I. Sottetfi I
* OP ji
I INQUIRE ON MISSIONS, |
® AND f
I THE STATE OF RELIGION. I
LIFE AND WRITINGS
KEY. CLAUDIUS BUCHANAN, D. D.
VICE PROVOST OF THE COLLEGE OF FORT WILLIAM
THE REV. HUGH PEARSON. M. A.
OF ST. John's college, oxeord.
l§ TO £5re<T«^o|fit usif*.vi]0-76i KXTecXsiTreTxi, Thucyd.
PUBLISHED BY BENJAMIN & THOMAS KITE,
NO. 20, NORTH THIRD STREET.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ. M. P.
TO WHOSE EFFORTS IN PARLIAMENT
THE TRIUMPH OF THE CAUSE
THE LIFE OF DR. BUCHANAN WAS DEVOTED,
IS EMINENTLY TO BE ATTRIBUTED j
AND BY WHOSE PRIVATE FRIENDSHIP,
AND PUBLIC SUPPORT,
HE WAS HONOURED;
THE FOLLOWING MEMOIRS
ARE WITH SENTIMENTS OF THE HIGHEST
RESPECT AND ESTEEM
THE observation of Lord Bacon, as to the defi
cieucy in the biographical department of literature in
his day, is certainly not applicable to the present
times. We have rather to complain of excess than of
defect. While ample justice has been done to the
lives of eminent persons, it must be confessed, that
accounts of obscure individuals have been unnecessa-
The Author of the following Memoirs trusts that he
will not be deemed liable to this charge. The per-
son to whose life and waitings they relate is already
well known to the world, and has established an un-
doubted claim to posthumous regard. The prominent
station which Dr. Buchanan occupied in India, and
the zeal and ability with which he laboured to pro-
mote the interests of Christianity in that country and
throughout the eastern world, seem to demand some
commemoration of his character and exertions ; and,
unless the writer of these pages is much mistaken in
his judgment, they describe ** a person in whom,*' to
use the language of the celebrated author just alluded
to, " actions, both great and small, public and private,
" are so blended together,'' as to secure that '• gen-
" uine, native, and lively representation,'' which form?
the peculiar excellence and us© of biography.
Tin TO is this additional reason for giving to the
|nihlic some account of Dr. Buchanan, that, from the
nauire of the suhjects to which his attention was direc-
ted, he uiiavoi(lal)ly incurred a considerahle degree of
dis;)lLasiif on <hr part of those whose opinions or pre-
judices he fell it to be his duty to oppose. It is but
reasonable, therefore, that his views and motives should
be fnllvand fairly developed, that the world may have
an npporiiinity of forming a just estimate of his cha-
rarter and lal)ours.
How far the Author of the following Memoirs may
have succeeded in this object must be left to the pub-
lic to determine. He is fully aware of the difficulty
pointed out by a consummate judge of human nature,*
of representing impartially sentiments or actions, re-
spectini; which much difference of opinion and feeling
>\ill necessarily exist, according to the knowledge and
the dispositions of the reader upon the subject in ques-
tion. It has undoubtedly been his aim to exhibit the
characti'i and conduct of Dr. Buchanan in their true
lii^ht, and to enable the world to determine the degree
of merit to which he may be justly entitled.
For this purpose, he has endeavoured to render him,
H« much as possible, liis own biographer, and has ac-
cordingly interwoven with the narrative of his life a
icries of extracts from letters to many of his friends
and correspondents. Independently of the authentic
and interesting nature of the information thus convey-
ed, where, as was eminently the case with Dr. Bu-
chanan, the writer is upright in his general views, and
simple in the expression of them, his correspondence
formed one of the principal sources of the Memoirs
* Thucjd. Hist, ii.35.
here presented to the public ; some valuable private
documents having been unfortunately lost. Other ma-
terials were derived from certain papers and memo-
randa referred to in the Memoirs, from the more
public events of Dr. Buchanan's life, and from his
printed works. In the use of these various materials,
relating to many different persons, events, and circum-
stances, the Author cannot flatter himself that he has
been invariably accurate. He can only say, that
upon every occasion this has been his intention and
One part of the following Memoirs will, it is pre-
sumed, be read with considerable interest, that which
relates to the institution, progress, and effects of the
College of Fort William in Bengal ; in the establish-
ment, conduct, and superintendence of which Dr. Bu.
chanan was intimatejy concerned during the period of
its most extensive and eft'ective operation. The pro-
ceedings of this Institution are, it is believed, but little
known in England, and deserve particular attention at
the present moment.^
The account also of the journey of Dr. Buchanan to
the coast of Malabar, and of his visit to the Syrian
churches in the interior of Travancore, notwithstand-
^ It is remarkable, that Professor Malthus, in stating as one of
the principal reasons for the preference due to the East India
Company's College in England, its superior adaptation to pre-
serve regularity in the conduct, and economy in the personal ex-
penses of the students, seems not to have been aware, that these
were the very points in which the college of Fort William, du=
ring its first four years, peculiarly excelled. It is but just to the
latter institution, that its original merits in both these important
respects should be generally known. See pp. 184—186, and •
231— 232, of this volume.
ing his own introduction of it to the public, will pro-
bably prove acceptable to the reader. More might
easily have been added to this, and indeed to every
part of the Memoirs ; but it may, perhaps, be thought
by some that they have already exceeded their just
It may not be unnecessary to observe, that this vol-
ume contains the history of a man, whose leading
characteristic was a sincere and devoted attachment
to the (rospel of Christ, as a living principle of faith
and practice. While, therefore, it is hoped, that those
whose sentiments are substantially similar will derive
peculiar gratification from the perusal of the following
Memoirs, they may tend, as far as others are concern-
ed, both to explain the nature of those principles, and
to illustrate and recommend their excellence and value.
Whatever is worthy either of being admired or imita-
ted, and there is much which is deserving of both in
the character of Dr. Buchanan, is chiefly to be ascri-
bed to his \iews and feelings as a Christian ; and
though, as the Author himself would avow, it is by no
means necessary to coincide in every opinion expressed
by Dr. Buchanan in this volume, he is deeply persua-
ded, that the leading principles of his life and conduct
are alone capable of producing genuine and exalted
virtue, peace of conscience, and a well-grounded hope
of eternal happiness.
With respect to his own undertaking, the Author
has only to state, that he engaged in it at the request of
the family and friends of Dr. Buchanan. They were,
doubtless, induced to place this task in his hands from
the circumstance of his having some years since had
occasion to consider the great subject to which the
life of that excellent man was devoted, which led to a
subsequent acquaintance with him. And though he
has to resiret that his intercourse with Dr. Buchanan
was less frequent and intimate than he wished, it
tended greatly to increase that lively interest in his
character, which the previous knowledge of his history
had excited. He felt also that he owed a debt of grat-
itude and service to his memory, which he was anxious
to have an opportunity of discharging ; and however
inadequately he may have acquitted himself of this
obligation, he trusts that his intention will be approved;
and that the following work, thus designed to record
the excellencies of a benefactor and a friend, to adopt
the affectionate apology of a Roman biographer, " Pro-
'' fessioue pietatis aut laudatus erit, aut excusatus.'^^
The Author cannot close this Preface, without short-
ly adverting to the subject which is so frequently
brought under review in the following Memoirs, the
promotion of Christianity in the East. Much as Dr.
Buchanan was permitted to effect towards that great
and important work, much yet remains to be accom-
plished. The foundation of our Episcopal Establish-
ment has indeed been laid in India ; but it requires to
be strengthened and enlarged, and a more goodly and
majestic superstructure to be erected upon it. Churches
are still wandijg at the different European stations, and
a considerable increase in the number of chaplains.
The translation of the Scriptures, and of useful tracts,
into the oriental languages should be encouraged and
pursued. Schools should be instituted for the in-
struction of the young, more particularly in the know-
ledge of the English language ; and the native Christ-
« Tac. in vit. Agric.
ians, instead of beins;, as hitherto, neglected, and
even repressed, should be accredited and supported.
These are but brief and imperfect sugii;estions,
which it must be left to others, better qualified for the
task, to expand and realize. The Author would only,
therefore, add, that it is for those who survive the la-
mented subject of this volume, and who deeply feel
the value of his various labours, to study to repair his
loss, to rescue from neglect or failure the plans which
he conceived, and to continue that which he so suc-
In the mean time, may the following record of his
pious and disinterested exertions excite the zeal and
strengthen the resolution of others to follow him in his
benevolent career ; and prove, under that Divine bless-
ing which its Author fervently implores, in some de-
gree, the means of confirming and extending the king-
dom of Christ, not only in India, but throughout the
world at large.
St. Gileses, Oxford,
March 8, 1817.
Early life and education of Mr. Buchanan in Scotland. His
journey to England. Employment in the law, and serious
change in his religious views. Introduction to Mr. New-
ton. From 1766 to 1791. pp. 17—37.
Mr. Buchanan's wish to enter the Church. His introduction
to Mr. H. Thornton, and admission at Queen's College^
Cambridge. From February to September 1791.
Commencement of Mr. Buchanan's residence at Cambridge.
His studies and correspondence. His ordination and ap-
pointment to India. From October 1791 to March 1796.
Mr. Buchanan's voyage to India. His arrival at Calcutta
in March 1797. Appointment as chaplain at Barrack-
pore, and residence there till November 1799. Marriage ot
Mr. Buchanan in the spring of that year. Appointment as
one of the chaplains of tiie Presidency. Institution of the
College of Fort William, and appointment of Mr. Bu-
chanan as Vice-Provost, and Professor of classics, in the
year 1800. pp. 105—157.
Progress of the College. Official and clerical engagements
of Mr. Buchanan. Voyage of Mrs. Buchanan to England.
College disputations and examinations. Speeches of Go-
vernor General as Visitor. Orders of the Court of Direc-
tors for its abolition. Defence of that institution by the
Marquis Wellesley ; and by Mr. Buchanan. Return of
Mrs. Buchanan to Bengal. Mr. Obeck. His character and
death. First series of Prizes offered by Mr. Buchanan to
the Universities and public Schools of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Buchanan's Sermon at the Presidency Church on the
Evidences of Christianity. From January 1801 to Decem-
ber 1803. pp. 158—211.
Order from the Court of Directors for the continuance of the
College of Fort William. Annual disputations. Transla-
tion of the Scriptures at the College. Prejudices against
that measure resisted by Mr. Buchanan. Circumstances
relative to the institution of the Civil Fund for Widows
and Orphans. Salutary influence of the College. Second
voyage of Mrs. Buchanan to England. Composition of Mr.
Buchanan's '-Memoir on the Expediency of an Ecclesias-
"tical Establishment for India." Determination of first
series of Prizes. Grounds and analysis of Mr. Buchanan's
Memoir. Mr. Lassar, and his Chinese class at Serampore.
Mr. Buchanan's publication, entitled, "The Colleo-e of Fort
•' William." Literary and moral excellence of that insti-
tution. Course of Sermons by Mr. Buchanan on the lead-
ing doctrines of the Gospel. From January 1804 to the
spring of the following year, pp- 212— .248f
Mr. Buchanan's proposal of two Prizes of 5001. to the Uni-
versities of Oxford and Cambridge, in June 1805. His dan-
gerous illness. x\ccount of the death of Mrs. Buchanan.
Mr. Buchanan's letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
College disputations. Mr. Buchanan's exertions to promote
^ translations of the Scriptures into the oriental languages.
Missionaries at Serampore. Degree of D. D. from the Uni-
versity of Glasgow. PP- 24^ 2^"-
Departure of Dr. Buchanan from Calcutta in May 1806, on a
journey to the coast of Malabar. Account of this journey
in a series of letters from Dr. Buchanan to the Rev. D.
Brown. Jellasore—Cuttack— Juggernaut— Visagapatam—
oly— Madura— Ramnad-pooram— Ramisseram — Ceylon-
Cape Comorin— Travancore. Visit to the Syrian Churches
of Malayala. Cochin— Return from thence by sea to Cal-
cutta in March 1807. PP- 277—341.
state of the College of Fort William on Dr. Buchanan's return
to Calcutta. Abolition of the office of Vice-Provost. Dr.
Buchanan's "Literary Intelligence" respecting his late
journey. His correspondence with Colonel Macaulay and
other friends. " Christian Institution in the East." Cor-
respondence continued. Dr. Buchanan's Memorial to the
Governor General respecting his Sermons on the Prophe-
cies. His farewell Sermon, His departure from Calcutta,
in December 1807 on a second visit to the coast of Malabar.
Letter* to Mr. Brown. Ceylon— Cochin— Tellicherry—
Goa — Bombay. Malayalim Version of tlie four Gospels.
Point tie Galle. Voyage to Europe in March 1808.
Determination of the second Prizes to the Universities of Ox-
ford and Cambridge. Sermons preached at both Universi-
ties in pursuance of Dr. Buchanan's proposals. Brief view
of the controversy on the subject of Christianity in India
during the year 1808. pp. 392—400.
Arrival of Dr. Buchanan in England. His journey to Scot-
land — Bristol. Archbishop of Canterbury's reply to Dr.
Buchanan's letter from Bengal. The '* Star in the East."
Visit to Oxford and Cambridge. Degree of D. D. confer-
red by the latter University. Temporary engagement at
Welbeck Chapel, London. From August 1808 to October
1809. pp. 401—419.
Dr. Buchanan's second marriage. Jubilee Sermons. ■ Settle-
ment in Yorkshire. Present of Oriental MSS. to the Uni-
versity of Cambridge. Sermon before the Church Mission-
ary Society. Commencement Sermons at Cambridge. Their
publication, with the " Christian Researches in Asia."
Illness of Dr. Buchanan. Proposed voyage to Palestine.
Visit to Buxton. Sermon on "the Healing Waters of
Bethesda." Second visit to Scotland. Return through part
of Ireland. Second paralytic attack. Defence of the Syrian
Christians. Sketch of an Ecclesiastical Establishment for
British India. Death of Mrs. Buchanan. From November
1809<to April 1813. pp.420— 474.
Sketch of the proceedings in Parliament on the subject of pro-
moting Christianity in India. Dr. Buchanan's publication,
entitled, " Colonial Ecclesiastical Establishment." Letter
to Mr. Lushington. ^' Apology for promoting Christianity
" in India." Determination of Parliament in favour of this
great object. Various correspondence. Dr. Buchanan's re-
moval from Yorkshire. Residence for a short time at
Cambridge. Charge to Missionaries proceeding to India.
Dr. Buchanan fixes his residence in Hertfordshire, for the
purpose of superintending a new edition of the Syriac New
Testament. Correspondence. Short visit to Yorkshire.
Return to Broxbourne. Attendance at the funeral of Mr.
Henry Thornton. Death of Dr. Buchanan. Review of his
character and labours. pp. 475 — 537.
REV. DR. BUCHANAN.
IT is by no means uncommon in the history of those who
have in any manner distinguished themselves among their
contemporaries, to find them deriving no peculiar honour
from their ancestors, but rather reflecting it upon them ; and
becoming themselves, if not the founders of a family, yet the
sole authors of their fame. Of the truth of this observation,
an instance is afforded by the subject of the following Me-
moirs. His remote origin might perhaps be traced to some
of those who have in different ages illustrated the name of
Buchanan ; but it is not known that he ever claimed any such
distinction, nor is it a point which it is at all necessary to
ascertain. If, however, the Biographer of this excellent
man is unable to deduce his descent from the possessors of
worldly rank or talent, an honour which may be unjustly de-
preciated, as it is sometimes unduly prized, he may at least
assert, that his immediate progenitors were endowed with
more than an ordinary share of Christian piety ; an honour,
in his estimation, of a higher nature ; and a blessing, which,
as he peculiarly valued it, was not only a source of pleasing
and grateful recollection, but might not improbably form one
link in the chain of causes which led to his own distin=
guished worth and usefulness.
18 MEMOIRS OF
Claldil's Buchanan was born at Cambuslang, near
Glasgow, on the 12tli of March 1766. He was the son of
Mr. Alexander Buchanan, a man of respectable learning,
and of excellent character, who was highly esteemed in
various parts of Scotland, as a laborious and faithful teacher,
and who a few months i)revious to his death was appointed
rector of the grammar school of Falkirk.
His mother was the daughter of Mr. Claudius Somers,
one of the Elders of the Church at Cambuslang about the
period of the extraordinary occurrences wliicli took place in
that valley, in consequence of the preaching of the celebra-
ted Mr. Whitefield, in the year 17i2.a Notwithstanding
the enthusiasm and extravagance which probably attended
those remarkable scenes, it is unquestionable, that many
were excited to a deep and lasting sense of real religion.
Amongst this number was the grandfather of the subject of
this Memoir; whose piety was imbibed by his daughter, the
mother of Buchanan. By both these excellent persons he
api)cars to have been carefully trained, from his earliest
years, in religious principles and habits. He is described,
by one of his surviving relatives, as having been distin-
guished from his youth by a lively and engaging disposition.
He is said also to have recollected the serious impressions
which were sometimes made upon his mind by the devotions
of the paternal Voof, and by the admonitions wliich his grand-
fatlicr, from whom he derived his baptismal name, and who
seems to have regarded him with peculiar affection, was ac-
customed to addl'ess to him occasionally in his study. And
(hough, as it will icfterwards appear, the instructions and
example of these pious relatives were not immediately pro-
ductive of any decided and permanent eilect, he must be
added to the number of those who ultimately derived essen-
tial benefit from having been brought np " in the nurture
•* and admonition of the Lord ;" and consequently as afford-
ing fresh encouragement to religious parents to pursue a
course which has been so frequently crowned with success,
and whicli is seldom, it may be hoped, altogether in vain.
^ ^ See GilUes's Historical Coll. vol. ii. \>. 339.
DR. BUCHANAN. ly
In the year 1773, at the age of seven years, young Bu-
chanan was sent to a grammar school at Inverary in Argyle-
shire, where he received the rudiments of liis education, and
is said to have made considerable proficiency in the Latin
and Greek languages. He continued at Inverary till some
time in the year 1779, when he was invited to spend the va-
cation with Iiis school-fellow, John Campbell, of Airds, near
the island of Mull; and in the following year he received an
appointment, whicli would be deemed extraordinary in this
part of the kingdom, but is by no means uncommon in Scot-
land. This was, to be tutor to the two sons of Mr. Camp-
bell of Dunstafnage, one of whom was, in the year 1803.
Captain of the East India Company's ship. United Kingdom.
As he liad then only just completed his lith year, his lite-
rary acquirements can scarcely be expected to have been
extensive. Yet the very appointment to such an office, at so
early an age, is in itself honourable to his character, and his
continuance in it during nearly two years may suffice to
shew, that his conduct proved satisfactory to his employer.
About this time he was again under considerable impres-
sions of a religious nature, which he communicated to his
excellent grandfather, who carefully cherished them, and
assured him of his prayers. For a few months he continued
in this promising course, spending much time in devotion
amidst the rocks on the sea-sliore near whiclr he was then
residing : but at length his serious thoughts were dissipated
by the society of an irreligious companion, and his good-
ness, like tl)at of many a hopeful youtli, vanished " as a
*< morning cloud, and as the early dew ;'* nor was it till
many years afterwards, that painful and salutary conviction.s
led him to seek that God wliose early invitations he had un-
The residence of Buchanan at Dunstafnage might proba
bly have been longer, had it not interfered with a necessary
attention to the progress of his own education. In the year
1782 he therefore left the family of Mr. Campbell, and pro-
ceeded to the University of Glasgow,- where he remained
during that and the following year, diligently pursuing the
ao MEMOIRS OF
various studies of the place. Whether his academical course
was interrupted hy the failure of his pecuniary resources,
or was the result of deliberation and choice, is uncertain.
It appears only that he left Glasgow in the year 1784, and
went to the Island of Islay, for the purpose of becoming
tutor to the sons of Mr. Campbell of Knockmelly. In the
following year, from some cause, obviously not unfavourable
to his character, we find him removed to Carradell in Kin-
tyre, and performing the same office to the sons of Mr.
Campbell of that place. In the year 1786, however, Bu-
chanan returned to the college at Glasgow ; and a certificate
in that year, from the Professor of Logic, testifies not only
that he had regularly attended upon the public lectures of
that class, but that, in the usual examination and exercises,
lie had given commendable proofs of attention, diligence,
and success in the prosecution of his studies ; and that he
had behaved with all suitable propriety of conduct and man-
ners. At the conclusion of the academical session he re-
turned to Carradell, and resumed his employment as a
tutor; in which capacity it is presumed that he continued
until the commencement of the autumn in the following
year ; when he quitted his native country, under very sin-
gular circumstances, and entered upon a project, on which,
as it afterwards appeared, depended the future tenor of his
Mr. Buchanan had, from his earliest years, been intended
by his parents for the ministry in the Church of Scotland :
but being naturally of an ardent and excursive turn of mind,
he at the age of seventeen, during his first residence in the
University of Glasgow, conceived the design of making the
tour of Europe on foot; that being the only method of tra-
velling, upon which his slender finances would allow him to
calculate. His chief view in this romantic project was,
doubtless, to see the world ; yet not, as he afterwards de-