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gantic works constructed on the very summits of mountains, approached only by narrow and winding roads. How, therefore, a large body of men could unite their strength, how they could use an assistant lever, or how they applied the aid of wheels, either in ascending or descending, is an inquiry difficult of solution. Stones of these astonishing dimensions are particularly remarkable in the temple and fortress of Cusco, in the strong-hold of Vilcasquaman, in the palace built on an island, near Atuncolla, and in the desolated towns standing on the islands in the neighbourhood of Capa-Chica, in Paucarcolla. In the insular buildings here alluded to, the component blocks of stone must besides have been conveyed part of the way by water. To the eye of the philosopher, therefore, the advanced state of the ancient Peruvians in architecture, and the execution and finish of their structures, will not appear less admirable than the triumphant manner in which they overcame the natural obstacles by which they were surrounded.
Ask ye whence those sounds of weeping
Bewail their loss-bewail in vain :
Who sleeps in death, on that red plain.
And Sparta's bravest all are gone,
Who liv'd the patriot tale to tell,
J. D. H.
UNPUBLISHED LETTER OP THE ABBE DUBOIS ON THE
[THE following has been communicated to us as an original and unpublished Letter of the Abbé Dubois, on the subject of Proselytism in India; and, without holding ourselves responsible for all the facts or opinions therein stated, we think it of sufficient interest and importance to deserve publication in our pages.]
SOME time ago, when conversing with you about the question of Proselytism in India, which seems to have of late so much occupied the attention of the public at home, and been the subject of so much conversation and discussion, even among enlightened persons, you appeared surprised at the freedom and candour of my opinions on the subject, when coming from a person of my profession; and, in order to justify them, I promised you a further discussion, in writing, on this important question. I will now fulfil my promise, and undertake to perform the task, if not with ability, at least with fairness and candour.
The question to be discussed is reduced to these two points, 1. Is there a possibility to make converts to Christianity among the Natives in India? 2. Are the means employed for this purpose, and, above all, the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the idioms of the country, likely to conduce to this wished-for object? To both questions I answer, without hesitating, in the negative; and it is my decided opinion, 1. That, in the actual circumstances, there is no human possibility of converting the Hindoos to any sect of Christianity: 2. That the translation of the Holy Scriptures circulated among Natives, so far from conducing to this end, will only tend to increase their prejudices against Christianity, and prove, in many respects, detrimental to it.
These assertions, on the part of a person of my profession, will appear bold, nay, scandalous, to many; but I shall endeavour to support them by proof.
Before I go further, it will not be amiss to say a few words about the manner in which the Christian religion was at first introduced into the country, and about the industry with which its interests were managed by the first Missionaries.
The Christian religion, of the Catholic persuasion, was introduced into India, as every one knows, about 300 years since, at the epoch of the Portuguese invasions. One of the first Missionaries was the famous St. Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit of the greatest merit. Animated with a truly apostolic zeal, for which he was styled the Apostle of India, he over-ran several provinces of the Peninsula, and is said to have made many thousand converts at that time, when the prejudices of the Natives against the Christian religion were not at the height they have now reached. The caste of fishermen at Oriental Herald, Vol. 18.
Cape Comorin, who are all Christians, still boast and pride themselves to be the offspring of the first Christians converted by this apostle of India.
In the mean while Xavier soon discovered in the education, the manners, and prejudices of the Natives, an insurmountable bar to the progress of the Christian religion among them; as appears from the printed, and still extant, letters which he at several times wrote on the subject to his superior, St. Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the order of Jesuits.
At last Xavier, entirely disheartened at the invincible obstacles he every where met with in his apostolic career, and at the apparent impossibility of making true converts among the Natives, left the country, through disgust, after a stay in it of only two years, and embarked for China, where his holy labours were crowned with far greater success, and where he laid the foundations of those numerous and flourishing congregations of Catholic Christians, who, within a period of less than a century, amounted to more than a million of converts, when their daily-increasing number, threatening to supplant the religion of the country, excited the jealousy and alarms of the Mandarins and other directors of the popular faith, and gave rise to one of the severest persecutions ever recorded in the annals of Christiauity, which finished by having all the converts entirely extirpated, and which, after a period of nearly 200 years, is not yet abated; as appears from the conduct observed to this day by the China rulers towards the Europeans trading on their
But, to return to our subject. The disappointment and want of success of the Jesuit Missionaries in India ought, it would seem, to have been sufficient to damp the most ardent zeal of the persons disposed to enter on the same career. In fact, when a person of the temper, talents, and virtues, possessed by Xavier, had been baffled in his attempts to introduce Christianity into the country, it might be that nobody could flatter himself to be successful in the same undertaking, and the design should have been laid aside. However, this was not the case; and his Catholic Jesuit brethren in Europe were not to be deterred from their purpose by difficulties in the undertaking, where the cause of religion was at stake.
In consequence, Missionaries from every Catholic country were sent to India to do the work of proselytism by little and little. Jesuit Missionaries introduced themselves in the interior provinces. They saw, that, in order to fix the attention of these people, gain their confidence, and get a hearing, it was indispensably necessary for them to respect their prejudices, and even to embrace them in many respects, in the manner of living, of conversing, of eating, of dressing themselves; in a word, in a great degree conforming themselves to the customs and practices of the country.
In conformity to this rule, they, at their first onset, announced themselves as European Brahmins, come from a distance of two thousand leagues, from the western parts of the world, for the double purpose of imparting and receiving knowledge with their brethren Brahmins in India. Almost all those first Missionaries were more or less acquainted with astronomy or physic, the two sciences best calculated to ingratiate them with the Natives of every description.
After announcing themselves as Brahmins, they in fact imitated this caste of Indians in their dress, their practices, their victuals, &c. &c. They put on a dress of a yellow colour, which is that of the religious teachers and priests in the country. They made regular ablutions every day; whenever they showed themselves in public, they impressed on their foreheads, with dust of sandal wood, some one of the signs worn by Brahmins; and they scrupulously abstained from every kind of animal food, as well as from intoxicating liquors, entirely faring, as do Brahmins, upon vegetables and milk; in a word, following the example of St. Paul and the Apostles, Unto the Jews they became as Jews, that they might gain the Jews-to them who were without law, as without law :—they were made all things to all men, that they might by all means save some.'
It was through such a life, of almost incredible privations and restraints, that the Missionaries established themselves among the Indians. Seeing the invincible attachment of the Natives to their practices, even the most trifling, they had the policy not to hurt their feelings on this point, by attacking all at once the superstitions with which the most part of these practices were accompanied : they judged it prudent to shut their eyes to them, and wait a proper time for putting the converts right on this subject.
Their colour, their talents, their virtues, and, above all, their perfect disinterestedness, rendered them recommendable even to the Indian Princes, who, astonished at the novelty and singularity of the case, bestowed their protection on those extraordinary men, and gave them a full freedom to preach their religion and make converts.
They commenced their labours under these favourable auspices, and made a great number of converts among every caste of Natives in all the countries where they were allowed the free exercise of their religious functions. It appears, by authentic lists, (made about seventy years ago,) that, at that period, the number of Native Christians in these provinces was about 215,000; viz. in Marwarlabar, 30,000; in Madura, 100,000; in the Carnatic, 60,000; in Mysore, 25,000: at the present time, hardly a fourth part of these numbers are to be found in the several countries. I heard that the number was far more considerable on the other coast from Goa to Cape Comorin; but of these I never saw authentic lists.
Things were carried on in this manner by the Jesuit Missionaries in India, when severe complaints against them were brought from
several parts to the Holy See at Rome. The accusers were chiefly priests of several other religious orders, settled at Goa and Pondicherry, who charged the Jesuits with the most culpable indulgence, in tolerating all kinds of idolatrous superstitions among the new converts, and with having themselves become converts to the idolatrous worship of Indians, by embracing, in many respects, their manners and superstitious practices, rather than having made Indian converts to the Christian religion.
The accusation was, (for the reasons alluded to above,) well-founded in some respects, though not to the extent stated by the accusers; whose accusations seem to have proceeded rather from motives of envy and jealousy against the Jesuits, than from a zeal for the cause of religion.
These often-repeated accusations gave rise to a long correspondence between the interested parties, in which the Jesuits, in giving to the Holy See an account of their conduct, did not conceal that, through motives of prudence, and not to revolt the Natives and prejudice them more and more against the new religion, they were under the unpleasant necessity of overlooking many reprehensible practices, waiting for a more favourable time to eradicate them, and exposed the dangers that could not fail to ensue, if those practices were all at once opposed and condemned before the Christian religion had laid a solid footing in the country. They endeavoured to give weight to their assertions, and excuse their conduct, by the example of the Apostles themselves, who, at the commencement of their apostolic career, in order to encourage conversion among the Jews, judged it prudent to tolerate circumcision among them, as well as to 'abstain from things strangled and from blood.'
These reasons, and many similar ones, appeared impious to the Holy See the Missionaries were reprimanded by the Pope, and peremptorily ordered to announce the Catholic religion in all its purity, and to suppress, all at once, the superstitious practices till then tolerated among the converts.
The Jesuits, on their side, seeing that their following such directions would not only put a stop to all further conversions, but also occasion the defection of a great many converts, rather than give up their point, made new remonstrances, sent deputations to Rome in order to enlighten the Holy See on the subject; and this scandalous contest lasted more than forty years before it came to an issue.
In the end, the Holy Father, wishing to bring this business to an issue, sent a Cardinal, (Cardinal de Fournon,) to India, with the title of Apostolic Legate, to make personal inquiries on the subject, and report all the details to the Holy See. The Cardinal landed at Pondicherry, about 70 years ago; and, on his arrival, having sent for some of the principal Jesuit Missionaries who exercised their functions in the Upper Country, had all matters minutely investigated, and made his report to the Pope.