Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MASON, Francis, missionary, born in Walingate, York, England, 2 April, 1799; died in Rangoon, Burmah, 3 March, 1874. His father was a shoemaker and a Baptist local preacher in the city of York. The son early learned his father's trade, but while yet a lad he was seized with a passion for study, and acquired a fair education in mathematics, geography, and English literature, under the instruction of a retired naval officer. In 1818 he came to the United States. After working at his trade in various places he married in 1825, and, under his wife's influence, united with the Baptist church. In October, 1827, he was licensed to preach, and soon afterward entered Newton theological seminary. In 1830 he sailed for Burmah as a missionary. He landed in Mauhnain in November, 1830, and a few months later removed to Tavoy to become the helper and successor or' George D. Boardman, who was dying of consumption, he remained at Tavoy about twenty-two years, his missionary work being chiefly among the different tribes of Karens, though he became very familiar with the Burmese language as well as the Pall and Sanscrit, and could, upon occasion, converse or preach in most of the dialects of farther India. His lingual acquisitions also included Talaing, Siamese, Chinese, Syriac, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and German. Among the Karens he reduced two of their dialects, the Sagan-Karen and the Pwo-Karen; to writing, and translated the Scriptures into both, besides making some progress with a third, the Byhai-Karen. He also conducted a seminary for the education of native preachers and teachers, and superintended the general work of the mission for a considerable period. With a view to making his translations of the Karen Scriptures more intelligible and accurate, he began making collections of notes and facts concerning the fauna, flora, minerals, and ethnology of Burmah. On the publication of his first work, "Tenasserim, or the Fauna, Flora, Minerals, and Nations of British Burmah and Pegu" (1852; enlarged ed., 1860), he was elected a member of the Royal Asiatic society. In 1853 he removed to Toungoo and published the whole Bible in Karen, his version of the New Testament having already been three times revised. The next year he visited England and America, was made a corresponding member of several American and Europea.n learned societies, and received the degree of D. D. from Brown University. He returned to his work in 1856 and prepared a Pall grammar, with chrestomathy and vocabulary, and an edition in the Pall language of Kacheha.yano's grammar, besides translations from Burmese, Pali, and Sanscrit. These grammars are standard works, and have the sanction and approval of both the Royal Asiatic and the Oriental societies. The India government purchased the greater part of the second edition of his "Tenasserim," and in 1872-'3 paid his expenses to northern Burmah, which required further exploration. It was characteristic of Dr. Mason that, finding a difficulty in getting the edition of 1860 printed according to his ideas at Rangoon, he learned the printer's art when past sixty years of age, and set up the greater part of the work himself, producing the most creditable piece of book-printing that had ever been done in Burmah. Besides the works already mentioned, he prepared the first book published in the Karen language, "The Sayings of the Elders," and subsequently a small work on pa.thology and materia medica for his students, in one of the Karen dialects, having studied medicine for the purpose. He published in English " Report of the Tavoy Mission Society"; " Life of Ko-Tha-Byu, the Karen Apostle "; " Memoir of Mrs. Helen M. Mason" (New York, 1847); " Memoir of San Quala" (Boston, 1850)" and "Story of a Workingman's Life" (New York, 1870). He also contributed largely to the "Missionary Magazine," to the "Transactions of the Roya1 Asiatic Society," and for several years edited the "Morning Star," a Karen monthly, published in both the Sagan and Pwo dialects.
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