William Carey: Chapter 1: A Northhampton Shire Village

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“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." (Pro. 20:22The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. (Proverbs 20:2))RO 20:2{
VILLAGE life in England a hundred-and-fifty years ago was very different from what it is to-day. The telegraph and telephone were things unheard of. No one had ever traveled in a railway carriage, or seen a steamboat. Very few letters were written or received, for as there was no penny post, it cost what in those days must have seemed quite a large sum to send a letter even to the nearest town; while for greater distances still more was charged.
Work hours were long; holidays did not come very often; children were sent to work in the fields or at the loom when not more than seven or eight years of age, and often grew up without knowing how to read and write, as, though almost every village had its school, many of the poorer people said that they could not afford to pay school fees; and as they had never been to school themselves, they did not see that "book-learning," as they called it, was likely to do their children much good.
The Northampton shire village of Paulersbury was not a large or thickly-peopled one when, on a bright August day in 1761, there was rejoicing in the small two-roomed cottage of a hand-loom weaver over the birth of a little son, the firstborn, and for some time the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Carey. The family had seen better days, and that Mr. Carey's father was the first schoolmaster of the village gives ample proof that he had received an education superior to that of most of his neighbors.
The baby received the name of William (helper of many). He was bright, lively and healthy; but no one even guessed how loved and honored the name of William Carey was to be, not only as a Christian missionary, but as a translator of the scriptures into a language read and spoken by millions of people in India. Almost before the child was able to speak plainly he seemed to be always picking up scraps of knowledge; often in the early dawn of a summer's morning his mother would be awakened by his baby voice, and in answer to her question, "What is it, Willie?" he just wanted to know something he was sure mother could tell him.
Five sons and daughters made the little cottage at times seem somewhat crowded; but if the Careys were not rich in worldly goods, they were in affection, and their home, if humble, was a happy one.
The first six years of William's life were spent mostly under the care of his widowed grandmother; she was a woman who feared and loved God, and we cannot tell how much her early training may have done to make her grandson what he afterward became. As the boy grew older, he was often with his grandfather, and it is not at all unlikely that he may have heard from his lips stories of great and good men whose birthplaces had been not many miles from his native village. Wyclif, who has been called "the morning star of the Reformation," could hardly have been forgotten; while the story of John Bunyan, who wrote "The Pilgrim's Progress" and was imprisoned at Bedford on account of his faithfulness as a preacher of the gospel, would be a never-failing interest to the boy; he would also hear of Fox, from whose writings we learn so much of what was suffered for the word of God in martyr times in England.
Philip Doddridge and John Newton, both well-known as hymn-writers, had lived in the neighborhood; and while William Carey was still a youth, his village was the home of the poet Cowper. When William was six years of age, a great change in his surroundings took place. His father was appointed schoolmaster, and the family removed to the school-house, where the next eight years of his life were spent.
His schoolboy life seems to have been on the whole a happy one. He learned quickly, entered with all the energy of his being into boyish amusements, and was a general favorite with his schoolfellows.
At one time the boys wanted to climb a very tall tree that grew near the village. Several had tried and failed; William made up his mind to succeed, and though he got a fall or two on his first attempts, he took "Try, try, try again" as his motto, and kept on trying, till at last he had the pleasure of gaining its topmost branch. Whatever the boy began he finished. Miles of open and very beautiful country lay round his home, and he dearly loved long walks. Birds, flowers and insects were to him never-failing sources of delight; he early formed the habit of observation, and though very few books on the subject were at that time to be had, he began his "nature studies" when not more than seven or eight years of age.
After the family went to live at the old-fashioned school-house, William had a room to himself; it soon became at once a library, a museum, and a natural history collection. His sister said of the room that its walls were covered with insects, which he kept that he might observe their habits. He had also several pet birds which, when he was away from home, were left in her care. In after years she wrote, "I really tried to take care of his birds, and though I often killed them with kindness, when he saw how really sorry I was, he not only forgave me, but left his pets in my care the next time he was obliged to be away from home.”