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ART. XVII. Periodical Accounts relative to the Baptist Missionary Society. Major Scott Waring—Twining, Vindication of the Hindoos, &c. &c.

[pp. 193-226] [original article in PDF format]

  1. THE rapid progress of Christianity during the first ages of the church, and its victory over the established forms of classical superstition, the schools of ancient philosophy, and the barbarous mythologies of the northern nations, were the united produce of the ardent piety and indefatigable zeal of the first preachers of the Gospel, and the blessing and assistance of heaven. But, it is observable that, in later times, the faith has been spread more by colonization than conversion. How is it that the latter has been so deplorably checked? The Romanists accuse the Protestants for their indifference, the Protestants retort upon the Romanists for their corruptions: there is but too much truth in the charge on either side, but the reproach is better founded than the recrimination.

  2. This evil grew out of the reformation, and it is the only evil attendant upon that blessed event which has continued to the present times.The schism between the Greeks and Latins was [193] less mischievous; there the parties were so little in contact, that their hatred was without exasperation; and each talked its own nonsense, without attempting to convert the other, except by the innocent and inefficient formalities of a Council. Separated from the whole Latin church by their geographical situation, by the great boundary of language, by their political relations, their pride of elder and superior civilization, and their semi-oriental manners, the Greeks were scarcely included in the idea of Christendom, and our Crusaders sometimes found them as hostile as the Saracens. But the revolution which Luther effected produced a civil war between the members of that great Gothic family, who, amid all their civil dissentions had ever till then remembered their common origin, and when the interests of Christianity were in question, acted as one body, with one heart and will. Before this struggle was over, the zeal of Protestantism had spent itself. All sects and communities of religion settle and purify after their first effervescence, then they become vapid. The Protestant churches had reached this second stage, when they were securely and peaceably established; their turbid elements had cleared away, but the quickening spirit was gone also. While they had zeal to attempt the work of converting heathen nations they had no opportunity, and when the opportunity came, the zeal had evaporated. The Dutch indeed did something in Ceylon,—a poor atonement for the irreparable evil which they occasioned in Japan. Quakerism sent forth a few Apostles to the Pope and the Great Turk, and the good spirit which animated them was so far communicated to the personages whom they addressed, that little used as they were to the benignant mood, they sent the gentle zealots safely home again. A Danish mission was established in India, where it has continued merely because it is an establishment. Assistance has indeed been given to it by our own Society for promoting Christian Knowledge; and some attempts have been made among the North American savages by the Society for propagating the Gospel in foreign parts. But these efforts, however laudable, have had no very extensive consequences; and Protestantism has rather attempted than effected the work of conversion.

  3. There is, however, in all religious communities a vivacious and vivific principle not to be found in the same degree in political bodies; their hold is upon the heart of man, upon his hopes and fears, the weakness and the strength of his nature. From time to time some individual appears, who whether inspired or [194] infatuated resigns himself to the impulse, and laying aside all human motives at his outset, acts with a contempt of worldly maxims and worldly prudence, which insures him success in what the maxims and the prudence of the world would have withheld him from attempting. Such was St. Bernard, such were Francesco and Domingo, who saved the Romish church from revolution in the 13th century; such, in later ages, were Loyola and his mightier contemporary Luther, and such, in times which may almost be called our own, were Wesley and Whitefield. These men are the Loyolas of Protestantism. It is easy to revile, it is easier still to ridicule them; the sanest mind will sometimes feel indignation as well as sorrow at perusing their journals,—but he must have little foresight who does not perceive that of all men of their generation they were the most efficient. The statesmen and the warriors of the last reign are in the grave, and their works have died also; they moved the body only, and the motion ceased with the impulse; peace undid their work of war, and war again unravelled their finest webs of peace:- but these fanatics set the mind and the soul in action; the stirring which they excited continues to widen and increase, and to produce good and evil; and future generations will long continue to feel the effects.

  4. It cannot here be necessary to attend to the classification of sectarianism; the Wesleyans, the Orthodox dissenters of every description, and the Evangelical churchmen may all be comprehended under the generic name of Methodists. The religion which they preach is not the religion of our fathers, and what they have altered they have made worse: but they proceed with zeal and perseverance; and the purest forms, when they are forms only, are little able to resist such assailants. Some evil they have done, and greater evil they will do; but all evil brings with it its portion of good, and is permitted only as it is ultimately subservient to good. That spirit of enthusiasm by which Europe was converted to Christianity, they have in some measure revived, and they have removed from Protestantism a part of its reproach. The efforts which they are making to disseminate the Gospel are undoubtedly praise-worthy, and though not always wisely directed, not more erroneously than was to be expected from their inexperience in the arduous task which they have undertaken, and from the radical errors of their system of belief.

  5. The first of these missionary associations in point of time, and the only one which has become the subject of controversy, is [195] that designated by the name of the Particular* Baptist Society for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen. Its efforts at present are directed exclusively towards India.

  6. This mission, which is represented by its enemies as so dangerous to the British empire in India, and thereby according to a logic learnt from Buonaparte, to England also, originated in man, by name William Carey, who till the twenty-fourth year of his age was a working shoemaker. Sectarianism has this main advantage over the established church, that its men of ability certainly find their station, and none of its talents are neglected or lost. Carey was a studious and pious man, his faith wrong, his feelings right. He made himself competently versed in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and was then ordained among the Calvinistic Baptists. For many years his heart was set upon the conversion of the Heathen; this was the favourite topic of his conversation, his prayers and his sermons; and from the earnestness with which he seemed to feel the subject, and the remarkable aptitude which he possessed in acquiring languages, his friends were induced to think that he was peculiarly formed for some such undertaking. In the year 1791, being at a meeting of his brother ministers at Clipstone in Northamptonshire, he proposed this question for discussion, 'Whether it were not practicable, and our bounden duty to attempt somewhat towards spreading the Gospel in the Heathen world?' He was then requested to publish an enquiry which he had written upon the subject; and at a subsequent ministers meeting (as these convocations are called) this society was formed, and a subscription begun for carrying its object into effect. The money then raised amounted only to 13/. 2s. 6d. but want of money in such cases, is a molehill in the way of zeal.

  7. Before any plan had been formed, or any place fixed for their operations, they found that John Thomas, a member of their own church, lately returned from Bengal, was endeavouring to establish a fund in London for a mission to that country. This is the person who is called a madman by Major Scott Waring, and said by him to have died raving mad. That gentleman has been misinformed. Once during his life Thomas was deranged for some weeks, and the ardour and constitutional irritability of his mind evinced in him a tendency to madness, from which religion might have contributed to preserve him, by giving that ardour [196] a steady direction towards one worthy object. There are passages in his letters and journals which may make a jester merry, and a wise man sorrowful,—they spring from the insanity of the system, not of the individual; but there are also abundant proofs of a zeal, a warmth of heart, a genius,—which in the Romish church would have obtained altars for him, and which in our own entitle him to respect and admiration. He had preached to the natives in Bengal, and produced effect enough to convince him that much might be done there. Here then was a way opened for the Society: they engaged him as a missionary. Carey consented to accompany him with his whole family, and in 1793 they sailed in a Danish Indiaman.

  8. Thomas, who was a surgeon, intended to support himself by his profession. Carey's plan was to take land and to cultivate it for his maintenance. After many difficulties, they accepted the superintendence of two indigo-factories in the neighbourhood of Malda, and covenants were granted them by the British government. Fountain, another missionary, was sent to join them here, and he and Carey, having acquired the common language of the country, proceeded with a translation of the Scriptures into Bengalee, which Thomas had begun during his former residence in Bengal. In 1799 a reinforcement of four brethren came out; permission to settle in the British territory was refused them, and Carey and Fountain therefore found it expedient to remove to Serampore, where the Danish governor protected and favoured them. Here they purchased a house, and organized themselves into a family society, resolving that whatever was done by any member should be for the benefit of the mission. They opened a school in which the children of those natives who chose to send them were instructed gratuitously. The translation was by this time nearly completed. Ward, one of the last missionaries, understood printing; they formed a printing office, and advertised for subscribers to a Bengalee bible.

  9. Hitherto no convert had been made, but now, when some of the missionaries could converse fluently in the language of the people, and portions of the scripture and religious tracts were provided for distribution, their preaching in the town and neighbourhood soon produced considerable effect. They entered into controversy with the Bramins, ridiculed their fables, and confuted their false philosophy; nor did the numerous by-standers discover any displeasure at seeing these impostors silenced and confounded. But when the first Hindoo, though in no higher Station than that of a carpenter, was truly converted, declared his [197] intention of receiving baptism, and by eating with the missionaries publicly broke his cast, a great uproar arose; and Kristno the convert, and his whole family were seized and dragged before the Danish magistrate. The senseless mob, when they had carried them there, had no accusation to make against them; and the magistrate commended the new Christians for having chosen the better part, and dismissed them. They were brought back again upon a charge that Kristno refused to deliver up his daughter to a man with whom she was contracted in marriage. This charge was true; she had been espoused to him four years before, being then ten years of age, and after the espousals had returned to her father's house, there to reside till she was marriageable. The parties appeared before the Danish governor, and the girl declared she would become a Christian with her father; the bridegroom was then asked whether he would renounce heathenism; and on his replying no, the governor told him:that he could not possibly deliver up a Christian woman to a Heathen. The next day Kristno was publicly baptized, after the manner of the Baptist church, by immersion in the Ganges, and with him Felix Carey, the missionary's eldest son. The governor and a number of Europeans, native Portuguese, Hindoos and Moslem were present, and one of the brethren, then labouring under a mortal disease, was brought in a palankeen to witness this first triumph of the faith. Carey addressed the spectators in Bengalee, declaring that he and his fellows did not hold the river sacred, it was only water, and the person about to be baptized, professed by this act to put off all their deities, and all sin, and to put on Christ. The ceremony was impressive, the Danish governor could not restrain his tears, and all the beholders seemed to be struck with the solemnity of the rite. Ye gods of stone and clay, says one of the missionaries, did ye not tremble when in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one of your votaries shook you as the dust from his feet!

  10. Three months after Kristno's baptism, Golak, his daughter, was seized at some little distance from his house, and carried off by two men, one of whom was the person to whom she had been contracted in marriage. The father overtook them; he was beaten unmercifully, and she forced across the river to Calcutta, and beaten also. As they passed by a police station, she cried out; the master of police called them before him. Golak said she had heard of the love and sufferings of Christ, these things had laid hold of her mind, she was become a Christian from choice, and was not willing to go with this man. They were detained for farther enquiry; and the next day appeared [198] again before the magistrate, together with Kristno. The man claimed her as his lawful wife, and the magistrate said he could not separate them; but would take care that she should profess what religion she chose. This promise he did not perform, and the father after one visit to his child was not allowed to see her again. Application was made to the magistrate that this might be permitted; no answer was vouchsafed, and when Kristno spoke to him upon the subject, he past on without making the slightest reply. Kristno was exceedingly fond of this daughter, and no circumstance could be conceived more distressing to one in his state of mind,—his little children were crying about the house for their sister, and he in the sincerity and fervour of his belief affirmed, that if she were dead he could better bear that affliction than that she should be dragged to the worship of idols. The husband must have been greatly attached to this girl; she had already lost cast, and he paid fifty rupees to the Bramins as the first step towards recovering it;—but she resolutely refused to cohabit with him, saying, that living or dead she would be Christ's. Ill usage was tried to make her change her faith, without effect. The father, taking Carey with him, obtained admittance to her, and Carey had reason to believe his life was then in danger; he left the house in time. Kristno was taken before the magistrate, when the father of the husband deposed, with that contempt of truth for which the Hindoos are so infamous, that he had brought three or four Europeans to take away his son's wife by force. The magistrate, not believing this, refused to take his deposition; but told him, if Kristno went again to his house, to beat him away. Twelve months wearied out the husband's obstinacy, and after having often beat the girl for not eating food which had been offered to idols, and for calling on the name of Jesus, he suffered her to return, and she was baptized. His own mind however was impressed by the constancy which he had witnessed, and after an interval of nearly three years, he followed her to her father's house, embraced the faith which he had so violently opposed, and is at this time a Christian.

  11. This case has been plainly and briefly stated, because the civil authority was appealed to on both sides; and surely the English magistrate cannot be accused of not having sufficiently favoured the established superstitions. It is given also as one fact in confutation of the absurd opinion, that it is impossible to convert a Hindoo. Here is a whole family converted, not nominally as many of the Catholick converts have been, but actually [199] and thoroughly persuaded that it was their duty and eternal interest to renounce a senseless idolatry, and be baptized into the faith of Christ, which they understand as well as any persons of their own rank in England, better indeed than most, because they have been more carefully instructed, and which faith Kristno is at this time zealously and successfully preaching to his countrymen.

  12. One other instance occurred in which the magistrate was called upon. The mother of a young convert named Ghorachund, came weeping and almost distracted to claim her son. Ward, the missionary, told him to go aside and comfort her; and another convert explained to her the reason why he was there,—that he was happy, and learning the way to Heaven. She however was not to be reconciled. Ward then went to her, and told her no force should be used on either side, the youth should go or stay at his own will; and he asked him which he would do. Ghorachund replied, he would stay and be baptized, and then return to her;—and they requested her to come and see him whenever she pleased. She however threatened to drown herself in the Ganges, and went immediately to the Danish magistrate, and to some of the principal Bengalese. The lad was sent for—he affirmed that he became a Christian of his own free choice: the mother and her friends were questioned what they intended to do with him if they took him away,—Put him in irons, they answered, and confine him in the house. This answer determined the magistrate not to suffer force to be used, and he told the mother that her son must be left wholly to his own choice. The next day, as Ghorachund was going to the mission house, he was seized. He cried out bitterly, a scuffle ensued, the mob and the soldiers on guard assisted the idolaters, and he was forced into a boat. Two of the native brethren were taken before a magistrate on the charge of having beaten a Bramin in the struggle; they were committed to prison, and received some injury from the mob on their way there. Meantime some of the missionaries pursued the boat, came up with it, and rescued the convert, whom they brought back in triumph; but the mother when she saw him going back, struck her head against the boat and was almost distracted. Application was immediately made to the Danish governor on behalf of the two prisoners, and they were liberated.

  13. Great stress is laid upon this story by Major Scott Waring, who says that a more disgraceful scene never occurred in a civilized country. 'The case,' he adds, 'ought instantly to have been [200] submitted to the governor general in council. It was not for the missionaries, nor for a Danish magistrate to determine at what age the authority of a parent over a child is to cease.' It is difficult to discover what there is disgraceful in the case;—distressing it certainly was, as all cases must be in which a sense of duty real, or imaginary, is opposed to the ties of natural affection; but, whenever and wherever any struggle of opinions takes place, such cases must occur. What would Major Scott Waring have? A lad comes to the missionaries for instruction, who is old enough to think and act for himself,—it is the distinguishing tenet of the Baptists to receive none into their church as members till they have arrived at years of discretion;—he attends their school, is convinced that the idolatry in which he has been brought up, is a system of fraud and falsehood, is taught to believe that it is damnable, and that his eternal bliss or misery depends upon his renouncing it, and embracing the doctrines of Christ;— the boldest infidel will not be impudent enough to deny that Ghorachuud was right in his preference. If the governor general had been called on, could he have acted otherwise than the Danish magistrate did, to whom both parties with strict propriety appealed, because the affair took place within his jurisdiction? Could any Christian governor have consented and enacted, that a Christian convert might be forcibly carried off and put in confinement, for the avowed purpose of making him relapse into idolatry? 'The unfortunate mother.' says Major Scott Waring, 'came like Chryseis to Agamemnon, praying the release of her dear child, but the missionaries were as inexorable as the king of men. Had the woman applied by petition to a provincial court of justice she must have received instant redress.'—It is something worse than absurd thus to employ such terms as redress and release!

  14. During the administration of Marquis Wellesley, the missionaries were permitted to travel in the British territory; and [201] Carey,* who is now probably a far more learned orientalist than any European has ever been before him, was appointed Professor of Bengalee and Sanscrit at the College of Fort William. But latterly, when the success of their preaching had alarmed and exasperated the Bramins, who saw their craft in danger, the Bengal government thought it necessary to restrain their liberty; and they were in one or two instances ordered to retire from the districts which they had entered. Shortly after the news of the Vellore mutiny had reached Calcutta, two fresh missionaries, by name Chater and Robinson, arrived in the American ship Benjamin Franklin, Captain Wickes. On presenting themselves at the Police Office, some difficulty was made as to permitting them to proceed to Serampore. On the following day Carey went to the Office, and was told by one of the magistrates that they had a message to him from the governor general, which was, 'that as government did not interfere with the prejudices of the natives, it was his request that Mr. Carey and his colleagues would not.' This request, as explained by the magistrates, amounted to this, 'they were not to preach to the natives, nor suffer the native converts to preach; they were not to distribute religious tracts, nor suffer the people to distribute them; they were not to send forth converted natives, nor to take any step by conversation or otherwise for persuading the natives to embrace Christianity.' Carey enquired whether they had any written communication from the governor general to this effect, and was answered that they had not. He then took his leave, assuring them that neither he nor his brethren wished to do any thing disagreeable to government, from which they could conscientiously abstain. These orders were softened in a subsequent conversation between the magistrates and a friend to the missionaries; 'it was not meant,' they said, 'to prohibit them from preaching at Serampore, nor in their own house at Calcutta, only they must not preach at the Loll Bazar. It was not intended to prevent their circulating the Scriptures, but merely the tracts abusing the Hindoo religion; and there was no design to forbid the native Christians conversing with their countrymen on Christianity, only they must not go out under the sanction of the missionaries;— the magistrates admitted that no complaint had ever been lodged against the missionaries, and that they were well satisfied with their character and deportment.' [202]

  15. Notwithstanding this, an order of council was passed, commanding Messrs. Chater and Robinson to return to Europe, and refusing Captain Wickes a clearance unless he took them back with him. This order being communicated to the missionaries, they represented to government 'that Captain Wickes cleared out from Rotterdam for Serampore, that his clearing out from England for Serampore was no more than a necessary step to accomplish the first intended voyages; that Messrs. Chater and Robinson were then at Serampore, and had joined the mission under their direction, and the protection of the king of Denmark.' This representation produced an enquiry 'whether the missionaries were actually under the protection of the Danish government; or whether they only lived at Serampore from choice, as being a convenient situation?'—Even in the latter case it should seem that the Bengal government had no authority to insist upon their removal. To this enquiry the Danish governor sent an answer, stating, 'that on the missionaries first coming to reside at Serampore, the late governor had represented to his court that their conduct was such as he highly approved, and that their residence there was likely to be useful to the settlement; that to this an answer had been sent by the Court of Copenhagen, approving of their settling at Serampore, and requiring him to extend his protection to the mission; that in virtue of this high authority he had taken Messrs. Chater and Robinson under the protection of his Danish majesty; and that the missionaries were not to be considered as persons in debt who were barely protected, but as persons under the patronage of the Danish government.' It should be remembered, that this did not arise from any application on their part. Necessity not choice fixed them at Serampore; they were refused permission to settle in the British dominions, and when protection was offered them by the Danish government, they could not do otherwise than gratefully accept it. When this answer of the governor of Serampore had been presented, Captain Wickes applied at the Police Office for a clearance, and was told that the Order of Council had been confirmed. But soon afterward the magistrates sent for him, and they talked over the business amicably. He stated to them, that 'the missionaries were willing, if fair and friendly representation, could not prevail, to give up the two brethren rather than oppose government.' And he added, 'that though it might be a serious affair both with America and Denmark if he and the missionaries were to be obstinate, yet they each considered the peace and good understanding of nations to be a matter of such importance, that they would give up almost any thing rather [203] than be the occasion of interrupting it.' On this statement Captain Wickes was furnished with the necessary papers for his departure; and as government appeared to be dissatisfied with the continuance of the two missionaries, a new mission was undertaken to the kingdom of Burmah, and Chater went with another brother to Rangoon to see how far it was practicable.

  16. Twelve months afterwards government found it expedient to interfere upon another occasion. A tract, which had been printed in Bengalee, was given to a native convert to be translated into Persic, and, through the pressure of business, was printed before it had been inspected by the missionaries. The translator, in his zeal, introduced some strong epithets reviling Mahomed,—a copy was conveyed to a person in office, the affair was taken up in the most serious manner, and proceedings were commenced which, had they been carried into execution, must have been ruinous to the mission. In consequence however of an explanation, and a respectful memorial presented to the governor general, the most serious part of the proceedings was formally revoked: and when two of the missionaries waited on the governor to thank him for the candour with which he had attended to their memorial, his lordship replied, that 'nothing more was necessary than a mere examination of the subject, on which every thing had appeared in a clear and favourable light.'—All the printed tracts were examined upon this occasion; and as two others were objected to, the missionaries were required not to print any in future till the copy had been submitted to the inspection of government.

  17. These were the occasions on which the civil authority had been appealed to, or had interfered, and such were the restrictions under which the mission had been placed when the last periodical accounts were published. There were then ten missionaries at Serampore, and they had baptized about an hundred natives; and they were printing the Scriptures in six languages, and translating them in six more;—but this part of their labours will be spoken of more fitly hereafter. Meantime an outcry has been raised in England against this attempt at the conversion of the Hindoos. The mission at Serampore, the proceedings of the Bible Society in promoting the translating, printing and distributing of the Bible in Asia, the Memoir of Claudius Buchanan on the Expediency of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for British India, and the discussion which that gentleman excited in England upon the subject, have been represented as connected, with the mutiny at Vellore, and the disaffection of the native troops. A controversy ensued which has been carried on with [204] more than the usual virulence and unfairness of polemical writing, because on the one side there is a wretched cause, and on the other such deplorable advocates as the Evangelical Magazine, &c. It is well to be right in any company,—yet it is almost mortifying to be right in such company. Envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness are not however all on this side, as will appear from a little attention to what has been maintained by the adversaries of the mission. They insist upon the danger to which it exposes the British government in India, upon the utter impossibility of converting the Hindoos, and the utter unfitness of the persons who are making the attempt.

  18. The massacre at Vellore took place in July 1806. It was afterwards discovered that the disaffection of the Seapoys was widely extended, that their plans were well laid, and that the consequences would, according to all probability, have been far more dreadful, if the insurrection had not broken out so soon. In December, a proclamation was issued at Madras beginning in these words, 'The Right Honourable the Governor in Council, having observed that, in some late instances, an extraordinary degree of agitation has prevailed among several corps of the native army of this coast, it has been his lordship's particular endeavour to ascertain the motives which may have led to conduct so different from that which formerly distinguished the native army. From this enquiry it has appeared that many persons of evil intention have endeavoured for malicious purposes, to impress upon the native troops a belief that it is the wish of the British government to convert them by forcible means to Christianity; and his lordship in council has observed with concern that such malicious reports have been believed by many of the native troops. The Right Honourable the Governor in Council therefore deems it proper in this public manner to repeat to the native troops his assurance, that the same respect which has been invariably shewn by the British government for their religion and for their customs, will be always continued, and that no interruption will be given to any native, whether Hindoo or Mussulman, in the practice of his religious ceremonies.'

  19. Here certainly is an official document imputing the disaffection of the native troops to an opinion prevalent among them, that it was the wish of the British government to convert them to Christianity by force. What had the missionaries done, and what had the government done to occasion this belief?—There were no missionaries in Mysore, none of them had ever entered or approached that part of Hindostan, none of their tracts had [205] been distributed there, nor if they had, could they have been understood, not being in the language of that country. But an order had been issued for altering the turban of the Seapoys into something like the helmet of our light infantry, and for preventing them from wearing on the forehead the distinguished mark of their cast; as direct an outrage of their religious customs as it would be to prohibit baptism among Christians, or circumcision among Mahomedans. Here then was a flagrant insult to their religion, an overt act of intolerance. The Seapoys are accustomed to respect the English, they know nothing of that military misconduct which has so often rendered our armies in Europe useless, or worse than useless,—that misconduct had never before extended itself to India;—they necessarily inferred that an innovation so momentous had not been hazarded without some adequate motive, and they did us the honour to impute that to zeal which proceeded from pure absurdity. In whom did this measure originate?—That question has never yet been answered. It is not to this day made known whose folly provoked the massacre of so many British soldiers; no enquiry has been instituted, no person dismissed either from office or command for this wanton, and most perilous attack upon the superstition and customs of the country. And lest the public voice in India and in England should call loudly for investigation, a tub is thrown out to the whale, the missionaries must serve as scape-goats, and Christianity and the Bible be called to account for what was occasioned solely by this wise attack upon turbans and toupees!

  20. Enough of the mutiny at Vellore! Enough too of the Madras proclamation,—in which, be it remarked, there is not a word about turbans and toupees; in which the whole and sole cause of the mutiny is kept out of sight, and in which it is asserted that the British government has invariably respected the customs of the native troops; though a direct and wanton attack upon those customs produced the massacre, which occasioned this proclamation, and which is delicately hinted at by the name of an agitation.

  21. Let us now examine whether the British government in India is exposed to any danger by its toleration of the missionaries,—for as that fierce and fiery Calvinist, Andrew Fuller, most truly says, the question in dispute is not whether the natives of India shall continue to enjoy the most perfect toleration, but whether that toleration shall be extended to the teachers of Christianity?

  22. The only instances in which the civil authority has been called [206] upon, are those which have already been fully stated. One native convert has been tied up by the chief man of his village, and his mouth crammed with cow-dung, by way of purifying him; and some of the others have been insulted and beaten by a mob:- but no where can it be found in the history of human opinions, that any new doctrines have been preached so boldly, and to such effect with so little opposition. Yet at the commencement of their career, the missionaries proceeded with a temerity which experience and cooler years have taught them to condemn. They insulted the superstition which they attacked, and ridiculed and reviled the Bramins in the streets, and at their festivals, when the passions of the blinded and besotted populace were most likely to be inflamed. Andrew Fuller endeavours to disprove this charge, and dwells idly, with that intent, upon the mistranslation of a Bengalee tract, which has been printed by 'a Bengal officer.' The verse in question has been mistranslated, and most probably for the purpose of misrepresentation,—this he has satisfactorily shewn; but, however cautious the missionaries may generally have been in their writings, their journals contain abundant proofs of daring and imprudent language. This never, in any one instance, occasioned evil: they however themselves discovered that it could not produce good, and they express themselves thus upon the subject in 'a declaration of the great principles upon which they think it their duty to act, agreed upon at Serampore, Oct. 7, 1805.' 'It is necessary,' they say, 'in our intercourse with the Hindoos, that, as far as we are able, we abstain from those things which would increase their prejudices against the Gospel. Those parts of English manners which are most offensive to them should be kept out of sight; nor is it advisable at once to attack their prejudices by exhibiting with acrimony the sins of their gods; neither should we do violence to their images, nor interrupt their worship.' It is their plan, as soon as possible, to supersede themselves by native preachers, to place them at the head of such churches as may be formed, and let them go forth, acting themselves only as directors. Even Major Scott Waring admits the propriety of tolerating any missionaries except English ones; and though the British government in India were to expel the Baptists upon any of the frivolous pretexts which have been recommended, these native preachers, on whom the work will necessarily and naturally soon devolve, cannot be silenced in any other manner than by an absolute persecution of Christianity by a Christian government. Mr. Twining must be satisfied with [207] this,—he only hopes that the Hindoos will be permitted 'quietly to follow their own religious opinions until it shall please the Omnipotent Power of HEAVEN to lead them into the paths of LIGHT and TRUTH,' that is, he protests against any human means, but will have no objection to a miracle.—Now as this gentleman and the others of the same opinion profess to believe that the Hindoos are not convertible; when they hear of Hindoos not merely receiving but preaching Christianity, it is to be hoped they will admit that to be a miracle, and be contented.

  23. From the cry which has been set up in England, and the angry arguments by which it has been supported, it might be supposed that the missionaries and their advocates were persecuting the Hindoos instead of preaching to them. Persecution may excite rebellion, preaching can only excite riots. But though persecution has been, in many instances, the cause of rebellion, none of those instances are to be found in the history of Hindostan. Even persecution there has provoked no resistance from a people divided into so many races, nations, casts and sects, and prepared for yielding, not merely by the miserable absurdity and untenable doctrines of their superstition, but by its very institutions also. There is no other country in which it is possible to make converts by compulsion; the Jews in Portugal for instance, who were compelled to forego every outward and visible mark of their religion, still retained it in their hearts, and were acknowledged as sons of the synagogue by their brethren in other parts of the world. But by an absurdity unparalleled in any other system, the religion of a Hindoo does not depend upon himself; it is something independent of his thoughts, words, actions, understanding, and volition, and he may be deprived of it by violence, as easily as of his purse or his wallet. 'In the year 1766,' says Major Scott Waring, 'the late Lord Clive and Mr.Verelst employed the whole influence of government to restore a Hindoo to his cast, who had forfeited it, not by any neglect of his own, but by having been compelled, by a most unpardonable act of violence, to swallow a drop of cow broth. The Bramins, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, were very anxious to comply with the wishes of government; the principal men among them met once at Kishnagur and once at Calcutta, but after consultations and an examination of their most ancient records, they declared to Lord Clive, that as there was no precedent to justify the act, they found it impossible to restore the unfortunate man to his cast, and he died soon after of a broken heart.' The Major's remark is not less curious than the story. [208] 'We were then,' he adds, 'as we are now, the sovereigns of Bengal, but too wise to attempt compulsion, and not quite so mad as to advise this poor creature to abandon his ridiculous, idolatrous prejudices, and to embrace the true religion.' One should have thought, in common humanity, this 'mad advice' would have been given him, if not to save his soul, at least for the sake of saving his life;—but well may this poor man be called unfortunate,—his own religion had been taken from him, and the sovereigns of Bengal had none to give him in its stead!—Tippoo at one time, like a true Mahomedan, resolved to convert his Pagan subjects to Islamism: the process which he adopted was summary and effectual. Dervises and Imaums were not missioned to preach among them; he sent out soldiers to catch the idolaters, and all who were caught were circumcised. Nothing more was necessary; their cast was irrecoverable: Moslem they had been made, and Moslem they were by everybody's consent except their own;—so they learnt the five prayers, turned their faces towards Mecca at their devotions, and called all their countrymen who had not been caught, Kaffres. No insurrection took place, and little other outcry was heard than what the operation occasioned,—the violence was to the cast, not to the conscience; and Tippoo's bigotry was far more mischievous to his people when he made war upon the pigs about Seringapatam, than when he offered these Philistine spoils to the prophet.

  24. In 1802, a resolution was past by the Governor General in Council, prohibiting the sacrifice of children in the provinces of Bengal, Behar, Orissa, and Benares, and declaring the practice to be murder, punishable with death. That decree has occasioned no complaint. Albuquerque forbade the custom of burning widows with the bodies of their husbands; and of all the measures of that great man, the first in modern times who established a European dominion in the East, this was the one which most attached the Hindoos to his government. These facts are sufficient to prove, that neither the direct prohibition of their religious ceremonies, nor the intolerance which forces another faith upon them, has excited the Hindoos to insurrection, nor even to any open sign of discontent. As for the assertion that the Portuguese lost their empire by their bigotry, it is utterly unfounded; they lost it by neglect at home and misconduct abroad, by cruelty and rapacity, by regarding influence instead of integrity, and giving authority to men of family instead of men of talents. Bad governors and weak ministers destroyed the Portuguese [209] empire,—not missionaries, not intolerance. Whatever be the difficulty of converting the Hindoos, there is no danger in making the attempt,—a new religion may not immediately be dipt or sprinkled into them, but an old one could be washed out. It is but to boil a cow, and supply a fire engine with the broth, and you might baptize a whole Hindoo city out of the Braminical faith. If then the Portuguese in former times, and the British government in later days, have suppressed the most ordinary, or at least the most important sacrifices of this accursed superstition, if Tippoo has manufactured Hindoos into Moslem, and no disturbance been excited, what has British India to apprehend from the peaceable deportment and exemplary conduct of the Baptist missionaries? The Bramins are alarmed at their preaching!—so let them be. They are provoked at the concusive logic which exposes their futile arguments; but the people who listen to these disputes, listen with avidity, and are well pleased to see them put to shame. Let but the turbans and toupees alone,—and the Shasters and Vedas may be attacked with perfect safety.

  25. 'But our empire in India is insecure.' Heaven knows it is,—a column upon the sand is but a feeble emblem of its insecurity. India is perpetually in danger,—not from Buonaparte,—that would be the last object of his ambition,—he is not idiot enough to believe that England is to be conquered there, nor is it for Asia that Providence seems to have appointed him its executioner upon worn out dynasties, and degraded nations. But no century has ever elapsed in which Asia has not produced some Buonaparte of its own, some villain, who, setting equally at defiance the laws of God and man, collects the whole contemporary force of evil about him, and bears down every thing in his way. A French army in India would be less perilous than a single adventurer. Some new Timur or Khouli Khan may rush down from Tartary like a hurricane, some Orangzebe or Seevajee rise in the peninsula like a whirlwind, and sweep us from the land—and not a wreck should we leave behind us! The empire of the Portuguese has past away, but their language is still spoken along the whole coast; their progeny still subsists, and a large and widely extended body of Catholic Christians still bear testimony to the wisdom of Alboquerque and of Joam de Castro, and the solidity of their measures. They struck root in the land, and though the tree has been cut down, suckers are springing up on all sides. The Dutch have left vestiges in Ceylon, where their language and [210] religion prevail along the belt of semi-civilized country to which we have succeeded. But if England were dispossessed of its dominion in India, the natives would retain nothing of all which we could have taught, except that improved discipline which they would exercise first to our destruction, and then to their own. Not a trace of our language would remain; and for our religion,—the Hindoo historians would argue that we had none, just as travellers do of the Hottentots, because they have perceived among them no symptoms of religious belief.

  26. That the people are happier under our government than they have ever been at any time within the reach of history, is beyond all doubt; yet the very circumstance which renders them so, does in some degree lessen our security. By taking the exercise of authority into our own hands, we preserve them from the cruel extortion and oppression to which they had always heretofore been exposed; and that whole class of men who would otherwise have thriven by oppressing them, are thereby made our enemies. Thus it is that even in Mysore, Dr. Francis Buchanan tells us, the Bramins are the most discontented part of the inhabitants, though Tippoo threatened and attempted to exterminate their superstition. The Hindoos and Moors are our subjects not our adherents, and being merely subjects would care little for a change of masters. It is adherents that we stand in need of, and how are they to be obtained?—Not by colonization; colonization is forbidden by the Company, and it is forbidden also by the higher authority of Nature. Of all whom we send out to India, not one in ten returns. And the mixed breed is bad; wherever colours are crossed in the human species, a sort of mulish obliquity of disposition is produced, which seem to shew that the order of Nature has been violated. It is only by christianizing the natives that we can strengthen and secure ourselves. The path of duty and of policy is always the name; and never was it more palpably so than in this instance. The interests and existence of the native Christians would be identified with those of the British government, and the church in India be truly the bulwark of the state. It is not pretended that this would render our empire permanent,—what foreign empire ever was, or can be so? but it would render it as permanent as it ought to be. India would be trained up in civilization and Christianity, like a child by its guardian, till such tutelage was no longer needed: our protection might be withdrawn when it ceased to be necessary, and the intercourse between the the two countries would continue undiminished, just to [211] that extent which would be most beneficial to both. This is looking far before us!—but in an age when there are serious apprehensions entertained of overstocking the world, it is surely allowable to look on for some half a millenium.

  27. 'But it is impossible to convert the Hindoos.' This assertion has been so frequently and so confidently made, that it might be supposed their ablutions at the cow's tail vaccinated them against the contagion of any other religion. How far is it supported by the history of Hindostan? There are in that country the Christians of St. Thomas, originally Hindoos, for their establishment in the country was prior to the age of Mahomed. There are the Catholick converts, once very numerous, and still a considerable body. The Moors are said by some of these controversialists to be Tartars not Hindoos,—the progeny of the Mogul conquerors. Lord Teignmouth thinks otherwise, and the reason on which his opinion is founded would convince Professor Blumenbach. It is certain that the Mahomedan faith spread greatly by conversion in these parts of the East, and they who deny this must be grossly ignorant of historical facts. The conversion of Sarama Perumal produced perhaps little effect upon his subjects, because he abandoned his throne and retired to Mecca; but when the Arabian Moors first visited Malabar, they wisely asserted that they were equal in rank to the Nairs and Namburis, and that these casts could incur no pollution by any intercourse with them. They obtained a recognition of this principle, and in consequence of the privileges thus obtained a very considerable conversion took place, so that when the Portuguese reached India, a fourth part of the population of Malabar consisted of native Moors. The founder of the Sieks was a Hindoo of the military tribe, and his followers are all converts from the established superstition of the country; their system is pure philosophical theism, probably as pure as Mr. Wilkins represents it, for had there been a sufficient mixture of fable and falsehood it would have spread more widely. A juggler set up a new sect about half a century ago, of which the tenets are that cast is nothing, that the popular deities are nothing, and that the Bramins are nothing: his disciples have only to believe in one God, and to obey their teacher. He cured diseases by administering the amreeta of his foot, (the drink of immortality,—but here of life and healing,) they who had faith were healed, and this impostor, who was originally a cow-keeper, made his foot as famous as the Pope's toe among his believers, and left his privileges to his son Ram Dulol, who now lives [212] more splendidly than many Rajahs, upon the same footing of holiness as his father. Farther proofs of the convertibility of the Hindoos cannot be required: like other men they are liable to be swayed by reason and by credulity; the knave has found dupes among them, the philosopher has found disciples, and the Cross and the Crescent have both triumphed over the despicable mythology of the Bramins.

  28. It is not sufficient to shew that the Hindoos have been and therefore may be converted from one faith to another; they may more easily be converted than any other people in the world,—except perhaps the poor oppressed Hottentots, who will believe any thing that is told them with a voice of kindness. The religion of the Bramins must be given up the moment it is attacked; like the Paganism of the Greeks and Romans it has nothing which can be defended. The Moslem have Mahommed, the Parsees have Zerdusht, the more, enlightened part of the Chinese have Cong-foo-tse; these objects of veneration and attachment cannot without some struggle of feelings and some pain be displaced by a new lawgiver. Each of these too has a system which requires confutation, and is not immediately to be confuted,—but the Hindoos have no prophet or teacher to refer to, no system wherewith to shelter themselves; for their mythological books consist of fables of which it is not possible to say whether they are most foolish, most beastly, or most extravagant. The Koran has something which passes for sublimity with oriental scholars; the Edda and the Boun Dehesch satisfy and delight the imagination; but for the Vedas, Mr. Colebrooke has shewn us enough to prove that they are as unreadable as any thing can be which has ever been of importance in the world. The Bramins have no facts to which they can appeal in corroboration of these books, no history which is capable of demonstration connected with them: by their internal evidence they must stand or fell, and their self-contradictions and absurdities may be made evident to the meanest capacity.

  29. The chief and only peculiar obstacle which this system presents to the missionaries is that of the cast. Cast is a Portuguese word; the native term Jati signifies a distinct genus or kind. The different casts therefore are considered as so many different genera of human animals, and it is believed that the different forms of worship and habits of life observed by each, are as necessarily adapted to each as grass is to the support of cattle, and flesh to beasts of prey. Neither this nor any other prejudice is invincible. It appears indeed by the Institutes of Menu that the [213] separation of casts had been broken in upon, and in some places destroyed, when those Institutes were written. The immediate difficulty is, that whoever commits any act contrary to his religion, and thereby loses cast, is instantly excommunicated by all his countrymen. Some of the consequences are very distressing, some are ridiculous. The missionaries found several persons who were willing to be baptized, but demurred because in that case the village barber would not shave them;—and as they are accustomed to have the head shaved nearly all over, and cannot well operate upon themselves, this was a serious inconvenience. On farther enquiry it appeared however that legal redress was obtainable, for by a law both at Calcutta and Seramporo, every person who becomes a Christian has a right to be shaved, even though he were previously a harru, or of any other unshaveable cast. When or by whom this law was enacted is not explained,—probably the Europeans standing in need of the barber made it for themselves, and certainly it is their own fault that they did not, like the Arabian Moors, place themselves on an equality with the twice-born in all things.

  30. It is obvious that this difficulty must lessen as the number of converts increases, and that whenever a tolerably numerous body of native Christians has been formed, it will scarcely be felt. It is one thing to lose cast, and another thing to change cast,—to embrace the Christian cast, which is to destroy all others. Here it is that the missionaries may most effectually be assisted by government, for the main difficulty at first consists in finding employment for those who by thus becoming outcasts, have their usual means of subsistence either wholly taken from them, or materially impaired. These persons ought to be preferably employed by government, and by all European settlers. Even if it could be made decidedly advantageous to the natives to change their religion, if the admission to Christianity were made less rigorous than it is, perhaps the civil consequences would then be better. These missionaries insist upon convictions of sin, regeneration and grace; the Catholics were less scrupulous and more politic: they knew that the motives of the parents were of little consequence, so the children were entrusted to them to be trained up. And when in Mexico they baptized the people by thousands, dipping besoms in buckets, and swinging from side to side the water which was to shower down salvation, till their arms felt stiff, and their hands were blistered with the work, they acted well and wisely. That generation indeed had nothing more of Christianity [214] than the besom could communicate; but the next went to school and to mass, and became good Catholics.

  31. One good effect, the missionaries say, results from the evils consequent upon the loss of cast, which is, that a convert gives better proof of his sincerity than could possibly be obtained, were the sacrifice which he made by his profession less. There results also this important advantage from the system, that Christianity may intelligibly be represented as a superior and all-embracing cast itself: this the Hindoos are prepared to believe. The rumour among them is that there is another incarnation, the Tenth, which they have so long expected; and when that comes all casts are to be destroyed. There is no reason why a salutary advantage should not be taken of so general an expectation. And if, from their gross notions of incarnations, and obscure fancies of a Trinity, their minds can be gradually and dextrously led into the higher and more satisfactory doctrines of the Gospel, no teacher should decline it. Indeed his task would be so much the easier. In other countries missionaries have had to create terms for these mysteries, but here they have the Trimourtee and the Avatar ready, and the people are prepared to receive the Bible as the Shaster of the new cast.

  32. The great difficulty which Christianity has had to encounter in other cases, is that it requires submission to certain restraints. Its yoke indeed is easy and its burden light; but a yoke it was to the Greeks and Romans, and to the Celts and Goths whose previous belief laid them under few or no restrictions. In the Braminical system every thing is burthensome, and its lax morality is a poor compensation for its oppressive ritual. A fine instance occurred to the Danish missionaries of the effect produced by offering an easier law. A penitent on the Malabar coast, having enquired of many Bramins and Yoguees how he might make atonement for his sins, was directed to drive iron spikes through his sandals, and go thus shod a pilgrimage of nearly five hundred miles. If, through loss of blood or weakness of body, he was obliged to halt, that was allowable till he had recovered strength enough to proceed. One day, as he was halting under a tree, one of the missionaries came and preached in his hearing from these words, The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. While he was preaching, the man rose up, cast off his torturing sandals, and cried out aloud, this is what I want! 'And he became,' says Thomas, 'a lively witness that the blood of Jesus Christ does indeed cleanse from all sins.'—Come ye who are heavy laden, is [215] truly the invitation which the Gospel holds out to the Hindoos. It is liberty 'to the oppressed, emancipation to the enslaved, equality to the degraded—Good tidings of great joy to all. All human affections and instincts are on its side in Hindostan; it forbids the mother to expose or sacrifice her child, the widow to be burnt with her husband's corpse, the son to set fire to his living mother's funeral pile!

  33. 'But why should we wish to convert the Hindoos?'—says the Bengal officer; and this is the question of all those who hold that the Universal Father is equally adored 'by Saint, by Savage, and by Sage!' The philosophy of the old fathers, who held the gods of the heathen to be the devils of their own mythology, was better philosophy than this. Why should we convert them? Set the question of salvation aside. None but Catholics or Calvinists will now maintain the desperate doctrine, that salvation is exclusively attached to one system of faith, and that they who have never heard of Christ must be damned. It were better to worship the Lingam than to believe this, if this belief were all. But this cannot be denied, that under the Christian dispensation man has been progressive, and that his future and perpetual progression is provided for, and encouraged and enjoined by it; whereas every other system of belief tends to keep the human race stationary, or to degrade them. All the institutions of Christianity operate to produce the greatest possible quantity of virtue and of happiness; of all institutions they are the best adapted to the heart of man: so they needs must be, for from Him who made the heart of man did they proceed. It cannot be denied by those who admit a future state, wherein our identity is retained, that that state must be such as our moral habits here have qualified us for, and (setting faith aside) that the best man here will be the happiest man hereafter:- that religion therefore which most effectually promotes our well doing in this world, is necessarily in the same degree most instrumental to our well-being in the world to come. To the Deist as well as the Christian, the reasoning must be conclusive. And that it is the Christian's duty to spread the Gospel, in obedience to the express injunction of our Divine Master, cannot be doubted by those who understand, or who ever read his words. This, we say, cannot be doubted, notwithstanding Major Scott Waring assures us that Bishop Horseley considered this injunction to be obsolete, that such was the universal opinion in 1781, and that that opinion was established by a vote of the House of Commons, which, as it can make and unmake law, may [216] perhaps be thought competent by the Major to make and unmake Gospel also!

  34. Why should we convert the Hindoos?—Even were there no religious duty which called upon us to enlighten these unhappy idolaters, common humanity should make us attempt to rid them of their most burthensome and most inhuman superstition. Except the system of Mexican priestcraft, no fabric of human fraud has ever been devised so deadly as the Braminical; and though the Mexican rites were bloodier, they were less heart-hardening, less injurious to society, less pernicious to the moral nature of man. There was a time when the custom of burning widows was disbelieved in Europe, as a fiction of lying travellers. The extent to which it is practised will not perhaps even now be credited by the admirers of the gentle Hindoos, and the mild doctrines of Bramah—whom the 'late resident at Bhagulpore,' is pleased to metamorphose into a lawgiver, and to represent under the shade of the Banian tree, instructing his disciples in the duties of temperance, seclusion, and prayer!—An official enquiry was lately made at Calcutta, and a report given in of all these human sacrifices which were that year performed within thirty miles of that city, month by month, specifying place and person. In the year 1803 they amounted to 275,—one of whom was a girl of eleven years of age. It is absurd, and worse than absurd, to say these sacrifices are voluntary, because in some instances they appear to be so; in those instances the victims chose death, because they thought it more tolerable than the infamy which was their only alternative. The fact that Alboquerque was blest by the women because he prohibited this custom, is proof decisive, if it were needful, to prove that women would not be burnt alive if they could help it! Do we feel less horror at the thought of these dreadful sacrifices, for the theatrical pageantry with which they have sometimes been represented to our imagination? Here is the missionary Marshman's plain and faithful account of one at which he was, present,—scarcely two years ago.

    'A person informing us that a woman was about to be burnt with the corpse of her husband near our house, I, with several of our brethren, hastened to the place: but before we could arrive, the pile was in flames. It was a horrible sight. The most shocking indifference and levity appeared among those who were present. I never saw any thing more brutal than their behaviour. The dreadful scene had not the least appearance of a religious ceremony. It resembled an abandoned rabble of boys in England, collected for the purpose [217] of worrying to death a cat or a dog.* Such were the confusion, the levity, the bursts of brutal laughter, while the poor woman was burning alive before their eyes, that it seemed as if every spark of humanity was extinguished by this accursed superstition. That which added to the cruelty was, the smallness of the fire. It did not consist of so much wood as we consume in dressing a dinner; no, not this fire that was to consume the living and the dead! I saw the legs of the poor creature hanging out of the fire, while her body was in flames. After a while they took a bamboo, ten or twelve feet long, and stirred it, pushing and beating the half-consumed corpses, as you would repair a fire of green wood, by throwing the uncon-sumed pieces into the middle. Perceiving the legs hanging out, they beat them with the bamboo for some time, in order to break the ligatures which fastened them at the knees; (for they would not have come near to touch them for the world.) At length they succeeded in bending them upwards into the fire; the skin and muscles giving way, and discovering the knee-sockets bare, with the balls of the leg-bones: a sight this which I need not say, made me thrill with horror; especially when I recollected that this hapless victim of superstition was alive but a few minutes before. To have seen savage wolves thus tearing a human body limb from limb, would have been shocking; but to see relations and neighbours do this to one with whom they had familiarly conversed not an hour before, and to do it with an air of levity, was almost too much for me to bear!

    'Turning to the Brahman, who was the chief actor in this horrid tragedy, a young fellow of about twenty-two, and one of the most hardened that I ever accosted, I told him that the system which allowed of these cruelties could no more proceed from God than darkness from the sun;* and warned him that he must appear at the judgment seat of God to answer for this murder. He with a grin, full of savage contempt, told me that "he gloried in it; and felt the highest pleasure in performing the deed." I replied, that his pleasure might be less than that of his master; but seeing it was in vain to reason with him, I turned to the people, and expostulated with them. One of them answered, that "the Woman had burnt herself of her own free choice; and that she went to the pile as a matter of pleasure."Why then, did you confine her down with that large bamboo? " If we had not, she would have run away." What, run away from pleasure!—I then addressed the poor lad, who had been thus induced to set fire to his mother. He appeared about nineteen. You have murdered your mother; your sin is great. The sin of the [218] Brahman who urged you to it is greater; but yours is very great. "What could I do? It is the custom." True, but this custom is not of God, but proceedeth from the devil, who wishes to destroy mankind. How will you bear the reflection that you have murdered your only surviving parent? He seemed to feel what was said to him; but just at this instant that hardened wretch, the Brahman, rushed in, and drew him away, while the tears were standing in his eyes. After reasoning with some others, and telling them of the Saviour of the world, I returned home with a mind full of horror and disgust.

    'You expect, perhaps, to hear that this unhappy victim was the wife of some Brahman of high cast. She was the wife of a barber, who dwelt in Serampore, and had died that morning, leaving the son I have mentioned, and a daughter of about eleven years of age. Thus has this infernal superstition aggravated the common miseries of life, and left these children stripped of both their parents in one day. Nor is this an uncommon case. It often happens to children far more helpless than these; sometimes to children possessed of property, which is then left, as well as themselves, to the mercy of those who have decoyed their mother to their father's funeral pile!'

  35. After such an example, it were insulting the feelings of the reader to say more. This accursed custom was not known when the Institutes of Menu were written, nor when they were glossed by Calidas, for rules are there given concerning the conduct of widows. They are merely restricted from second marriage, and that, it seems, had been abrogated under Vena, the same king who broke down the distinction of casts, and who for that wise measure was called the chief of sage monarchs,—far more probably than for the adulatory reason which Calidas has interpolated.

  36. To what extent infanticide is carried, it is impossible to say. Among the lower classes every new-born infant who refuses the mother's milk, is put into a basket and hung up in a tree for three days, during which time the ants pick the bones clean,—if the, birds of prey do not put it to a more merciful death! It is common for those who desire children, to make a vow of devoting the first-born to the Goddess Ganges; the victim is brought up till they have a convenient opportunity of performing their pilgrimage and sacrifice to the river; the child is taken with them, and at the time of bathing encouraged to walk into deep water till it is carried away by the stream: should the little wretch hesitate, the parent pushes it off. Sick persons, whose recovery is despaired of, are laid on the bank of the river, where they die for want of food, or the stream carries them off, or the sharks and crocodiles devour them:- Sons have been seen to force their fathers back into the water, when (nature overcoming superstition) [219] they have endeavoured to regain the shore! 'Do not send men of any compassion here,' says Thomas to his Missionary Society, for you will break their hearts. But with that rapid transition of thought and feeling which marks the man of genius, he adds immediately, 'Do send men full of compassion here, where many perish with cold, many for lack of bread, and millions for lack of knowledge! This country abounds with misery. In England the poor receive the benefit of the Gospel, in being fed and clothed by those who know not by what they are moved; for when the Gospel is generally acknowledged in a land, it puts some to fear and others to shame, so that to relieve their own smart, they provide for the poor. But here,—O miserable sight! I have found the path-way stopped up by the sick and wounded people, perishing with hunger, and that in a populous neighbourhood, where numbers pass by, some singing, others talking, but none shewing mercy,—as though they were dying weeds, and not dying men!'

  37. 'Why should we convert the Hindoos?'—because our duty to God and man alike requires the attempt. Why should we convert them?—because policy requires it, religion requires it, common humanity requires it. Why should we convert them?—because they who permit the evil which they can prevent are guilty of that evil, and to them shall it be imputed.

  38. Thus having shewn that it is not only safe but politic to attempt the conversion of the Hindoos, that it is our interest as well as our duty, that the thing is possible because it has been done, and that it is comparatively easy because their system supplies weapons for its own destruction, it remains to consider the last objection, the utter unfitness of the missionaries for their work.

  39. They have been treated with the peculiar insolence, injustice, and want of all good feeling, which mark the criticism of the present times. Such qualities as these are seldom far removed from ignorance; accordingly the missionaries have, by a wretched vulgarity, been called Anabaptists:- a name, which like that of Manichean in former times, has served the same purpose in ecclesiastical, that the watch word of the day has in political controversy.—Major Scott Waring objects that they are Dissenters. The objection has been repeated from the pulpit, and Dr. Barrow recommends that no missionaries may be suffered to appear in India but those of the established church. Lastly, they are called fools, madmen, tinkers, &c.

  40. Claudius Buchanan recommends a church establishment for India. It is highly desirable that there should be one, not for the honour only of the British people,—who, God be praised, are, [220] and ever will be, a religious people,—but even for the sake of public decency. It is desirable for our countrymen, who too often, as Burke has said, are unbaptized by crossing the ocean. Colonization in India is indeed forbidden, but says this pious, beneficent, and most liberal churchman,—'let us rightly understand what this colonization is, for the term seems to have been often used of late, without a precise meaning. If to colonize in India be to pass the whole of one's life in it, then do ninety out of the hundred colonize; for of the whole number of Europeans who come out to India a tenth part do not return!' A melancholy picture does this excellent man present of our countrymen in that remote empire, sinking into 'that despondent and indolent habit of mind which contemplates home without affection, and yet expects here no happiness.' 'Does it not,' he says, 'appear a proper thing to wise and good men in England, (for after a long residence in India we sometimes lose sight of what is accounted proper at home),—does it not seem proper, when a thousand British soldiers are assembled at a remote station in the heart of Asia, that the Sabbath of their country should be noticed? That at least it should not become what it is, and ever must be, where there is no religious restraint, a day of peculiar profligacy! To us it would appear not only a politic but a humane act, in respect to these our countrymen, to hallow the seventh day. Of a thousand soldiers in sickly India, there wilt generally be a hundred who are in a declining state of health, who, after a strong struggle with the climate and with intemperance; have fallen into a dejected and hopeless state of mind, and pass their time in painful reflection on their distant homes, their absent families, and on the indiscretions of past life,—but whose hearts would revive within them on their entering once more the House of God, and hearing the absolution of the Gospel to the returning sinner.'—Such an appeal is unanswerable. Nor is it sufficient, in reply to this, to increase the number of army chaplains;—the first step towards winning the natives to our religion, is to show them that we have* one.—This will [221] hardly be done without a visible church. There would be no difficulty in filling up the establishment, however ample; but would the archbishop, bishops, deans, and chapters of Mr. Buchanan's plan do the work of missionaries? Could the church of England supply missionaries?—where are they to be found among them? In what school, for the promulgation of sound and orthodox learning are they trained up? There is ability and there is learning in the Church of England, but its age of fermentation has long been over; and that zeal which for this work is the most needful, is, we fear, possessed only by the Methodists.

  41. It was a favourite opinion with Priestley that the Mahommedans will be converted by Socinian missionaries:—alas, his chemic art, mighty as it was, could not have extracted spirit of zeal enough for one out of all his Socinian coadjutors! Socinianism has paralized itself by its union with the degrading and deadening philosophy of materialism; and can with difficulty supply ministers for its own few and decreasing congregations. The quakers, who are of all people best adapted to spread Christianity among the heathen, are so few in number, that according to the common chances of nature, they would not produce a missionary in an age. It is only the methodistical Christians who are numerous enough, zealous enough, enthusiastic enough to furnish adventurers for such a service, and wealthy enough to support the charge of such expensive undertakings. We must not therefore enquire whether the persons thus laudably employed are the best that could be imagined,—they are the best that can be found.

  42. All sects and all professions have their peculiar language, and it must be admitted that none is so odd and extraordinary as that of the professors of certain modes of religion. An old journalist of this very sect, in summing up the praises of a young woman, says, she walked like a he-goat before the flock. These missionaries and their English brethren abound in such strange appropriations of scriptural phraseology. When Andrew Fuller preached to them before their departure, he said, 'it is a great encouragement to be engaged in the same cause with Christ himself. Does he ride forth as on a white horse, in righteousness, judging and making war?—Ye are called like the rest of the armies of Heaven, to follow him on white horses, pursuing the same glorious object.' Thomas, when he approaches Bengal, rejoices to be so near a flock of black sheep,—but his vivid imagination having thrown out the metaphor in that half-sportive mood, which minds the most serious delight in, pursues [222] it with the passion of a poet,—'I long, he cries,' to run and roll away the stone from the well's mouth that they may drink.'—When Carey mourns over the 'leanness of his own soul,' and has much sweetness in a sermon,—and when Fountain remembers to have had pretty strong convictions of sin and remorse of conscience, 'at eight or nine years old,' it is pitiable to find such men expressing themselves in such a fashion: but it were more pitiable if we despised them because their fashion is not at ours;—if we did not pass lightly over the weakness of men, who have the zeal and the sincerity, the self-denial and the self-devotement of apostles. Hear Thomas when he says 'never did men see their native land with more joy than we left it,—but this is not of nature, but from above.' Hear him also when, pouring out his heart to one of those relations of whom he had taken leave for ever, he exclaims, 'if it were not for my engagement in the mission, I could come to Old England tomorrow, and kiss the ground I trod on, and water it with tears of joy, as the glory of all lands,'—and then say, if the man who with such feelings abandons his country for ever on such an errand, is to be regarded with contempt or with admiration. A single extract will shew how eminently well this madman, as it pleases the anti-missioners to call him, was qualified for his work.

    'A large company of brahmans, pundits and others, being assembled to hear him, one of the most learned, whose name was Mahashoi, offered to dispute with him. He began by asserting "that God was in every thing: therefore (said he) every thing is God—you are God, and I am God." "Fie, fie, Mahashoi!" (answered Mr. Thomas) "Why do you utter such words? Sahaib, (meaning himself) is in his cloaths: therefore (pulling off his hat, and throwing it down) this hat is Sahaib! No, Muhashoi, you and I are dying men; but God ever liveth." This short answer confounded his opponent, and fixed the attention of the people; while, as he says, he "he went on to proclaim ONE GOD, ONE SAVIOUR, ONE WAY, ONE FAITH, and ONE CAST, without and beside which all the inventions of man were nothing."—Another time, when he was warning them of their sin and danger, a brahmàn full of subtilty, interrupted him by asking "Who made good and evil?" Hereby insinuating that man was not accountable for the evil which he committed. "I know your question of old (said Mr. Thomas;) I know your meaning too. If a man revile his father or his mother, what a wretch is he! If he revile his Goroo,* you reckon him worse: but what is this, (turning to the people) in comparison of the words of this brahmàn, who reviles God! God is a holy being, and all his works are holy. He made men and devils [223] holy; but they have made themselves vile. He who imputes their sin to God is a wretch, who reproaches his Maker. These men, with all their sin-extenuating notions, teach that it is a great evil to murder a brahmàn; yet the murder of many brahmàns does not come up to this: for if I murder a brahmàn, I only kill his body; but if I blaspheme and reproach my Maker, casting all blame in his face, and teach others to do so, I infect, I destroy, I devour both body and soul, to all eternity."—Being on a journey through the country, he saw a great multitude assembling for the worship of one of their gods. He immediately approached them; and passing through the company, placed himself on an elevation, near to the side of the idol. The eyes of all the people were instantly fixed on him, wondering what he, being a European, meant to do. After beckoning for silence, he thus began: "It has eyes ... (pausing, and pointing with his finger to the eyes of the image; then turning his face, by way of appeal, to the people) but it cannot see! It has ears ... but it cannot hear! It has a nose ... but it cannot smell! It has hands . . . but it cannot handle! It has a mouth ... but it cannot speak; neither is there any breath in it!" An old man in the company, provoked by these self-evident truths, added, "It has feet; but it cannot run away!" At this, a universal shout was heard; the faces of the priests and brahmàns were covered with shame, and the worship for that time was given up.'

  43. Nothing can be more unfair than the manner in which the scoffers and alarmists have represented the missionaries. We, who have thus vindicated them, are neither blind to what is erroneous in their doctrine, or ludicrous in their phraseology: but the anti-missionaries cull out from their journals and letters all that is ridiculous, sectarian, and trifling; call them fools, madmen, tinkers, Calvinists, and schismatics; and keep out of sight their love of man, and their zeal for God, their self-devotement, their indefatigable industry, and their unequalled learning. These low-born and low-bred mechanics have translated the whole bible into Bengalee, and have by this time printed it. They are printing the new Testament in the Sanscrit, the Orissa, Mahratta, Hindostan, and Guzarat, and translating it into Persic, Telinga, Karnata, Chinese, the language of the Sieks and of the Burmans, and in four of these languages they are going on with the Bible. Extraordinary as this is, it will appear more so, when it is remembered, that of these men one was originally a shoemaker, another a printer at Hull, and a third the master of a charity-school at Bristol. Only fourteen years have elapsed since Thomas and Carey set foot in India, and in that time have these missionaries acquired this gift of tongues; in fourteen years these low-born, low-bred mechanics have done more towards [224] spreading the knowledge of the Scriptures among the heathen, than has been accomplished, or even attempted by all the world besides.

  44. A plain statement of the fact will be the best proof of their diligence and success. The first convert was baptized in December 1800, and in seven years from that time has the number amounted to 109, of whom nine were afterwards excluded or suspended, or had been lost sight of. Carey and his son have been in Bengal fourteen years; the other brethren, only nine; they had all a difficult language to acquire before they could speak to a native, and to preach and argue in it required a thorough and familiar knowledge. Under these circumstances the wonder is, not that they have done so little, but that they have done so much; for it will be found that even without this difficulty to retard them, no religious opinions have spread more rapidly in the same time, unless there was some remarkable folly or extravagance to recommend them, or some powerful worldly inducement. Their progress will be continually accelerating; the difficulty is at first, as in introducing vaccination into a distant land; when the matter has once taken, one subject supplies infection for all around him, and the disease takes root in the country. The husband converts the wife, the son converts the parent, the friend his friend, and every fresh proselyte becomes a missionary in his own neighbourhood. Thus their sphere of influence and of action widens, and the eventual issue of a struggle between truth and falsehood, is not to be doubted by those who believe in the former. Other missionaries from other societies have now entered India, and will soon become efficient labourers in their station. From Government all that is asked is toleration for themselves, and protection for their converts. The plan which they have laid for their own proceedings is perfectly prudent and unexceptionable, and there is as little fear of their provoking martyrdom, as there would be of their shrinking from it, if the cause of God and man require the sacrifice. But the converts ought to be protected from violence; and all cramming with cow-dung prohibited on pain of retaliation with beef tea.

  45. Let it not be deemed that this is spoken disrespectfully. Far from depreciating church establishments, our earnest wish and desire is, that they may be extended—let there be one in India, the more magnificent the better—make Dr. Barrow a bishop or an archbishop there if it be thought fit—build a St. Paul's at Calcutta, and raise the money by evangelical sermons; but do not think, even if this, were done, to supersede the baptist mis onaries [sic], till you can provide from your own church such men [225] as these; and it may be added, such women also as their wives. Why will not the Church of England adopt a policy more favourable to her views? Sectaries, such as these, instead of being discountenanced, should, in fact, be regarded as useful auxiliaries: their services, indeed, are desultory; but, like the Pandours and Croats of military powers, they may precede the main body, and, by their zeal and intrepidity, contribute to facilitate the success of the regular force.

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September 2006

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