Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

conducted in a spirit and with an ability which effectually preclude the ablest of the whole fraternity from that common resource of baffled disputants, the convenient plea of silent contempt.' Reasons then of a more politic nature than either inadvertence or indifference

may

be fairly assigned for their silence; they are more discreet than to assist to keep up a discussion of the credibility of transactions so indifferently calculated to endure a public scrutiny. A much less share of sagacity than what is generally attributed to them, is sufficient to discern that any attempted apology for that mass of falsehood in the shape of miracles, which the infallible Church palms upon its votaries every 3rd of December, would only contribute still further to expose the weakness of the cause, and discover to all the world how very little the utmost stretch of ingenuity could advance in its defence.

I intend not these observations for a prelude to a further investigation of the subject, being of an opinion in which the majority of your readers will, I think, concur, that after the late ample and able discussion it is as needless, as it would be presumptuous at least for most others to add a single syllable on the same side of the question. But, as your correspondent, in pursuance of the plan which he appears to have laid down, will now probably direct his attention to matters not connected with either Xavier or his associates, there seems a fair opening for the introduction of a topic which, as bearing some relation to the subject above alluded to, may be regarded as a tolerably appropriate sequel, and cannot, therefore, be wholly unacceptable to your readers. The topic which I have in view is the conduct and proceedings of some of the Jesuit Missionaries* in the East. It suits not my present intention or opportunities to traverse the whole field of their operations in that quarter; a much more limited survey will suffice to exhibit the real character of those active propagandists, whose praises we may occasionally hear sounded on a much higher key than will probably be found to accord with the truth. I may perhaps take some future opportunity of noticing their proceedings in Siam, Tonquin, China, and Paraguay, but shall at present confine my attention to Madura and its vicinity, in the southern part of Hindostan. And it is only proper to remind the reader, once for all, that the different facts and circumstances, adverted to in the following detail, rest, not upon Protestant authority, hut on the testimony, and in many cases on the alleged personal observation of staunch supporters of the Papacy, men, of course, far enough removed above all suspicion of heretical prejudices ; and therefore, whether the Jesuits be convicted of imposture and perjury, and of a systematic adulteration of religion with “ the grossest idolatry and the most ridiculous superstitions of paganism,” or, (which is the only alternative,) our informants, the Capuchins, be themselves found guilty of bearing this false witness against their fellow-missionaries, and of conspiring to blacken their characters by false and malicious charges,-still the infamy of one species or the other will attach exclusively to members of the Church of Rome.

Robert de Nobili, or de Nobilibus, a Jesuit, and nephew of Cardinal Bellarmin, is recorded as the first of his order who penetrated in the missionary character into Madura, where he is said to have reaped an

• Should any one be disposed to consider the present sketch totally unnecessary, be. cause the subject has undergone some examination in a late number of the " British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review," he is requested to recollect that the article in question is professedly derived from one particular source, which will be rarely if ever referred to on the present occasion, and that the statements about to be given, are attested by a class of witnesses with whose testimony the Critic was able to dispense. And exclusively of the mutual confirmation afforded by such independent and hostile authorities as the " Curious and edifying Letters of the Jesuits," and the “ Me. moirs of the Capuchins," it may be added that the subject is neither so unimportant nor uninteresting in itself, nor yet so nearly exhausted as to deserve no further notice.

abundant harvest. This event is fixed about the year 1606. Whatever might be his numerical success as compared with that of other missionaries, his ingenuity aud address were certainly of a superior order; as was evinced by his adoption of a method which probably never occurred to any of his predecessors in that vocation ; neither to the primitive Apostle of the Indies, nor to the Apostle of the Gentiles, nor even to the Prince of the Apostles himself. The straight-forward system of these rude old-fashioned missionaries could indeed furnish no fit model for an accomplished Jesuit, and Robert accordingly discarded all such obsolete precedents for a plan much better adapted to his views. Though sent ostensibly for the purpose of eradicating idolatry, and substituting Christian truth, he both set out and proceeded on a system of deliberate imposture and falsehood, the first act of which was his assimilation of his person and inanners to those of perhaps the most bigoted and proudest of idolatrous priests. For having observed the veneration in which the Brahmins were held, and the boundless influence which they consequently possessed, he took the bold resolution of becoming their competitor for popular estimation. After he had therefore acquired a competent knowledge of the language and manners of the country, and equipped himself in appropriate habiliments, he entered upon the scene of his labours, announcing himself as a Brahmin from a far country, descended from the God Brahma, whom the Hindoos consider as the common progenitor of the order. The Saniassi,g with whom he wished to associate himself, were a class of Brahminical penitents, distinguished by their peculiarly rigorous austerities and painful mortifications, to all which he was consequently obliged to conform. His personal exterior was to be subjected to a corresponding metamorphosis; he had to appear half naked, with his forehead besmeared with the ashes of cow dung, with his head close shaven, (excepting a few hairs left on the crown to designate his consecration to the service of Brahma,) and encircled with the mystical cord of 103 threads, denoting all the varied aspects of the tutelary deity of the caste. A pair of gold ear-rings, and a staff with exactly nine knots, to denote the nine most famous penitents of the order, besides several other minutiæ too ridiculous to deserve enumera. tion, were necessary to his equipment before he could be considered sufficiently paganized to act with effect the part which he had assumed. 1But neither his precautions nor compliances could lull the suspicions, nor always evade the jealous scrutiny of the rival Brahmins who openly charged him with the imposture which he was practising. Robert, however, who does not appear to have carried much luggage of conscientious scruples about with him, was not to be impeded by trifling obstacles. In order to obviate the objections raised against his pretensions he produced a parchment document, in the ancient Indian character, certifying that the Brahmins of Roine were lineally descended from Brahma, and

• Memoires Historiques presentes au Souverain Pontife Benoit XIV. sur les Missions des Indes Orientales, &c. par le R. P. Norbert, Capucin de Lorraine, Missionaire Apos. tolique, &c. Tom. I. p. 18.

+ Norbert's Memoires. Tom. 1. p. 18, 71. Cerri's Account of the Roman Catholic Religion throughout the world. p. 107.

& "The word Saniassi, as explained in the Geeta, p. 124, signifies the forsaking of all actions which are desirable. If we might judge from the conduct of those who bear the name, it might with more truth be rendered the performing of all actions that can excite disgust and impress horror on the human soul.” Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. 5, p. 244, to which the reader is referred for a more particular description of the penances of this class of self-tormentors.

• Norbert's Mem. Tom. 2, p. 390, and Tom. 3, p. 274. Such was the heathenish cos. tume, in which, (if we can rely upon the word of Capuchins and Franciscans,) the later Jesuits were not ashamed to exhibit Nobili and Jean de Britto pictured in their chapels at Meliapore and Goa. Norbert. Tom. 3, p. 263.

VOL. 1.

Qq

that they had moreover eonsiderably the advantage of their Indian name. sakes in point of antiquity.* Father Juvenci, a Jesuit, in his history of the Order, adds another circumstance too characteristic to be passed unnoticed, that when the authenticity of the document itself was questioned by some Hindoo sceptics, Nobili re-asserted upon oath, before an assembly of Brahmins, the reality of his descent from thelr God Brahma. "Is it not astonishing,” exclaims a Protestant writer, + " that this Reverend Father should acknowledge, is it not monstrous that he should applaud, as a piece of pious ingenuity, this detestable instance of perjury and fraud " Such, most probably, will that act appear to all those unenlightened folks who have not, like that Reverend Father, been duly initiated into the mysteries of the Jesuits' casuistieal laboratory, and who must consequently be ignorant of those ingenious processes, technically termed equivocation, mental reservation, and right direction of the intention,by virtue of which the adepts of that fraternity could extract something pious and laudable out of any piece of falsehood or perjury whatever, (provided it combined the quantum suff

, of advantage,) with as much certainty as ever an alchemist extracted an ingot of gold from a pig of lead or rusty bar of iron.

This piece of pious ingenuity, or whatever else it may be called, seems to have produced its effect, for Robert was shortly after able to number twelve Brabmins in his train as converts, whose services he turned to account in the further prosecution of his views. Aided by their example and influence, he now went on very prosperously, and made, we are told, “such a wonderful progress in the conversion of the Indians,” that he's

baptized in a very little time forty thousand persons of all tribes,”I a number, great as it may seem, still much below the truth, if we are to believe the Abbé Dubois, who swells it to nearly one hundred thousand. It would have been rather more to the purpose to have favoured us with a satisfactory estimate of their moral qualities, which, as we, however, learn from other sources, when the “converts were to be winnowed by a very slight gust of persecution, appeared to have as little resemblance to those of sincere Christians as the chaff bears to the wheat.

The Franciscans had established a mission in Madura, some years previous to the arrival of the Jesuits, which they carried on with some success, and probably by more honest means. But as their “personal appearance, and simple unassuming mode of life, presented nothing which could flatter the vanity and superstition” of the natives, they soon found themselves supplanted by the more imposing pretensions and superior attractions of Nobili, Britto, and their associates, and were finally obliged to leave the field clear to “ these ew comers who knew much better than they the art of accommodating themselves to the taste

• Norbert's Mem. Hist. sur les Missions des Malabars. Tom. 2, p. 145. + Dr. Maclaine, in his Notes to Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. Vol. 4, p. 211.

The reader who wishes for fnrther information on these matters, has only to consult the seventh and ninth of “Pascal's Provincial Letters,” or “La Morale des Jesuites extraite fidelement de leur livres, &c. par un Docteur de Sorbonne, (Perrault.) Tom. 1. p. 113.-161 ; in which works, (but in the latter especially, he will find the purport of these terms explained, and their practical application to almost every imaginable contingency, illustrated by copious quotations from approved Jesuit writers. Never surely were fraud, lying, and perjury, reduced to a system so compact as by these Reverend Moralists, who, (as is clearly proved by the Sorbonnist) appear to have exerted every refinement and subtlety in explaining away each prohibition and injunc. tion of the decalogue, and in palliating the indulgence of every malignant or voluptu. ous propensity. The works of Escobar, Filliutius, Lessius, Sanchez, Suarez, and their fellows, were they only translated, would claim a conspicuous shelf in the libra. ries of all our fashionable libertines.

| Cerri. p. 107.8.

of the Indians."* The Jesuits who followed, maintained their station in Madura for inany years, prosecuting their mission by means similar to tbose in which it was commenced. Nobili's example, with all its accompaniments of deception, was faithfully adopted and transmitted by his successors, who persisted in asserting their Brahminical pretensions, and often even went the length of totally denying their European origin, after it had become as useless as it was criminal to attempt to conceal their real character, which, in course of time, became as little a secret to the Mahometan and Hindoo natives as to the European residents. Of their pertinacity in clinging to their false colours, a singular anecdote is recorded in a letter addressed in 1736 by M. de Visdelou, Roman Catholic Bishop of Claudiapolis, to the Roman “ Congregation for the propagation of the Faith."-"The Reverend Fathers of the Society of Jesus," says he, “are unwilling to pass for Europeans, and when pressed on the subject, they deny it. One of these Fathers frankly related to us an occurrence connected with that subject which happened to himself A Brahmin, he said, accosting me one day, begun to vent a volley of invectives upon Europeans ; although I am from Europe, I denied stoutly that I was a European.”—“That mode of extricating himself from em. barrassment,” the Bishop proceeds,“ seemed to me rather singular, for I was present at that conversation. We are obliged, he added, to speak thus, in order that they may not suppose that we are Europeans, for they have so great an aversion for that name, that if we should come to pass for such, our Missions would be entirely ruined. Our intention, when we answer them in that manner, is not to deny absolutely that we are from Europe, but that we are such persons as they designate by the name of Europeans; for we secretly bear this in mind that Europeans in their notions are infamous persons, and therefore worthy of aversion and hatred :"4 a very modest intimation that the Reverend Father and his brethren were quite different characters, men of unimpeachable honesty and veracity, free from all hypocrisy and deceit, and therefore worthy of unreserved confidence. The reader is welcome either to put this construction upon the case, if he considers it warranted, or to adopt the opinion expressed by an “aged missionary, a prudent man, and one pezfectly acquainted with every thing relating to the Indian Missions,” that those of the Jesuits “ were founded on nothing but falsehood and imposture." Leaving him, therefore, to draw his own conclusion, I shall proceed to examine whether they employed any better materials in the superstructure.

Their assumption of Brahminical dignity subjected the missionaries to many other superstitious observances and compliances besides those already specified. In deference to the prejudices of their pagan exemplars, they were obliged to abstain from every species of animal food, and above all from that of the sacred cow and all its kindred. An odd instance of this Pythagorean squeamishness, was exhibited by one Father Gargan and another Jesuit. They had received an invitation to dine with some Officers of the French East India Company's Civil Service; but having somehow learned that a calf was to be killed for the

Norbert's Memoires Hist. sur les Missions des Indes Orientales. Tom. I. p. 19. + Norbert's Memoires. Tom. I. p. 454-5. The Bishop wondered how any one could think of resorting to mental restrictions and equivocations after they had been con. demned in a Bull issued by Pope Alexander VII.' He would probably have been not less surprised to learn that neither that document, nor a Bull of Alexander VIII. condemning the Jesuit's doctrine of philosophical sin, is to be found in the Bullarium Pontificum. See Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. Vol. 4, p. 358. note x. Hence it appears that even the official edicts of the Head of the Infallible Church, are not always considered by all his own partizans so correct as they should be, and are, therefore, occasionally subjected to a stronger process than a mere expurgation in the Index

Ibid, p. 458.

occasion, they hastened to M. Golard, the Governour, and begged him to prevent such an effusion of blood, for they could not think of sitting down at bis table if such a thing as a joint of veal was to form any portion of the feast. The Governour, in consideration of their sickly stomachs, kindly consented to disappoint his own and his guests', and complied, though much against his will, with their entreaties.*

The Pariahs (the lower orders of the Hindoos) being restrained by no such superstitious fastidiousness, are regarded with abhorrence by the Brahmins and higher castes, who find an additional motive of contempt in the comparative meanness of their origin. The Jesuits, though they could have no sincere personal sympathy with those feelings, yet both sanctioned and fostered them by their own conduct towards the respective parties. For as their noble concerts, could not endure to mix with their inferiors in any religious service,t the Jesuits, who do not appear to have troubled themselves to inculcate much Christian humility into those, who most wanted it, made no scruple of humouring their pride and prejudices to the utmost. Conformably to a regulation enforced by the real Brahmins in their pagodas, they generally provided two separate Churches in each place, one for the higher castes, and the other for the Pariahs, who, (in the words of the Bishop of St. Thomas) were to “be punished if they presumed to mix with the nobles, and obstinately refused to hear mass in the places assigned to them.” When in default of two edifices, they were obliged to admit both parties under the same roof, they were still careful to keep them apart in ever act of religious service, by appropriating to each its separate station, which had its distinct confessional, baptismal font, and place of communion, from which the latter were immediately driven if they ventured to approach. The child of a Pariah was not allowed to be baptized with the same water in wbich an infant of nobler birth had been aspersed. The same unnatural and invidious distinction was carried so far as to regulate their distinct places of burial.l! When the missionaries were called on to visit the sick of the "viler class,” they were cautious of entering their abodes in the presence of any of their converts of higher rank. They generally stop short at the threshold, and requiring the invalid, though at the point of death, to be brought to them, administered the Extreme Unction. On these occasions, they used a small instrument in the application of the oil-a prudent precaution to avoid that contact with the patient which would have sullied their assumed Brahminical sanctity, and “have dishonoured them in the eyes of the Gentiles, who regard the Pariahs as an impure race.' "** The wretched plea of expediency by which they endeavoured to justify their conduct towards the two parties, was effectually refuted by the Capuchins and other missionaries, who refused to compliment the pride and tyranny of the higher castes, and to sanction, by their own

• Norbert. Tom. 3. p. 270. There are not, I think, many instances on record, of a Jesuit,s interference on the side of mercy when heretical bipeds have had the misfortune to be condemned to a roasting, or a military butchery, for contumacious adherence to the rights of conscience. Thus when eighty-eight of the Waldensian Protestants of Montalto bad their throats cut for this unpardonable crime, we read of no Jesuit interposing to arrest the butcher's knife, during this bloody infliction, which a Roman Ca. tholic could compare “to nothing but the slaughter of so many sheep." M'Crie's History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Italy, p. 264. The hu. manity of Romish ecclesiastics in general, seems to have been as uniformly dormant on such occasions as Gibbon's, which is said to have always slumbered when either

women were violated or the Christians persecuted." + Norbert's Mem. Tom. I. p. 71.

Tom. I. p. 12, 75. +

Tom. I. p. 12.
Tom. I. p. 282.
Tom. 2. p. 272, 389.
Tom. I. p. 13, 94. and Tom. 3. p. 272.

B
TI

« AnteriorContinua »