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English traveller would find those passes, and the more interior forts, occupied by his own countrymen, prompt to shew him every civility, and readily answering for the safety of his rambles within the British Goorkah dominions. After the return to Hurdwar, the journey was prosecuted in the direction of Delhi and Agra, including a number of other memorable places, and at Lucknow the narration terminates. The date given at this termination, is about Midsummer, 1814, full three years from the time of the Author's setting off from Calcutta on the expedition.' Of course he made a somewhat prolonged residence among the northern stations; a year at Sahranpoor, in a climate which he pronounces to be infinitely superior to that of. Sany other part of Bengal.' · Hurdwar is well known to be a place of prodigious resort at a particular time of the year, for the Brahmins, who have to sell the blessings of superstition, and the wretched dupes who have to buy them. Our Author, little as he appears to value any projects for the extermination of this superstition, has nevertheless the honesty, and, considering what has been the conduct of the majority of our Christian gentlemen returned from India, we may say the merit, of speaking of this superstition and of its haughty and its humiliated votaries, in the appropriate language, in terms of exposure and reprobation. The grand object with a great proportion of the crowding myriads, is to bathe in the river, here at its entrance, with all its celestial purity, into Hindoostan.
Wretches, loaded with enormities,' says the Author, and op. pressed by the weight of their sins, bend annually their steps to this spot of unparalleled superstition and priestcraft Here, lavishing on the Brahmins a portion of their wealth, they are absolved of their offences, and return to their several homes with consciences pure and unsulied as the stream in which they have immersed. The Brahmins possessing among the Hindoos the highest spiritual and temporal au. thority, fatten on the credulity of their worshippers. Religion, here, as in the darker ges of Europe, assumes a shape the bane and curse of the people. Its ministers enjoy all the pleasures and luxuries of this life ; and to the deluded wretch, who, with tears in his eyes, offers the few pice, industriously acquired by the sweat of his brow, they point to the heavens, and in promising future happiness, fail not to menace everlasting punishment for the smallness of the offering. This is no fanciful picture, wrought for the occasion. I have wit. nessed it repeatedly; -who, that has observed any thing in India, but has done the same?'
The apparent contradiction in the sentence where the Brahmins are made to bless and curse in the same moment and sentence, gives us occasion to remark that our Author is rather frequently guilty of a culpable negligence of expression, and is not seldom careless of grammatical correctness. Why Vol. VII. N. S.
will writers who have no plea of haste, affect to hold themselves exempted from any of the plain proprieties of composition ?
But the Brahmins :-they were understood to have levied more than £25,000 sterling at the fair of 1814. They pretend to regulate their demands by the circumstances, individually, of the tribute-payers; but the contrary is evident from the state to which numbers of them are reduced.
. From the great wretchedness,' says our Author, which ever prevails after this fair, from which multitudes return half famished and literally naked, it is easy to perceive that the avarice of the priesthood is only surpassed by the atrocity of the means which they employ to gratify it.'
At this fair, at the end of March, 1814, sixty thousand people are supposed to have been collected; and doubtless the strangeness of the spectacle would be found to .warrant the Author's superlative terms in describing it.
- The spot on which the fair is held, not exceeding a mile in length, or a third of that in breadth, presented a medley of Persians, Tartars, Seiks, and natives from every part of India, Jats, Rohillas, Greekers, &c. of the reality of which not a bare idea can be entertained by even the most lively imagination. The astonishing variety of features, dresses, languages, and customs; the savage appearance of the Tartar, contrasted with the prepossessing appearance of the Seik; the noble stature of the Persian, with the effeminate form of the Hindoo, presented, to the curious and discriminating, so many delicate shades, and such richness of colouring throughout, that, as a living picture of Asiatic men and manners, and as affording an inexhaustible fund of amusement and information a large fair' at Hurdwar may almost be considered unrivalled.
To this re-assemblage of all that was scattered at Babel, was added, at the time of our Author's visit, a striking singularity, that of an English . Anabaptist Missionary,' lecturing on the Bible to this many-featured mass of idolaters. To say nothing of the very criminal imprudence of such a man, thus wilfully putting to hazard, in the prosecution of a vain scheme for supplanting by Christianity the ancient and venerable religions, the peace of India, at a place where the religious sensibility must be peculiarly irritable, and where a vindictive explosion might have effects which would rapidly extend downward through Bengal,--to say nothing of this most formidable view of the matter, what shall we think of the personal temerity of a man who could thus expose himself to the fanatical rage of so many hundreds of Brahmins, and so many thousands of devotees obsequious to their prompting?--for the personal danger attending such a provocation is immediate and extreme, as all the world has been made to hear. Nine in teni of our gentlemen from India, would at any time have pronounced that a person who should do this must be a madman, and would tempt and deserve his fate. We will transcribe the story as given by our Author.
During the greater part of this fair, which lasted nearly three weeks, an Anabaptist Missionary (Mr. Chamberlain) in the service of her highness the Begum Sumroo, attended, and from a Hindoostanee translation of the scriptures, read daily a considerable portion. His knowledge of the language was as that of an accomplished native; his delivery impressive, and his whole manner partook much of mildness and benignity. In fine, he was such as all who undertake the arduous and painful duties of a missionary should be. No abuse, no language which could in any way injure the sacred ser. yice he was employed in, escaped his lips. Having finished his allotted portion, on every part of which he commented and explained, he recited a short prayer, and concluded the evening by bestowing his blessing on all assembled. At first, as may be expected, his auditors were few : a pretty convincing proof, when sixty thousand people were collected, that it was not through mere curiosity they subsequently increased. For the first four or five days he was not surrounded by more than as many hundred Hindoos; in ten days (for I regularly attended) his congregation had increased to as many thousands. From this time, to the conclusion of the fair, they varied; but never, on a rude guess, I should fancy, fell below eight thousand. They sat around, and listened with an attention which would have reflected credit on a Christian audience. On the Missionary's retiring, they every evening cheered him home with “ May the Padre (or Priest) live for ever.”
Such was the reception of a missionary at Hurdwar, the Loretto of the Hindoos, at a time when five lacs of people were computed to have been assembled, and whither Brahmins from far and near had considered it their duty to repair. What was not the least singular, many of these Brahmins formed part of his congregation. They paid the greatest deference to all that fell from him, and when in doubt requested an explanation. Their attendance was regular, and many whose countenances were marked, were ever the first in assembling. Thus, instead of exciting a tumult, as was at first ap. prehended, by attempting conversion at one of the chief sources of idolatry, Mr. Chamberlain, by his prudence and moderation, commanded attention; and I have little doubt, ere the conclusion of the fair, effected his purpose, by converting to Christianity men of some character and reputation.'
So much for the incapacity, the fanaticism, the madness, of missionaries, and the mischief inevitably to follow from their being let loose on the inhabitants of Hindoostan.'
But what is this that is come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets ?' It might seem as if, after our Author's honesty had carried him resolutely through this statement, he had been let fall into the apprehension of incurring some similar allusion from those persons of pretension returned from India with an unqualified hostility to all missionaries, and all they do or can do, and from those who have been found ready at home to join in their maledictions. For, first hinting a claim of merit for impartiality in thus stating this one instance of missionary proceedings and character, he goes on to speak of missionaries collectively, of whom it is evident he knows scarcely any thing, in unfavourable terms, in terms nearly importing that their conduct toward the natives forms & contrast to that of the individual whom he saw. The most favourable remark that can be made on such an utter misrepresentation is, that the Author has suffered himself to take on trust the assertions of those persons whose palpable hatred to missions and to Christianity itself might have cautioned him to repeat nothing on their testiinony. As to the disadvantages under which the missionaries appear among the natives, without attendants, with the evident signs of being destitute of that wealth which the Hindoo adores, without any specific authority or protection from the government, in short, as he expresses it, 6 vagabonds,' proposing a religion poor in attractions of external pomp—they would have been truly as foolish as their bitterest haters, or rudest scoffers have ever said, if they had entered on their design without a firm presumption that the cause to which they devoted themselves would be accompanied by a power quite different from that of exterior show, and infinitely more than a compensation for its absence. Let our Author assiga this to pure fanaticism, and be content.
We repeat, however, that he uses no measured language with respect to the moral character of the Hindoos, and the tendency of their superstition : if he will not let missionaries apply the proper epithets, he will do it himself. He presumes, for instance, to loathe and abominate the holy and venerable city of the gods, to which so many philosophic European visitants have demanded our sympathetic reverence.
The streets of Benares are so extremely narrow that I frequently touched both sides with my hands as I passed in the palanquin. The immense population that swarms in them, the number of Brahma's bulls that infest every part, and their dusty and dirty state, afforded me the correct ideas of the city. It struck me at once as a spot of the grossest superstition; the dwelling of an avaricious and designing priesthood, and in which every vice is perpetrated, under the mask of religion.'
He represents the Hindoos as devoid of humanity and natural affection. They can with all imaginable composure take · their aged parents to the banks of the river, and suffocate them
with mud. And when they can thus treat the living, it is not, as he says, to be wondered at that they shew a contempt totally unparalleled in all other regions of the globe, of all decent atter
tions to the dead: We transcribe a description of what the voyager of the Ganges may expect to see in that sacred stream, especially in the approach to the populous places on its banks.
· Every hour passed on the rivers of India presents sights shocking to humanity, and sickening to the most apathetic. Crows and vultures are seen daily floating on half-eaten bodies, and glutting themselves with the entrails, the “ shreds and remnants” of mortality. I have, myself, near the holy city of Benares, had my boats surrounded with bodies, in every stage of decay, from those just committed to the water, to others in the most loathsome state of putrefaction. I have seen the oars of the boatmen strike against the mangled carcases, and in the act of my servants drawing water to drink, have often cautioned them against the floating fragments of a human body. In extenuation of this disgraceful custom, the natives urge their poverty; and I have not unfrequently had the happiness of contributing, by a rupee's worth of wood, to the decent treatment of a parent, a sister, or brother, by reducing the corps to ashes.'
He learnt that in the Goorkah territory, the Suttee or burning of widows, continues more frequent than it is now in Bengal. One day, in a romantic scene, his attention was caught by many rude piles of stones, four and five feet high, erected in the simplest manner, and indicating various distances of time by their appearance. He was informed they were the monuments of woinen so sacrificed, and that in a few days there would be an opportunity for his enjoying, if he pleased, the
spectacle of such a transaction. He saw, and thus describes it. . At ten in the morning the ceremony began. A pile of wood,
about four feet and a half high, being previously erected, the mourner appeared, and having performed her ablutions in the Assan, a clear meandering stream whích ran near, walked three times round the fatal pile, and taking a tender farewell of her family and friends, prepared for the last dreadful ceremony. She was a remote descendant of one of the hill princes; and though too short for a finę form, had a fair and interesting countenance. Her natural beauty, heightened by her resolution, would have affected a heart of adamant. Her glossy black hair hung dishevelled on her shoulders ; 'and, attired in a yellow sheet, (the garment of despair), this infatuated widow ascended the fatal pile. The noise of drums and other native instru. ments now became deafening. Placing the head of her husband in her lap, she sat, seemingly unconcerned, and with the continued exclamations of Ram, Ram, witnessed the savage exultations of the Brahmins, as they eagerly applied torches to the pile. Ghee (clarified butter) and other inflammable substances, having been profusely spread on the lower parts of the wood, it ignited in an instant. Still was heard the cry of Ram, Ram : her chief ambition appeared to consist in invoking her god to the last. The flames had now as. cended far above the sufferer, and her agony was very apparent in the agitation of the pile. But the Brahmins immediately threw on inore wood, and buried both bodies from our sight. I shall not at