Their constancy in torture and in death
These on traditions tongue still live, these shall
On historys honest page be pictured bright
To latest times.
With them each
day was holy, every hour
They stood prepared to die, a people doomed
To death - old men, and youths, and simple maids.
1885 brought great trouble to the missionaries, and for a long time
subsequently they lived in daily expectation of being put to death. The
future was ominous and dark, but, as the sequel will show, God was better to
them than they feared.
A Baganda army
had gone raiding in Busoga, and sent word to the king that there were two
white men there, and some more behind with a great caravan. The
missionaries at once suspected that the strangers were Bishop Hannington and
party, although they had never dreamed that they would venture to enter the
country by the Masai route, which the king considered his back door.
Mackay and Ashe were sorely perplexed, and after praying together they went
to court at once, but failed in getting an audience. While waiting, they
heard definitely that it was really the bishop, and that he had been put in
the stocks; that Mwanga had held a great Baraza with his chiefs, after which
he had sent messengers to kill the bishop and the whole party, servants and
all, and fetch their goods to the capital. But the crafty king would not see
the missionaries; he sent word that if they had any reason to suppose that
their brethren were prisoners they should tell the katikiro. Mackay and
Ashe next tried to bribe Koluji (a chief) to send after the man deputed to
commit the murder, and tell him to wait for fresh orders from court. Koluji
professed to agree. The following entries in Mackay's note-book tell the
course of events:-
- Too nervous to sleep. Up long before dawn. Ashe and I wrote note to king,
craving an interview, but we did not succeed in seeing him. The good Lord
save our bishop and the brethren from the hands of these assassins!
Lourdel to go to court and read our letter to the king, but the latter
merely replied, Let Mackay come and write a letter, and I shall send a
message to have the bishop sent back. Lourdel came down in haste to
tell us. Wrote letter and Ashe went with it, as I felt unwell. But fearing
Ashe would not see king, on the pretext that he had not been ordered
to write the letter, I hastened after him on the donkey. Got ourselves
reported, but the king set off at once to the pond, in case we should see
- Hear that the king goes to-morrow to the lake, to shoot. He has given the
executioner orders to catch people here. It may be ourselves, or our boys,
or mayhap readers, or pages coming to tell us news.
At once we
sent away all our boys to hide among our Christian friends. Writing out
revision of St. Matthews Gospel. Ashe busy setting it up. Time of
persecution has always been a printing time.
- After dark one of our friends came to tell us that messengers had returned
from Busoga with the tidings that the white men had been killed and all
their Wangwana. It appears that a great army had gone from the katikiros
country to murder our brethren.
Oh, night of
sorrow! What an unheard-of deed of blood!
knows the cause, and He alone knows what the consequences will be.
- This day last week we heard of the arrival of our dear brethren in Busoga.
What a week of dreadful anxiety and sorrow this last week of October has
Now is the
time to actually carry out our former plan, - viz., to get our elders to
assemble their friends in each neighbourhood and have worship in their
house. We have now ten elders, and they could hold half as many meetings
simultaneously. While the present suspicion lasts we only increase it by
collecting crowds on our premises.
- Nine lads baptised to-day. Had letters from ---, assuring us that bishop
and party are killed outright. Musoke has got orders to go and fetch the
white mens goods [The goods
arrived, and Mwanga dressed himself in the bishops robes, but could not
understand how there were no sleeves.]
by night, that the news might not get out.
We have no
hope now. The worst seems over. Our dear brethren are happy, while we remain
in the midst of death. Lord, Thy will be done! For me the bitterness of
death is past. I have become at times almost unconscious to the most
- Pere Lourdel sent a note to say that he has been told that the katikiro
allows that the bishop and party are all murdered, and that the court is
only waiting for the Church Missionary Societys boat to come back; and when
they know that the men they have killed are the very men we have sent the
boat for, they then mean to kill us all! This is probably in the fear that
we have power to punish them for their dreadful deed.
Some of the
Christians sent word to the missionaries that a gift to the authorities was
necessary in order to remove suspicion of any desire to take vengeance. One
of the princesses, a daughter of the late king, also sent them a message,
telling them to make friends with the king without delay. Accordingly Ashe
and Mackay made up a large present for his Majesty, another for the chief
judge, and smaller ones for two of the chiefs, who had been instigators in
the plot to kill the bishop. Seventeen loads in all! It was a great loss to
the mission; but what was the use of hoarding barter goods, when the very
existence of the cause, and their own lives, were in imminent danger?
judge was in high glee, accepted the gift, and swore by the ghost of Mtesa
that while he was in power he would never do the white men any harm. The
king, however, was in a great rage, and demanded to know why the present
had been sent? Why should they rob themselves to give him what they lived
upon? Had he come to the throne yesterday? or had the Church Missionary
Societys boat come? Let Mackay and Ashe come up at once, and explain the
meaning of their gift. They went, never expecting to return alive. All the
wrath was because they had been informed of his wicked intention to kill
them; and he tried hard, by threats and entreaties, to get them to tell the
names of those who had revealed the plot. This the missionaries declined to
do; and their punishment was that no one was to visit them, and they would
both be arrested and killed if a single Muganda was found in their premises,
whether by their knowledge or not. Then he insolently asked, If I kill you,
where shall I put your bodies? They told him they were not afraid of him,.
as they relied on protection from God. At this the whole court made
merriment. After a tedious interview, lasting over two hours, he let them
go, ordering two cows to be given them, to pacify their minds! They
returned home, weary, but grateful to their Heavenly Father for preserving
them in so great a danger.
As it has ever
been, in all lands, from the early centuries downwards, so it was in Uganda.
In the times of greatest trouble and trial, many pressed into the kingdom.
missionaries set a watch at the gate to warn off all natives; nevertheless
many lads pushed in, and their friends could only commend them to God, and
send them off with a portion of the Scriptures. Gabunga (the young lord of
the lake, and admiral of the fleet) sent at midnight to ask when he could be
baptised. Two days afterwards Mr. Ashe performed the rite (see p. 237).
Mwanga did not prosper. First he had bad eyes, and he believed the
missionaries had bewitched him; next his palace at Mengo was burnt down, and
all his goods lost. His gunpowder kegs, which he kept in a straw hut, where
a fire was continually burning, blew up, and caused terrible damage; while
many of his people were killed, and others terribly injured. His Majesty
took refuge at the katikiros, but he was not there long before his hosts
store was struck by lightning and the powder exploded. The king was now
absolutely certain that Mackay and Ashe were bewitching him, and fled, in
great alarm, with only one or two lads, to Rubaga., with his drawn sword. He
declared that he felt sure he would be the last black king of Uganda, for
white men were appearing on every side, and would soon take his country from
him! Still he continued his evil practices, burning converts now and again,
sending out large raiding armies, and anon making plots to kill the
missionaries. They, however, led a charmed life; something always occurred
to frustrate his designs, when evidently he had some pangs of conscience,
for on these occasions he sent Mackay presents of eight thousand or ten
thousand cowries, with the message that he remembered him and liked him.
Once, after plotting to entrap and kill him, he had the effrontery to say,
A great king like me should never be without a man of skill to do work for
him. I will not let you go away, not even if they send seventy letters for
troubles were looming in the distance, which are best explained by jottings
from Mackays own journal:-
May 23rd, 1886. - Very wet, and we expected few people, but by ten a.m.
it faired, and a large congregation gathered. Little did we think that many
of these faces we should never see again in this world. Service in our
former chapel. Mattayo married. Last Sunday several couples were also joined
together by the rites of the Church. After the Litany, Nua unexpectedly gave
utterance to an earnest and impressive prayer, in which all joined audibly.
Our lesson was upon the marriage at Cana of Galilee. How soon have the
waters of the bitter river of death been crossed by most present, and now
they drink freely of the glad wine in the kingdom above, where no more
sorrow can ever be mingled with the cup!
- What we have been in daily expectation of for a long time has now taken
place - an order for the arrest of all the Christians. The katikiro ordered
one of his own lads to be killed at once, while almost everyone of the pages
were immediately seized and carried off for execution. Eleven of our friends
were thus killed the first day, and some of our old favourites condemned.
May the Lord and Saviour whom they have learned to trust, be with the poor
lads in this hour of horror and death, and give them a joyful entrance into
the happy land! Armed bands were sent out in all directions, and a host of
our best people arrested, and an effort made to get them to inform on
others. Bilali arrived here with an armed band to seize people. Happily
there were none about our place, at the time, as we had got warning a few
minutes before. Even at Rusaka, the queen-mothers place, many boys have
been put to death.
Many of our
pupils we know nothing of, but hope they have escaped.
mercifully look on the agony of these poor black children, who are laying
down their lives for His names sake!
Six of our
boys we sent a few days ago to live with the Arabs. We gave Mahommed
(Tripoli) a letter authorising him to receive an honorarium from any of our
brethren between this and Zanzibar, or from the Consul, should he deliver
them up, in case of our being evilly handled by this king.
It was a
terrible time for Mackay and Ashe, and sorely perplexed they were as to the
best course to take. When they saw the dear people, who had been taught by
them, murdered in cold blood for the acceptance of their religion, they were
at times driven to desperation. They then believed that they should insist
on leaving the country, feeling sure that they would soon be asked back, if
indeed they were allowed to go. Again, should they manage to get away, some
of the Frenchmen would consider it their devoir to remain, in the
hope of reaping a golden harvest from the neglected Protestant converts. The
king was eager for Mackay to stay, for the work he could get out of him; and
both missionaries not only made great progress in translation and printing,
but they were able to distribute books and papers in vast numbers. It was
the desire of both to remain at their posts, if it was at all possible to do
so. Mackay went one day to see the king, and reminded him that he had
promised to give him anything he liked to ask, provided the royal gunsmith
was shown the way to make cartridge-cases. Will you give me my reward now?
asked Mackay. Yes. Well, I wish the lives of those condemned, but not
yet executed. He declared that they were all already executed. Mackay
pleaded earnestly, and told the king that he had been toiling hard at making
him a loom and a spinning jenny, and that he had been successful in making
some cloth for him. This apparently pleased him, and he agreed to spare
whoever was left. Mackay pressed the point as far as he thought prudent.
At this time
the miserable king was so often under the influence of bangh and beer that
he was dangerous, and Mackay had to be very careful lest he irritated him,
and thus cause death to more of the poor prisoners.
One day Mr.
Ashe went to the capital, but obtained no audience. On the way home he met a
ghastly spectacle, viz., a human head, newly cut off; and, farther on, arm
Two or three
days after this the very flower of the Christian community, thirty-two in
number, were slowly burnt to death, and that too by Mwangas express orders,
after he had declared to Mackay that only four or five remained alive, and
that he would liberate these.
made a noble confession, praying to God in the fire, so that even the head
executioner reported to the king' that he had never killed such brave
people before, that they died calling on God. This caused Mwanga to laugh
and say, But God did not deliver them from the fire.
Ashe made an effort to get the Frenchmen to unite with them in trying to
save the poor people, but they absolutely refused to help in presenting a
united front to the kings cruelties, either by word or deed. The C.M.S.
men could do as they liked, but they would not interfere. They were afraid,
just as they were in 1881, when Pearson and Mackay asked them to join in
petitioning King Mtesa to countermand an order he had given for a kiwendo
or massacre of common people to appease the gods. The C.M.S. missionaries
based their request on the ground of common humanity, but on both occasions
the Frenchmen asserted that it was as much as their lives were worth to
interfere. On the occasion of the kiwendo, the C.M.S. missionaries sent in
their petition to King Mtesa without the aid of the Romanists, and he
Very many of
the Christians were now in hiding, and appeared after dark at the
Mission-house; there were many inquirers also, and numbers were baptised by
Mr. Ashe. On the 25th of July, 1886, the baptismal register read two hundred
and twenty-seven names. That night fifty converts assembled at midnight, and
two more elders were elected. It was the Church in the Desert, revived in
the heart of Africa! The missionaries used their endeavours to get the
people to meet in the houses of the elders on Sundays, especially when
they were most watched; but many waxed very bold, and seemed reckless as to
their fate. The rulers were quite aware of it, but could not put down the
new religion, especially as many powerful chiefs had embraced it!
called in his sorcerers, to divine whether or not Mackay should be put to
death, as some of the chiefs were complaining that their children were
killed for reading what the missionaries taught. But the katikiro would not
assent to Mackay being killed. He said, No! he buried Namasole, and he
buried Mtesa, and I shall take no part in such a plan; besides, if you do,
no Arabs will come near us. Mwanga replied, I will go with my soldiers to
their place at night and fight them, and if I prevail I will kill them both,
before the katikiro knows anything about it. The katikiro sent the king a
handsome present for opposing his scheme.
1886, permission was obtained for Mr. Ashe to leave Uganda, [Mr.
O'Flaherty had left some eight months previously.
] and Mackay was once more alone. Sad
enough he felt at times, for it was given out that the king intended to have
another grand massacre of the Christians. The queen-mother, however, sent
the king a message to tell him not to kill his lads, but to make them
chiefs. What harm are they doing? she asked; you are only being laughed
At this time
Mackay writes home: I am plodding on, teaching, translating, printing,
doctoring, and carpentering. Strange medley, you will say. That cannot be
helped. Man was made to be like his Maker, who made not one kind of thing,
but all things. There is no doubt but that your prayers on our behalf have
been heard, and will be answered more and more. We have the assurance that
the Lords people will be brought out of great tribulation; we therefore
cannot take it to be His will that they will be for ever left in trouble.
The king has
sacrifice killed to bewitch the Christians! If he never goes farther than
that, he will do them little harm. But there is trouble brewing, which only
our loving Lord can save us all from.
The Arabs were
now very hostile, and were constantly accusing Mackay to the king, with a
view to get him driven out of the country. They were most unscrupulous as to
the means they used to gain this end. Their race and religion led them to
calumniate all Europeans. Mackays exposure of the slave trade had made him
obnoxious in their eyes for many years, and now he had manufactured weaving
and spinning apparatus, and was actually teaching the Baganda how to make
cloth out of fibre. Why, their trade would be stopped. No slaves to be got,
and no demand for cloth! If Mackay could be killed, not only would he be out
of the way, but other white .men would be frightened to come!
reasoned. One of them reported to the king that crowds collected at Mackays
place every Sunday, and that he said, I came to teach, and mean to
teach, while I remain in the country, or am alive; I will go and teach
publicly in the marketplace, if people are afraid to come to the
declared that all Europeans were evil, and land-eaters. Mackay used the
globe, to show the absurdity of thinking that all the world of white men
were concentrating their thoughts on eating up a little patch in the centre
still withheld permission for Mackay to go, and the katikiro and chiefs
(many of them heathens) would not hear of his leaving them. Mackay says: I
was astonished to hear Wakili explaining to some other chiefs that we
Europeans are striving only for the good and peace of Africa, and that our
religion led us to spread ideas of mutual love and friendship among men and
nations. This from a heathen is wonderful, and far more divine than the
Arab creed of enmity and malice.
accounts Mwanga seems to be meditating another massacre of the Christians,
which our dear and ever-present Lord keeps his hands from doing. God is our
refuge and strength, in straits a present aid. Yesterday he was growling
that he would not have me teach his people. He took an Arab dirk, and
brandishing it, said, Thus will I kill any Muzungu!(white man). The Arabs
said, Amen! They are making a desperate effort just now to establish their
creed, and have Christianity crushed. Good Lord, this cause is Thine, and
will triumph! Why do the kings of the earth set themselves against the Lord
and His anointed? He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.
say, the queen-mother sent me the present of a large fat cow very early
to-day, without begging for anything. She must have heard of Mwangas words
of fury yesterday.
St. Matthew's Gospel is now published complete in Luganda, and rapidly being
bought I merely stitch it, with title-page, and supply a loose cover.
Binding, by-and-by. This work, with the packing and giving medicine to the
Christians ordered off to war, and sitting up to all hours, teaching
housefuls, has thoroughly exhausted me. I am almost entirely broken down
with fatigue, and anxiety, and want of sleep.
1887. - Read three chapters of Romans, vii., viii., ix., with good class
this evening. The argument they seem to comprehend. Where is Thomson, with
his feeble scheme of Islam for Africa? or Reichard, with his charge of
extreme poverty of mental power in the negro?
- Since the last entry I have had a month of trouble and anxiety. The
existence of the mission has been wavering in the balance, and even yet is
undecided. Our enemies have tried their very utmost to prevail. Even Pere
Lourdel seems, partly too by his own confession, to have helped to seriously
bring increased suspicion on our objects, and therefore to lend a hand to
our overthrow. The whole case I have given into the hands of our Master,
whose we are. Whatever way He will lead, I am prepared to follow.
I hear, told the king that it was not well for me to meet Stanley here, as
we would lay our heads together to eat the country. The king, at any rate,
told the katikiro and Pokino, in court, that Lourdel had made this
statement, whereupon the chief judge accused the Frenchman of jealousy. I
wrote and asked Lourdel if he had given this advice? He denies having done
so; but, from his own confession, there is some ground for the kings
statement He (Lourdel) allows to having said to the katikiro that white men
do not intend meantime to take the country; but by-and-by, he
did not know! This imprudent remark will take us much pains to controvert
in the days to come, as the king himself said that had the Arabs told him
not to let Stanley and Mackay meet, he would have looked on their words as
merely enmity, but when a white man said this, it must be true!
again gave out that he was unwilling Mackay should leave, and the king also
expressed great regret. On all sides much sorrow was expressed, and no one
would hardly believe that he really meant to go. Mackay says:-
I am at times
sorely perplexed, but I think it well to bend before the storm till it
breaks, and when a reaction comes we may lift up our heads. If their regrets
are sincere, they will agree to another missionary coming on with the boat.
I have gained one important point in getting permission to leave the C.M.S.
station in possession of some of our pupils, and not to abandon it entirely,
as the Arabs [They went to the
katikiro and did their best to persuade that dignitary not to allow him to
leave anyone in charge, nor a single article in the country, as he would
(they said) be sure to write to England that he had been robbed, and much
trouble would ensue.] were
determined should be done. I have resolved, however, not to go unless they
send a mubaka with me to fetch Gordon to take my place. I mean to make this
point a test of their sincerity in asserting that they wish friendship.
tedious discussions at Court, a mubaka was at length granted.
begged parting gifts, and gave him others in return. The king also sent
farewell presents, with a message that he was to return very soon.
the 21st July, he started for the port. He says: I called on the Frenchmen
on my way, and gave the keys to Pere Lourdel - Simeon Lourdel - Peter should
have the keys!