CHAPTER VII. Missionary Life in Sin

1838, 1839.

Disappointed hopes – Training of her daughter – English and Siamese dictionary – Gracious support under failing strength

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is above rubies.” Prov. 31.10.

One distinguishing trait in the character of Mrs. Bradley was a cheerful endurance of labor, however severe. Not far from the time of her leaving America, there was a prospect that Dr. Bradley and herself would be joined in their foreign field by Rev. Mr.—-and his wife. They were familiar friends of Mrs. Bradley, greatly beloved and respected. But their purpose was changed, and they remained in their native land. She then proposed successively to two young ladies belonging to her circle of choice friends, to come and take part in the work for the wretched and degraded Siamese, and to make her house their home. Neither of these ladies saw the way clear to enter the door thus opened.

Mrs. Bradley next wrote to a relative to make the same proposal to any single female possessing the endowments requisite for becoming a userul laborer and an agreeable inmate of the family. Miss J. H. Taylor, upon whom the choice devolved, readily consented to make the sacrifice for the love of Christ and dying men. Miss Taylor had spent two full yours in a course of education in Mrs. Bradley’s native village, and much of that period in the family of her grandfather, and would of course be able to give many interesting particulars relating to that spot where many of her best affections centred—-“that dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest,” Miss Taylor sailed under the auspices of the Board early in the summer of 1839, in company with a reinforcement for the Siamese Mission. They landed at Singapore about the first of December. The ship which conveyed them went no further, and the company were compelled to remain until they could find passage in such small vessels as that region afforded. In a few days, passage was obtained for a part of the number. Miss Taylor was one of those who remained. She however sent her letters, and wrote herself, announcing her prospective arrival. This intelligence, the first Mrs. Bradley had received concerning her, was as the breaking forth of sweet waters in a dry and thirsty land.

But He who rules the destinies of man had other thoughts. Just at that juncture, Mr. E.S. Minor, a missionary of Ceylon, visited Singapore with one of his two motherless children. He saw Miss Taylor, and was not slow to make her his prize, and bear her away to his home in Ceylon, made desolate by the death of an excellent wife. Thus was Mrs. Bradley’s cup of happiness dashed untasted from her very lips.

In writing of the event to her friends in America, she remarked that she had large stores of enjoyment laid up, from which to draw many days of social converse with Miss Taylor concerning the home of her childhood and her maturer years. These anticipated pleasures had in one moment been swept away. “But”, she added, “Mrs. Minor in Ceylon as a wife, mother, and missionary, will be more useful than Miss Taylor in Bangkok;” therefore she acquiesced cordially in the new arrangement. In writing to Mrs. Minor, after descenting upon her high duties and responsibilities, and expressing her cordial approbation of the course she had adopted, she added, “These are my reasonings. I do not say that I am not disappointed.” None who knew Mrs. Bradley will suspect her of a tame, pliant insensibility. She doubtless had her conflicts on such occasions, but they were known only to Omniscience. Her meek, quiet submission was a triumph or reason, conscience, and Christian principles. Here was a religion of benevolence—of disinterestedness; it controlled the will, sanctified the affections, pervaded the whole moral structure, and influenced the actions of her life. A friend says, “I regarded her friendship as invaluable. I have known few who like her could give reproof without reproach, with a spirit and in a way which so clearly evinced that kindness was the sole motive of action. She could give counsel too, without arrogating supreme wisdom.” Her heart was a deep and rich mine of tender, sympathetic, benevolent, and holy affections.

Previous to Mrs. Bradley’s marriage she was not distinguished for habits of order. When that event was about to occur, a friend remarked to her, that if she would as a wife make Dr. Bradley happy, she must conform to his taste in these respects. “A word to the wise is sufficient.” She adopted habits of the strictest order and regularity, from which she never afterwards deviated. As her daughters attained sufficient age to be instructed, this part of their education was not neglected. They were required to keep the wardrobe of their dolls and all their baby furniture with care and neatness. As the result of this teaching, when they came to America, their friends noticed with pleasure that nothing was mislaid, nothing unnecessarily soiled or otherwise injured. As to her mode of instructing her children, she says in one of her letters:

“During the day I teach Emelie Jane such lessons from books, and tell her such things as she can understand. At evening when the sterner duties of the days are finished, her father walks with her on the veranda, and has her relate to him what she has learned during the day.’ By this practice the double purpose was accomplished of impressing the lessons upon her memory, and cultivating her conversational powers. And this last was done so successfully, that strangers as well as relatives in America thought they hadrarely witnessed such an exhibition of good sense and womanliness in conversation, in a girl not yet eleven years old. Her manner was neither bold nor assuming, but collected and unhasitating. She sat and talked like one who expected to receive attention; she had been accustomed to receive it, and always secured it. This dear child, to whom was readily transferred the love still cherished for her sainted mother, died in Oberlin, Ohio, July 1848. She trusted in Christ, and we trust he took her to his bosom. Dear lamented one, sweet half-blow flower, early transplanted into that upper garden where no rough and blasting gales can ever reach thee!

“Early, bright, transient, chaste as morning dew,
She sparkled, was exhaled, and went to heaven.”

Aug. 24, 1838. “I have had the pleasure, as I often have, of pointing out the consolations of the gospel to an afflicted Christian. When I went away alone this evening I could scarcely refrain from weeping, that those consolations and the joy and peace of believing are so seldom felt in my own soul. I do love to hold the cup of peace and joy to the lips of another, though I thirst myself.

Sept. 11. “I have resumed my English and Siamese dictionary. I take hold of it with a firm, but perhaps not with an energetic hand. Visited the major-general of his majesty’s forces today. The old man propounded several questions relative to the conjugal relation, and appeared much pleased with the answers. How little true happiness is found in the harems of this people.

Oct. 3. “The Lord prospered the labor of my hand today, so that I succeeded in placing twenty-eight words in the dictionary. When I see many, many pages entirely unwritten, I cannot but continually feel it a great work I have before me.

Nov. 5. “My dear husband has this day been ordained to preach the everlasting gospel. I have been somewhat cumbered with serving, but it has been a solemn day to me.

Dec. 11. “One man professes to have found Jesus. To use his own expression, ‘he has come out of darkness and blindness to see clearly, even as if he had spectacles and spyglass.’ He appears well, maintains family worship, and suffers persecution.

Dec. 23. “Sabbath. Felt strong desires to honor this sacred day before the natives, and found it a delight to myself. Conversed with young woman upon the worth of her soul. She de1iberately said that while she was well she did not think of these things, but if she was sick she would. May she be led by the Holy Spirit to think of them before she finds herself in eternity.

Dec. 31. “This year will close in a few hours, and its account will be sealed up till the judgement. Most of it is already thus sealed. It has been a year of weakness to myself, and of anxious fear respecting my husband. But we are all in circumstances of mercy this evening. Great changes have taken place in our company. With regard to my soul. I believe I have made some advances; but so far from having attained, I yet poor. It is my earnest desire that the coming year may witness a great growth of grace in me.

Jan. 10, 1839. “Went to the school today. I am unhappy in view of my inability to import religious instruction to these young immortals. Intended to write this evening, but Chau R. Fai came in, and I have spent the evening in looking over a vocabulary with him.

Jan 15. “I visited the school yesterday, which is the amount of what I have been able to accomplish yesterday and today. It becomes a serious question whether it is best for me to continue this department, when one hour and a half spent there unfits me for business for the day. I am losing strength; and if I am ever to gain, when will it be if not during the next six weeks of comparatively cool weather?

Jan. 30. “A physician came today for the treatise on the small-pox. After giving one to him, I returned to my room and resumed my book, which was ‘Brown’s Scripture Selections,’ in which I was committing some passages. He followed me, and asked me what book I was reading. I replied, ‘A book of Christ.’ ‘Why do you read it often? Can you not remember it?’ I told him that I loved it, and by often reading it, it nourished my heart as food does the body. I further inquired if he had a child. He replied in the affirmative. ‘But why do you often embrace it, and talk with it?’ ‘Because I love it,’ said he. ‘So do I love my book.’

Nov. 23. “On the eight of October, the Lord gave me another daughter to train up for him. I cannot here record the feelings with which this gift was received from the hand of my heavenly Parent. She is an immortal, and the state in which she is to exist for ever may depend, under God, on my fidelity. Let me be faithful in bringing her to my Saviour now. My anxiety that the kingdom of heaven should be her portion increases my desire for Jane’s conversion. It was a bitter hour when I felt that I must rise from my bed with the same frail body that I had borne about for two years. I was finally enabled to say, ‘Good is the will of the Lord.’ I had many plans of usefulness, which had been laid out in great weakness, with the fond hope that strength would be given me to execute them. These cherished hopes have withered, and these plans must be executed by others, if at all. I still have native children under my care, and must have for the present. I am unfit for such a charge. I ought to have no cares which will receive any injury but that of delay by being laid aside for a few days. These children lose much every day that I cannot attend to them. My disease has a tendency to render me irritable; and for this reason, I am unfit to have the care of native children or my own either. I consider it my first duty towards my fellow-creatures, to maintain a meek and quiet spirit. It is my constant prayer that I may have grace to do this, for it is impossible for me to do it in my own strength. Tonight, I went out in the boat. I am free from pain and surrounded with mercies.

Nov. 28. “I have felt much today for my children, in view of their being left motherless at a tender age. Perhaps my fears have little ground, but I do not think I have the prospect of many years. I fear this cough, that is excited by every fresh breeze, will become incurable. With such prospects, I can only leave my children in the hands of my Saviour. My husband is one of the best of fathers, but what father can be a mother too? It is under such trials that I feel the in estimable value of our God, of our Saviour. Yes, I can heartily join the Psalmist in saying, whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee.’ The portion I ask for them is, an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Not that they may have a worldly portion first, and give the remnant of their days to the Saviour; but that they may serve the Lord from their infancy. I dare not, I wish not to specify a single temporal blessing for them.

Dec. 4. “Hoped that I might go to church this evening at least; but my cough is so troublesome that I dare not venture out in this raw wind. My throat is so very irritable that I cannot teach. My greatest tear is, that these things are not sanctified to me. Some prospect of the children being removed from my care—a great relief to me, and benefit to them.”

Reproduced from: A Sketch of The Life and Character of Mrs. Emelie Royce Bradley, Ten Years a Missionary in Siam by Nancy Royce c.1865. Please notify of any transcription inaccuracies to DigitalBangkokRecorder