James Hough.

The history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) online

. (page 12 of 54)
Online LibraryJames HoughThe history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) → online text (page 12 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

satisfaction. We have seen how peculiarly he was
fitted to lead the way, and commence the work of
the ecclesiastical establishment in the Company's
dominions — an establishment, it should be remem-
bered, that was contemplated with great jealousy
by the Court of Directors at home, and by most of
the authorities in India. It required, therefore,
peculiar qualifications in the first bishop ; and these
Dr Middleton possessed in an eminent degree. In
his very person and manner he commanded respect.
Possessing a fine open countenance, an eye beaming
with intelligence, there was a dignity in his appear-
ance and address which became one in authority.
His talents and learning were of a very high order.^
Eminent among scholars, he was well known as a
divine, and was extensively versed in ecclesiastical
history and Christian antiquities, qualifications of
great importance in the work assigned him, of
almost constructing a church establishment. In
this arduous undertaking he was encouraged by the
Uberality of the Church at home, and the implicit
confidence of the highest ecclesiastical authorities.

It must be confessed that he did not meet with
equal countenance in India. We have seen that he
was actually thwarted in many things ; not from
any personal objection to him, though he often felt

^ The work by which he is best known in the department of
sacred literature, is his critical " Dissertation on the Greek
Article." The last and best edition of this elaborate production
was published in 1841, edited by the late Rev. Hugh James


CHAP, it vexatious^ and sometimes thought it ungenerous.

_[^ But it was evidently the fruits of the original pre-
judice against the institution of an Indian episco-
pacy. In justice^ however, to all parties, we admit,
some of his impediments are, undoubtedly, to be
attributed to the imperfect definition of his powers
in his Letters Patent. These letters were commu-
nicated to him, indeed, in England, by the Govern-
ment, for his remarks, and were much considered
by him before he left home. But, unacquainted
with the Society and circumstances of India, some
things, the omission of which he soon began to feel
after his arrival, could hardly be expected to have
occurred to his mind before. But enough notice,
perhaps, has been taken above of these obstructions
in his path, and after his decease the most import-
ant of them were removed.

In the estimate formed of his character, his con-
stitutional susceptibility does not appear always to
have been duly considered. His best friends could
not be blind to this infirmity, and one of them,^
after remarking upon his learning, sound divinity,
zeal, and piety, has the candour to add — -^ His only
fault was something of a high carriage in his public
' demeanour, which gave an unfavourable impression
to many who will scarcely believe him to have had
all those kind and benevolent feelings which I
always found on more intimate acquaintance." This
may account for the incidental remark of another
gentleman, who, describing, as we have seen, the
benignity which shone forth in his whole counte-
nance at the laying of the foundation-stone of his
college, added, that '^ a mistaken idea of his situation
too frequently led him to repress " this disposition.

^ Archdeacon Barnes, of Bombay. The Bishop's Life, vol. ii.
p. 343. Abundant confirmat'on of this testimony may be seen
in the Life, especially in ch. xxviii.


^*^and created prejudices, which every other act of his
life contradicted."^ It is not improbable that some
of the opposition he met with arose from this cause.
Men were accustomed to subjection to civil and
military authority ; but it was quite a new thing
for them to render to an ecclesiastical ruler the de-
ference to which he was entitled : and anything
repulsive in his manner would naturally tend to
confirm them in their resistance. But before his
death he became better known, and, in conse-
quence, was more generally respected.

His public ministrations could not fail, with the
Divine blessing, gradually to produce this fixvourable
impression. As a preacher, he seemed to be admi-
rably adapted to his audience. The composition of
his sermons and his style of delivery were peculiarly
calculated to excite attention and keep it awake ;
while they left an impression on the mind, and
conciliated a regard for religion and religious ordi-
nances in a very eminent degree. His visitation
charges also, as well as his sermons, were weighty,
always bearing evidence of study and pains, never
hurried or superficial. His mode of performing the
services of the Church, and especially in administer-
ing the rite of confirmation, was solemn and im-
pressive. He drew large and attentive congrega-
tions, and his words seemed to be deeply felt.

All his measures for establishing and perpetuating
the great purpose for which he was commissioned,
displayed wisdom and prudence, and were such, in
some respects, as no one of less personal weight and
influence could as easily have accomplished, if at all.
In his exertions to reduce the Church establishment
into order, and to bring it out to view in a way to
command attention, and to cause it to be respected

Luishington's Hibt. of Cak-utU liibliiulioni?, p 110.


CHAP, as it had never yet been in India^ he soon led to
^' the increased efficiency of the whole clerical depart-
ment. By his perseverance he obtained the build-
ing of churches where most required^ and a consi-
derable increase of chaplains. His careful attention
to schools ; his promptitude in estabhshing every-
where committees of the Christian Knowledge
Society^ through which were obtained large sup-
plies of Bibles, Prayer- Books^ and religious tracts ;
and^ lastly, his great work of ^^ Bishop's College/'
for the founding and endowment of which he excited
a zeal throughout England hitherto unequalled in
any similar design ; his perseverance in these^ and
in all the great and good works which he undertook,
was worthy of admiration.
Good re- 79. The cffcct of his exertions and influence on
h^s^exer^ tlic socicty of Calcutta was soon apparent. As
tion. early as 1817, little more than two years after his

arrival, one of the chaplains, returning to Bengal
after an absence of nearly the same period, remarked,
that he perceived, even then, a most astonishing
alteration in the public mind and the state of man-
ners at Calcutta.^ The Bishop himself, shortly be-
fore his death, noticed the rapidly increasing de-
mand for religious publications ; so much so, that,
whereas seven years before, books of this descrip-
tion seldom found their way to India, they were
now become a profitable article of merchandise.^
After his decease, a gentleman holding a high offi-
cial situation at Calcutta, bore the following testi-
mony to the improvement effiscted during Bishop
Middleton's incumbency : — ^'^ His chief attention, in
the first instance, was judiciously given to the claims
and wants of those amongst us who were, or called
themselves. Christians. He preached frequently ;

' Life, vol. ii. p. 108. ' Ibid., pp. 241, 300. 001.


and his discourses^ which were always clear, forci-
ble^ and eloquent^ were^ I am satisfied^ productive
of much real good. A heneficial change has certainly
taken ].)lace in our society, of late years, and, in my
opinion, that change is mainly ascrihable to the Bi-
shop y^ His way was well prepared^ indeed^ as we
have seen^ by other zealous men ; especially during
the government of Marquis Wellesley, under whose
patronage and example a general religious improve-
ment was commenced^ which may be regarded as
an epoch in the history of Protestantism in India.
Under Bishop Middleton, this good work was ad-
vanced very extensively^ not in Bengal only, but
throughout his vast diocese.

With regard to the conversion of the natives, we
have seen the caution with which he at first thought
proper to proceed, as ^ well as the change which had
gradually taken place in his mind on this question ;
and in his last charge, delivered in 1821, it is evi-
dent that he thought the time was come for more
general and ostensible efforts in their behalf, both
on his own part and that of his clergy. The service
which he rendered to the missionary cause is elo-
quently described in a sermon delivered, on occasion
of his decease, by one of the chaplains. Rev. Joseph
Parson, at Calcutta. The preacher remarked — '^ It
was not his lot, indeed, to commence the work
among us ; nor can it well often he, under our
economy of the Church, the lot of bishojDS ; they
must usually rather complete and organise than,
hke apostles, be the first to go forth on the grand
errand." The preacher then, after enlarging in
appropriate terms on the labours of the three zeal-
ous chaplains who opened and prepared the Bishop's
way, thus proceeds — '' To advance under God the

•' Life, vol. ii. p. 341, 312.


CHAP, good work of Brown, Martyn, and Buchanan, the
^' Bishop has appositely given to the cause of missions
the identical sort of sanction which it wanted. It
wanted political countenance and the reputation of
sound learning. Judged dangerous in its apparent
disregard of poHtical cares, it was judged of dis-
putable orthodoxy in point of doctrine. In the
Church it had been supposed to characterise a party.
Stability and ballast appeared to be wanting to this
ark upon the waters. Old institutions for the pur-
pose did comparatively nothing toward it : the
government of England had not expressed itself
favourably on the subject, beyond an ancient indi-
cation or two, grown obsolete. The universities,
as such, sent forth no men in the cause ; it was
prosecuted but collaterally, and by individual efforts ;
no provision existed, humanly speaking, for the
continuance of missionary exertions in the Church.
Our departed Bishop has conferred upon the mis-
sionary cause, according to his predilections as to
the mode of it, every attestation, aid, and honour,
which it could expect to receive from him. Instead
of a dangerous project, he has, with reason, said,
that it, or nothing, must prove our safety in these
possessions — that it were preposterous to suppose
ourselves established here for any purpose except
to make known the Son of God to a people igno-
rant of him. He gave the missionary cause his
heart. During life he employed on the Mission
College all his elaborateness and accuracy of atten-
tion ; in death he has bequeathed to it the choice
of his books ; he has also bequeathed a part of what
expresses the heart of man, his money ; lastly,
he had bequeathed to it, if it should please God,
his very bones ; he had looked to it, as Jacob to
the Holy Land, saying, TJiere they shall hury me ! "
Such were the labours of Bishop Middleton, and
such their fruits. Great was the work which he


accomplished, under God, in the advancement of
pure rehgion and true Protestantism ; admirably
was he calculated to prepare the way for others,
who should succeed him, to follow out what he had
so well begun ; and vast is the debt of public grati-
tude and veneration due to the first Protestant
Bishop in India.

80. Nor were the public slow to acknowledge Public tes-
this claim. As soon as the tidings of his death uiTwoi-th.
reached England, great wa» the sensation produced
in the minds of all persons who had at heart the
interests of Christianity in India. The two socie-
ties with which he stood immediately connected —
the Christian Knowledge Society, and the Gospel
Propagation Society — took the lead in the expres-
sion of sorrow which was generally felt. Two s]:)ecial
meetings of the former society were held, with the
view of adopting such measures as might best mani-
fest the regard with which the members cherished
the memory of the deceased prelate.

At the first of these meetings, the Bishop of
London in the chair, it was resolved that the sum
of £6000 should be appropriated to the founding
of five scholarships in the Bishop's College at Cal-
cutta, to be denominated ''Bishop Middleton's
Scholarships ; " and that a subscription should be
opened among the members of the Society for the
erection of a monument to the memory of the
Bishop, no member to contribute to this object more
than the amount of his annual subscription to the

The second meeting was called to consider a
communication from the Society for the Propagation
of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the Archbishop of
Canterbury in the chair ; when it was resolved.

S. P. O.K. Report 1823.


CHAP. Qjj ii^Q suggestion of that Society^ that the sub-

'— scription to the monument should be open to its


When these proceedings became known in India^
a subscription, which had been raised there by the
personal friends of Bishop Middleton, was forwarded
to the Bishop of London, to be added to the amount
collected among the deceased prelate's friends in
England, for the purpose of providing a suitable
monument to be sent out to Calcutta, and placed
in the Cathedral.^

But his most durable monument was raised by
himself — his College, which is thus eloquently de-
scribed by his accomplished successor: — ^^ One
monument he has left behind of the zeal which
prompted, the wisdom which planned, and the
munificence which largely contributed to it, which
must long preserve his name in the grateful recol-
lection of the Indian Church ; and which bids fair,
under Divine protection, to become a greater bless-
ing to these extensive lands than any they have
received from their foreign lords since the gate was
first opened by the Portuguese to the commerce
and conquest of Asia. " ^

■^ Lushington's History of Calcutta Institutions, p. 110, note.

^ Bishop Heber's Primary Charge at Calcutta. Bishop Mid
dleton's Life, vol. ii. p. 335.





1. In the last volume we have recorded the low state ^^^^^^^ ^^
of religion at Bombay ; ^ also the arrival of Arch- Barnes's
deacon Barnes, and his exertions for the moral exertions.
improvement and religious instruction of the com-
munity, which were attended, through God's grace,
with a measure of success which, perhaps, he had
hardly ventured to anticipate. In Lent 1816, he
delivered a course of lectures, which were as well
attended as could, perhaps, be reasonably expected,
considering how long the inhabitants had been
unaccustomed to the services of the Church. Bishop
Middleton's visitation of Bombay this year very
materially strengthened the Archdeacon's hands.
We have given a full account of his official exer-
tions, his frequent appearance in the pulpit, his
formation of a district committee of the Society
for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, and
his attention to the educational establishments of
the presidency, together with other measures for
the religious improvement of the community brought
to his notice.'^ He left Bombay, having secured
the respect and esteem of all classes, and allayed

•• Book xii. cb. i. See App. B. of this volume.
^ Book xiii. chap i.




of chap-

First sup-
ply of
from the
S. P. C. K.

any alarm which might have existed in the minds
of some persons respecting the appointment of an
ecclesiastical establishment.

2. The Bishop's representation of the paucity of
chaplains^ and the necessity of increasing their
number^ was not disregarded. In 1817 the Court
of Directors increased their number to nine^ and
efforts were made by Government^ also by the local
authorities at the stations throughout the presi-
dency^ to have Divine service regularly conducted
on Sundays. Indeed^ at all the principal stations^
civil and militarj^^ public worship and observance
of the Lord's day began to be seriously regarded.
The European hospitals and regimental schools
were now visited by the clergy ; schools were estab-
lished at Surat and Tannah in connection with the
Education Society^ under the superintendence of
chaplains, and a leaven of Christianity was mani-
festly diffused abroad.

3. Hitherto there was an utter dearth of reli-
gious books. At the shops were to be found merely
such miscellaneous works as had been purchased
at the sales of persons deceased, or who had retired
from the country, or such as the officers of ships
brought out on speculation, amongst which, as a
ready sale was of course the object, there were
only few of a religious character. They did not
suit the market of Bombay, any more than those
of Calcutta and Madras two years before ; but this
year the first supply of books was received from
the Society for the Propagation of Christian Know-
ledge, and they soon began to create a demand for
works of a religious character. While this activity
was beginning to prevail in diffusing the means of
rehgious nistruction among all classes of Europeans,
the duty of communicating the knowledge of Chris-
tianity among the natives also began to be admitted.
But members of Government, and others holding

of war.


stations of responsibility, felt restrained from tak-
ing any part in direct missionary efforts.

One instance of the result of these exertions is
sufficiently singular to be not undeserving of notice.
An old pensioner, a man of piety and of a little
education, possessed a Bible and Prayer-Book, and
a volume of Hoole's translation of Tasso's Jerusa-
lem Delivered. The old man gave a spiritual
signification to all that could at all bear it in Tasso ;
but a few numbers of Missionary Registers having
been lent to him, he read them with great eager-
ness, and remarked, that what he had read in Tasso
was imaginary, but in these little books was an
account of the actual progress of the real gospel of
Christ. The old man died, there was reason to
hope, in the faith of the Saviour.

4. Towards the close of 1817 and in 1818, the Theeffects
military stations were thrown into an unsettled
state by the breaking out of the Pindarree and
Mahratta wars, in the Deckhan and Central India,
which called away the great body of the troops to
the field. But the chaplains remained at their sta-
tions, carrying on their work among the troops that
remained behind, and the families of those who
were called to the scene of action. The anxiety
that prevailed, both for the issue of the campaign,
and also for the safety of individuals engaged in it,
seems to have produced a salutary effect upon many
who were left at home. The increased attention
at public worship, at Bombay and all the principal
stations, was manifest, the natives were less em-
ployed in their several trades on the Lord's day
than heretofore ; and there was a more general de-
mand for Bibles and religious books. During this
season of anxiety, the cholera made its first appear-
ance at the presidency with great severity, which
naturally increased the general consternation.

Archdeacon Barnes and the other clergy urged


CHAP, from the pulpit the necessity of seeking Divine pro-

;_ tection against the pestilence, and there can be no

doubt that it tended to confirm the religious impres-
sion already begun. At the time^ at least, an air
of solemnity was spread over all classes of society,
and we may surely hope that some were drawn
nearer to the Lord in confidence and prayer.
fchooisfor ^' "^^^^ y^^^> 1818, the Archdeacon and others
natives by bcgau to urgc the importance of giving instruction
cation^^^" to the uativc population. The immediate result
Society, was, the opening of two or three schools in Bombay
in connection with the Education Society, in which
both the native and English languages were taught.
In the English department European teachers were
employed, and the same Christian books were intro-
duced as were used in the schools of the Education
Society. Nor was the slightest objection raised to
them. Indeed many native boys attended the
schools. Proposals for native education were pub-
lished in Persian, Hindostanee, and Goozerattee,
and were distributed among natives of influence,
inviting their co-operation in the work. But they
do not appear to have immediately acceded to the

About this time a decided proof was given of the
general improvement in religious sentiment and
feeling already produced by the means used for the
diffusion of Christian knowledge.^

^ '' Some of the officers of government had been for many
years, and still were, required to attend at some of the great
native festivals at Siirat, as the Cocoa-nut day and the Ende : —
one of the last having occurred on a Sunday, in which some of
,the civil officers and a detachment of European artillery with an
officer were required to attend to celebrate the festival, and to
fire a salute at the very time when the other members of the
Christian community were assembled for public worship. The
festival of throwing the cocoa-nut into the river occurred this
year also upon a Sunday. The hour for throwing the nut into



6. The importance of the improved state of the
public mind towards rehgion was considerably en-

the river was not during the time of public worship — still the
authorities were very desirous of not desecrating their Sabbath
by taking a part in the service, for the Cocoa-nut day was a
great gala day, nearly the whole population of Surat were out
upon the banks of the river or in boats upon the river, which
presented a most animating scene ; and there was much amuse-
ment going on in pelting with the wood apple, in which the
younger Europeans took a part. This year the festival having
fallen upon a Sunday, the authorities were anxious if possible
to put it off; but not being able to do so, every individual,
civil, military, and naval, in their private capacity, did what
they could ; no party was given on the banks of the river, no
wood apple was allowed to be brought within the castle, or on
board the Hon, Company's cruizer ; but when the time for
the ceremony arrived, the principal civil officers, attended by
one or two officially, went to the place, threw the cocoa-nut into
the river, and very soon withdrew. The natives themselves
were struck with this circumstance, and it was explained to
them, that this marked diff'erence in merely doing what was
thus officially required of them, was out of regard to the Chris-
tian's sacred day.

" A representation of the case was made to government by the
chaplain of Surat, which was cordially supported by the arch-
deacon, in which, after pointing out the grievance of requiring
Christians not only to profane their Sabbath, but, as in the case
of the Ende, to leave the worship of God in order to attend to
that of Mohamed — the letter concludes with stating the part
taken by the chief in the festival of the Cocoa-nut as fol-
lows : — ' Viewing the ceremony performed by the chief on the
Cocoa-nut day in a correct light, it is nothing less than mak-
ing an offering to propitiate the marine deity. The chief
stands with the cocoa-nut in his hands, accompanied with
flowers, rice, and water of the Ganges, wdiilst a Brahmin ofTers
up a prayer, and when the prayer is concluded, and the tide at
a certain height, he (the chief) throws the off'ering into the
river. The chief, it will be readily admitted, never views all
this as anything more than an idle ceremony, but in the eye
of every Hindoo present it is regarded as a sacred offering to
the Deity ; and however unwilling we may be thus to look
upon it, it is nothing less than an off'ering made to a strange
god ; the prayers and the whole ceremony speak for themselves.'
Government was also informed that the chief authorities had

of terri-
tory, and
increase of


CHAP, hancpd by the extension of the sphere of operation
^^' which occurred at this period. During the year
1819^ in consequence of the result of the Mahratta
war^ the whole of the Mahratta country^ lately be-
longing to the Paishwah, fell into the hands of
government ; and the principal part of the force
was required for its protection, and a regular civil
establishment was rendered necessary for its man-
agement. With this extension of territory, such
ecclesiastical arrangements were made as the pau-

Online LibraryJames HoughThe history of Christianity in India : from the commencement of the Christian era : second portion: comprising the history of protestant missions, 1706-1816 / by James Hough (Volume 5) → online text (page 12 of 54)