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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"Dr. Adam Clarke and the Two Priests of Budha" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 2 Jun 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/52583/dr.-adam-clarke-and-the-two-priests-of-budha>.