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THE LIFE OF ADAM CLARKE: APPENDIX
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The following Letters were written to Miss Mary Cooke, by Mr. Clarke, before they were married. I [J. B. B. Clarke] did not think myself authorized to introduce them into the body of Dr. Clarke’s own narrative, which would so far have been interpolated; judging it to be much better that the account of his Life, which he had written for publication, should appear without any additions from either his own pen or those of others.
Yet as they are illustrative of the preceding part of these Memoirs, and bring him forward speaking his own feelings in his own person, they are here inserted. They declare and describe various situations of his mind and circumstances; entering into that sort of conversational detail which causes events to rise up living before us, and we thus become companions in his thoughts and spectators of his actions.
Before, however, the Reader proceeds to the perusal of these Letters, he may be pleased with knowing the circumstances of an acquaintance which Mr. Clarke formed in the year 1791, in Dublin, with a Turkish Janissary.
The account I have drawn up from memoranda in the handwriting of Dr. Clarke.
During Mr. Clarke’s residence in Dublin, in 1791, he was called upon by a Turk, who had just arrived from Liverpool, and, being but little acquainted with the English language, he had inquired for some one who understood either Arabic or Spanish; he was directed to Mr. Clarke, to whom he soon made known his situation; but, who received him at first with considerable caution: acquaintance, however, convinced him of Ibrahim ben Ali’s integrity, and daily intercourse ripened into a friend this casual visitor. The principles of Christianity, in which Ibrahim had formerly been partially instructed, Mr. Clarke explained to him more fully, and in the course of a few months he was admitted at his earnest request to the rite of Baptism, which was performed by Mr. Rutherford in Whitefriar-street Chapel, Mr. Clarke interpreting into Spanish the words of the Baptismal service. He received the name of Adam.
The account which be gave of himself to Mr. Clarke, was in substance the following: — He was born at Constantinople in the year 1756; his father, Al ben Mustapha, possessed an estate about six miles from Constantinople worth 30,000 machbou, about 10,000L. sterling. From his youth he had much of the fear of God, which his father, who was a zealous and conscientious Mussulman, endeavored to improve. Among the many slaves which his father possessed, there chanced to be several Spaniards, who frequently spoke to Ibrahim of the God of the Christians, and of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world; adding, even at the hazard of their lives, that Mohammed was not a true Prophet, and that his doctrines were false. These things were not without their effect upon Ibrahim’s mind.
At eleven years of age he was circumcised, and married at thirteen to his first wife Halima, who was then twelve. Shortly after his marriage he performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. His mother, Halima, was a Christian, native of the Island of Zante, and having been stolen by some Venetians, was bought in Aleppo by Al ben Mustapha, who loved her too well to take another wife. She preserved her love to the Christian religion, and though she never dared to speak openly in its favor to her children, yet she frequently gave them intimations that there was a purer way of worshipping the true God than that in which they were instructed. When they were old or sickly, she often obtained the liberty of many of her husband’s Christian slaves.
The next year Ibrahim married his second wife Fatima, and his third Ayesha, by all of whom he had six children, three by the first wife, two by the second, and one by the last. His comforts at home were not so great as to prevent him from thinking of traveling, and in order to gratify his desire of seeing more of mankind, his friends advised him to procure a post in the army; this he proposed to his father, who obtained him a Captain’s commission among the Janissaries.
After he had been about five years in the army, a most singular and awful occurrence took place. Two young officers, with whom he had contracted a very intimate acquaintance, and who lodged close to himself in the same barracks, were found one morning murdered in their beds. He and they used to go together to the Mosque very early in the morning, according to the custom of the Mohammedans: the above-mentioned morning he sent his servant to call them as usual, but receiving no answer, Ibrahim went to prayers by himself. On returning to his rooms he called again, and again received no answer. About eight the Basha came and inquired for them; he found their door locked and no answer was returned to his summons; he then ordered the door to be forced open, and on his entering they were both found with their throats cut, and their bodies stabbed in several places. Ibrahim, who was known to be intimate with the murdered men and who slept in the next room, was accused of the murder and committed to prison. His declarations of innocence were in vain, and his friends, by the exercise of both influence and entreaty, could only obtain five days to be granted, in which to seek and discover the murderer. On the fifth day, a plate of black olives was sent to him as a token that tomorrow he must die. His father, mother, and friend came to have their last interview; and his mother’s courage appears to have been aroused by the imminence of the danger, for she openly begged him as a dying man, to trust in the Supreme God alone, and to pay no attention to any part of the Mohammedan doctrine. An old Spaniard, who was a slave in the prison, brought him a cup of coffee, and sitting down by his side, said, “Turn Christian and recommend your soul to God through Christ Jesus, and he will save you unto life eternal.” At small intervals Ibrahim repeated this three or four times, and was persuaded that his mother had spoken to the slave on this subject before her departure from the prison. The night he passed without sleep, and at six the next morning the attendants of the prison came to his cell. On hearing the doors open his strength forsook him and he fainted away; — but, when recovered from his swoon, what was his joy to be presented with his pardon!! In the course of that night two private soldiers confessed that they had murdered the officers in requital of some harsh treatment which they had received at their hands: — they were instantly executed.
To recompense the old slave, Ibrahim bought him his liberty, gave him some money, and sent him to Spain; and the slave in return counseled him to continue his trust in the Lord Jesus, who had so wonderfully delivered him, and to do all the good that lay in his power to all men, not minding to what sect or party or nation they belonged. From this time an insatiable desire after a farther acquaintance with the Christian religion took possession of his soul, and never left him till he was fully converted to God.
About this time the Russians and Turks waged war with each other concerning the navigation of the Black Sea, and it fell to Ibrahim’s lot to be engaged in the campaign: he was in four battles, received many severe wounds, and at last was taken prisoner in the Province of Wallachia, on the banks of the Danube, and carried to Arzenicour, about fifty miles from St. Petersburgh: here he remained about two years, and obtained his liberty as the grateful acknowledgment of a lady in that neighborhood, whose eyes he had restored to health and strength. The good treatment he experienced, his freely conversing with the Christians of that place, and rejoicing to hear of the Christian religion, excited the envy and malevolence of two fellow captives, who wrote to Constantinople, that Ibrahim had turned Christian, and that there was every reason to believe that he had proved a traitor to his country, by delivering his troops into the hands of the Russians. These slanders had such an influence at Constantinople, that hi s brother warned him not to return till all had been investigated and cleared up. Finding that there was no hope of his being able speedily to revisit his native country, he embarked on board of a ship bound to Copenhagen, and thence he sailed for Liverpool.
While Ibrahim was a prisoner in Russia, his parents, wives, and children, had removed to Ismail as a place of greater security, while their relative was under suspicion; when this place was stormed and sacked by the Russians, under Suvarroff, all the inhabitants were put to the sword, and the whole of his family perished in the hideous slaughter-house, excepting one brother and sister, who had been left behind to take care of their father’s estate, near Constantinople.
From Liverpool, as has been stated, Ibrahim came to Dublin, where he obtained the acquaintance of Mr. Clarke, by whom he was more fully taught the way of salvation, and inducted into the Christian Church: he continued to maintain an upright character, seldom passed a day without spending part of it with Mr. Clarke’s family, and when they left Dublin for Liverpool, he accompanied them, remaining during Mr. Clarke’s two years’ abode in that town. Manchester was the next place to which the family removed, whither also Ibrahim accompanied them, and after residing some considerable time there in constant intercourse with Mr. Clarke, he departed for America, where he married a lady of the Baptist persuasion, continuing faithful to his religious profession, and ultimately dying the death of the righteous.
The following are some of the Letters which were written by Mr. Clarke to Miss Mary Cooke, afterwards Mrs. Clarke.
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