Dr. Adam Clarke and the Two Priests of Budha

I have rarely been so interested as by the account Sir Alexander Johnstone gave me of the two young Priests, whose enterprise had as many difficulties, and a far higher object, than our forefathers’ pilgrimages to the Holy Land. They waited on Sir Alexander, to consult him as to the means of reaching England. Lady Johnstone’s health rendering an instant return imperative, he had fitted out a small vessel, whose accomodations were too limited to admit more than his own family and suite. In this ship, however, they worked their way as common sailors. Before we can appreciate this sacrifice, we must understand that they were of birth, education, and high standing in their own country. Let us for a moment suppose one of our prelates working before the mast on a mission of Christian faith; we shall then comprehend the depth and sincerity of the belief that urged the young Cingalese. Sir Alexander placed them under the care of Dr. Adam Clarke, of Liverpool, rightly judging that London, with its usual selfish and stimulating course of lionization, would defeat the high purposes of their visit. The progress of the strangers was so satisfactory, that at the end of two years Dr. Clarke publicly baptized them. They returned to Ceylon, where one is employed as a Missionary, and the other is an officer in the civil service. The benefit of their example and instruction may be more easily imagined than calculated.

They heard it in the rushing wind,
     They read it in the sky;
They felt it in the thousand flowers
     That by the river sigh;

That there must be some holier faith
    Than they themselves had known,
Whose temple was within the heart,
    And not of brick nor stone.

They saw this world was very fair,
    And questioned of what hand,
That with the beautiful and good
    Had gifted sea and land.

Their idols answered not—the mind
    Ask'd something more divine
Than ever breathed from carved wood,
    Or from the golden shrine.

They heard of more exalted hopes,
    Revealing God above,
That spoke a universal creed,
    Of universal love,

And looked beyond the little space
    That is appointed here,
And made of yonder glorious heaven
    Men's own and native sphere.

They craved for knowledge, whose pure light
    Might pierce the moral gloom;
They left the temple of their race,
    They left their father’s tomb:

They left them for a distant isle
    Far o’er the distant main;
But they were strong in faith, and felt
    It would not be in vain.

What high and holy thoughts sustained
    Their progress o’er the sea,
They left their home, which never more
    Again their home might be;

A power far mightier than their own
    Was with them night and day;
They feared not, and they faltered not
    God kept them on their way.

At last they reached our English isle,
    The glorious and the free:

O England, in thine hour of pride
    How much is asked of thee?

Thy ships have mastered many a sea,
    Thy victories many a land;
A power almost as strong as fate
    Is in thy red right hand.

A nobler enterprise awaits
    Thy triumph and thy toil;
’Tis thine to sow the seeds of good
    In many a foreign soil.

Freedom, and knowledge, justice, truth,
    Are gifts which should be thine;
And, more than all, that purer faith
    Which maketh men divine.

Those strangers sought an English home,
    And there they learnt to know
Those hopes which sweeten life and cheer,
    Yet have no rest below.

They learnt to lisp in foreign words
    The faith of foreign prayer,
Yet felt it a familiar faith,
    That every one should share.

They bear it to their native land,
    And labour to impart
The Christian knowledge that subdues
    Yet elevates the heart

Oh, noble enterprise! how much
    For man by man is won!
Doth it not call on all mankind
    To see what two have done?

Oh, fair thou art, thou lovely isle,
    The summer loves thine hours;
Thy waves are filled with warm white pearls,
    Thy groves with spice and flowers.

But nature hath no gift assigned,
    Though prodigal she be,
Like that pure creed of Christian lore
    Thy sons have brought to thee.
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Submitted by Madeleine Quinn on February 24, 2020

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:32 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 4,086
Words 704
Stanzas 21
Stanza Lengths 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was an English poet. Born 14th August 1802 at 25 Hans Place, Chelsea, she lived through the most productive period of her life nearby, at No.22. A precocious child with a natural gift for poetry, she was driven by the financial needs of her family to become a professional writer and thus a target for malicious gossip (although her three children by William Jerdan were successfully hidden from the public). In 1838, she married George Maclean, governor of Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast, whence she travelled, only to die a few months later (15th October) of a fatal heart condition. Behind her post-Romantic style of sentimentality lie preoccupations with art, decay and loss that give her poetry its characteristic intensity and in this vein she attempted to reinterpret some of the great male texts from a woman’s perspective. Her originality rapidly led to her being one of the most read authors of her day and her influence, commencing with Tennyson in England and Poe in America, was long-lasting. However, Victorian attitudes led to her poetry being misrepresented and she became excluded from the canon of English literature, where she belongs. more…

All Letitia Elizabeth Landon poems | Letitia Elizabeth Landon Books

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