23 July 1822
Two letters by Ann Judson were published in the Baptist Quarterly, one from Rangoon to Mrs. James Deakin in Glasgow, 16 January 1818; another letter was by Joseph Butterworth from Bedford Square, London (Ann stayed with the Butterworths during her time in London), to Mrs. Deakin's husband, James Deakin, a Baptist layman at Glasgow, dated 20 July 1822, announcing Ann’s departure on the James Watts on the following Wednesday for Scotland. Butterworth wrote again on 29 July to Deakin, glad to hear that Ann was safe in Scotland. A second letter by Ann, dated 12 August 1822, from Liverpool, was addressed to a Miss Pennycook. See My Heart In His Hands—Ann Judson of Burma: A Life, with Selections from Her Memoir and Letters, by Sharon James (Durham: Evangelical Press, 1998; also James D. Knowles, Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, late missionary to Burmah: Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire (Boston: Lincoln & Edmands, 1829); Arabella M. Stuart Willson, The Lives of Mrs. Ann H. Judson And Mrs. Sarah B. Judson, with A Biographical Sketch of Mrs. Emily C. Judson, Missionaries To Burmah (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), who writes that while staying with the Butterworths Ann met "many persons, distinguished for literature and piety, among whom were Sumner, Babington and Wilberforce" (p. 109); also Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Mission for Life: The Judson Family and American Evangelical Culture (New York: New York University Press, 1984). None of these sources mention the above letter from Judson to Mrs. Wilberforce, which would suggest the letter has heretofore remained unpublished. Judson is acknowledging her indebtedness to William Wilberforce's popular work, A Practical View of Christianity (1797), for encouraging her faith during a time of trial while in Burma c. 1817.
Ann H. Judson, Bedford Square, London, to Mrs. William Wilberforce, Brompton Row or Marden Park, 23 July 1822.
London Bedford Square
July 23 –1822
My Dear Mrs Wilberforce
It seems to have been the design of providence, that my wishes, relative to an interview with yourself & Mr Wilberforce should be frustrated, notwithstanding my endeavours to the contrary. I cannot however prevail on myself to leave England, without making some apology for the earnest desire I have manifested to intrude, for a few hours, on that time so valuable to the public good – My reasons were the following – to express to Mr Wilberforce the happy effects produced by a perusal of his writings, of which I have been a witness in two cases, & to obtain some hints which might have been invaluable to us among the heathen. Four or five years ago, my mind, in consequence of my long residence in a heathen land for constant witness of idolatrous scenes, became harassed with doubts relative to the existence of an eternal God, & the divine authenticity of the [f.301v] Scriptures. Mr Judson was the only person to whom I could communicate my trials. He gave me Mr W’s View of Religion. A perusal of it was the means, not only of
my removing my doubts & restoring my mind to its former state of tranquility, but gave those high & elevated ideas which that work is so admirably calculated to produce. The transition from a state of darkness & distress, to light & joy was so great, that I was on the point of communicating to Mr W. the change that work had been the means of effecting but the fear of intrusion prevented. The other case was on board ship on my passage to England – Two young ladies on board, daughters of Sir F. M. now in India became the subjects of religious impression. I put into their hands the above mentioned book. It was the means of establishing & comforting their minds, & we entered into an engagement to read through that book once every year beginning the first of March. I should have considered it a particular privilege to have communicated with Mr W. on the best plans to be adopted, in introducing the gospel among the Burmans – but it is now too late – Allow me my [f.302r] dear Madam to express my sense of kindness in Mr W’s Letter of yesterday, & the hope that his valued life will long be continued a blessing to his country & family – I embark this evening for Scotland, thence, after a few days, for America. With best wishes for your health & happiness
I remain My Dear Madam
Sincerely & Respectfully Yours
Ann H. Judson
Text: MSS. Wilberforce, d. 13, ff. 301-02, Bodleian Library, Oxford.