Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

1. IT is with propriety that a work, embracing such objects as those professed by the following Memoir, should be inscribed to the Primate of the Church of England.

An appeal to the nation is certainly intended; but that appeal would not have been thus made with the sanction of your Grace's name, had we not been encouraged by the authority of your Grace's opinion. It has been communicated to us in India, that your Grace has already declared the expediency of giving an ecclesiastical establishment to the British empire in the East. In support of such opinion, we here offer the evidence of facts, which are incontrovertible ; and which demonstrate that the measure proposed, while it is recommended by religion, is demanded by justice and humanity.

New sources of information on all Oriental subjects have been opened by the College of Fort-William in Bengal. Those persons who have held official situations in that institution during the last four years have had constant opportunities of observing the conduct, and of learning the opinions of the most intelligent natives. There are attached to the College, at this time, upwards of one hundred learned men, who have arrived, from different parts of India, Persia, and Arabia. In such an assemblage, the manners and customs of remote regions are distinctly described; and their ya

* This dedication was written before the death of the most Rev. erend Prelate was known at Fort. William.

rying sentiments, religious and political, may be accu. rately investigated and compared.

Of the learned Hindoos who have been employed as teachers, there were lately two from the Deccan, who profess the Christian faith; and comport themselves according to christian manners. Two protestant missionaries have also been attached to the institution ; one of whom is lecturer in the Bengalee and Shanscrit department; and has been for many years employed in preaching in the Bengalee language to the natives in the north of Hindostan. The other is a teacher of the Ta. mul or Malabar language ; and has been long attached to a mission in the south of the Peninsula.

More desirable means of obtaining accurate and original intelligence could not have been presented to any one, who wished to investigate the state of the natives of India, with a view to their moral and religious improvement.

It was the authenticity of this information, which chiefly prompted me to record it in this Memoir. 1 should however have hesitated to submit it to the public, had I not been honored with a communication from the Bishop of London, who expresses his “conviction of the indispensable necessity of a religious establishment for our Indian Empire."

H. In the presence of the learned body of Asiatics as.' sembled at the College of Fort-William, the Christian Scriptures have been exhibited for translation into the Oriental tongues. · When Ptolemy Philadelphius, three hundred years before the Christian æra, invited to Alexandria in Egypt, seventy-two learned natives of Judea, to translate the Scriptures into the Greek language, * he could not have foreseen that his translation was divinely intended to be the means of the world's civilization, by: diffusing the knowledge of the true God ; or that the Messiah promised therein, would in a future age quote its language, as the canonical version of the sacred original.

This illustrious act of an heathen Prince, acknowledged, as it has been, by heaven, and celebrated among

* The expence of which is computed by Prideaux to have amounted to two millions sterling.

men, has yet been rarely proposed by Christian nations, as an example for their imitation.

Under the auspices of Marquis Wellesley, who, by favour of Providence, now presides in the government of India, a version of the holy Scriptures may be expected, not in one language alone, but in seven of the Oriental tongues ; in the Hindostanee, Persian, ChiDese, and Malay; Orissa, Mahratta, and Bengalese ; of which the four former are the primary and popular languages of the Continent and isles of Asia. . In the center of the Pagan world, and at the chief seat of superstition and idolatry, these works are carried on; and the unconverted natives assist in the translations. The Gospels have already been translated into the Persian, Hindostanee, Mahratta, Orissa, and Malay languages; and the whole Scriptures have been translated into the Bengalee language. One edi. tion of the Bengalee Bible has been distributed among the natives ; and a second is in the press for their use. A version of the Scriptures in the Chinese language (the language of three hundred millions of men) has also been undertaken ; and a portion of the work is already printed off.*

III. The publication of an important part of this Memoir was suggested by the perusal of certain letters, addressed by a King of England to the Christian instructors of the Hindoos. In the following pages your Grace will find letters written by King George the First, to Protestant missionaries in India ; in which his Majesty urges them to a zealous and faithful discharge of their ministry, that they may lay a foundation for the civilization of the nations of Asia ; and “ that the work may not fail in generations to come."

When I first saw these royal epistles, and reflected on the period of time at which they were written, and the circumstances of the people to whom they were addressed, I perused them with emotions of reverence and admiration. When further I had called to mind the happy effects they had contributed to produce, in enlightening a region of Paganism not less in extent than Great Britain, it seemed to me, that a circum

* See Appendix M.

stance so honorable to our country ought not to be concealed, and that the Hindoos ought to send back these letters to the English nation.

Another letter accompanies them, of equal celebrity in India, written by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of the same Prince. This letter, often since recorded in Oriental tongues, is sent back by the evangelized Hindoos to your Grace, and to the “ Soci. ety of Bishops and Clergy for promoting Christian knowledge," as a record of the honorable zeal which at so early a period distinguished that illustrious body ; and as a proof, that when the appointed means are used, the blessing of God will follow. . 6 Behold,” say the Hindoos, “the divine answer to the prayer in that letter! Behold the fruit of your rational endeav. ours for our conversion! Our dark region having enjoyed, during the period of a whole century, the clear and steady light of your Society, has now become itself the source of knowledge to the surrounding heathen." · IV. Our present most gracious Sovereign, who has reigned, for so many years, in the hearts and affections of bis subjects, both in Britain and in India ; and who, by strengthening the bands of true religion in a disso. lute and unbelieving age, has exhibited so perfect an example of the duty, conduct, and glory of a Christian King, will doubtless receive with satisfaction, from the hands of the Hindoos, these letters of his illustrious predecessor; and having perused the testimonies of the divine blessing on the righteous and kingly work, will finish what has been so auspiciously begun, by making a religious Establishment for his Eastern Empire, the crowning act of his own most glorious reign.

To their SOVEREIGN they look ; to Him, the supreme head of the Church, his Indian subjects look, for those religious blessings, which, by the divine favour, are in his right hand to bestow.

I have the honor to be, my Lord,
Your Grace's most faithful and devoted servant,

CLAUD. BUCHANAN.
Calcutta, March 12, 1805.

INTRODUCTION

TO :

MEMOIR.

By the reduction of the Mysorean and Mahratta empires, the greater part of India falls under the dominion or influence of the British Governmeot, and looks submissively for British civilization. By this cvent also, in connexion with the other late cessions and conquests, the number of British subjects in India will be very considerably increased.

Were we in the vicinity of Britain, the British Parliament would not withhold from us any beneficial aid it could afford, and we should enjoy religious advantages in common with our countrymen at home. But these advantages have been hitherto denied, because we are remote. An annual account of the revenual state of India, or the occurrence of some splendid event, engages the attention for a time; but the ordinary circumstances of the people, European and native, are not always in view ; and any casual or indistinct notice of their situation, fails to excite those national sentiments of humanity and Christian duty, which, in other circumstances, would be constan:ly alive and efficient.

It may be presumed that India has of late occupied more of the public attention than formerly, and that the minds of men are gradually converging to the consideration of the subject of this Memoir. Our exten. sive territorial acquisitions within the last few years, our recent triumph over our only formidable foe; the avowed consequence of India in relation to the existing state of Europe ; and that unexampled and systematic prosperity of Indian administration, which has now

« EdellinenJatka »