« PrécédentContinuer »
diffuse it. The missionaries desired nothing beyond simple permission to preach the gospel. But this was denied them; and for many years they continued to be watched narrowly, to be viewed with suspicion ; and were sometimes threatened with an arrest of their labours, and an expulsion from the country. The period now under review was one of great and extensive darkness and demoralization. Whilst the government frowned upon christian efforts, it did but sympathize with the spirit and echo the tone of European society throughout the whole extent of the Indian empire. By the almost total absence of an evangelical ministry, and, in many remote stations, the total destitution of all means whatever of religious improvement, there was nothing to restrain the exorbitancy of human passions, or prevent renunciation of principle. The Sabbath was universally desecrated ; the primary law of social existence, the safeguard of virtue, was despised; and concubinage, with its concomitant abominations, was awfully com
A practical assimilation to heathenism soon obliterated the influence and almost the recollection of a nominally christian education; and the filthiness of the flesh' made way for the filthiness of the spirit,' and, by their mutual corroboration, both became fearfully rancorous.
Men feared to read their bible, because it denounced their crimes and awakened their punishments. The next thing was, to hope the bible they had neglected was not true; then to feign to think it false ; and soon, being able to believe the lie which depravity had led them to forge,
they openly impugned and denounced it. Hence Hinduism was “a most beautiful religion,' Mahommedanism had but little in it objectionable ; but christianity was as revolting to the prevailing habits and tastes of that day as was its Holy Founder to that of the generation who witnessed his incarnation and ministry, and in whose esteem he was without form and comeliness.' Englishmen were literally a 'byeword and a proverb' among the heathen, who used sarcastically to remark, that English people were distinguished from all others; for, whereas all people performed some religious offices, and had some god whom they acknowledged, the English neglected all, and were atheists.
So anomalous was the conduct of government, that whilst it prescribed the simple unaided dissemination of the gospel, it not only protected idolatry, but condescended to regulate its rites, and even to profit by some of its practices. Witness its interest in the temple of Juggunnath and the pilgrim tax. What was worse, if indeed worse could be, their judicial agents were compelled to sign and issue the order by virtue of which widows were burned upon the funeral pile, and thus to become accessory to deeds of blood. To the praise of some benevolent individuals in this country, especially to John Poynder, Esq., and Mr. James Peggs, general baptist missionary, whose patient assiduity in collecting all available information upon the subject, and plying the proper authorities and the public mind with every argument which humanity and the gospel could suggest, yielded to
no discouragements, until the suttee flames were quenched. And they might as easily have been quenched twenty years before, for any valid reason that existed to the contrary.
· How awful a thing it is,' said a missionary one day to his Pundit, “that you Hindus should burn the living with the dead ! • Do you think so ?' was the reply. Why then do not you English put a stop to it? you are now the lords of the soil.' Why we fear, lest we should hurt your prejudices.' 'Indeed! he answered, “and do you not think our prejudices are as much hurt by paying you taxes, as they would be by keeping our daughters alive?'
No terms of eulogy can equal the merits of Lord Wm. Bentinck, late governor-general of India, whose enlightened and intrepid policy enabled him to effect the abolition of this right with so much judgment and promptitude. A petition was afterwards forwarded from some devotees of the Hindu superstition to the king in council, for its restitution ; but, happy for the interests of humanity, and for the British name, it was disallowed.
Lamentable to say, this petition found very respectable professional talents to urge its prayer. What would have been the feelings of those who employed such talents in such a cause if their advocacy had succeeded !
The religious reader can be no stranger to the name of Wm. Cuninghame, Esq., of Lainshaw, author of a work on prophecy. He was, at the time to which this part of our memoir refers, filling a judicial situation at Dinagepore, whither Mr. Carey and his fellowlabourer, Mr. Fountain, had often gone, by invitation,
to preach. He had benefited by their ministry, and now, hearing they were in straitened circumstances, he communicated to their necessities, and in a manner so truly courteous, and simply pious, that one knows not whether more to admire in him the perfect gentleman, or the humble, genuine christian. His letters, whilst they are very brief, manifest so benign a spirit, and show so clearly the high estimation in which Mr. Carey and his companion were holden, and cast, at the same time, so much light upon their cumstances, that they cannot be omitted, without
prejudice to the narrative, and injustice to the parties.
W. CUNINGHAME, Esq. TO MR. FOUNTAIN.
- DEAR SIR,
Though your man is not yet come for the
I sit down to write you a few lines in expectation of his arrival.
*I am sorry, on Mr. Carey's account, as well as yours, that you are to be deprived of that support which
you have hitherto derived from Malda, and that, in consequence thereof, your condition is likely to be uncomfortable: it will be peculiarly hard on Mr. Carey with so large a family.
“Though, in offering you or Mr. Carey any small assistance which it
may be in my power to afford you, I am sensible that I may subject myself to the imputation of intrusion ; yet, as I think the ideas generally received on this subject false, and that there can be no real indelicacy in such an offer, when made in an
unreserved way, I shall, without scruple, do that which I consider as a duty, the more especially, as I have so frequently benefited by the ministry both of Mr. C. and yourself.
* If, then, the small sum of two hundred rupees can be of any service to Mr. C. or you, till more substantial supplies from England, I shall be most happy to pay that sum immediately to any
send to receive it; and I shall consider myself as obliged to you for making use of my offer, only regretting that it is so unworthy your acceptance.
• If this letter should give you any offence, I beg that you
will consider it as quite unintended on my part, and that, in writing it, I only perform what I consider to be my duty. In such a case let this note be burnt, and let it be considered as never having been written.
I am, dear sir,
W. CUNINGHAME, ESQ. TO MESSRS. CAREY AND
• Dinagepore, August 31st, 1799.
* Had I not been convinced that you came to this country for far nobler purposes than the acquisition of wealth, it is probable that I should not have made you the offer which I did; for I may truly say, that