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a number of creatures in his own shape fixed in petrified reverence, or performing grave ritual antics, before filthy figure, or sometimes an unshaped lump of wood or stone, daubed black and red, which piece of rubbish, without a shape, or in a shape more vile and ugly than it is possible for European hands to make, stands there in substitution for that Infinite Spirit which he has just been worshipping :-it stands for the most part in real and perfect substitution ; but if it were in representation, the case would be very little better. Let him go on a variety of excursions, to make out if he can, a list of all the modes, all equally vile, into which their idolatry has varied its prolific caprice. Let him gently interrogate, or remonstrate with, some of its wretched slaves, and see to what a depth of infatuation the depravity of the mind can gravitate. Let him observe the innumerable ceremonial fooleries, mixed with filthy consecrated customs; and then for a moment recollect, if indeed he can be willing to have such opposites for a moment associated in his mind, the simplicity and sprituality of the Christian worship, the dignity of the very tastes which the religion cultivates, and its appropriate purity of manners. Let him observe, as performed at the dictate of the laws, customs, and priests of this superstition, such barbarous and whimsical self-inflicted penances and torture, and such sacrifices of living relatives, as it would be supposed some possessing fiend had compelled the wretched pagans to adopt for his diversion ; let him observe, amidst these tyrannic rigours of a superstitious conscience, an entire want of conscience with respect to the great principles of morality, and the extinction, in a great degree, of the ordinary sympathies of human nature for suffering objects; let him notice the deceitful and cruel character of the priests, exactly conformable to the spirit of the superstition ; and let him consider those unnatural but insuperable distinctions of the classes of society, which equally degrade the one by a stupid servility, and the other by a stupid pride. And finally, let him reflect that each day many thousands of such deluded creatures are dying, destitute of all that knowledge, those consolations, and those prospects, for which he adores the author of the Christian revelation. How would he be able to quell the sentiment of horror, which would arise in his mind at every view and every thought of what we have thus supposed him to witness? He would feel as if something demoniac infested all the land, and pervaded all the air, inspiring a general madness previous to a general execution. For he would feel an unconquerable impression, that a land could not be so abandoned of the divine mercy, but to be soon visited by the divine vengeance; and that vengeance he would hardly at some moments be able to deprecate, while beholding the occasional extraordinary excesses of frantic abomination. It would appear to him, that the very time was come for a glorious display of justice, and that such a solitude as that which Noah found, on descending from the ark, would be a delightful sequel to this populous and raging tumult of impiety. In his retired and reflective moments his indignation would again relent; and he would fervently implore that the mercy of Heaven would not suffer so large a part of the earth to continue darkened as if by the smoke of the infernal pit, and that all means, ordinary and extraordinary, might immediately be put in action for reclaiming any part of the infatuated and thus far devoted race.
Impressions and emotions, somewhat like those we have described, would probably be experienced by a man possessing a perfect and undiminishable moral and religious sensibility, if conducted, as a witness, through the gradations of impiety to the paganism of our Asiatic subjects. If Indian traders, officers, and adventurers, feel an easy complacency at this last view, it only proves that they are not persons with whom any religious, any Christian argument can be held. A moral sense that belongs to complete man is wanting to them; so that infinitely the most important of the elements and phenomena of the moral world are unapparent and impalpable to them : just as much so, as that class of things and properties are, to our present five senses, which might,
as Locke observes, have become perceptible to us by means of a sixth or seventh sense, which the Creator could no doubt have given us. To these men, all the concerns and interests designated by the terms divine, spiritual, immortal, are nearly the same as non-existent. Ånd as, with their bare half of that perceptive faculty which is essential to complete rational man, they cannot for their lives make themselves see the millions of a vast nation in any character more important than that of consumers of exported commodities, or growers of rice and indigo, or fabricators of manufactures, or the materials for recruiting regiments,—nor comprehend how any greater evil can exist or arise among them than their consuming or producing less of marketable commodity, or their choosing to be governed by one set of their fellowmortals rather than another, they are most violently angry at a class of men who must needs pretend to see these millions in a far different and infinitely more important light, as beings that have souls, accountable to their Creator, but merged in the most melancholy ignorance of themselves and of him ; as hideously degraded by a hateful superstition ; and therefore as objects whose condition calls mightily for the compassion and assistance of their more favoured brethren. But it is this latter class of men, who can perceive the moral, religious, and eternal interests of mankind, and of any portion of mankind, as inconceivably more momentous than all their political and commercial economy; who cannot behold without horror a countless population prostrating themselves before idols, and who think a government that does not do all it can to reduce the evil will incur the vengeance of God,—it is only this class of men that can be admitted as competent of mind to reason on our obligations respecting the religious condition of India. Among these Mr. Cunningham stands conspicuous.
[October and November, 1808].
Lives of British Statesmen. By JOHN MACDIARMID, Esq., Author of an
Inquiry into the System of National Defence in Great Britain, and of an Inquiry into the Principles of Subordination. 4to.
If we have not learnt to feel for statesmen, as such, a sufficient share of that reverential respect which pronounces their names with awe, which stands amazed at the immensity of their wisdom, which looks up to them as the concentrated reason of the human species, which trembles to insinuate or to hear insinuated against them the slightest suspicion of obliquity of understanding or corruption of moral principle, and which regards it as quite a point of religion to defend their reputation, it has not been that we have not received many grave instructions and rebukes on this head from much better men. A hundred times it has been repeated to us, that a peculiar and extraordinary genius is requisite to constitute a statesman; that men, who by situation and office are conversant with great concerns, acquire a dignity and expansion of mind ; that those who can manage the affairs of nations prove themselves by the fact itself to be great men; that their elevated position gives them an incomparably clearer and more comprehensive view of national subjects than is to be attained by us on the low level of private life; that we ought, in deference to them, to repress the presumption of our understandings; that in short it is our duty to applaud or be silent.
With a laudable obsequiousness we have often tried to conform ourselves to our duty, at least as prescribed in the latter part of this alternative; and we have listened respectfully to long panegyrics on the sagacity, fortitude, and disinterestness of the chief actors and advisers in state affairs, and to inculcations of the gratitude due to
men who will thus condescend, in their lofty stations, (which at the same time it is presumed they can claim to hold for no other purpose,) to toil and care for us the vulgar mass of mankind. Presently these laudatory and hortatory strains would soften into an elegiac plaintiveness, bewailing the distresses of men in high situations
The pathetic song has deplored the oppressive labours of thought required in forming their schemes, their cruel exposure to the persecutions of an adverse party, the difficulty of preserving harmony of operation in a wide and complex system involving many men and many dispositions, their anxiety in providing for the wants of the state, the frequent failure of their best concerted measures, their sleepless nights, their aching heads, and their sufferings from the ungrateful reproaches of the people. Here our impatience has overcome our good resolutions, and we have been moved to reply. We have said, Is not the remedy for all these sorrows at all times in their reach? They can quit their stations and all the attendant distresses whenever they please, in behalf of other men who are waiting, eager almost to madness, to obtain their share of all the vexations you are commiserating. But while you are so generously deploring the hardships of their situation, they are anxiously devising every possible contrivance to secure themselves in possession of it, and nothing less than the power that put them in can wrench them out. It is vastly reasonable to be requiring lenient judgments on the conduct, and respectful sympathy for the feelings, of public men, while we see with what a violent passion power and station are sought, with what desperate grappling claws of iron they are retained, and with what grief and mortification they are lost. It might be quite time enough, we should think, to commence this strain of tenderness, when in order to fill the places of power and emolument it has become necessary to drag by force retiring virtue and modest talent from private life, and to retain them in those situations by the same compulsion, in spite of the most earnest wishes to retreat, excited by delicacy of conscience, and a disgust at the pomp
So long VOL. I.