Abbildungen der Seite

gone to

by it; but believing no doubt that all the friends of that cause were little better than fools, they thought it might be easy to gull them without much dexterity of phrase, and they imagined, we suppose, some possible advantage to themselves in so doing. While earnestly plotting, therefore, a mortal sacrifice of Christianity, so far as it is any thing more than a local superstition, to be allowed where it already prevails, they adopted a proceeding which was but a very awkward imitation of the smooth treachery of that most miserable man who is “ his own place,” a place however not likely to be so lonely as some divines have imagined. But this Bengal Officer justly despises all such shallow and useless policy; and comes forward in the honest avowed character of a soldier of Herod or Pilate, whose rude heathenism laughs at the uncouth grimaces of pretended holiness with which the less courageous conspirators are proceeding to their purpose. He does, not cant, in feeble and stupid hyperbole of falsehood, to Mr. Twining's tune of “surrendering life rather than the Christian religion.” He makes none of Major Scott Waring's clumsy pretences of respect for the Holy Scriptures, and “our good old church," or of believing the “ truths of our religion,” and hoping no one will attribute his reviling of missionaries, and his anger at the “new mania of conversion,” “to indifference to the eternal welfare of the natives of India." He is content, and perhaps even proud, to provoke the abhorrence of the public by his impious audacity, and, in much consistency with the bravery of his character, leaves undivided to his coadjutors the satisfaction of being rewarded with its contempt for their hypocrisy. We can easily suppose he would address them in some such terms as these : “ Where is the use of your pretending what you know, or might know, that not a mortal will believe? Even if any body would believe your sham palaver of liking the church, the bible, and all that, what good would it be? Is one always to be putting on a set of pretended notions, and adjusting them like a parson his pulpit clothes at a vestry looking-glass, before one is to venture out into the world? If one cannot do what one pleases and say what one thinks, but must be canting a parcel of stuff, just because bishops and priests are paid to cant it, it were better to shoot oneself without more ado. I am for a man of spirit showing that he does not care for all the priests and methodists on earth. What the plague should keep us from telling them that we are none of their dupes? You are not afraid, I suppose, of these Christians, and the person they call Christ? If you are, you have made a fine blunder in saying so much as you have already ; I wish it may not be too late for

you to get reconciled to mother church; try the first opportunity by all means, I beg of you, and be prodigious penitent, and subscribe to the Bible Society. At any rate, do not go on making pretences of some kind of respect for Christianity, while every body may see that you are insulting and practically disclaiming it, and that you would caper with joy to see all the Bibles in the world piled up for a bonfire. For myself, they may call me infidel, or heathen, or atheist, if they please, but they shall never call me hypocrite or coward; and as to you,

I should really think that while you are throwing away all other reputation, you might as well keep that of courage ?

We can easily conceive, that the accession of this hero will not give an unmingled satisfaction to the band. Though his views, his spirit, and his object, are but the same as theirs, his ingenuous boldness makes a more perfect disclosure, than they would probably have wished till some more favourable season. It is not indeed any very refined artifice of management that they could have comprehended, or therefore applauded ; Mr. Twining's understanding, especially, might not have been able to distinguish the new ally from a Christian, had he written with any thing like the delicate subtilty and finesse of such an author as Hume. A tolerably broad style of expression was quite necessary to meet the perceptions of the junto; but still they could have recognized the marks of fraternity in our author, without his absolutely going the length of chanting psalms to the loathsome Doorga, and celebrating the sublime theology of that passage in the Institutes of Menu, which contains a

clause relating to the EXCRETIONS of the divinity! Not that they might have had any objection to all this in itself, and in its proper place, that is in Bengal; but in England there is a certain remainder of the fashion of decency, which imposes the necessity of a small measure of policy; and therefore they would have been much more glad of his assistance, if he had not rushed so furiously forward in the costume of the gymnosophists, to beat the gong of the idol's temple, and summon the people to the mass of Seeva. Such as he is, however, the party must have him for an associate; in compassion they must have him, for he is fit for no other company ; he has lost caste in the civilized society of Christendom; this irretrievable sacrifice made for the cause, is evidence of his merit, and will secure his fidelity. And though it would have been, in the party, an extremely moderate and humble petition, to have asked of the Indian gods to send them a co-operator much better versed in rules of art and discretion, and very much better capable of constructing sentences, than this unfortunate imp, yet we think they may make good service of him in a cause, in which they will not be able every day to find creatures of sufficient rice and stupidity to be employed. He is quite the Caliban for their drudgery, their curses, and their incantations; admirably fitted to fetch wood for baking their idols and burning their women; the genuine hagseed,” whose very dialect betrays the descent from Doorga or Sycorax. He is exactly for their purpose, if they want an organ through which they may eructate and disgorge the vilest slanders against blameless missionaries, profane every thing that is sacred, assert every thing that is false, and deify every thing that is abominable.

The chief part and object of the production before us, is the direct assertion, extended and illustrated to great length, of the excellence of the Hindoo " religion,” which is represented as so firmly fixed in the minds of the people, that it is madness to presume the possibility of displacing it by Christianity; and so adequate to all their spiritual and moral interests, that if Christianity could be substituted, it would be no advantage to them. Collateral topics are treated in a rambling way, several of them in a sort of attack on Dr. Buchanan. The subject of the missions is of the essence of the business. Most of what he has to say directly on this subject, seems to have been set down previously to the appearance of Major Scott Waring's pamphlet, but is so perfectly in the same strain, that each might be taken as an echo of the other.

[blocks in formation]

His flimsy observations relating to the missions, having been answered and exploded by anticipation, in the various publications that have been called forth by the two former writers, a very slight additional notice will suffice. It is needless to cite notorious facts, in contradiction of his assertion of the impracticability of converting the Hindoos. But it may be remarked here, and might have been remarked before, that these men let themselves talk, as if nothing were effected where prodigies are not effected, and as if a thing could never be done which cannot be done in an instant. What do they suppose the missionaries expected to effect, and in what time? Do they imagine that Mr. Carey, for instance, landed in India with the notion that all who came to worship the Ganges, or to burn their mothers or expose their children on its banks, one season, were to come there the next to be baptized ? Or that the want of moon-light the half of each month would be supplied by the light of Hindoo temples, set on fire over the heads of their gods by their recent worshippers all through Hindostan? The missionaries were painfully instructed, before they went, in the obduracy of human nature; in the fatal resistance which truth has every where to expect from ignorance and prejudice, and a pure religion from desperate moral depravity. They had found too much of this, even in a country like England, to indulge for one moment the dream that they were to transform and illuminate crowds of miserable pagan barbarians, by just touching them with a testament or a tract. As they could not presume to promise themselves, for the present,

that extraordinary exertion of divine power which their confidence in prophetic declarations foresaw as the felicity of some future age, they formed their calculation nearly on the recorded and usual effect of human labours for the promotion of religion. They could not need to be told, in order to keep their imagination sober, that a handful of men commencing hostility, on such a calculation, against a most comprehensive and inveterate superstition, must expect so slow a success, that only their setting as high a value as ever benevolent apostle, or if possible as ever the still more benevolent angels of heaven did, on one pagan delivered from the abhorred den of idolatrous superstition, would console them on a numerical view of their acquisitions. Almost such a value they do set, in the slow progress of their success, on each individual ; and therefore their animation is sustained, notwithstanding their cause does not obtain multitudes and princes, the only standard by which these officers and merchants are capable of estimating success.

If the missionaries really did go to India with hopes somewhat too elated, it was in a great measure from the fallacious accounts which a former set of infidel reporters had concurred in giving to Europe of the innocence, mildness, and civilization of the Hindoos; a fallacy which this Vindicator is silly enough to attempt imposing on the now better informed public once more, and without the smallest aid of elegance, ingenuity, or learning. The missionaries knew they should find idols almost as plentiful as stumps of trees, and millions of unhappy mortals prostrate before them; they were prepared for this, but they had perhaps trusted these deceivers rather too far, to make, in its full extent, the infallible inference as to the moral depravity of the people; the consequence was, a feeling of no little surprise to find them almost all cheats, liars, and adulterers. However, they have had the courage to labour against both the idolatry and the moral depravity; they confide in the ultimate benignity of Heaven to the unhappy nations of the East; and this Bengal Officer may be assured, that they look on the yet little company of first converts with as much delight,

« ZurückWeiter »