A Day in the Life of William Carey

IN A LETTER dated June 12, 1806, William Carey describes a typical day at his Serampore mission community. (His original punctuation and spelling are retained.)

I rose this day at a quarter to six, read a chapter in the Hebrew Bible, and spent the time till seven in private addresses to God and then attended family prayer with the servants in Bengalee. While tea was pouring out, I read a little in Persian with a Moonshi [a native assistant or secretary] who was waiting, when I left my bed room. Read also before breakfast a portion of the Scriptures in Hindoosthanee.

“The moment breakfast was over sat down to the translation of the Ramayuna [a classical Indian epic] from Sangskrit, with a Pundit . . . continued this translation till ten o’clock, at which time I went to [Fort William] College, and attended duties there [teaching Bengali, Sanskrit, and Marathi] till between one and two o’clock — When I returned home I examined a proof sheet of the Bengalee translation of Jeremiah, which took till dinner time. . . .
“After dinner translated with the assistance of the chief Pundit of the College, greatest part of the 8th Chap. of Matthew, into Sangskrit—this employed me until six o’clock, after six sat down with a Tilingua Pundit . . . to learn that Language. Mr. Thomas [an acquaintance] called in the evening; I began to collect a few previous thoughts into the form of a Sermon, at Seven o’clock, and preached in English at half past seven . . . the Congregation was gone by nine o’clock. I then sat down to write to you, after this I conclude the Evening by reading a Chapter in the Greek testament, and commending myself to God. I have never more time in a day than this, though the exercises vary.”


By William Carey

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #36 in 1992]

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