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 2 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 2 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

with palmyra leaves. Here and there a Tamul Tes-
tament was preserved in a chapel^ but very rarely was
such a treasure found in the possession of an indivi-
dual. He found a catechist, Visuvarsernarden, offi-
ciating as the native priest, at a village called Nazareth,
and Abraham, who had been a pupil of Swartz, and
admitted to Lutheran orders at Mothelloor. In the
whole Tinnevelly district, 3100 native Christians are
reported, scattered in no less than 63 different places.
In this, and his after itinerating journeys, Mr Hough
placed Bibles and Prayer-Books in all the churches,
and instructed the catechists in the use of the Book
of Common Prayer, so as to qualify them for con-
ducting the public worship of the congregation ac-
cording to the ritual of our Church. In the account
of one of these tours, the following notice appears :
— ^' Six catechists were next seated round me, each
with his new liturgy, and went through the directions
I have drawn up for their instruction in the use of
the Book of Common Prayer."

Only a brief sketch is given in the following pages
of the scenes which were witnessed wherever he went,
visiting the villages and preaching the gospel. The
people flocked to meet him when they heard of his
approach, and gathered round to listen to his words.
A passage of Scripture was read by a catechist, and
then Mr Hough expounded it, catechised the people
upon it, united with them in prayer, and closed with
the benediction. In his private journey, a record is
preserved of the passage of Scripture read in each vil-
lage, together with some of the questions put, and the
answers given upon these occasions. The account


thus given in tiiis revival of Christianity in Tinnevelly^
closely resembles the descriptions^ which we are now
receiving, of the itinerating labours of some of the
missionaries of the Church Missionary Society in South
India ; and the knowledge of the way in which it has
pleased God so wonderfully to own and prosper the
work begun in 1816, should stir every friend of mis-
sions to increased prayerfulness, and should fill him
with a confident faith that prayer will not be suffered
to go unanswered, but that God will grant yet further
revivals of His own work — of which, indeed, in the
present day we have cheering intimations in the
remote villages of Northern Tinnevelly — and mil
'' open the windows of heaven, and pour us out a
blessing, that there shall not be room enough to re-
ceive it."

As the result of these extended labours, school after
school was established in new localities, the number of
inquirers after truth rapidly multiplied, and the wants
of the people increased far beyond the supply wdiich
he was able to procure from the grants of the Chris-
tian Knowledge Society and his own limited resources.
As therefore the Committee of the Christian Know-
ledge Society informed him, that it was not in their
power to. increase their grant, he was compelled to
apply for assistance to the Corresponding Committee
of the Church Missionary Society at Madras. The
introduction by him oft he Church Missionary Society
into the district of Tinnevelly, is described by himself
in this volume.^ How, in this act, he was guided by
a single eye to God's glory and the salvation of souls.

^ Chap. vii. page 355.


is apparent from a sentence in his journal^ recorded a
few months later^ when tidings reached him that
some at home were displeased^ and regarded with
dishke and jealousy the introduction of what they
regarded as a rival society. *^ It is distressing to
read the unkind and jealous opposition that is raised
at home^ to the Church Missionary Society, by pro-
fessed friends of the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. But I shall not suffer my mind to be
affected, nor shall I relax my exertions in favour
of that Society, in consequence of the hostility of its
members to a kindred association. I came to India to
promote the glory of the Lord, and the saving know-
ledge of Christ in the earth ; and, in pursuit of this
object, it falls in my way to further the designs of
both these societies, and ^ Whatsoever my hand findeth
to do,' I purpose to attempt ' with all my might.'
The District Committee of the Christian Knowledge
Society at Madras invited me to become a correspond-
ing member, and I accepted the invitation."

His truly cathoUc spirit could co-operate with
all who were ready to proclaim '^ the grace of
God" in its purity; ^Hhe love of Christ constrain-
ing" him, he could not stand by and see souls perish,
while men might be disputing by what particular
machinery the work should be attempted ; but his
heart was so full of pity for the perishing heathen,
that his chief anxiety was not for the elevation of one
society above another, but for the exaltation of Christ,
in which glorious work he regarded the two societies
as handmaidens ; and so long as nothing but '' the
truth as it is in Jesus" was proclaimed, he could say,
with the great apostolic missionary to the Gentiles,


'^ Christ is preached^ and I therein do rejoice ; yea,
and will rejoice."

The two societies worked harmoniously together ;
and not only did Mr Hough take charge of the mis-
sions of both, but, after his departure, the Church
Missionary Society Missionaries continued to super-
intend the whole work, until the Christian Know-
ledge Society's Missions were delivered over to the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the
first missionary of the latter society was sent there in

Mention has already been made of Mr Hough's
desire to provide a properly trained master for each
school ; and, in connection with this, it must here be
added, that in consequence of the revival and exten-
sion of religious inquiry, applications for catechists
were constantly made to him from distant villages.
These cries for help were responded to as far as cir-
cumstances would allow ; but, in order to provide a
supply of efficient men for both of these important
posts, he established the first ^^ Seminaries of the
Church Missionary Society, in Tinnevelly, for edu-
cating schoolmasters and candidates for the priest-
hood." One of these was at Palamcottah, in 1818
and another at Nazareth in 1819. These wise plans
laid the foundation of those institutions which have
since prepared so many native labourers, and have
materially assisted, with God's blessing, in training
that indigenous native pastorate, which is now one
striking feature in the South Indian Church in advance
of all other Christian missions.

We have lived to see the successful results of these
labours. In the " Church Missionary Eecord" for last


March, will be found an account of an ordination held
in the previous December by the Bishop of Madras, at
which no less than thirteen Tamul candidates were
ordained — five as presbyters and eight as deacons — in
the rising Tinnevelly Church. Of these, all but one,
of the Gospel Propagation Society, belonged to the
Church Missionary Society. Almost all of these were
educated and trained in these seminaries founded by
Mr Hough, and some were known to him as boys,
from amongst whom one especially may be singled
out — Rev. Seenivasagam — as being the author of an
affecting letter which follows, written by him upon
hearing of the death of his friend and benefactor.
This blessed effect of these seminaries is the accom-
phshment of the high expectations formed of them
by their founder, for the following entry appears
in his journal for 1820 : — ^^ Held an interesting
discourse with the elder seminarists this morning
after prayers. How the heart glows with love for
these boys, who, as we hope, will one day become
the burning lights of this benighted land. Europeans
can never do so much by their personal labours ;
for, with the exception of mental abihty and energy,
the climate and everything else is against them. We
ought to be thankful for such a machine for evange-
lising India, and at once to set it in motion."

The general work of regulating and superintending
these schools and missions increased so rapidly upon
him, that he was at length compelled to apply to the
Church Missionary Society Committee for the appoint-
ment of one or more missionaries ; and accordingly, in
1820, the Rev. Messrs Rhenius and Schmid were sent
from Madras to Palamcottah.


In December 1820, he travelled to the south of
India, on an exploratory visit to the Church Missionary
Society's mission in Travancore, where he met the
Rev. Messrs Fenn, Bailey, and Baker, and was greatly
cheered by their brotherly and Christian spirit. Two
other visits were subsequently paid by him in 1825
and 1826. Of this mission he speaks in the following
pages from personal knowledge. During these tours
he also visited the Syrian churches, whose liturgies
are given in a former volume, and had many and
interesting interviews with the Metropolitan Mar

In his examination before a select committee of the
House of Commons in 1832, referred to above, he
bears his testimony to the progress of the College at
Cotym, under Mr Fenn, as also to the state of the
Syrian churches. The following extract in allusion
to his last visit records the extent of his travel along
the south-western coast, and the additional good which
he was in that direction instrumental in effecting.

^' Between Cape Comorin and Cannanore are there,
to your knowledge, any British settlement possessing
churches, but possessing no chaplain or minister ? —
Tes ; at Tellicherry there was a spacious church : for-
merly a chaplain was appointed to that station, but
he was withdrawn some time ago — eight or ten years
ago ; and while I was there in 1826, the British in-
habitants and native Christians of Telhcherry were
accustomed to assemble in the church on Sunday for
divine worship. When it was in a dilapidated state,
they requested the Government to repair it, but find-
ing that there was then no chaplain at the station,
they sent orders to pull it down : being on the spot


at the time^ I ventured to interpose, and represented
to the Government at Madras the advantages of the
church to the present inhabitants, and requested them
to allow it to be repaired. Upon this representation.
Sir Thomas Munro acceded to the request ; and it
was put into a state of repair, and continues there to
this day."

But though thus abundant in labours, he found
time also for other work. Feeling how great was the
need of suitable books in Tamul for distribution
amongst the natives, and for use in the schools, he
set himself diligently to the difficult task of translation.
He translated into Tamul several little books and
tracts, and composed others in the same language.
He wrote also, in English and Tamul, a valuable tract
explanatory of the second chapter of Daniel, which
was greatly prized by the natives, and is mentioned
in the following letter from Rev. John Devasagayam ;
also a dialogue between a Protestant and a Roman
Catholic ; and a course of school lectures on Genesis,
from Sellon's Abridgement. During this period he
also prepared the substance of another work, which
was not published until 1832. It is entitled, ^^ The
Missionary Yade Mecum ; containing information and
suggestions for the use of Missionaries, Missionary
Candidates, and Committees." There breathes through-
out it a spirit of deep piety, and it is so distinguished
for sound judgment and practical wisdom, as to make
it an invaluable guide and companion in Missionary

The time had now arrived when he was to be with-
drawn from the scenes of such ardent and self-denying
labours. In March 1821 he received his appointment


as garrison chaplain to the larger European station of
Poonamallee^ a military cantonment about fifteen
miles from Madras. So deep and mutual were the
feelings of attachment between himself and his charge
at Palamcottah and its neighbourhood, that the
separation could not take place without sincere and
painful regrets. His description of the effect produced
upon his own mind by this sorrowful occasion closes
with these affecting words : ''I must leave you to
imagine the parting scene between us and the country
priest, catechists, schoolmasters, seminarists, and
others, for I cannot describe it. may the Lord
strengthen the hands of his servants who succeed to
my post ; water the seed they sow, and produce
therefrom an abundant increase of souls to the
Eedeemer, and of glory to his own most holy name !
For ever will I bless and praise him for enabhng me
to make a small beginning ; and my prayers shall
never cease to ascend for blessings on the work. To
Him be the glory. Amen."

To the very last he cherished the remembrance of
the mission at Tinnevelly with the tenderest and most
prayerful solicitude, and thankfully marked its rapid
progress. They who were present mth him cannot
forget the earnest petitions he offered up in its behalf
only two days before his death. There were also
individual native priests and catechists well known to
him, some of whom he had left there as boys in the
schools which he was enabled to establish, and with
some of whom he continued occasionally to correspond,
as they wrote to ask for his fatherly counsel and
guidance. The two following letters, which were in
answer to one written to their authors by his family.


conveying to tliem his last prayer for tliem^ will serve
to shew the grateful affection with which his name is
cherished amongst them.

The first is .from the Eev. John Devasagayam,
formerly a pupil of Dr John of Tranquebar, who was
personally known to Mr Hough. He was ordained
deacon by Bishop Turner, as recorded in page 406,
and priest by Bishop Corrie in Trinity Church, built
by the Rev. C. Rhenius, in 1826, on the Church Mis-
sionary Society's premises, which were originally pur-
chased by Mr Hough, at Palamcottah. At the present
time, both the son and son-in-law of this excellent
man are ordained, and are labouring with him in his
ministerial work.

Septemher 6. 184:9.

Eespected and Dear Ma'm, — I just read your Christian affection-
ate letter. I feel myself inexpressibly liappy to hear from the
dear children of our ever valued and now sainted Hough Ayyer.
I just gave your letter to my son-in-law to be translated into Tamul,
to be read to the catechists, readers, and schoolmasters. We know
how deeply the welfare of our nation in particular was at the heart
of your dear father. He has surely met many souls in heaven, and
will still meet those to whom his prayers and labours have been
blessed. We shall soon see them ourselves, and enjoy inexpressible
happiness. I was employed at Tranquebar inspecting the Free
Schools of our Society, when your father landed there on his way
to visit Tanjore and Trichinoply. When I came to Tinnevelly
in 1832, 1 found in several churches a table in Tamul, prepared by
your father for the catechists, to teach them how to use the common
prayer-book on Sundays and other days. T think I saw the first
copy written by your father's own hand in Mothelloor cliurch.

I do not know if you are informed of the village called
Houghayyerpuram. Out of gratitude to Mr Hough, the Christians
about thirty years ago gave his name to it. You will thus easily
see how well his dear name is preserved by our people. It is the
custom of this place. So we have villages called Tuckerpuram,


Pholayyerpuram, &c., &c. My elderly catecliist, Moses, tells me
that he knew Mr Hough very well when he was twelve years old.
Mr Hough used to visit Iheir congregation, preach, and administer
holy ordinances to the people. Your late dear father prepared a
number of hooks for the native Christians, more especially the
heathen youths instructed in English. One, a very interesting
pamphlet, called " Prophecy of Daniel the Prophet.'' It is pub-
lished in English and Tamul, and is very useful to those who
study the same, and English. My boarding boys and girls, in
particular, use this book — children supported in my school by
friends in England.

I feel myself very thankful that you have been so kind to com-
municate to me the very interesting particulars of your dear
father. I beg you to accept the cordial respect of Mrs John and
all my children, and myself, and present the same to your dear
brothers and sisters. Commending me, my family, and work, to
your affectionate prayer.

I remain, respected Ma'm, your obedient Servant,

John Devasagayam.

The second is from the Eev. Seenivasagayam
who^ as referred to above^ was admitted to priest's
orders in December 1859 by the Bishop of Madras.

SUVESESHAPURM, Sept. 15. 1849.

Eespected Madam, — The Eev. John Devasagayam, missionary
at Kadatchepuram, has been so kind as to send me a Tamul tran-
slation of your kind letter, which you wrote to him. We, indeed,
deeply regret to hear of the death of the Eev. Mr Hough. But we
are especially comforted, when we read the words he pronounced
at the time of his death, and we firmly hope, if we are the
followers of Christ, and firmly believe God like him, we shall have
the happiness of meeting our amiable pastor in the heavenly

T, Seenivasagam Pillay, though I have been born of Christian
parents, while I was at the age of eleven, I was instructed first by
your father about Christianity. Moreover, your father established
many schools in different places, in order that the Word of G-od
may be propagated throughout Southern India, and evidently made


known the light of the gospel to those places which are covered by
ignorance and folly. In those times, Mansillamunia Pillay (my
eldest brother), was appointed as head master, and I was monitor
under him. The seed which your dear father had sown grew, and
now produces fruit abundantly in this region, and the Lord made
his words effectual in us, and granted his grace that we may pro-
claim the word of salvation to our fellow-countrymen. We, and
others who had received the privilege of instruction from your
father, remembered him very often. At last we (the three brothers)
wrote a letter to him, in order to know the health of your dear
father, and sent it through the-Eev. Gr. Pettitt, who intended at
that time to proceed to England. But we waited for a long time
to receive an answer from him, and now we are thankful that our
dear pastor has departed this life with peace and joy.

Eespected Madam, — We pray to Grod always to bless you, and
your brothers and sisters, and all other benefactors and superiors.
We beg you also to pray for us, that we might serve God until the
time of our death, and keep us from the pollution of the world,
that we may also enter into the heavenly Canaan.

We are, respected Madam, Yours very obediently,


On his way to Madras^ Mr Hough visited the
Missions of Tranquebar^ Tanjore, and Trichinopoly,
^^Ahuost consecrated ground to the Missionary/' he
writes^ after describing the spots where laboured^ and
now rest^ the mortal remains of the earhest Mission-
aries to South India. He also mentions his inter-
course with John Devasagayam at Tranquebar, and
adds, ^^The Tinnevelly Mission of the Church Mis-
sionary Society may be considered as a germ of this,
for it was hither I sent our first Tamul master, to be
instructed in Dr John's system of education ; and we
have always conducted our schools on the same plan."

Whilst he was thus energetically pursuing his
labours, and was abundantly prospered in his exer-


tions^ it is very beautiful and instructive to observe
his genuine humility. The following letter^ though
strictly of a private nature, I cannot forbear to publish
as being illustrative of his character. It is written to
a relative in England, November 22, 1819, and records
his feelings upon reading the life of Henry MsbTtjiiy
which he had just received : —

^'I have just been reading the account of dear
Martyn's leaving England ; and it revived, for the
time, all the painful feelings that disturbed my own
mind on the like occassion. But his trials were the
greater, for he had no tender partner of his grief, no
fond companion, such as / had, to compensate for the
sacrifice of all his much loved friends. He left them
with the resolution of quitting them for ever, whereas
I indulged the hope of seeing you all again. But, oh,
what a heavenly, what a devoted spirit did he breathe !
To possess his humility, his absorption in the love and
majesty of God, his ardent thirst for the salvation of
the heathen, were surely enough to support the soul
under the heaviest trials ; and hence he rose triumph-
ant. In zeal for the honour of God and the salvation of
men, at what a distance do I stand from this apos-
tolic brother ; no wonder, therefore, that my internal
grace and support are so eclipsed by his. The more I
read of him, the more am I abashed and ashamed at
having written, ^even to you, my beloved sister, any-
thing of what I have done. Were I to record, as I
ought, whatever I have left undone, you also would
be ashamed of me, and think I had been little more
than a cumberer of the ground. for grace to gird
up the loins of my mind, to run the race that is set
before me, to make full proof .of my ministry, so


that^ notwithstanding my past inactivity, I may yet
prove a labourer that need not be ashamed !"

In 1831, Mr Hough settled at Poonamallee, having
left Palamcottah, the central point of the Tinnevelly
Mission, which contained at the time of his withdrawal,
thirteen schools, — two English, and eleven Tamul. He
entered with his characteristic devotion upon the duties
of his new station. The capacious barracks were capa-
ble of containing one thousand men, and attached to
them was a large military hospital, in which, especially
amongst the invalid soldiers, his labours were most
assiduous, and, in many cases, were greatly blessed.
He soon opened an English school for the children of
British prisoners. To this he also added a Tamul
school, and finding that there were some native
Christians scattered about in the neighbourhood, he
employed a catechist to seek them out, ''wandering,"
in his own words, ''in the midst of idolatry and
wickedness, as sheep having no shepherd.'' These
were speedily gathered together, and, with others
brought through his instrumentahty to the faith of
the Gospel, were formed into a congregation, for
whom, before the end of the year, by means of sub-
scriptions which he had raised, he erected a small

At this time, he also performed a Missionary excur-
sion round the environs of Madras, in company with
two Missionaries— the Rev. Messrs Barenbruck and
Ridsdale,— his object being to exdeavour to extend the
limits of the Madras Mission.

As he had already done at Palamcottah, so also
now at Poonamallee, he founded an Auxiliary of the
British and Foreign Bible Society.


During the whole of this period he was also devot-
ing his time and energies to literary studies. Before he
left Palamcottah^ he had received an application from
the Bible Society^ to undertake a fresh translation of
the New Testament into Tamul^ and had just com-
menced it^ when his new appointment was received.
As soon^ therefore^ as he was settled at Poonamallee^
he entered upon this sacred task. In conjunction with
this^ he w^as also engaged in the arrangement of a
Tamul Dictionary^ which^ he remarked^ ^'^ is more in-
teresting to my moonshee^ than the translation of
Scripture." The delight which he experienced in this
branch of labour^ as well as the indefatigable zeal with
which he pursued it^ is best expressed by himself :
^^The translation of the Scriptures is a work^ the
pleasure of which^ I could never have anticipated^ as it
leads me to examine every word^ and even point, of the
sacred text, and consult different authorities and criti-
cisms on the sacred volume ; and, in proportion to the
research, am repaid for the labour. This, together with
the Dictionary, employs me from 9 a.m. to G p.m.,
with the exception of the dinner hour.'' This constant
strain upon mind and body, was more than any con-
stitution, native or European, could long endure.
His moonshee, after a few months of such application,
was unable to proceed, and a second Avas appointed to
divide his labour ; and at last, in January 1822, fre-

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 2 of 54)