Imatges de pÓgina

throughout every part of this country, by which the children of the natives might have learned our language, and got acquainted with our morality. Such an establishment would, ere this, have made the people at large fully acquainted with the divine spring, from whence alone British virtue must be acknowledged to flow. This would have made them better acquainted with the principles by which we are governed: they would have learned to respect our laws, to honour our feelings, and to follow our maxims whereas they appear to me, generally speaking, at this moment, as ignorant of their masters as on their first landing on these shores. I speak not of interfering with their religious prejudices, or endeavouring to convert the natives by an extraordinary effort on the part of the British government. Conversion, in my opinion, must be the consequence which would naturally flow from our attention to their moral instruction, and their more intimate acquaintance with the English



"I do not mention this as an experiment, the result of which might be considered as problematical: the experiment has been already made, and the consequences have proved commensurate with the highest expectation which reasonable men could entertain. The Danish Mission, united

ine, make them read English books. Translations have hitherto been very defective in the different country languages; besides, they must be extremely circumscribed in number. I do not think the natives will come to us freely but to learn English. This they consider as the key to fortune; and, on the coast the most strict of the Bramins will have little hesitation, as far as I can learn, in permitting their children to attend a free school for the purpose of learning it; for they despise us too much to suppose there is any danger of overturning the principles of Bramin ism. But their ill-founded, ridiculous principles must be shaken to the very foundation, by the communication of such liberal knowledge as a Christian can instil into the minds of youth, and fix there by means of English books; and all this, without making any alarming attack directly on the religion of the Hindoos.

with the Society for propagating the gospel, have sent some good men into this country with the laudable view spreading true of Christianity throughout our eastern possessions ; and the names of Swartz, Gerrické, and others, will ever be remembered by numbers of our Asiatic subjects, of every cast and description, with veneration and affection: and there are happily still living some amongst

us of the same character.

"It is true, that the object they had more particularly in view, has, in some measure, failed: and few good converts, it is generally imagined, have been made; but let it be remembered also, that they have laboured under every possible disadvantage; they have scarcely enjoyed a mere toleration under our government, and received no kind of assistance whatsoever; that they were few in number, and perhaps I may say, without injustice, that they erred (as the best might err) in the means which they adopted; but that they have done much good by the purity of their lives, and by their zeal in spreading instruction. This will admit of no denial; and I doubt not that I may say, without the danger of contradiction, that few and poor as these men have been, without authority or power to support them, a greater and more extended portion of heartfelt respect for the European character has been diffused by their means throughout this country, than by all the other Europeans put together. We have, in my humble opinion, my Lord, kept ourselves too far from the natives; we have despised their ignorance, without attempting to remove it; and we have considered their timidity (the natural result of their being trampled upon by one race of conquerors after another) also as an object for our contempt; at the same time, that we have view. ed the cunning of their character, (which is ever the natural resource of ignorance and weakness) as the completion of all that is vile and deceit. ful. Thus have we continued a system of neglect towards the interests of our native subjects, in points the most essential to their every happiness, throughout the whole of our governments in this country. Fain, my Lord, would I see a change in

this particular and I seize the op-.
portunity which the present moment
affords, to press the justice and the
policy of the measure on the atten-
tion of your Lordship's government.
"Having the honour to remain, with
the highest respect, my Lord, your
Lordship's faithful and obedient,
humble servant,

R. H. KERR, Senior Chaplain of Fort St. George. "Madras, Nov. 3, 1806."


"The Rev. Dr. Buchanan, who left Bengal some months ago, with the view of proceeding to Travancore, to inquire into the state of the Syrian Christians, arrived in that country about the beginning of Nov. ember last, having travelled from Calcutta to Cape Comorin by land. His highness the Rajah of Travancore was pleased to afford to Dr. Buchanan the most liberal assistance in the prosecution of his inquiries. About the middle of November, Dr. Buchanan proceeded from the sea-. coast into the interior of the country, north-east from Quilon, to visit the ancient Syrian churches, situated amongst the low hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts, which divide the Carnatic from Malayala. The face of the country in general, in the vicinity of the mountains, exhibits a varied scene of hill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall from the mountains, and preserve the vallies in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper; cardamoms, and cassia, or wild cinnamon; also frankincense and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but are covered with teak forests, producing the largest timber in the world.

"The first view of the Christian churches, in this sequestered region of Hindostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of some of the old parish churches in England: the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arch win

dows, and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view are ornamented; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the cathedral churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the churches are built of a reddish stone, squared and polished at the quarry; and are of durable construction, the front wall of the largest edinces being six feet thick. The bells of the churches are cast in the foundaries of Travancore. Some of them are of large dimensions; and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malayalim. In approaching a town in the evening, the sound of the bells may be heard at a distance amongst the hills; a circumstance which causes the British traveller to forget for a moment that he is in Hindostan, and reminds him of another country. When Dr. Buchanan arrived at the remote churches, he was informed by the inhabitants that no European had, to their knowledge, visited the place before. The Romish priests do not travel thither, there being no church of their communion in that quarter.

"The number of Syrian churches is greater than has been supposed. There are at this time, fifty-five churches in Malayala, acknowledg ing the Patriarch of Antioch. The church was erected by the present bishop, in 1793.

"The Syrian Christians are not Nestorians, Formerly, indeed, they had bishops of that communion; but the liturgy of the present church is derived from that of the early church of Antioch, called Liturgia Jacobi Apostoli. They are usually denomi nated Jacobita; but they differ in ceremonial from the church of that name in Syria, and indeed from any existing church in the world. Their proper designation, and that which is sanctioned by their own use, is Sp rian Christians, or the Syrian church of Malayala.

Malayala comprehends the moun• tains, and the whole region within them, from Cape Comorin to Cape Eli; whereas, the province of Malabar, commonly so called, contains only the northern districts; not including the country of Travancore.

"The doctrines of the Syrian church are contained in a very few articles; and are not at variance, in essentials, with the doctrines of the church of England. Their bishops and Metropolitan, after conferring with his clergy on the subject, delivered the following opinion: "That an union with the English church, or at least such a connexion as should appear to both churches practicable and expedient, would be a happy event, and favourable to the advancement of religion." It is in contemplation to send to England some of the Syrian youth for education and Ordination.

"The present bishop, Mar Dionysius, is a native of Malayala, but of Syrian extraction. He is a man of respectable character in his nation, and exercises himself in the pious discharge of the duties of his high office. He is now 78 years of age, and possesses a venerable aspect, his white beard descending low to his girdle. On public occasions he wears the Episcopal mitre ; and is robed in a white vestment, which covers long garments of red silk; and in his hand he holds the pastoral staff. The first native bishop was ordained by the Romish church in 1663 but he was of the Romish communion. Since that period, the old Syrians have continued, till lately, to receive their bishops from Antioch; but that ancient patriarchate being now nearly extinct, and incompetent to the appointment of learned men, the Christian church in Malayala looks henceforth to Britain for the continuance of that light which has shone so long in this dark region of the world.

"From information given by the Syrian Christians, it would appear that the churches of Mesopotamia and Syria, (215 in number) with which they are connected, are struggling with great difficulties, and merely owe their existence to some deference for their antiquity; and that they might be expected soon to flourish again, if favoured with a little support. It would be worthy the church of England to aid the church of Antioch in her low estate. The church of England is now what the church of Antioch once was. The mode in which aid can be best afford


ed to Christians, under a foreign pow. er in the East, is not chiefly by contributions of money, but by representing to those governments, with which we may have friendly intercourse, that these Christians are of the same religion with ourselves; and that we are desirous that they should be respected. The argument, from the sameness of religion, is well understood by all Asiatic princes, and never fail when seriously proposed; for they think it both natural and obligatory that every government should be interested in those who are of its own religion. There are two circumstances which invite us to turn our eyes to the country of "the first generations of men." The tolerant spirit of the Wahabian Mahomedans, is a fair prognostic; and promises to aid our endeavours to restore to an ancient community of Christians the blessings of knowledge and religious liberty. Another favourable circumstance is, that some of the churches in Mesopotamia, in one of which the Patriarch of Antioch now resides, are said still to remain in their pristine state, and to have preserved their archives and ancient manuscript libraries. A domestic priest of the Patriarch, now in Cochin, vouches for the truth of this fact. We know from authentic history, that the churches between the rivers escaped the general desolation of the Mahomedan conquest, in the seventh century, by joining arms with the Mahomedans against the Greek Christians, who had been their oppressors. The revival of religion and letters in that once highly favoured land, in the heart of the ancient world, would be, in the present circumstances of mankind, an auspicious event.

"The Syrian Christians in Malayala still use the Syriac language in their churches; but the Malayalim, or proper Malabar, (a dialect distinct from the Tamul) is the vernacular tongue. They have made some attempts to translate the Syriac scriptures into Malayalim; but have not hitherto had the suitable means of ef

fecting it. When a proposal was made of sending a Malayalim translation to each of their 55 churches, as a standard book, on condition that they would transcribe it, and circulate the copies among the people, the elders

replied, That so great was the desire of the people in general, to have the Bible in the vulgar tongue, that it might be expected that every man who could write, would make a copy on ollas, (palm leaves) for his own family. "It ought to be mentioned, to the praise of the present bishop of the Romish church on the coast of Malabar, that he has consented to the circulation of the scriptures throughout his diocese. The Malayalim translation acquires from this circumstance an increased importance, since there will be now upwards of 200,000 Christians in Malayala who are ready to receive it. The translation of the New Testament, (which it is proposed to print first) has already commenced, under the superintendence of the Syrian bishop. The true cause of the low state of religion amongst the Romish churches on the sea-coast and in Ceylon, is their want of the Bible. It is doubtful whether some of the priests know that such a book exists! It is injurious to Christianity in India, to call men Christians who know not the scriptures of their religion: they might as well be called by any other name. Oral instruction they have none, even from their European priests. The best effects may therefore be expected from the simple means of putting the Bible into their hands. All who are well acquainted with the natives, know that instruction by books is best suited to them. They are in general a contemplative people, and patient in their inquiries; curious also to know what it can be that is of importance enough to be written; at the same time that they regard written precept with respect. If they possess a book in a language which they understand, it will not be left long unread.


Tanjore, and other places where the Bible is freely given, the Protestant religion flourishes; and produces the happiest effects on the character of the people. In Tanjore, the Christian virtues will be found in exercise by the feeble minded Hindoo, in a vigour and purity which will surprise those who have never known the native character but under the greatest disadvantages. On the Sunday, the people, habited in their best apparel, repair to the parish church, where the solemnity of their devotion in ac

companying the public prayers, is truly impressive. They sing the old Psalm tunes well: and the voice of the full congregation may be heard at a distance. Prayers being ended, they listen to the sermon evidently with deep attention; nor have they any difficulty in understanding it, for they almost all, both men and women, can read their Bible. Many of them take down the discourse on ollas, that they may read it afterwards to their families at home. As soon as the minister has pronounced the text, the sound of the iron style on the palm leaf, is heard throughout the congregation. Even the boys of the schools have their ollas in their hands; and may be seen after divine service reading them to their mothers, as they pass over the fields homewards. This aptitude of the people to receive and to record the words of the preacher, renders it peculiarly necessary that "the priests lips should keep knowledge." Upon the whole, the moral conduct, upright dealing, decorous manners, and decent dress of the native Protestants of Tanjore, demonstrate the powerful influence and peculiar excellence of the Christian religion. It ought, however, to be observed, that the Bible, when the reading of it becomes general, has nearly the same effect on the poor of every place.

"When the Syrian Christians understood that the proposed Malayalan translation was to accord with the English Bible, they desired to know on what authorities our translation had been made; alleging, that they themselves possessed a version of undoubted antiquity, namely, that used by the first Christians at Antioch; and that they could not depart from the reading of that version. This observation led to the investigation of the ancient Syrio-Chaldaic manuscripts in Malayala; and the inquiry has been successful beyond any expectation that could have been formed.

"It had been commonly supposed. that all the Syriac manuscripts had

* It is well known that natives of Tanjore and Travancore can write down what is spoken deliberately, without losing one word. They seldom look at their ollas while writing, and can writė in the dark with fluency.

been burned by the Romish church, at the Synod of Udiamper, near Cochin, in 1599; but it now appears that the most valuable manuscripts were not destroyed: the inquisitors condemned many books to the flames; but they saved the Bible. They were content with ordering that the Syriac scriptures should be amended agreeably to the reading of the Vulgate of Rome; and these emendations now appear in black ink, and of modern appearance, though made in 1599: but many Bibles, and many other books, were not produced at all; and the churches in the mountains remained but a short time subject to Romish dominion, (if indeed they can be said to have been at any time subject to it) for the native governments have ever formed a barrier between the inquisition at Goa and the Christians in the mountains.

"In the acts of the Council of Nice, it is recorded that Joannes, bishop of India, signed his name at that Council, A. D. 325. This date corresponds with the Syrian year 636; for the primitive Syrian church does not compute time from the Christian era, but from Alexander the Great. The Syriac version of the scriptures was brought to India, according to the belief of the Syrians, before the year 636; and they allege that their copies have ever been exact transcripts of that version without known error, through every age, down to this day. There is no tradition among them of the churches in the southern mountains having ever been destroyed, or even molested. Some of their present copies are certainly of ancient date. Though written on a strong thick paper, (like that of some MSS. in the British Museum, commonly called Eastern Paper,) the ink has, in several places, ate through the material in the exact form of the letter. In other copies, where the ink had less of a corroding quality, it has fallen off, and left a dark vestige of the letter, faint indeed, but not, in general, illegible. There is one volume found in a remote church of the mountains, which merits particular description :— it contains the Old and New Testaments, engrossed on strong vellum, in large folio, having three columns in the page; and is written with beautiVol. III. No. 11.


ful accuracy. The character is Estrangelo Syriac; and the words of every book are numbered. This volume is illuminated; but not after the European manner, the initial letters having no ornament. Prefixed to each book there are figures of principal scripture characters, (not rudely drawn) the colours of which are distinguishable; and, in some places, the enamel of the gilding is preserved; but the volume has suffered injury from time or neglect, some of the leaves being almost entirely decayed. In certain places the ink has been totally obliterated from the page, and has left the parchment in its natural whiteness; but the letters can, in general, be distinctly traced from the impress of the pen, or from the partial corrosion of the ink. The Syrian church assigns to this manuscript a high antiquity; and alleges that it has been for some centuries in the possession of their bishops and that it was industriously concealed from the Romish inquisition in 1599: but its true age can only be ascertained by a comparison with old manuscripts in Europe of a similar kind. On the margin of the drawings are some old Roman and Greek letters, the form of which may lead to a conjecture respecting the age in which they were written. This copy of the scriptures has admitted as canonical the Epistle of Clement, in which respect it resembles the Alexandrine uscript; but it has omitted the Revelations, that book having been accounted apocryphal by some churches during a certain period in the early ages. The order of the books of the Old and New Testament differs from that of the European copies; this copy adhering less to unity of subject in the arrangement than to chronological order. The very first emendation of the Hebrew text proposed by Dr. Kennicott, (Gen. iv. 8,) is to be found in this manuscript. The disputed passage in 1 John v. 7 is not to be found in it: that verse is interpolated in some other copies in black ink, by the Romish church, in 1599.


"Thus it appears that during the dark ages of Europe, while ignorance and superstition in a manner denied the scriptures to the rest of the

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