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Account Of The Scenes At Ava During The War

Mr. and Mrs. Judson were among the number of the first missionaries who
left this country for India. After labouring for some time in Hindostan
they finally established themselves at Rangoon in the Burman Empire, in
1813. In 1824 war broke out between the British East India Company and
the emperor of Burmah. Mr. and Mrs. Judson and Dr. Price, who were at
Ava, the capital of the Burman Empire, when the war commenced, were
immediately arrested and confined for several months. The account of the
sufferings of the missionaries was written by Mrs. Judson, and is given
in her own words.

The sufferings of the missionaries, during this long and disastrous
period, surpassed all that the most alarmed and fertile imagination had
conceived. Of the dreadful scenes at Ava, a minute account was written
by Mrs. Judson to Dr. Elnathan Judson. It will be read with strong and
painful interest. Fiction itself has seldom invented a tale more replete
with terror.

"Rangoon, May 26, 1826.

"My beloved Brother,

"I commence this letter with the intention of giving you the particulars
of our captivity and sufferings at Ava. How long my patience will allow
my reviewing scenes of disgust and horror, the conclusion of this
letter will determine. I had kept a journal of every thing that had
transpired from our arrival at Ava, but destroyed it at the commencement
of our difficulties.

"The first certain intelligence we received of the declaration of war by
the Burmese, was on our arrival at Tsenpyoo-kywon, about a hundred miles
this side of Ava, where part of the troops, under the command of the
celebrated Bandoola, had encamped. As we proceeded on our journey, we
met Bandoola himself, with the remainder of his troops, gaily equipped,
seated on his golden barge, and surrounded by a fleet of gold war boats,
one of which was instantly despatched the other side of the river to
hail us, and make all necessary inquiries. We were allowed to proceed
quietly on, when he had informed the messenger that we were Americans,
not English, and were going to Ava in obedience to the command of his

"On our arrival at the capital, we found that Dr. Price was out of
favour at court, and that suspicion rested on most of the foreigners
then at Ava. Your brother visited at the palace two or three times, but
found the king's manner toward him very different from what it formerly
had been; and the queen, who had hitherto expressed wishes for my speedy
arrival, now made no inquiries after me, nor intimated a wish to see me.
Consequently, I made no effort to visit at the palace, though almost
daily invited to visit some of the branches of the royal family, who
were living in their own houses, out of the palace enclosure. Under
these circumstances, we thought our most prudent course lay in
prosecuting our original intention of building a house, and commencing
missionary operations as occasion offered, thus endeavouring to convince
the government that we had really nothing to do with the present war.

"In two or three weeks after our arrival, the king, queen, all the
members of the royal family, and most of the officers of government,
returned to Amarapora, in order to come and take possession of the new
palace in the customary style. As there has been much misunderstanding
relative to Ava and Amarapora, both being called the capital of the
Burmese Empire, I will here remark, that present Ava was formerly the
seat of government; but soon after the old king had ascended the throne,
it was forsaken, and a new palace built at Amarapora, about six miles
from Ava, in which he remained during his life. In the fourth year of
the reign of the present king, Amarapora was in its turn forsaken, and a
new and beautiful palace built at Ava, which was then in ruins, but is
now the capital of the Burmese Empire, and the residence of the
Emperor. The king and royal family had been living in the temporary
buildings at Ava, during the completion of the new palace, which gave
occasion for their returning to Amarapora.

"I dare not attempt a description of that splendid day, when majesty
with all its attendant glory entered the gates of the golden city, and
amid the acclamations of millions, I may say, took possession of the
palace. The saupwars of the provinces bordering on China, all the
Viceroys and high officers of the kingdom, were assembled on the
occasion, dressed in their robes of state, and ornamented with the
insignia of their office. The white elephant, richly adorned with gold
and jewels, was one of the most beautiful objects in the procession. The
king and queen alone were unadorned, dressed in the simple garb of the
country; they, hand in hand, entered the garden in which we had taken
our seats, and where a banquet was prepared for their refreshment. All
the riches and glory of the empire were on this day exhibited to view.
The number and immense size of the elephants, the numerous horses, and
great variety of vehicles of all descriptions, far surpassed any thing I
have ever seen or imagined. Soon after his majesty had taken possession
of the new palace, an order was issued that no foreigner should be
allowed to enter, excepting Lansago. We were a little alarmed at this,
but concluded it was from political motives, and would not, perhaps,
essentially affect us.

"For several weeks nothing took place to alarm us, and we went on with
our school. Mr. J. preached every Sabbath, all the materials for
building a brick house were procured, and the masons had made
considerable progress in raising the building.

"On the 23d of May, 1824, just as we had concluded worship at the
Doctor's house, the other side of the river, a messenger came to inform
us that Rangoon was taken by the English. The intelligence produced a
shock, in which was a mixture of fear and joy. Mr. Gouger, a young
merchant residing at Ava, was then with us, and had much more reason to
fear than the rest of us. We all, however, immediately returned to our
house, and began to consider what was to be done. Mr. G. went to prince
Thar-yar-wa-dee, the king's most influential brother, who informed him
he need not give himself any uneasiness, as he had mentioned the subject
to his majesty, who had replied, that 'the few foreigners residing at
Ava, had nothing to do with the war, and should not be molested.'

"The government were now all in motion. An army of ten or twelve
thousand men, under the command of the Kyee-woon-gyee, were sent off in
three or four days, and were to be joined by the Sakyer-woon-gyee, who
had previously been appointed Viceroy of Rangoon, and who was on his way
thither, when the news of its attack reached him. No doubt was
entertained of the defeat of the English; the only fear of the king was,
that the foreigners hearing of the advance of the Burmese troops, would
be so alarmed, as to flee on board their ships and depart, before there
would be time to secure them as slaves. 'Bring for me,' said a wild
young buck of the palace, 'six kala pyoo, (white strangers,) to row my
boat;' and 'to me,' said the lady of a Woongyee, 'send four white
strangers to manage the affairs of my house, as I understand they are
trusty servants.' The war boats, in high glee, passed our house, the
soldiers singing and dancing, and exhibiting gestures of the most joyous
kind. Poor fellows! said we, you will probably never dance again. And
it so proved, for few if any ever saw again their native home.

"As soon as the army were despatched, the government began to inquire
the cause of the arrival of the strangers at Rangoon. There must be
spies in the country, suggested some, who have invited them over. And
who so likely to be spies, as the Englishmen residing at Ava? A report
was in circulation, that Captain Laird, lately arrived, had brought
Bengal papers which contained the intention of the English to take
Rangoon, and it was kept a secret from his Majesty. An inquiry was
instituted. The three Englishmen, Gouger, Laird, and Rogers, were called
and examined. It was found they had seen the papers, and were put in
confinement, though not in prison. We now began to tremble for
ourselves, and were in daily expectation of some dreadful event.

"At length Mr. Judson and Dr. Price were summoned to a court of
examination, where strict inquiry was made relative to all they knew.
The great point seemed to be whether they had been in the habit of
making communications to foreigners, of the state of the country, &c.
They answered, they had always written to their friends in America, but
had no correspondence with English officers, or the Bengal government.
After their examination, they were not put in confinement as the
Englishmen had been, but were allowed to return to their houses. In
examining the accounts of Mr. G. it was found that Mr. J. and Dr. Price
had taken money of him to a considerable amount. Ignorant, as were the
Burmese, of our mode of receiving money, by orders on Bengal, this
circumstance, to their suspicious minds, was a sufficient evidence, that
the missionaries were in the pay of the English, and very probably
spies. It was thus represented to the king, who, in an angry tone,
ordered the immediate arrest of the 'two teachers.'

"On the 8th of June, just as we were preparing for dinner, in rushed an
officer, holding a black book, with a dozen Burmans, accompanied by
one, whom, from his spotted face, we knew to be an executioner, and a
'son of the prison.' 'Where is the teacher?' was the first inquiry. Mr.
Judson presented himself. 'You are called by the king,' said the
officer; a form of speech always used when about to arrest a criminal.
The spotted man instantly seized Mr. Judson, threw him on the floor, and
produced the small cord, the instrument of torture. I caught hold of his
arm; 'Stay, (said I,) I will give you money.' 'Take her too,' said the
officer; 'she also is a foreigner.' Mr. Judson, with an imploring look,
begged they would let me remain till further orders. The scene was now
shocking beyond description. The whole neighbourhood had collected--the
masons at work on the brick house threw down their tools, and ran--the
little Burman children were screaming and crying--the Bengalee servants
stood in amazement at the indignities offered their master--and the
hardened executioner, with a hellish joy, drew tight the cords, bound
Mr. Judson fast, and dragged him off, I knew not whither. In vain I
begged and entreated the spotted face to take the silver, and loosen
the ropes, but he spurned my offers, and immediately departed. I gave
the money, however, to Moung Ing to follow after, to make some further
attempt to mitigate the torture of Mr. Judson; but instead of
succeeding, when a few rods from the house, the unfeeling wretches again
threw their prisoner on the ground, and drew the cords still tighter, so
as almost to prevent respiration.

"The officer and his gang proceeded on to the court house, where the
Governor of the city and officers were collected, one of whom read the
order of the king, to commit Mr. Judson to the death prison, into which
he was soon hurled, the door closed--and Moung Ing saw no more. What a
night was now before me! I retired into my room, and endeavoured to
obtain consolation from committing my case to God, and imploring
fortitude and strength to suffer whatever awaited me. But the
consolation of retirement was not long allowed me, for the magistrate of
the place had come into the verandah, and continually called me to come
out, and submit to his examination. But previously to going out, I
destroyed all my letters, journals, and writings of every kind, lest
they should disclose the fact that we had correspondents in England, and
had minuted down every occurrence since our arrival in the country. When
this work of destruction was finished, I went out and submitted to the
examination of the magistrate, who inquired very minutely of everything
I knew; then ordered the gates of the compound to be shut, no person be
allowed to go in or out, placed a guard of ten ruffians, to whom he gave
a strict charge to keep me safe, and departed.

"It was now dark. I retired to an inner room with my four little Burman
girls, and barred the doors. The guard instantly ordered me to unbar the
doors and come out, or they would break the house down. I obstinately
refused to obey, and endeavoured to intimidate them by threatening to
complain of their conduct to higher authorities on the morrow. Finding
me resolved in disregarding their orders, they took the two Bengalee
servants, and confined them in the stocks in a very painful position. I
could not endure this; but called the head man to the window, and
promised to make them all a present in the morning, if they would
release the servants. After much debate, and many severe threatenings,
they consented, but seemed resolved to annoy me as much as possible. My
unprotected, desolate state, my entire uncertainty of the fate of Mr.
Judson, and the dreadful carousings and almost diabolical language of
the guard, all conspired to make it by far the most distressing night I
had ever passed. You may well imagine, my dear brother, that sleep was a
stranger to my eyes, and peace and composure to my mind.

"The next morning, I sent Moung Ing to ascertain the situation of your
brother, and give him food, if still living. He soon returned, with the
intelligence, that Mr. Judson, and all the white foreigners, were
confined in the death prison, with three pairs of iron fetters each,
and fastened to a long pole, to prevent their moving! The point of my
anguish now was, that I was a prisoner myself, and could make no efforts
for the release of the Missionaries. I begged and entreated the
magistrate to allow me to go to some member of government to state my
case; but he said he did not dare to consent, for fear I should make my
escape. I next wrote a note to one of the king's sisters, with whom I
had been intimate, requesting her to use her influence for the release
of the teachers. The note was returned with this message--She 'did not
understand it,'--which was a polite refusal to interfere; though I
afterwards ascertained, that she had an anxious desire to assist us, but
dared not on account of the queen. The day dragged heavily away, and
another dreadful night was before me. I endeavoured to soften the
feelings of the guard by giving them tea and segars for the night; so
that they allowed me to remain inside of my room, without threatening as
they did the night before. But the idea of your brother being stretched
on the bare floor in irons and confinement, haunted my mind like a
spectre, and prevented my obtaining any quiet sleep, though nature was
almost exhausted.

"On the third day, I sent a message to the governor of the city, who has
the entire direction of prison affairs, to allow me to visit him with a
present. This had the desired effect; and he immediately sent orders to
the guards, to permit my going into town. The governor received me
pleasantly, and asked me what I wanted. I stated to him the situation of
the foreigners, and particularly that of the teachers, who were
Americans, and had nothing to do with the war. He told me it was not in
his power to release them from prison or irons, but that he could make
their situation more comfortable; there was his head officer, with whom
I must consult, relative to the means. The officer, who proved to be one
of the city writers, and whose countenance at the first glance presented
the most perfect assemblage of all the evil passions attached to human
nature, took me aside, and endeavoured to convince me, that myself, as
well as the prisoners, was entirely at his disposal--that our future
comfort must depend on my liberality in regard to presents--and that
these must be made in a private way and unknown to any officer in the
government! What must I do, said I, to obtain a mitigation of the
present sufferings of the two teachers? 'Pay to me,' said he, 'two
hundred tickals, (about a hundred dollars,) two pieces of fine cloth,
and two pieces of handkerchiefs.' I had taken money with me in the
morning, our house being two miles from the prison--I could not easily
return. This I offered to the writer, and begged he would not insist on
the other articles, as they were not in my possession. He hesitated for
some time, but fearing to lose the sight of so much money, he concluded
to take it, promising to relieve the teachers from their most painful

"I then procured an order from the governor, for my admittance into
prison; but the sensations, produced by meeting your brother in that
wretched, horrid situation, and the affecting scene which ensued, I
will not attempt to describe. Mr. Judson crawled to the door of the
prison--for I was never allowed to enter--gave me some directions
relative to his release; but before we could make any arrangement, I was
ordered to depart, by those iron hearted jailers, who could not endure
to see us enjoy the poor consolation of meeting in that miserable place.
In vain I pleaded the order of the governor for my admittance; they
again, harshly repeated, 'Depart, or we will pull you out.' The same
evening, the missionaries, together with the other foreigners, who had
paid an equal sum, were taken out of the common prison, and confined in
an open shed in the prison enclosure. Here I was allowed to send them
food, and mats to sleep on; but was not permitted to enter again for
several days.

"My next object was to get a petition presented to the queen; but no
person being admitted into the palace, who was in disgrace with his
Majesty, I sought to present it through the medium of her brother's
wife. I had visited her in better days, and received particular marks of
her favour. But now times were altered: Mr. Judson was in prison, and I
in distress, which was a sufficient reason for giving me a cold
reception. I took a present of considerable value. She was lolling on
her carpet as I entered, with her attendants around her. I waited not
for the usual question to a suppliant, 'What do you want?' but in a
hold, earnest, yet respectful manner, stated our distresses and our
wrongs, and begged her assistance. She partly raised her head, opened
the present I had brought, and coolly replied, 'Your case is not
singular; all the foreigners are treated alike.' 'But it is singular,'
said I, 'the teachers are Americans; they are ministers of religion,
have nothing to do with war or politics, and came to Ava in obedience to
the king's command. They have never done any thing to deserve such
treatment; and is it right they should be treated thus?' 'The king does
as he pleases,' said she; 'I am not the king, what can I do?' 'You can
state their case to the queen, and obtain their release,' replied I.
'Place yourself in my situation,--were you in America, your husband,
innocent of crime, thrown into prison, in irons, and you a solitary,
unprotected female--what would you do?' With a slight degree of feeling,
she said, 'I will present your petition,--come again to-morrow.' I
returned to the house, with considerable hope, that the speedy release
of the missionaries was at hand. But the next day Mr. Gouger's property,
to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, was taken and carried to the
palace. The officers, on their return, politely informed me, they should
visit our house on the morrow. I felt obliged for this information,
and accordingly made preparations to receive them, by secreting as many
little articles as possible; together with considerable silver, as I
knew, if the war should be protracted, we should be in a state of
starvation without it. But my mind was in a dreadful state of agitation,
lest it should be discovered, and cause my being thrown into prison. And
had it been possible to procure money from any other quarter, I should
not have ventured on such a step.

"The following morning, the royal treasurer, prince Tharyawadees, chief
Woon, and Koung-tone Myoo-tsa, who was in future our steady friend,
attended by forty or fifty followers, came to take possession of all we
had. I treated them civilly, gave them chairs to sit on, tea and
sweetmeats for their refreshment; and justice obliges me to say, that
they conducted the business of confiscation with more regard to my
feelings than I should have thought it possible for Burmese officers to
exhibit. The three officers, with one of the royal secretaries, alone
entered the house; their attendants were ordered to remain outside. They
saw I was deeply affected, and apologized for what they were about to
do, by saying, that it was painful for them to take possession of
property not their own, but they were compelled thus to do by order of
the king. 'Where is your silver, gold, and jewels?' said the royal
treasurer. 'I have no gold or jewels; but here is the key of a trunk
which contains the silver--do with it as you please.' The trunk was
produced, and the silver weighed. 'This money,' said I, 'was collected
in America, by the disciples of Christ, and sent here for the purpose of
building a kyoung, (the name of a priest's dwelling) and for our support
while teaching the religion of Christ. Is it suitable that you should
take it? (The Burmans are averse to taking what is offered in a
religious point of view, which was the cause of my making the inquiry.)
'We will state this circumstance to the king,' said one of them, 'and
perhaps he will restore it. But this is all the silver you have?' I
could not tell a falsehood: 'The house is in your possession,' I
replied, 'search for yourselves.' 'Have you not deposited silver with
some person of your acquaintance?' 'My acquaintances are all in prison,
with whom should I deposit silver? They next ordered my trunk and
drawers to be examined. The secretary only was allowed to accompany me
in this search. Everything nice or curious, which met his view, was
presented to the officers, for their decision, whether it should be
taken or retained. I begged they would not take our wearing apparel, as
it would be disgraceful to take clothes partly worn, into the possession
of his majesty, and to us they were of unspeakable value. They assented,
and took a list only, and did the same with the books, medicines, &c. My
little work table and rocking chair, presents from my beloved brother, I
rescued from their grasp, partly by artifice, and partly through their
ignorance. They left also many articles, which were of inestimable
value, during our long imprisonment.

"As soon as they had finished their search and departed, I hastened to
the queen's brother, to hear what had been the fate of my petition;
when, alas! all my hopes were dashed, by his wife's coolly saying, 'I
stated your case to the queen; but her majesty replied,--'The teachers
will not die: let them remain as they are.' My expectations had been so
much excited, that this sentence was like a thunderbolt to my feelings.
For the truth at one glance assured me, that if the queen refused
assistance, who would dare to intercede for me? With a heavy heart I
departed, and on my way home, attempted to enter the prison gate, to
communicate the sad tidings to your brother but was harshly refused
admittance: and for the ten days following notwithstanding my daily
efforts, I was not allowed to enter. We attempted to communicate by
writing, and after being successful for a few days, it was discovered;
the poor fellow who carried the communications was beaten and put in the
stocks; and the circumstance cost me about ten dollars, besides two or
three days of agony, for fear of the consequences.

"The officers who had taken possession of our property, presented it to
his majesty, saying, 'Judson is a true teacher; we found nothing in his
house, but what belongs to priests. In addition to this money, there are
an immense number of books, medicines, trunks of wearing apparel, &c. of
which we have only taken a list. Shall we take them, or let them
remain?' 'Let them remain,' said the king, 'and put this property by
itself, for it shall be restored to him again, if he is found innocent.'
This was an allusion to the idea of his being a spy.

"For two or three months following, I was subject to continual
harassments, partly through my ignorance of police management and partly
through the insatiable desire of every petty officer to enrich himself
through our misfortunes. When the officers came to our house, to
confiscate our property, they insisted on knowing how much I had given
the governor and prison officers, to release the teachers from the inner
prison. I honestly told them, and they demanded the sum from the
governor, which threw him into a dreadful rage, and he threatened to put
all the prisoners back into their original place. I went to him the next
morning, and the first words with which he accosted me, were, 'You are
very bad; why did you tell the royal treasurer that you had given me so
much money?' 'The treasurer inquired; what could I say!' I replied. 'Say
that you had given nothing,' said he, 'and I would have made the
teachers comfortable in prison; but now I know not what will be their
fate.' 'But I cannot tell a falsehood,' I replied. 'My religion differs
from yours, it forbids prevarication; and had you stood by me with your
knife raised, I could not have said what you suggested.' His wife, who
sat by his side, and who always, from this time, continued my firm
friend, instantly said, 'Very true--what else could she have said? I
like such straight-forward conduct; you must not (turning to the
governor) be angry with her.' I then presented the governor with a
beautiful opera glass, I had just received from England, and begged his
anger at me would not influence him to treat the prisoners with
unkindness, and I would endeavour, from time to time, to make him such
presents, as would compensate for his loss. 'You may intercede for your
husband only; for your sake, he shall remain where he is; but let the
other prisoners take care of themselves.' I pleaded hard for Dr. Price;
but he would not listen, and the same day had him returned to the inner
prison, where he remained ten days. He was then taken out, in
consequence of the Doctor's promising a piece of broad cloth, and my
sending two pieces of handkerchiefs.

"About this period, I was one day summoned to the Tlowtdan, in an
official way. What new evil was before me, I knew not, but was obliged
to go. When arrived, I was allowed to stand at the bottom of the
stairs, as no female is permitted to ascend the steps, or even to stand,
but sit on the ground. Hundreds were collected around. The officer who
presided, in an authoritative voice, began; 'Speak the truth in answer
to the questions I shall ask. If you speak true, no evil will follow;
but if not, your life will not be spared. It is reported that you have
committed to the care of a Burmese officer, a string of pearls, a pair
of diamond ear-rings, and a silver tea-pot. Is it true? 'It is not,' I
replied; 'and if you or any other person can produce these articles, I
refuse not to die.' The officer again urged the necessity of 'speaking
true.' I told him I had nothing more to say on this subject, but begged
he would use his influence to obtain the release of Mr. Judson from

"I returned to the house, with a heart much lighter than I went, though
conscious of my perpetual exposure to such harassments. Notwithstanding
the repulse I had met in my application to the queen, I could not remain
without making continual effort for your brother's release, while there
was the least probability of success. Time after time my visits to the
queen's sister-in-law were repeated, till she refused to answer a
question, and told me by her looks, I had better keep out of her
presence. For the seven following months, hardly a day passed, that I
did not visit some one of the members of government, or branches of the
royal family, in order to gain their influence in our behalf; but the
only benefit resulting was, their encouraging promises preserved us from
despair, and induced a hope of the speedy termination of our
difficulties, which enabled us to bear our distresses better than we
otherwise should have done. I ought, however, to mention, that by my
repeated visits to the different members of government, I gained several
friends, who were ready to assist me with articles of food, though in a
private manner, and who used their influence in the palace to destroy
the impression of our being in any way engaged in the present war. But
no one dared to speak a word to the king or queen in favor of a
foreigner, while there were such continual reports of the success of the
English arms.

"During these seven months, the continual extortions and oppressions to
which your brother, and the other white prisoners were subject, are
indescribable. Sometimes sums of money were demanded, sometimes pieces
of cloth and handkerchiefs; at other times, an order would be issued,
that the white foreigners should not speak to each other, or have any
communication with their friends without. Then again, the servants were
forbidden to carry in their food, without an extra fee. Sometimes, for
days and days together, I could not go into the prison till after dark,
when I had two miles to walk, in returning to the house. O how many,
many times, have I returned from that dreary prison at nine o'clock at
night, solitary and worn out with fatigue and anxiety, and thrown myself
down in that same rocking chair which you and Deacon L. provided for me
in Boston and endeavoured to invent some new scheme for the release of
the prisoners. Sometimes, for a moment or two, my thoughts would glance
toward America, and my beloved friends there--but for nearly a year and
a half, so entirely engrossed was every thought with present scenes and
sufferings, that I seldom reflected on a single occurrence of my former
life, or recollected that I had a friend in existence out of Ava.

"You, my dear brother, who know my strong attachment to my friends, and
how much pleasure I have hitherto experienced from retrospect, can judge
from the above circumstances, how intense were my sufferings. But the
point, the acme of my distresses, consisted in the awful uncertainty of
our final fate. My prevailing opinion was, that my husband would suffer
violent death; and that I should, of course, become a slave, and
languish out a miserable though short existence, in the tyrannic hands
of some unfeeling monster. But the consolations of religion, in these
trying circumstances, were neither 'few nor small.' It taught me to look
beyond this world, to that rest, that peaceful, happy rest, where Jesus
reigns, and oppression never enters. But how have I digressed from my
relation. I will again return.

"The war was now prosecuted with all the energy the Burmese government
possessed. New troops were continually raised and sent down the river,
and as frequent reports returned of their being all cut off. But that
part of the Burmese army stationed at Arracan, under the command of
Bandoola, had been more successful. Three hundred prisoners, at one
time, was sent to the capital, as an evidence of the victory that had
been gained. The king began to think that none but Bandoola understood
the art of fighting with foreigners; consequently his majesty recalled
him with the design of his taking command of the army that had been sent
to Rangoon. On his arrival at Ava, he was received at court in the most
flattering manner, and was the recipient of every favour in the power of
the king and queen to bestow. He was, in fact, while at Ava, the acting
king. I was resolved to apply to him for the release of the
missionaries, though some members of government advised me not, lest he,
being reminded of their existence, should issue an immediate order for
their execution. But it was my last hope, and as it proved, my last

"Your brother wrote a petition privately, stating every circumstance
that would have a tendency to interest him in our behalf. With fear and
trembling I approached him, while surrounded by a crowd of flatterers,
and one of his secretaries took the petition, and read it aloud. After
hearing it, he spake to me in an obliging manner--asked several
questions relative to the teachers--said he would think of the
subject--and bade me come again. I ran to the prison to communicate the
favourable reception to Mr. Judson; and we both had sanguine hopes that
his release was at hand. But the governor of the city expressed his
amazement at my temerity, and said he doubted not it would be the means
of destroying all the prisoners. In a day or two, however, I went
again, and took a present of considerable value. Bandoola was not at
home; but his lady, after ordering the present to be taken into
another room, modestly informed me that she was ordered by her husband
to make the following communication--that he was now very busily
employed in making preparations for Rangoon; but that when he had
re-taken that place and expelled the English, he would return and
release all the prisoners.

"Thus again were all our hopes dashed; and we felt that we could do
nothing more, but sit down and submit to our lot. From this time we gave
up all idea of being released from prison, till the termination of the
war; but I was still obliged to visit constantly some of the members of
government, with little presents, particularly the governor of the city,
for the purpose of making the situation of the prisoners tolerable. I
generally spent the greater part of every other day at the governor's
house, giving him all the information relative to American manners,
customs, government, &c. He used to be so much gratified with my
communications, as to feel greatly disappointed, if any occurrence
prevented my spending the usual hours at his house.

"Some months after your brother's imprisonment, I was permitted to make
a little bamboo room in the prison enclosures, where he could be much by
himself, and where I was sometimes allowed to spend two or three hours.
It so happened that the two months he occupied this place, was the
coldest part of the year, when he would have suffered much in the open
shed he had previously occupied. After the birth of your little niece, I
was unable to visit the prison and the governor as before, and found I
had lost considerable influence, previously gained; for he was not so
forward to hear my petitions when any difficulty occurred, as he
formerly had been. When Maria was nearly two months old, her father one
morning sent me word that he and all the white prisoners were put into
the inner prison in five pairs of fetters each, that his little room had
been torn down, and his mat, pillow, &c. been taken by the jailers. This
was to me a dreadful shock, as I thought at once it was only a prelude
to greater evils.

"I should have mentioned before this, the defeat of Bandoola, his escape
to Danooboo, the complete destruction of his army and loss of
ammunition, and the consternation this intelligence produced at court.
The English army had left Rangoon, and were advancing towards Prome,
when these severe measures were taken with the prisoners.

"I went immediately to the governor's house. He was not at home, but had
ordered his wife to tell me, when I came, not to ask to have the
additional fetters taken off, or the prisoners released, for it could
not be done. I went to the prison gate, but was forbid to enter. All
was as still as death--not a white face to be seen, or a vestige of Mr.
J.'s little room remaining. I was determined to see the governor and
know the cause of this additional oppression; and for this purpose
returned to town the same evening, at an hour I knew he would be at
home. He was in his audience room, and, as I entered, looked up without
speaking, but exhibited a mixture of shame and affected anger in his
countenance. I began by saying--Your Lordship has hitherto treated us
with the kindness of a father. Our obligations to you are very great. We
have looked to you for protection from oppression and cruelty. You have
in many instances mitigated the sufferings of those unfortunate, though
innocent beings, committed to your charge. You have promised me
particularly, that you would stand by me to the last, and though you
should receive an order from the king, you would not put Mr. J. to
death. What crime has he committed to deserve such additional
punishment? The old man's hard heart was melted, for he wept like a
child. 'I pity you, Tsa-yar-ga-dau, (a name by which he always called
me) I knew you would make me feel; I therefore forbade your application.
But you must believe me when I say, I do not wish to increase the
sufferings of the prisoners. When I am ordered to execute them, the
least that I can do is, to put them out of sight. I will now tell you
(continued he) what I have never told you before, that three times I
have received intimations from the queen's brother, to assassinate all
the white prisoners privately; but I would not do it. And I now repeat
it, though I execute all the others, I will never execute your husband.
But I cannot release him from his present confinement, and you must not
ask it.' I had never seen him manifest so much feeling, or so resolute
in denying me a favour, which circumstance was an additional reason for
thinking dreadful scenes were before us.

"The situation of the prisoners was now distressing beyond description.
It was at the commencement of the hot season. There were above a hundred
prisoners shut up in one room, without a breath of air excepting from
the cracks in the boards. I sometimes obtained permission to go to the
door for five minutes, when my heart sickened at the wretchedness
exhibited. The white prisoners, from incessant perspiration and loss of
appetite, looked more like the dead than the living. I made daily
applications to the governor, offering him money, which he refused; but
all that I gained, was permission for the foreigners to eat their food
outside, and this continued but a short time.

"It was at this period that the death of Bandoola was announced in the
palace. The king heard it with silent amazement, and the queen, in
eastern style, smote upon her breast, and cried, ama! ama! (alas, alas.)
Who could be found to fill his place? who would venture since the
invincible Bandoola had been cut off? Such were the exclamations
constantly heard in the streets of Ava. The common people were speaking
low of a rebellion, in case more troops should be levied. For as yet
the common people had borne the weight of the war, not a tickal had been
taken from the royal treasury. At length the Pakan Woon, who a few
months before had been so far disgraced by the king as to be thrown into
prison and irons, now offered himself to head a new army that should be
raised on a different plan from those which had been hitherto raised;
and assured the king in the most confident manner, that he would conquer
the English, and restore those places that had been taken, in a very
short time. He proposed that every soldier should receive a hundred
tickals in advance, and he would obtain security for each man, as the
money was to pass through his hands. It was afterwards found that he had
taken, for his own use, ten tickals from every hundred. He was a man of
enterprise and talents, though a violent enemy to all foreigners. His
offers were accepted by the king and government, and all power
immediately committed to him. One of the first exercises of his power
was, to arrest Lansago and the Portuguese priest, who had hitherto
remained unmolested, and cast them into prison, and to subject the
native Portuguese and Bengalees to the most menial occupations. The
whole town was in alarm, lest they should feel the effects of his power;
and it was owing to the malignant representations of this man, that the
white prisoners suffered such a change in their circumstances, as I
shall soon relate.

"After continuing in the inner prison for more than a month, your
brother was taken with a fever. I felt assured he would not live long,
unless removed from that noisome place. To effect this, and in order to
be near the prison, I removed from our house and put up a small bamboo
room in the governor's enclosure, which was nearly opposite the prison
gate. Here I incessantly begged the governor to give me an order to take
Mr. J. out of the large prison, and place him in a more comfortable
situation; and the old man, being worn out with my entreaties, at length
gave me the order in an official form; and also gave orders to the head
jailer, to allow me to go in and out, all times of the day, to
administer medicines, &c. I now felt happy indeed, and had Mr. J.
instantly removed into a little bamboo hovel, so low, that neither of us
could stand upright--but a palace in comparison with the place he had

Next: Removal Of The Prisoners To Oung-pen-la Mrs Judson Follows Them

Previous: Brief History Of Asaad Esh Shidiak From The Time Of His Being Betrayed Into The Hands Of The Maronite Patriarch In The Spring Of 1826

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