William Carey  (1761-1834)

     Carey was an astonishing visionary and worker, but neglected his family. Many missionaries neglect their families due to the demands of spreading the Gospel. But Carey's neglect was not due to his principal work of translating and evangelizing. His principal work did not keep him from indulging his botany.  So his neglect of family was a choice. It may have stemmed from his ineptness at social conversation, which a family requires. 'He had no conversational talent,' admitted a close colleague. Carey was very reserved, unable to relate warmly or even openly to close family members. For he could not bring himself to discipline either. Many thought he spoiled his boys because of the trauma they endured in the same house with an insane, raging mother. But surely it was equally due to his own reticent personality.
     Carey once lamented in a letter to England, "A want of character and firmness has always predominated me. I have not resolution enough to reprove…"
     His Serampore colleague Joshua Marshman was appalled by the four boys when he first met them in 1800. Aged 4, 7, 12 and 15, they were unmannered, undisciplined, even uneducated. Carey had not spoiled them so much as ignored them. Marshman and his wife Hannah, as well as the printer William Ward, took the boys in tow. Those three shaped the boys as Carey pampered his botanical specimens, performed his many missionary tasks and journeyed into Calcutta to teach at Fort William College. Carey's three colleagues offered the boys structure, instruction and companionship. To their credit - and little to Carey's - all four boys went on to useful careers.

Dorothy Carey by James R. Beck, 1992]

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Amy Carmichael  (1867-1951)

     To members of Amy's Dohnavur Fellowship her only real flaws seemed her indulgences in self-pity and imperious demands during her confinement from 1931 to 1951. "Your last word will be pain, pain, pain," grumbled one of her nurses bitterly. Another nurse said Amy would call her in the middle of the night to take dictation. Then upon reading the typed draft later Amy would throw it away. "The Lord has given me something else," was Amy's curt explanation. Around the clock small children fanned her. If one of the tykes paused Amy would snap, "Did you fall asleep?"
     Her other indulgences they tolerated. For a long time Scamp, a nasty-tempered  Scottish Terrier, resided on her bed. Amy merely smiled at her 'dear little man' as he snapped and snarled at visitors. Finally, however, he was replaced by Tess, a friendlier dog. Perhaps Amy worried that Scamp would bite one of her birds. For she often had small birds from her aviary released in her room. She beckoned them to her bed. Her nurses fumed at the mess they would have to clean up later.
     Her bluster they learned to ignore. "If I had been there I should have torn up a bush by the roots and laid it on (the offender's back) like a fishwife…I'm not a pacifist!" she boomed once. When she was 80 she read a reviewer's comment that her books were popular. "Popular?  Lord, is that what these books written out of the heat of battle are?  Popular?  O Lord, burn the paper to ashes if that is true…" And possibly she might lay some lashes on the reviewer's back too!
     Amy had certain prejudices that in no way could be considered inspired by the New Testament. Like many British she had a deep, abiding contempt for Americans. She categorically refused to consider Americans for the Fellowship. All Americans were too spoiled for service. But her prejudice against airplanes was inspired by the New Testament. In Paul's book of Ephesians the devil was the 'Prince of the Power of the Air'. Therefore to Amy airplanes operated in the realm of the devil. "Birds only can be trusted in those regions," she concluded.

A Chance To Die by Elisabeth Elliot, 1997, and Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur by Frank Houghton, 1953]

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Carey's four boys suffered serious neglect.

Scamp resided on her bed, snarling even at the tiny birds she had fluttering around her room.

"Some of you saw the other day something of the valuable nature of my collections. I have others of equal value...I came here solely for the benefit of my people, no other motive in view. Moreover, I do not expect to teach many years, but will quit as soon as I can trust my work to others, and engage in my brush work, which will be of great honor to our people…"

George Washington Carver's letter to the Finance
Committee of Tuskegee Institute , 1896.

George Washington Carver  (1864-1943)

     George was the best botany student among many all five years he was at Iowa State. He was the best field collector ever enrolled there. The faculty told him so, and praise from the best agricultural faculty in America meant something. In addition George won national awards for his paintings. So, though the acclaim was deserved, George arrived at Tuskegee Institute in 1896 spoiled by all the praise he had received. He naively expected the all-black faculty there to gush over his achievements. He blithely described his paintings, his huge botanical collections and his various awards. His 'bragging' and ignorance of racial prejudice in the South quickly alienated the Tuskegee faculty. They also resented special accommodations given to him by the Institute's president, Booker T. Washington. George had two rooms for his many possessions. Other single faculty members had to pair up in one room, so many of them relished every difficulty he encountered. Many deliberately caused problems. George took out his frustrations on his truest friend at the Institute.
     "Now, Mr. Washington, I think it is ludicrously unfair to have persons sit in an office and dictate what I have to do…" he wrote after two years. By 1904 his letters to Washington were volcanic: "Now to be branded as a liar and party to such hellish deception it is more than I can bear…" By 1912 he angrily penned, "…the school is really tired of me and wishes me to resign." George repeatedly threatened to go to another school, where he would be appreciated. The purest evidence of his wounded pride was his constant petition to Booker T. Washington for a higher salary. Yet George was single and so work oriented he spent almost none of his salary.
     There is no evidence George appreciated the enormous pressure on his boss. Washington was vilified by militant blacks as an accommodating 'Uncle Tom'. He was patronized by southern whites. Then 1913 brought in a new American president, Woodrow Wilson. Booker T. Washington lost his best connections with the federal government. He had to travel night and day to raise money for the Institute. He virtually worked himself to death, dying in 1915 at only 59. George was devastated with grief and guilt. Surely his constant complaints - many only outbursts of wounded pride - had worsened Washington's health. And for many years he had never praised the man or his efforts. After the funeral George wrote guiltily to a friend, "I am sure Mr. Washington never knew how much I loved him, and the cause for which he gave his life…"   

George Washington Carver: In His Own Words ed. by Gary R. Kremer, 1987, and George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol by Linda McMurry, 1981]

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