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The churches in the interior would not yield to Rome. After a show of submission for a little while, they proclaimed eternal war against the inquisition; they hid their books, fled occasionally to the mountains, and sought the protection of the native princes, who had always been proud of their alliance.
Two centuries had elapsed without any particular information concerning the Syrian Christians in the interior of India. It was doubted by many whether they existed at all; but if they did exist, it was thought probable that they must possess some interesting documents of Christian antiquity. The author conceived the design of visiting them, if practicable, in his tour through Hindostan. He presented a short memoir on the subject in 1805, to marquis Wellesley, then governor general of India; who was pleased to give orders that every facility should be afforded to him in the prosecution of his inquiries. About a year after that nobleman had left India, the author proceeded on his tour. It was necessary that he should visit first the court of the rajah of Travancore, in whose dominions the Syrian Christians resided, that he might obtain permission to pass to their country. The two chief objects which he proposed to himself in exploring the state of this ancient people, were these: First, to investigate their literature and history, and to collect biblical manuscripts. Secondly, if he should find them to be an intelligent people, and well acquainted with the Syriac scriptures, to endeavor to make them in
struments of illuminating the southern part of India, - by engaging them in translating their scriptures into the native languages. He had reason to believe that this had not yet been done; and he was prepared not to wonder at the delay, by the reflection how long it was before his own countrymen began to think it their duty to make versions of the scriptures, for the use of other nations.
“Palace of Travancore, 19th Oct. 1806. “I have now been a week at the palace of Trivanduram, where the rajah resides. A letter of introduction from lieut. col. Mecaulay, the British resident at Travancore, procured me a proper reception. At my first audience his highness was very inquisitive as to the objects of my journey. As I had servants with me of different casts and languages, it was very easy for the Brahmins to discover every particular they might wish to know, in regard to my profession, pursuits, and manper of life. When I told the rajah that the Syrian Christians were supposed to be of the same religion with the English, he said he thought that could not be the case, else he must have heard it before; if however it was so, he considered my desire to visit them as being very reasonable. I assured his highness that their shaster and ours was the same; and shewed him a Syriac New Testament which I had at hand. The book being bound and gilt after the European manner, the rajah shook his head, and said he was sure there was not a native in his dominions who could read that book. I observed that this would be proved in a few days. The dewan (or prime minister) thought the character something like what he had seen sometimes in the houses of the Sooriani. The rajalı said he would afford me every facility for my journey in his power. He put an emerald ring on my finger, as a mark of his friendship, and to secure me respect in passing through his country; and he directed his dewan to send proper persons with me as guides.
“I requested that the rajah would be pleased to present a catalogue of all the Hindoo manuscripts in the temples of Travancore to the college of Fort William in Bengal. The Brahmins were very averse to this; but when I shewed the rajah the catalogues of the books in the temples of Tanjore, given by the rajah of Tanjore, and those of the temple of Re
misseram, given by order of the rannie (or queen) of Ramnad; he desired it might be done: and orders have been sent to the Hindoo college of Trichoor for that purpose. “Ching anoor; a church of the Syrian Christians,
Nov. 10th, 1806. "From the palace of Travaneorė I proceeded to Mavely-car, and thence to the hills at the bottom of the high Ghauts which divide the Carnatic from Malay-ala. The face of the country in general in the vicinity of the mountains, exhibits a varied scene of hill and dale, and winding streams. These streams fall from the mountains, and preserve the vallies in perpetual verdure. The woods produce pepper, cardamoms, and cassia, or common cinnamon; also frankincense and other aromatic gums. What adds much to the grandeur of the scenery in this country is, that the adjacent mountains of Travancore are not barren, but are covered with forests of teak wood; the Indian oak, producing, it is said, the largest timber in the world.
“The first view of the Christian churches in this sequestered region of Hindostan, connected with the idea of their tranquil duration for so many ages, cannot fail to excite pleasing emotions in the mind of the beholder. The form
of the oldest buildings is not unlike that of some of the old parish churches in England; the style of building in both being of Saracenic origin. They have sloping roofs, pointed arch windows, and buttresses supporting the walls. The beams of the roof being exposed to view are ornamented; and the ceiling of the choir and altar is circular and fretted. In the cathedral churches, the shrines of the deceased bishops are placed on each side of the altar. Most of the churches are built
* These three catalogues, togсther with that of the rajah of Cochin, which the Buthur procured afterwards, are now deposited in the college of Fort Williamo s *d probably contain all the Hindoo literature of the south of India.
of a reddish stone, squared and polished at the quarry; and are of durable construction, the front wall of the largest edifices being six feet thick. The bells of the churches are cast in the founderies of the country: some of them are of large dimensions and have inscriptions in Syriac and Malay-alim. In approaching a town in the evening, I once heard the sound of the hells among the hills; a circumstance which made me forget for a moment that I was in Hindostan, and reminded me of another country.
“The firit Syrian church which I saw was at Mavelycar: but the Syrians here are in the vicinity of ihe Romish Christians; and are not so simple in their manners as those nearer the mountains. They had been often visited by Romish emissaries in former times: and they at first suspected that I belonged to that communion. They had heard of the English, but strangely supposed that they belonged to the church of the pope in the west. They had been so little accustomed to see a friend, that they could not believe that I was come with any friendly purpose. Added to this, I had some discussions with a most intelligent priest, in regard to the original language of the Four Gospels, which he maintained to be Syriac; and they suspected from the complexion of my argument, that I wished to weaken the evidences for their antiquity.* Soon however the gloom and
"Yon concede," said the Syrians, "that our Saviour spoke in our language; how do you know it?" From Syriac expressions in the Greek gospels. It appears that he spoke Syriac when he walked by the way (Ephphatha,) and when he sat in the house ('Talitha Cumi,) and when he was upon the cross (Eli, Eli, iama sabachthani.) The Syrians were pleased when they heard that we had got their language in our English books. The priest obseried that these last were not the exact words, but "Ail, Ail, lamono sabachthani." I answered that the ord must have been very like Eli, for one said “He called for Elias.” “True , said he, but yet it was more likely to be Ail, Ail, (pronounced 1 or Eel) for Mil or Hila, is old Syriac for vinegar; and one thought he wanted vinegar, and filled immediately a sponge with it. But our Saviour did not want the medicated drink as they supposed. But, added he, if the parables and discourses of our Lord were in Syriac, and the people of Jerusalem commonly used it, is it not marvellous that his disciples did not record his parables in the Syriac language; And that they should have recourse to the Greek?" I observed that the gospel was for the world, and the Greek was then the universal language, and therefore Providence selected it. “It is very probable, said he, that the gospels were ranslated immediately afterwsrds into Greek, as into other languages; but sure15 there must have been a Syriac original. The poor people in Jerusalem could not read Greek, Had they no record in their hands of Christ's parables, which
suspicion subsided; they gave me the right hand of fellowship, in the primitive manner; and one of their number was deputed to accompany me to the churches in the interior.
"When we were approaching the church of Chinganoor, we met one of the Cassanars, or Syrian clergy. He was dressed in a white loose vestment with a cap of red silk hanging down behind. Being informed who he was, I said to him in the Syriac language, 'Peace be unto you.' He was surprised at the salutation; but immediately answered, "The God of peace be with you.' He accosted the Rajah's servants in the language of the country to know who I was; and immediately returned to the village to announce our approach. When we arrived I was received at the door of the church by three Kasheeshas, that is, presbyters, or priests, who were habited in like manner, in white vestments. Their names were Jesu, Zecharias, and Urias, which they wrote down in my Journal, each of them adding to his. name the title of Kasheesha. There were also pres.ent two shumshannas, or deacons. The elder priest was a very intelligent man, of reverend apa pearance, having a long white beard, and of an affable and engaging deportment. The three principal Christians, or lay elders belonging to the church, were named Abraham, Thoma, and Alex andros. After some conversation with my attendants they received me with confidence and affection; and the people of the neighboring villages came round, women as well as men. The sight of the women assured me that I was once more (after a
they had heard, and of his sublime discourses recorded by St. John, after his ascension?" I acknowledged that it was generally believed by the learned that the gospel of St. Matthew was written originally in Syriac. "So you admit St. Matthew? You may as well admit St. John. Or was one gospel enough for the inhabitants of Jerusalem I contended that there were many Greek and Roman words in their own Syriac gospels. "True," said he, “Roman words for Roman things." They wished bowever to see some of these words. The disengsion afterwards, particularly in reference to the gospel of St. Luke, Was there is my favor,