Obrazy na stronie

Lascars to Christianity than captain Wilson. But that which is impossible with man is possible with God. Captain Wilson settled at Portsea, where a discussion with a Christian gentleman led him to attend a place of worship; and impressions were there made upon his heart which issued in the surrender of his entire being to God.

Some time after this happy change, he was meditating on the faith of Abraham, and the promptitude with which he obeyed the Divine call to leave his country and his home. He asked himself-Am I prepared to make such a sacrifice, and again to endure the privations, and brave the perils of the great deep? Just then he heard of the design to send a missionary ship to cruise among the islands of the Pacific Ocean. Offering himself for the work, he was gratefully accepted, and had the honour, as we have previously mentioned, of commanding the first missionary vessel to the South Sea Islands ; thus carrying the gospel to hundreds of thousands of fierce cannibals and benighted idolaters. In reviewing this marvellous, but perfectly authenticated, history, who can help acknowledging the hand of God, whose providence, shrouded in mystery during the course of its

development, comes out in vivid distinctness at its close ? “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !"

Among the fellow-sufferers with captain Wilson from the cruelty of Hyder Ally, was the late Philip Melvill, esq., afterwards the pious and devout governor of Pendennis Castle, whose memoirs have proved a fund of instruction to the Christian church. He, too, was in early life, to use his own words,“ a wanderer from his father's house, a disciple in one of the worst schools in which a deluded world can place her votaries.”

When serving in India, at the commencement of the war with Hyder Ally, captain Melvill, with his regiment, formed part of a small body of troops who were despatched into the Mysore, and were there surrounded by an army, which outnumbered them twenty-fold. A desperate action took place, in which the disciplined valour of the British was in vain opposed to the fearful odds against them. Very early in the engagement captain Melvill was wounded, but not seriously, and he still kept at the head of his men. Soon afterwards, turning

round to give the word of command, another ball struck him, shattering the arm and grazing the breast : had it not been for the slight change in posture at the moment, it must have shot him through the heart. He fell, and very soon the ranks of the little army were broken, and the enemy rushing in, an indiscriminate slaughter ensued. In the carnage he received a sabre cut on the other arm, which rendered it useless, by severing all the muscles. The victorious troops returned to strip and plunder the wounded or dead. Either in cruel sport, or for the purpose of securing the spoil for themselves, the party who seized him took him by the feet and dragged him soine distance along the ground, his head striking against every stone, and his disabled arms trailing painfully behind him. Having stripped him naked, they left him, exposed by day to the burning sun, and by night to the wild beasts, which he heard howling round him. He saw them indeed repeatedly pass, and mangle the remains of his comrades, while him they did not touch. During this period he suffered greatly from the pain of his wounds, but still more from intense thirst, which he vainly endeavoured to assuage by gnawing whatever

grass or herbs were within reach. At length
his agony became so intolerable that he at-
tempted suicide, but his disabled arms and his
enfeebled strength happily failed him, and he
found himself unable to grasp the weapon
which he intended to be the instrument of self-
destruction. A party of the enemy's cavalry,
however, had been despatched to examine the
field of action, and bring in such of the
wounded as might yet survive, their design
being—as in captain Wilson's case-to inflict
upon them indignities and tortures, which might
compel them to take service under Hyder Ally.
Melvill fainted on being moved, and recovered
from insensibility only to find himself a captive
in the hands of a ruthless foe. Many of his
fellow-prisoners sank under the privation and
sufferings of their dungeon in the course of a very
few days. Though fearfully wounded, Melvill
bore up under his trials, and was removed in
about a month to Bangalore, a fortress in the
heart of Mysore, where he remained a prisoner
for four


of his condition here: “Our couch was the bare earth, thinly sprinkled over with straw ; the wretched clothing we wore by day was our only covering by night; the sweepings of the granaries formed our only

food. Swarms of odious and tormenting vermin bred in our wounds, and every abomination loathsome to sight and smell was allowed to accumulate in our dungeon, till it became intolerable to our guards. This full measure of woe was our portion during the remainder of our captivity. Many a victim sank under it, but more survived, to testify to the goodness or the Almighty in their deliverance from the sundry kinds of death which threatened to overwhelm us. How brittle is the thread of life in itself ! how indissoluble in connexion with Him who hath given to man his appointed time upon earth! Neither sword, nor sickness, nor consuming grief, can execute its deadly purpose without his special commission ; his ministers they are, and they cannot go beyond his word.”

At last deliverance arrived. Peace was concluded, and the wretched prisoners were set free. A gaunt and hideous band they were; their bones standing out, and alınost protruding through the skin ; their eager, hungry eyes, their shrunk pallid cheeks, their squalid filth and matted hair — all testified to the extremity of their sufferings. But, as in the case of captain Wilson, Mr. Melvill's heart was melted neither

« PoprzedniaDalej »