, and had been supplanted by the
better game of lawn tennis. In the fall of 1890, Mrs. McGilvary prepared
a court in our front lot, and invited the missionaries and the small
European community to an “At Home” on Tuesdays at 4:30 P.M. The game
furnished the very exercise needed after a day’s confinement in school
or study. It proved so beneficial to health and to efficiency in work,
that the “At Home” was continued, with occasional interruptions from
weather or other causes, for thirteen or fourteen years. This was Mrs.
McGilvary’s little contribution to the health and the social recreation
of the community in which we lived; and it was highly appreciated.

In August I had occasion to visit Wieng Pā Pāo. Before I was out of the
Chiengmai plain I had an exciting runaway on my big sadaw elephant. A
mother cow was grazing at some little distance from her calf. As the
elephant approached the calf, the mother became alarmed for its safety,
and rushed frantically towards it, bellowing to the utmost capacity of
her lungs. This was quite too much for my big timid beast. He started
off at a fearful pace, which the driver in vain endeavoured to control.
Fortunately it was on an open plain with no woods or trees. The same
elephant on a previous occasion, when Mrs. McGilvary was riding him, on
some slight alarm rushed off into a thicket of low trees; and once, with
me on his back, went crashing through the standing timber in the forest.
In both cases it was nothing but the strength of the three-strand rattan
girth that saved either howdah or rider. The elephant’s fastest run is
not a “lope,” but a kind of long swing from side to side. It is an awful
sensation. I never was in an earthquake, but I imagine the two
experiences must be somewhat similar, with the fear in this case of
being at any instant dashed from your lofty perch to the ground.

The special reason for this trip was the fear of some collision or
trouble between the government and the Christians with regard to the
Sunday question. Besides keeping their own Sabbath, the Christians were
forbidden to do any manual work on the Buddhist sacred days as well,
making altogether eight days in each month. Had the rule been the
outcome of conscientious scruples on the part of a religious people at
seeing their sacred day desecrated, we should have respected their
scruples. But the day was a mere holiday, and, except by a few of the
more religious, it was largely spent in hunting and fishing. I had to
remind the governor of his beautiful inconsistency. He would not allow
the Christians to use an axe or a plow on sacred days, while the people
generally were allowed to kill animals, thus breaking the most stringent
of Buddha’s laws. He must have felt the force of the argument, for
before the very next sacred day an order was issued forbidding hunting
and fishing on it.





But till the original order was revoked, strict obedience was enjoined
upon the Christians.

The Annual Meeting was held in Lakawn early in December. Just before it
convened, Dr. and Mrs. W. A. Briggs and Rev. Robert Irwin arrived,
together with Dr. and Mrs. Peoples, returning from furlough. For the
present these were stationed at Lakawn. At the same time Rev. and Mrs.
Stanley K. Phraner were nearing Chiengmai on the Mê Ping fork. But our
song of joy over their arrival was destined soon again to have a sad
refrain. The two young brides had scarcely reached their husbands’ field
of labour—which they thought was to be theirs also—when they were both
called to a higher sphere.




While in the United States, Dr. Peoples had succeeded in procuring a
font of Lāo type, with the necessary equipment for printing. For
twenty-three years we had used only the Siamese Scriptures and
literature. With many present disadvantages, it had some compensations.
Those who could read Siamese had access to the whole of the Old and New
Testaments. The press was set up in Chiengmai, and Rev. D. G. Collins
was made manager. The first printing done was Mrs. McGilvary’s
translation of the Gospel of Matthew.

My daughter had been sent down to aid the Phraners on their river trip.
Word was sent ahead that Mrs. Phraner was not well. As they drew nearer,
her condition became so critical that Dr. McKean hastened with all speed
to meet them. When she reached Chiengmai, her condition, while still
critical, was more hopeful. I was ready to start on my tour as soon as
the party arrived. When I left home, we were still hopeful that rest,
kind nursing, and medical treatment would set her right again.

During my absence this year I was fortunate enough to receive a regular
weekly mail from Chiengmai. A staff of engineers were surveying a
railroad route for the Siamese government, and had a weekly mail sent to
their stations along the line. They were very kind to include my letters
also, which was particularly fortunate in that thus I could have news of
the invalid left behind.

I have learned to start on my tours with very flexible plans, leaving
much to the guidance of providential openings on the way. On this trip,
at the village of Pāng Krai—which, because it was a mile or two away
from the road, I had not visited in seventeen years—I was delayed three
days by a reception so cordial that I could not pass on. On my previous
trip a man from the village, Noi Tēchō by name, came with his little
girl across to our camp and begged us to visit it. This I could not then
do; but he remained with us till late at night, and seemed to be a
believer. I now found that in the interval the man had kept the Sabbath,
and had given such other evidence of his sincerity, that we could not
refuse his reception to the communion and fellowship of the church. On
the last night of our stay we had a baptismal and communion service that
was memorable. The man made a good confession before many witnesses, and
his little daughter was baptized as a non-communing member.

As in many other cases, this family had been driven by trouble to our
religion. Originally he was the slave of a prince in Lakawn. The
accusation of witchcraft then settled on the family; but before they
were driven off the Prince compelled them to borrow money in order to
redeem themselves from him—to do which the man had to give two of his
children as security. After a move or two, he was driven by famine from
Lakawn, and came to this village.

One morning at Wieng Pā Pāo I was summoned in great haste to attend one
of the engineers who was thought to have been nearly killed by a fall
from a runaway horse. I found that he had broken a collar-bone, but was
otherwise uninjured. I applied all of my amateur surgical skill, and set
the bone. But my patient, naturally enough, could not feel quite sure;
and thought it safer to go down to our hospital and get Dr. McKean’s
judgment on the case. He found the bone set all right.

Late one Saturday evening I reached Bān Pā Hōng in Chieng Rāi province,
and stopped with the first Christian family. Next day I learned that in
the next section of the village there was a Christian girl very low with
consumption. Early on Monday morning I moved on, but was only in time to
see a lovely form and face apparently in the most natural sleep; but the
living soul had departed. I had baptized her two years before, when she
was fourteen years of age. She had been sick for seven months, and had
spent most of the time in prayer. It made me inexpressibly sad when I
learned that her strongest desire was to see her own “Paw Krū” before
she departed. On the previous evening, when she heard that we had
reached the village near by, she said, “And the Paw Krū is at Noi Lin’s,
and I cannot see him!” I preached her funeral sermon, and saw her
decently buried.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The next Sunday morning, while sitting in the Mê Kawn chapel and
preparing for service, I looked up and saw standing on the ground before
the door some people in a strange costume evidently not Lāo, looking in
as if in doubt whether to enter or not. I immediately recognized them as
belonging to the Mūsô tribe, quite numerous in the mountains near by.
Their ready acceptance of my invitation to come in showed that they were
waiting to be asked, and feared only lest they might be intruders. As
the Mūsôs will be prominent in our narrative of this and the two
following years, a word of introduction may be desirable.

They are one of a numerous group of hill-tribes which have gradually
followed the mountain ridges down from the interior of the continent.
They live under a patriarchal government, if it may be rightly called a
government at all; and they enjoy great personal freedom, though the
authority of the clan approaches very near to absolute despotism. They
are worshippers of spirits, which are held to preside over the universe
and the destinies of men generally; while as a tribe they are under the
guardianship of their own “spirits.” They have a twelfth—day sabbath or
sacred day, not very definitely marked. They make a great deal of their
“kin waw” or New Year feast, when all communication with other villages
even of their own tribe is cut off during the five or seven days of
their feasting. The religious head of the village is called Pū Chān, and
the head Pū Chān of a province holds in his hands the conscience of all
his flock.

Their manner of life is as follows: They select a locality, the higher
up the better, near the source of a mountain brook. They fell the trees
and undergrowth at the close of the rainy season, let them dry during
the hot season, and just before the next rainy season set fire to the
clearing on a windy day. All that is readily combustible is consumed,
leaving the logs on the ground. With a small hoe or a narrow spade they
make shallow openings in the earth some ten inches apart, all over the
field, and deposit in each a dozen rice grains, more or less. The rains
do the rest till the harvest. The second year’s crop is the best, but it
is seldom that they can compete with the scrub-growth for a third crop.
A temporary shack is easily erected, if possible, contiguous to three
clearings. When these are abandoned, they move on and repeat the
operation elsewhere. By this means all the higher mountains are being
steadily denuded of their forests.

Being bound by no system of hoary age and venerable associations, like
Buddhism or Brahmanism, most of the hill-tribes are very receptive of
the Gospel. Their clannishness, however, is such that if they become
Christians at all, they come in a body. But it is very difficult for
individuals or families to break away from the clan. At the same time
their migratory and unsettled habits are by no means favourable to their
education and civilization. To any other power than that of the Gospel
that would seem to be a hopeless task.

But to return to our visitors at the chapel. There were seven men and
boys in the party. The spokesman, Cha Pū Kaw, was tall and well
proportioned, with the bearing of one who might be a leader of some
position. He understood Lāo better than most of his tribe, and through
him it was by no means difficult to draw the others into conversation.
They were from three families that had been driven down nearer the plain
by accusation of witchcraft. They had learned from our elder that
Christians were not afraid of witchcraft, nor of expulsion from the
country. They had also talked over with him the plan of salvation for
sinful men provided in the Gospel, and had asked to be informed whenever
we should come again. They readily consented to remain through the
morning service, which was modified to suit the needs of the new
audience. It was the first Christian worship they had ever attended, and
they were evidently pleased. The Christians invited them to share their
dinner, and the most of the afternoon was given up to their instruction.
The boys were put to reading the catechism and learning to sing the Lāo
version of “There is a Happy Land.” They remained with us till there was
only light enough left to enable them to find their way home.

Early next morning we crossed the plain to the foot of the mountain,
where we struck the little brook along which and in which lay our
pathway. The climb was a stiff one, but with noble outlooks over the
plain below. In their little hamlet there were three families, or,
rather, three divisions of one family, numbering twenty-six souls. By
their intercourse with the Christians at the chapel the soil had been
prepared for the seed. So from nine o’clock till noon we addressed
ourselves to teaching the elders, while the children were becoming more
and more interested in the catechism, and especially in the “Happy

While the men and boys were thus engaged, the grandmother and her
daughters were busy preparing dinner. When all was ready, the steaming
white rice was emptied on a board like that on which our housewives
knead their bread. With it was a vegetable curry, sweet potatoes steamed
over the rice, bananas, and other fruits, with native sugar in cakes for
dessert. The board piled with food was set before me, and I was invited
to partake. They were delighted that I could eat and enjoy it.

After all had finished their meal, the exercises of the morning were
resumed, with the women now disengaged and free to listen. Long before
night Cha Pū Kaw and his brother-in-law, Cha Waw, of about the same age,
expressed their firm belief in the truth of our religion, and their
acceptance of the Gospel offer as far as they understood it. The women
said they would follow their husbands. The sun was already getting low
when we had worship together before leaving. When we came to bid our
hosts good-bye, we found that we were to be escorted down by the two
elder men and the boys, lest a tiger might meet us on the way. It was
almost dark when we reached the chapel.—A day never to be forgotten!

At the chapel I found letters from Chiengmai bringing the news that Mrs.
Phraner’s long and painful sufferings were ended. She died on February
13th. All that three able physicians could do was done; but in vain. Her
mother and her family were never willing that she should become a
missionary, being sure that she could not endure the strain of a
missionary’s life. That fact filled the husband’s cup of sorrow to
overflowing. My letter stated that he was beside himself with grief;
that the physicians, and, in fact, the whole mission, strongly advised
him to join me on my tour; and that he would reach me not long after the

On the following Friday, while getting the new chapel ready, I heard the
shout, “There comes the new teacher!” He was worn and haggard, and
visibly older than when I left him; but making a brave effort to be
cheerful. He said very little of his great loss.



On Sunday the whole Mūsô village was on hand long before the hour for
worship. The women came with their babes tied with a scarf to the
mother’s back, according to their custom. The news that they were become
Christians had spread, and drew a larger number than usual of our
non-Christian neighbours to the services. The Christians, too, were
greatly encouraged thereby. In the afternoon a few of the tribe from
another village were present, and listened with surprise to Cha Pū Kaw’s
first sermon. He had evidently entered upon his new faith in earnest,
and was not ashamed to bear his testimony.

On Monday we moved on to Chieng Rāi, where I was to direct the removal
of a house to the lot which the Governor had offered us. But Mr.
Phraner’s condition demanded movement and change of scene. Arrangements
were, therefore, made to have the house moved by others, while we went
on at once to Chieng Sên. There we found the Chao Uparāt just returned
from a trip via Mûang Len to Mûang Sing, some hundred miles or so to the
northeast on the other side of the Mê Kōng River. He was profuse in his
praise both of Mûang Sing and of the journey thither; and suggested that
it would be a fine opening for a mission, and a most interesting tour.
The suggestion seemed attractive to us both. So, after a week of work in
the church and in the city of Chieng Sên, we started for Mûang Len and
Mûang Sing.

Mûang Len is the common market centre of a large number of hill-tribes
that inhabit the mountain ridges in all directions round about. All the
cities and towns north of Chieng Sên hold a fifth-day fair or market. We
were fortunate in striking market-day on the Saturday of our arrival.
Early in the morning people began to pour into the place from all
directions. The mountain tribes came out, their beaux and belles all in
gala dress, some to buy and sell, and others because it was their weekly

From Chieng Sên I had brought along Nān Suwan, the Lû elder, who had
come into closer contact with these mountain tribes than had our elders
from the south. He could make the men, and especially the head men,
understand fairly well. To all who understood the Lāo I could, of
course, speak directly. We took our stand at the end of the market, and
the crowd gathered about us. None of them had ever seen a missionary.
None, save some few of the Lāo men, had ever read a book, or knew even a
letter of any written language. They were children of nature, artless
and unsophisticated. We pressed home the thought, new to them, that
there must be a maker of the world and of all creatures in it. We told
them the old, old story of the infinite love of God, our Father, and of
Christ, His Son, who suffered and died to save us, and of pardon freely
promised to all who believe in Him. This is the final argument that wins
these people.

After the merely curious among the crowd had withdrawn, this doctrine of
salvation from sin held the more thoughtful, and brought them to our
tent in the afternoon, and even far on into the night. The head men
especially, who were more free to come to me, expressed a deep personal
interest in the new doctrine. The most interested and interesting man
was Sên Ratana, the governor of the Kôn quarter of the city. We met him
on Sunday. On Monday we called on him and spent most of the morning at
his house, explaining to him the plan of salvation and dictating to him
portions of Scripture for him to copy; for by this time the Lāo
manuscript copies which we brought with us were exhausted. He copied,
also, the first few questions and answers of the Shorter Catechism,
hoping that with these as a key, he could learn to read the Siamese
Gospel and catechism which I gave him.

On our return to our tent on Monday evening we found almost a panic
among our people. Some lawless men had lounged about the tent most of
the day, asking suspicious questions about how much money we carried,
and how many guns, and whither we were going from there, etc., etc. The
result was that those who had been most eager for the trip beyond the Mê
Kōng to Mûang Sing, began now to beg us to return. Mr. Phraner,
moreover, became uneasy about his borrowed elephant, which would be a
great prize for robbers. So, after consultation, it was decided to
retrace our steps. However disappointing this might be to me, I had at
least learned the road to Mûang Sing and Mûang Yawng. The tour to both
those places, and to many others, was only deferred to the following
year, when we might hope to have at least one printed Gospel in the Lāo
language, and a tract or two to distribute. The news of Cha Pū Kaw’s
conversion spread far and wide, and was preparing the way for further
work among his tribe.

Leaving Mûang Len on Wednesday, we breathed more freely after we had
crossed the border into Siam. On reaching Chieng Sên, Mr. Phraner
decided to return to Chiengmai. He had reaped all the benefit possible
from change of scene. He felt that he ought now to be in his future
home, settling down to a systematic study of the language. But I greatly
missed his pleasant company.

The object of the missionary’s visit to an outlying church like that of
Chieng Sên, is to “lengthen the cords and strengthen the stakes”—to
awaken the careless, to attract the indifferent, and to deepen
impressions already made. Within the range of influence of such a church
there are always those who, though taught, indeed, by its native
officers, still need further instruction by the missionary—who have
objections to be met and doubts to be resolved beyond the power of these
officers to cope with. Not infrequently some one who is already a
believer has a wife, a husband, or children on whom his own final
decision depends. These must be visited in their homes. Their confidence
must be won and their friendship gained as a preliminary to awakening
their interest in our religion.

For the sake of the Christians personally, as well as for the work in
general, it is important to cultivate the friendship of the local
rulers. It is to them that the Christians are responsible. And then the
Christian families must be visited, their children instructed, their
difficulties settled, their sick be treated, and instructed how to treat
themselves in our absence; and as much Scriptural teaching is to be
given as our time by night and by day will permit. But our most
important duty is to instruct the elders themselves, and give them an

When my work in Chieng Sên was done, I started for Chieng Kawng, taking
Nān Suwan along, for he was well known there and in most of the region
to be visited as far as Chieng Rāi. The Mê Tam, already referred to as
the stream which rises from under the mountain west of the plain,
becomes quite a river as it enters the Mê Kōng near Chieng Sên. The
bottom land is covered with reedy grass so tall that a large elephant
carrying a high howdah can be seen only a short distance away. Here we
lost our way completely, and wandered about bewildered for a long time.

When finally we reached the stream, its trough was so deep that we
failed in a number of attempts to get down to the water. At last we dug
down as best we could the edge of the high sandy bank, and, after much
urging, and some protest on his part, my sadaw tremblingly reached forth
his front feet, lay down, and slid like an alligator, dragging his hind
legs after him, till, with a mighty plunge, we landed in deep water. It
was an awful sensation for the rider. The place was in a bayou with
“back water” so deep as to be quite over one’s head; and, unlike the
natives, the rider could not swim! The landing on the further shore was
little better. There the elephant struggled up the bank until he got his
forefeet on the edge above. Then, with a gigantic effort, he drew
himself up so suddenly that the rider had to hold on for dear life to
avoid being thrown over his head. It was a feat that only an elephant
could perform, and one would much prefer witnessing it from a distance
to being on his back during the operation.

At Chieng Kawng I was sorry to find the governor sadly crippled. In
descending a flight of steps he had slipped to the ground, dislocating
his ankle and bruising the bone. The joint had been barbarously treated,
was fearfully swollen, and caries of the bone had evidently set in. I
urged him to take an elephant and go to our hospital, as the only
possible chance of cure. He was favourably inclined to the idea, and
promised to do so after trying somewhat longer the incantations of a
noted sorceress, who was believed to have great power over wounds. It
almost passes belief that such an intelligent man could have any faith
in it. Yet reason and ridicule alike failed to dispel the hope that she
might succeed. The result might have been predicted. After giving him
great suffering, the treatment cost him his life.

While I was in Chieng Kawng, a Nān prince returning from Mûang Sing
brought the news that negotiations then on foot between France and Siam
would put a stop to all further settlement of that district; would, in
fact, transfer the whole region east of the Mê Kōng to France. The
Prince of Nān was greatly disappointed; but little did we think that the
transfer would ultimately prove an effectual barrier to our work also.
It is surely one of the anomalies and anachronisms of the twentieth
century that a Christian nation of Europe should oppose the introduction
of Christianity into a region over which it has absolute control!

On the last night before we left, all the princes and officers came to
see us, and remained till midnight. They were as loath to have us leave
them as we were to go.

The journey from Chieng Kawng was intensely hot; the thermometer
standing at 103° in my howdah by day, and on one night in my tent at
96°. On the banks of the Mê Ing I found native white roses in bloom in
abundance, and brought home with me a plant which Mrs. McGilvary greatly
prized, for this was the only native rose I had found in the Lāo

On the way to Mûang Tông I passed the camp of Chao Wieng Sā, a Nān
prince whom I had met in his home on two former visits. He was
overseeing the felling and running of teak timber down the Mê Ing and
the Mê Kōng to Lūang Prabāng. He had received and read a Siamese New
Testament, was quite familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus, and
admired His character. A lawsuit afterwards brought him to Chiengmai,
where I saw a great deal of him. He was surely a believer at heart. To
me he was willing to confess that his only hope was in Jesus Christ, but
was not ready to make a public profession of his faith. I love to think
of many such whom I have met as like the Gamaliels, the Nicodemuses, and
the Josephs of Christ’s day.



At Mûang Tông, as soon as I dismounted from my elephant an officer met
me to enquire who I was, and to escort me to the public sālā. I soon
learned that he was the brother of another officer whom I had found on
the road to Chieng Rāi the year before, unable to travel and,
apparently, sick unto death with fever. His company could not linger
indefinitely in the forest, and so had left him there with two men to
watch him, and probably to see him die. A dose of calomel, and the
quinine which I left with instructions as to its use, seem to have cured
his fever and enabled him to reach his home in safety. He was himself
now absent, but his brother’s heart had been opened to friendship, and
he did all that he could for my comfort. At night he invited his friends
to the sālā to meet me, and we had an interesting evening. In all these
places Nān Suwan and Noi Siri would often be heard talking to the
audience after I had retired, and until sleep closed my eyes.

During our absence from Chieng Rāi a case of oppression, or, at least,
of evident injustice, on the part of the Court, had led our friend the
governor to take all Christians under his personal protection as his own
dependents. The kindness was well meant, and we thanked him for it. But
I doubted its wisdom. The only scheme under which Christianity can
really establish itself in all lands, is to have Christians stand on
precisely the same level before the law as Buddhists or Brahmans or the
followers of any other religion.

From Chieng Rāi the elders were sent on to Cha Pū Kaw’s village to see
how the Mūsôs were getting on. I followed them in a day or two. When I
reached the chapel at Mê Kawn, the elders had returned from the Mūsô
village with a glowing account of their constancy. This the testimony of
Noi Tāliya and of all the Lāo Christians confirmed. They had not missed
a single Sunday service; old and young alike came, and mothers, as
before, bringing their children tied on their backs. They had shamed the
Lāo Christians by their earnestness, getting to the chapel first,
studying hard, and returning home late.

On Saturday morning the whole village came down, and we spent the day
together. They remained that night as the guests of the Lāo. The next
day, Sunday, was largely given up to their instruction. They all had
renounced the worship of spirits; they all accepted Jesus as their
Saviour; they were all diligently learning to read and to sing. Their
conduct was most consistent; they had a good reflex influence upon the
church; and their conversion was an astonishment to the non-Christian

These Mūsôs had all come, expecting to join the church. They had been
taught that public baptism—confessing Christ before men—was the
consummating act, the external seal of their initiation into the
privileges of the church. Although we impressed upon them that they were
not saved by the mere ceremony of baptism, yet somehow they felt that
without it they were not quite in the church, and hence probably not
quite safe from the spirits. Since it would be nearly a year before they
would have another opportunity, it seemed unwise not to receive some of
them at this time. The greatest doubt was about Cha Waw. Yet he felt
that more than any other he needed whatever protection and assistance
the church could afford him. He had begun with his whole strength to
break the chains of his opium habit, to seek pardon and be saved. He
felt confident that with God’s help he would succeed.

The final decision was that, in order to bind them to the service of
Christ, they were all to appear before the session and make their
profession; but that only the two old men should be received into full
communion, and that one grandson from each family be baptized as
non-communing members. It was thought best to let the others wait till
our next visit; though I have never been satisfied that they should not
all have been admitted that day. Three of these Mūsô boys accompanied me
to Chiengmai on my return, and entered the Boys’ School. It is not at
all surprising that, in surroundings so different from those of their
mountain homes, they presently grew lonesome and homesick. But they were
satisfactory pupils, and remained in school long enough to get a good
start in reading and singing.

Cha Waw, after a manful struggle, finally succeeded in breaking away
entirely from his opium—by the help of prayer and of quinine, as he
always believed and affirmed. When the non-Christian tribesmen with
their opium pipes visited his village, he was accustomed to go down to
the elders at Mê Kawn, to be away from temptation, and under Christian
influence. He lived a number of years after this to attest the reality
of his victory—the only case I have ever known where the victory was
surely won.

That year there was a famine among all the hill tribes. The upland rice
was almost entirely cut off by a plague of rats. I do not believe in
“rice Christians”; but when people are famishing with hunger, I believe
in feeding them, whether they are Christians or not. These did not ask
either for money or for any other aid. But when I left them, I made
arrangement with the Lāo elders to furnish them with sixty buckets of
rice, for which I paid ten rupees in advance. They were very grateful
for the aid.

The days spent among the Mūsôs that week were inspiring. Glowing visions
arose before us of a new tribe brought into the Christian church, of
which these were the first-fruits. On this whole tour, indeed, only nine
adults and seventeen children were baptized. But in addition to the
opening of work among the Mūsôs, we had for the first time preached the
Gospel beyond the borders of the kingdom of Siam; and our longing eyes
were turned toward the Sipsawng Pannā, and beyond the great river. By
this time the rains had already begun to fall. A new season was needed
to fulfil our desires.

Much as I always enjoy my long tours, when my work is done and my face
at last is turned homewards, the gait of my sadaw seems distressingly
slow. On reaching Chiengmai I found all in fair health, and all
departments of work in full operation. But while I was still on my way,
word reached me of the death of Mrs. Briggs in Lakawn, only a month and
nine days after that of Mrs. Phraner. So unexpected was it that I was
not even aware that she had been ill. In answer to my request for a few
particulars from Dr. Briggs, I have received the following, which I know
he will excuse me for transferring to these pages:

    “MRS. ALICE HAMILTON BRIGGS was from Truro, Nova Scotia.
    Although within a year of graduation, she gave up her medical
    course and accompanied her husband to the Lāo mission in answer
    to the call of the Board. When she bade good-bye to the
    Secretaries of the Board, Dr. Gillespie said to her, ‘It is a
    pleasure to see you so robust and strong. In this respect you
    are better off than your husband. There have been so many
    missionary women who have broken down on the field, that we are
    glad to see that you have a reserve of health.’

    “Before leaving American shores, however, Mrs. Briggs contracted
    a slight cough which developed in severity during the voyage. On
    her arrival in Siam it became apparent that the case was one of
    pulmonary tuberculosis. The disease seemed to respond to
    treatment, and for months improvement was marked. Up to within
    twenty-four hours of death Mrs. Briggs was so hopeful of a
    return to health that she refused to allow her family at home to
    know of her condition. On Saturday she was cutting out a new
    dress for herself. On Sunday night she passed away. Dr. Briggs
    was spending the evening with her, when a call came to attend a
    child said to be dying just across the road. The doctor said he
    would be back soon. A few minutes later he was called back too
    late even to hear a last word of farewell.”

The event most interesting to us as a family during the fall of this
year, 1891, was the arrival of our son Evander with his young bride, and
our daughter Margaret, to carry on the work begun by their parents. Our
son had made special preparation for translating the Scriptures into the
Lāo language, then the most pressing need of the mission.




For the tour of 1892 I was to have the company of Dr. McKean as long as
he could be spared from Chiengmai, which would greatly enhance the value
of the trip. We had also three native evangelist-assistants, and, last,
but not least, we were well supplied with Scriptures and tracts in the
Lāo dialect. Our start was made on January 5th.

Our first two Sundays and the intervening week we spent in Wieng Pā Pāo,
where we established ourselves in the new chapel which the people
themselves had built since our last tour. We observed the Week of Prayer
with two chapel services daily, and house-to-house and heart-to-heart
work in the intervals. The church was formally organized with thirty-six
adult members and thirty children, three ruling elders, and two deacons.

From Wieng Pā Pāo we moved on to the village of Mê Kawn, the centre of
our very interesting work of the previous year among the Mūsô tribe. The
Sunday we spent there was a red-letter day in our missionary life. Of it
Dr. McKean writes: “This has been a blessed day. All [of the Mūsôs]
desire baptism. Two boys baptized last year were admitted to the
communion. Eleven other adults and seven children were baptized, making
twenty-two Mūsôs now members of the visible church. One Lāo girl was
received on confession, and three Lāo children were baptized. Our
Christian Mūsôs were out in full force. A Mūsô officer and others not
Christians attended from another village. Before this we had visited
these people in their homes. We found that they had built a good chapel
for their worship, a better building than either of their own houses.
They had been very diligent in observing the Sabbath, in studying the
catechism, and in worship.”

We could not have been better pleased with our first success. The
exclusion of this little group from the large villages made it possible
and easy for all of them to become Christians. The whole-hearted zeal
with which they entered the church awakened strong hopes for the
conversion of their race. Cha Pū Kaw’s knowledge of the Lāo tongue was
above the average even of their head men. It would be a long time before
we could have another such interpreter and assistant. And he was nearly,
or quite, seventy years old; so that whatever he was to do in teaching
his people must be done soon. It was, therefore, thought best to make a
strong effort through him and his family during that season.

At our next stopping-place, Nāng Lê, we came near having a serious
casualty. Our boys were out on a deer hunt, and one of them bethought
him of a novel expedient for getting the game. He climbed a tree, and
had the grass fired on the other side of the open space. The grass was
tall and dry, and the wind blew strong towards him. He became so
engrossed in looking for the deer that he forgot the fire, till it was
too late to flee. He could climb beyond the actual flames; but meanwhile
the whole air had become like the breath of a furnace. When, at last,
the fire had swept past him, and he was able to descend, he was a mass
of blisters. The swiftness of the rush of the fire alone saved his life.
Had it been slower, he could not have escaped suffocation.

From Nāng Lê we visited a very large Mūsô village. It was a steep
foot-climb of four solid hours, and, to make it longer, our guide missed
the way. The first sign of human life we saw was a Mūsô girl alone
watching a clearing. She fled for dear life, till, recognizing Cha Pū
Kaw’s Mūsô speech, she stopped long enough to point the way to the
village. Her fleet steps outran ours, and when we reached the village,
the people were already assembling to see the unwonted sight of the
white foreigners. But the community was greatly disturbed over another
matter. One of their leading officers, it seemed, was accused of being
the abode of a demon that had caused an epidemic of disease. The
authorities were hourly waiting for an order from the court in Chieng
Rāi to expel him and his family by force from the province. They had
heard of Cha Pū Kaw’s conversion, and were anxious to hear from himself
his reasons therefor—which he gave and enforced till late in the night.
They were expecting, however, on the morrow a regular conflict which
might result in bloodshed, and they evidently preferred that we should
not be there. The head Pū Chān was several days’ journey distant. They
would confer together among themselves and with him, would let us know
the result, and would invite us up again before we left their

About midnight a fierce storm of wind and rain broke upon us to our
great discomfort. Our thin tent afforded but poor protection. We doubled
up our bedding over our clothes, and sat upon the pile under our
umbrellas, and laughed at the novelty of our situation and the poor
prospect of a night’s sleep. But later the storm passed off, and we did
get a little sleep. Our visit to that group of Mūsô villages was
evidently not well timed. We took the advice of their officers, and
returned to Nāng Lê.

Two days later we reached Chieng Sên. Here we received a mail from home,
with news that Mrs. McKean was not well, and other members of the
station needed the doctor’s presence. It was expressed as “the unanimous
judgment of the station that he should return immediately.” We had
planned a regular campaign in the Mūsô districts on both sides of the Mê
Kōng—the sort of trip in which the medical missionary finds his best
opportunity. But the recall was so imperative that it could not be
ignored. So I was left to continue the work alone.

The Mūsô tribe was about equally numerous in the mountain ranges on both
sides of the big river. On the east side there were eleven villages. It
seemed advisable to take that section first, because they were under
Chieng Sên rulers, of whose cordial and sincere interest in our work we
were sure. Sên Chai, the head man of the large village nearest to the
city, was a friend of Nān Suwan, and was strongly inclined to embrace
our religion; but felt the difficulty of breaking the tribal bond.
Before this I had made him a visit of two or three days, and saw clearly
that our only chance of accomplishing anything was to gain all the head
men of the eleven villages. It was actually easier to win over the whole
as a unit than to win it piecemeal. This was a formidable task to
undertake, but with God’s blessing on the labours of Cha Pū Kaw and Nān
Suwan, it seemed not impossible.

We set out for the first village one morning shortly after ten o’clock.
It was four o’clock when we stopped for rest at the first cluster of
houses on the outskirts of the settlement. The news of our arrival soon
reached the main village. When we started again we met Sên Chai with a
regular serenade-party of men and boys with native reed instruments,
blowing their plaintive dirge-like music, to welcome us and escort us
in. Soon the population was all assembled—the maidens in their best
sarongs, the mothers and grandmothers each with an urchin strapped to
her back by her scarf, the men coming in from their work, and the
inevitable crowd of children. Cha Pū Kaw was already answering their
questions, with Nān Suwan’s sympathetic aid. They were respectfully shy,
but there was no cringing. Sên Chai invited the local Pū Chān and all
the villagers to assemble after their evening meal to hear the new
doctrines. We first had worship with singing, and prayer by Cha Pū Kaw.
It was the first time they had heard the Great Spirit addressed in their
own Mūsô tongue. There were frequent exclamations of delight that they
were able to understand every word.

And then, before that motley crowd, drinking with them their native tea
from an earthen teapot, the men seated close around, or reclining as
they smoke their pipes, the women and children walking about or sitting
on the ground—we tell of God the great Spirit, the Creator, and Father
of all—the Bible, His message to men—the incarnation, life, and death of
Christ, and redemption through His blood. Before we get through you will
hear man after man say, “I believe that. It is true.” One man takes up
the story from Cha Pū Kaw’s mouth and repeats it to another—a story that
till now he himself had never heard. Another says, “Nān Suwan has told
us this before, but now we hear it from the father-teacher.”

Before we retired that night Sên Chai said to us, with the approval of
most of his village, “Go on to Sên Bun Yūang and the head men of the
other villages. If they agree, we will all accept Christianity. One
village cannot accept it alone. If we do not ‘kin waw’ with them—join in
their New Year’s feast—we shall be treated as enemies by the whole

So, next morning, we set out to find the great Pū Chān—the religious
head of the province. On our way to his village we fell in with a man to
whom Cha Pū Kaw was speaking with great earnestness. I found on
approaching him that he was not a Mūsô, but a Kūi—of a tribe which we
had planned to visit later. He was the Pū Chān of his village. He had
already invited us through Cha Pū Kaw to change our plan, and visit his
village first. It was nearer than the village we were intending to
visit, and we were already tired enough with our climb to be willing to
stop at the nearest place.

The village was a large one, as mountain villages go—of twenty-five or
thirty houses, and from two hundred and fifty to three hundred souls—in
general not unlike the Mūsô villages we had seen. The Kūi language also,
while different from the Mūsô, is cognate with it, so that Cha Pū Kaw
could still act fairly well as our interpreter. His talk with the Pū
Chān on the way had already laid a good foundation for our work in the
evening, when curiosity and interest in our errand brought the whole
village together to hear Cha Pū Kaw’s new doctrine from his own lips.
The news of his conversion had already reached them, and he had made a
good impression on the religious head of the village.—And, then, it was
something new to see the Mūsô boys able to read and to sing. Nān Suwan
and Cha Pū Kaw led in prayer, the one in Lāo and the other in Mūsô. Then
our religion was explained in its two leading ideas—rejection of the
spirit-cult, and acceptance of Jesus for the pardon of sin and the life
eternal. Questions were asked and answered.

At last the Pū Chān suggested that, while we continued our reading and
singing with the women and children, he and the men, with Cha Pū Kaw,
withdraw to a neighbouring house and talk the matter over. It was
evident that they would be more at their ease by themselves, unawed by
the presence of the foreign teacher. For some two hours the debate
continued. I could hear their earnest voices from the neighbouring
house, with only now and then a Lāo word that I could understand. Then
they returned to make their report. With oriental politeness, they
expressed their gratitude to the “great teacher” who had come so far and
at such expense, and had brought with him a fellow-mountaineer of
theirs, to teach them, creatures of the jungle, the way to happiness.
They had talked these matters over, and understood them somewhat, but
not fully. Some were greatly pleased with the teachings, and believed
them true. But they could not yet come as an entire village, and they
dared not separate. Next morning we parted as friends. They were glad
that we had found the way to their village. “Be sure to come again!”
That I thought surely I should do; but this proved to be my only visit.

At the Sên Lūang’s village, where the great Pū Chān lived, we had the
same experience—a good reception, many apparently interested and anxious
to escape their own spirit-worship. A number of the head men said, “If
such and such a village accepts the Jesus-religion, we will.” But no one
could be found to face the clan and make a start.

Thinking that our native evangelists might get at the heart of the
people all the better if left to do it alone, and being anxious to get
my mail from home, I went down on Saturday to Nān Suwan’s to spend the
Sunday there with the Christians. On Tuesday, to my disappointment, the
evangelists returned to me discouraged. They were convinced that in the
district east of the Mê Kōng River, no break in the solidarity of the
clan could be accomplished that season.

But it was important not to leave these people with the impression that
we had abandoned them. I had left Sên Chai’s village with the promise to
return. So I went up with the Mūsô Christian boys, and spent a last
night with them. The village again assembled, and we had an interesting
evening. The Sên was greatly disappointed that none of the other
villages would join him. But the New Year was at hand, when the clan
must be unbroken. They would wait another year, and try to get the other
villages to join them. On the whole, I was encouraged. When we left them
we were escorted out of the village to the music of their plaintive
flutes, more like a victorious than a vanquished army.

After a day or two with the Chieng Sên church, we visited the ridge to
the southeast of that city, between it and Chieng Kawng. Our experience
there was but a repetition of that from which we were just come—cordial
receptions, night audiences, manifest interest, individual believers,
anxious consultations, promises for the next year; but the tribal bond
was too strong to be broken.

But Cha Pū Kaw was anxious that we should not pass by his own mountain
villages on the Mê Kok. So we turned southward again toward Chieng Rāi.
This, moreover, was one of those famine years, such as we have already
encountered in our story, and shall encounter yet again; many people
were on the verge of starvation. In places we could not get food for our
own men. And famine was beginning to be followed by disease and death.
This was a serious obstacle to our work.

Another serious obstacle was the use of opium, which became more
prevalent the further west we went along the Mê Kok range towards Mûang
Fāng. We presently reached villages where the poppy was cultivated,
until, in the last village, men, women, and boys, and sometimes even
girls, were its slaves. Fevers and dysentery prevail during the rainy
season. These people have a very scanty pharmacopœia, and no antidotes
whatever for these diseases. Opium in some form is probably their surest
remedy. Many persons told me that they began by using it in sickness. As
sickness recurred the habit grew, until they were fast bound in its
chains. These facts largely determined the character of the instruction
we gave, and made our tour a kind of anti-opium crusade. Encouraged and
disappointed at every village, I was still tempted on by visions of
capturing some large village that would prove a more effective entering
wedge for the tribe than Cha Pū Kaw’s poor little hamlet. The six weeks
so spent were at the time the most novel and exciting, as well as most
arduous, of all my missionary experiences so far.

We took both the old Mūsô men as assistants, and the younger ones as
carriers for our equipment. Our first day’s journey was a fair sample of
what we had to do continually. In many places it would be a misnomer to
speak of the track we travelled as a path. We left the plain in the
morning, and it was half-past two in the afternoon when we reached the
first summit. It was five o’clock when, desperate with thirst, we came
upon a flowing brook. There was, then, still another hard climb before
we saw our long looked-for first village ahead. And, in general, because
of the habit these people have of planting their villages upon the very
highest points where they can get water, the journey from one of these
villages to another in plain sight, and, apparently, but a short
distance away, would take hours of the hardest travel. Sometimes we
would walk weary hours through rain, or through bushes as wet as rain,
to visit a village; only to walk back again after sitting three hours in
wet clothes trying in vain to awaken some interest in old or young.

One of the most interesting, and, at the same time, one of the saddest,
cases we met was that of Mûn Kamprai, the head man of a village which
clearly bore the impress of his character in the intelligence and
industry of its inhabitants. From opium he had kept entirely aloof
until, only a few years before this time, under the stress of a severe
illness, he began to take it. The poor man now realized that he was
becoming a wreck, but seemed to have no will-power left to make the
effort to break away from the habit. He was much interested, however, in
his two fellow-tribesmen whom I had brought as my assistants; and Cha
Waw’s example seemed to afford him a faint gleam of hope. If we would
stop a week and teach his people, and would stand by to aid him, he
would try. If successful, he would surely become a Christian—and then
his village would be the one we had been hoping for to free itself from
the tribal bond, and become Christian.

The experiment was, indeed, pathetic. Removing all temptation, he began
with a desperate determination to succeed. We encouraged him with human
sympathy and the hope of divine aid. We pushed as far as we dared the
use of a tonic which Dr. McKean had given me for such cases; and it
aided him perceptibly. He held out manfully for several days. But, at
last, in an evil hour, he could endure the torture no longer, and before
we knew it, he had resumed the use of the drug. For two nights he had
not slept. In his own expressive language, it was not his eyes, but his
heart that could not sleep. Poor man! his sufferings must have been as
near those of the infernal regions as it is possible to experience in
the body. And then his absolute wreck of mind, and the contempt he felt
for himself when he gave up the struggle as hopeless!

We spared no labour to reach the homes of these people, or their hearts.
We tried to become Mūsôs to the Mūsôs that we might win them. Sometimes
we had to sleep in their huts—on a floor raised two or three feet from
the ground, which the dogs shared with the family, while the pigs and
goats were on the ground beneath. In the centre was a raised fireplace
on which the native teapot always boiled. Sleeping-mats or thin bedding
lay about on the floor, and on this, before bedtime, some of the inmates
would lie down and fall asleep even while listening to the
conversation.—But everywhere the tribal bond was too strong to be



By this time the rains had set in. The trails—and the leeches that
infested them—were getting worse and worse. Soon the torrent-streams
would become impassable. We must return while yet we could. Our six
weeks’ wanderings we retraced in four days of constant tramping. It had
been a hard trip for all of us. I myself had a touch of fever. It seemed
good on reaching our camp to have once more the luxury of a chair and a
table. And then to be on the sadaw’s back travelling homewards, and to
meet a good mail on the way! My three-score and fourth birthday was
spent in the forest, and I reached home safely on the 18th of May, after
an absence of nearly five months.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The peninsula of Farther India is largely exempt from the terrible
scourge of famine which has become almost chronic in Hindustan, its
greater neighbour on the west. There the population is so numerous that
the normal production of food is just sufficient to supply its needs.
Even a local or a partial failure of the crops must produce distress.
Siam, on the contrary, is happy in that it not only produces an abundant
supply for its own people, but is a granary for the surrounding
countries. The worst that has ever been experienced in Lower Siam in
years of greatest scarcity, has been the necessity of checking the
export of rice. The annual floods there cover the whole country, so that
a general failure of crops is, humanly speaking, impossible.

In the northern states the land is higher; and considerable portions of
it, being above inundation, are directly dependent upon the seasonal and
local rains. But with a population by no means dense, this very
diversity of the cultivated areas is a source of safety. A season of
heavy rainfall which drowns the lowland rice, is apt to prove
exceptionally good for the uplands. And, on the other hand, a season of
light rainfall, which cuts short the upland crop, is apt to be a good
season for the flooded areas. And in considerable sections of the
country there is the chance that a second crop in the same season may
make good the loss of the first. There is a further security also in the
fact that, until communication with the coast becomes such as to make
exportation profitable, the excess of fruitful years remains unconsumed
in the country, to supply the need of less fruitful ones. It thus comes
about that scarcity amounting to a real famine cannot result from the
failure of crops in any single year. It requires two consecutive
failures to produce extensive suffering among the very poor, and three
to result in a real famine.

This last, however, was the case in 1892. In 1890 there was a light crop
throughout the land, with less excess than usual to be stored. In 1891
the crop was lighter still. In the eastern provinces, particularly in
Lakawn and Prê, there was very little rice to be reaped. Famine
conditions began there long before the time for harvest. People were
scattering off in squads or by families into Chiengmai and the northern
provinces, begging a daily morsel. They were poverty-stricken as well as
famishing. The distress led the brethren in Lakawn to make an appeal to
friends in the United States for a famine fund. Quite a liberal
response, amounting to several thousand dollars, was made to this call,
largely by the friends of the Lāo mission. The relief was almost as
timely for the missionaries as it was for the famishing people.
Otherwise they scarcely could have lived through the long strain on
their nerves and sympathies caused by the constant sight of sufferings
which they could not even in part relieve.

The province of Chiengmai could have met its own needs until the new
crop came in, had it not been for the constant draft upon its reserves
to meet the demands of Lakawn and Prê. But, between high prices offered
and pity for the less fortunate, those reserves were steadily drained
away, until, during the latter months of the year, famine was upon us in
Chiengmai, too. Bands of men from destitute villages, maddened by hunger
and unable to buy food, began to roam about the country by night, or,
sometimes, by day, and seize rice wherever any little remnant of it
could be found. The authorities were powerless to restrain them or to
keep order. The condition of the more destitute provinces can better be
imagined than described.

At last the relief committee in Lakawn were asked if they could not
spare us a small portion of their fund, for it seemed that their
condition could not be much worse than ours. A letter from Dr. W. A.
Briggs brought us three hundred rupees, but with the following
_caveat_—the italics are his:

    “_Wherever_ we can reach the absolutely starving, that is a
    place to invest. We do not pretend to relieve all the
    _suffering_. Now, if the need in Chiengmai, or in the district
    mentioned, is so great that people are actually dying from
    starvation, and those now living are living on such stuff as the
    sample enclosed (cocanut-husks, leaves, bark, etc.), _with never
    a grain of rice_, then I would advise you to form a Famine
    Committee, and go into the business as we have done. The actual
    starvation _must_ be attended to, _no matter where it is_. But
    our saddest experience is within Prê. Some one should be sent
    there at once.”

The scenes reported from Prê were harrowing. I will not pain the reader
by dwelling upon them. One happy result followed the efforts of the
brethren who went to the relief of that district. While administering to
bodily wants, they preached the Gospel, making such an impression that
there was a strong demand for a permanent station there—which was
established the next year, with Dr. and Mrs. Briggs as pioneer

It should be stated that, toward the last, the Siamese government sent
up supplies of rice; but, because of the distance and the difficulty of
transportation, not much reached the suffering people in time to help
them; and much was lost in passing through the hands of so many




At the Annual Meeting of the mission in December, 1892, the broad field
of Tai peoples north of the frontier of Siam was discussed, and Rev.
Robert Irwin and myself were appointed to make a tour into that region
as long and as far as in our judgment might be deemed wise. The tour
occupied nearly five months—from January 3d to May 25th, 1893. This time
we went fairly well supplied with portions of Scriptures and tracts, and
a good outfit of medicine. Of quinine we carried a hundred ounces, and
returned with less than twenty-five. We relied on the medicines for the
welcome they never yet had failed to win for us. And Mr. Irwin had a
cornet which did excellent service throughout the tour. For riding I had
my big “sadaw” elephant, and Mr. Irwin had a pony; so we could exchange
mounts at our convenience. I pass over the earlier portion of our route,
already so often described, and the two weeks spent among the
hill-tribes visited on previous trips.

The chief object of our trip was to visit, in their ancient homes, two
northern tribes of the Lāo race—the Kôn and the Lû—from which very many
of our parishioners in the southern provinces derived their origin. For,
under conditions which lasted very nearly down to our own time, there
was almost constant predatory warfare going on in this northern
country—stronger states raiding the weaker, and sweeping away the entire
population of the districts they overran, to plant them in their own
realms. Thus whole villages, and even entire districts, in the Lāo
provinces of Siam, are peopled by the descendants of such colonies of
captives. We found it unadvisable to attempt both visits in the same
season, and the Lû were the more accessible, living on the nearer slopes
of the Mê Kông valley. We went up on the west of the river along the
edge of the British territory, now known as the South Shan States, and
beyond it into Chinese territory, as far as Chieng Rung;[15] then,
returning, we made a somewhat wider sweep to the east of the river,
through French Indo-China; finally recrossing the river at Chieng Lāp,
where we struck once more our outgoing trail.

Footnote 15:

  This name appears on some maps as Chieng Hung, initial _r_ in the
  North being generally pronounced as _h_.—ED.

After leaving Mûang Len, the utmost point of a former trip, we travelled
awhile by a fine road along the summit of a ridge so regular as to seem
almost like an artificial embankment, and affording noble views over the
valley. At Wieng Mai, a recent offshoot of Mûang Yawng, we spent a most
interesting Saturday and Sunday. Here the Prince-Governor sent to ask if
he should not put up a sālā to shelter us during our stay. In the
morning we preached in the market-place, and afterwards I distributed
medicine and talked with the people till noon, when I had to flee away
to rest under the shade of a big tree by the river. The people seemed
hungry for the bread of life. I could not supply all the requests made
for copies of the Scriptures.

Mûang Yawng, the older and larger city, we reached on Monday forenoon,
after a two hours’ ride. An officer met us at the gate, and showed us to
the sālā. When the Chao Mawm heard of our arrival, he sent for us,
meeting us at the door. We had a very interesting interview, but he was
not inclined to talk on the subject of religion. He told me that the
city and district had been entirely depopulated in 1809 by a force from
Chiengmai, when “nothing was left behind but the ground.”[16] It had
recovered itself, however, and its population was now larger than that
of Lampūn. With Nān Suwan I visited the market and the Court. At the
latter place I learned that the British Commissioner would arrive the
next day. Knowing that everything would be in confusion, we decided to
move on the next morning.

Footnote 16:

  This incident is a striking illustration of the methods of warfare in
  those days. The expedition in question was directed against the
  Burmese, who had established themselves in Mûang Yāng some sixty miles
  or more to the northwest. On its way it passed through Mûang Yawng,
  where it was loyally received. But being defeated at Mûang Yāng, it
  fell back upon Mûang Yawng, and there gathered up all the inhabitants
  and swept them off to Chiengmai to prevent their falling into the
  hands of the enemy!—ED.

From this point on, our elephant was everywhere an object of great
interest. Sometimes the people climbed trees to get a better view of
him. A long day’s march brought us to Mûang Yū, picturesquely situated
on high bluffs, with deep gorges running down to the Mê Lūi. Here we
remained only overnight, leaving early the next morning for Mûang Lūi,
which we reached about noon. That evening we had a large attendance at
worship, the governor and officials remaining till after eleven o’clock.
The original population of both these districts, as well as that of
Mûang Yawng, are now scattered throughout the provinces of Chiengmai and

Next morning we crossed the beautiful stream on a raft, while our
elephant took the ford. During the forenoon we came upon Captain Davis
of the Commissioner’s staff, who had been sent to make a detour by Mûang
Sing, and was then on his way to join his party. He was resting by the
roadside, ill with fever, and was glad to get from me some quinine.

The following day, Saturday, brought us to Mûang Lūang, the largest and
most important place in the valley and the southernmost of the old
Sipsawng Pannā confederacy. The valley population is wholly Lû. There is
scarcely a Ngīu (Western Shan) to be found east of the Keng Tung
watershed. Here were the best roads we had seen anywhere in Farther
India, with a real arched bridge of stone across the stream at the
entrance to the city. Early next morning we were awakened by a noisy
crowd about our tent, anxious to see us. It was the great market day,
so, instead of attempting a regular service in camp, we chose the
market-place. There, whether reading or speaking, we always had some
attentive listeners.

On Monday our road lay for many miles along the summit of a low ridge on
which at intervals were fifteen large villages, just at the edge of the
long fertile plain, where are the rice-fields that feed the country. I
never saw in all my touring anything quite to equal that row of
villages. It seemed too bad to pass through so many without even



On the fourth day from Mûang Lūang we reached Chieng Rung, the limit of
our northward journey. Its location is strikingly beautiful, on a high
steep bluff overlooking the Mê Kōng River, which sweeps in a majestic
curve about its base. It is in Chinese territory, and is ruled by a Chao
Fā appointed from Yunnan. An officer from Yunnan was there at the time
collecting tribute. The influence of the English was already felt there.
Mûang Chê, to the west, had rebelled against the Chao Fā, who thereupon
sent out an expedition which captured and brought away some three
hundred families of the inhabitants. But England cannot allow border
warfare to go on along her frontier. An English officer appeared on the
scene, and the thing was stopped.

At Chieng Rung we were still in the midst of an area of Lāo-speaking
people—an area which extended far beyond on every side. I gave a portion
of Scripture to a Lû whose home was ten days’ journey northward; and
others to men from as far to the east and to the west.

We had an interview with the Chao Fā by previous appointment. At the
door the officer suggested that we pull off our shoes. We replied that
it was not our custom, and was unnecessary. He looked very doubtful, but
said no more, and we walked in. The Chao Fā received us courteously. We
took him to be a man of no great strength of character, about forty
years of age, and somewhat weakened by the use of opium. He asked
whether we had not some antidote to enable him to stop its use. He
listened attentively to our statement of the object of our coming, and
said, “You are merit-makers, and that is a good work.”

When we called at the court, the presiding officer had a wise suggestion
as to how we might further our purpose and establish our religion in the
place—a suggestion evidently not originating with himself, but from a
higher source. “The favour of the Chao Fā,” said he, “will be necessary
and all-sufficient. I see you have a fine elephant. Just make a present
of him to the Chao Fā. He will be delighted, and your road will be all
smooth.” I told him that I was an old man, far from home, and dependent
on the elephant. So I could not part with him. This same suggestion was
pressed upon us several times afterwards, by the highest officials, and
quite up to the hour of our departure; though its form was modified from
a gift to a sale. I became at last a little anxious about the result,
and was somewhat relieved when we actually got away without loss of the

I may mention at this point an incident of this trip which never came to
my knowledge till thirteen years later, showing how we were
providentially spared from what would have put a sudden and tragic end
to our tour and to our lives. When Dr. S. C. Peoples and Dr. W. C. Dodd
were in Keng Tung in March, 1907, the presiding officer of the Court
told them that he had met Dr. McGilvary and Mr. Irwin on their way to
Chieng Rung; that when the people of Chieng Rung first heard that some
foreigners from the south were _en route_ to their capital, they planned
to kill and plunder them. But when they saw that the foreigners rode
elephants and were accompanied by carriers, they decided that this was
probably the advance guard of a formidable army, which it might not be
well to attack. And then, he said, the kindness of the missionaries so
completely won their hearts, that all thought of murder and plunder was
given up.

Our return was to be through the region to the east of the Mê Kōng. Its
northern cities still belonged to the Sipsawng Pannā. But the rest of it
was territory recently ceded by Siam to France. The governing race—the
people of the plains—were everywhere Tai, speaking the Lāo language and
using the Lāo literature. On its mountain ridges dwelt numerous
hill-tribes, especially the Kamu and the Lamēt.

The route we were to take crosses the river two days’ journey south of
Chieng Rung; so we had at first to retrace our steps. We left the city
on Monday, March 13th, safe from unseen plots, and with our elephant. On
the second day, after leaving our upward road to strike across to the
river, we entered unexpectedly a large village, where we met with a
reception ludicrously hostile. At every door men were standing with guns
in their hands. We were surprised; but, supposing that it might be
muster-day or something of the sort, we passed innocently along, without
challenge, to the monastery, where we dismounted and began to unload.
Then guns were laid aside and the head man and villagers came up to see
us and to offer assistance. They had heard that foreigners were coming
with elephants and men, whether for peace or war no one knew. So they
had taken the precaution to be ready. When they found out our peaceful
errand, they were ashamed. We had a pleasant visit and worship with them
that evening.

The next stage of our road was bad. In some places we had to cut our way
through, and there were difficult passages of brook-beds and gorges. We
reached the river at Chieng Hā in a pouring rain, and it rained again at
night. The next day was the Buddhist sacred day, and we were awakened
early by the crowd of merit-makers and worshippers—the women and girls,
as usual, in their head-dresses and gay colours, and all anxious to see
the elephant and the white faces.

It was 10:30 that morning before we got away. Ourselves, our men, the
saddles and luggage, were carried over by the ferry. Nān Suwan alone
faced the deep river on the sadaw to guide him through. At the first
plunge all of the elephant save his trunk, and half of the rider, went
out of sight. Thence on they went, now up and now down, till they
struggled out on the further shore. Such an effort is very exhausting to
the animal, and he has to have a good rest and breathing-spell after it.

Mûang Ham, on the eastern bank, is larger than its neighbour on the
west. Its governor was a Chao Mawm, next in rank to the Chao Fā of
Chieng Rung, and his wife was the Chao Fā’s sister. I had a long talk on
religion with the wife. It was a new thought to her that any one could
be greater than the Buddha, though he was neither Creator nor Saviour,
but only a man. It is unnecessary continually to state what was
everywhere the case throughout this trip; namely, that we had good
audiences and interested hearers. We left in every place some books in
the hands of those most likely to use them; though we could have used to
advantage many more, if we had had them.

From Mûang Ham two days’ march brought us on a Saturday to Mûang Nūn,
the most important city on our route, and, therefore, a most desirable
place to spend Sunday. The city is in the valley of the Nam Bān. It has
well paved streets, and a very large monastery on an eminence above,
where we camped. The abbot gave us a hearty welcome, and did all he
could to make us comfortable. At our night worship the monks and other
visitors were very attentive.

On Sunday morning we called on the head officer of the Court, and had a
pleasant conversation with him, for he was both intelligent and
inquisitive. Just as we were ready for our own morning worship, the Chao
Mawm, a relative of the Chao Fā for Chieng Rung, sent to ask us to call.
We sent word in reply that it was our hour for worship, and asked
whether he would, perhaps, like to have us worship in his residence. His
answer was a cordial invitation to come and do so.

The Prince was young and very pleasant. He had a spacious house, and
soon he had it filled with his own family, his officers, and his people.
Mr. Irwin, as usual, had his cornet. We find that singing our Gospel
hymns, with a short explanation of their central truths, is a better way
to hold a mixed crowd where women and children form a goodly proportion,
than is a regular service. Nān Suwan’s Lû dialect served a very good
turn. We had a very interesting morning, and we were cordially invited
to hold a similar meeting at night, when many who had been absent in the
morning might attend.

At night the house was crowded with a remarkable gathering, for one
could hardly call it a congregation. The invitation, the place, the
attendant circumstances, were all unique. We sang and prayed and
preached with as little restraint as if we had been in our own church in
Chiengmai. The part of the service which most impressed them was Nān
Suwan’s prayer—a direct appeal to a Person unseen, whom he addressed as
Father, Redeemer, Saviour, and Friend. Seldom have I felt so strongly
for any as for these, that they were as sheep needing a shepherd; hungry
souls asking for bread, and getting that which satisfied not. Ethical
teaching they had in abundance, but no Divine Voice asking, “Wilt thou
be made whole?” or saying, “Thy sins be forgiven thee. Arise and walk!”

Next morning we made our formal call upon the Prince; but he sent to our
camp for our books and the cornet, and soon we had another congregation,
and were having worship again. In the afternoon the Prince made us a
long call. Then there was a continuous stream of visitors, mostly for
medicine, and I vaccinated a number of persons. The son of the chief
officer of the Court, a fine young man, was almost ready to come with us
to Chiengmai to study our religion further. His father, too, was willing
that he should come. The young man promised that he surely would do so
next year, if we came again. And now, seventeen years after these
events, it saddens me to think no missionary has ever been there since.
An occupancy, then, of those open Sipsawng Pannā States would have
turned the flank of French obstruction, and have ensured an entrance
from the north.

Early on Tuesday morning we left Mûang Nūn, after a visit all too short.
The Prince, with his officers and a large crowd of people, were on hand
to bid us good-bye. That day we found our track very much obstructed by
the jungle growth, and had some difficulty in cutting our way through.
Another complication presently arose in the illness of my associate, Mr.
Irwin. An attack of indigestion developed next day into symptoms of
dysentery, which made further travel for the time impossible. So we were
laid up until the following Tuesday at Mûang Wên—and anxious nights and
days they were. Milder measures failing, we had to resort at last to a
most heroic treatment which I had seen used in the hospital, namely,
large doses of ipecac. By this means the disease was got under control;
and by care and dieting Mr. Irwin was able at length to continue his
journey on my elephant, though throughout the rest of our tour he was
far from being well.

At Mûang Pōng, one of the three largest cities on the route, we again
stopped over from Thursday night till Tuesday. Here I had an ague-chill
on the night of our arrival, but, with free use of quinine and a little
rest, I escaped further attack. There was a great deal of fever in the
place, and I spent much time in ministering to the sick.

On Saturday I called upon the Prince and his chief officer. I was told
that the city furnished five hundred men for the Chao Fā’s expedition,
and had seventy villages within its jurisdiction. In former times it had
been raided by an expedition from Nān, and some of the Nān villages to
this day are peopled by descendants of those captives.

On Monday the Prince and his chief officer made us long calls. The
Prince had never seen a repeating rifle, and seemed incredulous that it
could fire twelve shots in unbroken succession, till I fired three by
way of demonstration. His look of surprise was ludicrous. He _must_ have
the gun, he said, to protect his country, and began bidding for it. At
last he offered a fine riding pony, which I accepted. He was delighted,
saying that we two should always be brothers. If I should never come
again myself, he would welcome and aid our assistants. Four years later
I did visit the place, but the Prince had been killed.

On Tuesday we reached Mûang Māng, which proved to be one of our most
hopeful places. Sitting in front of our tent, with the whole village
about us, we talked till midnight. I had a sore throat, but our
assistants were inspired with enthusiasm. At last we almost had to drive
the crowd away.

Mûang Sing was the objective of this portion of our tour. I first became
interested in it when it was about to be occupied as a dependency of the
province of Nān. Mr. Phraner and I made an attempt to reach it in 1891,
but were turned back. Then, again, it seemed about to fall into British
hands, under some old claim by Burma. Even at the time we were there,
its status was still uncertain. It gave evidence of having once been a
large city, and still had a very large territory under its jurisdiction.
Its earlier importance was reflected in the title borne by its ruler,
Chao Fā—Lord of the Sky—a title borne by no other Lû ruler south of
Chieng Rung. My interest in Mûang Sing had been deepened by acquaintance
with a patient in the Chiengmai hospital, of whose case Dr. McKean has
kindly furnished the following account:

    “This Prayā Singhanāt, a prominent man in the local government,
    had been for years a great sufferer from vesical calculus and
    had tried all kinds of remedies without avail. Fearing his
    disease had been occasioned by offending the spirits in the
    building of a new house, he tore the house down. This gave him
    no relief. Although he had spent years in the monastery, and had
    taken all the degrees of the order, he concluded to re-enter it
    in the hope of being cured of his malady, spending again six
    months in the monastery. A travelling merchant who had himself
    been cured of calculus by an operation in the mission hospital
    in Chiengmai, advised the Prayā to go there for relief. This he
    determined to do, not without great opposition from the Prince
    and from his own family. But he was determined. He sold his
    possessions, and started with 800 rupees. His journey was long
    and painful. For weeks or even months at a time he could not
    travel on account of great pain. Once he was beset by dacoits at
    night. A part of his money and all his guns were stolen. When he
    finally reached Chiengmai twelve months after leaving home, he
    was penniless, and of course still suffering intensely. He was
    received into the mission hospital and was wholly relieved by an
    operation. A more grateful patient one rarely sees. He regularly
    attended service at the hospital and evinced great interest in

When we reached Mûang Sing, we were disappointed to find that the Prayā
was away. But he had loudly sung the praises of the mission hospital,
and that was a good introduction for us. The chief officer of the Court
was a friend of his, and he proved to be a friend to us, too. Hearing
that we were come, the Chao Fā sent for us, and turned out to be a
relative of the great Chao Fā of Chieng Rung. Though not of a nature so
deeply religious as some, he was interested in religion; and our reply
to his first question as to the object of our visit, immediately
introduced the subject.

At first he was inclined to cavil, asking such questions as, whether
Jesus could rise in the air as Buddha did, and the like. But this was
evidently to “save his face” before his officers. For a while he
maintained that the universe is self-existent, having come into being by
the concurrence of the matter which composes it. But presently he
confessed that it is too complicated for that, and plainly shows
design—that is, a mind or Mind. At last he asked what argument made us
foreigners so certain of our view that we should come to ask them to
change their religion for ours. We told him that Jesus Christ Himself
was the all-sufficient argument. No matter how the world came into
existence, we are here, and we all know that we are sinners. The Buddha
confessed himself to be only a man, and himself seeking a refuge like
the rest of us. Jesus Christ claimed to have come down from heaven, and
to be the Son of God. He challenged the world to convince Him of sin.
Those who knew Him intimately saw something in Him not only different
and superior, but of a different kind. He showed this not only by His
spotless life, but by the miracles that He wrought. He claims to have
power to forgive sins. And thousands and millions who have accepted Him
believe that He has forgiven them; and show that fact by becoming better
men. We talked thus an hour and a half. He evidently felt the force of
the arguments.

Sunday was the fifth-day market or fair—the largest and finest we had
seen in the north. The hill-tribes, as usual, were out in full force. I
was still suffering with sore throat, but Mr. Irwin and the assistants
had a fine morning’s work, and in the afternoon had a fair attendance at
the regular service.

One of the most interesting incidents of our stay was the night service,
held in the residence of the Chao Fā at his express request on the
evening before our departure. The audience was mainly his own family and
dependents, and the Prince was more free than before. During the singing
he asked that the cornet be stopped in order that he might hear the
words more plainly. When Nān Suwan led in prayer, he wished to know if
we always prayed in that way. There was the usual sad refrain—no hope of
pardon, bondage to the spirits, the drawing to a better way, but so
strong a counter-current! Yet who can tell how many, after all, the
truth may have reached?

We left Mûang Sing on Wednesday, April 12th. There is no need to weary
the reader with details of the ten days’ travel before we reached Chieng
Sên, or with the varied incidents of our work.

At Chieng Sên we received letters that were disappointing to my plans.
The mission had unanimously decided that, partly for considerations of
our health, and partly for reasons of mission policy, Mrs. McGilvary and
I should take our furlough at once. We had been ten and a half years on
duty in the field. My wife was not really sick, but was not well, and
the doctor advised her going. I was very anxious to repeat the same tour
the next year, in spite of the few malarial chills I had encountered
this time. But arrangements had been completed, and there was no option
but to submit.

My companion on this tour was far from well, and it was important that
he should hasten home at once. What with daily rains, bad roads, and
swollen streams, Mr. Irwin had a hard trip of it alone the rest of the
way; and it was some little time before he was well again. For my return
there was no such need of haste. The work among the Mūsô had been left,
upon the whole, in hopeful condition. The power of the tribal bond,
which almost annihilated individual responsibility, had been somewhat
weakened. Many head men had promised to enrol themselves as Christians
this season. It was certain that no tour among them could be made the
coming year. I must visit them now.

The experiences of this visit were entirely like those of the previous
ones—everywhere the same warm welcome, interesting night meetings,
earnest consultations, and ministering to the sick; days spent in wading
brooks, climbing mountain ridges, plunging down ravines, to get from one
village to another, where the same round would be repeated. They would
all become Christians if only another officer or two would join them.
Thus it went on till we had visited nearly all of the eleven villages,
and were back at Sên Chai’s and Sên Bun Yūang’s, where we began. These
people were nearer to Nān Suwan’s Christian village, had known more of
our religion, and, no doubt, were believers in the truth of our
teaching. We talked with them till late at night, and our parting with
them had a tragic interest. They were apparently on the verge of
accepting the Gospel. We used our utmost endeavours to persuade them to
join Cha Pū Kaw on the other side of the river, and not wait for the
others who might come in afterwards. This was probably my last visit;
but if any sufficient number would join the church, the mission would
not desert them. If not, in all probability the offer would never be
pressed upon them again.

And so it proved to be. About half of the villages were under the
governor of Chieng Sên. The inhabitants of these were assured of their
safety in taking the decisive step, so far as the rulers were concerned.
But some of the larger villages were under the governor of Mûang Len.
His opposition was a foregone conclusion, because of his interest in the
opium traffic. My failure to gain a large entrance among them was one of
the greatest disappointments in my whole work.

That I was not mistaken in the hopefulness of the work among the Mūsôs
has since been demonstrated by the many thousand converts won among the
same tribe by our Baptist brethren in the Keng Tung region. At the same
time they are better prepared for such a work than were we. Their wide
experience among the Karens of Burma, and the large number of educated
Karens through whom they work, give them advantages in this particular
work which our mission does not possess. On the other hand, it is surely
to be regretted that our mission should be limited in its access to all
branches alike of the Tai population found in the northern states, for
which, by identity of race and language and literature, we are far
better prepared than our Baptist brethren. For while, to use a legal
phrase, the missionary holds a brief for no one particular tribe; while
his commission and his duty is to preach the Gospel to all whom he can
reach; yet it is a well recognized fact that the Tai family has largely
fallen to our mission. And it will be seen from what we have said above,
that we returned from this trip with enlarged views and bright prospects
of opening up work among our own Tai people in the north. It will take
years of hard work and a useless expenditure of time and money for any
other missionary organization to reach the point at which we were ready
to _begin_ work among these people. But this is a complicated question,
the tangled web of which it is not possible for any one man to unravel.




On my return to Chiengmai I found preparations well advanced for our
departure on furlough. Embarking on June 7th, we reached Bangkok on June
22d, and San Francisco on August 12th, 1893. Of the events of that
memorable year, I shall touch upon only two or three.

Dr. J. H. Barrows, the originator and President of the Parliament of
Religions, had invited me to attend and participate in its meetings.
After, perhaps, a little shock at the boldness of the idea—as if
Christianity were to be put on a par with other religions—I sympathized
with the object as legitimate and proper. It was merely doing on a large
scale what we missionaries are called upon to do on a smaller scale
every time that we hold an argument with Buddhists or other
non-Christian people. The fairness of the idea, and even its very
boldness, might do good; and I believe they did.

On the Sunday before the opening I listened to a really great sermon by
Dr. Barrows on “Christ the Light of the World.” I attended every session
of the Parliament, save at the hour from 11 A.M. to 12, when I usually
went over to the Moody meetings to hear John McNeill, as he was
familiarly called, preach his trenchant sermons.

If any one went to the Parliament—as possibly some did—hoping to hear
Christianity demolished, he certainly was disappointed. But there was
one criticism which occurred to me. Whatever may have been thought of
the wisdom of the original conception and inauguration of the
Parliament, the Protestant churches might have made a much more imposing
front, if the ablest men of the different denominations had not stood
aloof, either indifferent or hostile to it. It was surely the
opportunity of a lifetime for many, who could not hope otherwise ever to
address personally the votaries of non-Christian religions, to bring
forward their strong reasons to bear on so many of the most intelligent
and presumably the most earnest seekers after the truth.

While attending these meetings in Chicago, I received news that our son,
the Rev. Evander B. McGilvary, had felt himself constrained to resign
from the Lāo mission. No good can come from now reviewing the issues
which led to this step; and it is needless to say how bitter was the
disappointment to his parents, who had looked forward to his carrying on
their work, and to him, who had specially prepared himself for that
work, and for no other. But I must say that bitter as was the
disappointment, I sympathized with his position, and respected his

At the meeting of the General Assembly in the following May, to which I
was a delegate, the one all-engrossing business was the trial of the
Rev. Henry P. Smith, D.D., for heresy on the question of the “Higher
Criticism.” Viewing the matter from this distance, and entirely apart
from the merits of this particular case, I doubt whether critical and
scientific questions are proper subjects for trials before such a body.
If tried at all, such questions should be tried by a commission of
experts. Biblical criticism and science will go on, and the questions
involved will be decided according to their own lines of evidence, quite
irrespective of the decrees of Popes, Councils, and General Assemblies.
I am much mistaken if the good sense and temper of the church would now
sanction heresy trials on such questions.

                  *       *       *       *       *

One day some fifteen years earlier than the point we have now reached in
our narrative, a letter came to our mission from a Mr. Robert Arthington
of Leeds, England. The letter, like all his subsequent ones, was on
small sheets of notepaper, written over once, and then written again
crosswise, so as to be almost illegible. The writer had somewhere
learned of the journey of a French explorer who, from the upper Mê Kōng
and the headwaters of the Mê Ū, had crossed to the China Sea through the
region now known as Tonking. The traveller had passed through certain
tribes possessed of a written language and supposed to be of Aryan
stock. By some means Mr. Arthington had heard of our mission, and wrote
to enquire whether some of us could not visit those tribes and
distribute among them “the Gospels of John and of Luke, and the Acts of
the Apostles,” particularly “telling them that the Acts followed Luke,
_and was by the same author_.”

We had not the slightest idea who the writer was; but the devout spirit
of the letter was charming, and such interest in obscure tribes along
the northern border of our field was most surprising. His strong desire
to send the Gospel message to “the regions beyond” appealed to me. He
appeared to be a man of means, for he offered to bear the expense of
circulating those three books. At the same time he was evidently
somewhat eccentric and impractical in his ideas. He seemed not to have
thought that to circulate books among newly discovered tribes would
require—since the cessation of the gift of tongues—acquisition of their
languages, translation, printing-presses, etc., etc. But the case, at
all events, seemed worth following up.

I acknowledged the receipt of his letter, pointing out the obstacles
which he seemed to overlook, directing his attention to our own mission
as occupying a new and interesting field, with many hill-tribes on our
own border which we hoped to reach. I invited his coöperation, stating
that as soon as we were properly enforced, we intended to go as far
north as we could.

Almost to my surprise, Mr. Arthington replied immediately, expressing
his interest in our work, but still reverting to his scheme for
evangelizing the “tribes of Aryan stock” found by his French traveller.
That was, of course, impossible for us to undertake, though I did
propose to Dr. Cushing of the American Baptist Mission in Burma to join
me in a tour through that region at Mr. Arthington’s expense. This plan
had attractions for us both; but Dr. Cushing’s college work made it
impossible. Still, we might be able to make some compromise with our
unknown correspondent. So, for some years, I kept up an occasional
correspondence with Mr. Arthington, just sufficient to keep us in touch
with each other. He always replied immediately to my letters, breathing
the same deep interest in missions, and especially in the tribes
hitherto unreached by the Gospel. Touring within my own appointed field
engrossed the whole of my available time; but since that field was
already in part supplied, it did not specially appeal to him.

After the tour, longer than usual, taken with my daughter in 1890, I
sent him a report of it. In response he sent me thirty pounds, which
aided in the work of 1891 among the Mūsô. The tour taken with Mr.
Phraner in 1892 was nearer to his idea; and the one taken with Mr. Irwin
in 1893 intensely interested him—but chiefly because it seemed to be a
stepping stone toward reaching his “Aryan tribes” beyond. He thoroughly
approved of that tour; expressed his regret that we could not meet in
order to come to a clearer understanding about the geography of the
region—since all our maps were defective; and suggested, “I should like
your daughter to go with you on your next trip, as I can well conceive
the idea that she will be a valuable help.” He was, moreover,
“particularly interested that the Cambodians also should have the
Gospels of Luke and John, and the Acts.”

Following up Mr. Arthington’s suggestion of an interview, I met him by
appointment in Liverpool on my return from the United States. We had
only a half hour’s interview; but he thought that sufficient to enable
us to understand each other’s plans. On reaching London I was to make
out an order for what sum I needed for my next work. This I did, asking
for the modest sum of forty pounds, which I received by return post.

The trans-Mê Kōng tour, however, was inevitably delayed. It was not
until the Annual Meeting of the mission in 1896 that Dr. Peoples and I
were appointed to make that tour, an account of which will appear later.
To complete, however, now the story of my relations with Mr. Arthington,
I may say that in advance of the Annual Meeting just referred to, I
wrote to him that the projected tour would surely be taken, and
suggested that sixty pounds would probably suffice to cover its expense.
His reply came the day before our meeting adjourned, with a cheque for
seventy pounds. The timely aid seemed to anticipate the divine approval
of our attempt. In his letter he suggested, “Perhaps it might be a good
precaution for you to let the French know your friendly object, and to
get full permission to travel east of the upper waters of the Mê Kōng as
far as you deem proper for your purpose. But, dear Brother, seek—and I
intend to ask with you—the Lord’s counsel and blessed comfort and

The tour was taken, as I have already intimated, and a full printed
report was sent to Mr. Arthington. On the whole, he was pleased; but it
is not easy to serve two masters. I had assured him from the beginning
that my first duty was to my mission and my own field. Still he was a
little disappointed that I had to go so far out of my way to join Dr.
Peoples in Nān; and a little more so that we could not get up nearer to
Tongking to give his favourite “John, Luke, and the Acts” to the tribes
supposed to be of Aryan descent, found by the French traveller. To
enable me to do this, he said, “I believe I should have great pleasure
in sending you all you will need from me.” He even intimated once that
he would be willing to provide in his will for the continuance of that
work. While not jealous of my connection with the Board, it seemed to
him a tantalizing thing that, while I was geographically nearer his goal
than any one else, and was, moreover, in sympathy with his devout spirit
and evangelistic aspirations to reach the “regions beyond,” I was not
free to carry out his favourite, though somewhat chimerical, plans.

The last letter I had from him was dated October 22d, 1898. His passion
was then as strong as ever to get his three favourite books to “the
tribes mentioned by the French traveller, ... for they are a people for
whom I have desired much, since the day I first read of them, that they
should have the Gospel.” He expressed great sympathy with my
disappointment that the French would not permit our labouring in their
territory, adding, “Yet the Lord will not be robbed of His own.” His
death occurred not very long after this. Of the disposition of his large
estate I found the following account in the London _Daily Graphic_:

    “The late Robert Arthington of Leeds, left about £750,000 to the
    London Missionary Society, and the Baptist Missionary Society.
    The total value of his estate was £1,119,843. It is estimated
    that the Baptist Missionary Society will receive £415,000 and
    the London Missionary Society £335,000. The whole of the money
    must be spent in the next twenty years on new missionary work,
    and no part of it is to be spent in the United Kingdom.”

We reached Bangkok on September 11th, 1894. There we were joined by the
Rev. and Mrs. Howard Campbell and Dr. and Mrs. C. H. Denman, who had
come _via_ the Pacific. Earlier in this same year there had come to the
station in Mûang Prê, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Shields, and
Miss Hatch; with the Rev. and Mrs. L. W. Curtis and Miss Margaret Wilson
for Lakawn.

On our arrival in Chiengmai we found Mr. Phraner very ill with abscess
of the liver, and suffering at times intense pain. He had been warned by
physicians and friends to desist from his work and take his furlough.
But, as chairman of the Evangelistic Committee, he had been pushing the
evangelistic work too eagerly to heed these warnings. He refused to
leave his post till those who were absent should return. Soon after we
arrived he started for the United States, but, alas! it was too late. He
died in Singapore on January 15th, 1895, leaving a wife and two little
boys to pursue their sad journey alone. Mrs. Phraner—formerly Miss
Lizzie Westervelt—had served a useful term in the Girls’ School before
her marriage. The Phraner Memorial School for small children, erected by
the family and friends beside the First Church in Chiengmai, is an
appropriate tribute to their labours for the Lāo race, to which they
devoted their lives.

The year of our absence had been almost a banner year as regards
successful evangelistic work. Mr. Dodd’s Training School had furnished a
larger number of fairly well prepared evangelists than we ever had
before. Between forty and fifty of these had been actually at work in
the field for longer or shorter periods during the year, and their work
had been very successful. The Annual Meeting convened in Chiengmai soon
after our return. In it there was evident, on the part both of
missionaries and of native assistants, a degree of enthusiasm and
exuberant expectancy which, under the most favourable circumstances,
could hardly have escaped the inevitable reaction. Krū Nān Tā, a man of
magnetic power among his people, was then in his prime. The great value
of his services raised probably to an excessive degree our estimate of
the necessity of more _ordained_ native labourers. If one had done so
much, what might a dozen or a score accomplish? And there were the men,
with two, three, or even more years of training in the study of the
Bible. Most of them were elders or deacons in the different churches.
They had proved faithful in little. Why might they not be trusted with
more talents? Nine of these men were presented for examination before
the Presbytery.

When we began, it was thought—against the advice of Mr. Dodd, who was on
furlough—that one or two might be ordained to meet the immediate needs
of the work. Some of them had spent a number of years in the Buddhist
priesthood, and had some knowledge of Pali. Others were without such
education, but nearly all had learned to read Siamese. In Biblical
knowledge they had made fair progress. When the examination was closed,
there was a long and anxious deliberation, with special prayer for
divine direction. It was quite safe to ordain one or two. But the next
candidate was so near the standard of these that it might seem invidious
to exclude him—and so with the next, and the next. When the vote was
taken, six were chosen for ordination and three for licensure. The
millennium seemed drawing near!

With the new title and responsibility, higher wages were naturally to be
expected. And it was precisely upon this rock that our hopes and plans
suffered shipwreck. The Board, as never before, began to insist on the
native churches assuming the support of their own evangelists. The
methods of mission work set forth and practised in China by the Rev. Dr.
Nevius were urged upon us, and became very popular, especially with the
younger members of the mission, though in China they had not passed
beyond the stage of experiment. They are best described in Dr. Nevius’
own words:

    “These two systems may be distinguished in general by the
    former’s depending largely on paid native agency, while the
    latter deprecates and seeks to minimize such agency. Perhaps an
    equally correct and more generally acceptable statement of the
    difference would be, that, while both alike seek ultimately the
    establishment of independent, self-reliant, and aggressive
    native churches, the ‘Old System’ strives by the use of foreign
    funds to foster and stimulate the growth of native churches in
    the first stage of their development, and then gradually to
    discontinue the use of such funds; while those who adopt the
    ‘New System’ think that the desired object can be best obtained
    by applying principles of independence and self-reliance from
    the beginning. The difference between these two theories may be
    more clearly seen in their outward and practical working. The
    old uses freely, and as far as practicable, the more advanced
    and intelligent of the native church members, in the capacity of
    paid Colporteurs, Bible Agents, Evangelists, or Heads of
    Stations; while the new proceeds on the assumption that the
    persons employed in these various capacities would be more
    useful in the end by being left in their original homes and

Footnote 17:

  _Methods of Mission Work_, p. 4.

The result was that the mission took a good thing and ran it into the
ground. Economy became almost a craze. The churches were assessed—not
heavily, it is true—to support the ministers; and the ministers were
exhorted to take whatever stipend was agreed upon, and count any
deficiency in it as a voluntary contribution on their part, or as a debt
they owed their countrymen for the Gospel’s sake. Neither parishioners
nor workers understood the scheme. But it was tried for one year; and at
the next Annual Meeting (in 1895) the catastrophe came. The churches had
been asked to walk before they could stand; and the ministers were to
work, as well as walk, by faith and not by sight. As pastors, their
expenses were necessarily increased. They had to dress better, and to be
an example in clothing, and educating their families, and in
hospitality. It seemed to them that they were required to make bricks
without straw. A little yielding to demands that were not unreasonable
would have satisfied the ministers, and the churches would have been
encouraged by the continuance of some support from the Board for
evangelistic work, even though the amount was much reduced. The zeal was
well meant; but we broke off too suddenly.

For the unfortunate results, the mission, the native ministers, the
churches, and, indirectly, the Board should share the responsibility.
The advantages gained by our Training School were nullified, and all
progress toward a permanent Theological School was at an end. After
those two Annual Meetings there was no call for theological training,
and no future for a native ministry. So we have to go on appealing to
the Board and to the American churches for foreign workers, although the
salary of one of these would support half a dozen or more native

It is easy to say that native ministers and church members should be
willing, out of pure gratitude, to labour for the evangelization of
their own people, or that such and such other races have done so. As a
matter of fact, the Lāo church is largely indebted for its progress to
the power exerted by the church itself. And as to the example of other
races, we must remember that there are racial differences. Even our
nearest Christianized neighbours, the Karens, stand in a class quite by
themselves in this respect. We can no more apply one rule to all
oriental races than we can enforce western customs in the Orient. But we
certainly cannot expect happy results from the application of rules that
would have discouraged our own ancestors when the first Christian
missionaries found them.

Among the things of more hopeful augury accomplished in the year 1894,
two deserve special mention—the establishment of Christian Endeavour
Societies in all the Lāo churches, primarily through the efforts of Dr.
Denman, and the publication of the Book of Psalms and of a hymnal of
over two hundred hymns and tunes. The Psalms were translated by Dr.
Wilson, and the hymns were almost wholly from his pen.

At the Annual Meeting, to which reference has already been made, a
committee was appointed to consider anew and report on the question
whether it was or was not advisable now to occupy the northern portion
of the field with a permanent station, and, if it were deemed advisable,
to determine the location. I had been anxious to have it occupied two
years before this time, but had yielded then to the claims of Prê and of
Nān—of Prê because the relief work among the sufferers from famine had
furnished a most auspicious opening there; and of Nān because it was a
larger city and province than any in the nearer north. Notwithstanding
the greater progress of the work in the north, with organized and
growing churches in Wieng Pā Pāo, Chieng Rāi, and Chieng Sên, there
seemed to be a lingering doubt as to the wisdom of establishing
permanent stations in cities so small as these. Most of my colleagues
had never visited that northern region. No one save myself had surveyed
the whole field. Yet no part of the work of a mission is more important,
or requires better judgment, than the location of its permanent
stations. Although fully persuaded in my own mind, I did not wish the
mission to embark on a new project involving outlay of money and of men,
without the mature judgment of the whole mission. Hence it was at my own
suggestion that the committee was appointed.

On January 20th, 1896, Dr. Denman and I of this committee started
northward. Mr. Dodd joined us later. It is a great thing to have a
physician along on such a tour. He relieves a great deal of suffering
among a needy people, and so lifts a great load of care from his
companion. But beyond this, I myself had quite an attack of fever on
this particular trip, and was much indebted to his care for my recovery.
Then we had the stereopticon along, and lectured nearly every night to
large audiences. The doctor manipulated the lantern, and left the
explanation and application to me. Those pictures have made the Gospel
story to live in the imaginations of many thousands of people. The
occasional introduction of a familiar scene from native life serves to
give confidence that the others also are real, while a few comic ones
interest the children, old and young. A picture of the King of
Siam—their King—with three of his children, one of them with his arms
about his father’s neck, always attracted great attention, and was often
asked for again at the close of the exhibition.

I had some trouble this time with my sadaw elephant. At one stage his
back became so sore that I should have left him behind, were it not that
he had had a serious encounter with a tusker, and I dared not risk him
in that vicinity. He escaped from the encounter with some bruises, and
it was fortunate that he inflicted no serious wound on his antagonist.
And he was quite well again, before we got home. This was, however, the
last tour he made with me. Elephants had become property so unsafe that,
before the next season, I disposed of both of mine. In one year, out of
three hundred and fifty elephants employed by a timber firm, thirty-two
died and twenty-two were stolen. But it was like parting with a friend
to see the sadaw go.

                  *       *       *       *       *

The committee visited the three northern churches, and, after full
conference both with the local rulers and with the Christians, reached
the unanimous decision that there should be a station established in the
north, and that it should be at Chieng Rāi. In this we were largely
influenced by the central situation of that place with reference to a
considerable group of cities and towns within the same watershed, and
all, like Chieng Rāi itself, rapidly filling up with an agricultural
population crowded out from the dear and densely settled lands further
south. And in addition to this was the conviction that the new station
would prove a stepping-stone to the large northern section of the Tai
race, established in territory which is now English, French, and
Chinese. We still think that some amicable arrangement should be made
with the American Baptist Missionary Union, by which the Tai race to the
north of Siam and east of the Salwin should be left to our mission. The
Union has a great work among the hill-tribes—a work for which they are
specially adapted and specially well equipped; while we are equally well
equipped for work among the Tai.

Dr. Denman viewed the field with special interest, for he had been
designated to help in opening the station, and we had the virtual
sanction of the Board thereto. It was the prospect of having a physician
that specially enlisted the interest of the rulers of Chieng Rāi; though
both they and their people were friendly to our work on other grounds.
It made us sad to think that our old friend the governor had not lived
to see the mission started. But the beautiful lot given by him on the Mê
Kok will always be a memorial to him. In due time Rev. and Mrs. Dodd and
Dr. and Mrs. Denman moved up and opened the station. The years have
abundantly justified the wisdom of this step. In 1910 the accessions to
the churches in Chieng Rāi equalled those of the mother church in

From Chieng Sên we sent out two parties of evangelists, five in each,
well loaded with Scriptures and tracts, one northwestward to Keng Tung,
and the other across the Mê Kōng to Mûang Sing. This was the very first
mission work ever done in the Keng Tung State. These parties carried
also a supply of medicines, and were limited in time to two and a half
months. They were everywhere well received, and on their return gave
interesting reports of their work. Their books were eagerly read, and
the supply of them was far too small. There were a number of interesting
cases of believers. Some villages were loath to have them leave. The
experiment, in fact, was very successful.



As soon as our committee work was done, Mr. Dodd was obliged to return.
After visiting the Mūsô villages, Dr. Denman and I moved on to Chieng
Kawng. This town is situated on the right bank of the great river within
the fifteen-kilometer zone which was reserved as neutral territory upon
the cession of the left bank to France. A French military station was on
the opposite side of the river, and a small gunboat was lying there—the
first that ever came up through the rapids. Among the crew were two or
three who could read English, and who were very anxious to get English
Bibles. This was an unexpected request which we could not then meet. But
I applied for some to the American Bible Society, and received them just
before I started on my trip of the next year; and, finally, was able to
forward them to the men from Lūang Prabāng. The captain of the gunboat
was very kind to us while we stayed at Chieng Kawng, and was much
interested in having his men get the Bibles.

Letters were presently received by Dr. Denman summoning him back to
Chiengmai on account of the illness of his wife. This left me again
without an associate, and with the added care of the medical work, which
cannot be avoided on such a tour, and which, of course, rests more
heavily on a layman than it does on a trained physician. Before
returning home I made a call—and I believe it was the last one—at the
Mūsô villages beyond the Mê Kōng. Again my hopes were raised of gaining
the whole tribe. With such a prospect I would gladly have remained with
them several months. But again I had to leave them with only the “next
year” promise—which never was fulfilled. I reached home on May 5th,
after an absence of three and a half months.



                           THE REGIONS BEYOND

Two important tours were undertaken by the Lāo Mission in 1897—one at
the opening of the year, eastward and northward beyond the Mê Kōng River
into French and Chinese territory; and the other after the close of the
rainy season, northward into British territory. The latter tour led to
far-reaching results, but it does not come within the scope of this
personal narrative. The former was rendered possible by the timely gift
of seventy pounds from Mr. Arthington, already mentioned; and
represented the nearest approach we could then make toward the
fulfilment of his great desire to reach with the Scriptures those
“tribes of Aryan origin” in the “regions beyond.” Dr. Peoples, then of
Nān, was my companion during part of this tour; and we went well
supplied with Scriptures and tracts, no less than fourteen carriers
being loaded with these alone. I left home on January 12th, going
eastward by way of Lakawn and Prê to Nān, where Dr. Peoples was to join
me. At each of these stations I spent a busy and a delightful Sunday;
and from Lakawn as far as Nān I had the pleasant company of Miss Fleeson
and Miss Dr. Bowman, returning to their post from the Annual Meeting.

One night on this portion of the trip we were awakened by the cries of
our men and the snorting of the ponies, to find that we had a visit from
a night prowler, coming so near that we heard the clatter of the loose
stones which he dislodged as he sprang away. The tracks we found in the
morning showed him to be a large Bengal tiger. On this same stretch of
road, as recently as 1910, the mails for Nān were interrupted by a
man-eating tiger, which killed several men and women, till, finally, he
was despatched by Dr. Peoples within a few hundred yards of the mission

Ten days were spent in journeying northward through the great province
of Nān, stopping night by night in its villages and towns, where we
always had good audiences at our evening worship. Sunday we spent at
Mûang Ngôn, and then turned eastward, striking the Mê Kōng at Tā Dûa,
and making our way up its western bank. At Bān Hūi Kûa we found such
interest that we were sorry that we must move on. The Prayā—or Pīa, as
the name is called throughout this region—spent an afternoon in
transcribing in the Lūang Prabāng character the tract entitled “The Way
to Happiness.” He had heard something of our religion before this from a
former princess-pupil of Miss Cole in the Wang Lang School at Bangkok.
As he bade us good-bye he said, pointing upwards, “I hope we shall meet
up yonder,” and seemed pleased that we had the same anticipation.

The next Sunday we camped in the monastery grounds at Bān Hūa Ling. The
people began to assemble before breakfast, and long before it was time
for the morning service the grounds were full. The abbot, with his monks
and the officers, sat directly before me as I explained the method of
salvation through Jesus Christ. The audience listened most attentively.
At the close the abbot and the officers remained for further
conversation. The abbot expressed surprise at our errand. He had never
known of anybody’s travelling about simply to teach the people. Some
expressed fear of encountering the anger of the spirits if they should
no longer worship them. To this the doctor gave the scientific answer
that fevers and most other diseases were caused and propagated by
specific germs, over which the spirits have no control whatever. This
was to them a new idea, but they seemed to comprehend it. Next morning,
when we left them, the people followed us with expressions of regret.

When we reached Chieng Mên, a town on the western bank of the river and
opposite Lūang Prabāng, we found a European with a group of boys, who
turned out to be the French schoolmaster. He invited us to dine with him
that evening, and the next day aided us in crossing the river. Our first
duty in Lūang Prabāng was to report to the French authorities, M.
Vackle, the Commandant Supérieur, and M. Grant, the Commissaire. They
had been notified from Bangkok of our coming, and received us with
genuine French hospitality. We never met two more perfect gentlemen.
They even offered us a house; but, as the abbot of the principal
monastery was a personal friend of mine, they yielded to our preference
to stop with him, but only on the ground that there would be more
comfort and room for our men.

That evening we were invited to dine with M. Vackle. M. Grant and his
staff were present; and the dinner was a royal one, to which we were
prepared to do full justice. We had the embarrassment of not being able
to converse save through a native interpreter not well versed either in
French or in English. But our host was most considerate, as were also
his French guests. And every evening during our stay we dined with one
or another of the officials.

Next day we called on the Lāo “King,” as he is still euphemistically
called, though possessing only such powers as the French give him. When
we made our business call on the French officials to ask permission to
proceed on our missionary tour through the French territory, they were
very obliging. We freely discussed together alternative routes, and they
offered us passports for any of them. When at last with some hesitancy,
the question of permanent work and a mission station was broached, M.
Vackle replied that for that he had no authority. Application would have
to be made to the Governor General at Hanoi, and preferably through
Washington and Paris. The prospect still seemed hopeful.

On the evening before our departure, M. Vackle invited us to dine
informally and spend the evening with him at his beautiful cottage and
garden two miles out in the country. On meeting us, our host said, “The
other night I was the Commandant Supérieur. To-night I am simply M.
Vackle. I want to have a pleasant informal evening with you.” And surely
we did. We talked of the old friendship between France and the United
States, of Washington and La Fayette, the Chicago Exposition, the
Parliament of Religions, and of M. Vackle’s own work in the new
province. He was interested in the Parliament of Religions, and asked if
Roman Catholics were equally welcome with Protestants. He had an
exaggerated idea of the number of our religious sects. We told him that
the great body of Protestants were included in five or six groups
somewhat like the orders of the Catholic church, but there were numerous
smaller subdivisions. He had heard of one that lived wholly on milk. Of
this we had to confess ignorance, unless it were that large group that
we call infants.

It was after eleven when we rose to take our leave; and even then he
detained us to see by torchlight his beautiful garden, artificially
watered, and his bowling alley—insisting that we try a turn on it. This
was what I had never done before, but at the first bowl I brought down
several pins. This pleased him, and he said that he had never seen a
better first play.

On taking our final leave, we spoke a last word for permanent mission
work, reminding him that while Catholicism and Protestantism had alike
produced great nations, Buddhism never had; and that it was therefore
political wisdom to encourage and foster the Christian religion in the
provinces. He assented, but said he feared that the “King” might imagine
that his subjects would be less loyal if they became Christians. We
assured him that the reverse would be true, since it was a fundamental
point in our teaching as well as in the Scriptures, that Christians were
to be obedient to their rulers.

Among the routes offered we chose the northern one as most nearly
meeting Mr. Arthington’s desires. Our passport stated that we were Bāt
Lūangs, i.e., Catholic priests. We left Lūang Prabāng on Monday, March
8th, crossed the Nam Ū near its mouth, and spent three weeks on our way
to Mûang Sai. At one point there was a theft of a considerable amount of
our money, which delayed us a day or two, but annoyed us more. The
thieves turned out to be some of our own men, who afterwards confessed,
and eventually we recovered the money. From Mûang Sai there is a good
route to Nān, and as no man had been left in that station along with the
ladies, Dr. Peoples felt that he must return to it, while I should go on
northward to the Sipsawng Pannā and finally return to Chiengmai along
the route which I took with Mr. Irwin in 1893. His departure was a great
loss to me personally, and to the effectiveness of the tour. He left us
on March 31st.

The next week was one of intense interest to me. One of its days was the
thirtieth anniversary of my arrival in Chiengmai, and fraught with
memories of the hopes, achievements, and disappointments of all those
years. And were we now, perhaps, on the eve of a new opening with wider
possibilities than ever? So it seemed. For, one day as I was in the
monastery at Mûang Sai, there entered an officer, Sên Suriya by name,
who, making the obeisance usually made to priests, explained that,
having been absent from home, he had not heard the instruction we had
given at our evening worship. His wife, however, had reported that a
teacher from a great and distant country was come with Scriptures and an
offer of salvation from the great God of all. It was the great desire of
his heart to be saved from his sins. His interest was evidently intense,
and that roused our interest in him. From three o’clock till nightfall
our elders and I explained to him the great truths of revelation, while
he listened almost with rapture.

In the midst of this earnest conference the “āchān,” or chief officer of
the monastery, came in; and Sên Suriya joined us in explaining to this
friend the strange news he had heard. The āchān was soon as deeply
interested as he. He also desired to know further of this matter. Before
we parted that evening, Sên Suriya had accepted the teaching joyfully;
and his friend, with more reservation.

Soon others had joined these two—notably a family of refugees from
persecution for witchcraft. They were ready to accept anything which
would deliver them from bondage to the spirits. On Sunday at the public
service the instruction was directed to the needs of these enquirers,
all of whom were present. The cost was to be counted; the cross was to
be taken up; but the reward was great. Sên Suriya’s wife and family all
opposed him. He had spent an anxious night, and was under great strain;
but was still firm. He was ready at any cost.

His friend the āchān had received his appointment in the monastery from
the Pīa, or head-officer. For honesty’s sake he felt he must notify the
Pīa and resign his position. It was, therefore, arranged that our elders
and I should go with the two friends on that errand that very afternoon.
We went, and were kindly received. Sên Suriya, as spokesman, witnessed a
good confession. They had been men, he said, who all their lives had
sought merit and followed the teachings of the Buddha, but with great
anxiety, on account of their failures. Now they had learned of the great
refuge of the God who could pardon and save both in this and in the
coming world. Their motive was strictly religious. They would be as
loyal as ever, and would perform faithfully their government duties. The
āchān said that his friend had fully expressed his views, but he wished
further to resign his position in the monastery. The Pīa listened with
evident interest, but with some surprise. When he spoke, he said: “All
that I know of religion I have learned from these two men. They know
manifold more than I do. If they see it right, how can I oppose? I will
still take them as my religious teachers, and will learn Christianity of

I added a word, emphasizing their assurance that being good Christians
would only strengthen their loyalty. Thanking the Pīa for his kindness,
I retired. How much of his liberality was due to my presence—if it were
so due at all—I do not know. But next morning Sên Suriya came to say
that he could not withstand the opposition of his wife and family. While
his faith was firm as ever, he could do no more this year. By another
year he hoped their opposition might be relaxed. Meantime the family of
refugees had weakened. I supplied all these with medicine, and urged
them to remain steadfast in the faith, reminding them that baptism was
not essential to salvation.

I had made further stay in Mûang Sai dependent upon the outcome in the
case of these two men. So now it seemed best to continue my journey
northward. I went out to a retired wooded hillock, and there spent a
quiet season in prayer, commending those in whom I had become so
intensely interested to the care of the Divine Teacher, and seeking
direction for my further course.

So far we had not met many of the hill-tribes, which had been one of the
main objectives of the tour. As I descended from the hill, I found some
thirty Kamus just arrived on some government work, and encamped by the
road. I turned aside to speak with them, when, to my surprise, one,
taller and more intelligent than the rest, answered me in good Lāo. To
my greater surprise, when I handed him a tract, he began to read it. It
seems that, when a lad, he had been initiated into the monastic order by
the Princess of Lūang Prabāng, and was one of the very few of his tribe
who was a fairly good Lāo scholar. He was delighted to get the book; but
I was like a miner who has found a new gold mine. Had they been ready to
return to their homes, I should at once have gone with them. A new
vision seemed to open before me of work among that interesting tribe. I
had seen the great value of the help afforded by Cha Pū Kaw, the first
Mūsô convert, in work among his tribe. But he was not a scholar, and was
too old to learn. Here was a Kamu scholar. Might he not have been raised
up for this very purpose?

That evening I spent with my elders in their camp. I left with my new
friend a number of books, which he promised to read to his people. I
took down the names of their villages, and promised if possible to visit
them next year—which they all begged me to do. That apparently casual
meeting seemed to me a loud call, Come over and help us! And it led to a
most interesting work, which was stopped only at the command of the

Leaving Mûang Sai, we journeyed northward along the telegraph road,
enlivened by noble views of long slopes, deep gorges, and high peaks. We
passed some villages of the Yao tribe with whom we could converse only
by signs. On the third day out, at Bān Nā Tawng, we left the telegraph
road, turning off at right angles to Mûang Lā. At one village the head
man assembled his people to meet us, when he learned that here was a man
from seven days beyond the great French country! At one place we passed
a village of Lentīns, so named from the district in Cochin China from
which they came. They showed their Chinese ingenuity by having their
rice-pounding done by water-power.

Mûang Āi was the last town in French territory; beyond it one enters the
province of Yunnan, China. Here we had scarcely pitched our tent before
the governor had read our little tract on “The Way to Happiness,” and
asked us to stay awhile to teach his people. This we did, remaining from
Friday till Tuesday. He invited us to worship in his house, which was
filled to overflowing. On Saturday, in company with the governor, I
attended a wedding feast. I got along finely with the various dishes
until a bowl of blood fresh from a slaughtered hog was passed around,
and each guest took a spoonful! My note upon leaving the town was, “It
is wonderful how many, especially of the officers and the more
thoughtful class, are struck with the self-evidencing truths of the
Gospel on its first presentation. And their first thought is the sincere
conviction that the Gospel meets their wants. Nor is this testimony
invalidated because, when they come to count the cost, they are not
willing to pay it.”

I was much pleased to hear uniform testimony to the uprightness of
French officials. My own respect for French rule had greatly increased
since we entered their territory. Is it that the Tai race beyond the Mê
Kōng is more religious, or is it on account of the French rule, that
people there seem more deeply interested in the Gospel message? But such
has been the fact. I have never been cheered by brighter visions of
hopeful and speedy results of our labours. It seems almost inconceivable
that a European nation should forbid missionary work among its people.

From this point on we were warned not to allow our party to be separated
on the march. Shortly before this a merchant travelling with his son had
been attacked and killed. I heard of two mountain tribes in this
neighbourhood new to me, and of a third further to the northwest, which
sacrifices at every rice-harvest a human victim captured from some other
tribe. Scarcely any one had ever heard of the name of Jesus.

Not far from the town we passed on a ridge a well-marked boundary stone
with the letters R. F. (République Française) on one side, and C. R.
(Chieng Rung) on the other, in large Roman capitals. Noticing by the
roadside a large stack of bricks, we learned that we were near the salt
wells, and that the salt was compressed into bricks for easier
transportation on mules. The salt industry makes Bān Baw Rê an important
place. No one with white clothes, white hair, or white beard is allowed
to enter the enclosure about the salt wells; so I did not see them. I
could get no reason for the prohibition, save that the spirits would be

The time of my visit was unfortunate, being the beginning of their New
Year festival, which is always a season of carousal. That night we had a
scene that defied description. After supper a man came to tell me to get
ready; they were going to “saw” me. I did not know what “saw”-ing might
be; but I soon learned, to my disgust. Presently a noisy crowd entered
the sālā where I was, with drums, fifes, and other musical instruments,
and surrounded me with deafening noise and songs. A great personage had
come to their place, and they were come to do him honour. He had great
riches, and they expected a treat of fifty rupees. Paying no attention
to my attempted disclaimer, they went on: “Give us out your money. Give
us fifty rupees! Give us twenty-five!” Pushing my way out of the noisy
circle, I was followed with more imperative demands. At last the
governor’s son came up as a friend and advised me to give them five or
six rupees, or they would never depart. Then one of my elders came to
me, anxious regarding the outcome, and said that it was only a New Year
custom, not a religious one—intimating that I need have no conscientious
scruples in the matter. Finally the governor’s son said he could get
them off with three rupees. I had only one in my pocket, and did not
dare open my box before that mob. At last I handed the young man that
one, and, with an emphasis which they understood, told him that I would
give no more, appealing to his father for protection, and holding him
responsible for the consequences. They went off sullenly enough. Having
gone so far, I doubt whether they would have desisted without something
“to save their face.” From me they went to the governor’s, and so on, in
order, throughout the place, with their hideous noise, which I could
hear far on into the night.

At another village further on, the people seemed in doubt how to receive
me, till a young man came forward and asked if I were not the man who a
few years before travelled through that country with an elephant, and
let the Prince of Mûang Pōng have a gun. Then, turning to the head man,
he said, “You need not be afraid. He is a teacher of the
Jesus-religion.” My standing in that village was assured. One of the
listeners at our worship in the monastery that night was much impressed,
not with the idea of pardon, as is commonly the case, but with that of
the Holy Spirit to purify and cleanse. That was what he needed; and he
earnestly enquired how to obtain his aid. This led to the subject of
prayer to a living, personal God, who has promised this aid. We left him
with the hope that his great need would be supplied.

Mûang Lā was the furthest point reached on this tour. From it we struck
westward into our old route of 1893 at Mûang Pōng. The Chao Fā who got
my gun had been killed by his people. I was much struck with the
judicial aspect of the act as told me. One of the officers said, “He was
a bad man, who oppressed the people, fined and executed them unjustly,
and, of course, we killed him. That is the way the Lāo do.” A nephew and
adopted son of the murdered Prince succeeded him, but the authority was
largely in the hands of the Prayā Lūang, though the young Prince’s
mother also had great influence. She invited me to a good dinner, and we
had a most interesting conversation. Among other things she asked, “How
is it that you say Buddhism cannot save?” and she seemed much impressed
with the answer: “Because Gautama Buddha is gone, and it is more than
twenty-five hundred years before the next Buddha is expected.”

We were now travelling southward, and soon came once more upon the
tricolour floating over the French post at Mûang Sing. I felt like
saluting it. I was greatly surprised to find an Englishman, Mr. Eva, in
charge. He fairly shouted to hear his mother tongue once more. He had
scarcely heard a word of it for three years. Seeing that I was spent
with my long, hot ride, and that my carriers would not get in till
nightfall, he kindly offered to hunt me up some luncheon. This I
declined, if only I might have a cup of tea and a piece of dry bread.
Holding up both hands, he exclaimed, “You’ve got me there! I’ve almost
forgotten how wheat bread tastes.” He insisted on my taking up my
quarters in his bungalow, till I said, “If you were on French business,
you would wish to stop where you could best accomplish it, would you
not? I am here on missionary work, and my business is with the people.
The monastery grounds will suit me better.” “Looking at it in that
light,” said he, “you’re right. I’ll say no more.” I knew that in the
home of a French official I should have no visitors at all.

He was the son of an English Wesleyan minister; but, being a wild lad,
he had wandered away and drifted into the French army, where he rose to
an official position. But the influences of his early days had not been
lost. We had many heart-to-heart talks together. He wanted an English
Bible. Having only my “Oxford” along, I could not spare him that, but
brought him one on my next tour. On Sunday he attended the service led
by the elders, pleased at the evidence they gave of the reality of our
missionary work. He had six thousand Kamus in his district.

The opium habit is very common. We found but few monasteries in the
Sipsawng Pannā whose abbots and monks did not use opium. One man, when
asked whether he used it, made a significant answer: “When I have money,
I do. When I have none, I don’t.”

The Chao Fā of Mûang Sing was busy preparing for the marriage of his
daughter with a son of the great Chao Fā of Chieng Rung. So I did not
see much of him. I had a long talk, however, with the prospective groom.
He doubted the possibility of pardon for sin. I had several interviews
with Dr. McKean’s patient for calculus, before mentioned. He was not so
near Christianity as I hoped to find him, but was profuse in praise of
the doctor and the hospital. He had two wives before the operation, and
now was utilizing his new lease of life by taking another younger one. I
saw here some peaches not quite ripe—which was very tantalizing. But I
did get some ripe plums.

When I left Mûang Sing on April 28th, Mr. Eva escorted me six miles on
my way, and we bade each other good-bye four or five times before we
could finally part. At Wieng Pūkā I had another warm welcome from the
French Commissaire. I had to decline his invitation, also, to good
quarters with him; but dined with him at night, and next morning he sent
me a nice shoulder of beef. A large number of Kamus were here engaged on
some public works. Unlike most of their tribe, these are Buddhists, and
there were a number who could read, and who were delighted to get books.
It was remarkable that their women spoke Lāo fairly well. Their chief
officer had eighteen hundred men under him. After talking with them till
near midnight, I turned them over to the elders, and was soon asleep.
Next morning my cook came to my tent to enquire whether I were not ill.
It was half-past six, and breakfast was ready!

We passed many Kamu villages in this portion of our route. Most of them
would welcome a missionary, and seemed ripe for the Gospel. Formerly,
under the government of Nān, they had an easy time, with no taxes and
almost voluntary service. Now they naturally complained of the stricter
régime of the French. I consoled them with the fact that the world over
people have to pay taxes to the government that protects them. For this
I did not at all need the warning which Mr. Eva gave me, that the one
thing which the French would not tolerate was interference with their
government work. At Chieng Kawng I took leave of French territory, with
nothing but feelings of gratitude for the uniform personal kindness of
their officials, and their apparently kind interest in our work. That
work I must now dismiss with the very brief outline I have given. I
believe that light was conveyed to many seekers after truth, and seed
was sown which will not be lost.

From Chieng Kawng onwards I was on old touring ground, and among
friends. I spent a Sunday there, made a short visit to the Mūsô hills,
and found a warm welcome in Chieng Rāi from the two missionary families
who were now established in that station, as well as from my many native
friends. Here I received my long-desired mail. Its good cheer was
tempered by one sad piece of news—the death of my sister Mary and my
brother Evander, the last of my own mother’s children. On May 16th I
entered upon my own three-score and tenth year. Leaving Chieng Rāi on
the 18th, I reached home on the 26th, after an absence of four and a
half months.

Meanwhile the work in our own and in all the other stations had been
energetically prosecuted by a faithful band of younger workers, better
prepared than the old ones to carry it on to completion. And the other
long tour to the English territory, planned for the later portion of the
year, was successfully carried out by Dr. Briggs, Rev. Mr. Dodd, and
Rev. Mr. Irwin.



                            THE CLOSED DOOR

The tour of 1898 was undertaken with two special objects in view: (1) to
follow up the auspicious beginnings of work among the Kamu and Lamēt
tribes, the largest and most important within the mountain area explored
during the previous season, and, apparently, ready as a body to accept
the Gospel; and (2) to secure the sanction of the French government for
continued work in French territory. I was unable to secure a missionary
colleague for the tour, and therefore went accompanied only by native
evangelists. I took the most direct route, crossing the Mê Kōng at Pāk
Bêng, following the Bêng River to its source, and crossing by the pass
at its head to Mûang Sai, the point at which the most promising work of
the previous tour was begun. The journey so far occupied nearly a
month’s time.

The tour was organized on notice too short to permit my passport from
the United States Minister in Bangkok to reach me in Chiengmai before I
started. It was, therefore, sent on direct to the French authorities at
Lūang Prabāng. Meantime M. Vackle, the Commandant Supérieur, who was so
kind to us the year before, had been superseded by M. Luce; and him,
unfortunately, we just missed at the crossing of the Mê Kōng. He passed
up in a steamer the day before we reached the river. By the time we
reached Mûang Sai, M. Luce had returned to Lūang Prabāng, and had wired
to the office in Mûang Sai that my passport was come, and that I was
expected in Lūang Prabāng. No instructions were given regarding my work,
and the authorities were in doubt what to do. Under the circumstances,
the only passport they could issue was one to the capital, Lūang

They were not particular, however, as to the route I should take. So I
chose a circuit to the northeast, leading through the mountain region to
the Ū River, down which I could descend by boat to Lūang Prabāng. This
would enable me to find Nān Tit, the Kamu scholar whom I met at Mûang
Sai on my previous tour, and to visit with him a few Kamu villages. The
extent of the work I hoped to undertake that season would depend upon
the opening I found there. A passport was given me by that route, and a
soldier was sent along as guide and escort.

Nān Tit, as I hoped, had read the books I gave him, had prepared the way
for me by teaching the substance of them to his neighbours, and now
would assist me in teaching his tribe. With him as interpreter and
assistant we visited a number of contiguous villages, holding night
conferences, at which the whole population of the village would be
present. Everywhere a wonderfully ready response was given to the
Gospel. They, too, were oppressed by the dread of spirits, and welcomed
deliverance from their bondage. They would accept the Gospel, but,
naturally, referred us on to the Pīa.

To his village at last we went. He was a venerable man near seventy, and
though for years hopelessly crippled by paralysis of the lower limbs,
his bright mind and business talents had raised him to his present
position, and given him a commanding influence. I shall never forget our
first interview. He had heard the rumour that our religion could
overcome the spirits and save from sin. Crawling painfully on his hands
to meet us, he welcomed us to his village and his people. He had heard
of the Jesus-religion, and wished to embrace it. Since he was old, he
must do it soon. This was on Friday afternoon. By Saturday night every
family in the place had made the same decision, and would begin by
keeping their first Sabbath next day. Our elders entered with heart and
soul into teaching them. The young folks soon learned a verse or two of
“The Happy Land,” and some a verse or two in the Catechism. Next
morning, before I was dressed, old and young of both sexes were
gathering to learn how to keep the Sabbath. It was a great day, just the
like of which I had never seen. It settled the decision of hundreds,
possibly of thousands, of people.

Still, everything depended upon the French authorities. They could
forbid our teaching, as, in fact, they afterwards did. But up to this
point I could not believe that they would. A prompt and candid interview
seemed all that would be necessary to settle that matter, and make the
Kamus feel safe. If such an opening were found, I had determined to
remain with them throughout the season. But in that case my family and
the mission must be informed. More medicine and books and some comforts
would be required to carry me through. It was, therefore, decided to
move on a day’s journey to Mûang Lā, a convenient point, leave there two
elders to instruct the people, and send back three carriers to Chiengmai
for the needed supplies and another elder; while I went on overland to
Mûang Kwā, and there took boat down the Ū River.

The mountain scenery along this river is very beautiful, especially so
near its junction with the Mê Kōng. We reached Lūang Prabāng on Monday,
May 9th, and called at once on M. Grant, who was so kind to us the year
before. He gave me a greeting as warm as ever. The king was having an
interview with M. Luce that day, so I could not see him till Tuesday. I
dined that night with M. Grant, he himself coming at dusk to walk over
with me. We had a delightful evening. There had been a regular exodus of
Kamus that year to Chiengmai and other southern provinces. M. Grant
asked if I had heard any reason assigned for it. I told him that I had
heard of three—the dearness of rice, owing to the failure of the last
crop; the exhaustion of the mountain lands, and the lack of remunerative
employment by which they could earn the money required to pay their

On Tuesday afternoon the Commandant Supérieur sent his secretary to
invite me to an interview. He, too, gave me a cordial greeting. He had
received my passport together with a letter of introduction from the
Consul Général in Bangkok. I had also a kind personal letter from our
United States Minister, Mr. John Barrett. He had used his personal
influence, and assured me that it would all be right. My interview was
very pleasant. M. Luce enquired about our mission work, the number of
our converts, and other similar matters. He then referred to the large
emigration of Kamus; asked if I had heard of any reason for it, and how
many of our three thousand converts were Kamus. He was much surprised to
learn that the converts were almost entirely Lāo, with not a half dozen
Kamus among them. Putting his anxiety about the emigration and our work
among these people together, it seemed to me later that he must have
thought the movement a religious one.

When, at last, I stated my special errand to the city, namely, that a
number of villages in his province were interested in our religion, that
I wished to teach them further, and that, since they were French
subjects, I thought it proper to inform him and secure his sanction, he
thanked me for doing so, but his manner at once changed. He said he
should have to consult the king about that; the mountain people were
hard to teach; the country was unhealthy; the Catholic missionaries in
the south were leaving, or had left; the king would fear that the Kamus
would become disloyal to him if they became Christians. To this I
replied that the native officials had uniformly granted us permission to
teach among their subjects; that they realized that it was a benefit to
their country, and even gave us their assistance; and that it was the
fixed policy of our mission to teach Christians loyalty to their rulers.
M. Luce said he would consult with the king, and would let me know the
decision. I expressed my wish to pay my respects to the king, which he
said was a very proper thing, and, on my leaving, he gave me a cordial
invitation to dine with him that night.

Next day, through M. Grant, I secured a very pleasant interview with the
king. My long residence in the country and acquaintance with both
Siamese and Lāo officials, gave us much common ground for conversation.
He was pleased that I had known their Majesties, the present King of
Siam and his father, his former liege-lords. Quite in line with native
ideas, he thought I must be a man of great merit to be so old and yet so
strong. I explained at his request the teaching of our religion,
pointing out some of its distinctive differences from Buddhism, in all
of which things he was interested. He said that it was all very good,
but he was born and reared in the Buddhist worship, and was too old to
change. Gradually introducing my errand, I told him of my interest in
the Kamus, and of their desire to become Christians; that I had come
down to get permission to work among them. We taught them a better
morality, of which loyalty to rulers was a fundamental article, enjoined
by Jesus on His disciples. He raised the objection that the Kamus were
ignorant, and we would find them harder to teach than the Lāo. To this I
replied that these villagers had become believers, and I was going to
spend several months in teaching them. He asked if I did not think I was
running great risk in living so long in the forest, and so far away from
home. “Well,” said I, “I am used to life in the forest and jungle, and
you can see for yourself how I have fared.” At which he smiled, and made
no further objection. I left with the firm conviction that if M. Luce
were not unwilling, there would be no difficulty with him.

While at dinner that night, I informed M. Luce of my pleasant audience
with the king; how I told him my plans, and he had virtually given his
consent. “Is that so?” said he. “I must see the king myself about that.”
And as I took my leave, he said again, “I will see the king to-morrow,
and will let you know the result.”

The next afternoon, Thursday, M. Luce had a long interview at the
Prince’s residence. On Friday afternoon I called on M. Grant on my way
to the Commandant’s office. He told me that M. Luce wished to see me,
but had instructed him to notify me that the king did not understand
that I was to spend several months among the Kamus—though he certainly
did, or why should he have raised the question of my health? I reminded
M. Grant that my passport was not to the king, but to the French
authorities. All the world recognized the country as French territory.
It would have been considered a discourtesy to the French if the
representative of the United States had sent a letter to the Lāo king as
such. He admitted that in a limited sense this was true; but they did
not treat the king as a conquered vassal. Cochin China had fought the
French, and had been conquered and annexed. But Lūang Prabāng had put
itself under their protection without firing a gun. M. Grant delivered
his message with as much consideration toward my disappointment as was
consistent with loyalty to his superior. But my disappointment I could
not conceal.

M. Luce, I was informed, was very busy that day, but would be glad to
see me on Saturday afternoon. The decision, however, was irreversible.
Further pressure would be useless, and might be unwise. In that case, I
said, of course I must submit. I had shown proper respect for the ruling
authority, and my own desire to avoid future misunderstanding, by making
the long and costly journey to Lūang Prabāng. My errand was now ended. I
would take my leave at once, and return next morning.

This being reported to M. Luce, he sent word that he must see me before
I left. I might come immediately. Personally, again, he was very kind,
but made a studied effort to put the responsibility upon the king, who,
as he said, had not understood that I wished to make a long stay among
the Kamus, which he thought was unsafe for me. Of course, I had no
complaint to make of the king, who had been most gracious. I submitted
to their decision, and would return home. But my arrangements required
my return to the Kamu villages, where I had left my men and my goods,
and would be detained there till my messengers should return from
Chiengmai—which, he said, was all right. Since the responsibility had
been put on the king, and the adverse decision had been based solely on
the danger to my personal health and safety, I thought it unwise to
raise the question of native assistants, and so felt free to leave these
on the ground to teach the new believers, as, indeed, I felt under
obligation to do.

Thanking M. Luce for all his personal kindness, I begged to take my
leave of him then, so that I might start on my return the next morning.
But he evidently was not satisfied with his own part in the matter, and
wished to make some personal amends to soothe my disappointment. He
hoped I would not leave in the morning, but would remain till Monday,
and give him the pleasure of a dinner with me and M. Grant on Sunday
night. I hoped he would still excuse me, since, if I remained, that
would be our time for public worship. “Then,” said he, “we shall be
pleased to have you on Saturday night; and if you are not ready now to
give an affirmative reply, I hope you will so arrange it as to notify my
secretary in the morning.” Notwithstanding his evident disingenuousness
in trying to shift the responsibility for his own acts to another, there
was no reason for making it a personal matter; and it would be impolitic
to leave apparently angry. So I decided to remain till Monday, and
accepted the invitation for Saturday night.

I feared there would be great constraint on both sides at the dinner;
but in this I was agreeably disappointed. That very day a long telegram
had arrived, reporting the declaration of war with Spain, and the
particulars of the great naval victory of Manila Bay. On my arrival at
his house, M. Luce handed me a full translation of these into English,
which he had had made for me. They were much surprised at the victory,
for they thought the Spanish navy much larger and stronger than ours;
and they were high in their praise of the victors. We really had a
delightful time. After dinner our host and M. Grant both laid themselves
out to show me beautiful maps and pictures. M. Luce invited me to call
on Monday morning, and he would send a long telegram to my wife without
charge. This he did, and we all parted friends. The departure on the
16th, my seventieth birthday, was not as joyful as I had hoped.

On my return to Mûang Sai, I found that my carriers had been delayed by
sore feet and sickness. I could not leave till they came, for fear of
missing them and causing further complications. So my long trip home was
thrown into the middle of a very rainy season. I had to apologize as
best I could to the new converts for the change in my plan to remain
with them. But they were glad to have our elders stay and teach them. If
that shady tree on the little hill at Mûang Sai could speak, it would
tell of much anxious prayer on leaving the Christians and starting on
the long journey before me. My Ebenezer was left on that tree.

That journey was altogether the worst I ever had. I did not reach home
till August 6th, after the longest tour I had ever taken. M. Luce’s
telegram had prepared my family and friends for my changed plans.

A few lines must close the history of the work among the Kamus. In
December the three evangelists returned with a most encouraging report.
The converts had remained firm, and others were waiting to join them.
The next season a native minister was sent to them. In 1903 the mission
ventured to send two of our younger men, Dr. Campbell and Mr. Mackay. to
Mûang Sai, to visit the Christians, and respond to a pressing call to
extend the work. Imagine their surprise on reaching Mûang Sai to find
that the local commissioner had received orders to forbid our
missionaries to visit the Christian community, or to hold any religious
service with them, on penalty of being conducted out of the country, by
force if necessary. The command was so imperative that the Commissioner
dared not disobey. He begged them for his sake to return peaceably. No
effort has been made since to reach the Christians at Mûang Sai, or to
extend the work.

It will be remembered that a few members of the Chieng Sên church—never
more than half a dozen families—lived on the east bank of the Mê Kōng,
in French territory. So objectionable was the very presence of a
missionary making a few days’ visit among his flock, that it was
regarded of sufficient importance to warrant an official protest from
the authorities at Lūang Prabāng, sent through the Governor General of
Hanoi, and the United States Minister at Bangkok. Complaint was made of
a visit made by the Rev. ——, who had exhibited Scripture pictures and
distributed books among the people—which was so contrary to their policy
that they forbade the Roman Catholic missionaries from working in their
territory. They begged that the thing be not repeated! For the credit of
the French authorities I should have been glad to suppress the latter
part of this story. But, on the other hand, I think it should be known,
in order that it may become a burden on the prayers of the Christian
world of all denominations, that God’s providence may open the whole
peninsula of Indo-China to the preaching of the Gospel.




My advancing age suggests the wisdom of not attempting to continue this
personal narrative beyond the account just given of my last long
missionary tour. I may venture to add, however, by way of conclusion, a
few suggestions and criticisms concerning the work of our mission as a
whole, and briefly notice a few of the more important personalities and
events of these later years.

Special prominence has been given throughout to the evangelistic work,
as being the foundation of all other missionary work. A Christian Church
and a Christian constituency must be the first aim in all missions. In
this we have not been unsuccessful. Our ideals, it is true, have not
been realized. We have not witnessed among the Siamese or the Lāo any
racial movement towards Christianity; nor have there been any great
revivals resulting in large accessions to the church. Both of these we
hope for in the not far distant future. Yet the uniform, healthful
growth of the church, as distinguished from spasmodic or sporadic
increase, has been most gratifying. Seldom does a week pass without
accessions to some of our churches.

An adult membership of four thousand is a good foundation. And it must
never be forgotten that the roll of church-membership is a very
inadequate index of the real influence and power of a mission. In
addition to a much larger constituency of adherents, there is our large
roll of non-communing members, the hope of the future church. And signs
of most hopeful promise have appeared within the present year. The
growth of the Chieng Rāi church during that time has been surpassed only
by the results of Dr. Campbell’s recent tours, amounting to eighty
accessions within a few weeks. The supporters of our missions have every
cause for gratitude, and a call for earnest, effectual prayer in their

A review of our evangelistic work suggests one or two criticisms. On one
line at least, with a smaller amount of hard work done by the missionary
himself, we might have accomplished more, might now be better prepared
for advanced work, and the native church might be better able to stand
alone, if we had addressed our efforts more steadily to the development
and use of native assistance. While we have not had the material of well
educated young men out of which to form a theological seminary and to
furnish a fully equipped native ministry, we have not used, to the
extent to which we should have used it, the material which was
available. For a mission as old as ours, we must confess that in this
most important matter we are very backward.

The delay in starting our school for boys was not our fault; it was
inevitable. The Lāo rulers of the earlier years were absolutely
indifferent to all education, and were positively jealous of any that
was given by the mission. But as the church began to increase, we had
accessions of men trained in the Buddhist priesthood. Some of these were
among the best educated men in the country. They understood—as young men
even from mission schools could not be expected to understand—the
religion, the modes of thought, the needs of their own people, and how
to reach them. Their education, however deficient, brought them many
compensations. They form the class from which nearly all of our
evangelists have been drawn. When such men have been drilled in the
Scriptures, their Buddhistic knowledge makes them the very best men for
successful work among their countrymen. They visit and sleep in the
homes of their people, and are one with them. The missionary in his work
must rely largely on their judgment and advice.

It must not be understood that we have not taught these men or used
them. A great deal of labour has been spent in training them; very much
in the same way in which in American churches, a generation ago, busy
pastors trained up young men to be some of our best ministers. The
criticism I make—and in it I believe all my colleagues will concur—is
that we have not made as much of them as we should have done. No doubt
there have been difficulties in the way. Their families must somehow be
provided for during the process. The native churches were not strong
enough to undertake their support. We were warned that to aid them with
foreign funds would make the churches mercenary. What the missionary
himself sometimes did to eke out their subsistence was irregular and
difficult, and often unsatisfactory. But the labourer is worthy of his
hire. Hungry mouths must be fed. The Board and the churches at home do
not begrudge a thousand dollars or more to support a missionary in the
field. Should they begrudge the same amount spent upon half a dozen men
who will treble or quadruple the missionary’s work and his influence? In
any business it is poor policy to employ a high-salaried foreman, and
then not furnish him cheaper men to do that which unskilled labour can
accomplish better than he.

In this matter, as in some others, we might have learned valuable
lessons from our nearest missionary neighbours in Burma, even though the
conditions of our work have been in many respects very different from
theirs. Making all allowance for our conditions, I frankly confess that
our greatest mistake has probably been in doing too much of the work
ourselves, instead of training others to do it, and working through
them. This conviction, however, must not in the least lead us to relax
our efforts in the line of general education. For the ultimate
establishment of the church, and to meet the demands of the age, we must
have workmen thoroughly equipped. Till that time comes, we must, as we
should more fully have done hitherto, rely on whatever good working
material we find ready to hand.

                  *       *       *       *       *

With regard to plans and methods of work, another thought suggests
itself. In a business organized as ours is, where the majority in the
Annual Meeting has absolute power, it is difficult to avoid the
appearance—and sometimes the reality—of a vacillating policy. New
stations are established, and missionaries are located by the ballot of
the mission there assembled. From year to year the personnel of the
mission is constantly changing by reason of furloughs, breakdown of
health, and necessary removals. We make our disposition of forces at one
meeting, and at the next an entirely new disposition has become
necessary. A family has been left alone without a physician or
associate. Missionary enthusiasm, or an earnest minority interested in a
particular field or a particular cause, may initiate a policy which a
subsequent majority may be unable to sanction, or which it may be found
difficult or impossible to carry out.

Again, as between the policy of maintaining one strong central station,
and that of maintaining several smaller ones in different parts of the
country, it is often difficult to decide. With the aim originally of
establishing the Gospel in all the states under Siamese rule, we seem to
have been led to adopt the latter policy. Through God’s blessing on
evangelistic tours, in Lampūn and in the frontier provinces of the
north, there grew up churches which called for missionary oversight. The
famine in Prê summoned us thither; and to secure the work then done, a
missionary in residence was needed. Though no church had been formed in
Nān, yet our tours had opened the way to one, and the importance of the
province and its distance from our centre demanded a station. In every
case these stations were opened with the cordial approval of the mission
and of the Board at home. Yet it has been difficult to keep them all
manned, as has been specially true in the case of Prê—and there to the
great detriment of the work. It is easy to say now that a strong central
policy might have been better. And that criticism would probably hit me
harder than anyone else, for I have sanctioned the establishment of
every one of those stations. It is possible that a more centralized
organization might have accomplished more toward the education of native
workers—the point last under discussion.

With reference to the establishment of stations in the north beyond the
frontier of Siam, there was not until recently absolute unanimity in the
mission. But that was not from any diversity of opinion as regards the
question in itself, but because a sister denomination had established
itself there. There has never been reasonable ground for doubt that the
language and race of the ruling class, and of the population of the
plains would naturally assign them to the Lāo mission. And no other
mission is so well equipped for working that field. A Lāo Inland
Mission, somewhat on the plan of the China Inland Mission, would be an
ideal scheme for reaching the whole of the Tai-speaking peoples of the
north and northeast under English and French and Chinese rule. The
obligation to carry the Gospel to those peoples should rest heavily on
the conscience of the Christian Church, and on our Church in particular.
Who will volunteer to be the leaders?

It has already been noticed that in our educational work the Girls’
School had the precedence in time, and possibly in importance. Boys did
at least learn to read and write in the monasteries. At the time of our
arrival in Chiengmai, only two women in the province could read. The
Chiengmai Girls’ School has had a wide educational influence throughout
the north, and to-day our Girls’ Schools have practically no

The Phraner Memorial School for small children, in connection with the
First Church, Chiengmai, under Mrs. Campbell’s direction, is preparing
material both for High Schools and for the College. We have good schools
for girls in Lakawn, Nān, and Chieng Rāi; and parochial mixed schools in
most of our country churches and out-stations. The young women who have
been engaged in this department, and many self-sacrificing married
women, have great reason to rejoice over the work accomplished. No
greater work can be done than that of educating the wives and mothers of
the church and the land. Educated Christian men are greatly handicapped
when consorted with illiterate and superstitious wives. Without a
Christian wife and mother there can be no Christian family, the
foundation both of the church and of the Christian State.

On a recent visit to Chiengmai, Princess Dārā Ratsami—one of the wives
of His late Majesty of Siam, and daughter of Prince Intanon of Chiengmai
and his wife, the Princess Tipakēsawn, often mentioned in the preceding
narrative—was much interested in the Girls’ School, and was pleased to
name it the Phra Rajchayar School, after herself—using therefor her
title, and not her personal name.

The mission had been founded twenty years before it had, and almost
before it could have had, a School for Boys. It is the intention of the
mission to make of this school—the Prince Royal College—the future
Christian College. Similar schools have been established in the other

Since the Siamese government assumed control in the North, it has
manifested a laudable zeal in establishing schools, in which, however,
the Siamese language alone is taught. His Majesty is most fortunate in
having such an able and progressive representative in the North as the
present High Commissioner, Chow Prayā Surasīh Visithasakdī. And the
country is no less fortunate in having a ruler whose high personal
character and wise administration command the confidence and respect of
all classes. He is interested in educating the people, and in everything
that advances the interests of the country.

I regard the educational question as the great question now before the
mission. The existence of the Siamese schools greatly emphasizes the
importance of our own work, and the necessity of maintaining a high
standard and a strong teaching force in Siamese, English, mathematics,
and the sciences. Their schools then will be tributary to ours.

The ultimate prevalence of the Siamese language in all the provinces
under Siamese rule, has been inevitable from the start. All governments
realize the importance of a uniform language in unifying a people, and
have no interest whatever in perpetuating a provincial dialect. The
Siamese, in fact, look down with a kind of disdain upon the Lāo speech,
and use it only as a temporary necessity during the period of
transition. And the Siamese is really the richer of the two by reason of
its large borrowing from the Pali, the better scholarship behind it, and
its closer connection with the outside world.

These two forms of the Tai speech—with a common idiom, and with the
great body of words in both identical, or differing only in vocal
inflection—have been kept apart chiefly by the fact that they have
different written characters. All of the Lāo women and children, and
two-thirds of the men had to be taught to read, whichever character were
adopted; and they could have learned the one form quite as easily as the
other. Had the mission adopted the Siamese character from the start, it
would now be master of the educational situation, working on a uniform
scheme with the Siamese Educational Department. Moreover, the Siamese
language in our schools would have been a distinct attraction toward
education and toward Christianity. And thus there would have been
available for the North the labours of two or more generations of able
workers in the southern mission, from which so far the Lāo church has
been mostly cut off. The whole Bible would have been accessible from the
first; whereas now nearly half of it remains still untranslated into the
Lāo. If the future needs of the Siamese provinces alone were to be
considered, it might even be doubted whether it were worth while to
complete the translation. When the monks, in their studies and teaching,
adopt the Siamese, as it is now the intention of the government to have
them do, Lāo books will soon be without readers throughout Siam. When
for the young a choice is possible in the matter of such a transcendent
instrument of thought and culture as language, all surely would wish
their training to be in that one which has in it the promise of the
future. These words are written in no idle criticism of the past, and in
no captious spirit regarding the present; but with full sense of the
gravity of the decision which confronts the mission in shaping its
educational policy for those who henceforth are to be Siamese.

Meanwhile, Lāo type and books in the Lāo dialect are needed, not merely
for the present generation of older people who cannot or will not learn
a new character, but also for the instruction and Christianization of
that much larger mass of Lāo folk beyond the frontier of Siam as
revealed by recent explorations. Removed, as these are, entirely from
the political and cultural influence of Siam, and divided up under the
jurisdiction of three great nations of diverse and alien speech, it is
inconceivable that the Siamese should ever win the ascendency over them.
Nor has either of these nations any immediate and pressing incentive
toward unifying the speech of its provincials, such as has actuated Siam
in this matter. If the field of the Lāo mission is to be extended to
include these “regions beyond”—as we all hope that it soon may be—Lāo
speech will inevitably be the medium of all its work there. Then all
that so far has been accomplished in the way of translation, writing,
and printing in the Lāo tongue, will be so much invaluable capital to be
turned over to the newer enterprise.

As regards the medical department of the mission, the Lāo field has been
an ideal one for its operation and for demonstration of its results.
When the field was virtually closed to the simple Gospel, the missionary
physician found everywhere an exalted, not to say exaggerated, idea of
the efficacy of foreign medicine, and a warm welcome for himself. Dr.
Cheek, who virtually founded our regular medical work among the Lāo, had
been on the field but a short time when he reported thirteen thousand
patients treated in one year. Probably no subsequent physician has had
such absolute control of the situation as he had, so long as he gave his
time and talents to his calling. But even the layman finds his medical
chest an invaluable adjunct to his evangelistic work, as we have had
frequent occasion to notice. We are devoutly thankful for—we might
almost envy—the influence that our medical missionaries have exerted in
the civilization and the Christianization of the Lāo tribes.

Somewhat of the present status and importance of the medical mission may
be judged from the following facts: Dr. J. W. McKean’s projected Leper
Asylum is the largest charitable institution ever planned in the
kingdom. The new Overbrook Hospital in Chieng Rāi, the generous gift of
the Gest family of Overbrook, Pennsylvania, is the finest building in
the mission. The Charles T. Van Santvoord Hospital in Lakawn is another
similar gift. Native physicians, trained as far as present opportunities
permit in Western surgery and medicine, are now maintained at certain
posts by the Siamese government. And especially the work of Dr. Arthur
Kerr, the government physician in Chiengmai, and his unremitting
kindness to the mission, are deeply appreciated by us all.

I cannot close these remarks without making special reference to the
work of my old friend and classmate and early associate in the mission,
Dr. Jonathan Wilson. In addition to his other most valuable labours, he
spent years of loving and devoted service in the preparation of hymns
for Lāo worship, Which will mould and lead the spiritual life of this
people for years to come. The Lāo are lovers of music. Many of them have
received much of their religious instruction through the use of these
hymns. His influence in the Lāo church may be compared to that of Watts
and Wesley for the English race.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Our long isolation as a mission has enabled us to appreciate the coming
to us in late years of a number of distinguished visitors, who have
greatly encouraged and strengthened us.

At the Annual Meeting in December, 1900, we were favoured with a visit
from our United States Minister, Hon. Hamilton King, and his two
daughters. Referring to his visit, the “Lāo Quarterly Letter” said: “His
addresses to the missionaries and native ministers and elders of the
Presbytery were much appreciated, and our large church building was
crowded on two successive Sabbaths to hear his eloquent words of
encouragement to native Christians, and his warm commendation of
Christianity to non-Christians. It has been said that one of the best
things which a United States Minister can take to a non-Christian land
is a good Christian home. And this is just what Mr. King has brought to

At the Annual Meeting of the following year, in Lakawn, we received the
first official visit we ever had from one of the Secretaries of our
Board, in the person of Rev. Arthur J. Brown, D.D., accompanied by his
good wife. The importance of these secretarial visits to distant
missions can hardly be overestimated. It is impossible to legislate
intelligently for a constituency twelve thousand miles away. No amount
of writing can give the varied kinds of information necessary for a full
understanding of the people, the missionaries, their surroundings, and
the needs of the field, which a single visit will convey. Then, too,
there are questions of administration and mission polity, requiring
settlement in the home Board, which can with difficulty be understood
through correspondence. Dr. Brown’s official visit was most helpful, as
also his words of encouragement, his sermons and addresses. The pleasure
derived from the personal visits of Dr. and Mrs. Brown to various
members of the Mission will always linger in our memories.



Another notable visit to Chiengmai was that of the Crown Prince of Siam,
now His Majesty Mahā Vajiravudh, in the winter of 1905-6. On this visit
His Royal Highness very graciously accepted the invitation of the
mission to lay the corner stone of the William Allen Butler Hall, the
recitation hall of the new Boys’ School. On that occasion he delivered
an address, of which the following is a translation:

    “Ladies and Gentlemen:—I have listened with great pleasure to
    the complimentary remarks which have just been made. I regard
    them as indisputable evidence of your friendship for the whole
    Kingdom of Siam.

    “During my visit to the United States, the American people were
    pleased to give me a most enthusiastic welcome. I may mention
    particularly the sumptuous banquet with which your Board of
    Foreign Missions honoured me. I perceived clearly that the
    American people received me whole-heartedly and not
    perfunctorily. This also made it evident to me that the American
    people have a sincere friendship for the Kingdom of Siam. Of
    this fact I was profoundly convinced, and I certainly shall not
    soon forget my visit to the United States.

    “This being so, I feel compelled to reciprocate this kindness to
    the full extent of my ability. As my Royal Grandfather and my
    Royal Father have befriended the missionaries, so I trust that I
    too shall have opportunity, on proper occasions, to assist them
    to the limits of my power.

    “Your invitation to me to-day to lay the corner stone of your
    new School Building, is another evidence of your friendship and
    goodwill toward Siam. I have full confidence that you will make
    every endeavour to teach the students to use their knowledge for
    the welfare of their country. Therefore I take great pleasure in
    complying with your request, and I invoke a rich blessing on
    this new institution. May it prosper and fulfil the highest
    expectations of its founders!”

In response to a request from the Principal that he would name the new
school, His Royal Highness sent the following reply:

                                       “CHIENGMAI, January 2d, 1906.

    “I have great pleasure in naming the new school, the foundation
    stone of which I have just laid, The Prince Royal’s College. May
    this School which I have so named, be prosperous, and realize
    all that its well-wishers hope for it. May it long flourish, and
    remain a worthy monument of the enterprise of the American
    Presbyterian Church of Chiengmai. This is the wish of their
    sincere friend,


Little did we then think that His Royal Highness would so soon be called
to fill the high office left vacant by the lamented death of his
distinguished father, King Chulalangkorn, which occurred October 22d,

In December, 1908, Mrs. McGilvary’s brother, Professor Cornelius B.
Bradley of the University of California, while on a visit to the land of
his birth and of his father’s labours, paid us a visit in the North. He
was present at our Annual Meeting in Lakawn, and on Sunday preached the
Communion sermon, and again in Chiengmai. It was to the astonishment of
all who heard him, both natives and foreigners, that he could converse
fluently and flawlessly, and could so preach, after an absence of
thirty-six years. It was upon this visit to Siam, that he made a special
study and translation of the Sukhōthai Stone—the earliest known monument
of the Siamese language.

In company with Professor Bradley came Mr. William McClusky, a business
man, on a visit to his daughter, Mrs. M. B. Palmer. The significance of
this visit lies in the fact that Mr. McClusky has remained among us, and
has identified himself with the work of the mission, endearing himself
to all.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In 1905 Mrs. McGilvary returned to the United States for a much-needed
change. I remained on the field until 1906, when I was cabled for on
account of the very serious state of her health. I found her very low,
and my visit was devoted to the restoration of her health. In the autumn
she was sufficiently recovered to make our return possible, and the
voyage was undertaken in compliance with her own ardent wish. She was
greatly benefited by the sea-voyage, and since her return her health has
been fully restored.

On May 16th, 1908, my daughter, Mrs. William Harris, gave a dinner in
honour of my eightieth birthday, at which all our missionary and
European friends in Chiengmai were guests. Dr. McKean expressed the
congratulations of my friends in an address, from which I quote the
following: “Eighty years of age, sir, but not eighty years old! We do
not associate the term old age with you, for you seem to have drunk of
the fount of perpetual youth.” But the sentiment to which I most
heartily subscribe is the following: “There is a common maxim among men
to which we all readily assent; namely, that no man is able to do his
best work in the world without having received from God that best of all
temporal gifts, a helpmeet for him. We most heartily congratulate you
that, early in your life in Siam, Mrs. McGilvary was made a partner in
this great life-work. And no one knows so well as yourself how large a
part she has had in making possible much of the strenuous work that you
have done. To her, likewise, we offer on this happy occasion our hearty
congratulations and our fervent wishes for an ever-brightening future!”

On December 6th, 1910, Mrs. McGilvary and I celebrated our Golden
Wedding. As this occurred during the Annual Meeting of the Mission, most
of our missionary friends, as well as our friends of the foreign colony,
were present. It was a matter of great regret, however, that Dr. Wilson,
who was present at the wedding fifty years before, was too feeble to
come to Chiengmai on this occasion. The many beautiful gifts received
were another token of the loving regard of our friends and dear ones in
this and in the homeland. Among the many letters and telegrams received
was a cablegram from our children in America. “It was like a hand-clasp
and a whisper of love flashed around the world.” Dr. Arthur J. Brown,
speaking for himself and the members of the Board of Foreign Missions,
wrote: “We greatly rejoice in your long and conspicuously devoted and
influential service for the Lāo people. We share the veneration and love
with which we know you are regarded by the people among whom your lives
have been spent, and by the missionaries with whom you have been so
closely associated. It would be a joy if we could join the relatives and
friends who will be with you on that happy day in December. We invoke
God’s richest blessings on you both. Mrs. Brown and all my colleagues in
the office unite with the members of the Board in loving

One of the most valued of these messages came from H. R. H. Prince
Damrong, Minister of the Interior: “I just learn from the local papers
of the celebration of your Golden Wedding. I wish you and Mrs. McGilvary
to accept my sincere congratulations and best wishes that you both may
be spared to continue your great work for many more years. Damrong.”

Our good friend, H. E. Prayā Surasīh Visithsakdī, High Commissioner for
the Northwestern Provinces, brought his congratulations in person,
presenting Mrs. McGilvary with a very rare old Siamese bowl of inlaid
work of silver and gold.



From the native church in Chieng Rāi a message in Lāo was received, of
which the following is a translation: “The Chieng Rāi Christians invoke
Divine blessings on the Father-Teacher and Mother-Teacher McGilvary, who
are by us more beloved than gold.”

We were deeply touched by a most unexpected demonstration of the
Chiengmai Christians, who assembled at our home, and with many
expressions of loving esteem and gratitude presented us with a silver
tray, designed by themselves, on which were represented in relief the
progress of the city in these fifty years: on one end the old bridge, on
the other the new bridge just completed; on the two sides, the
rest-house we occupied upon our arrival in Chiengmai, and our present
home. The inscription, in Lāo, reads: “1867-1910. The Christian people
of Chiengmai to Father-Teacher and Mother-Teacher McGilvary, in memory
of your having brought the Good News of Christ, forty-three years
ago.”—It makes one feel very humble to quote such expressions from our
colleagues and friends. But it would not be in human nature to fail to
appreciate them.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I would not close this life-story without expressing, on behalf of my
wife and myself, our heartfelt gratitude to our friends, native and
foreign, for the great kindness shown us in our intercourse with them
during these long years; and, above all, our devout gratitude to the
Giver of all good, for sparing so long our lives, and crowning them with
such rich blessings. Of these the greatest has been in permitting us to
lay the foundations, and to witness the steady growth of the Church of
Christ in Northern Siam.





 Arthington, Robert, 373-376, 386.

 Bradley, Rev. Dan Beach, M.D., 45, 52, 54-57, 67-70, 131-132, 164, 199.

 Buddhist shrines, 172-173, 188, 252-253.

 Ceremonies and Festivals:
   Dam Hūa, 84-86;
   cremation, 145-147;
   dedication of a shrine, 188-189;
   rice-harvest, 274;
   fairs, 327, 356, 366;
   “kin waw,” 323, 343;
   sacred days, 318-319;
   wedding feast, 395;
   New Year, 396-397.

 Chulalongkorn, King of Siam, 211-213, 382, 426.

 Commission, Royal, 112, 121-131.

 Commissioners, High:
   Prayā Tēp Worachun, 193-194, 205, 206, 208, 210, 213-215, 222, 300;
   Commissioner not named, 300-304;
   Chow Prayā Surasīh, 419.

 Cushing, Rev. J. N., DD, 138-139, 244, 247, 250, 373.

 Demonism and witchcraft, 75-76, 91, 93-94, 173, 194, 203-208, 214,
    266-270, 278, 321, 324, 331, 340.

   cholera, 51;
   fever, 88, 190, 195, 205, 242;
   goitre, 88;
   smallpox (vaccination), 57, 89-91, 243, 250;
   scurvy, 196;
   mortality of re-peopled districts, 202, 282.

   Girls’ School, 177-178, 221-223, 274, 284, 287, 292, 418-419;
   Boys’ School, 284, 291, 300, 419, 424-426;
   Phraner Memorial, 377, 418;
   parochial, 418;
   government, 419-420;
   educational policy as regards language, 222-225, 420-422.

   saddle, 62, 151-152, 157, 246, 249-250, 311-312, 317-318, 330-331,
      355, 359-360, 382-383;
   wild, 156, 253, 311;
   baby-elephants, 246-247, 309.

 Evangelists and ministers, native, 257-263, 377-380, 414-416.

 Famine, 335, 346, 349-352.

 French Indo-China, 332, 354, 358, 384, and chapters xxxiii, xxxiv.

 Hallett, Holt S. (railroad survey), 244-254.

 House, Rev. S. R., M.D., 37-38, 45, 53, 67, 92-93, 110-112.

 Intanon, Prince of Chiengmai, 81, 90, 108-109, 132, 137, 142, 145, 187,
    193-194, 209, 245, 262, 293, 300.

 Kamu tribe, 368, 393-394, 400, 403, 405, 407, 411.

 Karens, 89, 143-144.

 Kāwilōrot, Prince of Chiengmai (1855-1870), 57, 67, 69-70, 85-86, 90,
    95, 102-106, 121-129, 133-138, 146-147.

   the name, 13-14, 57-58;
   spelling of Lāo words, 12-13;
   people, 58, 156;
   states, 130, 191-192, 218-219, 262;
   language, 357, 358, 420-422, see also Education;
   women, 144-145.

 Lāo Mission:
   planted, 77;
   Rev. J. Wilson arrives, 92;
   first church organized, 93;
   a gift of land, 95;
   first native members received, 96-101;
   persecution, 106-117;
   mission supposedly abandoned, 126;
   intervention, 130-132;
   new régime, 137-144;
   permanent buildings, 140-142;
   first physician, 149;
   Girls’ School, 177;
   teachers arrive, 221-222;
   reinforcement, 242;
   Presbytery organized, 257;
   printing-press, 320;
   Christian Endeavor, 381;
   summaries, 217-218, 225, 287-288, 299, 304, 401;
   general review, 413-423.
   Later Missionaries:
     Briggs, Rev. W. A., M.D., 10, 319, 336-337, 351-352, 401;
     Campbell, Rev. Howard, 376, 411, 414;
     Mrs. Campbell, 418;
     Campbell, Miss Mary, 177, 221-222, 234, 236-237, 240;
     Cary, A. M., M.D., 283-284, 296, 298;
     Cheek, M. A., M.D., 166, 169, 178, 190, 195, 212, 233, 236-237,
        283, 292;
     Mrs. Cheek, 169, 242, 293;
     Cole, Miss Edna E., 177, 221-222, 233, 240, 284, 387;
     Collins, Rev. D. G., 283, 284, 296, 301;
     Curtis, Rev. L. W., 376;
     Mrs. Curtis, 9;
     Denman, C. H., M.D., 376, 381, 382-385;
     Dodd, Rev. W. C., D.D., 283, 284-286, 289, 291, 296, 301, 358,
        377-378, 382, 384, 401;
     Mrs. Dodd (Miss B. Eakin), 292, 293, 303;
     Fleeson, Miss, 292, 293, 299;
     Freeman, Rev. J. H., 9, 296;
     Griffin, Miss I. A., 240, 243, 284, 292, 299;
     Hearst, Rev. J. H., 239, 243;
     Irwin, Rev. Robert, 319, 353, 362, 367, 401;
     Martin, Rev. Chalmers, 239, 250, 252, 268, 270, 271-273, 276, 283;
     McGilvary, Cornelia H. (Mrs. William Harris), 199, 306, 308-316,
     McGilvary, Rev. Evander B., 337, 371;
     McGilvary, Margaret A. (Mrs. Roderick Gillies), 197, 337;
     McKean, J. W., M.D., 306, 316, 320, 338, 341, 422-423, 427;
     Peoples, Rev. S. C., M.D., 239, 250, 257, 263-265, 289-291, 300,
        319, 387;
     Mrs. Peoples, 240;
     Phraner, Rev. Stanley K., 319, 320, 326-329, 376-377, 418;
     Mrs. Phraner (Lizzie Westervelt), 238, 274, 284;
     Taylor, Rev. Hugh, 299, 308-309;
     Vrooman, C. W., M.D., 149-159, 166.
   Native Converts:
     Āi Tū (Prayā Pakdī), 277, 280, 287;
     Cha Pū Kaw and Cha Waw, _see under_ Mūsô;
     Chao Borirak, 158, 163, 197;
     Lung In, 168, 170, 202;
     Nān Chai, 100-101, 114-117;
     Nān Chaiwana, 266-270;
     Nān Inta, 96-99, 149, 161, 163, 207, 208, 210, 233, 243, 257, 258;
     Nān Tā, 225-228, 234, 243, 248, 258, 272, 276, 277, 283, 299, 301;
     Nān Sī Wichai, 199, 243;
     Nān Suwan, 197-198, 233, 248, 257, 280, 287, 327, 330, 333, 341,
     Noi Intachak, 230, 257, 260;
     Noi Siri, 301-304, 333;
     Noi Sunya, 99-100, 114-117;
     Noi Tāliya, 278-279, 290, 334;
     Pā Sêng Bun, 205-206;
     Prayā Sīhanāt, 199-201, 232-233;
     Sên Utamā, 230, 232;
     Sên Yā Wichai, 79, 100, 105, 203, 281, 291.

 Mahā Mongkut, King of Siam, 37, 47-48, 70.

 Mahā Vajiravudh, King of Siam, 425-426.

 Mattoon, Rev. S., D.D., 39, 45, 67, 165-166.

 McDonald, Rev. N. A., D.D., 53, 68, 103-104, 121ff.

 McFarland, Rev. S. G., D.D., 53, 70-71.

 McGilvary, Rev. Daniel, D.D., birth (1828), 20;
   parentage, 19-20;
   childhood, 20-28;
   conversion, 27-28;
   Bingham School, 29-31;
   teaching, 31-32;
   Presbytery of Orange, 32-34;
   Princeton Seminary (1853-1856), 35-38;
   pastorate, 38-41;
   ordination, 42;
   voyage, 43-45;
   Bangkok (1858-1861), 45-52;
   marriage (1860), 52;
   Pechaburī, 53ff;
   first acquaintance with the Lāo, 57-58;
   tour of exploration to Chiengmai, 59-65;
   charter of the Lāo mission, 66-70;
   removal to Chiengmai (1867), 71-76;
   pioneer experiences, 77-83;
   ceremony of Dam Hūa, 84-86;
   non-professional medicine and surgery, 88-91, 95, 120, 147-148, 158,
      190, 195-196, 322, 362;
   visit from Dr. House, 92;
   First Church organized, 93;
   first-fruits, 95-101;
   the gathering storm, 102-105;
   it breaks (Sep. 1869), 106;
   terrifying suspense, 107, 118-119;
   alarm in Bangkok, 111-113;
   the martyrs, 114-117;
   Siamese Royal Commission, 121;
   a stormy audience and its results, 122-129;
   death of Kāwilōrot, 133-135;
   visit from Dr. and Mrs. Cushing, 138-139;
   the new rulers, 137-144;
   building, 140-142;
   arrival of a missionary physician, 149;
   First Tour (1872, with Dr. Vrooman)—exploration north and east,
   visit to Lakawn and Nān, 161-168;
   first furlough (1873-1875), 159-168;
   Second Tour (1876)—exploration northwestward, 170-177;
   conversation with the Princess, 180-187;
   shrine on Doi Sutēp, 188-189;
   firmer Siamese policy—the Resident High Commissioner, 191-194;
   the deaf Prayā, 199-201;
   struggle with demonism:—Pā Sêng Bun, 203-206;
   Christian marriage defeated, 207-209;
   appeal unto Cæsar, 210-212;
   Edict of Religious Toleration (1878), 213-220;
   teachers for the Girls’ School, 221-222;
   the harvest of twelve years, 225;
   the nine years’ wanderer, 225-228;
   voyage to Hongkong, 228-230;
   Rahêng, 230-232;
   churches organized, 233;
   second furlough (1881-1882)—reinforcements and losses, 236-243;
   a surveying expedition (1884), 244-254;
   equipment for touring, 249-251;
   semi-monthly mail to Maulmein, 255-256;
   death of Princess Tipa Kēsawn, 257;
   Presbytery of North Laos and the training of native evangelists,
   station established at Lakawn, 263-265;
   struggle with demonism renewed—Bān Pên, 266-270;
   work among the villages, 270-274;
   Third Tour (1886, with Mr. Martin)—Christian communities in the
      north, 276-283;
   reinforcements, 283-284;
   river trip with Mr. Dodd, 285-286;
   Fourth Tour (1887), 286-287;
   Fifth Tour (1888, with Dr. Peoples and Mr. Dodd):—church organized in
      Chieng Sên, 289-291;
   serious illness, 291;
   marriage of his daughter—the Prince and the charades, 293;
   foothold secured in Lampūn, 294-296;
   trip to Bangkok, 297;
   week at Bān Pên, 297-298;
   a marvellous recovery, 298;
   the “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” 300-304;
   tax-rebellion, 305-306;
   Dr. McKean, and a continuous medical mission at last, 306-307;
   Sixth Tour (1890, with Miss McGilvary):—Lakawn, Prê, Nān, 308-310;
   the lost elephant, 311;
   Chieng Kawng and the “Teacher’s Road,” 313-314;
   Chieng Sên and Chieng Rāi, 314-315;
   elephant runaways, 317-318;
   Buddhist sacred days to be observed by Christians, 318-319;
   Seventh Tour (1891, with Mr. Phraner), 320-336:—first meeting with
      the Mūsôs, 322-327;
   Mûang Len, 327-329;
   Chieng Sên, 329-330;
   a thrilling experience, 330-331;
   Chieng Kawng and Mûang Tông, 332-333;
   Mūsôs baptized, 333-336;
   Eighth Tour (1892, with Dr. McKean)—among the Mūsô villages, 338-348;
   tragic struggle with opium, 348;
   famine, 349-352;
   Ninth Tour (1893, with Mr. Irwin)—the Sipsawng Pannā, 353-368;
   Mûang Yawng, 354-355;
   an undiscovered peril, 358;
   Chieng Rung;
   ferry and ford of the Mê Kōng, 359-360;
   dysentery and heroic treatment, 362;
   Mûang Sing, 363-366;
   Mūsôs east of the Mê Kōng, 367-368;
   third furlough (1893-1894), 370-376;
   Mr. Arthington of Leeds, 373-376;
   Presbytery and a native ministry, 377-380;
   Tenth Tour (1896, with Dr. Denman)—Chieng Rāi chosen for a station,
   evangelists sent forth, 384;
   Mūsôs, 385;
   Eleventh Tour (1897, with Dr. Peoples)—the “regions beyond”: Lūang
      Prabāng, 388ff.;
   courtesy of French officials, 388-390, 395, 398, 400;
   Mûang Sai, 390-394;
   Mûang Āi, 394-395;
   wedding feast, 395;
   surprise party, 396-397;
   Mûang Sing, 398, 399;
   Twelfth Tour (1898)—the closed door, 402-412;
   summoned to the U. S. by illness of Mrs. McGilvary (1905), 426-427;
   Golden Wedding, 427-429;
   appreciation by Dr. Arthur J. Brown, D.D., 1-7.
   Observations and criticisms: Continuity in mission policy, 416-417;
     Converts with more than one wife, 231-232;
     Exclusion of the Lāo mission from the Lāo-speaking peoples of the
        north, 157, 332, 368-369, 404, 411-412;
     Girls’ Schools as Christianizing agencies, 178, 203, 280, 284, 287,
     Heresy trials, 371-372;
     Language problem, 222-225, 420-422;
     Native evangelists and ministers, 257-262, 377-380, 414-416;
     Parliament of religions, 370-371;
     Obedient to constituted authority and law, 208, 301, 393, 400, 406;
     Outlying Christian communities—their claim on the missionary,
     Rulers—importance of cultivating their acquaintance, 90, 144, 161,
   Religious teachings and conversations, 97-98, 161-162, 174-176,
      180-188, 199-200, 342-343, 365.

 McGilvary, Mrs. Sophia Bradley, marriage, 52;
   wins first Lāo convert, 79, 100;
   life in a bamboo shack, 140;
   furlough after twenty-three years in Siam, 159-160;
   river journey Without escort, 164;
   opens first Lāo school, 177;
   sole assistant in the mission, 195-197;
   translates first Gospel into Lāo, 288, 320;
   visits to the U. S., 158, 229, 238, 426-427;
   Golden Wedding, 427-428.

 Medical Mission, summary, 422-423.

 Merit-making, 64, 133, 134, 147, 180, 257.

 Mission, American Baptist, of Burma, 138, 143, 254, 368, 383, 418.

 Mūsô tribe, 276, 322-327, 334-336, 338-348.

 Nevius, Rev. Dr., 378-379.

 Opium, 136, 335, 346-348, 357, 399.

   of, Siam, 47, 59, 71;
   of North Laos, 257-260, 377-380.

   Tipa Kēsawn, 55, 90, 108-109, 145, 178, 180-187, 209, 222, 257;
   the younger, 55, 63-64, 105, 114, 115, 119, 136.

 Printing-press, and Lāo type, 224, 320, 338, 353, 384.

 Posts and telegraphs, 91, 121, 255-256, 296, 320.

   Mê Ping, 71-75;
   Mê Kōng, 154-155.

 Regent of Siam, 112, 132.

 Robbers and brigandage, 91, 164, 233, 329, 358;
   bandit chieftain, 84, 96, 146, 147.

 Toleration, Edict of, chapter xix.

 Warfare of depopulation, 218, 353-354, 355, 357, 363.

 White ants, 179.

 Wild game;
   deer, 253, 339;
   cattle, 253, 313;
   tigers, 72, 152, 153, 311, 386-387.

 Wilson, Rev. Jonathan, D.D., 36, 38, 43, 51, 65, 67, 92, 95, 113, 140,
    148, 169, 221, 233, 263, 291, 381, 423, 428.





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Yale Lecturer, 1910. 12mo, cloth, net $1.50.

    These lectures, by the author of “India’s Problem, Krisha or
    Christ?” are a re-survey of the demand of missions in the light
    of progress made, in their relation to human thought. The new
    difficulties, the new incentives, are considered by one whose
    experience in the field and as a writer, entitle him to


                     Sketches from the Karen Hills

Illustrated, 12mo. Cloth, net $1.00.

    These descriptive chapters from a missionary’s life in Burma are
    of exceptional vividness and rich in an appreciation for color.
    His pen pictures give not only a splendid insight into native
    life, missionary work, but have a distinctive literary charm
    which characterizes his “Soo Thah.”


        The Unique Message and Universal Mission of Christianity

12mo, cloth, net $1.25.

    A volume dealing with the philosophy of missions at once
    penetrating and unusual. It is perhaps one of the most original
    and valuable contributions to the subject yet made.


  =Winners of the World During Twenty Centuries= Adapted for Boys and

    A Story and a Study of Missionary Effort from the Time of Paul
    to the Present Day. Cloth, net 60c; paper, net 30c.


                      Children’s Missionary Series

Illustrated in Colors, Cloth, Decorated, each, net 60c.

    =Children of Africa.= James B. Baird.
    =Children of Arabia.= John C. Young.
    =Children of China.= C. Campbell Brown.
    =Children of India.= Janet Harvey Kelman.


                    The World Missionary Conference

The Report of the Ecumenical Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. In
nine volumes, each, net 75c.; the complete set of nine volumes. net

A whole missionary library by experts and wrought up to the day and
hour. The Conference has been called a modern council of Nicea and the
report the greatest missionary publication ever made.

    Vol. 1. Carrying the Gospel.
    Vol. 2. The Church in the Mission Field.
    Vol. 3. Christian Education.
    Vol. 4. The Missionary Message.
    Vol. 5. Preparation of Missionaries.
    Vol. 6. The Home Base.
    Vol. 7. Missions and Governments.
    Vol. 8. Co-operation and Unity.
    Vol. 9. History, Records and Addresses.

                      Echoes from Edinburgh, 1910

           By W. H. T. GAIRDNER, author of “D. M. Thornton.”

12mo, cloth, net 50c.

The popular story of the Conference—its preparation—its management—its
effect and forecast of its influence on the church at home and the work
abroad. An official publication in no way conflicting with the larger
work—which it rather supplements.


                       Fifty-three Years in Syria

Introduction by James S. Dennis. Two volumes, illustrated, 8vo, cloth,
boxed, net $5.00.

“A rich mine of information for the historian, the ethnologist and the
student of human nature apart from the labors to which the author
devoted his life. A thoroughly interesting book that will yield endless
pickings.”—N. Y. Sun.


                      Christianity and the Nations

                      The Duff Lectures for 1910.

8vo, cloth, net $2.00.

Among the many notable volumes that have resulted from the well-known
Duff foundation Lectureship this new work embodying the series given by
Mr. Robert E. Speer in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, will rank among
the most important. The general theme, “The Reflex Influence of Missions
Upon the Nations,” suggests a large, important, and most interesting


                            Korea for Christ

25c net

An effective report of the recent revivals in Korea told by an eye
witness. who himself participated in the work.


                      Character Building in China

The Life Story of Julia Brown Mateer. With Introduction by Robert E.
Speer. Illustrated, net $1.00.

    Robert E. Speer says: “Mrs. Mateer belonged to the old heroic
    school which did hard things without making any fuss, which
    achieved the impossible because it was one’s duty to achieve it.
    May this story of her strong, vigorous life be the summons to
    many young women in our colleges and Church to-day.—From the


         Fifty Years Missionary of the American Board in Turkey

                        Christian and Mohammedan

A Plea for Bridging the Chasm. Illustrated, 12mo, cloth, net $1.25.

    “Dr. Herrick has given his life to missionary work among the
    Mohammedans. This book is the mature expression of his profound
    belief that the followers of the Arabian Prophet are to be won
    to Christianity by patiently showing Jesus Christ, with kindly
    appreciation of the good while fully gauging the deadly evil of
    their religious system. Opinions from leading missionaries to
    Mohammedans, in all parts of the world have been brought
    together in the book.—Henry Otis Dwight, LL.D.


                    A Glimpse of the Heart of China

Illustrated, 16mo, cloth, net 60c.

    “A simple, clear story from a physician’s point of view of the
    sickness, the unnecessary suffering, the ignorant and
    superstitious practice of the native physician, contrasted with
    the comfort and healing that follow in the wake of the skillful
    treatment of a Christian Chinese ‘woman doctor,’ has in it many
    elements of interest. The reader of these pages feels that he
    has truly had a ‘glimpse of the heart of China.’”—Missionary


    =The Stolen Bridegroom= AND OTHER EAST INDIAN IDYLLS

With Introduction by George Smith, C.I.E., Author of “The Conversion of
India.” Illustrated, 12mo, cloth, net 75c.

    “The author reveals, as only an expert could, the life of the
    Marathi women of Western India. With delicate touch, but
    realistic effect, she draws back the curtain that conceals the
    Zenana.... The Missionary with the native Bible-woman is seen on
    her daily round of love and mercy, in the home, the hospital and
    the school, winning the weary and despairing women and
    widows.”—George Smith.


 ● Transcriber’s note:

    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.

    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.

    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.

    ○ The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed
      in the public domain.

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