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Art. I.-1. Sketch of the Established Church in India ; ils recent growth, its present state and prospects ; by Edward Whitehead, M. A., Assistant Chaplain, H. E. I. Č. Formerly Domestic and Examining Chaplain to the Lord Bishop of
Nadras. London : 1848. 2. Essays on Ecclesiastical Biography; by Sir James Stephen.
London : 1849.
It was in that spring of 1813, when the sad tidings of the death of Henry Martyn were received and wept over by Simeon and his friends, that a great movement, which had long been gathering strength and consistency, seemed to have acquired an irresistible impetus, which would command for it speedy success. The harvest seemed to be ready for the sickle. The labours of those busy workmen, Grant, Teignmouth, Thornton, Wilberforce, Buchanan, and their companions, were now about to meet their reward. They had toiled and striven manfully for years. They had encountered public opposition and private ridicule. They had been shouted at by the timid, and sneered at by the profane. They had been described on the one hand as dangerous intermeddlers, and upon the other as imbecile fanatics. They had contended only against the open official suppression of Christianity in India ; they had asked only for toleration. They had demanded that, in the midst of opposing creeds, the faith of the Christian might be suffered to walk unveiled and unfettered. They had been seeking this liberty for many years; and now at last the day of emancipation was beginning to dawn upon them.
The "Clapham Sect” were victorious. There was in truth everything to make them so. All the wit of Sydney Smith and all the ponderous orientalism of Scott Waring could not long prevail against the steady efforts of that little band of strongheaded and strong-hearted Christians. They were not inexperienced novices, or mere idle dreamers. Grant and Teignmouth had spent their lives, from very boyhood, in India. Wilberforce and Thornton had mixed largely with Anglo-Indians, had deeply studied their writings, and had neglected no practicable means
of arriving at just conclusions. They were all practical men- not mere benevolent recluses, or theological students, knowing nothing of the outer world. Three of them were busy members of Parliament; the fourth had been Governor-General of India. They had reason and experience on their side ; and Christian England was with them. They had written much, and spoken much, on the subject so near their hearts; and now they were bracing themselves up for a final effort-secure of victory in the end.
The old Charter of the East India Company was expiring The provisions of a new one were about to be considered and determined by the Parliament of Great Britain. Great changes of a commercial character were about to be introduced ; but with these we have nothing here to do. Our concern is with other changes. A battle was to be fought for the establish: ment of an Anglo-Indian Episcopate, and for the liberty of Christian Missions. There was nothing very alarming in the provisions for the better maintenance of Christianity in India, which it was now proposed to substitute for a system of studied abnegation. But some weak-minded people had taken alarm, and others with stronger heads and worse hearts had pretended to feel it. For many years there had been an outcry against (what was called) “interference with the religious prejudices of the natives of India.” No interference with their religious prejudices had ever been designed; but it suited the purpose of the antagonists of Christian liberty to talk about coercion, as though the millions of Hindustan were about to be converted by a system of general icono-clasm, like that by which Cortes and his followers had made proselytes of the helpless idolators of the Western world. There was, however, supposed to be this difference ; that, whereas the Spanish invader had filled with terror, and reduced to prostration, the Mexican heathen, the idol-worshippers of Hindustan would rise up against their Christian conquerors, burn their temples, sacrifice their priests, and involve every white man in the country in a great and indis. criminate slaughter. So was it said ; so was it written. So was it said and written in ignorance; so was it said and written with design. Everlasting references to the massacre of Vellore stood instead of other facts, and of all argument. The downfall of the British Empire in India was confidently predicted; and vivid pictures were drawn of mighty multitudes of incensed Brahmin-led Hindús, mingling with fierce bands of insulted Muhammedans, making common cause against the followers of the Nazarene, and driving them into the sea.
Some years before the old Charter expired, there had been
a fierce paper war in England--a strife of pamphlets, prosecuted with some vigour on either side, perhaps with some acrimony—about this great matter of the propagation of Christianity in our British Indian possessions. Ever since Mr. Buchanan published in 1805 his memoir on an Indian Church establishment, the subject had been prominently before the public; and, in spite of the necessary obtrusion of more exciting topics throughout those stirring times of European war, there were circles, in which the progress of that great battle between truth and error was regarded with livelier interest than the contest between the Corsican adventurer and the allied sovereigns of Europe. Having exhumed a considerable number of these long-buried pamphlets, and very carefully and conscientiously examined their contents, we are bound to declare our conviction that they are very heavy affairs. One wonders in these days how so interesting a subject could have been treated in so uninteresting a manner. Marvellously little talent illumined these weighty discourses. If it had not been for the Reviewers the controversy would have been conducted in the dullest man. ner: but they threw a little life into it. A dread of the biting sarcasms of the Edinburgh Review extended even to the Northern Provinces of India; but we would rather have fallen under the hands of Sydney Smith, than have been consigned to the tender mercies John Foster. The canon of St. Paul's cut sharply with a polished razor; the dissenting divine clove down with a hatchet. Foster was not a witty man; but there was a certain dry humour about him, which he turned to profitable account. His sneer was a mighty one. It came down upon its victim, very quietly but very crushingly, like the paw of an elephant. We never rise from the perusal of one of his reviews of Scott Waring, without being haunted by a vision of that unhappy gentleman, flattened and forlorn, like a hat that has been sat upon, gasping in a state of semi-animation, and feebly articulating " quarter !"
Yet this Scott Waring held the chief place in the little army of pamphleteers that fought, with such good will, in defence of genuine Hinduism. On the other side, there was Mr. Owen, Secretary of the Bible Society; and there was its President, Lord Teignmouth. The latter wrote with most knowledge upon the subject; but he was not a brilliant writer; he was in earnest after his kind, but he was not an earnest man. He was not an enthusiast; he was not a hero.“ India House traditions," writes Sir James Stephen,“tell, that when a young aspirant
for distinction there requested one of the Chairs to inform
• bim, what was the proper style of writing political despatches,
the Chair made answer the style we prefer is the hum-drum. * This preference for the hum-drum, enjoined perhaps by the
same high authority, clung to Lord Teignmouth, even after ' his return to Europe. He wrote as if to baffle the critics,
and lived as though to perplex the biographers.-He was ' in fact rather a fatiguing man-of a narcotic influence in
general society, with a pen that not rarely dropped truisms; sedate and satisfied under all the vicissitudes of life; the very
antithesis and contradiction of a hero."* But he was some. thing better than a hero; he was an eminently good and ho: nest man; and, at a time when lies were being tossed about so prodigally, the truisms, which dropped from his pen, were not without use and significance. It is something, doubtless, to make the printed page sparkle with wit, and glow with eloquence; but we would rather have written the following passage, which we copy from a manuscript letter now before us, dated Clapham, February 20, 1806, than all the brilliant essays of Smith, Macaulay, and Stephen ;-" There is no other basis of
temporal and eternal happiness than religion, and there is
no other true religion than that which the Gospel teaches. I live ' in a society, where these principles are avowed and cultivated, ' and with the peculiar advantage of hearing them taught in a ' most masterly and impressive style ; and the only source of • discomfort, which I suffer, is from the recollection of the ' mode in which I passed my youthful years in India. In all other respects I enjoy all the good, which this life can afford,
Ι and have not a wish towards opulence and ambition. My religion has nothing of gloom ; its tendency is to make me
cheerful, contented and happy, grateful for what I have, and • anxious to show and feel my gratitude to the Disposer of all
Good. Religion, which does not produce these effects, is professional only." But all this savours of digression.
We have no intention to detain the reader with a long recital of the narcotic details of this war of pamphlets. A few specimens will suffice. Among other pamphleteers was Mr. Thomas Twining, "late Senior Merchant of the Company's Bengal Establishment," whose patronymic has since become familiar to
• The Ecclesiastical Biograpber's sketch of the career of Lord Teignmouth is not as correct as that of his character. For example, it is said that he was promoted by Warren Hastings to “a seat in his Supreme Council of four." We need not tell any of our Indian readers that Mr. Shore was never a member of the Supreme Council, during Mr. Hastiugs's administration, and that the Governor General had no
power to make any such appointment. Mr. Shore was a member the Council of Revenue; and, it is probable, that by this fact Sir James Stephen has been misled.
the consumers of tea throughout the whole British World. His letter to the Chairman of the East India Company exploded like a shell in the enemy's camp. It consisted mainly of extracts from the Reports of the Bible Society and the publications of Claudius Buchanan. The original comments were brief, but pungent; and, it was remarked by a controversialist on the other side, not without some show of truth, that “no such letter was ever before written in a Christian country, under a Christian king, by a gentleman professing the Christian Religion."
It may be worth our while to exhume, and that of our readers to examine, a few passages of Mr. Twining's pamphlet. There is a fine antiquarian flavour about them. As relics of a by-gone age, as fossil remains, indicating a pre-existent condition of the moral world, they will be pored over with wondering curiosity. The establishment of the Bible Society called forth the following explosion of horror and alarm :
“I must observe, that my fears of attempts to disturb the religious systems of India have been especially excited by my hearing that a Society esists in this country, the chief' object of which is the · universal' dissemination of the Christian faith ; particularly among those nations of the East, to whom we possess a safe facility of access, and whose minds and doctrines are known to be most obscured by the darkness of infidelity. Upon this topic, so delicate and solemn, I shall for the present make but one observation. I shall only observe, that, if a Society having such objects in view does exist, and if the leading members of that Society are also leading members of the East India Company—and not only of the East India Company, but of the Court of Directors-nay, Sir, not only of the Court of Directors, but of the Board of Controul !-if I say, these alarming hypotheses are true, then, Sir, are our possessions in the East already in a situation of most eminent and unprecedented peril; and no less a danger than the threatened extermination of our Eastern Sovereignty commands us to step forth, and arrest the progress of such rash and unwarrantable proceedings."
After twenty-two pages of extracts from the Bible Society's Reports and Mr. Buchanan's Memoir (the entire pamphlet consists only of thirty), Mr. Twining thus comments upon the latter :
“Here, Sir, ends the second chapter, which Mr. Buchanan has devoted to this subject, and here, Sir, my extracts from the work must terminate, for I really cannot cut open the leaves, which contain the sequel sanguinary doctrine. Again, and again, Sir, I must insist upon the extreme danger to our very existence in India, from the disclosure of such opinions and views to the native inhabitants of that country. Let Mr. Brown, and Mr. Buchanan, and their patrons at Clapham and Leadenhall street, seriously reflect upon the catastrophes of Buenos Ayres, Rosetta, and Vellore; and let them beware how they excite that rage and infatuation, wbich competent judges describe as without an example among any other people.”