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the island. He said he could not tell, only that they were not of the Portuguese or Dutch religion. I was not so much surprised at his ignorance afterwards, as I was at the time.
“I have had the pleasure to meet here with Alexander Johnstone, Esq. * of the Supreme Court of Judicature, who is on the circuit; a man of large and liberal views, the friend of learning, and of christianity. He is well acquainted with the language of the country, and with the history of the island; and his professional pursuits affords him a particular knowledge of its present state; so that his communications are truly valuable. It will be scarcely believed in England, that there are here protestant churches under the king's government, which are without ministers. In the time of Baldæus, the Dutch preacher and historian, there were thirty-two Christian churches in the province of Jaffna alone. At this time there is not one protes. tant European minister in the whole province. I ought to except Mr. Palm, a solitary missionary, who has been sent out by the London society, and receives some stipend from the British government. I visited Mr. Palm, at his residence a few miles from the town of Jaffna. He is prosecuting the study of the Tamul language; for that is the language of this part of Ceylon, from its proximity to the Tamul continent. Mrs. Palm has made as great progress in the language as her husband, and is extremely active in the instruction of the native wo. men and children. I asked her if she had no wish to return to Europe, after living so long among the uncivilized Cingalese. No, she said; she was all the day long happy in the communication of knowledge. Mr. Palm has taken possession of the old protestant church of Tilly-Pally. By reference to the history, I found it was the church in which Bal
Now Sir Alexander Johastone, Chief Justice of Ceylon,
dæus himself preached (as he himself mentions) to a congregation of two-thousand natives; for a view of the church is given in his work. Most of those handsome churches, of which views are given in the plates of Baldæus's history, are now in ruins. Even in the town and fort of Jaffna, where there is a spacious edifice for divine worship, and a respectable society of English and Dutch inhabitants, no clergyman has been yet appointed. The only protestant preacher in the town of Jaffna is Christian David, a Hindoo catechist, sent over by the mission of Tranquebar. His chief ministrations are in the Tamul tongue; but he sometimes preaches in the English language, which he speaks with tolerable propriety; and the Dutch and English resort to, him. I went with the rest of his church, when he delivered extempore a very excellent discourse, which his present majesty George the Third would not have disdained to hear. And this Hindoo supports the interests of the English church in the province of Jaffna. The Dutch ministers who formerly officiated here, have gone to Batavia or to Europe. The whole district is now in the hands of the Romish priests from the college of Goa; who perceiving the indifference of the English nation to their own religion, have assumed quiet and undisturbed possession of the land. And the English government justly preferring the Romish superstition to the worship of the idol Boodha, thinks it right to coantenance the catholic religion in Ceylon. But whenever our church shall direct her attention to the promotion of christianity in the East, I know of no place which is more worthy of her labor, than the old protestant vineyard of Jaffna-Patam. The scriptures are already prepared in the Tamul language. The language of the rest of Ceylon is the Cingalese, or Ceylonese."
Columbo, in Ceylon, 10th March, 1808.
I find that the south part of the island is in much the same state as the north, in regard to
Christian instruction. There are but two English clergymen in the whole island. "What wonder' (said a Romish priest to me) 'that your nation should be so little interested about the conversion of the pagans to christianity, when it does not even give teachers to its own subjects who are already Christians! I was not surprised to hear that great numbers of the protestants every year go back to idolatry. Being destitute of a Head to take cognizance of their state, they apostatize to Boodha, as the Israelites turned to Baal and Ashteroth. It is perhaps true that the religion of Christ has never been so disgraced in any age of the church, as it has been lately, by our official neglect of the protestant church in Ceylon.
"I passed the day at Mount Lavinia, the country residence of General Maitland, the governor of Ceylon; and had some conversation with his excellency on the religious state of the country. He desired I would commit to writing, and leave with him a memorandum of inquiries which I wished should be made on subjects relating to the former prevalence of the protestant religion in the island, and the means of reviving and establishing it once more. His excellency expressed his conviction that some ecclesiastical establishment ought to be given to Ceylon; as had been given to other colonies of his majesty in America and the West Indies. He asked what was the cause of the delay in giving an ecclesiastical establishment to the continent of India. I told him I supposed the chief cause was the mixed government of our Indian empire. It was said to be a question at home, who ought to originate it. Had there been no revolution in Europe to distract the attention of the nation, and had Mr. Pitt lived, many things of a grand and arduous character would have been done which are yet left undone. There are now three missionaries of the London society established in three different parts of the island. It gave me great pleasure to find
that General Maitland, and the senior chaplain at Columbo, the Honorable Mr. Twisleton, had afforded their patronage in the most liberal manner to these useful teachers. Government has allowed to each of them an annual stipend. In returning from the country I passed through the groves of cinnamon, which extend nearly a mile in length. Ceylon is believed by some of the Easterns both Mahomedans and Hindoos, to have been the residence of the first man (for the Hindoos have a first man, and garden of Eden, as well as the Christians;) because it abounds in “Trees pleasant to the eyes, and good for food;" and is famous for its rare metals and precious stones. "There is gold, bdellium, and the onyx-stone.' The rocky ridge which connects this happy island with the main land, is called Adam's bridge; the lofty mountain in the middle of the island every where visible, is called Adam's peak: and there is a sepulchre of immense length, which they call Abel's tomb. All these names were given many ages before the introduction of christianity from Europe. The cinnamon trees love a sandy soil. The surface of the ground appeared to be entirely sand. I thought it wonderful that the most valuable of all trees should grow in luxuriance in such an arid soil without human culture. I compared them in my mind to the Ceylon Christians in their present state, who are left to flourish by themselves under the blessing of heaven, without those external and rational aids which have been divinely appointed to nourish the church of Christ.?!
"Columbo, 11th March, 1808. “I have conversed with intelligent persons on the means of translating the scriptures into the Cingalese language. The whole of the New Testament has been translated, but only three books of the Old Testament. But even this portion has been translated almost in vain: for there is no supply of books
for the use of the people. I reflected with astonishment on the fact, that there are by computation 500,000 natives in-Ceylon professing christianity, and that there should not be one complete copy of the holy scriptures in the vernacular tongue. Samuel Tolfry, esq. head of a civil department in Columbo, is a good Cingalese scholar, and is now engaged in compiling a Cingalese dictionary. I proposed to him to undertake the completion of the Cingalese version; which is easily practicable, as there are many learned Cingalese Christians in Columbo. He professed himself ready to engage in the work, provided he should receive the sanction of government. I mentioned to him what had passed in my conversation with gen. Maitland, and his excellency's favorable sentiments on the subject; and added that a correspondence would be immediately commenced with him from Calcutta concerning the work, and funds appropriated for the execution of it. Alexander Johnstone, esq. who is now in Columbo, has furnished me with his sentiments on the best means of reviving and maintaining the protesta ant interest in Ceylon. Did his professional avocations permit, Mr. Johnstone is himself the fit person to superintend the translation and printing of the scriptures. It is a proof of the interest which this gentleman takes in the progress of Christian knowledge, that he hath caused bishop Porteus's Evia dences of Christianity to be translated into the Cingalese tongue, for distribution among the natives."
A new empire has been added to Great Britain in the east, which may be called her Malay empire. The extensive dominion of the Dutch in the Indian ocean, is devolving upon the Engrish; and it may be expected that Britain will soon be mistress of the