The king allows none but the nobles to build houses of brick and stone; the rest build them of bamboos. This law is unpleasant; but there is another law which is a great comfort to the poor. It is this;—any one may have land who wishes for it. A man has only to cultivate a piece of spare land, and it is counted his, as long as he continues to cultivate it; therefore all industrious people have gardens of their own.
Among the mountains of Burmah, there are a wild people called the Karens, very poor and very ignorant; yet some have attended to the voice of the missionaries. They are not so proud as the Burmese; for they have no gods at all, and no books at all: they have not filled their heads with five hundred and fifty stories about Gaudama; therefore they are more ready to listen to the history of Jesus.
The Karens live in houses raised from the ground, and so large is the place underneath, that they keep poultry and pigs there. Every year they move to a new place, and build new houses, clear a new piece of ground, by burning the weeds, dig it up, and sow rice. Thus they wander about, and they number their years by the number of houses they have lived in.
Of all the Eastern nations, they sing and play the most sweetly, and when they become Christians, they sing hymns, very sweetly indeed.
There is one Christian village among the mountains, called Mata, which means love; and every morning the people meet together in the Zayat, or travellers’ house, to sing and pray. Before they were Christians, the Karens were in constant fear of the Nats; (not insects, but evil spirits), and sometimes in order to please their Nats, they were so cruel as to beat a pig to death. The Christian Karens have left off such barbarous practices, and have become kind and compassionate. When the missionaries told them that they ought to love one another, some of them went secretly the next day to wait upon a poor leper, and upon a woman covered with sores. Another day, without being asked, they collected some money and brought it to the missionaries, saying, they wished to set free a poor Burman who had been imprisoned for Christ’s sake. It is cheering to the missionaries to see them turning from their sins.
This city was once the capital of Burmah, and then it was called the “golden city.” But now the king lives in another city, and the glory of Ava has passed away.
This city, though in Burmah, may be called a British city, because the British built it; for they have conquered great part of Burmah. There are missionaries there. One there is, named Judson, who has turned more than a hundred Burmese to the Lord. But he has known great troubles. His wife and his little girl shared in these troubles.
I will now relate the history of the short life of little Maria Judson.